Oaxaca, Mexico, Tuesday, January 14, 2003


      If you are on my personal mailing list you already received this note.

      Just a few hours after sending out my e-mail on Jan 12, the one headed
Americans, oppose the threatened war, I got a reply from Monty Neill with
a paper that the Midnight Notes group in Boston had written to the anti-war
movement in the U.S. It is one of the most insightful analyses I have seen
of what the U.S. government is up to, and draws conclusions about what the
anti-war movement must do if we are to succeed, conclusions I’m sure are
correct. I think it is “must” reading.

      Their paper, titled “Respect Your Enemies--The First Rule of Peace:
An Essay Addressed to the U. S. Anti-war Movement “, points out, for
example, that Iraq is not being targetted only for its oil but for the
bigger goal of doing away with OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting
Countries), which, I had not realized, operates as an oligarchy OUTSIDE OF
NEO-LIBERAL CONTROLS. It is not subject to World Trade Organization (WTO)
regulations, nor to the pressures that the International Monetary Fund
(IMF), the World Bank (WB) and other agencies of international control use
to coerce so-called sovereign nations into obeying neo-liberal dictates. The
U.S. is aiming for total control of all oil and gas production worldwide, in
an attempt to revive profits for U.S.-based capital.

      They end their essay as follows:

      We believe that if the antiwar movement emphasizes the fact that the
Iraq invasion is part of an overall strategy of endless war that will
jeopardize the U.S. population's life, liberty and property in order to try
to secure an economic system that will continue to be in deep crisis, then
we can lay the foundation for a major change in the political debate and
sentiment in this country. (And lest we be misunderstood, we do agree that
one continuing, necessary task of the anti-war movement will be to bring to
the attention of the U.S. population the massive casualties around the
planet that will ensue from the endless war to preserve capitalism.)

5. Conclusion: No Fear

      The Bush Administration's policy is not a product of crackpots, it is
a desperate initiative to try to militarily save a failing world economic
system. Many people in South and Central America, Africa and Asia have lost
hope in finding themselves in this system and are trying to recreate their
lives outside the precincts of neoliberalism. The same threatens to happen
here in the U.S. That possibility, and not the machinations of Al Qaeda or
Saddam Hussein, is the Bush Administration's deepest fear.

      Now it is time to learn from the wisdom of an enemy philosopher,
Thomas Hobbes, the defender of the absolute state. In the epigraph we
quoted, Hobbes locates the source of peace in three passions: Fear, Desire,
and Hope. The Bush Administration has effectively used Fear to stifle
opposition. It correctly claims that the right not to be killed is the
greatest human right. It has asked for a carte blanche to defend that right
and impose Peace on the world through the sword. Bush often pointed to the
cinders of the World Trade Center towers to win the "war powers against
Iraq" resolution, for the Fear is real. Not accidentally, however, the
Bush Administration spokespeople have forgotten the other passionate sources
of Peace -- Desire and Hope. They know that they cannot stimulate these
passions even rhetorically without rousing derision throughout the planet.
Their economic and social system is that bankrupt. This is the Bush
Administration's deepest weakness: it cannot win on the basis of Fear of
Death alone.

          That is why our movement cannot simply trade Fear for Fear with
the Bush Administration, or be amplifiers of the Fear on which the
administration thrives. We cannot best them in this game. Of course, it is
our civic duty to point out bureaucratic failures and hyperboles that
endanger people in the U.S. or abroad and, if we have good evidence, to
point out past, present, or future U.S. government complicity with Al Qaeda
and Saddam Hussein's regime. But unless we can call to the other passionate
sources of Peace, we will be as bankrupt as the Bush regime and its

          The antiwar movement should, therefore, speak to the Desires and
Hopes of the people of the U.S., from universal healthcare to a healthy
environment. We also need to bring the demands of the anti-globalization
movement of the 1990s into our demonstrations, forums and programs,
especially the wisdom behind the slogan, "This Earth is Not For Sale," i.e.,
an end to the privatization of the gifts of the planet and its history. We
can work out the details, it is the direction that is crucial now.

          We leave you with a historical example in support of our thesis.
The most effective way the threat of nuclear terror was answered in the
1950s was not the antinuclear war movement, but the black revolution in the
U.S. and the anti-colonial movement around the planet. Black people in the
U.S. and colonized people in the rest of the world made it clear that B-52
bombers and their hydrogen bombs were not liberating them, and they refused
to be delayed by them. They declared that their civil liberation was a
precondition for the "Desire of such things as are necessary for commodious
living; and a Hope by their Industry to obtain them" that could lead to
Peace. Indeed, it has been the thwarting of this Desire and this Hope by the
imposition of a neoliberal economic order that has been the source of most
of the War of the last two decades.

      You can see the entire essay at:

NOTE: As usual the link won't work. You'll have to type in the "tail", i.e.
the part ight.html