Feb. 19: We Need a Huge Rage Against the War Machine

We urgently need to spark a mass mobilization antiwar movement in North America. There have been good antiwar demonstrations in recent months, but they have been very limited. We need to rapidly expand tenfold.

The Feb. 19 Rage Against the War Machine initiative, which is organized by a diverse group of antiwar forces, could do just that. The demands and overall speaker list are very good.

For example Demand 1 is "Not one more penny for War in Ukraine." They explain "The Democrats and Republicans have armed Ukraine with tens of billions of dollars in weapons and military aid. The war has killed tens of thousands, displaced millions, and is pushing us toward nuclear WW3. Stop funding the war."

Demand 2 is "Negotiate Peace." They explain, "The US instigated the war in Ukraine with a coup on its democratically-elected government in 2014, and then sabotaged a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine in March. Pursue an immediate ceasefire and diplomacy to end the war."

The speakers list contains many eloquent voices for peace and against a militarist foreign policy. There are former members of Congress including Cynthia McKinney, Tulsi Gabbard, Dennis Kucinich, and Ron Paul. There are peace activists such as Anne Wright and David Swanson. There are journalists such as Chris Hedges, Garland Nixon, Scott Horton, Max Blumenthal, and Kim Iversen. Former Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein will be there. So will Dan McKnight from the veterans group "Bring our troops home." And there are many more speakers.

Most of those who support the Rally believe it is crucial to broaden the movement and that means allying with others who may have different views on other issues.

The Rage rally focus is on ending the Ukraine war, disbanding NATO and stopping the slide toward nuclear Armageddon. Should they have included other issues such as abortion, trans rights, gay rights, immigrant rights? I have helped organize rallies where those issues were included, but believe it is a mistake to insist on this. The antiwar movement needs to quickly reach way beyond the Left. That means vastly broadening our reach and uniting with some people who think differently about other issues.

The capitalist system is flexible. Having women, people of color and nonconforming gender individuals in key positions does not threaten the system. The war machine continues, as does the grotesque income inequality, severe poverty and institutional racism.

To challenge the war machine, we need a mass movement that is broad and inclusive. Agreeing on all issues should not be required. To make this a demand, and to de-platform anyone who does not agree, is counterproductive. It weakens the antiwar movement and keeps us isolated.

We need to advance our common cause by working together with people who think differently on some issues. We can probably learn from them as they learn from us.

The ruling elite is content when the mass of working people are divided and fighting over racial, cultural and social issues. What threatens the ruling elite is the possibility of a mass movement demanding a change in US foreign policy of aggression, sanctions and wars. What threatens the ruling class are demands for improvement in the lives of all working people.

The Occupy Movement demand to support the 99% against the 1% was clear, accurate and uniting. Similarly, the demand to change US foreign policy and dramatically reduce the military budget has the potential to appeal to a broad majority of Americans.

The current slide toward a catastrophic war between the US and Russia makes it urgent to build a broad movement to oppose militarism and the war machine.

There needs to be a resurgence of energy and activism across the country. Let’s make this weekend’s Rage Against the War Machine as big and successful as possible and do more in the coming months.

Rick Sterling is a journalist and activist based in the SF Bay Area. He can be contacted at rsterling1@protonmail.com.