By: Isabelle B, Red Phoenix correspondent, Oregon.
The following is a speech written and presented by Isabelle B., Women’s Commissioner of the American Party of Labor, at an anti-war demonstration held in Portland, OR, during Martin Luther King Day weekend.
“A great, ferocious, dangerous common enemy—American imperialism, confronts the people of the whole world. Today the struggle against this enemy is the supreme international duty of all the revolutionary forces of our time. Peace, freedom, independence, socialism—can not be achieved and defended without a determined struggle against American imperialism, without destroying its rapacious plans and designs.”Enver Hoxha, “On the Activity of the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania,” Nov. 1, 1966.
The victims of war are, without question, the working class of all countries involved. When the state decides on a policy of war, all domestic affairs and the well-being of citizens are discarded in favor of militarism, in favor of slaughtering the men, women, and children of another nation. The United States is one of the best examples of this, with military spending well into the trillions of dollars per decade. This only gets worse with each passing year, with more and more money allocated to expanding American influence globally, ensuring the consistent domination of capital over labor. This is all at the expense of working people, who can barely make ends meet in nations with cutting-edge military technology and enough arms to kill the global population several times over.
Although many people join the US military due to coercion and predatory recruitment practices, such as the promise of free college to low income students and the possibility to be paid well for military work in the far future, it is expected in American culture to unconditionally respect and support military personnel. Meanwhile, war is extremely unpopular among the masses, and yet we are constantly propagandized to support those in uniform, or to even join those who allegedly protect our national security, who bring “freedom” and “democracy” to foreign lands.
We must talk about why American war moves are violent, undemocratic, and create victims of our own citizenry and the peoples of occupied and neo-colonized nations. We must listen and reflect on the words of Martin Luther King Junior, 56 years ago:
“The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing “clergy and laymen concerned” committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala — Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end, unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.”Martin Luther King, Jr., “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” April 4, 1967.
We must listen and reflect on the words of former Prime Minister of Albania, Enver Hoxha, 44 years ago:
“The economic, financial, and political crisis has gripped not only the monopolies, the governments, the political parties and forces inside each country, but also the international alliances, the economic, political, and military blocs, like the European Common Market, NATO, and the Warsaw Treaty. The contradictions, frictions, contests, and quarrels between partners of these alliances and blocs are manifesting themselves ever more openly and abrasively. Another expression of the crisis and attempts to get out of it can be seen in the armaments race, the all-round preparations for war and the instigation of local wars by the superpowers and the other imperialist powers, such as those in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, the Western Sahara, Indochina, and elsewhere. This course serves the hegemonic and expansionist plans of one or the other imperialist power. It keeps alive and develops the war industry and the arms trade, which have assumed unparalleled proportions today.”Enver Hoxha, “Imperialism and the Revolution,” 1979.
And we must listen and reflect on the words of Iraqi socialist-feminist, Yanar Mohammed, just 3 years ago:
“We want a real democracy based on the councils of revolutionaries that have gathered in Tahrir Square, in Haboubi Square in Nasiriya, in the squares in Basra and other cities. We want an international community that supports the will of the Iraqi people to have a new kind of a government — one that is not connected to Iran and one that is not ruled by the U.S.”Yanar Mohammed, in an interview on CBC’s “The Sunday Edition,” Jan. 17, 2020.
As American anti-war activists, anti-imperialists, and socialists, we must call for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from overseas, an end to all imperialist wars, and the promotion of world peace. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all occupied peoples and with all nations living underneath neo-colonial regimes. We call for the end of foreign aid to Israel, Colombia, the Philippines, and other outposts of capitalist and imperialist aggression. The United States’ domination in the imperialist bloc of NATO must be combatted here at home, and we must support the calls for peace from within the other nations of the world, such as from the Feminist Anti-War Resistance of Russia.
It is also necessary to be aware of women’s issues during war in particular. This is a broad topic. The Pentagon itself reported in 2012 that roughly 26,000 sexual assaults took place in the US military that year, which resulted in only 376 convictions. The remainder of military personnel who committed sexual assault against fellow service members continue to be active in the military. With figures like this, it is astounding to imagine this organization, the strong-arm of this imperialist power, occupying other nations and controlling the lives of the people there. This fact gives context to the long, long list of war crimes the United States is guilty of in countries it has fought against and occupied. During the occupation of Haiti in the early 20th century, American soldiers were known for raping women before burning down their homes. In Vietnam, the Mỹ Lai massacre is the tip of the iceberg for the atrocities committed by foreign soldiers. In Iraq, there were abuses committed at the Abu Ghraib prison by American military personnel, the Haditha massacre where 24 women and children were shot and killed, and the documented rape and killing of a 14 year old girl and her mother.
We can not wait for internal military reform, or accept small concessions given by our country’s leadership while these crimes against women continue to occur abroad. We must demand cessation of American military activity and examine the crimes of the regimes the United States continues to support. At home, our liberals celebrate female military commanders, the first class of Marines to train men and women together, diversity in the engineers at the Department of Defense. They peddle the same lines about bringing freedom and democracy and free-markets to neo-colonized nations and ignore the women killed in Haiti, Vietnam, Iraq, Palestine, and near-countless other nations worldwide. We must see through this. We must understand that it is impossible to claim to be a feminist and support foreign occupation. As anti-war activists in the United States, we should fight for the emancipation of women from both the patriarchy and the thumb of American imperialism. It is essential for the broader goals of peace and socialism.
Categories: Anti-War, U.S. News, Women and LGBTQIA+