The Workers' Advocate

Vol. 21, No. 2


25ยข February 1, 1991

[Front page:

Spread the word--No blood for oil and empire!;

An outpouring of anger;

State budget crisis squeezes the workers]


Bush covers up disastrous 'state of union'................ 2
Bailing out the banks................................................. 2
Workers denounce cutbacks in NYC......................... 2
2,000 hit Mich, governor's budget slashing.............. 2

Strikes and Workplace News

Rally vs. union busting; New York Daily News; L.A. teachers' assistants; Ford Mexico; Injured workers picket Detroit post office........................................... 3

U.S. Troops Out of the Persian Gulf!

U.S. imperialism: the world's #1 aggressor............... 4
Talk of 'quick war' a scenario for mass murder........ 4
Like father like son.................................................... 4
Arabs aren't the enemy, no to harassment................. 4
All the news that's fit for the war drive..................... 5
Pro-death movement on the sanctity of life.............. 5

A vast anti-war movement across the U.S................. 6
Jan. 19 & 26, monster rallies vs. oil war................... 7
Jr./Sr. high students enter the struggle....................... 7

On the slogan 'support our troops'............................ 8
Who really spat on Vietnam GIs............................... 9
Unrest in the military: Germany; Bronx; Fort Ord; Sand Point Naval Station; Camp Pendleton.............. 9

Israel: No innocent bystander.................................... 10
Palestinians under continuous curfew....................... 10
Who wants to restore Kuwait's dictator?.................. 10
What Bush won't tell you about Saudi Arabia.......... 10
Turkish workers say no to the war............................. 11
The world is not behind Bush's war.......................... 12
N. Africa to S. Asia, millions condemn war.............. 12

For Workers' Socialism, Not Revisionist State-Capitalism

No to Gorbachev's crackdown.................................. 8

Spread the word

No blood for oil and empire!

An outpouring of anger

State budget crisis squeezes the workers

Bush covers up the disastrous 'State of the Union'

Bailing out the banks

Workers denounce cutbacks in NYC

2,000 hit Michigan governor's budget slashing

Strikes and workplace news

U.S. imperialism: the world's #1 aggressor

Arabs are not the enemy

No to racist harassment!

On the talk of a 'quick war'

A scenario for mass murder

Like father, like son

All the news that's fit for the war drive

Pro-death movement talks about the 'sanctity of life'

A vast anti-war movement across the U.S.

Jan. 19 and 26

Monster rallies vs. the oil war

Jr./Sr. High students enter the struggle

On the slogan 'Support our troops'

No to Gorbachev's crackdown!

Who really spat on Viet Nam GIs?

Unrest in the military

Israel: No innocent bystander

U.S. covers up atrocity

Palestinians under continuous curfew

Who wants to restore Kuwait's 'legitimate' dictator?

What Bush won't tell you about Saudi Arabia

Turkish workers say no to the war

The world is not behind Bush's war!

From North Africa to South Asia

Millions condemn oil war

Spread the word

No blood for oil and empire!

[Photo: 150,000 marched in Washington D.C. On Jan. 26]

The bombs are crashing across Iraq and the Middle East is in flames once again. Bush has the war he wants, and the capitalist establishment is ecstatic. They're getting to try out all their new hi-tech weapons on real bodies. They are crowing about their air superiority. Meanwhile they are preparing for a ground assault. Barring an internal collapse of the Iraqi army, the desert will only get bloodier.

A million soldiers face each other, and for what?

Bush claims he is "liberating Kuwait." Yet he has pledged to restore the Kuwaiti monarchy, which exercised an absolute rule over the Kuwaiti workers. There were no elections in Kuwait, and most of the people who lived there, even if they were born there, were not citizens.

Bush claims he is opposing Saddam's military threat to the Middle East. Yet it is the American military which is systematically destroying an Arab, country. And it is Bush and Reagan who earlier helped strengthen Saddam's military power in order to fuel the bloody Iran-Iraq war.

Bush claims he is respecting Iraqi civilians and only aims at military targets. But "military" targets include roads, vehicles, food warehouses, and just about anything that moves or stands above ground. The very purpose of the sanctions, even before January 15, was to starve an entire nation. Meanwhile the massacre of Iraqi soldiers itself means the killing of large numbers of Iraqi common people.

No justice on Bush's or Saddam's side


No, Bush isn't fighting for justice or for peace, nor is it a bloodless surgical operation.

It is a war for oil. Bush is squabbling with Saddam Hussein over who gets exactly how much of the oil profits.

And it is a war for empire. Bush wants to preserve the stability of the pro-U.S. regimes by creating a balance of power. To this aim, first one regime and then its opponent will be supported. Yesterday Hussein was an ally, today the Iraqi people are being slaughtered. Today Syria's Hafez Assad is an ally. And tomorrow --well, already the news media are saying that Assad is really as bad as Hussein. And if not Assad, there won't be far to look for another villain.

Bush thinks Saddam Hussein went too far when he put forward Iraq as a major regional power and took over all of Kuwait. So Iraq and the Pentagon are going to settle it in blood. This is an unjust war on both sides, a war against the interests of the common people of all countries.

What would U.S. victory mean?


The U.S. war machine may well prevail in the end. But what kind of victory will that be? Will it improve the lives of working people in the Middle East or here at home?

No, it will not bring peace to the Middle East, but simply American bases and American troops. The different pro-U.S. regimes of exploiters will remain as shaky as ever, and the game of balancing powers will continue.

Will it bring a stable "new world order"? Bush and the capitalists hope that the U.S., which is gradually losing its economic grip on the world, may continue to play the world superpower by military predominance. But Bush's dream of a "new world order" is likely to prove even more short-lived than that of previous would-be world rulers.

Will it solve the problems facing the American people? No, it will simply inspire the capitalist ruling class to spend more on arms while cutting back still further on social programs. Are you homeless? Well, it's your fault for not enlisting.

The third side -- that of the common people


But Bush's lies do not carry much weight with millions of American working people and youth. While Bush and Congress, Republican and Democrat, TV news anchors and newspaper editors, agree on war, while the wealthy "settle their differences" in the blood of the soldiers and civilians, there is anger and disbelief among the people. All over the country this anger is spilling into the streets. There are big demonstrations of more than a hundred thousand, and there isthe spread of actions large and small in schools and communities across the country.

Looking at the supposedly "free press" in this country, you wouldn't get any idea of the scope of the anti-war movement. This press is geared up to support the war. True, there is no one national censor who demands this. But this press is bound to the war by its capitalist interests more strongly than it could ever be bound by any government bureaucrat.

But among the common people, something new is happening. It is no big deal that you can find some super-patriots, eager to support a war that is supposedly already won. There have always been ruling class bullies in this country, ready to shout "America, love it or leave it" or to lynch minorities and dissenters. But it is a big deal that right at the start of such a war you can find mass sentiment against the war, and the mass desire to act.

What next?


The question on everyone's mind is what to do. There are many different views and opinions. This is ourview:

* Keep up the anti-war protests. We may not have been able to prevent the war. But the anti-war movement is already a factor that upsets and worries the militarists or else they wouldn't spend so much time denying it exists or seeking to undermine it. The more we march and protest and put forward our views in public, the harder it will be to hide the war's atrocities or to persecute Arabs in this country.

Let's not forget that the movement against the war in Viet Nam did not break out at the very beginning of the war, nor did the movement prevent the war from escalating to a high level. Yet everyone admits that it played a tremendous role in undermining this aggression, upheld the honor of the common people of this country, and encouraged progressive struggles on all fronts. The present war will come to various turning points, and it will make a big difference whether the American people are demonstrating against it or sitting on their hands.

* Go out among the working people, the poor, and the oppressed minorities. It's they who have no stake in the war, and it's they who will pay in blood and economic sacrifice. And it's they who have the strength and daring to build the anti-war movement into a militant struggle.

The present war is based on the class divisions in this country. The establishment is backing this war. Even when it has doubts about the wisdom of the war, or about different tactics, it sees the need to unite behind "commander-in-chief Bush." It cherishes the building of a strong military even more than the particular objects for which the military fights. It is for "imperialism, right or wrong." This is why its spokesmen only quibbled with how to strangle Iraq, through sanctions or open warfare, and not over whether the U.S. has a right to strangle Arab countries.

But the working people of this country share a common interest with workers all around the world. We all suffer from exploitation, and we all suffer from the growth of militarism and exploitation. Let us link up the anti-war movement with the radical aspirations of the common people, not the equivocations of a few hesitant ruling class figures.

* Organize, organize, and organize. Set up anti-war groups and networks everywhere -- in work places, schools, communities, and the military itself. Let activists link up together, plan actions large and small, discuss how to win over other people, and spread the word. We must not rely on churches, politicians, the labor union chieftains, or other big shots. We must take it upon ourselves to build up the organizations of the oppressed.

And let us not forget to build up an anti-war press, a working class press. We need to publish and spread widely anti- -war and anti-imperialist leaflets, flyers, and newspapers. All the lies of the warmongers must be exposed. And the different paths for the movement must be discussed openly, so everyone can take part in determining what to do.

* To build an effective anti-war movement, we must target the imperialist system.

We have to raise the question: What kind of system do we live in which believes in bombing to dust a people far, far away? What kind of system goes to war for the oil companies' profits? What kind of system uses the poor to fight for the profits and empire-building of the wealthy few? What kind of system complacently presides over poverty, racism, and homelessness while spending billions on hi-tech instruments of death?

We must ask why did the Democrats end up voting as one person to support Bush's attack on Iraq, and why did the much bally-hooed sanctions end up as simply a cover for blood and war? Why did the United Nations end up a tool of war and not of peace? We must see that this was not an accident, but a result of all these institutions being tools of the imperialist ruling class. Not the UN, not the Democrats, but the struggle against imperialism must be our banner.

The fight against this war is ultimately a struggle over what kind of society we want to live in. We need a new society that can uproot militarism altogether. Let's build up a revolutionary opposition to the imperialist system, so that each generation does not have to keep waging an anti-war struggle, so that we can do away with imperialist war altogether.

For more coverage on Bush's war and the struggle against it:

--See pages 4-12

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An outpouring of anger

As the bombs began to fall throughout Iraq, a different type of explosion spread throughout the U.S. Resistance to Bush's oil war broke out in force.

Anti-war protests that had been drawing hundreds or at most thousands during the period of sanctions, became demonstrations of thousands and tens of thousands. Cities and towns across the country saw their biggest actions since the Viet Nam war. Meanwhile uncounted small actions sprang up in schools, towns, and communities. An incomplete tally shows over one million people in January attending anti-war demonstrations that directly condemned the war, and this does not include teach-ins and community meetings that expressed concern.

There was an increased boldness. Mass marches in New York City, Seattle, San Francisco and elsewhere blocked buildings, roads and bridges. In San Francisco, a human chain shut the federal building for three days. In Olympia, Washington, protesters seized the capitol building. The police arrested thousands of activists, and in some cases maced and clubbed them, while there were sporadic attacks on marches by patriotic flag-wavers, but they were powerless to call back the tide of protest.

January also saw a growing influx of high school and even junior high school students into the movement, many of whom stood up to school authorities and organized walkouts. A new generation has stepped forward, linking up with those who fought against the Viet Nam war and other U.S. interventions.

Resistance to the Gulf war also spread among ordinary soldiers. To date over a hundred GI's have refused Gulf service, and a number have become movement activists.

This impressive growth of the movement comes at a time of flag-waving euphoria among the bourgeois establishment over the "success" of the air war. Yet every day that the war continues, whether devoted to air bombardment or to the threatened bloody ground war, further exposes the savagery of our "kinder, gentler" government. It shows that "imperialism" is not an outdated curse word, but a true description of the actions and desires of "our" capitalist ruling class. The White House, Congress and the Pentagon have unleashed their "Desert Storm." But it has blown away their mask of civilization and called forth a whirlwind of indignation and anger throughout the country.

[Photo: Demonstrators block Interstate 5 in Seattle]

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State budget crisis squeezes the workers

The economic crisis is hitting home in state after state and city after city.

By the end of last year, state operating budgets were in deficit by a record amount. And at least 28 states had begun to either slash social programs or raise taxes or both. As well, the Labor Department reports that eight states are already in danger of running out of money to pay unemployment benefits. And another 20 states could run out by December.

The crisis in the states and cities is partly due to a decade of Reaganite cutbacks by the federal government. For example, a 50-city survey by the Conference of U.S. Mayors reports that the federal contribution to municipal budgets dropped 64% from 1980 to 1990.

But, more than this, the states and cities have been hit by the capitalist economic crisis -- a crisis the bosses are trying to manage by shifting the burden on to the working class and poor. The fact is that no matter whether the Democrats or Republicans are in control, they have all taken up a program of local Reaganism -- a program of helping out the rich and imposing vicious cutbacks on the working masses and the poor.

In Massachusetts, for example, the new Republican Governor Weld has canceled the tax on business services for now and is promising a series of other tax breaks to big business. At the same time, he announced that he will allow the unemployment fund to go bankrupt and cut unemployment benefits by 30%. Rather this, Weld holds, than to raise the unemployment levies on employers back up to what they were before then-governor Dukakis cut them several years ago.

Meanwhile, in the Democratic stronghold of New York, Governor Cuomo and Mayor Dinkins are following a similar program. Even though facing an enormous deficit, Mayor Dinkins has offered $500 million in tax cuts to the big real estate developers. At the same time, he's carrying out a billion dollar budget cut by slashing education, health care and sanitation, closing many fire houses and libraries, and laying off thousands " of teachers, para-professionals and other working people.

The Democrats are attacking the masses for the sake of the capitalists just like the Republicans.

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Bush covers up the disastrous 'State of the Union'


As unemployment spread to about 14 million workers in January, President Bush finally uttered the "R" word. But only in a whisper.

Bush's State of the Union message tried double talk to dispel the anger over layoffs and hardship. This is not really a recession. Oh no. According to Bush it is just that "economic expansion...has been temporarily interrupted."

And what if people are jobless without unemployment benefits, sick without medical care, and hungry without enough food to eat? We're supposed to forget about all that and look instead to the glory of the flag and a war for oil.

But you can't eat the flag. And only the rich benefit from this war. The working masses have to look out for themselves. It is time to stand up to Bush and the capitalist class he serves.

The domestic corollary to war

Just "as Bush hoped for a quick and painless (for the U.S. generals) war, he is promising a short and painless recession. "We will get this recession behind us, and return to growth -- soon," Bush declared in his State of the Union speech.

But this economic crisis is deep. The long-term overproduction crisis in manufacturing and real estate has spread to the service sector. The savings and loan crisis has swept into the banks and is starting to threaten other financial institutions like the insurance firms. The federal budget crisis -- helped on to new record highs by the oil war -- has spread to at least 28 states, which are slashing unemployment benefits, welfare, Medicare, heating assistance, and more.

Even if the recession plummet is somehow stopped this year, as Bush hopes, most bourgeois analysts admit that the economy will remain virtually stagnant. Bush's bandaids may prop up profits, at least for the biggest capitalists. But they don't resolve the underlying problems that have caused this crisis and are only preparing for deeper crises later on.

Capitalism at its "finest"

Meanwhile the masses are being hit with a double-whammy. While our sons and daughters are being sent off to die in the Middle East for the greater glory of the oil empire, at home we are supposed to suffer so that the capitalists can remain filthy rich. Such is capitalism at its finest.

Bush's program to deal with the recession was outlined in his State of the Union message.


It includes tax breaks for the rich, such as the proposed cut in the capital gains tax.

It includes helping out the banks with a plan similar to that which eventually led to the $500 billion S&L bailout.

It includes maintaining the record levels of military spending for missiles and star wars. (Bush did not say how he plans to pay for the Mideast war, which is yet to be included in the budget, but you can bet he's not going to charge the oil monopolies.)


But what about the masses? Well, they are to pay for all of this -- especially through further slashes in health care, welfare, job programs and other social benefits. For health care alone, the Bush administration is talking about another $20 billion cut in Medicare. This would be in addition to the $45 billion cut over five years that was agreed to in last-year's budget deal with the Democrats and to last fall's $3 billion Medicaid cuts that are already driving old people out of nursing homes for lack of funding.

Enough! The working masses can pay no more. Let the real estate bandits bail out the S&Ls. Let the Wall Street financiers save the banks. It's time for the working class to launch its own war -- not a foreign war, but a class war. The conditions of the working class will sink further and further unless we unite together for the interests of the working majority. Down with the exploiters and their sick system! Unity of all the exploited and oppressed!

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Bailing out the banks

The crisis in the banking industry exploded in January.

First the governor of Rhode Island closed 45 of the state's banks and credit unions. Then people lined up all over New England to withdraw their deposits from the failing Bank of New England (BNE).

The FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) had to step in. It agreed to back 29 of the Rhode Island banks. And it took over BNE and a couple of smaller banks it owns. The BNE bailout, estimated at $2.3 billion, is the third costliest ever.

The FDIC stepped in at BNE to head off runs on other big banks in the northeast and to protect the biggest investors. Although the FDIC is supposed to insure only the first $100,000 in accounts, with BNE it decided to back every last nickel.

But there was no such protection for even small accounts of workers in many Rhode Island banks. The FDIC agreed to back only 29 of the banks and credit unions. Accounts in the other sixteen institutions were still frozen after a week. Eventually the state worked out a deal to cover a combined maximum of $12,500 for checking and savings accounts. And for anything over that people were to get IOUs.

Tip of the iceberg

These failures were dramatic. But they are only the tip of the iceberg. The FDIC expects to seize at least 200 more banks before 1991 is over. Last year banks charged off a record $30 billion in bad loans. This compares to only $6 billion charged off in the 1982 recession. And, typically, bank charge-offs double in recessions.

In fact, the growing banking crisis has thrown the FDIC itself into trouble. On January 29, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) announced that "Within a year or so the fund (FDIC) will be out of cash and insolvent." The CBO projected that even with a milder than usual recession, and even with higher insurance premiums paid by the banks, the FDIC would run dry by October. It will need to borrow from $11 billion to $38 billion from the federal government to keep operating.

Big sharks eating the smaller sharks

Of course not all the banks are in trouble. Some of the biggest and wealthiest are profiting from the banking crisis.

According to a survey taken last fall by Prudential-Bache Securities Inc., some 40% of corporate treasurers said they were yanking, or planning to yank, business from riskier institutions and turn them over to the big banks. J.P. Morgan, Citibank, Security Pacific, First Waschovia and others were growing at the expense of others.

This process of monopolization, typical of capitalism, will be spurred on by President Bush's plans for bank reform. He wants to deregulate the banks -- allowing them to expand across state lines and into other financial services like insurance, real estate, securities and so forth. This is reminiscent of the plan to solve the savings and loan crisis back in the early 1980's. While it let the S&Ls soar for a time, it eventually led to the $500 billion bailout that working people's taxes will be paying for over the next decade.

Such a plan for the banks means unleashing a huge financial war between banks, insurance companies, S&Ls, credit companies, etc. While a few banks may get bigger and richer, the whole system will likely be thrown into crisis and the masses forced to pay the bill.

[Photo: Customers queue to collect money after the Nov. collapse of Harlem's Freedom National Bank. This was one of many banks which collapsed recently.]

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Workers denounce cutbacks in NYC

In mid-January, hundreds of city workers rallied at City Hall Park chanting, "No to more cuts in human services! No to more unemployed! No to more hunger and homelessness!" A few weeks before, on December 31, more than 700 workers protested at the New York Stock Exchange. They demanded an end to the budget cuts and shouted "Wall Street, share the burden!" There have also been other protests by city workers and by teachers, parents, and students.

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2,000 hit Michigan governor's budget slashing

A legislative hearing on Governor Engler's proposed budget cuts turned into a mass protest on January 30.

More than 2,000 angry state employees, welfare recipients and other potential victims of the cuts packed the Civic Center in Lansing, Michigan. Welfare rights activists shouted "Engler is a crook" and that "as long as people are hungry there will be no peace." They denounced Budget Director Woodworth for her statement that people on General Assistance welfare should move to Indiana. And they boisterously applauded the parade of people who came to the microphone to lambast the cuts. At one point, the hearing turned into a confrontation when the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee turned off the microphone to shut up the protests.

After hours of shouting, several hundred people left the hearing and marched to the capitol building. They carried picket signs reading "Shoot down the budget Scuds," "Put people first," and "Engler the back stabber." When they reached they capitol they chanted, "We want Engler! We want Engler!" But he was off in Washington dining with his buddy President Bush.

Reverse Robin Hood

The masses are outraged because the new Republican Governor has called for slashing $800 million in social programs. With a $1.37 billion budget deficit, Engler wants to eliminate General Assistance welfare (cutting 108,000 people from welfare rolls), throw another 12,000 people off job-training and subsistence programs, cut home heating assistance for the poor, make poor people pay for their own children's immunizations, eliminate services for high-risk newborn children, cut $15 million from state Medicaid coverage, lay off 3,350 state workers, and more.

While gutting the state's social programs, Engler wants to cut property taxes used for the schools by $1.2 billion a year. While this cut may save a few dollars. for small home owners, it is reported that at least a third of this cut will go to business and the bulk of the rest to the wealthiest home owners. Like a reverse Robin Hood, Engler is taking from the poor to give to the rich.

Democrats quibble

The Democrats have set up a howl against Engler. But their program of "more compassionate" cuts is little better. They want to limit the cutbacks to $500 million and 500 layoffs. But it's still the poor and working people who will suffer. The Democrats would save the Detroit Institute of the Arts, one mental health center, and some job training and Medicaid services. But they are still willing to slice $5 million from home heating assistance to the poor and have left open the possibility of cutting General Assistance welfare.

In fact, the Democrats already agreed last year to 9.2% across-the-board cuts in the budget if no budget agreement could be reached with the new governor. That would mean eliminating 7,700 state jobs and deep cuts for every social program. Not even once have the Democrats suggested balancing the budget by making the capitalist monopolies pay. Oh no. They may quibble over whether there should be bigger cuts against welfare or state workers, but for them, just like the Republicans, it's the working masses who must foot the bill.

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Strikes and workplace news


Rally in the valley

More than 6,000 workers from West Virginia and Ohio rallied against union busting on December 30. The crowd at the Charleston, West Virginia Civic Center included steelworkers, coal miners, bus drivers, phone workers, postal workers, auto workers and nursing home employees.

At the event, dubbed the "solidarity rally in the valley," workers lambasted the lockout of 1,800 West Virginia steelworkers by the Ravenswood Aluminum Corporation (RAC). RAC refused to negotiate a contract, locked out the workers, and hired 350 permanent replacement workers in November. They also protested lockouts against workers at Monsanto and the Beverly Nursing Home and strikebreaking against Greyhound bus drivers and coal miners of the New Beckley Mining Company.

[Photo: 6,000 rally in Charleston, W. Va. for steelworkers]

"New York Daily" strike

Ten workers staged a sit-in at the Brooklyn office of the New York Daily News in early January. This and other strike actions have hit the Daily News hard. Circulation of the newspaper has plummeted. Advertisers have fled. Profits for the Tribune Co., which owns the News, have fallen through the floor.

Nevertheless, the paper's owners remain immovable. They refuse to negotiate. And they claim the paper will shut down completely this April unless a buyer is found or massive concessions aregranted.

While rank-and-file strikers want to step up the struggle, the union bureaucrats are back-pedaling. In mid-January, the Allied Printing Trades Council abandoned their demand for the dismissal of all scab replacements as a condition for settlement. And the drivers' union president has reportedly offered to cut 150 jobs out of 700 (the company demanded a cut of 200 drivers' jobs). These moves are tantamount to raising a white flags.

LA. teaching assistants win partial victory

Since the end of November, 10,000 teaching assistants (TAs) in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) have been fighting for their first union contract. It was announced on January 19 that a tentative settlement between the TAs and the school district had been reached.

Under the contract terms, all TAs would receive a 76 cents-an-hour raise, incentives if they are working toward a college degree, and half the cost of medical benefits if they work four or more hours daily.

But the SEIU bureaucrats gave up the demand for guaranteed hours for the TAs. This was one of the major strike issues -- the district had unilaterally cut the number of daily hours each TA could work. Now under the contract, many TAs will not only suffer short hours but will also be without medical benefits.

It remains to be seen if the struggle of the TAs is over. They are the bilingual backbone of the district in which over 200,000 students do not speak English. While the SEIU hacks are promoting the contract as a great victory, many TAs are upset. The rank and file may reject it. Or failing that, the militants will have to prepare for future struggle over the unsettled grievances.

Murder of Mexican auto worker commemorated

Auto workers held solidarity actions in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico on the first anniversary of the murder of Cleto Nigno, a Ford auto worker in Mexico.

Nigno had been a leader in worker protests at the Cuautitlan assembly plant near Mexico City in 1989. Ford unilaterally reduced year-end bonuses that year. And on January 8,1990, gunmen wearing Ford company uniforms opened fire on unarmed workers who were protesting inside the plant. Eight workers were wounded and Nigno was murdered.

Ford workers have not forgotten. At St. Paul Ford, workers inside the plant wore black armbands in Nigno's memory. In Detroit, a solidarity rally was held in front of Ford World Headquarters in Nigno's memory. Armbands carrying Nigno's name were also worn by Canadian auto workers in eight plants throughout Canada.

Arizona homeless protest

Nearly 100 homeless people confronted police at the federal building in Tucson, Arizona on January 5. They were ordered to leave by federal and city police. Some 19 were arrested when they refused.

Homeless protesters had been encamped at the spot since Christmas when they vowed to stay until the government meets their three demands. They want federal spending on housing restored to the levels before Reagan's cutbacks. They also demanded an end to nuclear testing and that U.S. troops be brought home from the Middle East.

Injured workers picket Detroit post office

Injured postal workers once again picketed the main post office in downtown Detroit January 16. The boisterous protesters shouted over and over, "John Horne, you can't throw the injured away! We won't retire at half pay!"

John Horne is the Detroit postmaster. He has been cutting the work force by, among other things, laying off injured workers. Through the first half of January he tried to put 20 or more injured carriers and dozens of injured LSM (letter sorting machine) clerks into "disability retirement." The workers were pressured to take a retirement deal with only around 50% of regular pay -- and this could be taxed, and it could be cut down if they found other jobs.

The newly organized Injured and Handicapped Postal Workers United (IHPWU) denounced this scheme. "This is not a pension," the IHPWU statement read, "this is an indefinite, long-term layoff with a little...hush money to shut us up while our stolen from us."

The IHPWU also denounced the postal union leaders for doing "next to nothing for the injured and to prevent layoffs." And for trying to frighten workers away from the last injured workers picket.

Earlier in the day, the injured workers also picketed the local newspapers, which had refused to cover the last IHPWU picket.


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U.S. imperialism: the world's #1 aggressor

George Bush says he's fighting Iraq in order to stop "naked aggression." There's no doubt that Saddam Hussein's an aggressor, but where does the U.S. government get the right to put on airs about opposing aggression?

A sign in a recent anti-war demonstration asked: "What if broccoli were Kuwait's only export?" Would the Pentagon be there with the largest buildup since Viet Nam? Hell no.

There have been many other unjust aggressions and invasions in the last two decades, and where has the U.S. stood on those "naked aggressors"? More often than not, on the side of the aggressor. Look at these examples:

The U.S. never worried about South Africa's invasions

The racist regime in South Africa has repeatedly invaded its black-ruled neighbors. It invaded Angola, it kept holding Namibia defying many a United Nations resolution, and it has supported the brutal thugs of Renamo against Mozambique. Did the U.S. government ever threaten any action against South Africa? No, it kept up cozy and warm relations with the racist regime.

And while Hitler's kin ruled South Africa savagely oppressing the black majority, we never heard the White House describe Botha or De Klerk as the new Hitler.

Washington has stood with Israeli aggression

Israel has repeatedly invaded its neighbors, while the U.S. government props up Israel with an annual subsidy of $3 billion. For more than two decades, Israel has kept a million and a half Palestinians under a military jackboot in the West Bank and Gaza. It has killed nearly a thousand people only in the last few years to put down the Palestinian rebellion.

In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon and bombed thousands to death. But the Reagan-Bush government supported Israel in that effort. Yes, the Pentagon sent a small armada to Lebanon, but it was to back up Israel not to oppose it.

Nothing done about Indonesia grabbing East Timor

In 1975, the former Portuguese colony of East Timor in Southeast Asia was invaded by Indonesia's Suharto. Suharto is a dictator in the image of Saddam Hussein; he had come to power in 1965 in a CIA-backed coup- which killed hundreds of thousands of Indonesians. His oppression of East Timor over the last 15 years has been brutal.

But the U.S. never lifted a finger for the self-determination of the Timorese people. You see, Suharto's a close buddy of the U.S.

The list goes on and on. Turkey in Cyprus in 1974. Morocco in the Western Sahara in 1976. Even Saddam Hussein against Iran, from 1980-88. So long as they are the White House's buddies and don't disturb the U.S. world order they can commit aggression with impunity.

U.S. imperialism is the biggest aggressor itself

But it's not that the White House just winks at or supports aggression by its friends, it is an aggressor in a league all by itself. Just look at the recent record:

PANAMA: Only a year ago, Bush himself invaded Panama. Several thousand Panamanians were killed. And a year later the Panamanian people groan under ever worse poverty. As they joke in Panama, the U.S. has replaced General Noriega with General Discontent.

NICARAGUA: Throughout the last decade, the Reagan-Bush administration cooked up a murderous invasion of Nicaragua by CIA-organized contras based in Honduras. Tens of thousands of Nicaraguans were killed in that dirty war. The U.S. never respected Nicaragua's self-determination, even flouting a World Court ruling which found the U.S. guilty of illegally mining Nicaragua's harbors.

GRENADA: In 1983, Reagan-Bush invaded tiny Grenada in the Caribbean.

And the list goes on and on. The American capitalist ruling class has a long and shameful history of aggression and oppression. There were the brutal Indian wars of the 1800's and the stealing of large parts of Mexico. There were the colonial occupations of Puerto Rico and the Philippines at the turn of the last century. The 20th century saw Washington repeatedly invade Latin America and the Caribbean. And no one can forget the destructive war against Viet Nam which went on for two whole decades until 1975.

No, Mr. Bush. We cannot believe you when you say you are fighting Iraq's "naked aggression." No, you are there committing aggression yourself. You are going to war not for any noble aim, but to make sure that the U.S. remains the No. 1 dominant power in the oil-rich Middle East.

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Arabs are not the enemy

No to racist harassment!

The U.S. government has launched a racist campaign against Arab people in the U.S. They claim this is to protect Americans against "terrorism." But in fact Bush, the Democrats, and their loyal media machine are inciting red-white- and-blue hatred against Arab peoples in an effort to mobilize unthinking racism behind the war aims of Big Oil.

FBI harassment

FBI agents have been sweeping through Arab communities in the U.S., invading homes, interrogating the residents, and demanding to know their political views and information on "terrorist activities." They have also met with campus administrators and faculty at several universities demanding information on Arab-American students.

In one case, they raided four homes of Chaldean-Americans (Christians from Iraq) in Detroit on January 16. They claimed they had uncovered a terrorist "bombing plot" by some teenagers and were "searching for explosives." But all they found were some firecrackers and a shotgun. Although it was clear there was no such "terrorist plot" here, they went ahead and arrested a 19 year old for alleged possession of a sawed-off shotgun. He faces ten years in jail if convicted.

Spreading the net of racism

Meanwhile, the Justice Department has ordered immigration authorities to photograph and fingerprint anyone with Iraqi or Kuwaiti passports entering the U.S. The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered screening of travelers that fit a specific "profile" -- that is, those who are Arab-looking. And Pan Am Airways is refusing to allow Iraqis to travel on the airline. Originally Pan Am barred even Iraqis with legal resident status in the U.S., but after protests Pan Am said it would allow them if they showed proof of residency.

As well, employers and landlords have been contacted and encouraged to step up surveillance of "suspicious looking persons." There are many reports of police being called out on Arab customers at government buildings, postal facilities, border crossings, and so forth.

And racist stereotyping and bloodcurdling calls are springing up in songs, on talk shows, on T-shirts and movies. Arab organizations report a surge in beatings, vandalism, bombings, hate mail and death threats.

In one case, a Dairy Queen owned by a Palestinian family in Blissfiefd, Michigan was pelted with paint bombs and defaced with pro-war slogans like "U.S. No. 1!" on January 19. Shortly after, 60 townspeople came out to clean up the damage and rallied to show support for the Khoury family. 600 people signed "anti-hate" petitions against the attack. Nevertheless, three days later the store was totally destroyed by fire and all its money stolen. Instead of looking for the racist terrorist who torched the store, the police tried to claim it was an "inside job" and pointed the finger at Kareem Khoury, the owner. Kareem, who had spoken out against the war, denounced the police investigation which neglected to even notice the store had been robbed.

In another example, four Arab-owned businesses in San Francisco found their windows smashed on January 24.

Our government is trying to split American workers from Iraqi and other Arab workers and turn us against each other. How else can they use us as cannon fodder to kill each other off for the profits of a few? The Bush government has launched this racist propaganda campaign -- vilifying every Arab person -- to justify the war and its slaughter of Iraqis. The "anti-terrorism" campaign starts out demanding blood from Hussein, but it ends up with bloodletting screeches against all Arabs and anyone who even opposes this brutal war.

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On the talk of a 'quick war'

A scenario for mass murder

Although the Gulf war has entered its third week, there's still a lot of talk going around of a "quick war."

All along George Bush has insisted that the lesson he has learned from Viet Nam is that the U.S. will "not get bogged down," and he will do his damnedest to ensure that the present war will be a "quick war." Meanwhile, the Democrats agree too, saying that we must all rally around Bush in order to "achieve a quick end to the war."

The establishment tries to make it appear as if a "quick war" will somehow make the U.S. war justified. Why, it is even painted as the way to "peace."

But a war is fought by two sides. What does it mean for one side to say that it will only allow itself a "quick war"? Of course, the war could be short if the other side surrendered fast. But what if they don't? How can the U.S. military ensure a "quick war"?

It doesn't take much to figure out that the logic of a "quick war" really means a strategy of mass terror and murder. And this is indeed what the Pentagon has been carrying out -- with its massive bombardment of Iraq. And this is what the flunkies of the warmongers in the news media cover up with their video-game approach to covering the war and by obscuring the human toll that the U.S. bombing is taking.

The strategy of a "quick war" is based on the age-old imperialist and racist idea that American lives are more important than "enemy" (in this case, Arab) lives. And not a soul among the politicians or journalists sees anything wrong with this view!

But what if the Iraqi government refuses to give in under even such a massive assault? What if the war does begin to get "bogged down"? The search for a "quick war" inevitably leads towards more and more brutality, towards even more indiscriminate mass destruction. Ultimately it leads to the threat or actual use of nuclear weapons.

No to the obscene talk about using nuclear bombs

This is not at all a far-fetched scenario. There have already been discussions in the Pentagon about this. Articles published in the Washington Post and Newsweek in early January reported that the U.S. military has considered plans for nuclear strikes against Iraq. It authorized a feasibility study to see how tactical nuclear strikes could be used to secure an early victory and reduce U.S. casualties.

This study was to examine "various options" including "electromagnetic pulses, 'earth penetrator' warheads which detonate beneath their targets, and the neutron bomb." The media reports also pointed out that various high military officers are pushing for authority to use nuclear weapons.

The reports said that the Bush administration has rejected the proposals. That may be so. For the time being, that is. The generals and other war planners are hardly likely to stop their push for nuclear strikes. Meanwhile, the media discussion itself is part of a wider discussion that's being spread to build public opinion in favor of using nuclear weapons. In many local areas, radio and TV commentators have been busy raising the cry that U.S. soldiers' lives would be saved if nuclear weapons are used.

And it would not at all be difficult for the Pentagon to use nuclear weapons. U.S. forces in the Middle East are reported to have nearly 1,000 nuclear bombs and warheads aboard ships in the Persian Gulf.

The hypocrisy of the U.S. government has no limits. Bush has raised the hue and cry that war against Iraq is needed because Iraq is a nuclear threat. Yet, it turns out that it is the Pentagon which is authorizing studies about U.S. use of nuclear bombs!

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Like father, like son

A charming family portrait of U.S. General Norman Schwarzkopf was published in the January 27, 1991 Seattle Times/P-I. Schwarzkopf commands most of the U.S. "allied forces" in the Gulf. The article, originally from the Chicago Tribune, states:

"In a fateful twist, Schwarzkopf isn't the first member of his family to wrestle with America's oil lifeline in the Middle East.

"Thirty-six years ago, across the waters of the Persian Gulf, Schwarzkopfs father was adviser to the Iranian national police when the CIA tried to stop the government of Mohammed Mossadegh from nationalizing the oil.

"The senior Schwarzkopf, working through his deputy, General Fazzolah Zahedi, arranged for a mob to provoke demonstrations in Tehran, sparking the overthrow of the Mossadegh government.

"The coup secured 40% of Iran's oil output for the United States for decades and spawned an arms, aid and training program that made Iran the most powerful U.S. ally on the Gulf until the revolution in 1979.

"Now Norman Schwarzkopf finds himself in the Gulf trying to secure the strategic source of oil for the West." Here, without shame, the bourgeois press inadvertently admits that the talk of U.S. noble intentions are all lies to fool the gullible. U.S. "interests" in the Gulf today are the same as those of the past: Grab all the loot you can and then grab some more.

One can imagine little Norman sitting on daddy's knee eagerly absorbing such maxims as this, and other charming stories. For example, the article quotes the good general portraying himself as "the grizzly bear." And he states, "I am going to viciously destroy them as rapidly as possible."

Such is the arrogant, ugly face of U.S. imperialism and its ruling class.

(Reprinted from a Jan. 31, 1991 leaflet by the Seattle Branch of the MLP.)

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All the news that's fit for the war drive

War is fought with the army, with the navy, with the air force -- and also with the press. It's not just sleazy tabloids like the New York Post with its raving headline "KISS IT GOODBYE" alongside a picture of Saddam Hussein kissing the ground. It's the liberal Democratic Washington Post with its banner front-page headline "POWELL VOWS TO ISOLATE IRAQI ARMY AND 'KILL IT'" It's paper after paper gleefully shouting "W*A*R" or "ALLIES SLAM SADDAM."

The TV and mass media have become cheerleaders for the war. They demonize Saddam and his atrocities while hiding the atrocities of the Pentagon. The atrocities they can't hide, they laud as proof of the all-conquering power of American high-tech war. They fawn on Pentagon hand-outs like a horse taking sugar from its trainer.

Many people have been astonished at the suppression of the news of demonstrations. The mass media barely carries the news of the huge wave of anti-war protest that has swept the country. They can hardly avoid carrying a few items, not with the country teeming with hundreds of anti-war protests. But they present the anti-war movement as a small or even demoralized fringe, while they present the country as in the grip of a tide of flag-waving chauvinism. Anti-war demonstrations may be buried in a small item inside a newspaper, and accompanied by huge pictures of small pro-war groups. Alongside every notice of an anti-war action is the presentation of some new poll to show that really, truly, everyone is for the war.

Suppression of the news

Prior to the outbreak of war, many newspapers still carried quite a few reports of protests. Some, for example, might play down protests elsewhere in the country, but report on local actions. Their coverage was pretty bad. They channeled the discussion into whether Iraq should be strangled by sanctions or annihilated by bombs. But they admitted that certain differences exist, and that there was dissent among the people. After all, the bourgeoisie, and even the Pentagon, was still debating how to strangle Iraq, so why not admit that there was some debate among the people?

But after the war broke out, the TV and newspapers blanked out the news about the protests. The new gospel was that once the troops had been committed to battle, everyone had to "support our troops." The newspapers had to do their jobs, and not publish news that might disturb the will to fight. A blanket of lies was spread over war news and domestic protest.

Censorship and self-censorship

The government organized a blatant slanting of news about the war. Reporters are forbidden to go to sensitive war zones unless they are part of an official press pool and are accompanied by a military escort. Even so, the reporters have to submit their stories to censorship. This censorship is more severe than in World War II or in the Viet Nam War.

The purpose of this reinforced censorship is not to protect military secrets. There were no real problems with leaks in the past. No, the new rules are supposed to be the "lesson of Viet Nam." Nothing is to be published that would get in the way of war propaganda. Publishing news of victories is good, but news of defeats is suspect -- such news should be minimized, delayed for days or weeks until it is old and "safe," or just forgotten about. Rumors about the enemy, fantastic stories, exaggerations -- all are acceptable if they create hatred for the enemy and glorify the invincible Pentagon.

The press has hardly uttered a peep at this censorship. Instead it has demanded that the Pentagon generals take down their pants so the press could lick their ass. The self-censorship of the establishment newspapers has even exceeded the limits of Pentagon censorship. Newspapers and TV networks condemn each other for individual articles or pictures that "gave comfort" to the enemy. They should change their slogans to "all the news that's fit for the war drive."

A bourgeois press is a false press

Why has the press stood for war hysteria? Why has it suppressed the news of the anti-war demonstrations?

It is because the press represents the views and interests of the capitalist ruling class. There is no official government censor in the U.S., other than the military censor. But the class interests of capital bind the newspapers to imperialism tighter than any government bureaucrat could do. When the ruling class unites around war, the papers rush to fall in line.

This shows the need to develop an uncensored press, a press free from the dictates of the capitalist owners. If we want to know the truth, if we want to spread the word about what's really going on in the world to our co-workers and neighbors and fellow students, we must develop our own leaflets and newspapers and journals. We must not only distribute leaflets and papers, but learn to write and produce articles, learn how to penetrate through the bourgeois lies.

No more lies for imperialism!

Read, write for, and distribute anti-war leaflets and the workers' press!

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Pro-death movement talks about the 'sanctity of life'

"Pro-life" President Bush addressed an anti-abortion rally in Washington, D.C. this January 22. "In affirming the sanctity of life," he said, "we realize the highest ideals of our country." As he spoke, U.S. B-52's carpet-bombed Iraq, raining death upon Iraqi men, women and children. The Pentagon was busy shipping body bags for American troops.

At the rally, Bush poured it on thick. "We must recognize the dignity and worth of every human being in our laws" he stated. Apparently, though, Bush doesn't consider women as full human beings. For the laws he wants would force a pregnant woman to have a child against her will. And they will result in many working class and poor women facing the terror of dangerous back-alley abortions. Such is Bush's idea of "dignity and worth" of women.

This year's anti-abortion rally in Washington was organized on the theme "No waffling on the life principle." And coming after a week of saturation bombing of Iraq, it was provided with the perfect test of the life principle. Would the rally waffle on the biggest issue of life facing the world right now -- the mass destruction of Iraq and the sending of Iraqi and American youth to slaughter each other over who would get a bit more of the oil profits?

And sure enough, there was no waffling. The speakers came down firmly -- on the side of fire and sword, cruise missiles and Ml tanks. At the rally several speakers drew inspiration from the slaughter of Iraqis and compared their efforts against abortion with the war in the Persian Gulf. Congressman Chris Smith (a Republican from New Jersey) said the military strategy in the war taught valuable lessons for his work. "The first lesson is the lesson of cost," he said. "Are we willing to pay whatever it takes to achieve protection for the unborn? The second lesson we ought to glean from Operation Desert Storm involves the crafting of a prudent strategy coupled with a total commitment."

No "right-to-life" speakers denounced the war. No "right-to-life" activists booed Bush for killing Iraqi men, women, children in his bombing raids, or for trying to starve an entire nation of 17 million people into submission. (Nor was Bush denounced for cutting back on health benefits for women, prenatal care, the WIC program for food for pregnant women and young children, etc.)

There are certain anti-abortion groups who claim they are also anti-war, and thus consistently for life. And they seek to attract ordinary people to their banner with these claims. But the anti-abortion zealots who blockade clinics, harass women, and beat up doctors, are firmly pro-war. And when the anti-abortion movement as a whole gets together, as at this yearly rally, it is also pro-war. It talks big words about the "sanctity of life," and argues about when to define the moment of life, but it is actually a pro-death movement. It aims to draw people into supporting the right-wing political platform of war and racism. This is why the chant is often heard at pro- choice rallies: "Right to life, who you kiddin', you're pro-war and anti-women!"


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A vast anti-war movement across the U.S.

Besides the giant outpourings for the national anti-war protests on January 19 and 26, this past month was filled with actions against the oil war. Indeed the movement was so vast there is no way we could report on everything. Here is a brief glimpse of how the movement developed in several parts of the country.

San Francisco

In early January there were signs the movement was about to take off. On the 6th, 6,000 people marched to the Civic Center. As Bush's January 15 war deadline approached, the actions came fast and furious. On the 14th, 500 activists were partially successful in blocking the Golden Gate Bridge. That night 2,000 people marched from the Berkeley campus of the University of California to Interstate 80 and shut the highway for almost two hours.

The morning of the 15th, 6,000 protesters participated in blockading the Federal Building, forcing it to shut for the day. The crowd spilled into the street, halting traffic. Police maced and arrested many street blockaders. Undaunted, about 1,000 people marched to the Bay Bridge and successfully shut it down for two hours. Despite the inconvenience, many motorists expressed support. Meanwhile Berkeley High School went out on strike, some 2,000 strong.

That night, 10,000 gathered in the largely Latino Mission District and set out on a militant march that weaved its way through the city for hours. The Bay Bridge was briefly shut down again.

The next day the Federal Building was again shut down by protesters. Then news came that war had broken out.

20,000 people flocked for a massive six-hour march. American flags were burned, three police cars put out of action, and two military recruiting stations sacked. In Berkeley, several thousand demonstrators marched and blockaded a highway.

January 17 marked the third straight day of shutting down the Federal Building. At noon 2,000 activists demonstrated at the Pacific Stock Exchange. That night there was another protest in Berkeley. The police cracked down with a vengeance, arresting about 1,000 protesters, for a total of 1,600 arrested that week.

But this was just the beginning. Several thousand marched the next evening, and the monster mass actions on Jan. 19 and 26 are reported on in a separate article.

Meanwhile the tremors spread to a number of nearby cities. Santa Cruz, 75 miles south, is a town of about 50,000 citizens. Yet a large protest of 10-15,000 took place, blockading all highways into the town.

Seattle and the Northwest

The day before Bush's war deadline, three separate demonstrations took place: 1,500 at the Federal Building, 1,000 at the University of Washington and a smaller protest at a recruiting station. That night 30,000 protesters massed for a march on Broadway.

Walkouts from two high schools and a community college began the next morning's activities. The students marched to a demonstration at the Federal Building, which grew to 3,000. Several hundred activists broke off and took over a freeway on the way to a protest at Westlake Mall.

On January 16, after hearing the bombing of Iraq had begun, a large crowd gathered at the Federal Building. Supporters of the Marxist-Leninist Party led the march into the black community in the Central District. About 50 black youth joined in. The local branch of the Marxist-Leninist Party had prepared leaflets within hours after the war began, and a number of youth took stacks of them to distribute.

Rallies continued the next day at the Federal Building and the University of Washington.

Elsewhere in the northwest: Protesters occupied the capital building in Olympia, Washington, while over 12,000 people demonstrated in Portland, Oregon on January 12.

Los Angeles

On January 5, 12, and 15 there were rallies of several thousand at the Federal Building. On the 16th, 500 activists shut the building down for three hours. The police arrested 158 people. Meanwhile students were walking out of classes across the city. Activists also sat in at the offices of the pro-war liberal Democratic congressman, Mel Levine.

New York

2,000 high school students walked out and marched through Manhattan On January 14. On the 15th, 2,000 rallied at the United Nations building despite police attempts to misdirect them and other harassment. The march then moved to mid-Manhattan where it was enthusiastically greeted by onlookers. Meanwhile 2,000 marchers headed from Columbia University and linked up with the demonstrators from the UN. A third march of 2,000 came up Broadway from 72nd St.

The day war broke out, a large crowd gathered at the Times Square recruiting station. They weren't deterred by police intimidation and arrests.

On January 17, protesters gathered again at the recruiting station. The protest grew to 10,000 as it marched to Washington Square.

The next day there was an attempt to take over the Federal Building.


A week of anger kicked off with large teach-ins at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (5,000) and Northeastern University (400). On January 15, Cambridge high school students defied suspensions and walked out. Other high schools followed suit. Activists blockaded traffic with a sit-down at Central Square. As well, there was an attempt to blockade the Federal Building. Early that evening, 5,000 formed a picket that completely surrounded the Boston Common.

On January 16, traffic was blockaded on Storrow Drive and there was another try at blockading the Federal Building. That night a march of 500 went into an MIT teach-in and called on those present join them. Liberal teach-in organizers opposed this, but some participants joined the march anyway. The march continued to build as it weaved through the dorms at Boston University.

More than 5,000 rallied at City Hall the next day. 1,000 split off for a march which took over the streets and headed into the black neighborhood in the South End. The protesters got a great reception there. Later some marchers sat down in front of the Callahan Tunnel.


On the 14th, 5,000 attended a morning rally at Federal Plaza. Police tried to force people off the streets. But when the whole crowd poured off the sidewalks, there was nothing they could do. The whole area was shut down for hours. Several high schools walked out too. Another rally tied up traffic around Federal Plaza that night.

Two days later, following the news that the war was on, 7,000 people demonstrated. More schools walked out, and college students rallied at Northwestern.

On January 17th, 10,000 gathered at Federal Plaza. They marched through the streets, snarling traffic. Motorists honked horns in approval.


250 people attended a rally January 13. It started at the Connecticut Street Armory and marched a mile, through a Spanish-speaking, working class section of town, to a teach-in.


On January 17th, 1,000 people marched from the Federal Building in a "day after" protest. Earlier in the week, several thousand marched in nearby Ann Arbor. There was also a march of 200 people, including many students from the local Arab community, between two college campuses in the suburb of Dearborn. Black high school and college students organized a march of 300 which rallied in downtown Detroit. Denounce imperialism!

In city after city, supporters of the Marxist-Leninist Party distributed leaflets and newspapers, and carried banners, denouncing the imperialist system. They put forward the perspective of class struggle and fought against the attempts of the Democratic Party to put forward its own version of imperialist intervention as the peaceful alternative. It is the masses of ordinary people, the workers, youth and minorities at the bottom of the system, who are the source of the present upsurge of the anti-war movement. If they unite together into a class movement, they can build the present upsurge into a powerful challenge to the imperialist and militarist rulers of this country.

[Photos: with the outbreak of war, protesters burned police car in San Francisco; 2,500 demonstrators closed Storrow Drive in Boston; Demonstrators held the Bay Bridge confronting San Francisco cops; Protesters confront cops at Chicago's Federal Building; Mexican-Americans in Los Angeles joined rally of 6,000 against the war]

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Jan. 19 and 26

Monster rallies vs. the oil war

[Photo: MLP contingent at the Jan. 26 demonstration of 200,000 in San Francisco]

[Photo: Jan. 19 rally of 50,000 in Washington, D.C.]

The vast sentiment against the U.S. war in the Middle East crystallized in gigantic marches and rallies on January 19 and 26 in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco.

The attendance figures speak for themselves. Some 50,000 protesters came to Washington on January 19. Even more came to San Francisco, well over 100,000. And there was a flurry of smaller, local actions: 12,000 came in Los Angeles, 10,000 in Seattle, 3,000 in Boston, a substantial action in Chicago, etc.

And then the actions on January 26 outnumbered the previous Saturday's demonstrations. 150,000 came to Washington, while there were around 200,000 in San Francisco. Once again there was a flurry of other demonstrations including one 15,000-strong in Los Angeles.

The activists had many different views on the path for the struggle, from support of negotiations to straightforward denunciation of any U.S. intervention. At many actions, a thirst for politics was shown by the new forces coming from miles around to participate. The official organizers of the various coalitions were often fond of liberal politicians and patriotic claptrap. But other currents were seen among the handwritten signs, in the warm reception to "no blood for imperialism" and similar slogans, and in outbursts of rank-and-file militancy. And, for example, in San Francisco on the 19th, there were marked signs of disgust for the local liberal Democratic "antiwar" heroes for their behavior in the congressional vote to "support our troops" and commend Bush as war leader. Rep. Barbara Boxer had voted in favor and Ron Dellums abstained (because he "couldn't vote against our troops").

Notable on January 26 was the disgust with media cheer-leading for the war and blackouts on anti-war protests. One handwritten placard read: "Media coverage is like skim milk -- homogenized, pasteurized and 99% fact free." In San Francisco, people clustered about a large display with information suppressed by the media.

The Marxist-Leninist Party attended all the demonstrations we could, no matter which of the rival coalitions organized them. We supported the anger against the establishment institutions and called for a struggle against imperialism. MLP-organized contingents distributed tens of thousands of leaflets and encouraged militant slogans. A new movement is sweeping the country, and it is the politics of class struggle which will rise again in a new form.

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Jr./Sr. High students enter the struggle

Widespread outrage over the oil war has erupted among high school, and even junior high school, students. And no wonder. Yesterday's high school graduates, especially the working class and national minority youth, are now much of the cannon fodder for Bush's war machine. And there is talk of reinstituting the draft.

More and more teens are playing a role in the burgeoning anti-war movement. They have participated in mass demonstrations across the country, sometimes forming their own contingents. High school students are also participating in teach-ins at colleges and communities as well as at their own schools.

In some cases, anti-war teachers have lent a hand. But the high school youth have also shown self-motion and put their own stamp on many events, often being particularly energetic and daring. At a recent demonstration in Los Angeles, for example, the high school students were among the most defiant of those arrested and jailed at a recent demonstration, singing, hanging on the cell bars, and taunting guards.

This spirit has shown itself in actions organized by the high school and junior high school students themselves. Mass walkouts from school have been organized. In some cases they are brief. In other cases students leave school and form their own rallies and marches or feed into other demonstrations.

On January 14, for instance, students walked out of schools in New York City and marched down Broadway, 2,000 strong. They swarmed into the street and maneuvered around police attempting to corral them. When the march reached Union Square, the protesters sat in the streets, blocking traffic. When the cops finally surrounded them, students stood up and escaped through police lines.

Walkouts have occurred all over the country. On January 15, seven schools in the Los Angeles area had walkouts. And there was another flurry of walkouts in Los Angeles two days later, including 1,000 students from Burroughs Jr. High. That same day several Boston high schools saw walkouts which fed into a massive picket in the Boston Common. Walkouts in January also took place in Chicago, Seattle, and the San Francisco Bay area. Even students from small towns have been drawn into the struggle. 150 high school students in Greensburg, Pennsylvania walked out on January 17, although they knew they would be suspended. That day, several hundred middle school students in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan walked out, and 30 were suspended.

Concerned students are seeking ways to draw their classmates into the struggle. At Brookline High in the Boston area, activists prepared for a day-long strike by organizing a democratic assembly the day before. At Walter Reed Jr. High in North Hollywood, California, organizers stood up during nutrition break and began chanting anti-war slogans. They then called on students to march out, which 150 did. Panicked school officials called in the cops to round up the off-campus protest.

[Photo: New York City students left the classrooms for the streets]

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On the slogan 'Support our troops'

Congress and newspapers, war-lover and liberal critic, tell us that we must all unite to "support our troops." They appeal to working ordinary people worried about the fate of their co-workers or children or friends who have been sent off to fight in the Gulf.

But this appeal is false and hypocritical. It presents the idea that there can be unity between the Pentagon and anti-war activists, between supporters and opponents of the war, to "support our troops." When a war is unjust, when it is mass murder of the people of another land, then it does hot help the ordinary soldier to get a patriotic send-off or to hear news censored so that it seems all is well. The only way to help our comrades caught up in the army is to support the GI resistance. We must finds ways and means of getting the truth into the armed forces, and we must link up with the soldiers who are organizing against the war or refusing to take part in it.

Bush and the Pentagon care nothing about the ordinary troops

The newspapers tell us that the Viet Nam veterans suffered depression and problems because they didn't have red-white-and-blue parades when they got home. What rot!

The GIs suffered because they had been used to kill and murder an innocent people. It was to their honor that they could not cold-bloodedly massacre innocent people and smile it away.

The GIs suffered because the Pentagon and the ruling class simply used them up and threw them away. The establishment doesn't give a damn what happened to GIs in the hellholes called veterans hospitals. And they fought for two decades to deny medical benefits to soldiers suffering from exposure to the army's weapon of chemical warfare "Agent Orange," and this fight is still continuing.

The GIs suffered because they faced racism and harsh oppression in the army, and when they got back home.

The anti-war movement linked up with the GIs

It was the anti-war movement that linked up with the concerns of working people in uniform. In another article, we review the experience of Viet Nam. Here we note that once again it is the anti-war movement that is providing aid and comfort to GIs who don't want to be mindless killing machines.

After all, when you see patriotic, flag-waving demonstrations shouting "support our troops," will it be those people who display sympathy for GIs who don't fight? Hell no. They'll call them traitors. And the same newspapers who tell us that we must all "support our troops" editorialize against the soldiers who object to aggressive war. You enlisted, the papers sneer, and weren't drafted, so it's all so democratic to order you to be killing machines.

So why should those who really care about the common people in the army take up the same slogan?

Can there be national reconciliation around supporting the troops?

The present campaign to "support our troops" culminates years of effort by the bourgeoisie to promote a "national reconciliation" between supporters and opponents of the war in Viet Nam. The Viet Nam memorial is a perfect example of this "healing of wounds." It lists the names of American soldiers who died in action against the Vietnamese. It does not, however, list the names of those who died protesting the war, such as at Kent State. Nor does it list the names of Vietnamese soldiers who died in the war, or of Vietnamese civilians killed by B-52s.

It seems that the point of "support our troops" is to support the war that is being waged by the government. This slogan is not a new one. And that is what it has always meant in the past.

The other America

Among the liberal forces who say that the anti-war movement should give the slogan "support our troops," there are those who say that the anti-war movement should compete with the government over who is more patriotic.

But there are two Americas. There is not just the America of Bush and the Pentagon and the Wall Street bankers. There is the America of poverty and backbreaking work. There is the America of the downtrodden and the oppressed. And these two Americas, the America of the rich and the America of the poor, are at war.

The anti-war movement must base itself on the other America, and it must unite with the workers and downtrodden of all lands. Not patriotic unity with the flag-wavers, but internationalist unity with our class sisters and brothers around the world. That should be the slogan of the anti-war struggle.

What the liberals are hiding

The patriotic liberal forces promote that we can unite everyone by demonstrating our reasonableness and patriotism and common concerns. By saying "support our troops" there will be a friendly discussion of those concerned with the welfare of our youth.

But look what's going on right in front of everyone's eyes. The patriotic newspapers and militarist forces are not preparing for discussion. Instead, war in the Gulf means repression at home. They are carrying out a multi-pronged offensive against the rights of the people.

1) They are seeking to cover up the protests, and marginalize them.

2) They are working to build up a flag-waving "America, love it or leave it" movement.

3) They are attacking Arabs in the U.S.

4) They are laying the groundwork for police repression through anti-terrorist hysteria. And the government and capitalists are seeking to build networks to look for "suspicious" people in factories, post offices, etc.

5) They are presenting dissent as treason by saying that it will result in the death of troops.

They are having a hard time accomplishing this. And it is the growth of the anti-war movement that is hurting their plans. But there can be no illusions. The war in the Gulf means flag-waving repression at home.


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No to Gorbachev's crackdown!

As the U.S. government went to war against Iraq to restore stability in what the U.S. considers its sphere of "vital interests," the bureaucrats in Moscow moved to impose order in their empire as well. As 1991 opened, Gorbachev -- armed with new executive powers -- sent paratroop units into the Baltic republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Their declared purpose? To round up Baltic youth who have refused to show up to be drafted. However, the real purpose was to assert Moscow's central control over the Baltics. The local nationalist movements there had become quite restive and were in control of the local governments. They are inclined towards secession, but the Russian ruling class is not willing to accept that.

Thus, Soviet troops and paramilitary units moved in on key installations in Vilnius and Riga, the capitals of Lithuania and Latvia. These included a parliament building, police headquarters, and news media stations. In the course of the military assault, they killed 19 unarmed civilians.

Gorbachev was responsible for initiating the crackdown, but he has tried to distance himself from the killings. On one hand he is trying to assert central rule and appease the conservative wing of the ruling bureaucracy, but he does not want to abandon his image as a reformer. Still, the crackdown in the Baltics -- coming at a time of growing censorship in the Moscow news media -- has meant that Gorbachev is rapidly losing support among the people, and even among his liberal supporters. Rallies across the Soviet Union are demanding his resignation. The cry, "No to a new dictatorship!" is rapidly spreading.

The crisis in the Soviet Union is the outcome of many decades of repressive, state-capitalist rule. That system fell into deep crisis under Brezhnev, and the Russian ruling class decided to seek a way out of the crisis through Western-style capitalist reforms: allowing more room for unauthorized political life as well as free-market economic changes. But the economic crisis has only worsened, and the local nationalities have become more restive. Meanwhile, the conservatives among the bureaucracy find the new situation intolerable and demand law and order and dream of returning to the past. Gorbachev tries to straddle the middle, but his attempts to keep the Soviet Union together by force will not wash. They will lead to even worse disaster.

Neither Gorbachev nor the local national elites stand for liberating the workers. They both agree on free-market reform, but disagree on the pace and on the relations between the center and the republics, and on the role to be given to the old revisionist bureaucracy. The workers of the Soviet Union must oppose Moscow's crackdown, unite across all national lines, and seek to build a working class movement for liberation -- a movement which can fight for a real alternative to both state-capitalism and private capitalism. That alternative is workers' socialism.

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Who really spat on Viet Nam GIs?

You can hardly open a paper these days without seeing the charge repeated that the movement against the Viet Nam war spit on the U.S. GIs. But this simply is not true.

It is true that there was tremendous hostility to U.S. troops being used to stamp on the Vietnamese people and their heroic struggle for freedom and independence. It is true that there was terrible anger against the U.S. forces' unbridled use of chemical weapons, like napalm and Agent Orange. It is true that there was enormous hatred for the massacres, and tortures, and other war crimes committed by the U.S. military, and that hatred could not help but lash out at those who could commit such atrocities.

But since it was ordinary soldiers who were frequently the first to expose these crimes, and who increasingly stood up to their commanders to refuse to commit such atrocities, the anti-war movement directed its fire against the White House, against the Pentagon, and against the officers who were directing the aggression. The anti-war activists showed the masses who hated the atrocities how to link up with the GIs and form a common front against the militarists.

The U.S. government spit on Viet Nam GIs

If you look at the facts, it was not the anti-war movement but, rather, the U.S. government itself which spit on the ordinary GIs.

Forget about after the war, when the injured were cast into the hellholes called VA hospitals. When the victims of Agent Orange could not even get the government to admit responsibility. When the vets often could not find jobs or a decent life. But simply take a look at the government's treatment of GIs during the war.

Take, for example, the widespread racism in the military. It not only meant that the minorities were the first sent to the front lines and the first to be killed. It also meant daily racist treatment from officers, discrimination on the bases, and repression -- like the arrest of eight black GIs at Fort Jackson, South Carolina in 1968 for merely listening to taped speeches of Malcolm X.

Or take the black-hole conditions of the stockades and detention centers. For no more than being AWOL, GIs were thrown into prisons overfilled twice and three times beyond their capacity. Where toilets overflowed through showers. Where food was cut short. Where guards tortured prisoners and were on orders to shoot down escapees. Where, at the Presidio army post in San Francisco in 1968, 24 GIs were convicted of "mutiny" for merely sitting down and singing "We shall overcome" to protest a guard killing one of their fellow prisoners.

Or what about the vicious repression of anyone refusing to carry out atrocities against the Vietnamese people? For example, the GI sentenced to a year in the Long Binh jail for refusing orders to beat a confession out of a Vietnamese prisoner.

Or what about the vicious suppression of any dissent? Like GI resisters shanghaied to the front lines of Viet Nam or "disappeared." Like General Stone's order in 1968 that "Any GI showing disrespect for an officer will be sent to the front." Like the 75,000 courts-martial annually for everything from opposition to the war and racism to failing to salute an officer.

In these, and a million other examples, it was the government which trampled on the ordinary soldiers and sailors and airmen.

Anti-war movement defended GIs from our own government

It was the anti-war movement that stood up for the GIs, that helped them organize, that helped them fight for their rights, that helped them stand up to the government and come out against the war.

The anti-war movement generally accepted the view that the GIs were mainly working people who had been dragged into the military by the draft or because they had no alternative. It recognized the growing dissent in the military, which showed up in such things as the roughly 200,000 GIs who deserted or went AWOL in 1968 alone. And by the mid-1960s there were many anti-war activists who, instead of refusing induction, decided to go into the army to help organize resistance.

By 1966-67 a broad GI movement had burst out. Beginning with individual resistance, the GIs soon began to organize. They put out their own underground papers (reportedly 144 of them by 1970, covering every military base in the U.S. and abroad). They formed organizations (reportedly 14 GI dissent organizations by 1970). And they carried out their own marches and other mass actions against the war, against racism, against riot-control duty in the U.S., against the horrible conditions and regimentation. (See Colonel Robert Heinl's article in the June, 1971 issue of the Armed Forces Journal.)

In Viet Nam itself, the resistance to the war became enormous. The admissions of marine Colonel Robert Heinl are no exaggeration. He confessed that, "By every conceivable indicator, our army that now remains in Viet Nam is in a state approaching collapse, with individual units avoiding or having refused combat, murdering their officers and non-commissioned officers, drug-ridden, and dispirited, where not near-mutinous."

And in all of their struggles, the GIs were supported by the broader anti-war movement. There were 116 demonstrations in defense of the Presidio protesters alone. The GIs and veterans were put at the head of the anti-war marches. And their own protests were given huge support -- like the April, 1971 week-long encampment in Washington where thousands of Viet Nam veterans chanted pro-NLF slogans outside the White House and threw their Purple Hearts and combat medals at the Capitol.

No, it is not true that the anti-war movement spit on the GIs. Rather it helped them stand up and join the movement that spit on the war and on the imperialists who caused it.

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Unrest in the military

U.S. soldiers in Germany oppose the war

Reports are coming in from Germany of GI resistance to the war. Over 100 GIs in Germany have filed for Conscientious Objector (CO) status. Because of the surge in applications, the generals ordered that prospective COs must now apply from Saudi Arabia. This measure has made a mockery of the application process. As a result, there has been a surge of AWOLs, desertions, and self-inflicted injuries. As well, at least 27 GIs requested political asylum in Sweden. They were turned down because of Sweden's support for the UN resolution backing U.S. warmongering.

To deal with the resistance, generals have been shackling GIs and forcing them onto Saudi-bound planes at gunpoint, according to the Military Counseling Network.

For example, Air Force medic Derrick Jones filed for CO status and went AWOL. He had been stationed in Texas during the Panama invasion and the accounts he had heard of U.S. aggression had turned him against the war. When his lawyer contacted his commanding officer at the Freidberg base, the captain assured him, "No problem. You won't fly. Just be here at 9 o'clock and we'll straighten it all out." When Jones showed up, he was spirited away in handcuffs and sent off to Saudi Arabia.

Another medic, Bryan Centa, was shipped from his Maine base to Saudi Arabia in handcuffs and leg irons January 3, although he had earlier applied for CO status.

Such Shanghaiing of GIs took place during the Viet Nam war too. It was usually done to break up GI resistance and organization. But, far from stopping the movement, such repression made GIs angrier and spurred the growth of the movement.


Marines court-martialing GI resisters

The marines ordered eight GIs from the Fox Company reserve unit in Bronx, New York to be court-martialed for refusal to fight in the Persian Gulf. Several have been active in the anti-war movement. The eight -- David Bobbitt, Colin Bootman, Enrique Gonzalez, John Isaac, Keith Jones, Marquis Leacock, Sam Lwin and Wayne McWhate -- were ordered to Camp LeJeune January 3 to await trial. As well, Marcus Blackwell from the Sixth Communications Unit was ordered court-martialed. All are charged with "unauthorized absence" (AWOL), "missing movement" and "conspiracy," apparently for collaborating in filing for conscientious objector status and encouraging others to do the same.

On December 13, Tahan Jones, a black 21-year-old Marine reservist, spoke out against the war and said he believed black youth are funneled into the military because of poverty, racism and oppression.

There are now over 100 GIs who have refused orders to the Persian Gulf and are being held at Camp LeJeune, reports Melissa Ennen of the New York-based "Hands Off!" The overwhelming majority are black, Latino and Asian.

Meanwhile, in the army, two African-American women GI resisters declared their conscientious objection to war at a December 13 news conference. Azania Howse, 35, and Farcia DeToles, 21 are both in the Army Reserves HHC 319th Transport brigade at the Oakland Army Base.


Seattle anti-war movement defends GI resisters

75 protesters marched outside the gate of the Sand Point Naval Station in Seattle, January 9. They were there demanding that a Filipino Marine reservist, Will Depasoy, not be activated to go to Saudi Arabia that day. Depasoy, who was an organizer for an anti-war march on Washington, refused orders to the Gulf on January 6 and was being held at Sand Point. The protesters cheered when they were informed that Depasoy was being reassigned to a local unit not bound for the Middle East.

Fort Ord soldier arrested for anti-war stand

A small demonstration against the war broke out near Fort Ord, California on December 29. As a carload of protesters was driving off following the march, police stopped it and demanded ID from a soldier. He was handcuffed and placed under confinement at Fort Ord. After an hour he was released to the custody of his battalion commander. The commander released the soldier, promising the army would help expedite a discharge for him if he would just quit organizing other soldiers to oppose the war.

Camp Pendleton GIs stand up against the war

The "magnificent seven," a group of marines at Camp Pendleton, California, were recently thrown into the brig for refusing to train for the Gulf war. But they have not been disheartened.

Instead, they are winning support of other GIs. When a sergeant was ridiculing one, to make him an example before other marines, he got a surprise. The sergeant abusively asked if anyone else didn't want to be a marine -- 9 GIs stood up.

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Israel: No innocent bystander

The American media is aghast at Saddam Hussein's missile attacks on Israeli cities. "Isn't this terrible," they claim, "that Iraq attacks an innocent bystander in the war!"

Saddam Hussein's missile attacks on population centers deserves condemnation. But not in the hypocritical way it's done by the U.S. establishment. Where's the concern for the victims of Israeli bombs dropped on Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, which happened repeatedly at the end of January?

Israel an "innocent bystander"? Be real. Has Israel been an "innocent bystander" when the whole world knows it has been pressing the U.S. government to go to war against Iraq? It's also no secret that Israel is itching for an opportunity to bomb Iraq itself; it is only being restrained for the moment by Bush's promise that the U.S. can take care of the job plenty well by itself.

No, Israel is no innocent bystander to the Middle East political cauldron. It is a major player, and a major instigator of the rivalries and wars that break out. Over the years Israel has consistently played the role of Western imperialist goon, helping the European and American powers in their attempts to divide and rule the Arab peoples of the Mideast.

Just in the last decade Israel has carried out the invasion of Lebanon, bombing Beirut into rubble and deepening the division of Lebanon into factional cliques; all of this with arms and equipment provided by the U.S. And it has continued the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, denying the Palestinian people there any rights whatsoever. Right-wing Israeli politicians in the government have also let it be known that they want to expel all Palestinians.

Since the beginning of the Palestinian uprising three years ago, Israeli troops have murdered nearly a thousand Palestinians who were protesting the occupation. The American media are wild with speculation about the use of poison gas by Saddam Hussein, but what about the everyday use of gas by Israeli troops against Palestinian protesters? The Israeli gas has killed, by smothering, a number of Palestinians, and has caused scores of miscarriages among Palestinian women.

Bush claims he is fighting this war to defend Kuwait against aggression. He rails against the violation of "international law and order" by Saddam Hussein. But then where is his condemnation of Israel? Where is the "line in the sand" around the West Bank and Gaza? Why wasn't Israel given a deadline to get out of the occupied territories?

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U.S. covers up atrocity

Palestinians under continuous curfew

We have recently seen a lot of articles in the newspapers and reports on TV about how Israeli citizens are having a difficult time in Tel Aviv and Haifa. But what about the Palestinians? There is a much bigger tragedy going on there, but it is being ignored.

Since the war began, Israel has clamped a complete round-the-clock curfew on the West Bank. One and a half million people are locked in their homes, with their neighborhoods surrounded by troops. They are only given two hours every three days or so to get out for food. But food in the stores is getting scarce, and people deprived of being able to work are running out of money.

This has gone on for nearly two weeks now.

This could be the prelude to worse repression. For years the ruling cliques in Israel have insisted that the West Bank is actually part of a "greater Israel," and they have been busily colonizing it. At the same time, they insist that Jordan is the real Palestinian state. Bush's war may give them the opportunity to implement this idea on a mass scale -- to drive the Palestinian population into Jordan.

Saddam's missile attacks on Israeli population centers are reprehensible. But this does not absolve Israel of its crimes against the Palestinians.

Anti-war activists should use this time -- when working people are alert to events in the Mideast -- to clarify the nature of the Israeli state and to build solidarity with the Palestinian people's struggle!

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Who wants to restore Kuwait's 'legitimate' dictator?

"Free Kuwait!" This is George Bush's slogan for war. Bush likes to pretend that his is a liberation war, to save the people of Kuwait from the aggressor, Saddam Hussein. Bush says the "legitimate government" of Kuwait must be restored. According to that idea of legitimacy, Bush should be fighting to restore Queen Elizabeth's rule over the U.S.

So what was this regime in Kuwait? Is it worth fighting and dying for?

This was the regime of the Emir (king), leader of the oil-rich al-Sabbah family. It has some $50 billion just in their personal accounts in Europe, America, etc. Saddam Hussein's takeover of Kuwait has not deprived them of this money. Nor has it deprived the Kuwaiti government of tens of billions more in investments abroad. Thus Bush's slogan "Free Kuwait," in support of the Emir, is like giving the call "Free Donald Trump." Do these billionaires really need "liberation"?

Of course, the Emir lost his political power in Kuwait. And Bush considers him the "legitimate" ruler. But where did the Emir get this "legitimacy"? From the British Empire. The British colonialists created Kuwait and then set the al-Sabbah family on the throne to protect Western oil interests. Later, the U.S. imperialists took over sponsorship of the Emir.

Should American workers die to defend a billionaire king?

But what about the Kuwaiti people? Aren't they oppressed by Saddam Hussein? True enough, the Iraqi invasion was a disruption to the lives of Kuwaitis. And no doubt some Kuwaiti citizens would lose their positions of privilege as a result of the takeover. The Emir reserved all professional and managerial positions in Kuwait for citizens, and many of them, as a result, felt allegiance to his regime -- this, despite the fact that the emir allowed them no democratic freedoms or forums whatsoever. To put it bluntly, they knew which side their bread was buttered on, and the Emir's regime bought their loyalty by giving them a higher per capita income than citizens of the U.S. or Europe.

The workers in Kuwait: the real victims of the war

But the majority of people in Kuwait were not citizens. They were immigrant workers. They were housekeepers from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, hospital workers from Pakistan, construction workers from Egypt, teachers and oil workers from Palestine.

These people had to earn their daily bread by the sweat of their brow. They were not allowed to form trade unions, political parties, or other democratic institutions. They were mostly segregated into shantytowns. They were never allowed to become citizens, even after living there for decades; nor were their children and grandchildren, born in Kuwait, allowed to be citizens. They lived a life similar to that of "illegal" immigrant laborers in the U.S. -- deprived of all rights, hemmed in and hounded by the government, forced into the hardest, most backbreaking toil. Only in Kuwait, this was the majority of the population, 80% of the work force, and this has been going on for generations.

So what about these people? Is Bush's war to "free Kuwait" meant to liberate them? In fact, these people, the workers of Kuwait, were the first victims of Saddam and Bush's war. The invasion, the U.S. buildup and war cries, and the economic sanctions, made their lives insecure and many of them were forced to leave. Along the way they were abused and robbed by Iraqi soldiers, and thousands of them arrived in Jordan as refugees, with nothing to show for their years of toil. Largely abandoned by their home countries, and with no help from Bush's "liberation" coalition, they languished in the desert. Most of those refugees are back in their homelands, where they have joined the ranks of the unemployed multitudes.

Since the war began, the working people remaining in Kuwait have become victims of the mass bombing. Bush's "liberation" air force bombs them in Kuwait. And if they try to escape, they are bombed on the roads leading out of Kuwait and Iraq.

So what does Bush mean by "free Kuwait"? He does not mean self-determination for all the people of Kuwait, for its toiling majority. He means restoration of the king. It means restoration of the privileged minority to lord it over the mass of immigrant laborers. He means restoration of a regime that can be counted on to keep its coffers and oil reserves tied to the policies of the billionaires in Western Europe and the U.S. This has nothing to do with freedom.

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What Bush won't tell you about Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is the close ally of the U.S. in Bush's war against Iraq. American troops were originally sent to the Persian Gulf to supposedly defend this land from a threatened Iraqi invasion. So what kind of regime is this in Saudi Arabia that American women and men are fighting and dying to prop up?

Though they are stationed in Saudi Arabia, it's difficult for American soldiers to learn much about the country, because the Pentagon makes every effort to keep them segregated from Saudi society. "There are," the generals tell us, "cultural differences." Yes, and it wouldn't help the morale of American troops to find out too much about these "cultural differences."

Like the Saudis' fond attachment to chattel slavery of black Africans. Slavery was just made officially illegal in Saudi Arabia a few years ago. But even today, "unofficially," wealthy Saudis pay slave traders to raid central Africa for black slaves. This wouldn't sit too well with black American soldiers, who are a large percentage of the front-line troops defending the Saudi regime.

Or take the Saudis' treatment of women. American women soldiers are not allowed to go into Saudi cities at all, because it would just be too disruptive. Saudi women face an extreme sexual apartheid. They have to wear veils from head to toe. They are not allowed to go out in public without a male chaperone they walk behind. In restaurants they sit in segregated areas, and on buses they sit in a segregated cage at the back. For daring to drive a car they get arrested, and for getting involved in love affairs you're talking capital crimes there. And American women are being asked to sacrifice their sons -- and daughters -- for this regime!?!

But what about the men? Do they have it pretty good in this male chauvinist paradise? It depends on who you are. For the king, and his family, and their hangers-on, it's a pretty nice setup. For the billionaires, who can afford to travel to Miami and Vegas with their harems, everything is fine. They love their king and country, and they love having the American "slaves," as they call them, come over to defend them. The Saudi professional and business classes are satisfied, since the country's oil riches have enabled them to maintain a pretty good standard of living.

A paradise for the rich, hell for the workers

But, as in the rest of the Persian Gulf kingdoms, a large portion of the working class is made up of immigrants from poor Arab and Asian lands -- Palestinians, Egyptians, Yemenis, etc.

And since even the wealthy upper class Saudis are not allowed a parliament by the king, you can imagine what kind of rights immigrant workers are allowed. They do all the work, but get no rights or recognition. They are merely the faceless backdrop of this society.

There you have some of the "cultural differences" in Saudi Arabia. The Pentagon spokesmen attribute these to "Muslim culture," and insist that American soldiers must "respect other cultures." Not only respect them, but die to defend them.

But culture is tied to the political and economic system of a country. And the Saudis' conservative culture reflects not only fundamentalist Islam but a conservative, ultra-rich ruling class that is opposed to any hints of change. In this they have more in common with Christian fundamentalists like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, than with Palestinian workers and Yemeni peasants -- poor people who may be largely Muslim in religion, but who fight for freedom and progress.

Bush's war in the Gulf is not a war to defend Muslims' "right to be different," their freedom of religion or any other freedoms. It is simply a war to defend Bush's class brothers, the oil billionaires of the Saudi ruling class, who were imposed as the rulers of this land by British and U.S. imperialism.

The Saudi rulers may think that they are buying American slaves to fight for them, but they are fooling themselves, for he who controls the gun and the armada really calls the shots. This war is really a war for the U.S. empire, and the Saudi royal family is just a small cog in that giant imperial machine.

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Turkish workers say no to the war

Bush's coalition to "free Kuwait" has found a new partner just as the war has begun. On January 17 the Turkish government authorized U.S. war planes to launch strikes against Iraq from a Turkish air base. Turkish troops are already massed on the border with Iraq, and the government of Turgut Ozal is itching to get a share of the spoils in Iraq after Saddam Hussein is defeated.

Meanwhile, the Turkish working class is busy with a new round of mass struggle against the government. The workers' movement is being spearheaded by coal miners who have been on strike for weeks. In early January tens of thousands of miners, along with their families, began a march from the Black Sea port of Zonguldak to the capital of Ankara. The march began with a nationwide general strike which supported the miners and also opposed the government's complicity with U.S. war aims in the Persian Gulf.

The miners were demanding a wage raise of 600%. Their wages have been decimated by inflation in recent years, and today they survive on less than $6 a day. To try and forestall the march, the government offered them a raise of 250%. But the miners were not to be stopped so easily.

The government then sent army troops and police to blockade the miners' convoy of 1,000 buses. The buses were stopped, but the miners then proceeded on foot. When the troops blocked a mountain pass, the miners climbed over it. Finally, they were stopped by riot police backed with bulldozers and water cannons. But the strike is continuing.

And the miners are being joined by other working people who are going out on strike -- engineers, textile workers, and paper workers.

The new upsurge is the biggest challenge by the workers against the government in 10 years. In 1980 working class organizations were smashed by a military coup that suppressed all strikes and demonstrations. Over the last decade workers have slowly revived their activity, and they are ready once again to confront the capitalists' oppression.

What kind of regime is the one in Turkey which is Bush's partner in the war with Iraq? They call it a democracy, but the truth is something else. Turkey, in order to become a "respected" member of the European community, has formally gone over from an open military dictatorship to a parliamentary regime; but the ruling party is simply a front for the generals. The people's rights are severely restricted, and jailing and torture of dissidents is widespread.

Meanwhile, the government's support for the U.S. war in the Gulf has exacerbated the already bad economic crisis in Turkey. Iraq was one of Turkey's main trading partners, and the sanctions against Iraq have sent business into a tailspin, as well as driving up the cost of petroleum products. But the Turkish ruling class is drooling at the prospect of getting into the bloodletting in Iraq. They expect to see Saddam Hussein defeated, and are licking their chops at perhaps getting a portion of the oil-rich provinces in the north. They are also deeply worried that instability in a defeated Iraq will allow Iraqi Kurds to seize power in Kurdistan. The Turkish government has declared that they will not allow this. They are fearful that this would inspire the Kurds in Turkey itself who have been waging their own decades-long fight against brutal oppression.

But the government will not find it easy sailing with their expansionist schemes. They also have to worry about their home front: the Turkish workers are restive.

[Photo: Turkish miners on strike]

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The world is not behind Bush's war!

One of George Bush's biggest lies is that the war against Iraq is a principled act supported by the whole "world community." He keeps saying this is not Washington vs. Iraq, but the entire world against Saddam.

True, Bush received the backing of the United Nations. But that's because the UN Security Council is controlled by the big imperialist powers, and it is they, along with other capitalist governments, who support Bush's war.

But regardless of what their governments do, the great mass of working people around the world are opposed to this war. And they have demonstrated this, loudly and forcefully, by marching in the streets. In every corner of the globe, the people recognize that this is a war for oil and the U.S. empire.

Massive protests in Europe

Bush's closest allies are in Western Europe. The European powers are loyalists with Bush because they too are imperialist powers with a long, shameful history of colonialism abroad. But large numbers of Europeans do not side with their rulers; they have come out in a number of large protests.

In Germany the anti-war movement is the strongest in Europe. Before the war broke out, there were protests in every corner of the country. Some 250,000 were in the streets across the country just after the war began. On January 26 there were more protests, with 300,000 rallying in Bonn. In some factories, workers also struck against the outbreak of war. Bush is getting financial help from the German government and has tried to push it into sending soldiers, but massive public opposition has prevented a dispatch of German troops.

There were also huge public outcries in Spain, where the government has sent some warships and also provides support for Bush's war by allowing the U.S. use of an important air base. Shortly after the war began some two million workers staged a two-hour nationwide strike against the war. Universities across the country also went on strike.

In Italy, there were union-organized demonstrations of 200,000 in Rome and 100,000 in Milan on January 18. Italy has sent troops to the Gulf, and the protesters demanded their recall.

In France President Francois Mitterand clamped down hard after 200,000 people demonstrated in Paris on January 15, Bush's deadline for the beginning of war. Mitterand banned all further protests. But thousands of youth defied the ban and demonstrated again.

After the U.S., Britain -- the former colonial overlord of Iraq and the Arabian peninsula -- is the biggest power involved in the war effort. Here the government has gone to extremes to whip up pro-war sentiment. And it has enlisted the support of all the main political parties. Nonetheless, there have been anti-war demonstrations of 100,000 in London and 40,000 in Glasgow. Every weekend sees yet more demonstrations.

In Turkey, tens of thousands of workers rallied against the war on January 3 in Istanbul and Ankara. On that day a nationwide general strike was called by the main trade union federation to protest against the Turkish government's compliance with U.S. war policy, and against the government's economic policies. The strikers also rallied in support of striking Turkish coal miners. The coal miners have added an anti-war demand to their list of economic demands.

"No to the war for oil!" on every continent

There have been demonstrations in many other countries, as well. (In a separate article we cover protests in Arab and Asian countries.)

The weekend of January 19-20 there was a round of protests against the war in Australia, whose government is supporting the U.S. The protests included some 100,000 people, including a march of 20,000 in Sydney. Longshoremen in Brisbane and Sydney walked off their jobs for four hours to join anti-war demonstrations.

There have been protests in Japan against the government's financial support for the U.S. war.

Thousands marched in the streets of Canada and they denounced Prime Minister Mulroney for sending military forces to take part in the U.S. war.

Latin America has also been the scene of numerous protests. In Argentina large demonstrations denounced the decision of President Carlos Menem to send two warships to the Persian Gulf. Demonstrations outside U.S. embassies took place in Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Bolivia, and the Dominican Republic. Students in El Salvador protested against the U.S. war. In Mexico City 5,000 striking teachers and their supporters marched on the U.S. embassy to condemn the oil war.

In South Africa, police arrested more than 100 outside the U.S. embassy in Capetown for protesting the war.

The worldwide protests show that Bush's posturing as the leader of "the civilized world" in a moral crusade against evil is nothing but a big lie. The people across the world do not believe it, and neither should we.

[Photo: Demonstration in Dusseldorf, Germany on January 12]

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From North Africa to South Asia

Millions condemn oil war

Bush has tried to paint the U.S. imperial war in the colors of a crusade in defense of Arabs in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. He has gotten some Arab and Muslim governments to join his war coalition -- from Egypt to Bangladesh. But the people in most Arab countries and the lands of Asia and Africa with Muslim majorities have come out into the streets to shout out loud and strong that they are against Bush's war.

Huge, militant demonstrations against Bush's war have been held. In many of these protests, people have supported Saddam Hussein. Not because of any love for Saddam's tyranny, but because they think he is standing up to Western imperialism. This is a misplaced hope, because Saddam does not stand for liberation from imperialism, and his war over Kuwait is simply a robbers' war. However, Bush, by forcing a bloody war in the Persian Gulf, has made the greatest contribution to Saddam gaining new, undeserved anti-imperialist credentials.

In Jordan, militant demonstrations denouncing the U.S. have been going on for months. The Palestinian masses there, desperate for someone to strike out against Israel and its No. 1 backer the U.S. superpower, have come into the streets in support of Saddam Hussein.

Similar demonstrations have been organized in Lebanon. There would have been major protests in Israeli-occupied territories, but Israel has kept the West Bank and Gaza under continuous curfew.

In Syria, despite the government's participation in the U.S.-led coalition, a large group of writers and artists recently risked incurring the wrath of President Assad by marching through Damascus denouncing the U.S. bombing. Assad's rule is similar to Saddam's fascist methods, and there have been numerous reports of other demonstrations shot at by Assad's security forces. Graffiti against the war with Iraq are reported widely.

Arab states in North Africa have also been the scene of massive demonstrations. On January 18 some 100,000 people demonstrated in the streets of Algiers, Algeria. Another huge demonstration was held in Algiers on January 31. A large demonstration was also held on January 18 in Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania. Protesters carrying posters of Saddam Hussein were attacked by police with tear gas. Tens of thousands have also protested against their government's complicity with U.S. imperialism in Morocco. In Libya the government itself has organized official demonstrations denouncing the U.S. bombing; these have included over a million people.

Massive demonstrations, of up to 100,000, have also been held in Yemen and Sudan.

South Asian cities have also been a hotbed of anti-war actions. Demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands have been organized in Bangladesh. President Ershad went along with Bush's war plans and sent 3,000 troops to the Gulf. But in December Ershad was overthrown through a mass campaign of strikes and protests. And today the masses are demanding that he be jailed, as well as demanding, the reversal of his policies. Large demonstrations have also been held in Pakistan, where the government sent 11,000 troops to the Gulf. And in India hundreds of people battled police outside the U.S. embassy in New Delhi on January 18.

In Malaysia the government banned anti-war demonstrations.

A new era of imperial stability?

Bush's "allied coalition" supposedly represents the interests of Arab people. By getting the cooperation of a few arch reactionaries such as King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and President Mubarak of Egypt, Bush postured about building a coalition in defense of the Arabs, against external aggression.

But what kind of "defense" of the Arabs is this, that is achieved by bombing their cities into rubble? Many Arabs know from first-hand experience that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant, but the U.S. attack is so vicious that it allows Hussein to dress himself up as an "anti-imperialist" and to regain some popularity among the Arab and Muslim masses. News reports from Egypt indicate that even there, where emigrant workers know Hussein's brutality from first-hand experience, the sentiment is starting to swing against the U.S. and President Mubarak.

Even if the U.S. wins a military victory against Iraq, the U.S. aggression has thrown the politics of the Arab lands into a whirlpool. Those governments who have backed up Bush's war will eventually pay for their collaboration with imperialism. Far from gaining a new era of peace and stability for U.S. oil monopolies and their allies, U.S. imperialism has created a new fertile ground for popular rebellion. Today the biggest of the organized anti-U.S. forces are Islamic fundamentalists, who do not represent a progressive alternative to the pro-U.S. tyrannies. But eventually the Arab masses will find their way to a politics of liberation from all tyranny and oppression: from imperialism and its capitalist allies, whether they be Kings like Fahd, or militarist despots like Saddam, or fundamentalist mullahs like Khomeini.

[Photo: Anti-war demonstrator tosses tear gas back to policeman in New Delhi]

[Photo: Protesters in Turkey burn U.S. flag in Istanbul to denounce Bush's war]

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