April 21, 2017

By Glen Ford 

Black Agenda Report

When Maxine Waters goes gung-ho crazy for the War Party, it tells us that the Black political class—overwhelmingly Democrats—are utterly useless to any movement for peace and social justice. In the throes of a terminal case of “Anti-Russia Dementia,” otherwise known as “Putin Derangement Syndrome,” the California congresswoman told a Tax March crowd in front of the U.S. Capitol that President Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin somehow conspired to arrange both the chemical event that killed dozens in northern Syria and the U.S. missile strike on a Syrian military airfield that followed.

In an interview with a Huffington Post reporter, Waters said:“I don’t believe there’s any real tension” between
Trump and Putin. “I think they’re putting on a show. And I think Putin is gonna come back and make it look as if he’s gonna hold the line somewhat on Syria now, and then want something in exchange for that—and that exchange is, lift the sanctions.”

Waters has clearly lost her mind, her brain operating at the cartoon level. But, her mental and moral disintegration differs only in degree from that of the Congressional Black Caucus as a body, which has been drifting to the dark side on war ever since the First Black President got his hands on the nuclear button.

Even Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress to vote against the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, appears to accept the manifestly false allegation that the Syrian military used chemical weapons in al-Qaida-controlled Idlib province. She demands only that the U.S. Congress be allowed to play its part in the aggression.

“There is no question that Syrian President Bashar Assad must be held accountable for his heinous crimes against humanity. And the world community must do more to prevent the use of chemical weapons and barbaric attacks on innocent men, women and children,” Rep. Lee wrote in an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle. She wants the Congress called back into session to “debate the costs and the consequences of war in Syria,” warning, “if Congress does not act to rein in the president, he will pursue unsanctioned military action without our input.” Rep. Lee deplored Trump’s “turning away vulnerable families fleeing conflict and violence.”

Rep. Keith Ellison and other leaders of the Progressive Congressional Caucus issued a similar statement, declaring that President Trump “is not empowered to commit our troops to a new war on a whim, however brutal the actions of President Assad.”

However, Ellison simply wants the chance to cast his vote for more and deeper war against Syria. He described the 2011 U.S.-NATO attack on Libya as a “good example” of international community intervention to protect civilians and, in 2012, called for a similar approach in Syria. “I think that if we set up a safe zone now and the international community stood together, that alone would cause [Syrian President] Bashar Assad to be very reluctant to attack an internationally supported safe zone designed to protect civilians.”

The next year, in 2013, when the U.S. falsely accused the Syrian government of a sarin attack on civilians—an attack staged at the precise moment when UN observers, summoned at the request of the Syrian government, were checking into a Damascus hotel only a few miles away—Ellison assumed Syrian guilt and backed Obama’s threatened bombing raid:
“If the facts warrant it,” he said, “if the facts show that it was a gas attack authorized by the Assad regime, and if it’s true that there were 1,500 people killed, I just don’t think the world can stand by and say that’s OK, that’s not our business, we don’t have to worry about it.”

In the summer of 2011, after allowing Libya’s infrastructure to be destroyed by months of nonstop bombing, the Congress got its chance to vote on Obama’s unprovoked war against an African country. Only six members of the Congressional Black Caucus voted both to stop the bombing and to withhold further funding for the war: John Conyers Jr. (MI); Jesse Jackson Jr. (IL); Barbara Lee (CA); Laura Richardson (CA); Bobby Scott (VA); Maxine Waters (CA).

Who knows how Maxine Waters would vote on Trump’s air strike on Syria, when Congress returns from recess, since she is under the crazed delusion that Trump and Putin are in cahoots on the gassing and the retaliation?

Congress didn’t have an opportunity to vote on President Obama’s threatened air strike against Syria in 2013, because Obama backed off, reportedly after hearing from National Security director James Clapper that the evidence of Syria’s guilt wasn’t “a slam dunk.” Polls showed that nearly six out of ten Americans opposed bombing Syria at that time. However, more Blacks than whites—40 percent vs. 38 percent—favored an air strike, the first time in polling history that Black public opinion was more warlike than whites. There is no doubt that the sea change in the Black stance on war had everything to do with newfound Black identification with U.S. power (imperialism), in the person of the commander-in-chief.

The current Washington Post-ABC poll shows 54 percent of the public supports Trump’s bombing of Syria, with the results dramatically skewed by party. Only 37 percent of Democrats approve of the air strike, while Republicans seem jubilant, at 86 percent. However, there is no racial breakdown in any of the major polls—and, no wonder, since there is little organized Black fight-back against Washington’s (formerly) proxy war against Syria, and virtually no principled opposition among the Black Misleadership Class and its denizens on Capitol Hill.

The corporate media perceive no Black peace opinion worth measuring.

Only 14 years ago, a Zogby poll, conducted only week before the start of the Iraq war, showed that just 7 percent of Black Americans favored an invasion “that would result in the death of thousands of Iraqi civilians,” compared with supermajorities of white males and a bare majority of white females. Has the Black worldview been so dramatically mangled by war, in such a short span of time? That’s highly unlikely, but there has surely been a whiplash effect in experiencing, first, a Black Democratic warmonger in the White House, followed by the orange personification of white supremacy.

The Black Radical Tradition in pursuit of peace and global social justice has taken more than a few hits since Dr. Martin Luther King’s break with President Lyndon Johnson over the Vietnam War, in 1967. “Putin Derangement Syndrome” – a mind-corroding epidemic in Democratic and, therefore, Black precincts—is just the latest deformity.

A renewed Black peace movement is the only antidote to the corruption of black Democratic office holders, who are joined at the bank account to a party that is now positioned to the right of Donald Trump on war with Russia and its allies. “Most of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus have moved public opinion closer to the position that conflict with Russia is not only inevitable, but justified,” says Ajamu Baraka, the veteran human rights activist and 2016 vice presidential candidate for the Green Party (and an editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report).

Baraka is spearheading the Black Alliance for Peace, “a people-centered human rights project against war, repression and imperialism” that seeks to “build a Black anti-war presence, and then connect to attempts to revive the anti-war movement in general in the U.S.”

Among the most visible signs that a peace movement still exists, is UNAC, the United National Anti-War movement, which is expecting the largest Black presence in its history at its national conference in Richmond, Virginia, June 16-18. The Black Is Black Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations immediately responded to the U.S. air strike on Syria with a large demonstration in St. Petersburg, Fla. Ajamu Baraka views Black Lives Matter as providing a basis for renewal of the Black Radical Tradition. “One of the things that has to happen is a more explicit politics,” he says. Activists need to “make the connection between the national security state and the war agenda.”

There is little hope, however, for a Black political class that, “by their silence on the militarism of the U.S. state, are creating the conditions for the Trump proposals” on boosting military spending “to be implemented,” said Baraka. “These folks have to be called out and made accountable for their collaboration with the U.S. State. You’ve got to either step with the people, or align yourself openly with the power of white supremacy and imperialism.”

Glen Ford is executive editor of Black Agenda Report.