by Dr. Hisham Bustani, Jordan
Challenging the "Non-Violence" Trend in the global Anti-War Movement
In the Fourth World Social Forum (WSF) held in Mumbai-India late January of this year, there was an agreement on holding an International Action Day against the occupation in Iraq on March 20, 2004. World-wide demonstrations will take the streets under that banner.
On the opposite side of the WSF`s venue, another meeting of Anti-Imperialist anti-Globalization organizations took place under the name: Mumbai Resistance `04 (MR04). This forum was more principled regarding the struggle against Imperialism and the analytical view of its mechanisms and the means of confrontation. In MR04, the participants did not settle only for raising the "End the Occupation" banner. There was a unanimous consensus on the necessity of raising the "Support the Resistance" banner in the demonstrations of March 20.
Why "Support the Resistance" Not Just "End the Occupation"
The battle that goes on now in Iraq between the American invaders and their allies on one side, and the popular resistance on the other, has many dimensions that make the "Support the Resistance" slogan basic and necessary.
1st: After what happened in Palestine and Afghanistan by the process of liquidation of the main contradictions and transforming political struggles into dismantled agendas with the help of the NGOs (workers` rights, women`s rights, children`s rights...etc), and the relative success in producing caricature forms of authority in the violated nations (Karazi regime in Afghanistan, the Ruling Council in Iraq) or producing regional capitalist/Imperialist arms/axes (the Zionist entity in the Arab region), and the relative success in transforming acute situations into long standing chronic ones; the time has come for us as people to comprehend and learn from these lessons, and realize that a negative slogan such as "Stop the War" will not do any good in the face of US Imperialist aspirations.
"Stop the War": To whom is this slogan directed? Who does it target? Does it target the ruling classes in the North and the circles of Trans-National Corporations who benefit from such an aggression and are in fact practicing it on the ground? Or does it target the masses who are already opposed to the aggression, and who do not have the political decision in their countries, and even do not have the power of radical change from within the system? (W. Bush for example is not an elected president. He is an appointed president by the US High Court after it refused the re-count results which clearly showed Al Gore as the winner in the elections. For more details see the chapter "A Very American Coup" in: Michael Moore, Stupid White Men, London: Penguin Books, 2002, pp. 1-28).
The same applies to other negative slogans like: "Bring the Troops Home" or "End the Occupation Now"!
What is required now from the masses angered by the policies of their governments is to comprehend that "policy changes" will not change the structure of the system which is based on hegemony and exploitation. Simply asking these governments to "change" will not work (as with what happened during the overwhelming anti-war demonstrations that took place before the aggression which did not change a single thing on the pre-planned US invasion of Iraq along with its allies). This means that the masses should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the resistance and place themselves in the contra-Imperialist camp and support it.
2nd: There`s a historic moment looking the people of the world in the face now: it is the time of defeating the Imperialist aggression on Iraq. This defeat (if accomplished) will create an important turn towards establishing the triumph of people over hegemony and exploitation, and will serve as a strong lever for the continuous struggle in Palestine and Afghanistan, and all the liberation struggles around the world.
The triumph of people and defeating the US Imperialist aggression in Iraq and the resultant effects will not occur without support secured to the Iraqi resistance by the global AntiWar/AntiGlobalization/AntiImperialist movement. The first step towards that is to loose the embarrassment that ties the movement and prevents it from raising the "Support the Iraqi Resistance" slogan because of its military nature, and because of the trend being "marketed" excessively in the movement nowadays as the "attitude of choice", and by that I mean: Non-Violence and Civil Resistance, and looking with contempt at armed resistance.
The forms and objective expressions of the resistance differ from one location to another according to standing circumstances and the form of the aggression, its propellers and objectives. The forms of resistance are not subject to "wrapping" and "framing" and "commoditization", or else the antiImperialists will be practicing exactly the very Imperialist "sin". What do the "non-Violent preachers" want from the Arab Iraqis? To leave themselves, their homeland, their resources subject to violation, rape, theft and occupation while they hold sit-ins and coordinate vigils to satisfy the "non-violence" and "civil resistance" pre-requirements?
In the case of Iraq, or any case where a war of aggression and occupation is launched by an Imperialist power, the right slogan will be (and sorry to be shocking here): YES TO WAR....A war of resistance and liberation.
3rd: We`ve illustrated above that supporting the resistance is an essential and important issue to defeat the US Imperialist aggression on the world, and that it`s the only means capable of forming an objective "contradiction" to this aggression. Therefore, the third important issue related to "supporting the resistance" arises from the fact that the Iraqi resistance is completely isolated especially on the political level.
This isolation is due to two facts:
1-The lack of International communication with the Iraqi resistance, the lack of any form of political support, and the lack of any real effort to break this "taboo" which was imposed by the USA and to which most of the "anti-war" organizations are abiding.
2-The absence of a political "face" for the Iraqi resistance until now, which makes the Iraqi resistance absent from the global popular arena and absolutely ineffective in it.
Breaking the isolation off the Iraqi resistance globally will assure a true back-up to its efforts to eliminate the occupation and pushes it a step forward on this road, it also will encourage the resistance to form a political representation that can speak for it and positively react with the global movement for the aim of defeating the Imperialist project in the world.
4th: Ever since September 11, the US has intensified its portrayal of resistance and national liberation movements as "terrorists", and at the same time, it has issued oppressive laws encroaching on internal freedoms under the name "Anti-Terrorist laws", and practiced some of the most terrorizing breaches of human rights: from war and aggression, to arresting people under inhumane conditions (Camp X-ray in Guantanamo Bay) because they are "terrorists".
This "game of terms" comes from the lessons Imperialism has learned in Vietnam and the global popular support of the resistance forces there, and from the lessons it comprehended from the liberation and independence movements in the post WWII era which were an inspiration to many generations and its leaders became idols until now (Che Guevara, General Jiab, Nasser as examples). The US does not want to repeat this "mistake", so it bombards resistance fighters not only with bombs, but with the most obscene of names and traits in an massive propaganda attack (seemingly successful!) to prevent any serious solidarity, and to cut the road in front of any possible communication, transforming this issue into some sort of "political sin" or "political scandal".
The submission of the global movement to these terms dictated by Imperialism is a huge catastrophe. Moreover, it represents a non-direct participation in securing a "safe back" for Imperialism`s injustices and aggressions. And the withdrawal of the global movement from the task of supporting the resistance will definitely be in the favor of Imperialist propaganda`s efforts to de-legitimize the armed resistance in Iraq and elsewhere.
Conclusion: Resistance in the face of Imperialist Embezzlement
The global movement should not give in to Imperialist embezzlement: Resistance is legitimate. It is not "terrorism", and it is not an "embarrassment" when compared to non-violence and civil resistance. It is necessary to stop aggression and injustice.
The atmosphere that surrounds the global anti-war movement which required this article to be written to stress the right of resistance to exist and operate via all means, including armed struggle, is a negative sign that portrays the level of success of counter-efforts aimed at dismantling and fragmenting the movement and transforming it into a place for questioning basic rights with no real action on the ground. This also illustrates the need for all principled organizations to join their efforts to break through this foggy and negative attitude that is starting to engulf the movement and is trying to push it towards the margins: right where Imperialism wants it.