The ORGANIZER Weekly Newsletter
Issue No. 38 – September 9, 2021
Please distribute widely!
IN THIS ISSUE:
Terror in Texas: Brought to You by the U.S. Supreme Court – by Millie Phillips and Mya Shone
DSA’s 2021 National Convention: Continuing Down the Slippery Slope to Democratic Party Politics– by the Editors
The Martinsville Seven: Pardoned 70 Years After their Execution – by Jérémie Avril
Witch-Hunt Inside the British Labour Party – by Jean-Pierre Barrois
“Not in Spite of, But Because of, My Jewish Heritage” – by Diana Neslen
Biden Calls for Increased Aid to Apartheid Israel – by the Editors
China: Killing the Hong Kong Teachers’ Union — reprinted from IWC Newsletter No. 193)
Statement by Socialist Organizer on Biden’s Speech Regarding the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops from Afghanistan (posted initially on September 7)
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Terror in Texas: Brought to You by the U.S. Supreme Court
By Millie Phillips and Mya Shone
One of the worst fears of women – the reversal of the right to abortion – has now occurred in the state of Texas with the approval of a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court. Those of our readers who were not alive before 1973 do not know first-hand just how terrifying it was to get pregnant when there was no right to end a pregnancy. The toll of unwanted pregnancies destroyed many women’s opportunities to finish high school, go to college, get a job or career, leave abusive relationships, or afford to raise children they already had. Even survivors of rape and incest were forced to give birth.
Many women died from illegal, unsanitary “back-alley” abortions performed by unscrupulous providers, or by self-inducing abortions by such horrible means as piercing their own cervixes with coat hangers. Underground providers committed to women’s rights who were able to perform the procedure safely risked criminal prosecution in a brave effort to provide a service desperately needed, as did medical doctors who often faked paperwork to conceal abortions. Women who did not want immediately to give birth lived in constant fear of pregnancy. And, of course, lower-income women bore the brunt of this terror, since the rich could access safe abortion, no matter what the law stated.
There is simply no such thing as women’s rights without the right to control our own bodies.
National law, as determined by the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, allows abortions up to 24 weeks, considered to be the point at which a fetus may be viable to survive outside the womb, and later if to save the life or health of the mother or if the fetus is not viable. Roe has been attacked and undermined, if not completely overturned, to the point where it almost has become a right on paper only. Access to abortion is not available or is highly restricted through one “legal” means or another in most states.
Also, thanks to the Hyde Amendment, attached to every federal budget for the Department of Health and Human Services from 1980 until the latest Biden administration budget proposal, no federal funds may be used to pay for abortion, except to save the life of the woman or if the pregnancy arises from incest or rape. This in itself created an undue burden on poor women as 300,000 abortions annually had been funded by the federal government prior to Hyde.
If that were not enough, anti-abortion tactics include terrorizing (even murdering) abortion providers to put them out of business, harassing and threatening women seeking abortions, imposing waiting periods or requiring parental consent laws for minors, pushing insurance companies and employers not to cover abortion costs, and using deceptive information to dissuade women from getting abortions.
Up until now, however, the Supreme Court had invalidated laws that are directly inconsistent with Roe v. Wade. But the expectation is that this basic woman’s right to control her own body, even in its debilitated form, could be swept away with the current conservative Court majority, including three new justices appointed by Donald Trump, who had vetted them on the condition that they would overturn Roe.
Texas’ new law
Texas’ new law, S.B. 8, empowering citizens to be vigilantes and bounty hunters against abortion providers and those who provide support for women, is the most draconian yet. The majority of this Court — using a maneuver called the “Shadow Court” in which no briefs were filed, arguments heard and a decision rendered — refused to impose an injunction on the Texas abortion vigilante law so that it could be tested in the courts. This doesn’t bode well for how the Court will approach Mississippi legislation on its upcoming docket that tests whether state laws which ban abortion prior to viability are unconstitutional.
Unlike state legislation which impose governmental restrictions on abortion, the new Texas law is designed to shut down access to abortion completely — and it has had that effect already. Planned Parenthood shut down most of its abortion operations in its Texas clinics, and women are traveling long distances to clinics in neighboring Oklahoma.
The Texas law empowers anyone to sue providers in civil court who perform abortions after “six weeks from conception” with no exceptions for rape, sexual abuse, incest or fetal anomaly diagnoses as well as anyone who has helped them in any way to access the abortion. This includes friends who may have provided financial assistance or even an Uber or Lyft driver. Not only can they sue, but if they win, the law requires each defendant to pay the plaintiff at least $10,000 and their legal fees. Thus, as of September 1, 2021, Texas and the Supreme Court have deputized an army of vigilante bounty hunters.
Let us look at the facts with regard to abortion procedures: Most women are unaware that they are pregnant six weeks into conception. This is just two weeks after a missed period for those with a regular menstrual cycle. About 85 percent to 90 percent of women who obtain abortions in Texas are at least six weeks pregnant. Nationally, almost two-thirds of abortions occur after six weeks, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
Many have noted that the Texas law not only denies women an essential right, but it overturns the basis of the “rule of law” in the United States itself. At least a half-dozen more states are preparing copycat legislation with others already having passed “trigger legislation” should Roe be overturned.
The legal challenges ahead
Constitutional attorneys and the U.S. Attorney General’s office are preparing to craft legal challenges. Harvard Constitutional Law Professor Lawrence Tribe, who argued and won a case before the Supreme Court in 1982 (Larkin v. Grendal’s Den, Inc 459 US 116), may provide the basis to bring down the Texas S.B. 8. In an eight-to-one opinion written by then-Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, the Court stated unequivocally that government cannot assign to non-governmental agencies or individuals those powers that are assigned ordinarily to government, especially [with respect to significant economic and political activity. Not only will women’s health decisions be affected but Planned Parenthood and other clinics will suffer economic damage by curtailing their activity.
The Supreme Court majority with its failure to enjoin the Texas law demonstrated its unfamiliarity with longstanding Supreme Court decisions and/or its refusal to recognize them. Tribe explained to Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, 09/07, that in case after case, not just Grendel, the Supreme Court has ruled consistently that the State cannot give away its governmental powers.
As for Texas, instituting vigilante law harkening back to the days of the wild, wild West, Tribe stated that the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 was crafted explicitly to bring criminal cases against bounty hunters and there is a comparable act to cover cases of bounty hunters in civil law, too.
The role of the Democrats
For many years, Democratic Party politicians and their supporters have been telling us that the main threat to abortion is the Republican Party. The argument goes like this: Not only are Republicans far more likely to oppose abortion, if a Republican president gets elected, there is the danger of vacant seats on the Supreme Court being filled by anti-abortion judges confirmed by Republican lawmakers. Superficially, this appears to make sense. After all, Trump appointed three of the five justices who voted not to block the Texas law.
But a deeper question must be asked. What have the Democrats done to prevent anti-abortion judges from being confirmed and anti-abortion legislation passed? What, at the federal and state level, have they done pro-actively to pass bills protecting reproductive rights and access to abortion?
If they would end the Senate filibuster, Democrats could pass any law they want. They could expand the numbers on the Supreme Court and confirm only pro-choice judges. The party could refuse to endorse or campaign for any Democrat running for office unless they had a stellar record defending women’s rights. The Hyde Amendment could have been excluded from the budget long ago and mobilizations promoted in all states to remove anti-abortion laws.
The role of the Democrats on all issues of concern to women, people of color, LGBTQ people, immigrants, union members and all working class and lower-income U.S. residents has been to demobilize and co-opt social justice movements, convincing activists that nothing can be done except to elect Democrats to office; promising us things we truly need, as long as we don’t do anything to challenge or embarrass them, and then blaming Republicans for why none of their promises are “realistic” in the moment.
The bottom line, however, is that to defend women’s rights, there needs to be a well-organized, independent feminist movement willing to engage in coordinated mass action. While at least 4 million people marched throughout the U.S. in favor of reproductive and other women’s rights on January 21, 2017, that effort was not led by the national women’s groups that arose during the 1970s, such as the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), or by Planned Parenthood. These groups limit their actions to lobbying, lawsuits, and campaigning to elect more Democrats. Lacking national coordination, there has been no follow up to keep the millions of activists in 2017 engaged.
An added issue is that capitulation to the Democrats by leaders of the 1970s/80s movement resulted in a negative impact on working class women, especially women of color, to the extent that the word “feminism” is often associated with elitism and a mistrust of older women who were active at that time.
The labor movement also has failed to prioritize reproductive rights. In part, this has been due to a fear of taking on conservative workers in unions who oppose abortion for religious reasons and to historical sexism within labor that has yet to be fully overcome, but, even more so, it is due to the same unwillingness to act independently of the Democratic Party.
Other social movements today may be more willing to act militantly, but they cannot substitute for the lack of mass feminist movement or an independent, radical labor movement.
There is one common denominator for the myriad life-threatening issues that demand our attention — the lack of independence from the twin parties of capital which represent primarily the interests of the U.S. ruling class. We must continue to protest the Texas law and any other attack on abortion that follows. We must galvanize women into a unified movement that fights for all women, expressing particularly the needs, experience, and voices of the most oppressed. We must build an independent political force – a working class party rooted in labor and oppressed communities – for it is only with our own political power that we can end these attacks once and for all.
Time to get to work!
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DSA’s 2021 National Convention: Continuing Down the Slippery Slope to Democratic Party Politics
By the Editorial Board
Over the summer, the DSA [Democratic Socialists of America] held its national convention over zoom, with the participation of approximately 1,100 delegates representing close to 100,000 members, according to the various convention reports.
Many domestic and foreign policy issues were discussed at the convention, but the issue of DSA’s stance toward running and supporting Democratic Party candidates occupied much of the space in the numerous written reports about the convention.
One such report, considered by many delegates as the most comprehensive and accurate, was written by David Duhalde of the Socialist Majority caucus, one of the many caucuses in DSA. Concerning the issue of DSA’s electoral strategy, Duhalde wrote:
“Concerning electoral politics, a motion from Reform and Revolution, a group primarily not exclusively composed of former SAlt [Socialist Alternative] members who have joined DSA, and one from some members of the Bread & Roses caucus (which was not backed by the caucus as a whole) were both defeated. The latter amendment sought to emphasize a ‘dirty break’ to electoral strategy; discourage DSA-backed candidates from endorsing corporate Democrats; and explore alternatives to VAN, a Democratic Party-sponsored voter database. The Reform and Revolution-backed amendment was defeated in a 359-623 vote, but the ‘dirty break’ amendment failed by a narrower margin, 442-577.
“I was happily surprised this amendment failed; its defeat demonstrates a shift against the official ‘dirty break’ position the national convention adopted in 2019. As the new DSA matures, a consensus seems to be building that emphasizing a ‘break’ with Democrats per se can be alienating to voters we need to win over and put DSA-backed elected officials in a difficult position.
“DSA did not need to officially endorse Biden over Trump in the 2020 election, but it likely would have been counterproductive to ask elected officials to do the same. If DSA had asked elected officials to not endorse, this likely would have alienated the organization from officeholders rather than producing non-endorsements. Both DSA itself and DSA officeholders need to maintain flexibility on these questions.”
The “dirty break” strategy was first developed a number of years ago to justify running DSA candidates on the ballot line of the Democrats, and/or supporting “progressive” Democratic Party candidates. The rationale for adopting a policy that had long been rejected — and repudiated — by socialists, going back to Eugene V. Debs, goes something like this:
Running on the Democratic Party ballot line is not an endorsement of the Democratic Party; it’s a tactical, not a principled, question. Amassing a large number of DSA-supported candidates inside the Democratic Party over an extended period of time would then, at some point down the road, scare the Democratic National Committee and compel the party leaders to expel the rebellious DSA wing of the party. Once expelled, this wing would go on to establish a Workers Party. Hence the “dirty break” — as opposed to a “clean break,” which opposes running or supporting Democrats, in whatever guise, as a matter of principle.
In previous issues of The Organizer, we noted that the “dirty break” with the Democratic Party is no break at all; it is just left cover to support one of the two parties of capitalism and imperialism. Based on the lessons of the past 100 years, we explained how every radical tendency that sought “inside-outside,” or “dirty break” politics (often using different names) always got co-opted into the mainstream of Democratic Party politics. We demonstrated how this applied, in particular, to Bernie Sanders and the AOC-type “progressives.”
In our past articles, we noted that it was simply a matter of time before the DSA slid further down the slippery slope into Democratic Party politics.
Two years after the DSA embraced the “dirty break” strategy, the party has now “matured” to the point where it does not want to alienate its Democratic Party elected officials by raising even the specter of a break with the Democrats and the formation of an independent Workers Party.
The “dirty break” strategy served its purpose: to derail a movement of tens of thousands of young activists back into the Democratic Party, the gravedigger of all social movements — all in the name of “socialism.”
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The Martinsville Seven: Pardoned 70 Years After their Execution
By Jérémie Avril
In 1949, in the state of Virginia, a white woman claimed to have been raped by a group of Black men. The police quickly arrested seven men, who were interrogated without lawyers and who refuted the allegations. Eventually, they signed confessions.
Several of them were illiterate and could not read what they had signed. This extorted “evidence” was presented to an all-white jury. The seven Black men were sentenced to death and sent to the electric chair in 1951.
Seventy years later, the governor of the state of Virginia pardoned the “Martinsville Seven,” recognizing the injustice of the trial. This recognition is the result of the long struggle of the children and grandchildren of these men, who forced the state of Virginia to recognize their innocence and the the racist crime of which they were victims.
The 1951 trial took place at a time when Jim Crow segregation in the United States prevailed, following two and a half centuries of slavery of Black people. This was not an isolated case. Thousands of Blacks, particularly in the former slave states of the South such as Virginia, were murdered after similar rigged trials.
Fast forward to today, where the U.S. political institutions, police and justice systems are permeated by this racism, as was demonstrated by the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in May 2020, leading to the massive demonstrations that followed under the banner of “Black Lives Matter.”
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Witch-Hunt Inside the British Labour Party
By Jean-Pierre Barrois
The start of the political season in Great Britain is traditionally marked by the Annual Conferences of the major political parties: the Conservative Party, now in power with Boris Johnson, and the Labour Party. The Labour Party is not only the historic party of the British working class; it has the particularity of having been formed, at the beginning of the 20th century, by the trade union confederation – the Trades Union Congress (TUC) – as its political representation, which establishes a specific link between the party and the labour movement as a whole.
In 2021, the preparation of the Labour Party conference was marked not by the debate on what policies should be implemented; rather, it was marked by an unprecedented wave of expulsions from the party. Hundreds of activists – often trade union leaders, sometimes intellectuals classified as “left-wing” such as the film director Ken Loach – received by e-mail the announcement of their automatic expulsion from the party.
Who are the targeted militants? They are members of four internal party groupings, ranging from supporters of former leader Jeremy Corbyn  to groups claiming to be Marxist. In some cases, those expelled were smeared with the infamous charge of “anti-Semitism,” when in fact they simply had taken a stand in support of the rights of the Palestinian people. Thus, the party leadership called for the expulsion of a grouping of party members of Jewish origin organized in Jewish Voice for Labour. [See accompanying statement by Diana Neslin.]
What are the real reasons for this “witch-hunt”?
While the Conservative government is multiplying its attacks on workers (freezing public service salaries, cutting the budget for public services, trying to institutionalize the “Fire and Rehire” system), Labour’s leadership is refusing to organize any form of resistance. Its priority, as Labour leader Keir Starmer explained in an interview with the capitalist Financial Times, is to “rebuild the relationship and partnership between the party and the business community.”
At a time when local strikes are breaking out across Great Britain in response to the measures announced by the Conservative government, the Labour Party leadership has been focused on ensuring a policy of national unity with the Conservatives, which leads it, as the local union of TUC of the city of Rochdale stated, “to turn its back on trade union demands.”
This is why leaders of the unions are reacting. For example, the leadership of the UNITE union (which has over one million members) stated:
“The priorities of the Labour leadership could not be more different from those of working people and our union members … . While working class communities are continuing to bear the brunt of the sickness and employment worries made much worse by Conservative mishandling of the pandemic, Labour is abandoning the field of battle against this government to turn its fire on its members instead.
“Acts of political machismo like this latest move to proscribe groups within the party neither advance the party with the voting public nor appease the right-wing media which demand them. They simply create a sense of despair among voters who see a party at perpetual war with itself, more interested in running down its membership than running the country.”
Commenting on this statement, the Labour Internationalist newsletter, published by activists linked to the Organizing Committee for the Reconstitution of the Fourth International), wrote: “Beyond the groups concerned, it is the whole party that is targeted, and beyond the party, the whole working class … . The declaration of UNITE must be made known widely to the sections of the party and the unions.”
 It was Jeremy Corbyn’s capitulation on two key issues — (1) abandoning his lifelong opposition to the EU, having turned his back on the Left Exit (LEXIT) campaign, and (2) refusing to put up a real fight against the slanders of anti-Semitism. This is what facilitated Keir Starmer’s accession to the party leadership.
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“Not in Spite of, But Because of, My Jewish Heritage”
Diana Neslen, a member of Jewish Voice of Labour, was expelled from the Labour Party for “anti-Semitism.” In fact, it was because of her stance against Israel’s policy toward Gaza. She explained:
“I am Jewish. … The South Africa of my youth was a bastion of racism, of Apartheid … . My role model is Marek Edelman, the last fighter in the Warsaw Ghetto who said that being Jewish means always being with the oppressed, never with the oppressor … . In 2014, Israel attacked Gaza, killing over 2,000 people, including 501 children, and causing massive damage … . I was horrified by this collective punishment, not in spite, but because of my Jewish heritage.”
Biden Calls for Increased Aid to Apartheid Israel
On August 26, on the occasion of the visit to Washington of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who was received by Biden, a senior U.S. official made the point of affirming that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan did not mean a disengagement from the Middle East. Quite the contrary” (The Times of Israel, August 26). “The end of the U.S. military commitment in Afghanistan will free up resources and means and will finally allow us to better support our partners like Israel.” He continued. “We are pursuing a very steady course … and, first and foremost, we will be providing support to our partners — and, of course, Israel is second to none.”
So much for Biden’s concerns about civil and human rights! It is an unequivocal endorsement of the crimes and racist laws of an Apartheid regime that has created ghetto-like areas for Palestinian communities.
A statement by 1043 Israeli Jews Against the Apartheid Regime was sharp in its condemnation of “Israel’s atrocities, which are only able to take place because of the impunity that Israel enjoys from the international community — especially from the United States.”
Demanding the “right of return for all Palestinians,” the authors of the statement call for “a just and democratic solution for all, based on the decolonization of the region and the founding of a state of all its citizens.”
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CHINA: Killing the Hong Kong Teachers’ Union
(reprinted from Issue no. 193 — August 20, 2021 — of the weekly newsletter published by the International Workers Committee Against War and Exploitation, For a Workers International, IWC)
On July 30, The People’s Daily, organ of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), called the Hong Kong Teachers’ Union (HKPTU) a “malignant tumor” that should be “eliminated”. The very next day, the Hong Kong government’s Education Bureau declared that it no longer recognized the HKPTU, accusing it of spreading political propaganda. This 95,000-member union, affiliated to HKCTU, the independent trade union confederation of this Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, organizes 90 % of the city’s teachers.
Earlier this year, the Hong Kong government, which takes orders from the Beijing regime, had the president of the HKCTU, Carol Ng, arrested and imprisoned, followed by the general secretary Lee Cheukyan, for their participation in the huge demonstrations against the law of extradition law and against police violence in 2019 and 2020. After the adoption of the repressive National Security Law in the summer of 2020, the witch-hunt is now on, and after the trade unionists, it is the trade unions that do not pledge allegiance that are targeted by the authorities.
In May, a trade unionist asked: “The problem is whether doing what trade unions have always done – such as criticizing government policies, organizing strikes in industry or linking up with international unions – would be considered violations leading to the banning of a trade union“. Here is the answer.
So the teachers’ union, under “enormous pressure”, according to its president, immediately decided to break its links with Education International and the HKCTU confederation in the hope of no longer incurring the wrath of the authorities.
But this was not enough: on August 9, the HKPTU leadership decided to dissolve the union. “It is a tragic and deplorable situation, of course, but with the benefit of hindsight and all these long years of struggle and development, we should have no regrets. (…) We sincerely ask you to understand and accept this difficult decision, in a situation that we did not want and where we had no choice“, the president wrote to the union members.
It is clear that these trade unionists have been left alone to face the authorities, and that those who lead the international trade union movement have not put their immense resources at the service of the defense of these unions and the Chinese trade unionists who have been imprisoned. If Carol Ng and Lee Cheukyan, trade union leaders who are members of international trade union bodies, can be locked up without a hitch, it would be wrong for the Beijing authorities to hesitate to subordinate trade unions to the National Security Law, to resort to the Public Order Ordinances of the time when Hong Kong was a British colony.
The aim is to stifle the remaining freedoms of expression, organization and demonstration in Hong Kong, and to send a message to mainland Chinese workers that any form of independent organization is doomed to failure even as they constantly seek to organize themselves.
Based on information made available to the Commission of Inquiry in China
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Statement by Socialist Organizer on Biden’s Speech Regarding the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops from Afghanistan
(posted to the Socialist Organizer website on September 7, 2021)
Over the past 20 years, U.S. working people and youth — especially the activists who for decades opposed U.S. imperialist wars and interventions from Vietnam to Iraq — have been calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
Opposition to the U.S. war in Afghanistan was fueled by the countless lies put forth by four different administrations — all in the name of the phony “war on terror” — to justify the slaughter for which the U.S. government bears sole responsibility.
Gene Bruskin, co-founder of US Labor Against the War, summarized the overall cost of the war as follows:
“The calculus of 20 years of the U.S. war in Afghanistan is tragic: massive suffering, death, impoverishment and displacement for millions of Afghans the U.S. allegedly was fighting for; hundreds of billions of dollars shifted to the coffers of the war industry; billions of dollars lost to corrupt U.S. contractors and Afghan leaders; thousands of deaths and injuries of U.S. soldiers, mostly working class, and an incalculable amount of damage to those suffering PTSD.”
Is the war really over?
In his August 31 speech to the nation on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden affirmed, “Last night in Kabul, the United States ended 20 years of war in Afghanistan.”
But is this war really over? The answer is “no”; it’s just going to be a different kind of war.
Biden made this clear: “We just don’t need to fight a ground war to do it. We have what’s called over-the-horizon capabilities, which means we can strike terrorists and targets without American boots on the ground, very few if needed.”
The over-the-horizon capabilities include deadly armed drones, many errant and misguided, that have killed tens of thousands of Afghan civilians, 40% of them children. An op-ed article in the September 2 Los Angeles Times noted, pointedly: “To Afghans terrorized by continued U.S. drone strikes, this war isn’t over.”
U.S. imperialism’s over-arching military objectives in Afghanistan and Central Asia, as well as throughout the Middle East, have not changed, just the forms have been modified. “Moving on from that mind-set and those kinds of large-scale troop deployments,” Biden noted, “will make us stronger and more effective.”
Listening to Biden’s speech, one could be led to believe that the U.S. objective in Afghanistan has been to promote democracy and national sovereignty.
Biden stated, hypocritically: “We saw a mission of counterterrorism in Afghanistan, getting the terrorists to stop the attacks, morph into a counterinsurgency, nation building, trying to create a democratic, cohesive and united Afghanistan.”
What kind of a democratic and united Afghanistan could possibly emerge from a puppet regime beholden to U.S. imperialist interests — a regime that has trampled on the democratic aspirations of the Afghan people and pursued a war “Made in the USA,” a war that killed more than 240,000 Afghans?
Did a democratic and united Libya emerge after the U.S.-NATO bombing and war in Libya? No! A nation was decimated, leaving rival armed forces vying for power. Do the U.S. sanctions against nations the world over promote nation-building and democracy? No! The opposite is true; these policies destroy nations, forcing millions of people into exile.
The same is true of the U.S.-imposed “free trade” agreements, another form of warfare; they dismantle the industrial and agricultural fabric in country after country to benefit U.S. corporate interests.
At no time have the U.S. wars and occupations promoted democracy, peace, or the sovereignty of nations.
Biden, in fact, doesn’t hide this fact when he acknowledges later in his speech that the United States must be guided by only one thing: promoting “the fundamental security interests of America.” This is the very same formulation that was used to justify the U.S. wars in Vietnam and Iraq.
Pivoting toward confrontation with China
Biden highlighted the “changing world” in which China, in particular, has become a “new threat” to the United States. He added:
“We’re engaged in a serious competition with China. We’re dealing with the challenges on multiple fronts with Russia. We’re confronted with cyberattacks and nuclear proliferation. We have to shore up American competitiveness to meet these new challenges and the competition for the 21st century.”
The goal is clear: U.S. capitalists need to conquer new markets to offset capitalism’s declining rate of profit— and toward that end, they must overturn socialized property relations in China, which, despite the inroads of capitalism, remain a major obstacle to the global system based on the private ownership of the means of production.
Biden explained that the United States could no longer remain in Afghanistan because China and Russia would take advantage of the fact that the U.S. was stuck in the Afghanistan quagmire when it needed to concentrate its efforts responding to the Russian and Chinese “threats.”
Biden did the math, stating that more than $2 trillion had been spent in Afghanistan. “Yes,” Biden noted, “over $300 million a day for two decades.”
Who will benefit?
Toward what ends will the $2 trillion in “savings” from the war in Afghanistan be earmarked by the Biden administration?
Will it go toward funding a Medicare for All healthcare system, or shoring up workers’ pension funds? Will it go toward securing a union job at a living wage for all workers, beginning with an increase in the minimum wage to $15/hour? Will it go toward preserving and improving public education Kindergarten through college, or building social housing on a mass scale?
Will it go toward ensuring that we get a fully funded infrastructure bill and Green New Deal? Will it go toward reversing the privatization onslaught that is dismantling our public services — especially our U.S. Postal Service? Will it go toward reparations for the victims of slavery and their progeny?
We all know the answer: No, the $300 million per day spent in Afghanistan will NOT be redirected toward any of these vital programs in the interest of working people and the oppressed — though some funding may trickle-down here and there to make it appear that something is being done!
The funds freed from the U.S. war in Afghanistan will only serve two purposes: On the one hand, they will go toward preparing new wars, for example, against China or other peoples, which is why the U.S. military budget is constantly being ramped up. (A House panel has just asked for an additional $3.7 billion for the military, on top of the $753 billion requested by Biden for the fiscal year 2022.)
On the other hand, the funds will be used to continue aiding and financing the capitalists, ostensibly for “recovery,” but in reality to shore up the profit margins of the Wall Street banksters.
End the war at home and abroad! Open the door to the refugees from Afghanistan!
On all foreign policy matters — from the Russian and Chinese “threats,” to the so-called “war on terror” in the Middle East, to the barely veiled occupation of Haiti, to the longstanding sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela, among others — Biden has continued, in some cases, accelerated, the U.S. war on workers and oppressed peoples the world over.
This is no less true of the war at home against workers and the oppressed.
We hear a lot about Biden’s support for the PRO-Act (a good piece of legislation that would finally facilitate the right to organize into a union). We hear about an infrastructure bill, and the fight against climate change. We hear about the need to uphold immigrant rights. But what is the reality behind all this rhetoric?
Biden could end the filibuster and lean on the “moderate” Democrats in the Senate (Krysten Sinema and Joe Manchin, in particular) to enact all these specific pieces of legislation. Instead, Biden is sheltering behind the filibuster and his recalcitrant allies, arguing that ending the filibuster would create an “institutional crisis” that could cause great harm to the country. A very convenient excuse. Hence, little or nothing gets done.
Biden could process all the asylum claims and enact a Papers For All law to provide citizenship to the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows across the United States, while still paying taxes. Instead, he is continuing to cage immigrant children and refusing to address the humanitarian crisis at the border — following in the footsteps of Donald Trump.
This raises the question of the hundreds of thousands of refugees from Afghanistan.
It is shameful that the leaders of the labor movement are silent on the fate of the Afghan refugees. All are simply tail-ending Biden.
On August 26, Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA, the sole member of Congress to vote against the war in Afghanistan), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) issued a Letter to President Biden calling for an increase in the cap on refugee admissions into the United States. It’s a letter that points in the right direction, though the bar has been set way too low. The letter to Biden calls for increasing the total number of refugees into the U.S. from all countries for the upcoming year to no less than 200,000. The Trump administration lowered refugee caps to a historic low of 15,000. During his campaign for president, Biden committed to “set the annual global refugee admissions cap to 125,000.”
This is what the legislators wrote in their letter to Biden:
“As the people of Afghanistan face an unfolding tragedy, the United States must open its doors to refugees fleeing the devastating consequences of a 20-year U.S. military occupation and 40 years of U.S.-fueled war.
“After decades of disastrous U.S. intervention in Afghanistan, one thing is clear: we have a moral responsibility to provide safe harbor and refuge for the Afghan people. Now, the growing humanitarian crisis is further exposing the horrific costs of our endless wars. The United States must do everything in its power to protect those who have borne the brunt of this decades-long conflict, especially Afghans who are at increased risk of persecution or death by the Taliban.”
In a separate interview Rep. Ocasio-Cortez stated:
“The role of the United States in this crisis is indisputable. We must spare neither our time nor our money to help the refugees leave Afghanistan safely. We must immediately welcome them to the United States and give them all the support they need to rebuild their lives.”
We say to the leaders of the labor movement: Support the call by Reps. Lee and Ocasio-Cortez; stop kowtowing to the Democratic Party! Welcome ALL the refugees from Afghanistan and all other countries torn apart by U.S. wars and occupations!
The time to save lives is now!
• Open the Doors to All Afghan Refugees!
• Redirect the Billions from the War to Jobs, Public Services, Social Housing, Quality Public Education K-College, Fighting Climate Change, and Medicare for All!