Black Resistance to War Is Imperative

War, what is it good for ...absolutely nothing.

Ironically, these are the insightful words of a popular R&B group named WAR. As Bush the Younger prepares to follow in the footsteps of his father and unleash an attack against Iraq, resistance to his misadventure is mounting in the United States and the world. More and more people are concluding that this is an unjust war.

According to the polls, more than 70 percent of the people of Western Europe oppose Bush's obsession with toppling Saddam Hussein. Even in the U.S. a solid majority is in favor of giving the U.N. inspection teams more time, and oppose a war against Iraq prosecuted without the sanction of the Security Council. On Jan. 18, by some estimates, the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition mobilized upwards of 500,000 people in Washington, D.C. for the most massive anti-war demonstration since the Vietnam War.

Thousands more marched in numerous cities across the country and hundreds of thousands more turned-out for anti-war rallies and demonstrations in Europe. On Jan. 20, Black Voices for Peace, under the brilliant and courageous leadership of Damu Smith, packed more than 3,000 people into Plymouth Congregational Church in Washington, D.C. (where Rev. Graylan Hagler is pastor) for a series of educational workshops and a mass rally for peace and justice.

In the main, the growing anti-war movement does not support the authoritarian regime of Saddam Hussein. Much of the public is acutely aware that Saddam is a defanged dictator who is already isolated, confined and incapable of posing a threat to nations in the region, let alone the U.S. While Iraq may possess weapons of mass destruction, it is not the only nation in the world that has them. Most experts agree that North Korea poses a much greater threat than Iraq. But North Korea is not the fourth largest oil-producing nation in the world. All of the drama and theatrics orchestrated by Bush and company notwithstanding, most of the world, including a majority of Americans, do not view Iraq as a clear and present danger to this country.

As Nelson Mandela so forcefully put it again in a recent statement, Bush's running buddies in the energy industry are anxious to get their hands on those huge Iraqi oil fields. The arms industry is also smiling all the way to the bank. Beyond the seductive attraction of profit, however, this war is also about creating a climate of "permanent crisis" -- using the war against terrorism and the pending war against Iraq as a pretext to stifle dissent, ignore the social and economic needs of people in this country and roll back many of the gains won during the civil rights movement.

While our civil liberties are being shredded and civil rights forestalled, Bush is proposing yet another tax cut for the wealthy as a perverted strategy for stimulating a moribund economy and shaky stock market. The economy is reeling, but Bush is still prepared to incur a $1 trillion deficit over the next few years (I thought one of the cardinal tenets of Republicanism was a "balanced budget").

In the meantime, cities and states are experiencing record deficits as a result of the drastic economic downturn; consumer confidence is severely shaken and unemployment is steadily inching upwards. To borrow Martin Luther King's characterization of the Vietnam War, the war against Iraq, with a price tag of $200 billion, will drain desperately needed resources away from domestic problems like a "giant demonic suction tube." But, as long as the eyes of the nation are focused on the war against terrorism and the war against Iraq, Bush and company believe that they can get away with undercutting our civil liberties, dampening dissent, decimating social programs and rolling back civil rights. However, early indications are that they may have miscalculated.

Opposition is building momentum at a pace that must be causing alarm in the White House. My concern is that there are not enough black folks in the midst and at the forefront of the resistance to the war. The irony is that institutional racism disproportionately confines black people to the bottom rungs of the economic ladder and as a consequence black people end up disproportionately caught up in a military machine that most often wages unjust wars. Our sons and daughters will bear the brunt of the battle.

Black opposition to the war against Iraq is imperative. In the same spirit that Martin Luther King opposed the Vietnam War and Kwame Ture declared "Hell no, we won't go," Africans in America must follow the lead of organizations like Black Voices for Peace and become massively involved in openly and vocally expressing our resistance to the madness of Bush's machinations. We must see the war against Iraq as snuffing out the dreams and aspirations of millions of our people, as well as those of millions of people of color and poor and working people. We must declare, that as far as black folks are concerned, "War is absolutely good for nothing!"

Ron Daniels is executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City.
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