Are They Peace Candidates?

July 1, 2003

A political struggle over the direction and future of the anti-war movement is going on.

In national conferences, in local anti-war groups and on a daily basis, activists are being pressured to campaign for the Democratic Party. The following article looks at some of the concrete stands and actions of the 3 leading so-called "peace" candidates (Dean, Sharpton, Kucinich) campaigning for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

From Day One

The current nationwide upsurge in the anti-war movement began in 2001 as hundreds of thousands of people came out to oppose Bush's aggressive war in Afghanistan and his declaration of an "international war against terrorism."

Far from being in the streets alongside the anti-war activists, the Democrats supported the invasion of Afghanistan and the "war against terrorism."

For example, Kucinich voted for the Congressional resolution which ceded to George Bush full authority not only to attack Afghanistan but, in fact, "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons he [the President] determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."

Similarly, Al Sharpton, another Democrat being pushed as the candidate of the anti-war movement, has repeatedly criticized George Bush for not focussing enough on "getting Al Qaeda" and fighting the "war on terrorism." So too, all the other Democratic candidates are on the record, again and again, in full support of the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.

Dean on Iraq

The new anti-war movement of the American people which began in September 2001, reached truly gigantic proportions in the course of trying to stop the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

As the movement spread to embrace tens of millions of Americans, a few Democratic Party officials tried to dress themselves up as "anti-war leaders" in order to prevent the growing movement from developing its militancy and independence.

In general, the Democratic "opposition" boiled down to nothing more than calls for more weapons inspections and "multilateral action" rather than Bush's "preemptive war." When the invasion began, this so-called opposition openly joined in the war effort and today generally supports the ongoing U.S. occupation and colonization of Iraq.

Howard Dean, yet another so-called "peace" candidate, followed this script to the letter.

Today, as the U.S. occupation of Iraq is coming under attack, Dean wants to rely on the U.N., NATO and other international partners to help cover up the reality of U.S. colonialism. Thus Dean wants the civilian authority in Iraq brought under the auspices of the UN Security Council and NATO to play a role in "maintaining order and guaranteeing disarmament [of Iraq]." But Dean insists that "it is natural for the U.S. and UK to lead . . . [that] America should continue to play a prominent role and exercise control at least for a time over key security-related functions." In all essentials, Dean's program is indistinguishable from Bush's. Dean writes: "The transition to a democratic government should be neither too fast, nor too slow probably around 18-24 months although U.S.. forces will likely be there longer."

So too, Dean's program for "economic reconstruction" echoes George Bush. While repeating the obligatory but empty phrase that "Iraqis, meanwhile, will deserve the chance to exercise full control over their oil as soon as practical," firstly Iraq's oil wealth must "pay part of the costs of reconstruction and transition" while "American and British companies should be allowed and required to compete for oil-related contracts through a process seen by all to be fair."

In other words, to the victors belong the spoils.

Kucinich on Palestine

Since September 2001, the Bush administration has instigated the all-out Israeli invasion and occupation of Palestine, making the Palestinian people, in fact, the second target of the "war against terrorism."

In response, the anti-war movement and ever-broader sections of the American people have put on the agenda the need to end U.S. aid to Israel and to support the struggle of the Palestinians for their inalienable national rights.

Again, the Democrats stand in support of the aggressive state of Israel and against the demands of the peace movement.

The Democrats always authorize the massive flow of U.S. economic and military aid which keeps Israel afloat and finances the occupation of Palestine. And the rabid, anti-Palestinian stance of the Democrats is demonstrated, for example, in the following Congressional resolution (passed specifically to support George Bush's freezing of funds "linked" to Hamas and other Palestinian groups) passed in a virtual unanimous vote, including the vote of Dennis Kucinich.

"Whereas President Bush declared at a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001, that 'Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime'..."

"resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress - ...

expresses outrage at the ongoing Palestinian terrorist campaign and insists that the Palestinian Authority take all steps necessary to end it;

demands, specifically, that the Palestinian Authority take action immediately to -

a) destroy the infrastructure of Palestinian terrorist groups;

b) pursue and arrest terrorists whose incarceration has been called for by Israel...

"urges the President to take any and all necessary steps ... including, if necessary, suspending all relations with Yasir Arafat and the Palestinian Authority... commends the President for his strong leadership against international terrorism, ... and his swift action to freeze additional sources of terrorist funds."

A Party of War

Perhaps the most important fact that we must never forget is that whether Kucinich, Dean, Sharpton or anyone else utters a few empty words about "peace," the Democratic Party is and remains a party of capitalism, imperialism and war.

This is no secret. It is written into the official program of the Democratic Party and confirmed by its history - the history of Truman dropping the atom bombs, of Kennedy invading Cuba, of Johnson escalating the war in Vietnam, of Clinton's war against Yugoslavia, etc., etc. In fact, today, the leaders of the Democrats - the Liebermans and Clintons - are trying to outdo Bush in their push for an evermore aggressive "war against terrorism," for extending that war to Korea and other countries, etc.

Thus, in our opinion, it is the elementary responsibility of anti-war activists to never let people forget these crimes of Kucinich, Dean, Sharpton, etc. And to demand of any politician who claims to be a "peace candidate" that he/she denounce the Democratic and Republican parties and organize people in opposition to and struggle against these parties of war.

In fact, as everyone knows, the Democratic Party has long relied on its so-called "left-wing" to "talk the talk" of peace in order to keep anti-war activists under its tutelage, even while the Democrats help the Republicans wage war. Everyone knows that Kucinich, Sharpton, Dean and other so-called "left-wing" Democrats will, in the end, support the leading Democratic officials. In fact, in a June 17 letter to MoveOn members, Sharpton, in an admission that applies with equal force to Kucinich, Dean and others, stresses:

"In addition to progressives who are already activists, my campaign is attracting new people to register, vote and participate in politics. Many potential Democratic voters are currently alienated, unmotivated, and politically inactive. But my campaign is changing their minds, attracting their attention, and getting them involved in the process. I believe expansion is necessary for Democrats to regain and maintain the White House, the U.S. Senate and House in 2004 and beyond. Thus, whether I am the nominee or not - and I am working hard to become the nominee - I believe my campaign is necessary to enable Democrats to win in November of 2004."

"I have made it clear that if I do not win the nomination, I will support the Democratic nominee who does."

Thus the "slippery slope" of opportunism starts with "overlooking" all the warmongering and crimes of the likes of Kucinich, Sharpton, Dean, etc. and ends by supporting Lieberman.

No, opposing the war program of Bush and the U.S. capitalist class can never mean supporting the Democrats. On the contrary, the anti-war movement can only be strengthened and win victory along the path of opposition to and struggle against the Democrats as well as the Republicans.