How to Resist War

Come September, they organise a peace march. For the Indian left it is one more yearly ritual, having little impact on broad masses. Anti-war movement has never taken serious roots in this part of the globe. Even during the Second World War anti-fascist mobilisation touched only a fringe of the enlightened society and that too in metropolitan cities. A decade ago when the United States and its western allies launched war against Iraq they just finished their anti-war programme by issuing harmless press statements couched in beautiful words and a rally or two in some big towns. In February 2003 ‘No War With Iraq’ slogan reverberated throughout Europe and America for weeks, not in India because the left saw war as a distant possibility. With nearly 200,000 American and British combat troops already stationed in or on their way to the Persian Gulf area, war with Iraq was just a few weeks away. In those days hundreds of thousands of peace marchers from widely diverse backgrounds participated in anti-war demonstrations across the globe, particularly in America. They opposed war with a purpose. The left, not excluding the far left, in India failed to rise to the occasion as they had no long-term plan to develop a broader unity among struggling masses for lasting peace.

True, anti-war demonstrations didn’t stop the US war machine to bomb Iraq to the stone age but they raised mass consciousness about the illegitimacy of pre-emtive military action as a solution to international problems. Iraq is now a permanent US garrison and Iraqis are continuing to pay heavy price in an unending civil war perpetrated by imperial designs of America.

Peace movement must speak against the use of tactics and weapons. Mere chanting some anti-American slogans with vague outlook can hardly serve any meaningful purpose. American aggression succeeded in Iraq because UN Security Council was a mute spectator and American public opinion in general was too weak, despite massive anti-war demonstrations in Washington, San Francisco and other cities, to halt the Bush administration from going to war. For Iraq war is permanent, peace is temporary as the people of Iraq are caught in a vicious cycle of civil war, albeit anti-war forces, the leftists here and abroad, are not talking of Iraq anymore. A decade later, war-torn Iraq deserves more attention from peace marchers. Almost an identical scenario is going to be enacted in Afghanistan.

But America means war. Its economy is so war-oriented that it is always looking forward to a new war theatre. If there is no enemy, they can always create one. It’s simply unthinkable for the policymakers in Washington to imagine a world without war.

Right now America and its trusted partner in crime against humanity, Britain, are exploring the option of another re-run of Iraq in Syria. For Iraq specious excuse was Saddam’s secret plan to manufacture and store weapons of mass destruction which later proved a great lie. And Syria’s Assad now faces the same charge of using chemical weapons against rebels and civilians, in addition to silencing democratic aspiration of broad masses. Not that Bashar al-Assad is a saint. He is not. His authoritarian rule inherited from his father Hafez al-Assad is a threat to hundreds of dissenters who refuse to be kowtowed by iron heels. But unlike Saddam, Bashar al-Assad is not isolated. He has strong support, both political and military, from Russia, China and Iran. Maybe, this is one reason he is quite arrogant as he says in his propaganda campaign how the USA faces failures just like in all previous wars they waged, starting with Vietnam and up to the present Syrian crisis. Saddam also roared at the initial stage when French war planes mistakenly bombed some decoys in Baghdad. How he lost the war so badly and finally brutally executed is now history.

Whether Russia and China will come forward with full military might to rescue the Assad regime in face of actual invasion is open to question. So far they have blocked the US move to get UN Security Council approval to ‘punish’ the errant Assad and change the regime for the ‘rebels’. Indications are that the Pentagon may go to aggressive war without waiting for UN efforts to ease tension as Britain‘s Foreign Secretary William Hague told the BBC the other day, that they could act even without full UN Security Council backing after alleged gas attack near Damascus which, the Syrian Opposition said, killed hundreds of innocent civilians, including women and children.

Meanwhile, UN experts are very much in the heart of Damascus to inspect the site of a ‘deadly chemical weapons attack’. Maybe, this is a prelude to make a case out of Syria’s belligerence as it happened in case of Iraq too. At the time of writing Moscow was evacuating its citizens from Damascus.

Surprisingly this time the American left is divided over America’s Syrian policy. Many on the American left justify the regime change movement apparently launched by the Syrian rebels as they see in it a ray of hope for democracy. Already over 100,000 Syrian lives have been lost in the on-going civil war, and nobody knows how many will die in the coming days. True, the reactionary forces that were set back on their heels by the Arab Spring revolts two years ago, have found a new lease of life in the Syrian crisis. The threat of regional war that had been pushed back by mass revolts has re-gathered. If Assad goes, the last outpost of secularism in the middle-east will go for ever. The Syrian crisis has a religious angle as the Shia sectarians of Hezbollah backed to the hilt by Iran, have entered Syria on Assad’s side. Also, the al-Queda linked fundamentalists of Jabhat al-Nusra have been allowed to rampage over the Syrian landscape, complicating the situation. In reality religious veil conceals the violence against masses.

With so many regional and international players engaged in the Syrian game, the likelihood of a Bosnia-type—partitioning being forced upon Syria cannot be ruled out in the end. But how another war in the middle east will adversely affect the global economy and Indian economy as well is anybody’s guess.         30-08-2013

Vol. 46, No. 9, Sep 8 - 14, 2013

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