OF THE PEACE PARTY:
THE INTERNATIONAL ACTION CENTER
I said to the young man with the gentle voice who answered the phone at
the San Francisco office of the International Action Center." My
name is Justin Raimondo and I'm with Republicans Against the War."
called yesterday, and a couple of times before that," I said, ignoring
the pregnancy of that pause, that skipped beat in which his whole concept
of the world was overthrown.
huh," was all he could manage.
what I wanted to know," I said, "was whether you had reached
a decision as to whether we can have a speaker at the rally on the 17th."
well, that really hasn't been decided, yet."
really? Gee, that's funny, but the last guy I talked to said that the
speakers had already been confirmed, and that there was no more room on
the platform. You guys had better get your line straight."
put a little emphasis on this last word, because I had already conjured
what I thought was a fair approximation of the being at the other end
of the phone line. I could see him clear as day in my mind's eye, like
a mannequin in a store window lit up at night: twenty-something, sandal-and-beads,
undoubtedly gay, a would-be artist -- aren't they all? -- young Lance
(as good a name as any) is a Marxist who hasn't read much Marx: he has,
however, read the complete works of Rigoberto Menchu.
was getting tired of this guy already.
know," he said, the self-conscious gentleness in his voice hardening
into a tone of priggish self-righteousness "we wouldn't let anybody
racist, or anti-abortion, or homophobic speak: that would be giving
a platform to bigotry." Apparently I was not the only one conjuring
stereotypes on scanty evidence.
don't give me that litany," I replied, laughing to myself, "you
don't even know what race I am, never mind if I'm a racist or not. Listen"
the background, my television was blaring the news of the latest escalation:
500 more planes. 8,000 troops to Albania. And for the first time the President
had not completely precluded the introduction of ground troops.
people are being bombed, and this is just the beginning. How can
you sit there subjecting me to some sectarian political test while NATO
is raining death on Belgrade? You had better face up to it, buddy, all
your bourgeois liberal friends are for this war, and the only real
opposition is on the Right this time around."
Lance wasn't having any of this, "Listen,' he said, his lisp a little
more pronounced, "I am gay and I could not personally abide being
on the same platform with a Buchananite."
so identity politics trumps your alleged opposition to this war."
think you Republicans should go organize your own rally."
good luck to you in selling a bunch of Serbians on your campaign to free
Abu Mumia Jamal. I'll bet that's going over like a lead balloon."
actually going quite well," he replied, a bit defensively.
I'll just bet," I said, slamming down the phone.
melodramatic theme song of MSNBC's "Crisis in Kosovo" blares
from the television, Wagner Lite, and there is the omnipresent John McCain
snarling through his rictus smile: "We're in it, now we've gotta
have dealt with the International Action Center in the letters column,
in answer to a long missive from a Vietnam
veteran who cannot decide which he opposes more: this war or some
of its opponents, including the IAC. As an all-purpose left-wing demonstration
machine, the International Action Center has taken up opposition to this
war with the same mechanical thoroughness with which they have taken up
any number of oh-so-politically-correct causes over the years, from Mumia
Abu Jamal to "transgender rights." In view of its growing prominence
as a force behind the recent antiwar demonstrations in New York, Los Angeles,
and San Francisco it requires a more in depth analysis.
IAC is tightly run by members of the Workers World Party, a quasi-Trotskyist
grouplet founded in 1957 by the late Sam Marcy and some of his followers
in the Socialist Workers Party, primarily centered in Buffalo, New York,
and New York City. The Marcyites split from the SWP, the main Trotskyist
grouping in the U.S., over the question of the 1956 Hungarian revolt against
Soviet rule. While the SWP leadership hailed the uprising, Marcy and his
cohorts took the side of the Red Army that rolled over the heroic but
short-lived rebellion. In the guise of their youth group, "Youth
Against War and Fascism," the WWPers were in the forefront of the
very first demonstrations against the war in Vietnam, in the early sixties,
and were known for their militancy and their proclivity for violent confrontations
with the police. They were also known for their slavish devotion to whatever
foreign totalitarian regime was fashionable in leftist circles at the
moment. Among the myriad groupuscules of the time, the Marcyites were
notable chiefly for the wooden and strangely archaic language and tone
of their literature, particularly the weekly Workers World, and
were generally considered a fringe group, if not exactly a cult. But as
the radical tide receded, and yesterday's SDSers became today's Democratic
party politicians, the WWP in the guise of the International Action Center
became the last bastion of the Hard Left, a kind of clearinghouse for
leftist causes, with former Attorney General Ramsey Clark as their all-purpose
front-man and street demonstrations as their specialty.
war broke out in the Balkans, the IAC quickly moved to organize a number
of demonstrations -- the San Francisco version of which I described in
an earlier Diary entry. Serbian-Americans have naturally flocked to these
events, but the strange alliance of Communists and raucous young Serbians
jauntily sporting the caps of the old anti-Communist Chetniks, is an uneasy
one at best. Tied in to the sectarian leftism of our friend Lance and
his fellow Marcyites, the cause of the Serbs is even more isolated than
it has to be. Beleaguered on all sides, Serbian-Americans are also cut
off from their natural allies, from the conservatives in Congress who
voted against this war in overwhelming numbers, and from grassroots conservatives
and just plain ordinary people who oppose the Clntonian crusade -- yet
another aspect of the seemingly endless tragedy of this war.
THE WAR HOME
on MSNBC, the staunchly anti-interventionist Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma),
summed up the real policy of this administration since Day One of this
war: "The president always intended to send in ground troops. He
just isn't saying it." All this coy insistence on "staying the
course" and relying on air power is but a prelude to the inevitable
announcement that the troops are on the way. Ever-sensitive to the politics
of every action, Clinton will not move until and unless the leaders of
both parties are on board.-- and that day may not be far off. The
role of the congressional Republicans is key, particularly the role of
the leadership, and the prognosis is not good: both Speaker Hastert and
Senate Majority leader Trent Lott have been practically invisible on this
issue. Hastert maintains that there isn't going to be a vote on the war
the first week Congress is in session, and Lott has made noises of astounding
ambiguity. This hasn't stopped a number of Republicans from bringing up
the subject: Rep. Roy Blunt is introducing a resolution against the use
of ground troops, and John "No Pain No Gain" McCain is introducing
a kill-the-bastards resolution in the Senate. While the war on the battlefield
may not be going all that well, the political battle on Capitol Hill is
being won by the War Party hands down. The alleged Republican "isolationists"
are missing-in-action, and the stage is dominated by the tiny but vocal
internationalist wing of the GOP: the ubiquitous McCain, Senator Richard
Lugar (who, you'll remember, ran for President on the strength of his
internationalist foreign policy positions -- and came in dead last), and
a whole platoon of Reagan administration era officials who have come lumbering
out of retirement to blow hard on the smoldering embers of the Cold War.
he Republican presidential aspirants, Bush II's evasiveness is positively
"Clintonian," as the Wall Street Journal put it, and
Dole II is even more so, while all the second and third tier candidates
range all over the map, from outright opposition (Senator Bob Smith) to
"arm the KLA" (Forbes) to escalation without limit (McCain).
But none is more eloquent nor more angular than Patrick J. Buchanan, the
leader of the anti-interventionist movement in the GOP and the conservative
movement, who had this to say: ""NATO is becoming an imperial
army of the new world order. In my judgment, we have no legal or moral
right to attack Serb soldiers or civilians in their own country."
would poor Lance ever make of that?
is in a panic, like an elephant stampeding over a mouse. A spy scare is
going full bore at NATO headquarters, with ABC News reporting last night
a number of mysterious incidents that have provoked speculation about
the identity of someone in the know at NATO feeding information to Belgrade.
A breach in security is being blamed for the lack of effectiveness of
the bombing raids: on at least three occasions, ABC News reports, the
Serbs evacuated sites just before they were hit, and in one case they
received some sort of radio transmission that may have been a warning
from their NATO source. As to how justified these suspicions really are
is hard to tell, in the current climate of blame and fingerpointing among
the Allies and the various factions of the War Party. If true, however,
the culprit is no villain, but a hero who is saving lives at the risk
of his own -- the only true humanitarian in this whole cynical business.
an ever-burgeoning smear campaign carried out by the NATOKLA propaganda
machine against Irbrahim Rugova, the Albanian pacifist leader who is seeking
a negotiated political settlement to this war, the announcement that Rugova
is traveling to Rome has been met with a strange silence. After weeks
of speculation as to his real whereabouts, and the extent to which he
is a creature of the Serbs -- according to NATO, he is their virtual captive
-- the news that he will be going abroad to presumably meet with Western
reporters and make the case for an end to the bombing and the beginning
of an internal settlement, was announced by Yugoslavia's information minister,
Milan Komnenic. What will NATO and the BBC claim next: that Rugova has
been hypnotized or drugged, and is being operated like a marionette by
remote control from Belgrade?
of $20 or more gets you a copy of my Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The
Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans, a 60-page booklet packed
with the kind of intellectual ammunition you need to fight the lies being
put out by this administration and its allies in Congress. Send contributions
520 S. Murphy Ave. #202
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Make all checks payable to antiwar.com
Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author
the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement
(with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the
Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996).
He writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.
He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard
(forthcoming from Prometheus Books).