One of the mistakes that some political analysts make is to think that their enemies should be our enemies.” –Nelson Mandela in a response to a question on Ted Koppel’s show during his first trip to the U.S.
The Trump administration’s bellicosity in response to the delicate and dangerous situation with North Korea is just the latest, however crude, iteration of warmongering that has characterized U.S. geo-political polices beginning with the settler-state’s bloody march across the North American continent and continuing to the present. With the ascendancy of the U.S. as a global power after World War II, military intervention was buttressed with sophisticated counter-intelligence operations as central weapons to advance U.S. global dominance.
However, the state’s use of military force and subversion took an even more qualitatively dangerous turn toward more militarism at the end of the Cold War when neo-liberalism and militarism converged as Full Spectrum Dominance, with bi-partisan support. Unrestrained by any countervailing global force, militarization, threats of war, and domestic repression dramatically exposed the strategy of the U.S. ruling circles and their junior partners in Europe to utilize force to advance and maintain their dominant position in the capitalist global order.
The task for those of us who have historically been the victims during this 522-year-old nightmare of Western colonial/capitalist exploitation and systematic dehumanization is to make sure that we don’t confuse our interests and realities with the interests and agenda of the U.S./EU/NATO axis of domination. For the black liberation movement, we must be clear about our friends and our interests but even clearer about who our enemies are and their interests.
In just the last few weeks, the Trump administration has threatened military intervention in Venezuela; committed the U.S. to a never-ending war in Afghanistan; declared an escalation of the war on Black America with the lifting of the restrictions on select military equipment to domestic law enforcement agencies; and escalated tensions with North Korea (and by extension with China).
For the black left and broader black social movements it is important that we recognize, 1) that the liberatory agenda of the black working class and poor is in direct opposition to the agenda of the white supremacist ruling class and the U.S. state no matter which one of the bourgeois parties is occupying the executive office; 2) that internationalism is at the center of the black radical tradition and that we have historically identified the U.S. as an oppressor nation and opposed imperialist moves against oppressed nations, and that we must continue to do so; 3) that the commitment of the U.S. war machine to maintain white ruling class power abroad mirrors the domestic war apparatus used to enforce the continued imprisonment of colonized peoples, including the national oppression of black people and the black working class and poor; and 4) that U.S. imperialist wars are always fought by the working class and poor and that we have a responsibility to make sure that our young people, and indeed no other group of young working class people, are tricked into believing that these wars are somehow honorable and reflect more than the naked greed of a rapacious, racist, parasitic oligarchy.
Black Alliance for Peace (BAP): A people(s)-centered human rights project against war repression and imperialism
The expanding wars in Afghanistan, conflict with North Korea, the U.S. African Command (AFRICOM), U.S. intervention in Venezuela, proposals to increase the military budget by $75 billion, and the war on African/Black people are all interrelated expressions of the systemic violence that the state is waging and prepared to wage to salvage its rapidly declining power. We must understand those systemic connections or we will find ourselves chasing shadows and focused on symptoms instead of the diseased global system that produces ecological destruction, poverty, premature death, racism, alienation, wars and violence. To be whole, healthy human beings practicing revolutionary solidarity, we must stand in firm opposition to the death project of Western and U.S. imperialism.
That is why we created the Black Alliance for Peace. BAP is struggling to make real the sentiments of millions who want to see an end to war, violence, mass incarceration, police executions and beatings. BAP is exposing the lie that while the people are told there is no money for jobs for our youth, health facilities and healthcare, fully funded public education, decent affordable housing, recreational facilities and even paved roads in our communities, billions of the people’s resources are ending up in the coffers of the corporations who profit from war. That is theft – systematic and legal – but theft nevertheless.
And we expose the fact that the black “mis-leadership” class fully participates in the process to deliver the people’s resources to the ruling elite. More than 30 members of the Congressional Black Caucus voted in July to increase the military budget by more than $75 billion, an amount that exceeded the $54 billion requested by the Trump administration that many saw as obscene.
The organizations and individuals that have come together in BAP understand that it is only through resistance that builds power rooted in the black working class that will allow us to not only resist but to realize a transformative vision beyond the logic of the white supremacist, patriarchal, colonial/capitalist national and global order. As Margaret Kimberley, BAP Coordinating Committee and United National Anti-war Coalition Administrative Committee member points out:
“American government aggressions continue domestically and internationally with bipartisan support for threats against North Korea and ongoing war and occupation of Afghanistan. Proposals to increase the military budget are also embraced by Republicans and Democrats alike. This means that a people-centered, independent effort is the only way to end the vicious cycle of state sponsored violence.”
This position is echoed by Mekdes Amare, a young organizer and BAP member, who sees the connection between the DOD 1033 program that is principally responsible for the obscene militarization of the police and war efforts aboard:
“Trump lifting the restrictions on the 1033 program is a troubling development for working class communities of color in America,” she says. “But we must remember that many presidents before Trump laid the ground work for this increased drive towards fascism. This includes Obama who did not actually end the 1033 Program but only restricted weapons like bayonets while allowing advanced military hardware to flow into police departments.”
And in the spirit of the black radical internationalist tradition she closes by saying that, “We must organize and fight this drive towards fascism for our own sake and for the sake of our sisters and brothers across the globe”
The Black Left must find a way to unite
BAP sees itself as part of this effort to organize resistance structures as part of the broad effort to rebuild and unite the black left in the U.S. Brother Saladin Muhammad has been one of the few consistent voices calling for a broader black left effort to unite all our disparate forces at this critical moment in history. We should respond to Saladin’s call. Now is the time for the Black is Back Coalition, the Black Left Unity Network, the Black Liberation Unity Committee, BYP100 and Black Lives Matter Network among other groups to find a way to struggle for a national framework that allows us to concentrate and coordinate our efforts to realize authentic black working class-based self-determination as part of a broader de-colonial project in the territory known as the United States.
The responsibility to organize and fight for a new future has never been more apparent. There is no reform of this dying order. The choices are quite clear. Either we fight for a new world order, one that sees the dismantling of and an end to the tyranny of the capitalist dictatorship or we will suffer a prolonged period of neo-fascist barbarity.
The financial and corporate elites have made their choice and their choice is to fight, even if it means destroying the planet and everyone one on it. What will be our choice?
AJAMU BARAKA is a veteran of the black liberation movement. He is currently a board member with Cooperation Jackson, the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch magazine. He can be reached at www.AjamuBaraka.com.