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Vol. 72/No. 10      March 10, 2008

‘Support our troops’ slogan is concession
to Washington’s prowar propaganda
(As I see It column)
The city council in Berkeley, California, rescinded a decision to send a letter to the Marine Corps Recruiting Station telling the recruiters they were “unwelcome intruders.”

The council adopted a resolution February 13 to “publicly differentiate between the city’s documented opposition to the unjust and illegal war in Iraq and our respect and support for those serving in the armed forces.” The resolution said, “We deeply respect and support the men and women in our armed forces.”

Advancing such a position is a disorienting concession to the U.S. government’s patriotic prowar propaganda. It strengthens Washington’s ability to wage war.

The U.S. government is escalating its war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is pushing ahead on other fronts in its “global war on terror”—from Iraq to the Philippines to the Horn of Africa. More wars are on the horizon, fueled by the intensified competition between the U.S. rulers and their counterparts in Europe, Asia, and the Pacific.

This is a decades-long perspective for U.S. imperialism, one that requires political and economic concessions from the U.S. working class. That’s why Washington is today trying to re-legitimize its “war on terror.” The aim is to convince workers and farmers in the United States to be pliant allies in the government’s bloody wars of conquest, wars in which working people are used as cannon fodder.

The government’s recent decision to charge six prisoners in connection with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, after holding these men without charges for five years, is part of this. Increasing cop patrols in subways is, too. It’s all aimed at convincing us that “we Americans” have a common enemy, and therefore a stake in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

But there is no such thing as “we Americans.” The United States is a class-divided country. Working people have no interests in common with the employing class.

U.S. troops are not “our armed forces.” The army is theirs; the soldiers are the troops of the imperialist state. While in their big majority soldiers are from our class, they are part of their military.

As Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Congress in California’s 8th District, I reach out to workers and farmers in uniform. I campaign among GIs and encourage them to exercise their constitutional rights as citizen-soldiers to discuss the issues facing working people today with their fellow servicemen and women.

In my campaign I explain why working people—both in and out of uniform—must break with the bipartisan war party in Washington, the Democrats and Republicans. I point to the necessity of working people having a political party of our own—a labor party based on fighting unions that will struggle in the broad interests of toiling humanity not just in the United States but around the world.

If elected, I would never vote one cent for war appropriations. I would work with a socialist caucus in Congress to introduce legislation for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq, Afghanistan, and everywhere else they are stationed.

I would use the office to build support for struggles that can be emulated by working people, youth, and others wanting to end the imperialist war. The union victory and contract fight at the Dakota Premium Foods slaughterhouse in Minnesota is one example. The protests by Micro Solutions Enterprises workers in Van Nuys, California, who refuse to be intimidated by immigration raids, are another. These actions objectively weaken the government’s ability to prosecute its wars, because the workers are refusing to subordinate their interests to those of the bosses.

It is along this road—not by bending to prowar propaganda about “our troops”—that a movement capable of taking political power out of the hands of the ruling class will be built in this country. Only by establishing a workers and farmers government and disarming the war makers once and for all can we end their ability to carry out imperialist war.
Related articles:
Berkeley, California, gov’t states opposition to war, support for U.S. troops  
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