Black America, Endless War and the Evil Genius of Russiagate

28 February 2020 — Black Agenda Report

Glen Ford

The Democrats — who are now the most aggressive war party – have succeeded in linking Donald Trump to Russia, and then lumping all critics of U.S. war-making with Russia and, thereby, with Trump.

 “For all of Black history on this continent, Black people have been supremely skeptical of the motives of the U.S. government and its wars against people of color around the world.”

Black Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford delivered the following remarks to last weekend’s conference of the United National Anti-War Coalition  (UNAC), at the People’s Forum  in New York City.

Power to the People.

Most of us in this room consider ourselves socialists of one kind or another, and all of us claim to be anti-imperialists. And most of us have been talking about the global “crisis of capitalism” for most of our adult lives.

There is no doubt that capitalism is in crisis.

Many of the contradictions of capitalism have become acute. We can show that in many, many ways, by the numbers. For example, the notional value of derivatives contracts is between ten and twenty times the gross product of the entire world economy.  Surely, that is an indication of crisis — and portends catastrophic events to come.

Certainly, capitalism is in a crisis of legitimacy. Young people don’t believe in it anymore. They see no future for themselves in this system, and are explicitly rejecting it.  We can show that by the numbers, too. Polls show about half of young people have a favorable view of socialism, or consider themselves socialists. They may not be clear about what socialism is, but they do know that they oppose the system of capitalism that they live under. They don’t think that these oligarchs have a right to rule over them and to determine what kind of lives they will lead.

That is a crisis of legitimacy.

“About half of young people have a favorable view of socialism, or consider themselves socialists.”

But crises of legitimacy do not, by themselves, bring down the system. It is a sign that the people are not happy.  Mass unhappiness may bring down an administration, but it doesn’t necessarily change a system one bit.

The people may grow tired of endless wars.  The people of the United States certainly are tired of the endess wars that have multiplied in the 21st century. The polls show it.  People that call themselves Democrats and those that call themselves Republicans, all are tired of endless war.

We see this war weariness in surprising places. Back in 2016, when Donald Trump was running for president, he claimed to be opposed to U.S. regime change wars, and that he wanted to pursue peaceful relations with Russia.

He didn’t mean it, but he said it. Trump said he wanted peaceful relations with Russia and a halt to US regime change wars. And his constituency, which has historically been the most pro-war, did not bat an eye when he said these things.

Now, maybe that’s because Trump supporters’ were instead looking forward to bashing Mexicans and Blacks, here at home. I don’t know.  But, at any rate, Trump’s  supporters seemed to accept, if not embrace, his peace rhetoric during the 2016 campaign.  And that scared the Hell out of Trump’s fellow oligarchs and the National Security State.

Because, if Trump’s Republican supporters were not Gung Ho for endless war, then, where is the mass constituency for U.S. wars?

Maybe it doesn’t exist.

“Trump’s supporters seemed to accept, if not embrace, his peace rhetoric during the 2016 campaign.”

The national security state was in a quandary. If Trump was serious about pursuing good relations with Russia, then how can the U.S. keep up its pressure to freeze Russia out of Europe, and to keep the Ukrainian Nazi regime in a constant state of war against its own, Russian-speaking population?

The War Party, which is both Democrat and Republican, had worked hard to put the U.S. back on a constant war footing, after George Bush was forced to withdraw from Iraq. Their instrument to get the endless wars back on track was Barack Obama, who fooled the people into believing he was a peace candidate, and then continued all of George Bush’s Wars and started a whole series of his own — this time, using Islamic Jihadists as his foot soldiers.

Donald Trump, of course, was never a peacenik.

It may be that Trump only opposed regime change wars because Barack Obama had been for regime change, and that Trump only made noise about getting friendly with Russia because Obama had destroyed relations with Moscow.

Who knows? Who can say what is on Trump’s mind at any given moment?

But, the bipartisan War Party and the National Security State were thrown into a panic. They decided that Donald Trump could not be trusted with the keys to the empire. So, they all piled into Hillary Clinton’s over-stuffed campaign tent.

For the first time ever, current and former heads of the CIA got directly involved in presidential election politics – as Democrats.

When Trump won victory in the Electoral College, the CIA produced a document claiming the Russians and Wikileaks had tried to rig the election. In doing this, the Democrats and the National Security State created a real crisis of legitimacy for the whole bourgeois democratic system, in order to delegitimize, not just the Trump administration, but all dissent in the United States.

The Democrats became the more aggressive War Party, and the party of censorship and fear-mongering: The New McCarthyite Party.

“The bipartisan War Party and the National Security State decided that Donald Trump could not be trusted with the keys to the empire.”

So now, the corporate electoral duopoly consists of a Republican White Man’s Party, whose organizing principle is white supremacy, and a Democratic War Mongering Party, whose organizing principle these days is bashing Russia, and sliming dissidents as dupes of Russia.

And, right at the core of that Democratic Party is Black America, which has historically been the most pro-peace constituency in the nation, and at the forefront of leftish dissent.

This new posture for the Democratic Party has created a bizarre Black Democratic politics. It has made the Black Misleadership Class more ridiculous and cartoonish than they have ever been. The most pitiful, is Maxine Waters, the Black congresswoman from Los Angeles who, not so long ago, was denouncing the CIA for bringing crack cocaine to her city.

The corporate media called her crazy, back then – but Maxine was in her right mind about the CIA and in sync with the thinking of most Black Americans. But now she really is a loon, strutting around waving American flags and encouraging white people to call her “Auntie” Maxine – as if she is oblivious to the historical connotations of that word.

”Auntie” is the female of “Uncle” – as in Uncle Tom. Maxine Waters and most of the rest of the Black Democratic political class have become “Aunties” and “Uncles” for U.S. Empire.

That is in direct opposition to the historical totality of Black American politics, which has always been for social justice and peace. But, such are the contortions that the Black Misleadership Class must engage in to find its place in the chow line of the ruling class during this crisis of legitimacy.

“The Black Misleadership Class is more ridiculous and cartoonish than they have ever been.”

This turn towards war by the Black Misleadership Class was set in motion, not by Trump – who is anathema in Black America – but by Barack Obama, the First Black President. Before Obama — and for all of Black history on this continent – Black people have been supremely skeptical of the motives of the U.S. government and its wars against people of color around the world.  War propaganda and the demonization of peoples targeted by the United States, did not work among Black Americans. We knew that the U.S. powers-that-be constantly lied about us, and that they were probably lying about the people they were invading and bombing.

Our anti-war posture was homegrown, because we were the eternal domestic victims of U.S. coercive power — from white mobs and white media and the police.

You don’t have to be as old as I am to remember when, in Black conversations about U.S. wars, it wasn’t “What are WE doing over there?” but rather, “What are THEY doing killing folks” in other people’s countries? We didn’t identify with the U.S. war machine.

Black organizations were early opponents of the Vietnam War. SNCC was anti-war before the first U.S. troop buildup. Malcolm X opposed all this country’s wars. Martin Luther King broke with sometimes-ally President Lyndon Johnson, to denounce the war. The Black Panther Party proclaimed revolutionary solidarity with the Vietnamese, and with all people’s struggling against U.S. imperialism.

The heavily-Black U.S. Army in Vietnam refused to be cannon fodder. Black troops fought pitched battles with white military police in Da Nang and other places. They burned down the military prison in Long Binh – because U.S. “military justice” is also mass Black incarceration, just like the U.S. civilian system. They took out officers and NCOs in what were called “fraggings.” Black troops made the U.S. Army in Vietnam useless.

“We knew that the U.S. powers-that-be constantly lied about us, and that they were probably lying about the people they were invading and bombing.”

By 1970, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were demanding an all-volunteer Army, so that they could recruit the kind of solders that would do their bidding.

In the late Sixties my unit, the 82nd Airborne Division, was 60 percent Black, as were other elite units. By the time of the Iraq War, the 82nd had become the whitest division in the U.S. Army. Blacks still made up 20 percent of the U.S. military, but they were now mainly in support units, not the combat arms line units.

The U.S. military knows full well that Black America has never been Gung Ho for war. Near the beginning of the Iraq War, Black mothers began urging their sons and daughters not to enlist. The Army’s top brass was thrown into a panic. Black enlistment dropped dramatically. They called it “The Black Mothers’ Strike” against the war.

Two weeks before George Bush invaded Iraq, the Zogby polling organization conducted a survey. They asked, “Would you be in favor of a U.S. invasion of Iraq if it resulted in the death of thousands of Iraqi civilians?”

Big majorities of whites said, “Yes,” go ahead and invade.

Sixteen percent of Hispanic Americans said they supported an invasion, if it kills thousands of civilians.

But only seven percent of Black American were for an invasion that would wreak such carnage. Blacks remained in overwhelming opposition throughout the Iraq War.

But, then came Obama.

For the first time, Black people identified with the Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Empire. When Obama threatened to bomb Syria, supposedly in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack – an attack that was actually staged by the Islamic jihadists that Obama had deployed as foot soldiers of empire – another poll was taken. It showed, for the first time in U.S. polling history, that Blacks were more in favor of bombing Syria, than whites. Only a minority of all Americans favored the bombing. But 38 percent of Blacks went along with Obama’s proposed air strike, versus about 36 percent of whites, if my memory serves me.

“For the first time in U.S. polling history, Blacks were more in favor of bombing Syria, than whites.”

Even though Black majorities were not in favor of Obama’s war on Syria, his very presence in the White House created a huge distortion in Black views on war and peace. For that, and many other reasons, we at Black Agenda Report were glad to see Obama go. We hoped that Black America would return to its historical consensus in favor of social justice and peace.  And we were confident that that consensus remains largely intact among the masses of Black Americans.

However, the Democrats — who are now the most aggressive war party – have succeeded in linking Donald Trump to Russia, and then lumping all critics of U.S. war-making with Russia and, thereby, with Trump.

That’s the evil genius of Russiagate, a CIA-concocted lie designed to maintain the momentum of Obama’s military offensive around the planet – without Obama.

Fortunately, we now have a fighting organization that upholds the historical Black consensus against imperial wars, and connects these wars to the militarized oppression of Black and brown people here at home. The Black Alliance for Peace  fills a huge void that has existed since the loss of Black Voices for Peace .

Russiagate presents the peace movement in general, and Black anti-war forces in particular, with unique difficulties. The Black Misleadership Class is all-in with the CIA and the Pentagon. But the masses of Black folks still identify with the oppressed people of the world, and see themselves as among the global oppressed. Black Americans remain anti-imperialist at their core. And they are more pro-socialist than any other ethnicity.

That’s a winning combination.

Power to the People!

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

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