On May 25, African Liberation Day, the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) called on the United States government to dismantle the U.S. African Command (AFRICOM) and withdraw all U.S. forces from the African continent. This demand is in line with the main objective of the newly formed Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases—of which BAP is a founding member—which was formally launched in January. The coalition demands the closure of 800-plus U.S. military bases in other countries, which would save more than $150 billion that could then be re-allocated to realize the economic human rights of the working class and poor in this country.
In our statement on African Liberation Day we called on the members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to publicly oppose the aggressive militarization of the African continent, ramped up by the Obama administration and being continued by the Trump administration.
During the Poor People’s Campaign (PPC) actions to end the War Economy, Militarism and the Proliferation of Gun Violence that began this week, BAP is calling on the campaign to take an unequivocal stance in opposition to AFRICOM. Just as we called on the CBC to take a public position against the aggressive expansion of U.S. militarism in Africa, we are also asking the PPC leadership and all activists supporting this week of actions to join us in demanding the United States pull out of Africa and close all U.S. military bases on foreign soil.
For BAP, it is clear the U.S war on “terrorism” in Africa was and remains a subterfuge to expand U.S. influence and its physical presence there. The destruction of Libya, the ongoing war in Somalia, the dismemberment of Sudan, the millions of lives lost in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the widespread political instability throughout the continent is the concrete result of U.S. policies and not some internal or externally motivated “terrorism” and therefore must be opposed by all who claim to represent the interests of Black people.
The PPC states “[t]he truth is that instead of waging a War on Poverty, we have been waging a War on the Poor, at home and abroad, for the financial benefit of a few.” There certainly has been a war. However, it is not “we” who are waging this war but them, the racist capitalist oligarchy that has been operating against the interests of the majority of the people in the United States and throughout the world.
BAP sees a clear connection between the war being waged against Black and poor people domestically through the Obama and Trump administrations’ Department of Defense 1033 program, which has resulted in the obscene militarization of the police, and the U.S. commitment to “full spectrum dominance” that translates into a permanent war against colonized people of color globally. That is why we agree with the PPC’s focus on gun violence, but we say the focus must be even more explicit.
Netfa Freeman, organizer with Pan-African Community Action (PACA) and a member of the BAP Coordinating Committee, points to both the internal and external on issues of militarism and gun violence: “The double standards and dirty-trick twists and turns of the U.S.’s industrial-police-military-intelligence complex has operated on two complementary and parallel tracks when it comes to war, repression, and militarism in Africa and in Black communities within U.S. borders,” he says. “Those tracks are militarized domestic repression in the form of over-policing, police murders and mass incarceration, and in Africa the phony war on terrorism.”
The PPC’s clear demand for “demilitarization of our communities” including “ending federal programs that send military equipment into local and state communities” is in sharp contrast to the support of repressive federal policies by a majority of Black lawmakers at the national level.
In July 2014, two months before the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, 80 percent of the CBC voted against ending the 1033 program; last July, a majority voted in favor of the obscene increase in the military budget that exceeded the $54 billion increase demanded by Trump; and just a week or so ago, a majority of the caucus voted in favor of a right-wing federal “Blue Lives Matter” bill, making “assaults” on police officers a federal hate crime!
The Democratic Party that vehemently opposed the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when he finally broke with the Johnson administration and the party establishment to oppose the Vietnam War, and which gave political cover to and justifications for the murderous assault against the Black Liberation Movement, is the same party that today supports the war agenda of the corporate and financial oligarchy. It is the same party that under Obama accelerated the 1033 program and prosecuted only one of the dozens of killer-cops that executed black, Latinx and Native people across the country.
BAP is not fooled by the diversionary politics of the Democratic Party. We are clear that opposition to war, militarism and all forms of gun violence requires taking on both parties representing the two wings of the ruling class. A bill providing a blank check to the Trump administration to wage war across the planet in the form of the new “authorization to use military force” is an example of the bi-partisan commitment to permanent war and repression as U.S. policy.
Moral stances also require explicit political positions. Opposition to war and gun violence requires that real political connections are made and concrete positions taken against policies that perpetuate the moral offenses that we oppose.
It also means that those who claim to represent the oppressed must be held to account. The members of the Congressional Black Caucus have failed to represent the interests of their Black constituents who have consistently opposed war and domestic militarism.
BAP applauds the effort by the PPC to recapture the moral ground lost to the right-wing counter-revolution of the 1970s and ‘80s as well as to the moral bankruptcy of the Obama presidency. However, we believe that in this era of right-wing ascendency represented by Trump and the liberal authoritarianism of the Democratic Party, it is important the interests and politics of the working class and poor are clearly delineated from those of the capitalist oligarchy. This means that our politics must be clear and our rhetoric devoid of liberal ambiguities in order to expose the nature and interests of the oppressive system and state.
Our task today is even more pressing than it was 51 years ago when Dr. King called on the oppressed and their allies to defeat “the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism.”
That is why during this week of action called for by the PPC, BAP is making a clear call for the U.S. to leave Africa and for the people to control the police in their communities. Nothing short of this would reflect the morality and politics of the original Poor People’s Campaign and the revolution of values advocated by Dr. King.
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