Tom Hayden

Are We on the Brink of Another Cold War?

Haven't the Republicans, the neo-conservatives and the mainstream media been telling us all these years that America won the Cold War? They spoke too soon. From the residue of the old Soviet Union, a new nationalist, nuclear-armed, resource-rich Russia has risen to challenge Western claims of triumphalism. The new Cold War is upon us, and the American elites have no suggestions except to fight it again.

If asked to take sides, I stand with Pussy Riot. To understand their creative subversion, watch the HBO documentary Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer. But Pussy Riot is a minority thus far, employing a kind of shock and awe on the level of culture. They are backed often by the American elites who would never allow Pussy Riot in, say, South Carolina. 

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Tom Hayden on Bill de Blasio's Win: A Harbinger of a New Populist Left in America?

The overwhelming support of New York City voters for Bill de Blasio is the latest sign of the shift towards a new populist left in America. De Blasio owes his unexpected tailwind to campaigning on issues considered by insiders to be too polarizing for winning politics.

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Mexican Poet's US Caravan for Peace Tours to End the Drug War

A new peace movement to end the US-sponsored drug war begins with buses rolling and feet marching from the Tijuana–San Diego border on August 12 through twenty-five US cities to Washington, DC, in September.

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Federal Prosecutors Hiding Evidence in War on Gangs

Federal prosecutors have used top leaders of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), known as the most violent gang in the US and Central America, as secret informants over a decade of murders, drug-trafficking and car-jackings across a dozen US states and several Central American countries. During that time, prosecutors obtained more than twenty-one wiretap approvals, plus extensions, to investigate MS-13,failing to tell judges that the gang leaders were already in custody as informants -- a possible violation of federal law.

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US More Vulnerable on Afghanistan as It Leans Harder on NATO Allies for Support

The White House and Pentagon are lobbying hard for an increased NATO troop commitment for the Afghanistan escalation, as public opinion in America, Canada and Europe -- and Afghanistan -- is increasingly skeptical.

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Honduras Crisis Forces Obama to Focus on Latin America

The military coup against Honduran president Manuel Zelaya puts pressure on President Obama to break sharply with past American policies or risk massive defections in what remains of Latin America’s goodwill.

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Ten More Things You Can Do to Oppose War in Afghanistan

Editor’s Note: Peace activist Tom Hayden adds his ideas to Z.P. Heller’s April 8 piece, Ten Things You Can Do to Oppose the War in Afghanistan.

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Why Is a Progressive Think Tank Telling Obama to Escalate the War in Afghanistan?

The Center for American Progress has positioned itself as a "progressive" Washington think tank, especially suited to channel new thinking and expertise into the Obama administration. It therefore is deeply disappointing that CAP has issued a call for a ten-year war in Afghanistan, including an immediate military escalation, just as President Obama prepares to unveil his Afghanistan/Pakistan policies to the American public and NATO this week.

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Peace Voters Face New Challenges

It was a barely good week for the antiwar movement during the Denver convention, with lingering problems remaining ahead.
The numbers in the streets
First, it could have been far worse. All along the rhetoric about "recreating '68" was inflated. Projections of 25,000 protesters were inflated. The incredibly hard work by organizers like Adam Jung at Tent State, the determined courage of the Iraq Veterans Against the War and, above all, the generosity of Rage Against the Machine (which kicked in over $100,000 at the last minute) salvaged what could have been a small and marginal turnout. In the end, the Obama campaign made the right choice to meet with the Iraq vets contingent and hear their opposition to the war.

The intelligence was fabricated again to justify a war on "anarchists"

The Denver police ultimately were agreeable to accommodating the protesters' right to free speech and assembly. But the law enforcement establishment should be criticized and held responsible for spreading the same false and misleading information we have seen at every convention since 2000. The word went out that thousands of "anarchists" would descend on Denver--false. Officers I interviewed told me that weapons were being "stockpiled" alongside the 16th Street Mall for anarchist use--false. A FEMA "consequence manager" said privately that tunnels would be blown up--nothing so far. Another officer told me that riots happened at the last two Democratic conventions--false.

Pressuring the Dems for Peace

The 4,000th American soldier will die in Iraq sometime this week, the fifth anniversary of the war. Hundreds of "winter soldiers" -- veterans of the war -- confess the shameful abuse inflicted on the Iraqi people during those years. Yet the presidential candidates have passed up the chance to say something new or hopeful that might end the killing.

Any possibility of ending the war this year is long over. The panic that gripped the national security elites last year that peace sentiment might end the war in 2008 is safely past. [The hawkish Democratic-leaning think tank, the Center for a New American Security, fretted last fall that "if no bipartisan consensus is reached before the Democratic and Republican primaries, the next president will likely be elected principally on a "get out of Iraq now" platform." James Miller, Shawn Brimley, "Phased Transition", June 4, 2007, Not for Outside Circulation. ]

Those of us in the peace movement are all winter soldiers now, as the war grinds on, perhaps for years, while our leaders drift. Gen. Petraeus is getting his way with "setting back the American clock" and his hope for "eight years and eight divisions." [Washington Post interview, Mar. 7, 2004]

We can count on two developments, however. A spirited, well-funded educational campaign linking Iraq to the economic recession will be waged between now and November. And like it or not, the November election will be interpreted either as a voter mandate for peace or for the status quo. That offers the opportunity for an anti-war campaign linked to the economy and oil issues, while de-linked from devotion to any single presidential candidate.

John McCain is linked with Gen. Petraeus and the "surge" in their rosy campaign to gain time for the brutal occupation to wear out the Iraqi people. The Petraeus plan, as advocated by his top counterinsurgency advisers, includes carrots-and-sticks for Sunnis and Shi'a, and a "global Phoenix program" against all insurgencies, meaning a low-visibility program of population control, detention, divide-and-conquer tactics, repression and torture in the shadows conducted by client armies with discreet American advisers. [The first approach is by Stephen Biddle in Foreign Affairs [2006]. As for the Phoenix recommendation, readers should rush to read Lt. Col. David Kilkullen, here. Kilkullen already has scrubbed the call for a Phoenix program from a later print version of the article, substituting the Pentagon's "revolutionary development" formulation that replaced the discredited Phoenix program.]

The Democratic candidates are more complicated, and perhaps more disappointing, since 80 percent of Democratic voters favor a one-year withdrawal.

Hillary Clinton repeats the phrases that these voters want to hear, "end the war", and "bring the troops home." But she must know that she doesn't mean it. Her slippery pledge is to "begin" troop withdrawals within 60 days of being sworn in, but she refuses to set a timeline for completing that withdrawal. She wants to shift the American role from combat to counterinsurgency, leaving trainers and advisers, counter-insurgency units, sufficient troops to "deter" Iran, in short; set in motion a warfighting strategy similar to Afghanistan for an unknown number of years.

Clinton's top foreign policy thinkers are Lee Feinstein at the Council on Foreign Relations and Anne-Marie Slaughter at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School, who wrote in 2004 that "the biggest problem with the Bush preemption strategy may be that it does not go far enough." Enough said. [See "A Duty to Prevent", Foreign Affairs, Jan./Feb. 2004]

Barack Obama's claims on Iraq seem to rest on what he said in October 2002, a solid difference between himself and Clinton to be sure. But as Clinton repeatedly notes, hers and Obama's positions have been mainly the same since Obama entered the Senate. This isn't fully correct, since he has shown a more flexible diplomatic approach towards Iran, while Clinton supported Bush's designation of Iran's revolutionary guard as terrorist. But the public and the media seem to accept the closeness between the two candidate's positions since Obama's anti-war speech five years ago.

Obama also was the first to issue a timetable for withdrawal of combat troops, in 16-18 months. But his credibility was undermined by the remarks of a close adviser, Samantha Power, who helped write and edit his book The Audacity of Hope, and presumably must know every nuance of his thinking. When she told a British interviewer recently that, if elected, Obama would consult the generals, review the situation in Iraq, and only then decide what to do, he became for many people another candidate whose word cannot be trusted, eerily echoing the false peace promises of Sixties presidents Johnson and Nixon.

Obama has tried to clarify his stance by loudly declaring that he will "end the war in 2009", a remarkable statement which so far contains no explanation.

There are many reasons to support Obama, but a genuine peace plan isn't one of them at this point. Obama appears trapped in the quagmire of disagreeing advisors. While more open-minded than the Clinton security coterie, they share the fear -- partly professional, partly ideological -- of advising a superpower withdrawal. Worse, they share the insider dread of following the populist instincts of the voters in foreign policy.

On the record, Obama favors a "residual force" after pulling out combat troops by 2010. This innocuous wording, which sounds like a clean-up crew, would still be in the crossfire of sectarian combat until all of Iraq's insurgents finally weary of battle. His position is more nuanced that Clinton's, limiting the counterinsurgency forces to fighting al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and not providing training for Iraqi troops unless the Baghdad government reconciled its factions.

For both Clinton and Obama, the number of Americans left in the war zone would be staggering, even after the withdrawal of most or all combat troops. Including the backup forces and private contractors necessary to support the residual role, the numbers could be 50-100.000. That would make Iraq look like Afghanistan, or Central America in the late 1970s.

Only the pressure of the peace movement, bloggers and the mainstream media might make Clinton or Obama break with their advisers and issue an actual plan for ending the war rather than merely shifting from combat to counterinsurgency. Since the next six months are the only time the candidates can be forced to respond to voters' questions, the mission of the peace movement is becoming clear. While rejecting McCain as the neoconservative candidate of war, peace advocates can loudly refuse to support the Iraq platform of either Democratic candidate until they display more candor and commitment towards the voters. With enough voices pressuring them, inside and outside the Democratic Party, it will be difficult to silently support counterinsurgency in the name of peace.

Anti-War Lessons from New Hampshire

Thousands of idealists marched door-to-door through the snows and delivered a decisive message that the times were changing. From that moment forward, the establishment and its war policies began disintegrating from within.

The year was 1968. The insurgent campaign was on behalf of Senator Eugene McCarthy.

I am wondering if anyone in New Hampshire even remembered the McCarthy campaign in the blur that was last week in New Hampshire.

Did Senator Hillary Clinton remind voters that she was one of those volunteers who took on President Johnson and his war? Did Senator Barack Obama invoke the memory of that last great youth crusade? Did Senator John Edwards remember that it was principally the Vietnam War, not domestic issues, that aroused those populist passions?

While the Democratic contenders rushed through their ambiguous rhetoric about "ending the war," the actual Iraq War continued as a bleeding reality, safely unchallenged. Clinton promised to end the war "in the right way," not explaining that ominous phrase. Obama and Edwards, when given the chance, noticed no differences from her on Iraq. The mainstream media supported General David Petraeus's rosy depiction of the surge. The bloggers kept up their jihad to exorcize Hillary, leaving the war as background. The anti-war movement never had a voice, marginalized as electoral amateurs in the blizzard of sound bites and soap opera drama.

The war went on, however. As noted in a pro-war op-ed piece in the New York Times, the number of Iraqis in prison doubled in 2007, the number of US air strikes increased seven-fold, and the segregation of Iraqis into sectarian fiefs increased. The number of Americans killed last year was nearly 1,000, but that news went largely unreported.

If either John McCain or Rudolph Guiliani become the Republican nominee, the Iraq War will return to presidential politics full-force, with the Democrats placed on the defensive. Then the independent political committees will need to enter the Iraq debate with a strong counter-message representing the tens of millions of anti-war voters in November. What the counter-message will be is unknown, especially since the Democrats seem to be lessening and blurring their emphasis on Iraq and national security.

Heading into Super Tuesday, Hillary Clinton is gaining momentum and Barack Obama suddenly finds himself imperiled. The reason is that the primaries ahead are largely confined to Democratic voters, where Clinton holds the margin. Obama's edge has come from independents. He can and must win South Carolina, or face huge odds on February 5. Obama desperately needs the John Edwards voters, but Edwards shows no sign of abandoning the race, despite the fact that he is unlikely to win a single primary. The math is simple: Clinton wins if the anti-Clinton vote is split between Obama and Edwards.

Someone needs to restore Iraq to the center of the Democratic debate rather than waiting for McCain and media to exploit the surge. As I wrote nearly one year ago, the military surge in Iraq would bolster the possibilities of a McCain (and Joe Lieberman) ticket in 2008; and it has. Gen. Petraeus has succeeded in his strategic goal of "setting back the clock" in Washington and buying time for the US occupation to survive the political debates of 2008.

If Obama wants to win, he needs to sharpen his differences with Clinton immediately, going beyond style to substance, especially on Iraq. He needs to point out the differences that everyone in the political and media worlds, and therefore the voters, are missing. Under the five-year Clinton plan, while the good news is that US combat troops would be withdrawn gradually, tens of thousands of "advisers" and counter-terrorism forces would stay in Iraq to fight a counterinsurgency war like Central America in the 1970s. That is a plan to lessen American casualties and wind down the war on television, while still authorizing a nasty low-visibility one. It is impossible to criticize the CIA's secret torture methods and turn a blind eye to what happens every day in Iraq's detention centers complete with their US trainers and funding. With the Clinton plan, American advisers and special forces are likely to be filling those detention centers through 2013. As one expert says, "Detain thousands more Iraqis as security threats, and the potential for violence inevitably declines."

Obama could, if he wished, say that a plan to have Americans fighting in Iraq through the next President's first term is not a peace plan but a five-year war plan filled with risk for American soldiers. He could make the comparisons to Central America. He could point out the impossibility of funding Iraq, Afghanistan and national health care.

There is a solid basis for making these assertions. John Podesta, President Clinton's former chief of staff and a close associate of Hillary Clinton, has been arguing for the withdrawal of all US troops, including advisers, on a one-year schedule. Podesta, alone within the Beltway establishment, has complained of "strategic drift" among Democratic national security advisers who are avoiding the public mandate for peace. Obama could simply cite President Clinton's former chief of staff in calling for a more rapid peace timetable.

Taking this position could gain traction for Obama among the voters he needs, anti-war Democrats, who currently see little if any difference between himself and Clinton over Iraq.

But chances are Obama won't take this course, not because he is timid, but because he himself believes in leaving an ample role for continued counterinsurgency and advisers as American combat troops are withdrawn. His chief difference with Clinton over Iraq is over the specific pace of withdrawing combat troops -- Obama promises a sixteen-to-eighteen- month timetable -- but he has not sharpened whatever differences he has over the role of the advisers, counter-terrorism units, and Halliburton-type contractors.

Obviously, Clinton herself could adopt the recommendations of her husband's former chief of staff. But she has not done so for many months, and is unlikely to change her game plan now.

The possibility of Edwards using the Iraq issue was very real only two weeks ago when he told the New York Times he favored withdrawing all troops within one year. But when asked in the national debates days later whether there were any differences over Iraq, Edwards failed to respond, for whatever reason, passing on the very opportunity he had created. It would not have saved him, as it might now help Obama climb back.

Clinton therefore may be safely beyond Democratic pressures on Iraq, but the issue will haunt her campaign if she succeeds in maintaining the momentum towards November. How will she distinguish herself from McCain, if the former POW is the nominee? Will she choose Wesley Clark as her vice-presidential nominee, in an effort to narrow the differences with McCain (or another Republican nominee)? How will she respond to the Republican attack machine on Iraq while seeking to strengthen her national security image?

By 2009, under either administration, US military forces will be bogged down in quagmires in Iraq, Afghanistan and probably Pakistan. The McCarthy-era Democrats, born in the snows of New Hampshire, will be wandering the deserts of Mesopotamia. A hopeful new generation at home could become bogged down in a political quagmire of their own depression. Who then will be calling for peace if this worst of all worlds comes to pass?

Why Barack Should De-Escalate on Pakistan

As predicted, Barack Obama's advocacy of unilateral military intervention in Pakistan if there is "actionable intelligence" against al-Qaeda is giving legitimacy to the Bush administration's gathering plan for an escalation.

Obama's position is a revival of John Kerry's 2004 argument that the U.S. should have pursued Osama bin Ladin into Tora Bora but instead was distracted by the war in Iraq.

The position balances Obama's dovishness on Iraq, making him more credible to the national security establishment. If a U.S. missile or counter-terrorism strike happens to kill bin Ladin, Obama can share credit. But the dangers are extremely high, requiring caution and pragmatism from a potential president. The American target in South Waziristan, Baitullah Mehsud, is categorized vaguely as an "al Qaeda associate" by U.S. officials. More deeply, he is an authentic leader of the Mehsud tribe, and an attack on him would further inflame Pashtun nationalism against the U.S. There is no evidence that Mehsud ordered the assassination of Benezir Bhutto, as the Musharraf regime initially suggested. Nor is it clear how the mujahadeen in South Waziristan pose a direct threat of another 9/11 attack against the U.S. What is absolutely clear is that the U.S. and NATO have failed to militarily defeat the Pashtun-based Taliban in Afghanistan, and any new American intervention in Pakistan will mobilize millions of Muslims against both the Musharraf dictatorship and its American backers. That means a three-front military quagmire in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, with no known resources to contain Iran -- which represents strategic drift on a grand scale.

Fortunately, Obama's position contains a loophole, the requirement that there be "actionable intelligence," which can allow him to back away from a commitment to an escalated and probably futile war.

At the moment, Obama is responsible for creating a bipartisan climate of support for a military intervention in a period of panic after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. He can de-escalate the rush to war by calling for immediate hearings into the crisis in Pakistan, including independent voices from that country who fervently oppose the deepening secret war by the U.S. The hearings should probe the dangers of a Pakistani backlash against the U.S plan, the nature of the alleged enemy, and the costs and benefits of an expanded war.

It would be a tragic irony if Obama supported Bush's failed policies and backed a new pre-emptive war against a sovereign country. The real question is whether the Bush policies have destabilized Pakistan fatally and presented anti-American elements a new opportunity to bleed American troops, overextend our military capacity, drain the American treasury, and further isolate America as a rogue state in the eyes of most countries in the world.

With whatever finesse is required, Barack needs to back off. There is no more reason to rush to war in Pakistan on the basis of uncertain evidence than there was in Iraq in 2002.

Launching the 2008 Presidential Campaign With Ethnic Cleansing in Iraq

Politically, the coming escalation by 20,000 U.S. troops in Iraq is best understood as the comeback strategy of the neoconservative Republicans rallying around Sen. John McCain's presidential banner.

The political spin-doctors are calling it a "surge," an aggressive term implying a kind of post-election erection for Bush and the neoconservatives. In fact, or course, it is an escalation, a term apparently carrying too much baggage from Vietnam.

The hardcore neoconservatives, their ranks thinned by defections publicized in Vanity Fair, leaped immediately to salvage the war from November's voter disapproval. Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute and William Kristol of the Weekly Standard began promoting an increase of 50,000 troops, mainly to Baghdad. Bush, who all along said he was listening to his generals, now sacked generals Casey and Abizaid, who had plans to reduce troop levels over one year ago, and who now opposed more American soldiers in Iraqi neighborhoods. John Negroponte, a specialist in the black arts of counterintelligence, became the State Department's point man on Baghdad. U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, a Sunni who has been critical of the Shi'a-controlled interior ministry, was removed from his Baghdad post. An Ivy League general, David Petraeus, with a counterinsurgency agenda to prove, took over command of U.S. troops.

Right after the election, Sen. McCain was touring Baghdad with his potential running mate Sen. Joe Lieberman, promoting the plan to escalate, although supported by only 20 percent of Republicans, 11 percent of independent voters, and a statistically-insignificant 4 percent of Democrats (L.A. Times/Bloomberg, Dec. 11, 2006).

It is a brilliant strategy -- for a faction dealt a losing hand.

If and when the 20,000 Americans plunge into Baghdad neighborhoods, there will be dramatic television coverage of soldiers at risk. It is possible, though far from easy, to "stabilize" a Baghdad neighborhood for several months or one year, carrying the surge into the next presidential cycle. The strategy fits the polling data showing only 21 percent of Americans favor immediate withdrawal, while the moderate middle might be open to an undefined new strategy if convinced it will shorten the war and bring the troops home.

More likely, the ranks of the peace movement are likely to swell with people angry over the perceived betrayal by Bush of the November voter mandate. A failure by majority Democrats to prevent the escalation will convince more people to take to the streets or look to 2008 for a fix.

If the proposal to escalate somehow is blocked by congressional Democrats along with a few Republicans facing reelection, McCain and the neoconservatives will be able to salvage a narrative blaming the "loss of Iraq" on Democrats. Their Plan B is to claim the United States should have escalated from the very beginning.

The Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group report offered a hint that this escalation was coming in its formulaic compromise stating that it "could" support a "short-term redeployment, or surge," but only if "the U.S. commander in Iraq determines that such steps would be effective." With the arrival of a new commander in Iraq, that mission is accomplished. The word "could" represents one of the partisan trade-offs in the writing of the report. The Republicans on the ISG would have been advocating the optional language on behalf of the White House, while others tried to weaken the "could" by relying on a commander like Gen. Casey to nix it.

U.S. sides with Shiites in civil war

Meanwhile, as the politicians position themselves in Washington, urgent appeals from Iraqis warned of Shi'a death squads being unleashed against Sunni neighborhoods. The Baghdad security plan agreed in a teleconference last week being Bush and Prime Minister al-Maliki already is underway. According to al-Jazeera the Shiite militia attacks and roundups began on Sunday. The parliamentarian and peace advocate Saleh al-Mutlaq denounced the plan as an attempt to cleanse Baghdad of the Sunni majority it had in 2003. The Association of Muslim Scholars and Iraqi satellite TV stations began transmitting cries for help from relatives and neighbors in Baghdad.

Already tens of thousands have fled Baghdad, the largest percentage of the nearly one million Iraqis who have been displaced, according to the United Nations. Forty thousand have relocated in Falluja. There they stand in a parking lot surrounded by razor wire, are hand-searched, given retinal scans, and provided IDs to enter Falluja, or weeded out (L.A. Times, Jan. 4, 2007).

Baghdad itself, once a diverse city of five million, has become the Shi'a capital, with fifty of 51 governing officials being from Shi'a parties. The security forces, as well as the "commandos" and "public order brigades" under the interior ministry are from Shi'a militias. Having fostered, equipped, financed and trained these sectarian forces, U.S. officials have attempted to distance themselves from the scandal, for example claiming in 2006 they only "recently learned" that the 7,700 members of the public order brigades were Shi'a (New York Times, Mar. 7, 2006).

A media or congressional investigation of these death squads operating under official auspices might begin by interviewing James Steele, Gerald Burke and Ann Bertucci, who were police advisers attached to the U.S. Civil Police Assistance Training Team in Baghdad (New York Times, May 22, 2006). The commando teams were developed by Steele and Burke under the direction of Gen. Petraeus at the time. Steele was quoted in 2006 as "not regretting their creation" but worried they had grown out of control. Bertucci admitted that American advisers were attached to the so-called Iraqi Volcano Brigade, which committed infamous massacres on Aug. 24, 2005. On that day, dozens of men wearing police uniforms entered a Sunni neighborhood, dragged 36 men out of their homes, shot them in their heads and spilled acid on their faces, an episode recounted in the international press. The United States also runs brutal interrogation operations through its secret Task Force 626 in "black rooms" at Camp Nama, whitewashed in a 2004 report by Gen. William G. Boykin, the Christian evangelical who regularly denounces Islam (New York Times, Mar. 19, 2006).

The hand-over of the interior ministry to the Shi'a Badr militia, an organ of the Supreme Command of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) was completed in 2005, when Bayan Jabr took over the ministry from a prior Sunni official. Jabr was in charge in November 2005, when a secret prison holding 172 abused and malnourished inmates was discovered. There are up to ten unofficial jails in Baghdad alone run by a Special Interrogations Unit reporting to the minister alone, where prisoners are held without charges.

After years of flirtation, the United States has rejected decisively any plans for peace talks with opposition leaders, including insurgent groups. Last week U.S. and Iraqi troops even stormed the headquarters of an Iraqi parliamentarian known to advocate a U.S. withdrawal and peace talks with the insurgents; six people, including a family of four, died in the attack (see Huffington Post file).

Instead, the United States is siding ever more deeply with the Shi'a parties that came to power with the assistance of U.S. tanks, artillery and aircraft in March 2003. By 2005, U.S. officials were "lowering their sights" from establishing democracy to "slowly realizing we will have some form of Islamic Republic" (Washington Post, Aug. 14, 2005).

The wild card in this scenario all along has been Moktada al-Sadr, the Iraqi Shi'a cleric representing the Sadr City slums, whose Mahdi militia has fought the United States on two occasions, and who demands a U.S. withdrawal. In a must-read investigative article by Robert Collier of the San Francisco Chronicle this week, an al-Sadr spokesmen said the United States was attempting "to inflame a civil war," and al-Sadr himself was quoted as saying:

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Calls for Withdrawal from Iraq Echoing in Washington

Congressional debate finally has turned to an exit strategy from Iraq after an interminable period of dominance by proponents of war and occupation, as a result of the Sept. 15 hearing on withdrawal chaired by Rep. Lynn Woolsey. Twenty-nine members of Congress attended the four-hour forum, including one Republican, Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina.

After next week's massive anti-war demonstrations, Congress is expected to increase its gradual exploration of how to get out of Iraq. Activists who attended the hearing are demanding a specific exit strategy resolution. A critical moment will come in January 2006, the start of the election year, when Bush is likely to send a request for another $100 billion in Iraq funding on top of $100-plus billion for Hurricane Katrina. According to the Wall Street Journal, "cutting spending on Iraq is Americans' top choice for financing the recovery from Katrina."

Despite the hearing and intensified anti-war pressure, there remains a huge gap between the minimum demands of the anti-war movement and the maximum that Congressional representatives are able or willing to offer, at least in the short run. But a deep unease runs through both parties and the military. The original neo-conservative "vision" of a quick victory in Baghdad followed by invasions of Syria and Iran seems out of the question (although a sudden bombing of Iran's nuclear site remains possible).

The situation is deteriorating for the Bush Administration. The war continues in the heart of Baghdad while U.S. troops roam around the border. The failed "constitutional process," patched up by a last-minute "codicil," has devolved into a sectarian war with US-backed Kurds and Shiites on one side, and marginalized Sunnis and oppositionists on the other. The coalition of the willing has become the coalition of the vanishing. Troop pullouts by Italy (3,000), Poland (1,700), Ukraine (1,600), and Bulgaria (400) are scheduled by December. Britain is expected to remove 3,000 of its 8,500 troops as well.

And Democrats, slowly, painfully, pathetically, are beginning their reconsideration. The internal strategic thinking of party leaders was summarized by one member as: "The Republicans can declare victory and leave, but the Democrats can only declare failure and be blamed." Such reasoning leads to abdication of any opposition to the war. But that has begun to change.

One example came in the testimony of former Sen. Max Cleland at the Woolsey hearing. A Vietnam veteran and one of Sen. John Kerry's "band of brothers" in 2004, Cleland issued a Democratic radio message only a month ago in which he said the U.S. should have "a strategy to win or an exit strategy to get out." But by the Woolsey hearing, Cleland had moved to a passionate call for an exit strategy, period:

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How to Get Out of Iraq

When you're in the middle of a conflict, you're trying to find pillars of strength to lean on," an American officer in Iraq said recently. With those words he provided a clue to ending the war: Undermine the pillars of Pentagon policy through people power.

Those pillars -- among them public cooperation, Iraqi cooperation, congressional compliance, centrist caution, military recruitment and U.S. alliances -- are weakening.

The Time Is Now

Public support for the war is down, as are the president's ratings. Antiwar Democrats are coming back. Military recruiting is hitting a wall. The strategy of "Iraqization" is failing. The coalition of the willing is disintegrating. America's reputation is tattered.

Public sympathy towards Cindy Sheehan suggests a crucial shift in America's sensibility toward the losses. Usually wars generate a public reluctance to withdraw without "victory" so that the fallen shall not have "died in vain." In this case, Sheehan has led much of the country through a grieving process that demands the truth so that no others will die for hollow or fabricated reasons.

Recognizing its weaknesses, the administration is on a mission of perception management to gain time and resources. Americans are now being promised that Iraq will have a new constitution, democratic elections and, most importantly, that the first troops may be home by the spring of the 2006 election year.

These gestures are the Bush administration's responses to the quandaries it is confronting on the battlefields of war and domestic public opinion. They are designed to extend the conflict while appearing to begin disengagement. This ploy is nothing new; we should remember that the Vietnam War continued for seven years after President Johnson was pressured to resign and peace talks began.

"They just keep getting stronger," The New York Times recently wrote when describing the Iraqi resistance. The Times went on to confirm that over the past year the insurgents have inflicted some 65 attacks on U.S. and Iraqi troops each day, with increasing sophistication and precision. Baghdad is "effectively enemy territory, with an ability to strike at will, and to shake off the losses inflicted by American troops." American casualties cannot be concealed. During May and June, 71 Americans were killed in 700 attacks; by the year's end it is likely that 2,000 Americans will have been killed, not counting hundreds of American private contractors. According to Pentagon data, 13,000 Americans have been wounded in battle, more than half of them seriously. Tens of thousands will return with serious mental health problems.

U.S. troops cannot hold the territory they occupy -- the classic contradiction faced by an occupying power trying to prop up an unrepresentative regime against a nationalist resistance. The training and deployment of Iraqi counter-insurgency troops -- "Iraqization" -- has failed so far, according to declassified Pentagon reports. And Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says it may take four, eight, or 12 years -- in other words, several more U.S. presidential cycles.

Iraqi Antiwar Groups Rise

The most significant factor on the ground is the rise of an Iraqi movement calling for U.S. withdrawal and the end of the occupation. Rather than welcoming such a development, the administration and a media blinded by its own paradigms have ignored the possibility of a peace process among Iraqis.

Buried in the eleventh paragraph of a July 2005 story about two British contractors dying in Iraq, the Times mentions that supporters of the Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, famous for two uprisings against American troops, collected one million signatures against the occupation in three weeks. In addition, on June 12 at least 82 members of the Iraqi parliament -- one-third of the body -- issued a statement calling for the end of occupation and complaining they were not properly consulted in the United Nations Security Council's recent extension of the occupation.

The rumblings within America's client regime reflect a widespread consensus on the ground. Surveys taken at the beginning of 2005 show that 82 percent of Sunnis and 69 percent of Shiites favored a near-term U.S. withdrawal. According to the State Department's own internal surveys, at least half of Iraqis interviewed say they feel unsafe because of the presence of American troops.

Indeed, a former minister in the Iraqi government, Dr. Aiham Al Sammarae, is engaged in peace talks with representatives of at least four insurgent groups. He spoke in Washington in July about his mission, but has received no public acknowledgement by government officials or mainstream reporters. In all likelihood, the Bush administration is struggling to suppress even moderate voices against the occupation. After all, how would the United States respond to a broad-based antiwar movement in Iraq? Call a majority of Iraqis dupes of terrorism?

Most Americans would be relieved at the prospect of peace talks among Iraqis, including the insurgents, aimed at ending the debacle. The situation calls for a negotiated exit strategy, not Rumsfeld's boastful assertion, "We have no exit strategy, only a victory strategy."

Nevertheless, the White House will play upon the significant misgivings many Americans feel about the consequences of a sudden pullout. Since Bush has no exit plan, it is important that peace advocates put one forward in the final battle for public opinion.

A provisional exit plan is circulating as a petition to Congress on several peace group Web sites. Its core guidelines include:

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How to End the Iraq War

It is in the nature of truly mass movements that people choose the paths that seem to promise effective results, even victories. So it should surprise no one that much of the energy of the peace and justice movement flowed into presidential campaigns for Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich and ultimately John Kerry (the UnBush).

As a result millions of people become engaged politically on grassroots levels, many for the first time. The peace and justice message was heard more widely than before.

Under pressure, the Democratic platform opposed the Central American trade agreement (CAFTA) and promised a full review of U.S. trade policy. The movement was unable to push Kerry and the Democrats into an anti-Iraq position, although Kerry at least voiced a constant attack on Bush's policy as mistaken. The pressure of anti-war voices and the Kerry campaign led Bush to delay the request for a supplemental $75 billion appropriation, the assault on Falluja, and the U.S.-sponsored Iraqi elections until after Nov. 2.

Once the election was over, the Bush administration turned Falluja into a slaughterhouse � even as the Democrats remained silent and thousands of activists seemed frozen in mourning or internal discussions of what went wrong.

There is a lesson here for progressives. Since the anti-war sentiment was a factor of public opinion during the presidential race that made Bush defer tough decisions, the movement needs to create an even greater force of opposition that will become indigestible, a kind of gallstone in the stomach of power.

If this seems unlikely, one must remember that the war-makers are feverishly trying to manipulate the perceptions of restive Americans. They fear the multitudes. That is why reporters were embedded at the beginning. That is why the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue on April 9, 2003 was "stage-managed" by the U.S. Army, according to the L.A. Times.

Even the most recent battle of Fallujah was about "the American military intend[ing] to fight its own information war," as the New York Times observed. According to another Times article, the Fallujah hospital was shut down on the first day of the operation because our Army considered it a "source of rumors about heavy casualties." A senior military official called the hospital "a center of propaganda" as scores of patients were being treated.

The importance of public opinion was stated quite frankly by Robert Kaplan, a leading neo-conservative, in the Atlantic Monthly last year. The most important battleground of America's new "combination warfare," he wrote, is the media:

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Learning from the Loss

51 percent is no mandate.

Maybe the Republicans were confusing the outcome with a mandate from heaven (more on that later), but as soon as the polls closed their propaganda machinery began repeating the mantra of mandate, using the mass media as an echo chamber. By the next day, Grover Norquist was announcing that America is a "Republican majority country," and you could hear him squelching the urge to say "love it or leave it."

This mandate talk is nothing less than orchestrated state propaganda. America is as fundamentally divided today as it was last week, as divided as the �60s, as divided as it has been since the last civil war.

John Kerry, almost nobody's candidate one year ago, won 49 percent, or 55 million votes � the largest number of votes against an incumbent in history.

But Republicans are trying to consolidate their power over every branch of government in excess of their 51 percent popular mandate.

Kerry could have won, According to a compilation of exit polls, the Democrats squandered their usual gender gap, beating Bush by only 51-48, even among working women. The Democrats' cultural elitism won them the post-graduate vote 55-44, while handing Bush 52 percent of high school and college graduates. The eastern Democratic establishment's relative disinterest in Latinos let Bush win 44% of those votes. The accurate perception that John Kerry is given to "flip-flopping,� or "nuanced thinking" if you will, was so magnified by Republican advertising that only 40 percent of voters thought Kerry said what he believed (unlike the president's flat-out lies about weapons of mass destruction).

But the Democrats' unprecedented get-out-the-vote effort worked. Seventeen percent of the 18-29 year olds turned out, an increase of seven percent, with 54 percent supporting Kerry. Those undecideds who made up their minds on either election day or the last three days voted for Kerry by margins up to 55 percent. Among first-time voters, who were 11 percent of the turnout, Kerry topped Bush 53-46. Over 1,500 community-based organizations threw themselves into this election. Mark Ritchie of was quite right in feeling that "we are in the first stages of creating a [new] pro-democracy movement in the United States, one that draws on the best of all our political streams."

So what lessons can be sifted from this bittersweet experience?

1. The anti-war movement now must assert its opposition everywhere.

Despite the Democrats' hawkish rhetoric, the anti-war movement stayed the course against Bush. Among the 45 percent of voters who disapproved of going to war, 87 percent voted for Kerry.

The two-year rise of anti-war opposition has been under-reported but unprecedented. Beginning with marches of 100,000 or more in fall 2002, and millions in February 2003, the anti-war forces inevitably flowed into electoral politics through the Dean and Kucinich campaigns, just as many went "clean for Gene" McCarthy and Robert Kennedy in 1968. The new movement still produced 500,000 marchers at the Republican convention in New York while absorbing over 1,000 arrests, and remaining steadfast to the strategy of maximizing the anti-Bush vote on Nov. 2.

2. Now, however, the movement must reassemble, attack and expand.

A U.S. military offensive against Fallujah and Ramadi may begin at any moment. From an anti-war viewpoint, it was unforgivable that Kerry and other Democrats assented to this pending assault. Bombing and killing civilians is hardly the way to build democracy, and only intensifies the irreversible Iraqi demand for self-determination. Even worse, the U.S. strategy being prepared by Ambassador John Negroponte � whose previous assignments included the Phoenix assassination program in South Vietnam and the U.S. war against the Sandinistas � is aimed at either (a) rigging the Iraqi electoral outcome by unifying a coalition of U.S.-backed parties of former exiles, or (b) bypassing the elections altogether in the name of a "security" crisis of U.S. making.. Mass suffering will continue to increase in Iraq, especially among women and children.

Unfortunately, the American peace movement could not accelerate its pace rapidly enough, in large part because of lingering public anxiety over the 9/11 attacks. But the rapid grown of protest was still significant compared to the Vietnam era, when just 25,000 showed up for the first Washington march in early 1965. It took three years of war and conscription, 500,000 American troops, and 200 body bags per month before a majority of Americans judged the Vietnam war mistaken and immoral. In half that time, and with far fewer casualties, a near-majority of Americans has come to disapprove the decision to invade Iraq (45 percent-51 percent) and a larger number of Nov. 2 voters felt the war was going badly (52 percent). But those numbers were not enough to propel John Kerry to the presidency.

However, the role of the anti-war movement remains crucial to ending the occupation of Iraq. The bloody quagmire is likely to deepen. So is the strain on US combat troops, especially the reserves. Already 14 of 32 countries in the "Coalition," or almost half, have withdrawn, reduced their force numbers, or signaled their intention to do so, In every case, domestic anti-war movements have been crucial in persuading their governments to resist the imperial American attempt to conscript their people to fight our war. The only exceptions so far are England, Italy, Australia and Japan, where massive anti-war movements have shaken, but not yet toppled, their regimes so far.

In the same way, domestic anti-war pressure at the Congressional district level can complicate the Bush administration's efforts to secure the $75 billion it seeks, with no strings attached, to subsidize the status quo, or perhaps expand the war to Iran or Syria. Already anti-war rumbling has forced Bush to announce "no new draft,� a commitment which either ties his hands militarily or will provoke a massive uproar if he breaks the pledge. Now that the Democrats are out of power, they should be forced by their rank-and-file to become more staunchly opposed to the Iraq policy, just as occurred after Nixon's victory in 1968.

How can the war be ended? While a majority may see the invasion as a mistake, many will ask how the Unites States can leave "now that we are there". That of course is how quagmires are become quagmires, and why the end game so often turns ugly, as in South Vietnam in 1975, because the politicians and generals are afraid to "cut and run,� While personally I am not persuaded that there is any moral justification for shedding one more dollar or drop of blood on an Iraq that hates the occupation, politically the anti-war movement should be calling for an exit strategy. If and when the US government makes an internal decision that the occupation is a lost cause, from that time the possibilities of peace will open up.

For example, the United States could manipulate its clients in Baghdad to thank us for toppling Saddam Hussein, invite us to leave, and quietly assure our supply of oil. The vast majority of insurgents would be happy with a U.S. withdrawal, Iraqi control of their economy and natural resources, along with parallel U.S. commitments to a real Palestinian state and a re-examination of the "special relationship" with the Saudi royals. The United States will have to allow Iraqis a real transition, towards a governing arrangement that follows the natural contours of their culture, probably an elected confederation with a Shiite majority plus guarantees for its Kurdish and Sunni minorities. Such an outcome would do more to lessen the danger of terrorism than anything the Homeland Security Agency will ever accomplish.

3. A revival of progressive populism is the key to winning back America.

As Thomas Franks and many others have pointed out, the Democratic Party and numerous single-issue groups have lost their traditional roots in populism, leaving a vacuum that cultural and religious issues fill. The starting point is the fight to assure the right to vote against the conspiracy of forces - employers of weekday workers, elites in college towns, makers of electronic machines that leave no paper trail, local officials who cause four-hour waiting lines, prosecutors that knowingly disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of former convicts and present parolees, incumbents of both parties, etcetera - who still believe that voting is a privilege they can restrict.

Beyond voting rights, the most obvious populist issue is the need to turn the Democratic Party away from its decade-long devotion to the chimera of "free trade" � which usually means corporate welfare – while millions of manufacturing jobs were being lost and replaced with lower-wage jobs with no benefits. For 30 years, the "party of the people" has failed to make its core issues the disappearance of the American middle class. The result is that places like Ohio and Kansas (Frank's homeland) turn to the consolation of religion as their small town economies and way of life are shredded. That is why Kerry captured only 51 percent of the working women's vote to Bush's 48 percent, and why Kerry took just 57 percent of voters with union members in their households while Bush grabbed 42% despite systematically trying to undermine the AFL-CIO.

Even Newsweek wrote this year of American workers "finding themselves working harder for less money,� citing expert analysis that "globalization clearly [exerts] a leveling effect on wages." The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that since 2001, �the percent of structural [permanent] job cuts has doubled compared to previous recessions, and that new jobs are averaging 57 percent pay cuts.� Newsweek goes on to note that "layoffs are now socially acceptable in the corporate world, and last year there were a record number of suicides attributed to economic causes such as job loss and heavy debt." When Newsweek is to the left of the Democratic platform, it is time for rethinking.

The difference over populism went deeper than the clashing personalities of Bush (the regular guy) and Kerry (the Brahmin). The Republican Party has become more populist than the Democrats because its faith-based version diverts working people from class struggle to "moral issues," a painless populism for corporations. When Enron dominated the headlines before Iraq came along, Karl Rove made sure that a few indefensible corporate moguls were seen handcuffed. Meanwhile, the potential of the Democratic Party to emphasize economic or environmentally-based populism runs contrary to the Party's "growth" ideology and dependence on corporate donors and wheeler-dealers. And while the Kerry campaign placated labor and global justice activists with promises to oppose the Central American Free Trade Agreement and "review" other trade agreements after the election, these commitments were rarely if ever mentioned on the campaign or the debates. Never once was Kerry quoted as saying "sweatshop" even though he signed a pledge to end government subsidies for them.

The next immediate opportunities for populists are likely to be the privatization of Social Security, the deepening lack of health care coverage, and the tightening squeeze on middle class incomes and opportunities. But the Democratic Party will have to cast off its timidity to say what needs to be said. For example: Why should our guaranteed Social Security benefits be gambled on the stock market if there's another way to protect the system? Why does our health care system promote Viagra while it cannot deliver flu shots to those who will die this winter without them? When will Halliburton executives be indicted for over-charging on the delivery of food to our troops? Why can't we ban untested chemicals likely to cause cancer in children? Will the Democrats select a chairperson willing to say such things, or a chair who caters to big donors and incumbents?

4. Taking back Jesus from the new Roman Empire.

Instead of "Jesus Saves,� we need to save Jesus. This is no time for the Democrats to begin pandering to any on the Christian Right who have turned Jesus into a symbol for a vast and potentially illegal political network of tax-exempt, church-based, right wing partisan activism.

Let's look at the numbers. White evangelical born-again Christians, who were 23 percent of the total vote, gave Bush a 78 percent margin, and the very secular John Kerry 21 percent. White Catholics (like Kerry) provided 47 percent support. On the other hand, "white Jews" voted 75 percent for Kerry, voters who attend church "a few times a year" gave him 54 percent, and those who never attend religious services produced a 62 percent Kerry majority. People of color were Kerry's strongest religious base.

In the wake of the election, many Democrats no doubt will begin repositioning themselves as born-agains. Instead they should articulate moral and spiritual values rather than misreading the separation of church and state to mean that such concerns are constitutionally out-of-bounds. They should also attack the transformation of institutional churches into de facto partisan agencies, and everyone, Christian or not, should battle take back Jesus from Empire.

Jesus was a dissident on the fringes of the Empire of his day. As Father Gregory Boyle says, "Jesus stood with everybody who was nobody. He made a beeline (always) to stand with those on the margins, those whose dignity had been denied, the poor and excluded, the easily despised, the demonized, and those whose burdens were more than they could bear. And they killed him for it." Father Luis Barrios agrees, saying that the historical Jesus was ignored by the authorities until "he went downtown" to challenge the elite. As the Christian radical Cornel West writes in "Democracy Matters," "prophetic Christianity" is being eclipsed by "Constantian Christianity"; that is, the very Empire that crucified Jesus later transformed him into the symbol of an expansionary state religion. This is what the Machiavellians like Rove and the neo-conservative non-believers have done through the Bush presidency: build the beginnings of a theocratic state just beneath the surface of the Republican Party, a shadow network of believers nesting in every crevice of bureaucracy available.

It is no accident that the young men and women killing, dying, being maimed and disoriented in Iraq come disproportionately from God-fearing families in small towns, or that the Pentagon hierarchy still supports a general who promotes the superiority of "our God" over the Muslims. For some conservative Christians, neither the Crusades nor the Confederacy are over. They continue in whispers, in code, covertly, awaiting the moment when the Good News can be proclaimed again, from Washington to Babylon. For these people, the second term of Bush is the Second Coming.

The only way to counter this trend towards state religion is by engaging the Christian community, especially the conservative evangelicals, in a moral and theological dispute about Jesus. Talk of the Constitution and Bill of Rights is not enough to break their paradigm. Pronouncements by liberal religious bureaucracies will not be taken seriously. The "people of faith" networks organized late in the presidential campaign are just the beginning of a populist spirituality as an alternative to the corporate-Republican cooptation of the faithful.

5. A Progressive Democratic movement must be strengthened inside and outside the Party.

Moving the Party to the right, pandering to "soccer moms" and "Nascar dads" without understanding them, distancing the party from its base ("blacks are no longer a good image for Democrats," Jerry Brown once said), are symptoms of a political party confused about its soul. From the extraordinary efforts of the Dean and Kucinich campaigns and the independent 527 committees should come a groundswell of grassroots activism energizing progressive politics for the years ahead. Plans already are underway to form the Progressive Democrats of America, the Progressive Majority is supporting and training future candidates, and already 600 candidates have been generated by the Dean campaign, each continuing the tradition of the Rainbow Coalition. The inspired Move.On network, the independent media, the think tanks old and new, can be expected to grow and expand a progressive infrasructure. To build a truly populist movement, however, the traditional organizational cadres will have to recognize that the new volunteers, the "Deaniacs" and others, are more than "troops" to be commanded to do the work of calling voters, knocking on doors and sleeping on floors. A transition to a new generation of leadership – not a power rivalry between the generations, but a real transition – is needed if the massive outpouring of activism of the past year is to flourish and be funded for the future.

6. Finally, you can count on the Republicans to go too far.

When political parties become majorities, controlling everything after many years in a self-defined "wilderness," they always go too far in rewarding their faithful. When Republicans dominate, they cannot control their lust for dominance. Where the superpower syndrome dominates, the coming possibility of defeat is invisible to them. Like the Nixon administration approaching the collapse of Saigon and the traps of Watergate, the Bush administration will be blinded by its own paradigms. It believes that a world that is interdependent can be dominated unilaterally, and that its numeric majority can impose a monolithic culture on a racially-divided America. Their excesses that inevitably arise from this arrogance will provoke wider resistance abroad, stronger social movements at home, and ultimately a disaffected majority. The only question is who will be organized and ready when the time comes.

Getting Physical

Not since the 1930s have the labor, civil rights and peace movements been this unified in a presidential campaign, and almost never before have the raw realities of power been so flagrantly exposed behind the showcasing of democracy American-style.

It will get worse in the days ahead. Many Americans will have to push their way through the resistance of Republican operatives seeking to obstruct the right to vote. I predict it will get physical.

Remember the white riot staged by Republican congressional staffers, many of them flown in on Enron jets, to shut down the Florida vote count in 2000? Remember the Democratic leadership cautioning Rev. Jesse Jackson not to lead militant demonstrations that month? Remember the pressure coming from the highest levels to achieve "closure" and "stability" rather than prolong the battle over who won Florida?

The Republicans learned all over that November that force and intimidation work. It's happening all over again. The US "Federal Election Assistance Commission" admits they lack 500,000 trained poll workers for Tuesday. A top Republican in Michigan opines that victory depends on how many black votes can be suppressed. Companies like Diebold control millions of electronically-cast votes without oversight. The Ohio Republicans wanted voter applications to be on paper with holiday-card thickness. South Dakota Republicans work to stop the Pine Ridge Oglala from turning out. The Pentagon political machine is mobilizing the overseas military vote. The purging of hundreds of thousands of ex-felons continues in state after state. And Florida is once again, well, Florida.

This time elements of the Democratic coalition are prepared to fight back, unlike 2000. New York Times editorials make America begin to seem like a banana republic. Thousands of activists have registered up to 700,000 new voters in Ohio. The Florida turnout is projected at 75 percent. It may be the largest voter drive in progressive history. If Kerry wins, it will be due in large part to these new voters.

Republicans know that victory depends on impeding turnout, that the important thing is to interrogate people of color, the elderly and students, drive them away from the polls by any means necessary, drown the complaints with a drumbeat about whiners, and leave it to the courts.

This is a moment of truth. It has been an ideological maxim for many on the Left that the vote is meaningless, a diversionary reform at most. But if the Republicans are willing to use any means to suppress the vote, especially among people of color, how can any progressive person be indifferent any longer? The fact is that systematic efforts are underway to repeal the right to vote for thousands, even millions, of Americans whose ancestors fought and secured it, or so we are taught to believe.

Let us concede the point that the vote has been hollowed out by the power of money, the seduction of personality, the oligarchical arrangement of the parties, the growth of clandestine decision-making. But the very effort to render the franchise meaningless reveals its potential for changing the social order. The promise that every person is equal in the ballot box is feared as a precedent that could get out of hand in a society founded on so much inequality. Democracy ultimately becomes contagious, excessive, to conservative thinkers like Harvard's Samuel Huntington. At the very bottom of things is the fact that the pure marketplace of neo-conservative dreams cannot coexist alongside the universal franchise. It is an interference in free markets, a potential restraint on trade. It is to be controlled as a privilege, never conceded as a right.

In the unfolding confrontation, millions of Americans are learning the profound lesson that the right to vote is not secure, that plans to steal elections are made at the highest levels of authority. It is a radicalizing lesson, not a seduction into the smoke and mirrors of America's fictitious pluralism.

On Tuesday at least, the traditions of civil disobedience and electoral politics may converge. What are Democrats going to do if long lines of voters are blocked? E-mail John Ashcroft? Are newly-politicized protestors going to forget about their confrontational tactics for the day, or use them against the Republican bullies? What are trade unionists supposed to do when a Republican pushes or punches someone trying to vote? What are defenders of democracy to do when the whole world is watching Republicans approach the election like a seizure of power? What will happen when it's too late for the lawyers and the foul deed is done again?

If Republicans stand in the way of democracy Tuesday like reincarnations of old George Wallace or Ross Barnett, it should be time for the movement to say once again: move on over or we'll move on over you.

Scapegoating the Protests

What is the basis for the spreading assertion that anti-war protests at the Republican convention will help Bush? According to one observer, the protests may become "the Ralph Nader of 2004," implying that an August confrontation in New York will shift swing voters to the Republicans in November. A former New Left leader warns protesters to worry about street images of New York tipping the balance in the West Virginia general election. The media never asks the protestors themselves what they think of the war, or how they have managed to build the largest anti-war movement in history, only whether their behavior will help elect Bush.

The evidence for blaming the protestors is thin, since close elections hinge on multiple factors that might impact one or two percent of the vote. The reasons for the current concerns are rooted deeply in the conventional understanding of Chicago 1968 and the Nader/Green Party campaign of 2000. In both instances, the protestors have been blamed for Republican victories. But a clear assessment of 1968 and 2000 suggests that any single-factor interpretation is driven by subjective needs, such as scapegoating.

I (lamely) supported Hubert Humphrey over Richard Nixon as a lesser evil. I (passionately) supported Al Gore in 2000. But I do not blame protestors for either outcome.

The media-engraved memory of 1968 is one of police-bashing groovy long-hairs in the Chicago streets. But it is well to remember the realities that were not televised. First, the Democratic Party chose to escalate the Vietnam War and alienate the youthful protest movement and supporters of Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy. The Democratic president authorized the police tactics that August, which were desribed as a "police riot" in the official Walker Report review. The Democratic nominee supported the police against the protestors.

The margin of difference in November 1968 was a fraction of one percent. Many on the left that year, still furious, either did not vote or voted for a minor-party alternative to Humphrey. It would be accurate to say that their defection threw the election. But it is accurate but not fair, since the argument ignores what caused the alienation and how the Democrats could have addressed it by turning toward peace.

A few weeks before that election, Humphrey, trailing badly, gave a speech declaring his independence from Lyndon Johnson and proposing peace talks in Paris. Immediately, Humphrey's poll numbers started to climb vertically. But Richard Nixon worked frantically behind the scenes to dissuade South Vietnama's Nguyen Van Thieu from joining the Paris talks before the election. NIxon succeeded, and Humphrey lost by a handful of votes.

There is no objective certainty, but Humphrey's momentum could have succeeded if his break from Johnson had come earlier. Other factors that could have determined the outcome are never mentioned at all, for example, if George Wallace had taken one more percentage point from Nixon.

The outcome instead was blamed on "Chicago '68," on the young people who passionately stood up against the war and the police tactics, were gassed, bloodied, arrested, and falsely accused of communist conspiracies.

Why? Because scapegoating functions to shift blame from the powerful to the powerless, from the comfortable to the marginal. As far as I know, no national Democratic leader – nor the party – has ever taken responsibility for what happened in that year when the party lost its soul and direction. Instead, "Chicago '68" has become a metaphoric lesson about the dark side of protest, not that of power.

The raw feelings about Ralph Nader have intensified since 2000 among millions of Democrats, even including myself. In one sense, Nader is much more responsible for electing Bush – perhaps twice – than the street protestors of 1968. Nader and the Green Party, after all, went on proudly campaigning to take votes away from Al Gore even when polls showed his vote would impact the result.

Nader has failed to acknowledge or take responsibility for his part in the debacle, in part because he is defensive but also because he rejects the single-factor blame game. Indeed, the Socialist presidential candidate David McReynolds won thousands of votes in Florida in 2000, yet was never mentioned in the postmortems. Nor is the fact that Al Gore lost his home state of Tennessee, for example.

I remain angry at Nader to this day, but wonder why he has become the exclusive focus for Democratic rage and revenge? Is it not because scapegoating involves a shifting of blame from oneself, or from a shared context, to an alien Other? Is it because it is so much easier to purge the scapegoat than reform the political culture that gave rise to his dissident voice?

The same questions now arise surrounding the Republican convention in New York. Even before the convention, protestors are warned of the consequences of their protests. Since it is predictable that Bush will improve in the polls following the convention, it is also likely that the protests will be blamed.

Another scenario is plausible, that loud protests at the convention will damage Bush's already-tarnished claim to be a uniter, not a divider. Voters are likely to reject a president who, having needlessly brought death and disorder to the U.S. standing in the world, would needlessly provoke disorders at home in a second term.

I believe John Kerry is open to persuasion by the pressure of a mass movement, while George Bush is not. But Kerry has positioned himself as favoring military occupation until Iraq is "stabilized." John Edwards has gone farther, declaring that Kerry will achieve "victory" in Iraq. Kerry is taking an incredible gamble that every single progressive, and every undecided vote tormented about Iraq, will vote for Kerry instead of Nader or not at all. Bush may neutralize Kerry in the debates by asking the tough question: What would he do differently in Iraq now? What will Kerry say to the wavering voter? Will he find himself in Humphrey's situation, offering too little, too late?

At this point, Bush's approval ratings are low, and Kerry's campaign is not making the progress it might. Kerry still has a good shot of winning, but clearly there still are many ways for the Democrats to lose. Blaming the peace protestors is not one of them.

Remembering Dave Dellinger

Editor's Note: Dave Dellinger was a lifelong pacifist. As one of the Chicago Seven (with Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, Rennie Davis, Jerry Rubin, John Froines, Lee Wiener, and Bobby Seale, the eighth member), he was arrested at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago for protesting the war in Viet Nam. He suffered from Alzheimer's and died of pneumonia on May 25, 2004.

The first thing to remember about Dave is that he lived through one-third of the history of America, give or take a year. Many lives, many movements, many eras lie buried in the architecture of his identity, hard to excavate, impossible to simplify, but awesome to just admire.

The second thing to know is that Dave was blessed to be one of clearest, non-conforming and curious of human beings during 80 years when most Americans were cursed with a kind of permanent cultural Alzheimer's Disease and still don't know it. Watch TV for a day if you don't know what I mean.

The third thing is that he was one of the few who made the transition from the old left to the new starting in the 1960s. Maybe that's because he wasn't really part of the old left, I am not sure, or maybe because serious non-violence meant engaging creatively and respectfully with new and diverse people. But Dave didn't spend a lot of time wondering if was a schachmanite or a deutscherite or a stalinoid or any of the categorical junk that made it hard for the old left to get down with the new.

The fourth thing is that Dave was a kind of politician, a listener, a fixer of things, a coalition-builder in a movement filled with fanatics and factions and ego-trippers of all sorts. Dave could sit down and make agreements that would allow things to happen, like marches of hundreds of thousands.

The fifth thing is that Dave was flexible about his non-violence. That is, he never let the issue of violence block his ability to relate to, and work with, people he considered oppressed, whether the Black Panthers or the North Vietnamese.

Sometimes this got weird. One day we were walking down a street in Cuba and Dave asked our interpreter about a big building. The Cuban said that's where Batista used to execute people, and Dave nodded as if it was a museum to barbarism. He then asked the Cuban what the building was used for, and the Cuban replied, "That's where we execute people." Dave choked on his cigar as he took the information in.

I don't mean Dave tolerated everything. He wouldn't hesitate to denounce me either for being soft on violence or soft on Bobby Kennedy, I don't know which crime was worse. A core opposition to both violent ideologies or participation in the system ran through his blood.

He would have joined Ethan Allen's Green Mountain Boys, then told them to be nonviolent, make alliances with the Indians, change their name to men and women, and still he would have written articles justifying their rebellion based on its underlying causes.

He was a living mountain of a man. When the big federal marshals in the Chicago courtroom were roughing up Bobby Seale, Dave nonviolently placed himself in their way, more like a linebacker than a Gandhi.

When the same marshals were moving in on Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, Dave said, "Don't touch them." When the marshals then told Dave to "shut up," Dave then reverted to offended politeness: "you don't have to say 'shut up.'" He was the only defendant who wore a sports coat and tie everyday to court. He had boundaries.

When the prosecutors accused Dave of going off to disrupt the Chicago loop on Sept. 28 (that was me, not Dave), Dave said in court, "Oh, bullshit." I looked at him as if he'd lost his mind, but maybe he was finding it.

His greatest moment (for me) came on the day of his sentencing, when he already had been in jail for two weeks, ailing from all sorts of pain and diseases. He said:
You want us to stay in our place like black people were supposed to stay in their place, like poor people were supposed to stay in their place, like woman are supposed to stay in their place, like people without formal education are supposed to stay in their place, and children are supposed to stay in their place, and lawyers are supposed to stay in their place...
The marshals grabbed Dave and started dragging him to jail. His voice kept rising:
Well, people will no longer be quiet. People are going to speak up. I am an old man and I am speaking feebly and not too well, but I reflect the spirit that will echo throughout the world...
Take him away, the judge ordered, and then I saw Dave's 15-year-old daughter Michele in the midst of the courtroom rise up, red-faced and screaming, like a little tiger being held by a frightened marshal, and Dave trying to move protectively toward her carrying the marshals on his neck and back. The father and daughter were held apart physically, but the officers of the court had committed moral suicide, and everyone knew it. Hardened reporters were standing there crying. Bill Kunstler started weeping at the lectern, asking to be punished next.

I had seen what nonviolence could do when the body really becomes a weapon, not a passive mass of flesh but a cannon of the soul. That was the Dave I loved and learned from, and whose story I will tell and write to whoever wishes to become a mountain in the storm of their time.

Tom Hayden was a leader of the student, civil rights, peace and environmental movements of the 1960s. He served 18 years in the California legislature, where he chaired labor, higher education and natural resources committees. He is the author of ten books, including "Street Wars" (New Press, 2004). He is a professor at Occidental College, Los Angeles, and was a visiting fellow at Harvard's Institute of Politics last fall.

When Bonesmen Fight

I hope some journalist has the guts to ask John Kerry (Skull and Bones, 1965) and George Bush (Skull and Bones, 1967) whether they have any qualms about belonging to a secret, oath-bound network since their college days. Did they discuss Skull and Bones in code when President Bush called Senator Kerry to congratulate him on his primary victories? Will they agree not to leave the room if the reporter blurts out "322", coded references to Demosthene's birthday and Skull and Bones' founding.

Am I scratching the blackboard yet, dear reader? Or are you smugly dismissing these questions as paranoid and unsophisticated?

I don't consider myself a conspiracy nut, but is it really all right that four decades after the egalitarian Sixties, and some 225 years since the Declaration of Independence, the American voters' choices in 2004 are two Bonesmen?

The lesson is that aristocracy still survives democracy.

I was a member of a secret society during the same era as Bush and Kerry, at the University of Michigan, and can testify that these are profoundly lasting experiences. As a junior, I was tapped for the Druids, which involved a two-day ritual that included being stripped to my underpants, pelted with eggs, smeared with red dye and tied to a campus tree. These humiliations signified my rebirth from lowly student journalist to Big Man on Campus.

Soon, however, I became alienated. None of the bonding could make me feel I actually belonged. Perhaps I was an outsider by nature, an Irish Catholic descendant of immigrants, first in my family to attend university. The clubbiness had one purpose, as a source told Alexandra Robbins for her book on Skull and Bones. It was "to make the other people who didn't get in feel bad." But even as an insider, I felt bad, undeserving, resentful.

When I was tapped in my senior year for the most prestigious secret society, Michigauma, I decided instead to hide out in a girlfriend's apartment, becoming the first refusenik in Michigauma history. But I still felt like something was wrong with me, that I didn't have the right stuff, that I was blowing my future.

In summer 1960, I experienced the same self-doubt at the national convention of the U.S. National Student Association, which then was controlled by an older clique of student leaders who seemed, as they say, to the manor born. On the one hand, ambition inclined me to challenge the clique by running for national affairs vice president, a path I would eventually follow twenty years later. On the other hand, the radical civil rights and student movements, like the fledgling Students for a Democratic Society, were pulling at my heart. Should I work within the establishment or create something new and risky?

One night I came across a yellow pad left on a desk by the NSA leadership. At the top of a chart was written "Control Group". On the left was my name and that of Alan Haber, a founder of SDS. On the right was a box marked "YAF" -- Young Americans for Freedom, the conservative group founded at Yale by William F. Buckley (Bones 1950).

Seven years later, it was revealed that the CIA secretly controlled and funded NSA, and that former editors of the Michigan Daily were among the spooks they recruited. I went south as a Freedom Rider and drafted the SDS Port Huron Statement.

In those years, George Bush was a Yale cheerleader and devoted Deke. John Kerry became a Navy lieutenant shooting up the Mekong Delta. Bush never seemed to question authority, while Kerry's loyalties were shaken by war. But they both belonged to the vast, safe, surreptitious Affirmative Action Program for old boys.

It seems like a lifetime since those days, but we still suffer from many gaps based on privilege. The political system is a moneyed oligarchy underneath its democratic trappings. The vast majority of voters are like fans in the bleachers: We participate from the cheap seats, supposed to enjoy our place, and vote for whichever Bonesman we prefer. Our taxes even subsidize their corporate box seats.

Sometimes Bonesman fight over status. For instance, about 75 years ago, Dwight Davis, U.S. secretary of war, created the Davis Cup, and George H. Walker, grandfather of George W., volleyed back by establishing the Walker Cup. The differences today between Bush and Kerry are about as serious as they get, short of a duel. Karl Marx (London School of Economics) would describe the split a contradiction in the ruling class. Bush is the unilateral builder of empire, while Kerry stands for the multilateral alliances long preferred by most Bonesmen. Though both the Cowboy and the Brahmin may be quarreling members of the same old club, their differences are existential for the rest of us.

Ralph Nader doesn't see this. Instead, he argues that the two parties are a duopoly within the same plutocracy. Maybe Nader is nursing resentment over not being tapped himself, but his is a dangerous blindness. The differences between Bush and Kerry over Supreme Court appointments, religious fundamentalism, civil rights, the environment, John Ashcroft and the future of Iraq are fundamental, dividing the two parties at the constituency level. Bush genuflects to the Christian Right while Kerry sings Kumbaya. The Bush people are scary and destabilizing, which is why the CIA types seem to prefer Kerry (covertly, of course). For the record, this November I am voting with the CIA. They represent the lesser evil in the choices before us.

But like Ralph Nader, I want democracy to mean more than a choice between two candidates chosen by dueling Bonesmen and their major donors.

I still stand for participatory democracy, the original 1962 vision of the SDS, which grew from our generation's experience in organizing among the excluded, from the Deep South to the Peace Corps. Students in those days were drafted for war, but considered too immature to vote. Southern blacks and Mexican immigrants could be sharecroppers in the fields, but not equal citizens in the ballot box. For us, democracy meant who had the most votes, not who controlled the most money. It meant the free flow of information, not suffocation under corporate advertising and media.

We have always wanted more than the right to choose between two candidates already vetted by the establishment. We wanted a more direct voice in the decisions that affected our lives. We wanted a democracy of participation, not a democracy regulated by secret societies. We wanted all the closets emptied.

We are a more open and democratic country as a result of the Sixties and earlier generations of radicals. We owe the Abolitionists, not merely Abraham Lincoln, for the end of slavery, the suffragettes for the right to vote, the populists for regulation of Wall Street, the industrial strikers for collective bargaining, the environmentalists for cleaner air and water. In this election, the anti-war and global justice movements have helped shape the agenda over Iraq and trade. And the gay-lesbian community is turning marriage into civil disobedience.

Yet, it remains the peculiar character of America's elite to absorb reform from below while remaining atop the pyramids of power. When a majority of Americans still feel inferior to Ivy League candidates, or identify vicariously with their dramas, we do not live in a democracy psychologically. That must eventually change. Closeted dynasties should have no moral legitimacy in a democracy -- which is why they have become increasingly secret.

Two years ago, students at the University of Michigan broke into, occupied and exposed the secret space of Michigauma, finding stolen Indian artifacts among the items hidden there. Michigauma moved off campus. When I heard the news, I wished I'd done that long ago instead of making such a private and ambiguous protest. It took a new generation to smash the old idols. Maybe Leonard Cohen is right, democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Tom Hayden was a leader of the student, civil rights, peace and environmental movements of the 1960s. He served 18 years in the California legislature, where he chaired labor, higher education and natural resources committees. He is the author of ten books, including "Street Wars" (New Press, 2004). He is a professor at Occidental College, Los Angeles, and was a visiting fellow at Harvard's Institute of Politics last fall.

Bolivia in Crisis

LA PAZ, BOLIVIA -- Evo Morales, indigenous leader, founder of the coca growers' union, elected senator, and potential president of Bolivia, is "not only willing but interested in bilateral relations with the United States on the basis of respect and equality," and would visit the U.S. if granted a visa.

Morales made the suggestion in an interview in his frenetic but modest offices in the country's legislature. A U.S. embassy official later demurred on Morales' proposal without rejecting it.

Morales missed becoming the top vote getter in Bolivia's last presidential election in 2002. His Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party is expected to win numerous municipal elections later this year. He is in the progressive mainstream of Bolivia's political spectrum, but is rated a radical threat to U.S. interests.

U.S. General James Hill, head of the Army's Southern Command, warned that "if radicals continue to highjack the indigenous movement, we could find ourselves faced with a narco-state that supports the uncontrolled cultivation of coca." An Embassy spokesman here declined to comment on the military commander's testimony, stressing that "in the end, it's their country." But he also noted that "if there's a conflict with U.S. national interests, there would be problems."

The muted comments were in contrast with public warnings by previous American ambassador Manuel Rocha against Bolivians voting for Morales, threats which were widely interpreted to have increased Morales' vote.

Providing a visa to Morales would represent a pause in the ever-deepening Bolivian crisis. Last year, approximately 110 protestors and bystanders were killed in confrontations that led to the sudden flight of President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada ("Goni") to Miami. At issue was a lucrative natural gas export project that involved Sempra, a California-based energy corporation that combines Southern California Gas and San Diego Gas and Electric. Sempra has abandoned for now its quest for Bolivian natural gas as a result of the crisis.

The new government of Carlos Mesa has pushed back this week's deadlines for a proposed reform of the country's gas and oil laws that currently benefit foreign investors. A referendum on the gas issue is scheduled for July, but its formulation has not been announced. A third promise, for a constituent assembly to rewrite Bolivia's constitution by next year, is bogged down in procedural details.

It is at best a cold peace, however. The country is seething with daily protests and rumors of coups and counter coups. A call for an indefinite general strike by Bolivia's labor federation seems to have been reconsidered for the moment as indigenous leaders wait for President Mesa to "finalize his promises one more time," as one observer noted. The situation could explode at any time.

In addition to the immediate potential for another round of bloody confrontations are even greater political stakes. With a 62 percent Indian majority and the option of exercising power, Bolivia is becoming the epicenter of battles against neo-liberal financial institutions like the World Bank and the U.S.-sponsored forced eradication of coca production.

While Morales has offered to discuss a new bilateral relationship with the U.S., however, Washington has been steadily increasing the percentage of aid to Bolivia earmarked for military efforts since 1996. The Bush Administration's proposed budget earmarks 40.4 percent of approximately $150 million for military efforts, up eight percent over the previous cycle. Increasing military aid to a country in crisis does not give much hope to progressives here that the U.S. is serious about new bilateral discussions.

Tom Hayden, who writes on the globalization crisis, is investigating developments in Bolivia. Watch for his overall observations on one of the continent's most vibrant social movements in Bolivia in the Nation magazine next month.

Peace in the Streets

Editor's Note: Tom Hayden presented this speech to a panel at the LA Times Book Festival on Sunday, April 25 2004. On Thursday, Hayden will be honored by the Los Angeles community foundation Liberty Hill.

12,000 young people, nearly all black, brown and male, have died in LA's gang wars since 1980. Across the nation, the numbers are hard to get, but it's safe to estimate a body count of 25,000.

But few people seem to care, as if these young people were incorrigible and their deaths somehow deserved. For example, I was checking the decline of gang numbers in LA with a law enforcement data specialist the other day, and I said "why don't you just declare victory and declare that the threat has declined?" and he laughed and replied, "Why don't the gang members announce the progress they're making in killing each other?" That's the attitude.

But if 25,000 white people were killing each other in the streets, you would hear calls for a peace process, for jobs, for loan packages, for bringing the factions to the table.

Our attitude seems to be good riddance.

When the hundred-year Hatfields and McCoys gang feud was settled in 2003, Kentucky and West Virginia announced official Hatfield-McCoy Reconciliation Days.

When the Crips and Bloods achieved a truce in 1992, there was no official recognition. After the riots that same year, 57,000 jobs were promised within five years. Instead, over 50,000 jobs vanished from South Central in the Nineties.

The paramilitary and extra-legal approach to fighting gangs have led to costly scandals like that at the LAPD Rampart Division in many cities around the country -- Detroit, Cincinnati, New York, and Miami, to name a few, but no new jobs programs have been announced for the inner city.

Instead, the US Marines are actually consulting the LAPD on how to pacify neighborhoods in Baghdad.

And instead, police scandals have morphed into prison scandals. State and federal courts have condemned the CYA and the prison system for cruel and systemic abuses that echo the Rampart police charges. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of young people have been imprisoned on fabricated charges according to Rampart testimony. California taxpayers have spent $175 billion and we now employ 200,000 personnel on the so-called criminal justice apparatus in the past decade. Over two million admissions to California prisons have occurred in the past two decades, two-thirds of them parolees. In LA County we have spent $35 billion on police and sheriffs since the early nineties, and $50 billion overall on a revolving door system. By comparison, the budget for City of LA's after-school program known as LA Bridges is just one million dollars, two thousand times less than the police budget.

The deepening quagmire is global. Harvard professors like David Ignatieff warn of the new "menace of the barbarians." Gangs are emerging in South Africa, Barcelona, Honduras, Brazil, everywhere in the interstices of chaotic poverty left by the process of corporate globalization. For Ignatieff, "nobody likes empires but there are some problems for which there are only imperial solutions."

I wrote my book Street Wars because I came to believe that those who had experienced the madness could offer insights and solutions. I spent time with those who had evolved from gang bangers to peacemakers. Like Alex Sanchez of Homies Unidos, the writer Luis Rodriguez, Aqueela Sherrells over in the Watts Projects, Blinky Rodriguez in the San Fernando Valley, and their counterparts among college-educated Latin Kings in New York City, and young street people in Chicago who claimed that hip-hop saved them from violence.

I came to these conclusions:

Modern street gangs exploded noticeably and dramatically in the vacuum left in ghettos and barrios when America abandoned the war on poverty for the war in Vietnam.

Gang members are traumatized young veterans of war, with no outlets for counseling or treatment. We need a massive rehab program in the inner cities that includes surviving veterans of these wars as role models. Gang members are necessary scapegoats in the rise of law-and-order politics and vast expansions of police and prison budgets. Most Republicans can't do without them. Most Democrats have retreated from liberalism because they don't want to be stigmatized as soft on gangs.

The policies of public and private disinvestment from inner cities are leaving a redundant class of tens of millions of frustrated and humiliated young men whose only choices are sweatshops or the drug economy.

The war on drugs has militarized and worsened a problem that is social, psychological and economic.

We need a global New Deal targeted towards the youth of inner cities here and abroad, not a global WTO nor a blank check for an indiscriminate war on terrorism. The US now spends less than one tenth of one percent of its economic resources on UN programs for food, clean water, and literacy, less than half that of the Kennedy Administration 40 years ago.

We need a peace movement against the war on gangs and the war on drugs.

There are alternatives from the history of white ethnic gangs -- the Irish, the Jews and the Italians -- who became middle class through the first New Deal.

The late Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago, for example, was an Irish gangbanger who took part in the 1919 race riots in Chicago, the riots that set in motion the formation of the first African American gangs in that city. When he was elected Mayor, Daley handed out jobs and contracts to mob-connected cronies, saying that "I've been criticized for doing this, but I'll make no apologies. I'll always stand alongside the man with a criminal record when I think he deserves another chance."

Instead, Mayor Daley declared a war on black gangs that were becoming a political threat in 1969. We need the same approach towards today's black, Latino and immigrant gangs that lifted the earlier white ethnic generations into the middle class.

Tom Hayden teaches at Occidental College. Information for this presentation is available through law enforcement websites, or in his forthcoming book 'Street Wars' (New Press).

Back to Vietnam

I was digging into the batter's box one Saturday morning in San Pedro a couple of years ago when the catcher behind me muttered, "I'm a Vietnam vet, and I've been waiting for twenty years to say you should be dead or in jail for being a traitor." The umpire said nothing. I flied out to center. Later we talked. Then we became friends.

It turned out that his hatred was toward my ex-wife, not me, because he believed certain website fabrications about Jane Fonda that circulate among veterans. Twice the Republicans in the California legislature tried to block my seating because of my trips to Hanoi. But I was never a target of opportunity like my ex -- more like collateral damage.

While most Americans, perhaps including that former Yale cheerleader and elusive National Guardsman George W. Bush and, I suspect, most Vietnam veterans, would like to forget the past, the Vietnam War is about to be relived this election season.

Senator John Kerry, a veteran of both the war and the antiwar movement, is causing this national Vietnam flashback. The right-wing attack dogs are on the hunt. Newt Gingrich calls Kerry an "antiwar Jane Fonda liberal," while Internet warriors post fabricated images of Kerry and Fonda at a 1971 antiwar rally. Welcome to dirty tricks in the age of Photoshop.

The attempted smearing of Kerry through the Fonda "connection" is a Republican attempt to suppress an honest reopening of our unfinished exploration of the Vietnam era.

Neoconservatives and the Pentagon have good reason to fear the return of the Vietnam Syndrome. The label intentionally suggests a disease, a weakening of the martial will, but the syndrome was actually a healthy American reaction to false White House promises of victory, the propping up of corrupt regimes, crony contracting and cover-ups of civilian casualties during the Vietnam War that are echoed today in the news from Baghdad. Young John Kerry's 1971 question -- "How do you ask a man to be the last to die for a mistake?" -- is more relevant than ever.

Rather than give these reopened wounds the serious treatment they deserve, the Republicans substitute the politics of scapegoating and sheer fantasy. Most centrist Democrats, in turn, try to distance themselves from controversies that recall the 1960s. There are journalistic centrists as well, who avoid hard truths for the sake of acceptance and legitimacy. Such amnesia, whether unconscious or not, lends a wide respectability to the feeble confessions of those like Robert McNamara, who took twenty-five years to admit that Vietnam was a "mistake" and then, when asked by filmmaker Errol Morris why he didn't speak out earlier, answered, "I don't want to go any further. ... It just opens up more controversies."

The case of Jane Fonda reveals the double standards and hypocrisies afflicting our memories. In Tour of Duty, the Kerry historian Douglas Brinkley describes the 1971 winter soldier investigation, which Fonda supported and Kerry attended, where Vietnam veterans spilled their guts about "killing gooks for sport, sadistically torturing captured VC by cutting off ears and heads, raping women and burning villages." Brinkley then recounts how Kerry later told Meet the Press that "I committed the same kinds of atrocities as thousands of others," specifically taking responsibility for shooting in free-fire zones, search-and-destroy missions, and burning villages. Brinkley describes these testimonies in tepid and judicious terms, calling them "quite unsettling." By contrast, Brinkley condemns Fonda's 1972 visit to Hanoi as "unconscionable," without feeling any need for further explanation.

Why should American atrocities be merely unsettling, but a trip to Hanoi unconscionable?

In fact, Fonda was neither wrong nor unconscionable in what she said and did in North Vietnam. She told the New York Times in 1973, "I'm quite sure that there were incidents of torture ... but the pilots who were saying it was the policy of the Vietnamese and that it was systematic, I believe that's a lie." Research by John Hubbell, as well as 1973 interviews with POWs, shows that Vietnamese behavior meeting any recognized definition of torture had ceased by 1969, three years before the Fonda visit. James Stockdale, the POW who emerged as Ross Perot's running mate in 1992, wrote that no more than 10 percent of the US pilots received at least 90 percent of the Vietnamese punishment, often for deliberate acts of resistance. Yet the legends of widespread, sinister Oriental torture have been accepted as fact by millions of Americans.

Erased from public memory is the fact that Fonda's purpose was to use her celebrity to put a spotlight on the possible bombing of Vietnam's system of dikes. Her charges were dismissed at the time by George H.W. Bush, then America's ambassador to the United Nations, who complained of a "carefully planned campaign by the North Vietnamese and their supporters to give worldwide circulation to this falsehood." But Fonda was right and Bush was lying, as revealed by the April-May 1972 White House transcripts of Richard Nixon talking to Henry Kissinger about "this shit-ass little country":

NIXON: We've got to be thinking in terms of an all-out bombing attack.... I'm thinking of the dikes.
KISSINGER: I agree with you.
NIXON: ...Will that drown people?
KISSINGER: About two hundred thousand people.

It was in order to try to avert this catastrophe that Fonda, whose popular "FTA" road show (either "Fun, Travel, Adventure" or "Fuck the Army") was blocked from access to military bases, gave interviews on Hanoi radio describing the human consequences of all-out bombing by B-52 pilots five miles above her. After her visit, the US bombing of the dike areas slowed down, "allowing the Vietnamese at last to repair damage and avert massive flooding," according to Mary Hershberger.

The now legendary Fonda photo shows her with diminutive Vietnamese women examining an antiaircraft weapon, implying in the rightist imagination that she relished the thought of killing those American pilots innocently flying overhead. To deconstruct this image and what it has come to represent, it might be helpful to look further back in our history.

Imagine a nineteenth-century Jane Fonda visiting the Oglala Sioux in the Black Hills before the battle at Little Big Horn. Imagine her examining Crazy Horse's arrows or climbing upon Sitting Bull's horse. Such behavior by a well-known actress no doubt would have infuriated Gen. George Armstrong Custer, but what would the rest of us feel today?

In Dances With Wolves, Kevin Costner played an American soldier who went "native" and, as a result, was attacked and brutalized as a traitor by his own men. But we in the modern audience are supposed to respect and idealize the Costner "traitor," perhaps because his heroism assuages our historical guilt. Will it take another century for certain Americans to see the Fonda trip to Hanoi in a similar light?

The popular delusions about Fonda are a window into many other dangerous hallucinations that pass for historical memory in this country. Among the most difficult to contest are claims that antiwar activists persistently spit on returning Vietnam veterans. So universal is the consensus on "spitting" that I once gave up trying to refute it, although I had never heard of a single episode in a decade of antiwar experiences. Then came the startling historical research of a Vietnam veteran named Jerry Lembcke, who demonstrated in The Spitting Image (1998) that not a single case of such abuse had ever been convincingly documented. In fact, Lembcke's search of the local press throughout the Vietnam decade revealed no reports of spitting at all. It was a mythical projection by those who felt "spat-upon," Lembcke concluded, and meant politically to discredit future antiwar activism.

The Rambo movies not only popularized the spitting image but also the equally incredible claim that hundreds of American soldiers missing in action were being held by the Vietnamese Communists for unspecified purposes. John Kerry's most noted achievement in the Senate was gaining bipartisan support, including that of all the Senate's Vietnam veterans, for a report declaring the MIA legend unfounded, which led to normalized relations. Yet millions of Americans remain captives of this legend.

It will be easier, I am afraid, for those Americans to believe that Jane Fonda helped torture our POWs than to accept the testimony by American GIs that they sliced ears, burned hooches, raped women and poisoned Vietnam's children with deadly chemicals. Just two years ago many of the same people in Georgia voted out of office a Vietnam War triple-amputee, Senator Max Cleland, for being "soft on national defense."

If there is any cure for this mouth-foaming mass pathology in a democracy, it may lie at the heart of John Kerry's campaign for the presidency. Rather than distance ourselves from the past, as the centrist amnesiacs would counsel, perhaps we should finally peel back the scabs and take a closer look at why all the wounds haven't healed. The most meaningful experience of John Kerry's life was the time he spent fighting and killing in Vietnam and then turning around to protest the insanity of it all. Instead of wrapping himself in fabrications, he threw his fantasies and delusions, and metaphorically his militarism, over the White House fence. That's what many more Americans need to do.

If I were George W. Bush, I would be terrorized by the eyes of those scruffy-looking veterans, the so-called band of brothers, volunteering for duty with the Kerry campaign. They look like men with scores to settle, with a palpable intolerance toward the types who sent them to war for a lie, then ignored their Agent Orange illness, cut their GI benefits, treated them like losers and still haven't explained what that war was about. They know Jane Fonda is a diversion from a larger battlefield. They are the sort who will keep a cerebral United States senator grounded, who have finally figured out who their real enemies are and who are determined that this generation hear their story anew. They are gearing up for one last battle. Chickenhawks better duck.

The Progressive Populist Moment Has Arrived

The Democratic presidential candidates have adopted the broad goals of the peace and justice movements, becoming anti-war and pro-fair trade in the course of the primaries.

It's been a remarkable shift after the past decade of Democratic catering to corporate interests and conservative voters,  Only one year ago, candidates John Kerry, John Edwards and Richard Gephardt had voted for the Iraq war resolution, and Gephardt alone, among the leading contenders, opposed pro-corporate trade agreements like NAFTA.

When Howard Dean's populist candidacy demonstrated the strength of Democratic anti-war sentiment, Kerry and Edwards changed course and opposed the Bush Administration's $87 billion war authorization. With Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton and Carol Mosely-Braun already anti-war, that isolated Gephardt as the last hawk until his defeat in Iowa.

But Gephardt's once-lonely advocacy of "fair trade, not free trade" -- the position of the AFL-CIO and the Citizens Trade Campaign -- caught fire in the Iowa primaries where activists like former Congress member Jim Jontz of national Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) were generating daily pressure at the caucus level.

Not only Iowans but voters across multiple primary states were outraged by millions of manufacturing job losses which they blamed on trade agreements which the Democrats had promoted just a decade before. On the 10th anniversary of NAFTA, the proponents were embarrassingly silent. No one wanted to admit that eccentric billionaire Ross Perot was more right than wrong in 1994. Now Democratic voters in states like South Carolina, Missouri, Arizona and Wisconsin overwhelmingly preferred candidates critical of the Democrats' own trade agreements. Even key Democratic insiders, like Mickey Kantor who wrote the Clinton Administration's pro-investor rules of trade, were admitting that it was now "correct to challenge some of the rules." (NYT,  Jan. 31, 2004)

The climactic moment in the re-birth of a populist Democratic Party came on the eve of the Wisconsin primary. John Kerry reversed his previous course to declare that "I will not sign a trade agreement like the Central American Trade Agreement or the Free Trade of the Americas Act that does not now embrace enforceable labor and environment standards."

Howard Dean said "We've globalized the rights of big corporations to do business anywhere in the world. We did not globalize human rights, labor rights and environmental rights, and we need to do that."

John Edwards added to the chorus: "These environmental and labor standards in the text of the agreement, not in a side agreement, in the text of the agreement that can be enforced, really matter."

And Dennis Kucinich couldn't help saying, "I'm the only one up here so far who's been willing to say that I'll cancel NAFTA and the WTO."

The candidates' language was straight from the streets to the candidates' mouths. They could have been written by Lori Wallach or John Sweeney. There were no spoilers on hand to observe that the Democrats had embraced the Ralph Nader message four years too late. As for Nader, he apparently was too busy plotting another possible campaign to notice that his most compelling platform had been coopted.

Cynics on the left are correct to suspect these Democratic campaign-trail conversions. No candidate, after all, has proposed specific revisions to protect workers rights and the environment. Kerry has offered a 120-day review period that will undoubtedly be dive-bombed by corporate lobbyists. No one is certain how to create enforceable labor and environmental protections without torpedoing the essential rationale for the trade agreements, which was to protect investors seeking cheap labor and freedom from government regulations. Token reform won't end sweatshops. The current agreements cannot be fine-tuned by tacking on cosmetic language. But real reform may lead to the collapse of the WTO and NAFTA. An unpredictable re-negotiation of the American empire is underway. The challenge begun in the Democratic primaries creates a space for debate on how to achieve a more democratic and sustainable global order, something like imagining a New Deal for the world.  

Another thorny question is whether Kerry, Edwards or Dean genuinely favor ending the occupation of Iraq, or whether their policies are conditional on a favorable outcome for American prestige and interests. Despite opposing the war, all these candidates can be expected to keep tens of thousands of US troops in Iraq. All (except the outsider Kucinich) are vulnerable to the familiar accusation that they will "cut and run." While they attack Halliburton contracts, none of them so far have questioned Washington's promotion of its handpicked government for the WTO, or the legalized stripping of Iraqis' control of their economy or natural resources. What, one wonders, would enforceable workers' rights look like in Paul Bremer's Iraq?

Only the peace movement can continue pressuring the candidates for clarity and accountability. Only the peace and justice movement can campaign for an alternative to the military and corporate empire envisioned in trade agreements, Pentagon strategic plans, and the extremist dreams of The Weekly Standard. The current presidential candidates only want to reform the American empire, not end it.  They, along with the Democratic policy elites, favor "muscular internationalism." Only a social movement can pressure to end the occupation outright and, more important, define a long-term post-Empire paradigm for America and argue the case for its benefits. Candidates cannot carry the burdens of movements, just as movements cannot expect magical cures from politicians.

The good news is that the Democratic candidates have been ratifying a consciousness that Americans were deceived into invading Iraq, that the war itself is a many-sided blight on America's future, that Iraqi elections must be held quickly under international auspices, and that we need an exit strategy from quagmire.

None of these questions should muddle the fact that American politics is being realigned swiftly and unexpectedly in a progressive direction. On war and peace, jobs and trade, civil rights and civil liberties, and the environment, the Democratic Party is being shaped more by its own insurgent constituencies on the ground than by its internal leadership, consultants and pollsters, fundraising professionals, revolving-door law firms and their clientele.

Such a realignment was envisioned in the Port Huron Statement of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) when human hope was in the air 40 years ago. The early SDS strategy was that independent social movements (civil rights, students, peace and labor) could shape a progressive political majority, force white Southern conservatives from the party, and spark a new governing coalition in the tradition of the New Deal. Assassinations and the war in Vietnam ended those hopes. But now the same fault lines have appeared in American democracy once again, and those whose ideals were forged in the 1960s may have one last chance to, so to speak, accomplish their mission.

Tom Hayden writes on social movements and politics for AlterNet. He is an adjunct professor at Occidental College, a former California state senator, a six-time delegate to Democratic conventions, and a four-decade activist.

Post-Marx From Mumbai

MUMBAI, India. -- The World Social Forum successfully channeled the energies of global justice and anti-war forces last week, while continuing to struggle toward a positive alternative that gives meaning to the phrase, "another world is possible."

The Forum was born in opposition to the entire alphabet soup of neo-liberal institutions like the WTO, IMF and World Bank, and the imposition of those neo-liberal policies by force in Iraq. It serves as a crucial outreach venue, or space, for action networks like Our World Is Not for Sale, which has led recent campaigns in Cancun and Miami against proposed trade agreements.

In addition, the Forum has touched a deep chord of global solidarity, as shown by the enthusiastic dancing, chanting and marching through Mumbai's streets at the close of this year's event. It is a rare achievement to bring together cosmopolitan intellectuals from the New Left Review with traditionally voiceless Dalits (untouchables), Adivasis (indigenous), and Brazil's landless movement.

The Forum seemed to realize, however awkwardly, that it cannot create a better world and once again leave out the Dalits or Adivasis, or demand that they change their cultural traditions as a condition for participating. In turn, the Dalits and Adivasis seemed to know from experience that there is another world filled with potential friends who support their survival. The result was a solidarity that went beyond the usual speeches and resolutions, a solidarity -- between the privileged and the damned, between people who might have inhabited different planets yet whose fates are inter-connected -- that seemed too fragile to maintain, yet too precious to give up.

The fact that the Forum, which originated in Brazil, could plant itself in the center of South Asia was an achievement in itself. The WSF organizers plan to return to Porto Alegre, Brazil, next year as the controversial deadline for concluding the Free Trade Zone of the Americans (FTAA) nears. The following year, the WSF expects to meet in Africa, perhaps in Egypt.

A New International

Since its inception, the Forum has raised expectations that it might become a "new international" replacing the traditional parties of the left, or a coordinating center for solidarity campaigns with workers, the landless, and indigenous groups excluded from the benefits of neo-liberalism.

Now the criticism is becoming public. From the ideological left comes the claim that the WSF has "no ideology, no organization, no alternative, no militant struggle, no programme," and is a tool of the Ford Foundation (which provided $500,000 to the first Forum and $300,000 for the second, but was rejected by the Indian organizers this year). Whatever their impatience with the Forum, however, most participants seem deeply averse to slipping into doctrinaire Marxism.

A wider criticism is that the new world is being made with too many old world habits. Speeches are invariably pedantic and too long, the ground covered is already familiar to the audience, and the time allotted for questions inevitably evaporates. Some leading Forum participants, like Naomi Klein, who did not attend this year, have proposed that anyone who speaks at a Forum should be forced to be a listener at the next one.

Others, like Vandana Shiva, complain that the WSF is beginning "to imitate the giganticism and centralized control of the dominant structures being challenged by citizens." Still others question the dominance of well-funded non-governmental organizations (NGOs) compared to struggling but effective grass-roots organizations. Many assert that the annual nature of the Forums drains and diverts resources from their local campaigns. They are promoting regional forums on every continent.

The most tender issue is how to manage the differences between those who ultimately favor political action with all its contradictions, like Brazil's triumphant Workers Party which grew out of social movements, and those who identify with the forces of direct action, land seizures and road blockades for the homeless, and disruptions of the WTO, FTAA and other bodies considered illegitimate.

These differences arise from real experiences and are grounded in a history sometimes forgotten. The Workers Party was the voice of Brazil's oppressed majority for several decades before the successful election two years ago. Its leadership, once in power, felt forced to accommodate to the IMF for global financing, and to challenge the WTO and FTAA from within, rather than confronting the American empire directly. A similar path in power was followed by the African National Congress (ANC) after its victory over apartheid.

These neo-liberal accommodations have left the social movements in Brazil and South Africa increasingly frustrated in the search for answers, wondering if another world is possible without another approach to politics altogether. The result is a crisis in strategy oversimplified as "reform" versus "revolution."

The WSF was created to address just such issues in an open, pluralistic process, but its floundering, bureaucratic process and 2,100 separate scheduled events make any consensus difficult to reach.

Thus the organizational challenges seem two-fold: First, how to achieve consensus on a positive alternative to corporate globalization without splitting into warring factions, and second, how to achieve creative participation on local levels without grooming a permanent, globetrotting elite of its own.

It would be tragic if the effort fails, but not the first time in the history of the left. At this critical juncture, some history is in order to facilitate greater understanding of the challenges, starting with the actual history of the WSF and its roots in the history of social movements going back 150 years. The story will show that while the WSF is "post-Marx," that is, arisen with the end of the Cold War and the Soviet Union, its heritage lies in the solidarity movements originally created by Karl Marx long before Marxism was institutionalized.

A Brief History Of The WSF

The emergence of the United States as the "sole superpower" after the Cold War led to a new architecture of projected governance over future generations, symbolized by the centralized, undemocratic, secretive, business-dominated machinery of the World Trade Organization and NAFTA, along with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The globalization of economic power globalized resistance, beginning with the Zapatista uprising against NAFTA in 1994. The 1999 Seattle confrontation brought to greater visibility a global uprising that already was underway. The corporations and media frantically minimized the threat as merely "isolated," but the rebels kept reproducing themselves at Quebec City, Quito, Genoa, Cancun, etc.

At the same time, the World Social Forum was being conceived in the vacuum left by the Cold War, mainly by groupings in Europe and Brazil. The first was associated with the publisher of Le Monde Diplomatique, Bernard Cassen, who also chaired a coalition that embraced a "Tobin tax," named after the American economist James Tobin, who proposed taxation on speculative currency transactions. The assertive name of the group was ATTAC, for Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens, and it was funded with $8 million in European Union funds. But the French realized that a resumption of progressive initiative after the Cold War would require new linkages with the South, among groups like Brazil's social and political movements.

Brazilians associated with the Workers Party were moving in the same direction. Their party had survived the twists and turns of Cold War politics, was radical at its core, had succeeded on municipal levels, recognized the importance of "civil society," and become deeply connected with the landless movement sweeping Brazil. They conceived of a broader dialogue toward creating a post-Cold War left, based on a Brazilian approach known as construcao, a process of consensus-building rather than the withering debates of the old left.

The French and the Brazilians met in early 2000 and the Forum was born officially. They obtained official support and funding from the municipal government of Porto Alegre and the state of Rio Grande do Sul, both controlled by the Workers Party at the time. Those government bodies committed $1.3 million (US) to the event.

The first WSF was held in January 2001 in Porto Alegre, with 5,000 registered attendees from 117 countries. It was overly intellectual, criticized for whiteness, and yet seemed to meet a rising global need. Coming after Seattle in 1999, the decision to be an in-your-face counterpoint to Davos seemed ingenious.

The second Forum saw a doubling of delegates. By the 2003 Forum, there were more journalists registered (4,000) than the total delegates at the founding one two years before, and over 75,000 turned Porto Alegre into a dream experience for radicals awakening from isolation. The continuous cycle of militant confrontations at WTO summits fostered the expectation that the Forum might become an inter-continental center of a new left, post-Communist, more inclusive than before.

The WSF was controlled by an internal organizing committee, which consisted of key leaders of the CUT (Central Unica dos Trabalhadores) and the MST (Movimiento does Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra) among others. Its larger steering committee, the International Council, has evolved to include representatives of the different organizations represented in the Forum. The bodies proceed by consensus, but leadership has rested with the Organizing Committee so far. The success of the Forum model, and the source of the emergent complaints as well, is that it avoids platform fights in favor of discussions, excludes political parties and groups supportive of armed struggle (except as individuals), and is a "guided" democracy instead of a participatory one.

But where to go with a body so internally diverse? Some clues were suggested during the Forum in an article by a Brazilian sociologist and civil society leader, Candido Gryzbowski, who called for a careful deepening of the Forum in "galvanizing the world." The Forum's greatest deficit, Gryzbowski concluded, is political. "We engage in a fully political act, but it seems that we fear the consequences." He described the tension as between "an old style of leftist politics" and an "anarchic force, impossible to condense," on the other. The only remedy, he seemed to suggest, is further dialogue and networking, in process rather than political conventions.


History suggests that these questions have been faced before, perhaps most interestingly -- and unexpectedly -- by Karl Marx and his partner Frederick Engels, who created the equivalent of a World Social Forum in their time. This will seem retro, obsolete, or politically correct to some, a history to be kept in a lockbox. Why dredge up a Communist memory that the vast majority of movement participants, myself included, left behind long ago or never learned?

But Stalinism and the Soviet model should not be allowed to bury the story of what Marx originally set out to do. A recent essay by August Nimtz, a professor at the University of Minnesota, rescues the history of Marx and Engels from the dustbins of both Communism and anti-Communism and revives what C. Wright Mills once called "plain Marxism" as distinguished from its dogmatic descendants.

Nimtz reminds us that Marx and Engels created the original "transnational movement of workers," or First International, organized as the International Working Men's Association (IMWA) which Marx led from 1864 to 1872. These efforts led to the eight-hour day and the formation of the first workers' parties in Europe, from which the Brazilian Workers Party descends. What occurred during and after the Soviet Revolution should not erase the process begun decades earlier.

Marx and Engels sought to create a "proletarian" and democratic consciousness among workers to transcend the narrow boundaries of nationalism and religion. They believed that the globalization of capital in their time could not be checked by local movements alone. In 1845, they formed a transnational network called the "Society of Fraternal Democrats" with its goal "to succor the militant democracy of every country." They next formed the Communist Correspondence Societies, based on Thomas Paine's legacy of transnational networking. Finally, they wrote the Manifesto for a new organization, the League of Communists, in 1848, a time exploding with revolutions on their continent.

It is interesting that these first networks were premised on discussion rather than explicit programs, so that space would exist for participants to "clear things up among themselves," as Marx wrote. There was a major emphasis on "drawing lessons" by documenting and discussing class struggles in given countries. Engels alone clipped some 27 papers each week, an international "indy-media" in his own right.

The American Civil War was an immediate reason for the creation of the First International, which campaigned against British intervention on the side of Confederate cotton growers. Marx's letters appeared in the New York Daily Tribune and were cited in Congressional debates at the time. The anti-intervention movement was successful. Soon the IWMA became a "de facto worldwide strike center," aiding bronze workers in Paris, the building trades in Geneva, coal miners in Belgium, and pressuring British trade unions to support Irish self-determination.

Marx and Engels favored campaigns around single issues, such as the Reform League which demanded the extension of suffrage to male heads of households and, most importantly, the eight-hour day, which the IWMA embraced in 1866 and became the repeated focus of coordinated campaigns on the first of May. Marx believed the "limitation of the working day," as he called it, would free workers for intellectual development and political action.

Marx and Engels saw two dangers on the political front. On the one hand the British trade unions "flirted" the government of liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone, which amounted to "class collaboration." On the other hand was the anarchists led by Mikhail Bakunin who advocated abstaining from politics in favor of direct power for workers. The first was a "bourgeois trap" of reformism. While Bakunin's path sounded more revolutionary, Engels wrote, simple abstentionism would leave the workers no alternative but to be pushed into the same bourgeois fate.

Their alternative was the organization of the working class as an independent political force, including the formation of workers parties. It was, according to Nimtz, "the first explicit call for what would eventually be Europe's mass working-class political parties." The eventual empowerment of the European working class was critical "for the final breakthrough to democracy."

The rest, as some say, is history -- or is history repeating itself? Setting aside the legacy of Stalinism, which cannot be blamed on Karl Marx, the original endeavor of Marx and Engels was an example of transnational networking with repercussions for generations to come. The U.S. New Deal and the European welfare states were built not only as alternatives to Communism, but from the very traditions that Marx and Engels initiated in the 19th century.

Now that those traditions appear weakened, or absorbed into co-existence with corporate power, it is no wonder that so many contemporary activists feel contempt for politics-as-usual. But capitalism never forgets, which is why the corporations are campaigning today not only for increased access to developing countries economies, but to roll back the gains in wages, health benefits, pensions, vacations and overall quality of life achieved in earlier decades by socialist or social-democratic movements and political parties. The fall of authoritarian communist states should be celebrated by democrats, but the danger today is that the vacuum is being filled by arrogant multi-national corporations, rapacious oil companies, mafias large and small, arms traffickers, and sordid scavengers for profits of any kind.

Can decentralized social movements alone stop the pillage of the global commons?

If not, can the World Social Forum become an international coordinating center for solidarity campaigns, lobbying, boycotts and civil disobedience?

If the eight-hour day was achieved by a transnational social movement, who today will similarly achieve a global living wage, a reversal of the arms race, and participatory democracy?

If the progressive parties of the past have achieved their purposes and entered a terminal phase, will political parties of a new type replace them? If not, how will enforceable workers rights become law or global environmental treaties be enforced? Or does democracy exist only in the streets?

How is it that movements so frequently arise from mystery, first appear at the margins, march into the mainstream, achieve a new majority, only to fade again like waves of the ocean?

Those are the questions facing the World Social Forum today. It may be helpful to know they have been asked and answered before in the heat of battle by our radical forebears, that there is a history to be learned from and enriched by, as history now begins anew.

Out Of the Melting Pot

MUMBAI -- Indian-Americans are a prime target of opportunity for conservatives seeking political headway among people of color. The author Dinesh D'Souza, funded by conservative foundations, attacks campus liberals and affirmative action, becoming an Indian-American version of Ward Connerly, the conservative African-American who wishes to legislate color-blindness. In Louisiana this year, a 29-year-old, born-again Christian Republican, Bobby Jindal, was almost elected the first Indian-American governor of any state.

But at the World Social Forum this week, young, progressive Indian-Americans have surfaced everywhere, all with stories to tell. The forum experience may be seen as a turning point in building their confidence to challenge the conservative leadership of their communities, according to one of them, Rinku Sen, 37.

Sen, a Brown University graduate, directed the Oakland-based Center for Third World Organizing before becoming the publisher of ColorLines magazine. She came to the U.S. with her parents in 1972, part of the wave of Indian professionals encouraged by 1965 immigration reforms.

"We grew up in white suburbia," she recalls, "with no desis [Indian nationals] to relate to." She was encouraged by her professors to study literary criticism, but chose to do something about social justice instead. She became involved in student movements, then was trained by longtime organizers at the Midwest Academy. Last year she published her first book, Stir It Up (Jossey-Bass).

Sen's consciousness initially was radicalized by African-Americans and feminists more than other south Asians. As the Indian immigrant community became larger and more diverse, an identifiable constituency began to search for definition, including where they fit on the color spectrum. While there were only 387,000 Indians in the U.S. in 1980, estimates today are as high as two million -- still only six-tenths of one percent of the American population, but 16 percent of Asian Americans.

D'Souza's arguments extolling upward mobility would be favorably received by this first generation of Indian professionals, with nearly twice the median incomes and college degrees of other Americans. But the growing Indian community still experienced the color line, political isolation and, especially after September 11, hate crimes and hostility towards immigrants. They began to address their political invisibility, having only three elected official at state legislative levels when their population ratio should result in 45.

For Sen, the World Social Forum has been a marker on her journey. "It's a perfect mix of my identities. It's about my political work. About spending time with my family and not feeling the divisions of identity. I pass as all Indian, it's important to have that in one's life. Otherwise we are constantly negotiating the fragments inside us."

Sen believes that the more her community has this experience of integration, "it builds the community confidence so that progressive south Asians might take on the conservatives" now trying to dominate and speak for the whole community.

And Rinku Sen is not alone. There are other Indian Americans, most in their mid-20s, attending the forum:

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A Global Peace Movement Revival

MUMBAI, INDIA -- Natalia Ablova faces a tough challenge in her campaign against the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Ablova, who looks like any friendly middle-American in her plain dress, shoulder-length hair and reading glasses, is opposing the Iraq occupation on the streets of Kyrgistan, the only Central Asian country where such protest is permitted.

"There is no chance for participatory democracy in our region," she laments. But last year, she led 30 human rights groups to the U.S. Embassy to denounce the invasion.

Far from being alone, Natalia Ablova is complicating the Bush administration's war planning and its status as the sole superpower. On this March 20, the first anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, when the White House expected throngs of cheering Iraqis in the streets, there will be masses of jeering protestors like Natalia Ablova around the world instead. Last year, four to five million people protested in over 600 cities globally. This year the numbers are unpredictable, but opposition to the war has increased among the general public, affecting the American presidential campaign and keeping the United Nations at a distance.

This week Natalia Ablova is attending a "General Assembly of the Global Anti-War Movement," one of the many planning sessions provided space for the tens of thousands attending the World Social Forum.

Instead of weakening or fragmenting the global justice movement, the war in Iraq has prompted a peace movement heavily influenced by the anti-globalization analysis of the forum.

Bremer and Kissinger

The growing demand is not simply to end the military intervention in Iraq but the U.S. takeover of the Iraq economy and its natural resources as well. The protest is not only against the contracting favoritism shown to Halliburton and Bechtel, but the very idea that the Iraqi economy should be contracted out to private foreign corporations in the first place. Seen this way, the Iraq occupation is a perfect real-time example of the Bush administration's doctrine of right-wing market fundamentalism that is being offered as an alternative to religious fundamentalism in the region.

In this context, Paul Bremer is understood not only as point man for the U.S. government, but as managing director of Kissinger & Associates, which represents a secret list of U.S. multinational corporations with long-term stakes in the region. Bremer already has imposed a maximum flat tax of only 15 percent on corporate profits, privatized hundreds of Iraqi businesses and natural resources, and carried free market fundamentalism so far that he faces legal challenges to the U.S. authority based on the traditional international rules governing occupations. In addition, a Bremer order dictates that all non-governmental organizations in the "new Iraq" must be registered and provide detailed membership lists to the American authorities in Baghdad.

Except for Dennis Kucinich, Democratic presidential candidates have been hesitant to criticize the sweeping right-wing agenda in Iraq except for "excesses" like Halliburton's overcharging on petroleum.

But all that will change if the global peace movement succeeds in reframing the debate.

A New Movement

The reframing has already begun among countless activists on the ground. After returning from Iraq last year, Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange raised concerns about the U.S. economic designs on Iraqi wealth. Anti-globalization writer Naomi Klein has published research in The Nation on the attempted sale of Iraq to corporate bidders. This week here, the novelist-turned-activist Arundahti Roy has urged crowds to go home and shut down the corporate offices of firms profiting from the Iraq occupation. Such ideas, which were implemented by effective direct action in San Francisco last year, are circulating rapidly in the thousands of nooks and crannies where movements germinate in a kind of "pre-history" before being recognized in the media.

At a lengthy meeting on the forum grounds today, peace activists known only to each other through phone calls and emails met for the first time, shared their reflections on last year's February demonstrations and their plans for March 20. The discussion revealed a high level of unity and concern for proper messaging, despite the exceptional diversity of cultures, languages, and nationalities in the mix.

Iraqi women, for example, urged the international activists to support the struggles of Baghdad-based NGOs to protect Iraqi businesses and emerging women's groups hard hit by Bremer's recent agreement to waive existing civil laws for religious codes concerning marriage and divorce.

An Indian woman spoke of being "very nervous" about March 20 because over 80 percent of the 100,000 who protested last February were Muslim. "What are we working for, just numbers in the street?" she asked. Or are we trying to build a "broader, non-religious, secular movement emphasizing the questions of Iraq's natural resources and development?"

The World Social Forum, she said, provides an opportunity to build a larger anti-Iraq movement across the deep religious divides of India.

Many speakers impressed the audience with their resistance in remote and difficult circumstances. A Turkish woman recounted how 100,000 people marched last year at just the moment the Parliament was weighing whether to send troops to Iraq. An individual from Montreal described how 200,000 people gathered in 20-below weather for an all-day vigil. A British woman living in the U.S. client state of Qatar spoke of how nervous she was taking her first anti-war stand while the country was "overrun with American soldiers."

An Egyptian peace activist explained the relative absence of mass demonstrations last year. "All of us in the Arab countries are under some sort of military rule. Our governments fear that even a small, permitted peace demonstration will grow into a larger one against our miserable life." He is working nonetheless on a social forum linking peace and democracy.

Less Sloganeering, More Outreach

Several speakers emphasized the need to reach a wider audience, and to conduct the protests in ways supportive of the peace movement in the United States. A Costa Rican delegate stressed that "we must coordinate with the American movements, not let ourselves be seen as anti-American, and not be seen as violent." Another from the Middle East called for "less sloganeering, and more reaching out."

The few Americans present, mostly from branches of United for Peace and Justice and ANSWER, welcomed the international dialogue and support.

An American student reminded the audience that young people had never before been involved on the scale of the February 2003 protests. "Don't say it's not going to be as big this time. The thing is, more people in the U.S. are doubting Bush today than during the protests before the war. The peace sentiment is growing. March 20 should not be measured just as a mobilization but by the base-building and education we do on the corporate takeover of Iraq."

Last year's large-scale protests were the first in memory before a war began, revealing a crucial lack of public consensus as Bush commenced the conflict. With the occupation bogged down, casualty levels rising, and the administration's false claims revealed almost daily, anti-war sentiment has spread to middle America and influenced the tone of presidential debate. Organizing a larger protest is made more difficult in some ways by the peace movement's success, but the need to reframe the message and keep the heat on the presidential candidates will be a major challenge in 2004.

But if Natalia Ablova is marching to the U.S. Embassy once again, anything is possible in this unpredictable movement against war.

Tom Hayden is a progressive activist, author and former California elected official. He is in Mumbai, India, covering the World Social Forum for AlterNet.

Talking Back To the Global Establishment

MUMBAI -- As the Bush administration struggles with setbacks in its global trade and Iraq agendas, the opposition World Social Forum opened festively this week with 150,000 global justice activists primarily from India and South Asia, marking a successful transition for the grassroots experiment from its original site in Brazil.

The growing legitimacy of the WSF, formed as a counter to the annual corporate-based World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland was reflected by the presence on opening night of Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi of Iran, who expressed hope that "there will be a world where globalization will not be synonymous with inequality." She was joined by former United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson, who called for controls of global arms trafficking that contributes to the deaths of a half-million people annually.

The ceremonies also reflected the radical anti-war spirit that has flared among global justice activists opposed to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. A representative of Iraq's social movements condemned the U.S. privatization of Iraq's economy, and famed Indian writer Arundhati Roy called for shutting down American and British contractors profiting from the economic takeover. Legendary Vietnamese revolutionary Nguyen Thi Binh criticized capitalist globalization on behalf of "the higher globalization of movements for peace and progress."

Cultural resistance was symbolized by the performances of Junoon, a Pakistani sufi rock band, the South African Siwele Sonke dance troupe, and the Brazilian singer and cultural minister Gilberto Gil, who was last year's honoree at the Latin Grammy Awards. Film superstar Amitabh Bachchan represented the Bollywood left.

It is mainly a spirited carnival of the marginal, with hundreds of labor, farmer, fisherpeople, women's and student organizations representing the very poor, Aadivasis (indigenous), and Dalits (untouchables). Anger churns at the fact that 300 million Indians subsist on less than a dollar a day, many surviving in roadside shantytowns just outside the forum conference grounds. Reflecting the crisis of children, 100 million Indian families live without domestic water and hundreds of thousands of children work in cottonseed production and sweatshops, the forum is featuring a special conference of 2,000 children's representatives.

Overall the forum allows in-depth grassroots review, dialogue and networking through 1,200 panels, which are often cumbersome and repetitive. The emphasis is on learning and sharing the detailed lessons of diverse struggles, which range from saving the Narmada Valley from being flooded for giant dams to expanding landless people's struggles like those mushrooming in Brazil. The forum avoids the classic left-wing pattern of fighting over correct lines or specific platforms, while allowing space for networks to discuss collaboration. For example, that is how last year's unprecedented anti-war protests were planned, involving four to five million people in over 600 cities globally.

Anti-WTO Campaigns

Many panels here are focusing on the global campaign against the World Trade Organization (WTO) whose trade summit was derailed last fall in Cancun, Mexico. The WSF explicitly avoids adoption of specific programs, while leaving space for activist networks to design campaigns against the WTO or the Iraq occupation. Coincidentally this week, U.S. trade representative Robert Zoellick sent a letter to 140 governments promising to breath oxygen into a stalled U.S. trade strategy.

Only last fall, Zoellick was vowing to marginalize "won't do" countries like Brazil while pursuing parallel free trade agreements with unspecified "can do" countries. But he failed in Miami to achieve a free trade zone (FTAA) pact for Latin America, fell short of his goals for a Central American agreement, and currently is delayed on bilateral agreements with Australia and Morocco. At last week's Latin American economic summit in Monterrey, Mexico, Brazil refused to sign a joint communique acknowledging the Bush Administration's January 2005 deadline for the FTAA.

Brazil has mounted the first WTO challenge to U.S. agricultural subsidies -- $19 billion annually, including $12.9 billion for cotton farmers -- as unfair to poor farmers, a case that may result in an unfavorable settlement for the Bush Administration during this election cycle, similar to the WTO's ruling against steel subsidies a few weeks ago. The weakness of the U.S. government is that it seems unable to control the WTO, a creature of its own making.

Also unexpectedly for the Bush team, WTO reform and trade issues have become a major rallying cry for nearly all the Democratic presidential candidates. While those like Richard Gephardt call for a global minimum wage, defenders of the WTO are on the defensive. At this point in the election year, the White House expected to enjoy a lucrative reconstruction of a friendly Iraq as well as successful free trade agreements guaranteeing greater investment security for large corporations. Instead a White House task force on the American image abroad has reported "shocking" levels of global hostility, and corporate futurist Francis Fukuyama is predicting that anti-Americanism will become the driving passion of global politics.

America's 'Back Office'

The issue of corporate outsourcing to India has flared up as well. Hollywood personalities and bigwigs are eyeing Bollywood for outsourcing entertainment, since movie production here is 25 percent the cost in the U.S. More generally, the liberalization of global services will have the same pay and job loss consequences already being felt in manufacturing and retail.

"As China is America's foundry, India is the back office," writes the president of India's Majesco Software in the recent book, "A Personal Guide to Outsourcing in India." According to Business Week, there may be more IT engineers in Bangalore, where top scientists earn $10,000 a year, than in the Silicon Valley. While hardly affecting the overall economic doldrums of the U.S. economy or the structural poverty of India, the rise of India as a "back office" is "terrifying for many Americans" and becoming the "latest Rorschach test on globalization," opines Business Week.

That is why the Jobs for Justice delegation, several dozen strong, is beginning dialogue with their Indian counterparts on cross-country organizing against the new tech outsourcing. Some 50,000 young Indians are employed in such "call centers" here in Mumbai, the country's traditional commercial center. Stress and physiological problems are rampant among these workers, who earn $160 per month on all-night shifts and are often forced to practice English by holding a marble under their tongues.

Generating Resistance

How can a global talk session affect so many intractable problems? Forum organizers are planning to return the event to Brazil next year, perhaps holding them biennially with regional social forums during alternate years to serve the needs of more local organizing. In the meantime, the global justice activists gathered here can be credited with bringing the WTO to the world's unfavorable attention and keeping massive pressure on many of their governments to stand up to Washington's agenda.

Indian scientist and notable environmentalist Vandana Shiva voiced a general frustration at one panel, however, complaining that the global establishment "doesn't care if 100,000 get together, it has to be more than this."

Arundhati Roy told the crowds, "It is no good just saying jeetenge, bhai jeetenge ["we will win, we will win"], it is time we did something."

Critics of the forum's open gradualism have organized a counter-event, "Mumbai Resistance: 2004," which is avowedly anti-imperialist and disturbed at the "infiltration" of the WSF by numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs) funded by American foundations.

However, forum veterans see steady growth in the organization's capacity to generate resistance. Nothing on this scale has happened since the Cold War, and perhaps nothing on a non-governmental level for the past century. Walden Bello, speaking for the coalition Our World Is Not For Sale, described the success on three levels: 1) getting developing countries to come together and say no; 2) fostering the growth of a global civil society as a new force; and 3), bringing masses of people "to nodes of elite decision-making for militant disruptive confrontations." It is the success of this resistance, say those like Bello, that has led to new complications.

Grassroots Pressure

For example, a decade of grassroots pressure has contributed to the emergence of the Group of 20, which includes governments like Brazil, India, China and South Africa, that opposed the U.S. agribusiness subsidies at Cancun, and the Group of 90, from smaller countries, which opposed American demands to expand the trade talks to new issues of greater corporate access to their economies. While countries like India make powerful equity arguments against the U.S. and European Union subsidies, their agriculture agenda would benefit their own nation's large agro-export industries at the expense of small farmers.

"We must not proclaim global victories while having domestic losses," argues Shiva. Referring to fights over the Narmada Dam and privatization, she said, "While we build for global fights, governments like [India's] often are implementing these policies in our homes."

Similar resistance is expressed in South Africa by "the poors" against the African National Congress over neo-liberal deregulation of water and electricity services. Even in Brazil, activists are increasingly upset by the Lula government's unexpected road building in the Amazon and concessions on genetically modified organisms. A revolution in the revolution is in the making.

"We can't just be jubilant," says Anuradha Mittal, the Indian-born director of the Oakland, Calif.-based Food First. "Yes, there has been a major shift in the balance of power. But the G-20 governments need to be more responsive to social movements on issues of food sovereignty, living wages, sustainable agriculture and the environment. Developing countries are more than exotic food baskets or dumping grounds."

If the WSF cannot succeed in its ambitions rapidly enough, the alternative may not be a self-proclaimed "shining India" of globalization, but a deepening turn to religious fundamentalism. Here in Mumbai, the strongest organization in the slums is Shiva Sena, which offers a hyper-version of Hindu nationalism and aggressive masculinity. Just over a decade ago, when Hindu extremists destroyed a Muslim mosque in Ayodhya in northern India, rioting broke out across the country -- nowhere worse than in Mumbai, where entire Muslim neighborhoods were torched and 1,217 people were killed amidst Hindu rioting and retaliatory Muslim bombings.

If it turns out that the World Social Forum's slogan -- "another world is possible" -- is unachievable, a Brazilian trade unionist told a panel yesterday, the alternative is likely to be barbarism.

Tom Hayden is a progressive activist, author and former California elected official. He is in Mumbai, India, covering the World Social Forum for AlterNet.

The Anybody-But-Dean Syndrome

CAMBRIDGE -- As the January primaries quickly approach, the Anybody-But-Dean syndrome (ABD) is becoming as infectious as the flu among rival Democrat camps. To prevent a Dean victory in Iowa, millions of dollars worth of attack ads will choke Iowa television screens and mailboxes this month.

The ABD fear is that if Dean defeats Richard Gephardt in Iowa, his likely win in New Hampshire will propel him to the nomination early. But if Dean's momentum is blocked in Iowa, the ABDs think they have a chance to undermine him in later primaries.

The stakes are high for peace and justice activists, including Dennis Kucinich supporters and undecideds, who can tip the balance in the close competition between Dean and Gephardt in Iowa. A de facto Iowa coalition between Dean and Kucinich supporters, even if Kucinich himself stays in the race, would be a victory for the anti-war movement and grassroots activism in the Democratic Party.

On the other hand, if Dean is thwarted in Iowa, it will be a victory for "centrists" based in the party's Washington DC power centers, who supported Bush in Iraq. That would mean demoralization among Dean's 550,000 signed-up volunteers, and also open a space for an increasingly probable Ralph Nader candidacy.

To understand this drama, it is necessary to pause for a crash course in Iowa's caucus rules. They are as complicated as the Bush Administration's blueprint for governing Iraq, but with one difference: Grassroots Iowa Democrats, unlike Iraqis, have real power.

On election night, thousands of voters show up at precincts across the state where they are herded into candidate preference groups. Each of those precincts is accorded a set number of convention delegates based on the Democratic vote in the last statewide election. To be eligible for any delegates, however, a presidential candidate must reach a threshold line of 15 percent of the participants in a local caucus. If Kucinich, for example, has less than 15 percent in a given caucus, his supporters in that caucus room can transfer their support to another candidate. If Dean is at 25 percent versus Gephardt at 24 percent in a given caucus, the Kucinich supporters might determine the winner.

The problem is that Kucinich supporters are likely to oppose Dean more than other Democrats because they feel pre-empted and marginalized by his peace candidacy. They complain that Dean, unlike Kucinich, has not laid out a broader strategy for global peace. They feel slighted when Dean attacks "inside-the-Beltway Democrats" without mentioning Kucinich's early and consistent leadership against the war. The question is whether they can transcend this understandable bitterness or will take the opportunity to inflict payback on Dean.

Dean needs to reach out to the Kucinich campaign, his most natural allies, without pandering. Dean needs to build bridges to the supporters of other candidates who will be blasting him in Iowa. It's a difficult task in the crossfire, but a test of how well Dean can unite and expand the party in the long run.

Who are these ABDs? Do they have a candidate who can win both the nomination and the November election? Do they think they can trash Dean and somehow win over his passionate constituency?

A perceptive article by Ryan Lizza in Nov. 29 issue of The New Republic reduces the Democratic split as "the party of Dean" versus "the party of Clinton." This is an oversimplification, as Lizza himself admits, because it omits unpredictable factors such as the role of Al Gore or Sen. Ted Kennedy should Sen. John Kerry lose in the early primaries. But I have heard similar portrayals of the division by national reporters traveling with the campaigns. One said, "they [the Clinton people] don't want Dean to win because they've got nothing there. They want a candidate who will keep saying good things about the Clintons to set things up for Hillary. It's like Nixon, who sat out 1964 to run in 1968."

Said another source, "They [the Clintons] have a formula for winning, and it's not nominating a governor from Vermont, it's finding a candidate from the South -- the model of Clinton, Gore and before them Jimmy Carter. So it's a candidate like Clark or Edwards." Sen. Joe Lieberman, darling of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), is left hanging in this analysis, although former Clinton operatives like Mandy Grunwald and Mark Penn are embedded in the Lieberman camp.

The most salient ABD claim is that Howard Dean can't win, based on a regression analysis of a mountain of computer data on voter types. The problem with this approach, of course, is that it couldn't detect the rise of Dean from insurgent-outsider to front-runner, or the scale of or the breadth of anti-Iraq sentiment in the country. Since the "best and brightest" consultants were wrong last year in counseling Democratic presidential candidates to stand with Bush on Iraq, they might be wrong now in asserting with pseudo-scientific aplomb that Dean can't beat Bush.

Computers can predict a model candidate on paper but not the spirit of that candidate on the trail. They can analyze the percentage of church-going Christians for Bush but not the likelihood of a worsening Iraqi quagmire during the 2004 election. In any event, the early polls show Bush ahead of all the Democratic contenders by eight to 10 points. So other questions become pertinent in addition to who can win. Which campaign will galvanize the greatest energy against the Second Coming of Bush? Which candidacy will be the most progressive and hard-hitting? Which would be most likely to win over Nader voters? Which Democratic Party do Democrats want to build for the future? Or is this about waiting for Hillary?

Next: Wesley Clark at Harvard.

Arresting The Future

Editor's Note: Tom Hayden is reporting for AlterNet from the Free Trade Area of the Americas conference in Miami.

MIAMI, Friday 8:21pm EST -- The police force continued operating with the brains and appetite of a carnivorous shark today as city officials kept demonstrating "the Miami model" of suppression even as protestors and trade ministers were leaving the city in droves.

At a Friday afternoon press conference, Thea Lee, the chief international economist of the AFL-CIO, spoke of feeling terrified Thursday as police fired pepper gas and plastic bullets at peaceful marchers. Other labor leaders, including AFL-CIO president John Sweeney expressed "outrage" over the police blocking of a permitted gathering, and cited specific abuses such as a union retiree being denied necessary medication after an arbitrary arrest.

Global Exchange co-founder Medea Benjamin and others were pulled over Thursday night by a dozen officers who pointed guns at them. The Sierra Club's Washington D.C. advocate, Dan Seligman, also described officers holding a weapon to his head and that of another colleague. Mark Rand, coordinator of a group of foundation funders, displayed a large bluish bruise on the back of his leg from a rubber bullet.

When 100 protestors ventured to the Dade County jail today to speak out against yesterday's arrests and detentions of some 145 people, a third on felonies, the same cycle of avoidable suppression they were describing unfolded yet again.

David Solnit, one of the founders of the Seattle movement, attributed the harsh police measures to Miami's character as a center of "vulgar capitalism." Unlike other cities, where authorities may appear to assimilate dissent for political reasons, he said, Miami has attempted to sweep it away as a foreign curse. AFL-CIO leader Ron Judd speculated that the police suppression deflected public attention from working-class trade issues, while Medea Benjamin accused authorities of "trying to get the people of this city and county used to this militaristic model" instead of the relatively benign model of policing used at Cancun only two months ago.

I came to Miami with eight students from Harvard University, where I have been teaching a study group on social movements this semester. They carried with them questionnaires to sample the opinions of this new generation of protestors, and received a first-hand education in police suppression today. After the press conference outside the county jail, about 200 young people marched 100 yards, stopping in a parking lot across a street from several hundred heavily equipped police officers.

Negotiations between a police commander and activist lawyers produced peaceful coexistence for an hour late in the afternoon. There were high spirits, even humor, among the protestors who invented chants like "There ain't no riot here, take off that stupid gear" and songs like "We all live in a failed democracy."

The protest could easily have been contained by a handful of officers, or might have simply faded as the day ended. Instead, at approximately 5:00 p.m. the commanding officer summoned the activist lawyers to announce that those milling, waiting or sitting in the parking lot had become an "unlawful assembly" with three minutes to disperse. In addition, he said with a straight face, there was "intelligence" that some in the crowd had rocks. There was no evidence shared with regard to this secret intelligence and no rocks were seen in the events that followed.

Instead of resisting, the crowd began dispersing along 14th Street, the only egress route available. With the Harvard students, I was among the last to leave, along with camerawoman Ana Nogueria and reporter Jeremy Scahill from Democracy Now! Crossing a driveway I met David Solnit again, who had decided not to take it any more.

"Come on, Tom, here's your historical moment," he said. "We need civil disobedience to say no to all this."

I replied with words to the effect that I was writing about this, not leading it, feeling slight pangs of nostalgia and guilt. But there was no more time for talk. The police were advancing only a few feet behind us. I stayed with my Harvard students, having warned them earlier that they might be caught up or hurt in the unpredictable police sweep.

Solnit and six others sat down suddenly on the sidewalk, holding their hands up in V-signs. A phalanx of 25 police closed in on them as we took photographs and notes from a few feet away. In moments the seven on the sidewalk were handcuffed and led away. More police were swarming everywhere now, overwhelming the remaining protestors by ten to one.

One block away, the dispersing crowd was walking backwards as more police marched on them with helmet visors down and guns and clubs drawn. By now five of my students had joined this retreating witness, all holding their hands over their heads and chanting "We are dispersing" again and again.

How could the police not notice how young they were, how utterly unthreatening, how innocent?

I moved alongside the advancing and retreating lines to take a photograph when I noticed that a policeman was aiming a shotgun straight at my chest. Fear leaped in me, then he pointed the weapon down. But a moment later he was looking down the barrel at me again. I was holding a camera, notebook and pen. Suddenly I found myself asking him, "Are you really pointing that fucking gun at me?"

Nothing happened, and I turned back to look for the students. They were on the public sidewalk, but by now more police had arrived to prevent them from walking any further.

The last I saw of them -- Anne Beckett, Maddy Elfenbein, Jordan Bar Am, Rachel Bloomekatz and Toussaint Losier, all undergraduates -- their hands were still up as they were swallowed up by the black-and-brown uniformed horde. When they were on the ground, one officer added a final squirt of pepper spray. How brave they look, I added to myself.

Two of my other students avoided arrest by happening to turn in another direction and, minutes later, Touissant, a tall African American with dreds and a video camera, magically walked free because the police were too busy with their already downed dissidents. A minute later, I learned that Democracy Now's Ana Nogueira -- and her camera -- had been enveloped and arrested too. It was another experiment in the "Miami model." What I remembered of this imperial aggressiveness at the ballot box from November 2000 now seemed to be repeating itself on the streets.

Police subsequently informed the larger world that a mob of menacing protestors had disobeyed orders to dissolve an unlawful assembly and were treated accordingly.

In truth the police may have radicalized a new generation of America's future leaders.

NEXT: What's in the new trade agreement? Has the train left the station with the boxcars empty?
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