When Defeat is the Answer – by Donald Douglas


President Obama is still dithering over the war in Afghanistan, but his hard-Left base has increasingly decided to break with the administration to cheer for American defeat overseas.

The latest sign of the Left’s defection over the war comes from the Los Angeles chapter of the anti-war group International A.N.S.W.E.R. On Sunday, ANSWER sponsored an antiwar “teach-in” on Afghanistan at Los Angeles City College. The event was the group’s latest “local action” in its self-described “struggle” against alleged U.S. imperialism in “Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, the Philippines, Latin America and beyond.” All this is standard fare for the radical group, with one notable exception: It now considers the Obama administration the enemy.

To that end, ANSWER is accelerating its calls for grassroots resistance to the administration. In particular, ANSWER organizers claim they are seeking to block U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s recent request for an additional 40,000 troops. But ANSWER’s ultimate goal is to support the insurgency seeking to topple the Hamid Karzai government in Kabul. According to Richard Becker, ANSWER’s West Coast Regional Director, and a keynote speaker at this weekend’s teach-in, a defeat for the current American mission in Afghanistan would strike a blow to the American “empire” in South Asia.

ANSWER’s anti-American agenda was well-represented by organizers and activists at this weekend’s teach-in in Los Angeles.

The first speaker was Muna Coobtee. An organizer with the National Council of Arab Americans (an ANSWER front group), she was emcee for the organization’s recent Westwood protest marking the 8th anniversary of the war. Coobtee claimed that the Afghan mission was in fact a doomed neo-colonial war. Denouncing the “occupation,” she claimed that American military goals are exclusively to “avoid defeat … or to avoid the perception of defeat.” Following the script in ANSWER’s communist pamphlet, Afghanistan and Iraq Will NEVER Accept U.S. Colonialism,” she implored activists to mobilize against the war. Pentagon warmongers can’t tell new recruits the truth about their mission, Coobtee insisted, since “then more soldiers and marines and their families would hesitate to continue to act as bait and cannon fodder.”

Coobtee was followed by ANSWER’s Peta Lindsay and Blase Bonpane (of the Office of the Americas and KPFK Los Angeles). Lindsay had just returned from a mission to Japan. She attacked the U.S. military presence there, conspiratorially denouncing nuclear-powered warships for widespread radioactive “contamination.” She also decried American sailors, who she claimed were “murdering Japanese women and taxi drivers.” In turn, Bonpane, who is something of an alternative media-celebrity, excoriated American neo-imperialism and argued that “the art of revolution is the art of organizing the majority of Americans to end the warfare state.”

An especially militant talk was delivered by Corporal Michael David Prysner, an Iraq war veteran and radar specialist who was honorably discharged from service June 15, 2005. Prysner is a key organizer for ANSWER’S military resistance cell, March Forward! According to his personal statement at the website:

I left this Army with a new understanding of the system under which we all live, and the nature of U.S. foreign policy. But, I still had the same drive to fight for freedom, justice and equality as I did when I joined, and I understood that fighting for those things meant fighting against the U.S. government, not on behalf of it.

During his talk, Prysner parroted the March Forward! talking points. For instance, he charged that American servicemen are being sent to further “the domination of U.S. corporations over other nations.” As for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they “serve only the interests of the rich.” And while the extensive and expensive nation building campaigns in both countries would suggest otherwise, Prysner assured his audience that American troops are being “sent over and over to repress people who have the right to determine their own destiny.”

This was not even Prysner at his most extreme. In the past, he has advocated insubordination and mutiny in the military’s ranks. Enlisted personnel should “fight the system” from the inside to sabotage the U.S. military’s neo-imperialist global campaign, according to Prysner. He has also urged disaffected G.I.s to join with the “entire nation” to repudiate the “criminal” deployments launched to fill the coffers of the hegemonic U.S. multinational corporations.

Where many of the speakers merely alluded to their hopes for a U.S. military defeat in Afghanistan, Richard Becker, ANSWER’s West Coast Representative, made it the main theme of his keynote address. Becker is a longtime U.S. communist hardliner. According to Discoverthenetworks, “Becker detests America and has written, ‘No one in the world … has a worse human rights record than the United States’.”

His lecture reflected these biases. Becker offered an extremely twisted defense of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Based on a single source (a 1998 interview with Carter NSA chief Zbigniew Brzezinski), Becker argued that the Soviet incursion was a strategic counter-thrust to U.S. imperial influence in Kabul. That is, the CIA had plans on tap for a U.S. colonial outpost in Afghanistan. The ultimate goal was, allegedly, to consolidate U.S. control over Caspian crude and to establish an oil pipeline to the Arabian Sea and the waiting arms of global capitalism’s “Big Oil” multinational tanker fleet. The Bush administration has exited the scene, but the “blood-for-oil” smear remains alive and well on the far Left.

As does its commitment to a U.S. military defeat. In his remarks, Becker explained that defeating the current American forces under General Stanley McChrystal would strike a blow to America’s neo-colonial project. A U.S. withdrawal from the region would strike at the heart of “empire” in South Asia. “Every empire falls, and this empire will fall as well,” Becker declared. The audience erupted in applause at Becker’s appeal for American losses.

Teach-InAfghanistan012ANSWER man: Richard Becker calls for the defeat of the American “empire.”

It’s worth noting that, in addition to American defeat, the ANSWER event was also promoting Becker’s new book, Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire. In the book, Becker writes that “The Palestinian struggle is a struggle against Western colonialism.” Perhaps this is why, as the Anti-Defamation League indicates, “ANSWER events, which often attract protestors by the tens of thousands, have openly supported terror groups targeting Israelis, as well as the ‘resistance’ fighting American forces in Iraq.”

While its membership is small, ANSWER should not be dismissed as insignificant. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Obama administration is stalling on Gen. McChrystal’s troop-surge request. And the president’s delay reflects in no small measure the influence of the antiwar Left. Interestingly, netroots bloggers are backing socialist candidates in primary challenges against Democratic congressional incumbents in 2010. The administration can’t be indifferent to these trends politically, and of course electoral imperatives may well give safe-cover for the president to adopt a cut-and-run position on Afghanistan.

The greater strategic danger is not so much that Afghan redeployment risks a “blow to empire,” but that a precipitous withdrawal from the South Asian theater of the war will embolden America’s enemies on the ground, destabilize additional allies like India and Pakistan, and mark another surrender to the global forces of contemporary totalitarianism. In other words, it could fulfill every wish on International ANSWER’s extremist agenda.

  • http://www.tarandfeathers.shugartmedia.com/ Tar_and_Feathers

    I don't mean to be trivial here, but it's unavoidable when talking about left wing activist groups. Just to review: A.N.S.W.E.R is an acronym for Act Now to Stop War & End Racism. What kind of laundry list is that? They want to end war AND end racism, as if either one wouldn't be important enough without mentioning the other.

    Gimme a break. These are the same inane pseudo-revolutionaries I remember from the Sixties.Melodramatic, pretentious poseurs that read like a bad Mad Magazine satire. I guess what's just a little bit scary is that there are those who walk among us that take them seriously.

  • Proxywar

    You should be attacking the conservatives as well. They want us out of Afghanstan too. Only they argue no Muslim is to be trusted and other empires couldn't conquer Afghanstan because of ISLAM. I seriously don't know how many times Robert Spencer has to tell people, yes, Christianity and islam are different theology wise, but not all muslims study their religion that closely or follow it to the tee. Vice versa for Christians. People who read Spencer's fantasic works on Islam seem to over look this point out of sure bias.

  • coyote3

    While I agree with the writer that ANSWER is probably everything he says it is, and more, maybe there is another way to look at this.

    Sometimes you have to give people what they want, just as they want, to illustrate how foolish they are. Personally, I don't see what is so bad about the U.S. having an empire, even if the accusation is true, but that is really a different issue.

    If there is no threat to U.S. security and/or interests, then there is no reason for the U.S. to be involved militarily, or otherwise, in foreign nations, right? If we are going to withdraw, then let's do it across the board, totally and completely, and most importantly immediately, from everywhere. After all, one country is just as good or bad as another. At least that is what we are told by these folks, and some people who call themselves conservatives as well. If that is the case, then we can just pack up, “now” and go home, but I would insist it be from all activity, including non military aid and assistance. The next time there is an emergency, disaster in a foreign country, just tell them, “Sorry but we don't get involved in the internal affairs of other nations.” There is no threat to us, so nothing is going to happen, right? Following this reasoning we should withdraw from the U.N., and tell it to move elsewhere, because we do not want to impose our views on the rest of the world.

    We have to do it all and immediately to be consistent with this theory. Just ending military involvement in one or two countries would do little or nothing. If ended our involvement and interference everyone would think better of us, and do us no harm, right? Okay, then what is the problem? If we do this, however, I don't want to hear any complaints when we get hit again, or some event occurs around the world where thousands die, and we are not there. After all, these folks will stop hating us if we just leave them alone. Well, I am in favor of leaving them alone, all alone.

  • coyote3

    Well there is one thing to consider, and I have been thinking about this recently.

    The military reports that enlistments are up, and at an all time high. This kind of surprised me, considering the spoiled, ungrateful populace we seem to have. And no, Obama didn't cause it, he is just another example of it. It has been going on since before the Vietnam conflict.

    Frankly, if I knew someone who was contemplating enlisting, or reenlisting, I might tell them, that the people they are making these sacrifices for, are not worthy of their effort, intellect, time, blood and lives. The people, as a whole, have proved themselves servile and beneath them. They are generally not fit to shine these young troopers' boots. (I don't believe they shine boots any more, but you get the picture). I would advise them to think about it carefully, their cause is noble, but the population they serve does not appear to be worth it.

  • USMCSniper

    Democrats alone bare the responsibility for their 1975 outright betrayal of South Vietnam and Cambodia by cutting aff aid when they knew full well the Chinese and the Russians had rearmed 5 full NVA divisions. The fall of South Vietnam resulted in the mass slaughter of 1.7 million Vietnamese in the purges and reeducation camps by the NVA Communists and of ~2 million Cambodians by the Khmer Rouge Communists. They are stilll in denial and unchanged in their anti American attitudes in aiding and abetting the enemies of freedom.