by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
The bulk of U.S. and European anti-war movements have never opposed all imperial domination of other peoples, and have therefore been selective about which conflicts would be recognized as actual “wars,” that should be protested. Thus, U.S. armed theft of Haitian independence is not considered a war, and the U.S. is free to deny culpability for the six million killed in Congo by America’s proxy wars. The Black is Back Coalition “will reexamine the globe to define more objectively where U.S. imperialism and its partners – heirs to previous European empires – are waging war against the various peoples of the world, and what to do about it.”
Black Is Back Coalition Holds March 26 Conference on the “Other” U.S. Wars
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
“There are wars happening in the world that the traditional white Left does not recognize.”
If there were a war that didn’t directly involve U.S. troops and killed mainly dark people, would what purports to be the U.S. anti-war movement care, or even notice? In fact, there are numerous such wars under way right now, including within U.S. borders, but many white Americans who claim to oppose their country’s aggressions agitate only against those wars that are costing the U.S. most heavily in lives and money: Iraq and Afghanistan. The victims of U.S. imperialism’s “other” wars exist only in the margins of the consciousness of much of the white Left, who assume the privilege of picking and choosing the anti-war movement’s priorities.
“It is this historical defect of the U.S. Left that prevents it from giving genuine practical and material solidarity to the national liberation struggles of Africans and other peoples within the U.S,” said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations. In response, the Coalition will hold a “National Conference on the ‘Other’ Wars,” March 26, in Washington, DC. “The concept of the “Other Wars” is designed to highlight that there are wars happening in the world that the traditional white Left does not recognize, though they are the very struggles that have critical significance for the continued survival of imperialism.”
A racist public in North America and Europe tolerated and even cheered atrocities against the oppressed and colonized peoples of the planet, who they refused to recognize as fully human. “Wars” were deemed primarily to be affairs between white nations, while the constant armed aggressions perpetrated against the colonized people’s were accepted as part of the White Man’s Burden, the dirty little business of maintaining order abroad and prosperity at home. The costs to the black, brown and yellow victims of empire – the people that actually bore the White Man as a burden – amounted to little or nothing in the white public mind. Yet, the same deeply implicated white public believed, then as now, that they were the rightful arbiters of how, when and to what extent the empire should be dismantled. They would decide which tools of liberation the oppressed might rightfully employ, and whether the “wretched of the earth” were worthy petitioners or savage terrorists. Always – whether it was the French suppressing Algeria, the British versus the Mau Mau rebellion, or the scores of piratical U.S. interventions in Latin America – always, the white public reserves for itself the privilege of identifying the wrongs (that it was complicit in committing) and prescribing solutions.
“If slavery and colonialism were forms of warfare, then who won?”
They even feel qualified to decide which conflicts are to be elevated to classification as wars, and which are something else, something less…compelling. The slave trade, a centuries-long crime that provided the material basis for the development of capitalism at a cost to the Africans that cannot be fully tabulated, was one long war, whose unfinished battles reverberate in our own era. Yet the period of African enslavement is not called a war, or a succession of wars, but rather treated as a kind of dark and violent weather that clouds our common history. The purpose is to obscure the historically gargantuan fact that white Europe and America waged slavery, as they waged war, the two being inseparable. If slavery and colonialism were forms of warfare, then who won? If the oppressed do not believe they have won, based on their current material and other conditions, then they cannot allow the war to be declared over. And from that conclusion, many others flow.
Recognizing the true facts of war is, therefore, of crucial political importance. Participants in the March 26 Black is Back conference will reexamine the globe to define more objectively where U.S. imperialism and its partners – heirs to previous European empires – are waging war against the various peoples of the world, and what to do about it.
Certainly, Somalia is a victim of U.S. war-making. Washington attempted to occupy the country in 1993, suffered military setbacks (Blackhawk down), then returned to invade the country in December 2006 through its proxy, Ethiopia, buttressed by U.S. Special Forces and air and naval support. The invasion, which interrupted Somalia’s first, brief period of relative peace in decades under an Islamic Courts regime, caused what United Nations officials called “the greatest humanitarian crisis in Africa” at the time, “greater than Darfur,” displacing 3.5 million people. When the Ethiopians withdrew with heavy casualties, the Americans waged a “food war” against the Somali populace to starve the “Shabab” resistance into submission. The U.S. bulldozed the UN, its European allies and the African Union into recognizing a puppet regime huddled in a tiny corner of the capital city, Mogadishu – a rump entity that is incapable of serving any purpose other than preventing Somalis from establishing control over their own country. In the process, Washington has destabilized the entire region, sowing the seeds of wider war. An American financed and directed offensive is currently underway in the capital and on the borders with Kenya and Ethiopia. This is a U.S. war. End the War Against Somalia! U.S. out of the Horn of Africa!
The main protectors of Somalia’s puppet regime are Rwandan troops, who act as hit men and mercenaries for the U.S. in Africa, as does Uganda’s military. A United Nations report charges both U.S. allies with the mass killing of Congolese during Rwanda and Uganda’s invasion, occupation and systematic looting of eastern Congo. Hutus of Rwandan and Congolese nationality were systematically selected for slaughter: genocide. Congolese blame the U.S.-backed foreign militaries for the bulk of the six million deaths since the mid-Nineties, yet the U.S. has made no substantive changes in its policies in the Great Lakes region of Africa since the UN report was formally released, in October.
“The U.S. paid for and engineered the biggest killing field since World War Two, and is legally and morally culpable for waging aggressive war against peace.”
Has the U.S. been at war with the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo? Emphatically “yes,” a continuation of the war America has waged since Eisenhower ordered the assassination of Congo’s elected president, Patrice Lumumba. The U.S. paid for and engineered the biggest killing field since World War Two, and is legally and morally culpable – not only for genocide and crimes against humanity, but for waging aggressive war against peace, along with its Rwandan and Ugandan hirelings, in eastern Congo. Washington Must Pay for Six Million Dead! U.S. Out of Central Africa!
America’s war against Haiti goes back to the days when the U.S. waged slavery, which is inseparable from war. The free Black Republic of Haiti was quarantined, harassed, subjected to extortion, constantly bombarded and invaded by U.S. privateers and uniformed forces until 1915, when an official, 19-year U.S. occupation began. Nobody called this a “war” on Haiti; you will not read of America’s “Haitian wars,” but thousands were killed by rifle, grenade and machine gun, or by aerial bombardment. And, since the U.S. is not thought to have ever been at war with Haiti, it can pretend to be a good and caring neighbor when it sponsors coups or physically re-invades, such as in 1994 and 2004.
The 2004 invasion – at first by proxy through a few hundred U.S.-trained and -financed terrorists, then by uniformed American troops – put a definitive end to Haiti’s sovereignty, which is what sometimes happens when countries lose wars to merciless adversaries. The U.S. military occupation was transformed by extra-legal magic into an armed United Nations occupation, commanded by Brazilians. This is, of course, a continuation of the original invasion and, therefore, inseparable from the American war. Free Haiti! End the Occupation! Washington, Stop Your Wars Against Haiti!
Inside the United States
There must be a U.S. war raging against Black America – otherwise, where did all the prisoners come from? A million Black Americans are behind bars at any given moment, and majorities of young Black males growing up in inner city neighborhoods can expect to become prisoners of this war if they live long enough. The U.S. war against Blacks is closely related to the War on Drugs, which is rather curious since the same people that claim there is no war against living, breathing Black people imagine there is an actual war against inanimate chemicals and peaceful plants. But the war is undeniable: one out of every eight prisoners on planet Earth was captured by armed Americans, which makes the U.S. War on African Americans one of the major ongoing conflicts – wars – on the planet, although dwarfed by the U.S. war against the Congolese. Other domestic wars continue to be waged against Mexicans and Native Americans, who can tell their own war stories. Abolish the Black Prison Gulag! Self-Determination to the Black Nation!
Defining the Struggle
We see that the American aggressions that much of the Euro-American Left refuse to recognize as wars are actually the basic stuff of U.S. imperialism, which is waging war all the time, against a multitude of people. Some theaters of battle heat up and threaten to quickly alter the status of forces in the world; other theaters grind on, like trench warfare, often producing far larger casualties, such as in Congo, than the universally acknowledged “wars.”
The March 26 conference, at Festival Center, 1640 Columbia Rd. NW, welcomes all anti-racist, anti-imperialist strugglers and activists in the anti-war movement. Topics will include:
· The Permanent War Against Africa
· U.S. Aggression in Colombia/Africans Under Fire
· War at the U. S. Borders
· Economic Warfare/Sub prime mortgages, foreclosures and gentrification
· Nation behind Bars/Mass Incarceration and Political Prisoners
· Reparations/Payment for war crimes
· Haiti Under Attack
· War on U.S. Streets/Police terror and murder
We must correctly define wars, and then measure anti-war “movements” by how they respond to these “other” wars, the ones that are actually most representative of the general workings of U.S. imperialism and its related domestic systems of racial subjugation. That’s why, as Black Is Back chairman Yeshitela pointed out, these “other” wars are “the very struggles that have critical significance for the continued survival of imperialism.”
For more information on the “National Conference on the ‘Other’ Wars,” go the blackisbackcoalition.org.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].