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Why is No One Resisting the Mali War?
I have written many times already about this subject, but I feel that few are following in my lead. The New York General Assembly, what is the center of the Occupy Movement, is doing great work but has no actions planned to protest the war. I have seen few mentions on their twitter feed about this at all. While some spread my articles on twitter and reddit (I applaud you), the subject still doesn’t seem to be getting out there. In a sense, saying there is no resistance is unfair because of actions that have occurred previously. In April of last year activists protested against those behind the coup, Islamists have protested the war in Egypt, local residents have instigated an uprising against the Islamist forces in northern Mali, in October of last year, over 100 women protested the implementation of Sharia law in Timbuktu, in May of last year Malians held a sit-in against these same Islamists, this month protesters in Kuwait protested by carrying banners saying that France should end its war in Mali, and before ECOWAS joined in, hundreds marched in Mali’s capital to protest their deployment to the country. Even Tunisia’s government said they were against the war. However, even with these actions there hasn’t been the organized effort of the peace movement to oppose this war. That is what I wish to counter.
Some peace organizations have offered hope that this criminal and imperialist war which is about getting natural resources or protecting French-backed economic unions (in the case of most African countries involved) can be opposed on a larger scale. A press release by Veterans for Peace is good in a sense. They mention that “the expansion of AFRICOM in Africa in which troops will go to “35 African…for small, short-term deployments to serve in an advisory and training capacity” and that “Mali has been destabilized in part by NATO's actions in Libya, and yet the threat of Mali to further destabilize its region is being used as a justification to repeat the West's mistakes there.” They further note that AFRICOM’s agenda is “to control regions rich in oil and other natural resources, including cheap labor” and that there must be “reprioritization of our public resources” including closing all US military bases and pulling all US troops out of Africa. While I agree with the statement completely, I worry that the French involvement in the continent is not mentioned because they are going against their goal to strive for world peace. Some of the other organizations I understand why they haven’t said anything because they are based around US soldiers or families (Iraq Veterans Against War and Military Families Speak Out) and these groups aren’t in the Mali war directly. I still believe they could have at least put out a statement against US involvement in the war. The organizations United for Peace and Justice, CodePink, and the World Can’t Wait have been silent, not even putting out a statement against the war. One organization stands out, the Marxist-Leninist group called the Party of Socialism and Liberation, has a talk about the war on February 1st in DC which they characterize as an outgrowth of “Western imperialism in Africa,” a “neocolonial occupation” and will supposedly suggest what “progressive and revolutionary people [in America]…can do to stop it.” They even had a post in their ‘Liberation Newsletter’ recently titled “why progressives should oppose imperialist intervention in Africa” which argued that West African nations have supported France’s war in Mali because “major unrest would threaten the kleptocratic, mineral-extraction-based economies that keep a tiny elite raking in billions while the majority of the population lives in truly abject poverty” and that “interventions by France and others in Libya, Ivory Coast and Mali have now legitimized the role of Western troops and air power in African political conflicts.” They concluded by urging readers to act and oppose the war, as they argue it is “crucial for all those who desire the liberation of the African continent from poverty and division.” Amnesty International has called for all sides to avoid civilian casualties and obey the laws of war, but likely to those entering and occupying the country these words are hollow especially since they are applauding the International Criminal Court looking into the crimes committed in North Mali by extremists but not the invading forces and the fact they aren’t planning any sort of direct action against the protest. Recently, to no one’s surprise, the Green Party announced their opposition to the war in Mali more than a week ago, saying it is blowback from the war for oil in Libya in 2011 and is really meant to gain African resources, making it an imperialistic war.
This sort of inaction worries me deeply. As Martin Luther King said in 1967, “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.” That is what these organizations are doing. Betraying the people of the world and not standing up for justice. The opposition to this war must follow what FightBack! News wrote: “activists should stand resolutely against…intervention in Mali’s affairs, whether through AFRICOM or…puppet govts.” Imperialism is imperialism, whatever country is doing it, if it’s the global north or the global south. It must be opposed wherever. There needs to be more than an “event” on Facebook opposing the war. We need to organize and oppose a war that as Edwin Starr put it, “means destruction of innocent lives…is…good for…absolutely nothing…[and] is an enemy to all mankind... [and] there no place for [it]…today/They say we must fight to keep our freedom…there's got to be a better way…War…What is it good for?/Stand up and shout it, nothing/War, it ain't nothin' but a heartbreaker.” Instead of the Marxist-Leninists just criticizing the more, such opposition must be more widespread. I’m already putting posters up in my campus calling for people to oppose the war profiteers and oppose the war in Mali, but what about you? I call on citizens to take inspiration from the Secretary of the Socialist Party of America, Charles Schenck, who distributed material that opposed the draft during World War I whose conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court , and print similar leaflets and such telling people to oppose such an imperialist war. Contact CodePink, United For Peace and Justice, Peace Action, the Student Peace Network (if you are a student), Veterans for Peace, Global Exchange, the Socialist Party USA, Roots Action, the United National Antiwar Coalition, and many other groups, telling them to take a firm stand against the war in Mali. Additionally, you can sign this petition I created which urges the US government to push for a peaceful solution, not war. The best one could do is educate other people using my writings and those of others against the war: Glenn Greenwald, social activist Oumar Mariko, former minister Aminata Traoré, the parties of Algeria, the UK-based Stop the War Coalition, co-director of Foreign Policy in Focus Emira Woods, those who talked on a Democracy Now! show about the subject, the blogger on Crimson Satellite, the authoritarian Mohammed Morsi who opposes the war because it will fuel more conflict, socialist Rodger Annis, those who wrote in the International Viewpoint and many others). I urge all to engage in peaceful direct action to cause change, start a protest, and spontaneous action for justice that will push for an end to this horrible, destructive war.