One comment on “First Black President Defeats U.S. Antiwar Movement

  1. During his short senate tenure, Barack Obama, like the rest of the Democrats there, repeatedly voted for every cent that George Bush asked for to keep the murderous occupation of Iraq going. Now, as president, he’s asking for $80 billion more for it…on top of the record Pentagon budget he already submitted. This didn’t stop the mainstream media and the liberal-left from falsely portraying him as the “anti-war” candidate; a label that constituted his main selling point, particularly in his battle with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Even before winning the election, Obama wasted no time in repudiating his supporters, embracing Bush’s “surge” as a smashing “success,” and, once he won, by keeping Bush’s war minister and generals on board as a show of capitalist “continuity.” His plan for not withdrawing from Iraq has been, in fact, the general consensus amongst the ruling class, including Bush and McCain, even before the election. Only now Obama has the nerve to tell the Iraqis that it’s time for them to “take responsibility for their country,” as if they and not US imperialism were the ones responsible for invading and occupying themselves. Indeed during the primaries, Hillary Clinton and Obama both blamed the Iraqis for screwing up the war for the US, that is, before they joined Bush and McCain in hailing the success of the surge. The liberal-left, for its part, chose not to pay much attention to such “abberations.” If and when they did, it didn’t interfere in the slightest with the fawning sycophancy they displayed to Obama as soon as they thought he had a chance to win.
    Of course, if anyone on the liberal-left had actually bothered to listen to or read what Obama actually said during the campaign, perhaps none of this would be a surprise or a shock to them. However, given their past track record, it would have been a safe bet that they still would have supported Obama, or for that matter, Hillary Clinton or any other Democrat, just as they all supported John Kerry as the “anybody but Bush” in 2004. And while a few of them may now be crying “betrayal” as Obama escalates imperialism’s “good” war in Afghanistan and doles out billions in welfare for Wall Street while giving auto workers a one-way ticket to Palookaville, the majority are sticking with the Democrats as the “lesser of two evils” even if they’ve given up on “hoping for change.” Indeed the $13.00 a week tax rebate that came with Obama’s “stimulus” package is about all the change they’ll be getting.
    Thus Obama’s fan club in UFPJ made sure to keep their followers away from the anti-war demo in DC on March 21st just as they laid low during the Israeli assault on Gaza. The official excuse given was that a march on Washington would be a sectarian slap in the face to Obama’s “mass movement” whom they hope to exercise influence on. Besides, since the war in Iraq has been pushed off the front page by the recession, a more “multi-issue” orientation was called for. As if ANSWER has ever been short on “multi-issue” laundry lists of demands beginning with “money for fill in the blank, not for war!” The real reason, of course, was out of deference to the Democrats who now call the shots in Washington instead of Bush and the GOP.
    So, instead, UFPJ promoted a rival April 4th march. The latter, by passing through the empty streets of NY’s financial district on a Saturday was intended to call attention to the economic crisis which the March 21st demo in DC supposedly would not by its focusing on the wars and occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. At the same time, by invoking the April 4th, 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King, it was intended to entice large numbers of Obama supporters, who, it was claimed, would be offended by a march on Obama’s new digs on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
    As was desired by its organizers, the UFPJ march offended few of Obama’s supporters for the simple reason that few of them even bothered showing their faces. This, in spite of the march supposedly being tailor made for them ! For all the talk about how the organizers of the March 21st demonstration or even the April 3rd Workers World march on Wall Street were isolating themselves from the masses of Obama supporters by opposing his wars, UFPJ barely drew as many people in their NYC stronghold as ANSWER and their allies brought down to DC. And odds are that the ANSWER rally (and probably the Workers World rally as well) had a higher percentage of minority participation than did UFPJ’s even though the latter claimed that the former was insulting the Black community by marching against the Obama regime to begin with.
    Leaving aside the suicidal notion that the left shouldn’t oppose a bourgeois politician pursuing a thoroughly reactionary agenda because of the color of his skin, it would appear that UFPJ has pushed the antiwar movement so far into the Democratic party Roach Motel that it’s not about to come back out. Cagan and Co. used to think that they could turn movements on and off like a water faucet. Only this time, they helped to transform a real mass movement opposing an imperialist war into a phoney “mass movement” supporting a pro-war imperialist politician and by doing so made sure that there is now no mass movement at all. But at least they finally got a Democrat into the White House…by taking and keeping people off of the streets in order to do so. Then again they did the same thing, under different acronyms, when a white guy, Bill Clinton, was in office as well. That is, until the “global justice” movement burst forth at the “Battle of Seattle,” and pushed them aside until they recovered their bearings in time for the 2004 elections. Hopefully, as more and more of the workers and youth who voted for Obama begin to see him and his administration for what they are, a similar process will take place. Only let’s hope (and work to ensure) that the next time it goes a lot further.

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