Below are remarks on the United National Antiwar Coalition‘s draft Action Plan, presented by Glen Ford, executive editor of Black Agenda Report.
Power to the people! Power to the 99% of the world! I thank UNAC for the honor of presenting the conference Action Plan. We have gathered at this convention to do two things. First, as you can see from the program, we are going to share analyses and educate ourselves about the wars, plans for wars, and dreams of war of the 1%.
Second, having armed ourselves with that knowledge, we are going to plot the way forward toward putting thousands of people back in the streets to directly and clearly and unequivocally oppose U.S. and NATO wars of aggression everywhere—from the Middle East and South Asia, from Africa to East Asia, and right here in the Americas. We are going to spend two major plenary sessions debating and voting up an Action Program for this coming spring and fall—that is, what we will actually do to fight U.S. and NATO wars in the coming months.
To facilitate that discussion and help us arrive, in this very short two days, at a reasonable plan of action, the Coordinating Committee of the United National Antiwar Coalition has drawn up a draft resolution. You should have picked it up at registration and you now have it before you. Later today, and then again tomorrow, we will discuss the general merits of this document, the merits of various amendments that have been proposed by you before and during this conference, and vote them up and down.
My job is to introduce this draft Action Plan to you. To explain a bit of the thinking behind it. To inspire you to take time between now and the first deliberative plenary session to look at it more closely.
The basic raison d’etre of the Action Plan is spelled out in the first paragraph. We need such a plan, a plan to mobilize the largest numbers in mass actions to oppose U.S. military intervention because history tells us this is the only way forward. It says, “The history of all successful social movements demonstrates that the few, the one percent, never yield to the many unless the many are organized democratically, independent of the institutions of the status quo, united in struggle in massive numbers and confident in victory.”
Think about that for one minute. This is a plan organized around the idea that the 1% will not retreat from their wars of economic plunder unless we find a way to move the majority who oppose these horrors into the streets, again and again, in ever growing numbers, and in open direct protest against the whole of the institutions of the status quo.
This action plan does not just target some U.S. wars. UNAC does not view the multitudinous wars in which the U.S. is engaged as a menu to pick and choose from: “I’ll oppose that war. I’ll let that one pass.” It does not target only the currently unpopular wars. It does not shy away from condemning the wars that remain acceptable to half of the population because the real reasons for them are obscured in the rhetoric of humanitarian intervention. It does not advocate that we avoid putting U.S. boots on the ground by mounting embargoes that bring economic devastation on the peoples of Iran.
The Action Plan does not condone war by other more sanitized means. It does not cheer on wars that minimize U.S. combat deaths by the use of robotic unmanned planes or the highly trained murder squads of the Joint Special Operations Command. It does not see war by mercenary as somehow less threatening to the peoples of the world and the U.S. than war by the economic draft. It does not give credit to Washington for removing brigades from one country in order to deploy them in the next.
The draft Action Plan says: “We, the 99 percent, demand that the government of the United States, the self-appointed cop of the world, the imperialist, neo-colonial one percent, who live and profit at the expense of the world’s people:
• End all wars, interventions, targeted assassinations and occupations! U.S. out of NATO and all other interventionist military alliances!
• No to targeted assassinations around the world and no to violent attacks in countries where the U.S. is waging undeclared wars!
• Bring all the troops, mercenaries, war contractors, death squads, and military advisors home from Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Colombia, Haiti, Cuba/Guantanamo, and Korea!
• U.S. troops out of the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe!
• No to the U.S.-backed military coup in Honduras! No to the 1000 U.S. military bases around the world! End U.S. aid to Israel!
• End all threats of war and intervention against Iran and Syria! No to sanctions, blockades, and embargoes!
Who are our allies? Who will help us build such a movement? The Action Plan presumes that we can win the vast majority to such a movement. That we can win the 99% to understand and mobilize against these wars by allying with the fight of the 99% for economic equality and championing the call to Bring the War Dollars Home for housing, education, health, and jobs.
By standing with the unions, and when the U.S. Coast Guard is used to try to bust their strikes—as was done against the Longview longshoremen. By allying with the fight of the Black, Latino, Native American, and immigrant communities in their struggle against racist attacks like the one that killed Trayvon Martin.
With the struggle against the policy of criminalizing the African American community through the practice of mass incarceration and stop and frisk. By standing with our immigrant brothers and sisters when they are victimized by ICE and Homeland Security. The Action Plan says that we must integrate the fight against the wars abroad with the wars at home on the 99%, and with special attention to the most victimized among them.
At the heart of the Action Plan is the recognition that the carrying out of unpopular wars requires the powers that be to rush to suppress civil liberties on every front. We will not be able to build an effective movement unless we are in the forefront of the fight for civil liberties for all. We cannot sit by while our Muslim brothers and sisters are the target of special mass surveillance and harassment programs, while they are swept up through entrapment, frame-ups, and lies into special prisons based on the perverse policy of preemptive prosecution.
We must fight the growing militarization of our cities, the massive police assaults on the Occupy movement, the use of grand juries to silence antiwar and solidarity activists. In Chicago, we must win the struggle to reassert our right to protest war and austerity. With such a program we can help bring together natural allies to build a stronger and more effective movement to end U.S. wars.
Part II of the Action Program prioritizes the upcoming actions to which UNAC as a broad antiwar coalition should throw its support.
Foremost among the actions at the center of our conference this weekend are the May 20 permitted march against the NATO summit in Chicago, a people’s summit held May 12-13 to build that march, and the ongoing and critical struggle to establish our right to protest war and austerity without fear of repression. There are a number of other actions proposed in this section, and I urge you to consider them before our voting plenary begins this afternoon.