Guided by the Communist Party USA, the U.S. “peace movement” is entering a new phase.
The struggles against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be de-emphasized, while focus will shift to a broad based campaign to cut U.S. military spending.
The Communists plan to exploit public concern over economic problems, to pressure the Obama administration to hugely cut back on defense spending, weapons systems and overseas commitments.
From 2005-2008, she was the National Co-chair of United for Peace and Justice an organization that she helped found. She is nationally recognized as a leader of the US “peace and justice” movement and has traveled around the world including to Beirut during the 2007 invasion by Israel.
Le Blanc is one of the vice-chairs of the Communist Party USA and chairs its Peace and Solidarity Commission – the body charged with running the U.S. “peace movement” and liaising with foreign revolutionary movements.
LeBlanc has just given an interview to the Communist Party’s theoretical journal Political Affairs, explaining the new direction of the U.S. “peace movement”
Firstly LeBlanc rightly claims credit for helping to influence the 2008 elections
The peace movement played a critical role in the results of the 2008 elections, and for anybody who has read Game Change and was active in the anti-Iraq War movement, you can really can see that it made a difference. Behind the scenes in the campaigns, both during the democratic primary and in the general elections, people were concerned about the positions the candidates were taking, because they knew the power of the grassroots sentiment opposing the war in Iraq.
LeBlanc then clearly signals that the “peace movement” must shift its focus to target, U.S. military spending.
Across the board many organizers at the local level, as well as at the national level, are grappling with how to build this new peace movement. The new peace movement has to find ways to help people understand the impact wars and war spending is having on our lives and on the spending priorities of the federal government. Now 57 percent of the federal discretionary spending is on preparation for war or wars, for the military budget. We need a fundamental shift in spending priorities. So the new peace movement that needs to be built is really a peace and justice movement. It is about making the connections between the sacrifices that go on in our communities, the cuts in human services, and waging a battle to take the money from where it is going now, to begin to reduce spending on the military budget and move that money into funding education, health care, and infrastructure rebuilding.
There are some things in the military budget that should not be cut and in fact should be increased: we are talking about things like veterans’ benefits and about how to get rid of nuclear weapons. There has been a huge historic increase in the funding going to nuclear weapons laboratories for the research and development of new nuclear weapons, when in fact the money should be going into how to break down a nuclear bomb once we reduce the stockpiles. That is what is needed in today’s world.
LeBlanc acknowledges that cutting weapons systems will impact local economies, so the Federal Government must step in with targeted financial aid.
The new peace movement has to begin a process of not only just calling for changing the spending priorities of the federal budget, but looking line by line at the military budget and targeting weapon systems that should be cut because of cost overruns and war profiteering, while also working with Congresspeople in congressional districts which could lose jobs. For example, the F22s were produced in 42 states, and that the F22 fight last year kind of highlighted the fact that when weapon systems are cut from the military budget it does affect jobs at the local level. Given the economic crisis, this means that labor, the peace movement, and local elected officials have to work with Congresspeople to develop new economically sustainable models for how to deal with the impact at the local level of job losses if a weapons system is cut.
The Communist Party USA is now heavily aligned to China , Cuba and Venezuela, but still maintains ties to the powerful Russian Communist Party. It is no surprise then, that LeBlanc is concerned that the U.S. still targets the former “worker’s paradise”.
After the end of the Cold War people began to believe that it was going to be a whole new world, but one of the remnants and relics of the Cold War is that we have nuclear weapons that are still targeting major cities in Russia, and they are on hair-trigger alert. One of the measures the Obama administration could take is to take those weapons off of hair-trigger alert, so that the possibility of an accident happening is greatly diminished, and it would signal to the whole world that we are beginning to move away from the abyss of a nuclear war.
LeBlanc also wants the “peace movement” to help President Obama overcome the opposition to achieving his goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.
The nuclear disarmament movement in the US and around the world is beginning to rebuild, premised on the idea that if President Obama is able to challenge those who want to maintain nuclear superiority, it is going to take a grassroots movement like the one in the 1980s that compelled a nuclear disarmament agreement and moved the US government to sign treaties. Now at this point the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which has been languishing in the Senate for decades since the Clinton administration and has never been brought to a vote again for ratification after it was defeated. As for the START treaty (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) with Russia, which expired in December and is continuing to be negotiated, if that bill is brought before the Senate at this point, just like many other pieces of legislation the Obama Administration supports, it would be doomed.
So we are in the midst of trying to rebuild a grassroots nuclear disarmament movement that can build on the antiwar sentiments that still remain very strong in our country, building on the idea that, in fact, the best way to change US foreign policy is for the US to take steps to reduce its nuclear stockpiles, but to also take some extraordinary steps that would send a signal to the world that the US is ready to begin comprehensive negotiations on a real nuclear convention, a real document that would set the guidelines and the deadlines for nuclear disarmament, total nuclear disarmament.
LeBlanc signals that the “peace movement’s” new direction will begin with a major campaign. Significantly May 1, will be the kickoff date and New York’s far left Riverside Church will be the founding venue.
Hopefully in May we will have thousands of people from the US marching in midtown Manhattan to the United Nations to bring the message that the time is now to disarm for peace and justice, for jobs creation, for health care, that the time is now to abolish nuclear weapons and cut military spending. There are going to be thousands of people from around the world. From Japan alone there will be two thousand, and amongst those two thousand there will be a very large labor delegation. There will be people from every continent here to participate in the non-governmental organization gatherings that will be going on, with an international conference happening at Riverside Church from April 30 to May 1, and then marching on May 2. So this is an opportunity to voice those sentiments, but the real work will happen after that international conference and after that international demonstration, to continue the work at the grassroots level to educate people about the dangers of nuclear weapons.
LeBlanc emphasizes that Iraq and Afghanistan still deserve some focus, but that most attention should be on military spending.
What I am saying fundamentally is that we need a new kind of peace movement that deals directly with the economic impact of war spending and wars, at the economic costs, but also looks at the human costs, the human costs on the soldiers, on the people in the countries of Afghanistan and Iraq, but also at the human costs in our communities, where unemployment is skyrocketing and there is no end in sight…
I believe that there are two trajectories for the peace movement. There is going to be a peace movement, a small one in size but continuing to be vocal, to bring all the troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq, but there is going to another kind of peace movement that is more centered on making the links between the economic crisis and militarism, in effect a new kind of movement that is more, in a basic sense, an anti-militarism movement, one that is taking up some of the basic cornerstones of US foreign policy in the longer term and in the bigger picture
This is a cynical , but clever move by the Communist Party. By taking attention off Afghanistan and Iraq, the “peace movement” and the Communists can spare their claimed “friend” in the White House, President Barack Obama, considerable embarrassment.
Instead of attacking the president over his continuing wars, the Communists can marshal “peace” and leftist support behind the President’s high spending domestic agenda. It makes sense to focus on the “guns versus butter” argument at a time when most Americans are focused more on economic survival than national security issues.
The Communist-led “Fifth Columnists” of the U.S. “peace movement” have analyzed the situation well. They have a “window of opportunity” to destroy U.S. military dominance once and for all and they do not intend to waste it.