Noam Chomsky in his office, 1967

Liberal Imperialism, a classic definition

“Three years have passed since American intervention in a civil war in Vietnam was converted into a colonial war of the classic type. This was the decision of a liberal American administration. Like the earlier steps to enforce our will in Vietnam, it was taken with the support of leading political figures, intellectuals, and academic experts, many of whom now oppose the war because they do not believe that American repression can succeed in Vietnam and therefore urge, on pragmatic grounds, that we “take our stand” where the prospects are more hopeful. If the resistance in Vietnam were to collapse, if the situation were to revert to that of Thailand or Guatemala or Greece, where the forces of order, with our approval and assistance, are exercising a fair degree of control, then this opposition to the Vietnam war would also cease; in the words of one such spokesman, we might then ‘all be saluting the wisdom and statesmanship of the American government.’ If we are forced to liquidate this enterprise … the liberal ideologists will continue to urge that we organize and control as extensive a dominion as is feasible in what they take to be ‘our national interest’ and in the interest of the elements in other societies that we designate as fit to rule.

Noam Chomsky, Introduction to American Power and the New Mandarins, 1969.

The term liberal imperialism makes two distinctions: liberal imperialists are not radicals and are not always hawks. They accept exercising national power over other societies, whereas radical critics of war are simply against that goal, and the military mean of exercising it. Liberal imperialists make themselves against this or that war, precisely and only when the costs are too great, which boils down to when the resistance, abroad and at home, is too great. At the height of the Vietnam War, radical critic Noam Chomsky wrote a devastating moral challenge to the American public acceptance of their country’s power over others. He laments that his opposition to the war “ten or fifteen years too late” once American boots began to be on the ground in 1965, and not when the US military support began. He observes that “The war is simply an obscenity, a depraved act by weak and miserable men, including all of us, who have allowed it to go on and on with endless fury and destruction—all of us who would have remained silent had stability and order been secured.”

Just in: French Opposition end support for “Occupation” of Afghanistan

A major crack in the Euro-USAmerican consensus…

The Taleban are fast regaining territory and the allies are losing the support of the Afghan people because of poor American tactics, said Jean-Marc Ayrault, the Socialist parliamentary leader. “We do not accept this slide towards a war of occupation,” he told Parliament. “Our troops are manifestly lacking in equipment,” he added.

Public opinion was against Mr Sarkozy’s decision to send more combat troops last spring. Emotion over the August ambush has raised demands for an immediate pullout, an option now backed by more than 60 per cent of the public, polls show.

Soldiers’ families have been stirring passions with public attacks on the President and the military for sending young soldiers to their deaths. Wives of soldiers complained that they could not stand the strain of knowing that their men were in possible combat. “If he doesn’t phone by 8pm I start worrying myself sick,” said one. (more from the Times of London)

Antiwar GI’s go on Denver’s streets today

Iraq Veterans Against the War, an organization of more than 1,200 soldiers who survived tours in Iraq, is joining this week’s protests outside the Democratic National Convention. IVAW is demanding that Barack Obama sign on to their three-point vision of a responsible withdrawal:

1. The immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces from Iraq. 2. Full and adequate health care and benefits to all returning service members and veterans. 3. Reparations made to the Iraqi people for the destruction caused by the U.S. war and occupation.

One aspect of their presence is Operation First Casualty, a public re-enactment of daily life in US-occupied Iraq on the streets. You can see in this video what OFC looked like here on the streets of New York City. 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The video is a creation of the Meerkat Media collective. Meerkat encourages collaborative video production among activists/artists, and hosts a monthly community mixer to help nurture that collaboration and show off the results.

Now screening on the East Coast: In-depth look at Anti-war Shutdown of San Francisco

SF Chron Cover on Day X
SF Chron Cover on Day X

SHUTDOWN: The Rise & Fall of Direct Action to Stop the War is an in-depth documentary exploration of a piece of the continuous struggle towards
social justice. Using the March 20, 2003 occupation and disruption of the San Francisco Financial District as a case study, the film casts a thoughtful eye on one of the most successful actions of the current anti-war movement, facilitated by Direct Action to Stop the War (DASW). Created to gain insight, inspire, and draw lessons the movie tells the story of how social justice organizers and everyday people came together to plan and shut down the financial district of a major US city.

Created by people directly involved with the organizing, SHUTDOWN utilizes on-the-street footage, news clips and interviews with 17 key participants. It is a people’s history made in support of the movement against war and
empire, aiming to galvanize resistance and further critical analysis in cities and towns throughout the country.

Join the film makers for a presentation & discussion on the future of mass direct action strategies to end the war.

**Upcoming East Coast Screenings**
Wednesday, July 09
7:00 PM
Bluestockings Booikstore, NYC
172 Allen Street between Stanton and Rivington

Thursday, July 10 7:00PM
St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality, Rochester
402 South Ave.

Saturday, July 12 7:30PM
Wooden Shoe Bookstore, Philadelphia
508 s. 5th street

Monday, July 14 6:00 – 9:00 PM
Hartford, CT
Location TBA

For a promotional flyer, preview, and more
check out the website at www.shutdownthemovie.com.
For more info or questions please send an email to daswvideo@riseup.net
[Full disclosure: I’m one of the “17 key participants” interviewed in the film]

More background on the SF antiwar movement in 2003-04: From Piece Movement to Peace Movement: San Francisco Self-Organizes to Implode Empire by Patrick Reinsborough

Ongoing protests against war in San Francisco, Washington

New York: At least seven people blockading the entrance to L-3, a military and intelligence contractor which had interrogators at Abu Ghraib, were arrested this morning, in a protest that had the support of a couple dozen early morning antiwar protesters.Larger actions are happening in the national capital and the capital of the Left Coast…Washington: Civil disobedience at the IRS, multiple locations to follow.San Francisco: A network of mobile protests, office blockades, and a die-in closing Market St. at the moment is going on. News is available by radio at 102.5 FM in SF, and online at radio.indybay.org and the SF Bay Independent Media Center. Read the plan from Direct Action to Stop the War.Was it worth it?