Sunday, October 18, 2009

STOP THE WAR! Teach-In on Afghanistan and the Anti-War Struggle - ANSWER L.A.

I had an interesting day at the ANSWER Coalition's "Teach-In On Afghanistan & the Anti-War Struggle: WHY WE MUST END THE WAR NOW!"

The event was held at Los Angeles City College, on Vermont Avenue, just north of U.S. 101. I parked on a sidestreet, and as I was walking over to the campus I snapped this shot of a street vendor's display. Che Guevara's quite hip with the L.A. homies:

Here's the scene inside the LACC Chemistry Building upon entering:

Some readers might remember the communist "sales" woman from the Westwood protest a couple of weeks ago. I hope she's making good money (despite ideological prohibitions against capitalist profiteering), because no doubt by now she's heard the Marxist-Leninist line ad nauseum:

Notice the black and green book at the lower-left of the display stand. That's the new release by ANSWER'S Richard Becker, Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire. I picked up a copy. More on that below.

This is
Michael Prysner. He spoke at the Westwood demonstration against the Afghanistan war. I noticed him as I was finding a seat and asked if I could take his picture:

An Iraq war veteran, Prysner's a cadre with March Forward!, ANSWER's military resistance cell. During his talk, Prysner parroted the March Forward! talking points, which include such gems as:

Service members should no longer be sent to fight, kill, die, be seriously wounded and/or psychologically scarred furthering the domination of U.S. corporations over other nations. We have nothing to gain from these wars. The occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan serve only the interests of the rich, not the service personnel who are sent over and over to repress people who have the right to determine their own destiny. The people of Iraq and Afghanistan are not our enemies. The more than 800 U.S. bases in 130 countries around the world should be shut down and the troops, fleets and air power brought home.
I'm still a little dumbstruck by his speeches. Not mentioned in the March Forward! media-babble is Prysner's call for insubordination and mutiny in the ranks. Enlisted personnel should "fight the system" from the inside to sabotage the U.S. military's neo-imperialist global campaign. Disaffected G.I.s would join with the "entire nation" to repudiate the "criminal" deployments launched to fill the coffers of the hegemonic U.S. multinational corporations. It's not particularly original, but Prysner make up for it with an enthusiastic communist esprit de corps.

Okay, below is the start of the "teach-in" lectures. That's Muna Coobtee pictured. An activist with
the National Council of Arab Americans (an ANSWER front group), she M.C.'d the Westwood Afghanistan rally on October 7th. Ms. Coobtee laid out the raison d'etre for the day's events. And like Michael Prysner, she hewed closely to the party line. The most important theme for the communists is that Afghanistan's a doomed neo-colonial war, and that American military goals are exclusively to "avoid defeat ... or to avoid the perception of defeat." Ms. Coobtee was following the script in ANSWER's communist pamphlet, Liberation. Specifically, Brian Becker's, "Afghanistan and Iraq Will NEVER Accept U.S. Colonialism."

Ms. Coobtee was followed by ANSWER's Peta Lindsay (a longtime cadre with the Party for Socialism and Liberation) and Blase Bonpane (of the Office of the Americas and KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles). Toward the end of his address, Bonpane argued that "the art of revolution is the art of organizing the majority of Americans to end the warfare state."

A number of other speakers also addressed the audience, seen below (and including those not pictured, probably seventy-five or so people altogether):

At the end of the lectures, I moved out to the building's front hallway to get a photo of Richard Becker:

Becker's part of ANSWER's national steering committee and he's the West Coast Director of the International Action Center (according to the website, the "IAC defines itself as an 'anti-capitalist' and 'anti-imperialist' organization").

Becker was talking to a supporter when I took the picture above. He was spooked and asked me who I was? I told him my name was "Donald," and Becker snapped back, "Donald Douglas?" I was surprised! I asked how he knew my name? "Someone said you were going to be here," was the reply (I guess ANSWER apparatchiks are reading my blog). He continued, clearly agitated: "What right-wing organization are you with?" I gave him my business card and told him "No one. I'm a professor." I hung out in the hallway a little longer but one of Becker's thugs starting herding people out of area, so I decided I'd better take off.

Richard Becker's a longtime U.S. communist hardliner. He's got a write-up at
Discover the Networks, where it notes that "Becker detests America and has written, 'No one in the world ... has a worse human rights record than the United States'."

During his lecture, Becker made an extremely twisted defense of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Based on a single source (
a 1998 interview with Carter NSA chief Zbigniew Brzezinski), Becker argued that the Soviet incursion was a strategic counter-thrust to U.S. imperial influence in Kabul. That is, the CIA had plans on tap for a U.S. colonial outpost in Afghanistan. The ultimate goal was to consolidate U.S. control over Caspian crude and to establish an oil pipeline to the Arabian Sea and the waiting arms of global capitalism's "Big Oil" multinational tanker fleet.

The region's geopolitics, of course, are much more complicated that than; and indeed, Moscow's interest was in propping up Kabul's pro-Soviet government that took power the early-1970s. American interests kicked up after the assassination of Muhammad Taraki by forces of the Marxist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. It's very difficult to impute U.S. imperial causes to the overthrow of Taraki's predecessor, the Mohammed Daoud regime. The Soviet invaded to bolster a pro-Moscow communist regime, not to overthrow an American neo-imperialist puppet (See, "
The April 1978 Coup d'etat and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.")

In any case, Becker went on about how a defeat for the current American deployment under General Stanley McCrystal would strike a blow to the American "empire" in South Asia: "Every empire falls, and this empire will fall as well."

I was rolling my eyes, but the audience erupted in applause at Becker's exhortation for America's defeat.

Plus, recall that Becker's got his new book out, Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire. I was actually hesitant to purchase a copy, but after listening to this man's perverted historical revisionism my sense was that I'd do well to read the book. This type of anti-imperial gobbledygook has a way of making it into college classrooms, and I might as well be prepared to rebut the radical left's latest demonizations of Israel and the West.

P.S. Note that International ANSWER is organizing a National March on Washington, for Saturday, March 20, 2010. See the announcement here.


Mark Harvey said...

Damned morons.

The Griper said...

very well written report, Professor.

AubreyJ......... said...

Great footwork and read, Donald...
Keep them coming!

Kevin Gleeson said...

Professor, you deserve an A for Guts.

Norm said...

Great article. For me, listening to these people speak is like having my brain twisted into painful knots. I want to scream. But an attendance of 75 people is not too bad. Here on Long Island we have "Meet the Candidate" evenings, and sometimes the number of candidates are the same as the attendees. Sadly, when citizens are determined to remain uninformed that are subject to lies and historical distortions of these would be Stalinists.

Carlos said...

"Che Guevara is an inspiration for every human being who loves freedom, we will always honor his memory." --- NELSON MANDELA

Dana said...

Sometimes I wish I could ask these fine people a simple question: if they disapproved of the invasion of Iraq, doesn't that also mean they opposed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the Ba'ath Party regime?

That, of course, is the sticking point that so many of our friends on the left ignore: to have not invaded Iraq would have meant leaving a horribly oppressive regime in place, one which murdered somewhere between 800,000 and 1½ million of their own subjects to retain authoritarian power. The regime had survived despite losing two wars, and President Hussein was in the process of insuring that one of his just-as-brutal sons was going to succeed him.

The democracies installed by the US in Afghanistan and Iraq haven't been perfect ones, but they are certainly preferable to the regimes we ousted.

Rich Casebolt said...

Dana, I thought about what you bring up a while back, and came to these conclusions ...

It is interesting that such as these will support, or at least tolerate, LIMITED military force, as was seen in Kosovo, on two conditions:

> America (though it provides the bulk of the force) must submit itself to the control of a "coalitiion" that will make sure it doesn't act in its own interest (right or wrong).

> There must be NO WAY that Americans can engage in profitable enterprise from their presence in such a conflict, or her motives will ALWAYS be suspect.

> The leadership that takes us into war, is on the same ideological track as today's critics ... and therefore the critics inherently trust them.

Other than that ... the planning doesn't matter, the provisioning doesn't matter, armor doesn't matter, troop strength doesn't matter, civilan casualties don't matter. Those aspects are no different in such a conflict than they are now in Iraq ... but because people like Halliburton MIGHT profit in Iraq, and/or progress in Iraq might validate to some degree the ideological viewpoint of conservatives, all these aspects are looked at under a microscope there, in stark contrast to the relative inattention given such details in places like Kosovo.

Anonymous said...

The War in Afghanistan is over, it's all about saving face now.

Dana said...

Mr Casebolt suggested that we needed some conditions:

> America (though it provides the bulk of the force) must submit itself to the control of a "coalitiion" that will make sure it doesn't act in its own interest (right or wrong).

Rare indeed have been the cases in which American forces have been subordinate to a larger command that was not, itself, headed by an American. Nor, as the nation providing the bulk of the forces, should we be subordinate to a foreign commander.

There must be NO WAY that Americans can engage in profitable enterprise from their presence in such a conflict, or her motives will ALWAYS be suspect.

This seems a strange objection to me; a profit is always preferable to a loss. Your condition would mean that the US could never intervene in any area in which there were valuable natural resources present.

Philippe Öhlund said...

Great post Donald! :-)

Of course Americans are not colonialists.

Who would oppose more democracy and freedom in the world?

Have a great day!

prying1 said...

Quote from your posting: "Becker snapped back, "Donald Douglas?"

Sounds to me like you are having an effect with your blog.

Keep up the good work and thanks for studying this crap as you do. I could not handle it but I can read your postings about it.

P.S. I agree with Kevin Gleeson.

Rich Casebolt said...

Dana, don't get me wrong ... I agree with what you are saying, in both posts.

What I was describing was the thought process of our opposition in these matters ... that their support for a war hinges on whether or not it is in the interest of America to prosecute it ... and they will support said prosecution ONLY if there is NO way our national/material interests might be advanced beyond the least-common-denominator of the interest of all nations.

To them, it is all about keeping America "in her proper place" as just another nation, no better than any other ... even when the principles we live by ARE better, in objective terms, than those of other nations.

courtneyme109 said...


Peter said...

Profit in war? Anyone who thinks there is profit in war is stupid enough to be an ANSWER member. Aside the minor detail of wars being very expensive, there is also the little thing of our young men, and now women, being killed and maimed. And the ones not so much as scratched have had some of their most productive years taken from them.

Unknown said...

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