- Anti-War or Anti-U.S. ? MUST READ
ANTI-WAR OR ANTI-U.S.?
By AMIR TAHERI
March 5, 2003 -- 'THE rebirth of the peace movement." This is how sections of the Western media describe the marches that attracted 30 million people in some 600 cities, in 25 countries, across the globe in recent weeks.
Last week, a group of "peaceniks" gathered in London to discuss ways of nursing the "reborn" child into adulthood. By coincidence, today marks the 50th anniversary of Josef Stalin's death.
The Soviet dictator was the father of the first "peace movement," which for years served as an instrument of the Kremlin's global policy.
Stalin's "peace movement" was launched in 1946 at a time when he had not yet developed a nuclear arsenal and was thus vulnerable to a U.S. nuclear attack. Stalin also needed time to consolidate his hold on his newly conquered empire in eastern and central Europe while snatching chunks of territory in Iran.
Pablo Picasso, a "fellow traveler" with the French Communist Party, designed the famous dove of peace as the emblem of the movement. French poet Paul Eluard, another fellow traveler, composed an ode inspired by Stalin. The "peaceniks" were told to wear white shirts, release white doves during their demonstrations and shake their clenched fists against "imperialists and revanchistes."
Soon it became clear that the "peace movement" was not opposed to all wars, but only to those that threatened the U.S.S.R., its allies and its satellites.
For example, the peaceniks did not object to Stalin's decision to keep the entire Chechen nation in exile in Siberia. The peaceniks did not march to ask Stalin to withdraw his forces from Iranian Azerbaijan and Kurdistan. When Stalin annexed 15 percent of Finland's territory, none of the peaceniks protested.
Neither did they march when the Soviets annexed the Baltic states. Nor did they grumble when Soviet tanks rolled into Warsaw and Budapest, and a decade later also in Prague. But when America led a coalition under a U.N. mandate to prevent North Korean Communists from conquering the south, peaceniks were on the march everywhere.
The movement targeted Western democracies and sought to weaken their resolve against the Soviet threat.
Over the years nobody marched against any of the client regimes of the Soviet Union that engaged in numerous wars, including against their own people.
The wars that China's Communist regime waged against the peoples of Manchuria, Tibet, East Turkestan and Inner Mongolia, lands that were eventually annexed and subjected to "ethnic cleansing," provoked no protest marches. Even when China attacked India and grabbed Indian territories the size of England, the peace movement did not budge.
In the 1960s the movement transformed itself into the campaign for unilateral nuclear disarmament. Here, unilateral meant that only the Western powers had to give up their arsenal, thus giving the Soviets a monopoly on nuclear weapons.
The peaceniks spent much of the '60s opposing U.S. intervention in Vietnam.
The 1980s gave them a new lease on life, as they focused on opposing American Pershing missiles in Western Europe.
The Pershings represented a response to Soviet SS-20 missiles that had already been stationed in central Europe and aimed at Western European capitals. But the peaceniks never asked for both the Pershings and the SS-20s to be withdrawn, only the American missiles.
President Ronald Reagan's proposal that both the SS-20s and the Pershings be withdrawn was attacked and ridiculed by the peaceniks as "an American Imperialist trick." Francois Mitterrand, then France's Socialist president, put it this way: "The missiles are in the East but the peaceniks are in the West!"
No peacenik, not even Joschka Fischer, now Germany's foreign minister, marched in support of tearing down the Berlin Wall and allowing the German nation to regain its unity.
All that is now history. The "evil empire" of communism has gone for good, but the deep anti-West sentiments that it promoted over the decades remains.
It is this anti-West, more specifically anti-American, sentiment that provides the glue of the new peace movement.
Last month, the British daily The Guardian asked a number of peaceniks to explain why they opposed the use of force to liberate Iraq?
The main reason they felt they had to support Saddam Hussein was that he was disliked by the United States.
When the Tanzanian army invaded Uganda and removed Idi Amin from power, no one marched because the United States was not involved.
When the Vietnamese army invaded Cambodia and changed the Khmer Rouge regime there, no one marched. Again, the United States was not involved.
When French troops invaded the Central African Republic and changed its regime, again no one marched.
The reason? You guessed it: America was not involved.
And what about a march in support of the Chechens? Oh, no, that won't do: The United States is not involved.
The peace movement would merit the label only if it opposed all wars, including those waged by tyrants against their own people, not just those in which America is involved.
Did it march when Saddam Hussein invaded Iran? Not at all.
Did it march when Saddam invaded Kuwait? Again: nix!
(Later, they marched, with the slogan "No Blood for Oil," when the U.S.-led coalition came to liberate Kuwait.)
Did it march when Saddam was gassing the Kurds to death? Oh, no.
Stalin died 50 years ago to the day.
But if he were around today he would have a chuckle: His peace movement remains as alive in the Western democracies as it was half a century ago.
Iranian author and journalist Amir Taheri is based in Europe.
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