The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Whose wars are they?

Jun 16, 2008

George W. Bush will go down in history blamed for war in Afghanistan and Iraq. But he didn’t take the country to war alone.

When Congress authorized the war on Afghanistan, only one person, Barbara Lee, voted against it.

When the U.S. Senate authorized the U.S. war on Iraq, only 23 voted against, 77 voted for. The vote in the House of Representatives, was similar, 133 against, 296 for. Most who voted against were Democrats. But Democrats still voted the funds to carry out the wars.

While some Democrats voted against the war symbolically, the Democratic Party was lining up practically to make the war happen.

Since 2006, the Democratic Party controlled the majority in both houses of Congress. They had enough votes to stop the war. They didn’t do it.

Their presidential candidate, Barack Obama, says he never voted to authorize the war. Well, of course not – he couldn’t vote at all, he wasn’t yet in the Senate.

Obama also promised, when running for the Senate, that he would not vote to fund the war – a promise he tore up as soon as he got to the Senate. He’s voted every funding measure since.

In 1964, Lyndon Baines Johnson, running for re-election, promised to stop the U.S. move to war in Southeast Asia, branding his opponent, Barry Goldwater, a war-monger. In fact, both were war-mongers. But many opponents of the growing Asian war took Johnson at his word, disarming themselves while the U.S. moved into open war in Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos.

The Viet Nam war was finally brought to a stop by the troops of the line. They refused to go out in the field. They fragged their officers. They mutinied. They organized open opposition in the army, publicly denouncing the war, exposing its reality. At the same time, the black population was in the streets, revolting against a society treating them as second-class citizens, pushing aside those black politicians who sought to hold them back. Students took their cues from the black mobilization, pushing to make their voices heard.

We may not yet be there today. But the opposition that has grown up in the army, the widespread disaffection in the population are laying the groundwork for bringing these wars to an end.

Don’t let the opposition to the war be diverted into support for politicians or for parties who have demonstrated how little their word is worth.