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Four Green Illusions
by Don Fitz, Green Party of St. Louis/Gateway Green Alliance
The Bush administration found September 11 to be a golden opportunity to push for control of world resources, to crush political dissent, and to trample the Bill of Rights. The cornerstone of its propaganda offensive is portrayal of the crime of September 11 as so uniquely horrifying that it overshadows the millions who are slaughtered for corporate profit and governmental power. Thus, it bellowed that its attack on Afghanistan was a “War on Terror” which would somehow protect Americans. The fabricated connection between September 11 and the beginning of perpetual war is the Great Lie of the Bush administration. The major division between political groups is between those who perpetrate the Great Lie by echoing its ideology of the “War on Terror” versus those who understand it to be a War for Empire.
The vast majority of US Greens work to expose the Great Lie and explain the unavoidable connection between the War for Empire and the War on Civil Liberties. Unfortunately, the politics of compromise have spread through many levels of Green leadership. The German Green Party blatantly echoes the Bush administration rhetoric. The European Federation of Green Parties studiously ignores the treachery of the German Greens. The Association of State Green Parties misrepresents the European Greens. And the tiny Green Alliance sides with airport police against Green activist Nancy Oden. Through each of these runs a thread of Green leaders clutching for power by trying to pull their supporters in a rightward political direction.
The German Green Party (Alliance 90/The Greens)
The German Green Party was born as the great hope of the 1980s. The Party won places in parliament with 5.6% of the vote in 1983 and it entered a governing coalition with the Social Democrats after the 1997 elections. Progressives throughout the world admired German Greens for rotating parliamentary members and using elections to mobilize against war efforts and nuclear power.
But in 1999 German Greens endorsed the war against Yugoslavia and sending troops outside of Germany for the first time since WWII. In 2000 the Party supported the transportation of nuclear waste through residential communities. In 2001 it jumped whole hog into the War for Empire.
The November 24, 2001 “Rostock Resolution” of Alliance 90/The Greens (Germany), “Fight International Terrorism, Practice Critical Solidarity, Continue the Red-Green Coalition” detail the rationale for its actions. The fundamental premise of the Rostock Resolution is that the war on Afghanistan is a “War Against Terrorism.” Writing that the “majority of our MPs [Members of Parliament] voted … to fight international terrorism,” the German Greens unambiguously chose to echo the verbiage of George Bush and spurn views of the worldwide peace movement.
They summarily rejected any intention of dissolving the government coalition. Quite the opposite, the Rostock document complains that Social Democratic Chancellor Schroeder was “unreasonable” in linking support for the war with a vote of confidence in the Red/Green coalition. In actuality, a genuinely Green party would have welcomed the opportunity to bring down the government, force new elections, and launch a campaign to win the hearts and minds of the German people against the War for Empire.
…a genuinely Green party would have welcomed the opportunity to bring down the government, force new elections, and launch a campaign to win the hearts and minds of the German people against the War for Empire.
The Rostock Resolution provided three justifications for endorsing war:
- Green participation might make the war more humanitarian;
- The war would bring a better government to Afghanistan; and,
- Voting for war was necessary to preserve gains of the Red-Green coalition government.
The Resolution offered soothing reassurance that German troops would be confined to “humanitarian, defensive … and law enforcement” purposes. Even if we ignore that the identical promises could be used by Bush and even if we believed the claim that German troops would only be driving medical vehicles, such participation gives a Green nod of approval to the US bombing for corporate plunder.
Rostock reflects classic doublespeak, replacing Orwell’s “War is peace” with its own claim that pacifism is slaughter with a humanitarian façade. Statements such as “We reject the use of cluster bombs” and “There must be no strategy of escalation” clearly imply that it can have some influence on the manner in which the US carries out the war. This, of course, is a farce, as the German Green Party has no more ability to prevent cluster bombs in Afghanistan than it had to prevent depleted uranium in the 1999 war on Yugoslavia.
The willingness to participate in the war while simultaneously attempting to deny responsibility for it displays the cowardly naiveté for which the press is so fond of ridiculing the Green Party. A thief whose partner kills during a robbery is himself responsible for the murder—the blood drips from George Bush onto Joschka Fischer every time they shake hands.
In an attempt to justify the unjustifiable, the Rostock Resolution proclaims the ethnocentric view that “democracy” brought to Afghans somehow justified the atrocities of the War for Empire. Such logic bears an uncanny resemblance to that used by US slaveholders 150 years ago. The cynical claim that the “situation in Afghanistan is now developing positively,” the promise that the forces of empire can further improve the situation “caused by drought, civil war and the Taliban,” and the blaring silence on the devastation of US bombs illustrate how shamelessly the German Greens spread the Bush Doctrine. The Rostock document almost groans beneath the weight of the white man’s burden of bringing civilization to those who cannot comprehend the higher mission of delivering oil to the West.
It ponders “international terrorism” without once mentioning the 8 million butchered by the US and its client states since WWII.
The phraseology that “Green foreign policy seeks close and good relations with the USA” makes clear that perpetrating mass murder, crimes against humanity, and international terrorism are no barrier for having close relations to the German Green Party. If they overlook the millions slaughtered by the US since WWII, why would they not overlook the thousands slaughtered by the Taliban, Milosevic, or Hussein and reach out for warm, fuzzy hugs with them?
Rostock also claims that the Red-Green coalition must continue to preserve the social and environmental programs won, including immigration reforms and recognition of same-sex civil unions. How could such logic have spoken during the early 1940’s? Perhaps, “We want to preserve the gains of higher employment and Volkswagens. We will only drive the Fuehrer’s ambulances into the Soviet Union and we ask that there be no escalation. We insist that the concentration camps respect civil liberties.”
The future of Germany bodes not the great wonders of slick deals carefully crafted by astute Green realos; but rather a Germany left with fewer social programs, more anti-immigrant bias, more unemployment, less civil rights, more military adventures, and a population less and less willing to vote Green as it increasingly views that party as unlikely to stick with anything it once claimed to believe in.
The Rostock Resolution leaves a basic question unanswered: If the war is so just, why must German participation be so small? A just fight would require full military support rather than timid acquiescence on tiptoes.
Many say that actual German involvement was inconsequential. Inconsequential it was not. The goal of German participation was never for its soldiers to produce a high body count. The central goals were: (1) to break the taboo on sending German troops into combat outside of Europe; and (2) to spread George Bush’s rhetoric of a “War on Terror.”
European Federation of Green Parties
The European Federation of Green Parties (EFGP) includes over 30 parties. The major question it faced when it met one week after passage of the Rostock Resolution was that its largest member party in Germany had betrayed the most basic of Green values. The EFGP confronted this challenge with the same courage and determination with which Neville Chamberlain opposed Hitler’s march into Czechoslovakia. The most noteworthy absences of content in the December 2, 2001 EFGP Budapest Resolution, “International Terrorism, Global Security, and Building Democratic Afghanistan,” are that …
- It discusses the war in Afghanistan for two pages without once mentioning the German Green Party; and,
- It ponders “international terrorism” without once mentioning the 8 million butchered by the US and its client states since WWII.
We may never know who committed the atrocities of September 11. But it certainly was not Afghan civilians. Yet, no one in the world questions who bombed Afghan villages. If the EFGP is eager to prosecute war criminals in international courts, why does it not call for prosecution of the perpetrators of those bombing raids? Has it bowed its head to the realpolitik doctrine that war criminals can only be those who commit the crime of losing a war and can never be those who win?
The peace movement understands that the first step in reducing international violence would be to bring indictments against mass murderers such as Henry Kissinger and Bill Clinton. In contrast, the Budapest Resolution accepts the Bush administration’s view that international attention should be limited to the crimes of September 11 and be blind to atrocities preceding and following that date.
The EFGP’s Budapest Resolution was distributed to the US press by the Association of State Green Parties/Green Party of the United States (ASGP/GPUS). ASGP formed in 1996 as an “elections only” split-off from the Green Party (GPUSA). Its founding fathers have a 12 year history of trying to drive leftists out of the Greens. They detest the GPUSA goal of building a mass party based on local activism and sought to replace it with a party whose structure would reflect an exclusive focus on elections. In 2001, ASGP proclaimed itself the Green Party of the US, using the acronym GPUS, which seemed designed to take credit for accomplishments of the GPUSA.
The 2000 Nader campaign won support of thousands of enthusiasts unfamiliar with Green history. Seeking to capture this enthusiasm, ASGP/GPUS leaders learned to chant the anti-corporate slogans they once ridiculed.
This may explain the remarkable paragraphs misrepresenting the EFGP Budapest Resolution which the ASGP/GPUS tacked onto the front of it before distributing it throughout the US. The GPUS introduction claims that the EFGP document opposes unilateral military action by the US in Afghanistan. The EFGP document never even mentions unilateral military action by the US in Afghanistan; much less does the document “oppose” it. It appears that this was an intentional effort to give a false portrayal of the EFGP to Greens in the US, who overwhelmingly oppose the War for Empire.
It appears that this was an intentional effort to give a false portrayal of the EFGP to Greens in the US…
The ASGP/GPUS states its position that the US war on Afghanistan was “in retaliation for the September 11 attacks…” Like the German Green Party, the ASGP/GPUS helped spread the Great Lie of George Bush rather than explain that the War for Empire was planned long before September 11.
The ASGP/GPUS takes its endorsement of the Bush Doctine down a path that even its European allies do not tread. On November 3, 2001, the Green Party (GPUSA) sent out a media alert that Coordinating Committee member Nancy Oden had been prevented from boarding a plane to a Green National Council meeting. This was a perfect opportunity for Green groups to mount a joint campaign defending civil liberties. Instead, the split off ASGP/GPUS faction sent a press advisory seeking to discredit Nancy Oden.
By 2000, many were frustrated at the existence of two national Green Parties in the US. When the ASGP refused to negotiate unity seriously, several GPUSA members decided to support the “Boston Proposal,” which would dismantle the GPUSA and create a Green Party modeled after the Democrats and Republicans. At the July 2001 Green Congress, the “Boston Proposal” did not win approval and some of its supporters left vowing to destroy the GPUSA.
When the ASGP renamed itself GPUS, the group that left GPUSA proclaimed that GPUS was the one, true Green Party. They announced their intention of forming a caucus to push GPUS in a “left” direction. When they finally met six months later, they named themselves the Green Alliance (GA).
The harassment of Nancy Oden occurred between the Green Congress and the February 2002 founding convention of the GA. It presented a rare opportunity for supporters of the “Boston Proposal” to demonstrate that they could indeed influence ASGP/GPUS in a progressive direction by supporting victimized activists, even if there had been strong disagreements. Instead, GA leaders broadcast denunciations which urged readers to side with airport police against Oden. Their messages seemed a signal to the ASGP/GPUS power elite that GA would itself carry out hate campaigns against targeted leftists as proof of their loyalty.
The “Believe the Police” offensive was GA’s only known political campaign between their July, 2001 exit from the Green Party and their founding convention. It contrasted sharply to the widespread support Nancy Oden received from progressive individuals and groups.
Once inside the ASGP/GPUS, the politics of GA became indistinguishable from it. This is revealed most clearly by counterposing events of recent years to claims by GA leaders that they joined GPUS to move it “left:”
1. In 1999 GPUSA criticized German Greens, who participated in the mass murder of Serbs along with the US, the German Social Democrats, and Osama bin Laden.
2. Correspondence between ASGP members expressed shock that GPUSA would publicly criticize another Green Party.
3. In 2001, the Bush administration, German Social Democrats and German Green Party found that their former ally Osama bin Laden could be used to justify the War for Empire.
4. The GPUSA called for German Greens to oppose the war, even if it meant bringing down the government, a critique which brought an attack from the Secretary of the German Greens.
5. The ASGP, which now called itself GPUS, refused to criticize the German Greens publicly, but had no problem publicly attacking a GPUSA defense of Nancy Oden.
6. Leaders of the Green Alliance publicly asked progressives to believe the police instead of Nancy Oden.
This chain of events proves that there is no taboo on public criticism of a Green Party—the only taboo is on criticizing a Green Party which realos think is big and powerful.
…there is no taboo on public criticism of a Green Party—the only taboo is on criticizing a Green Party which realos think is big and powerful.
The logic of GA politics becomes unmistakable once the pieces are put together. Since the GA knew that the ASGP would not criticize war crimes of the German Greens while the GPUSA did so, their plan to destroy the GPUSA would effectively eliminate any Green Party voice which would protest absorption of the German Greens into the Death Machine. Instead, they advocated that “lefts” reduce objection to Green militarism to a whine inside the ASGP that would not be broadcast to the press. It was frustration at its own inability to muzzle Green opposition that was most likely the motivation for GA to publicly side with the police against Nancy Oden.
Apologists for the Green Alliance sometimes say “Nothing came from their action.” Such a “defense” speaks mountains about the organization. Surely, there is little future for a group whose most persuasive defense is not refutation of the vileness of its acts but rather a quip that the puniness of the organization ensures the irrelevancy of its behavior.
Illusions of Power
A thread runs through the actions of those who yearn for a more central place in the spotlight of power. As four Green groupings chase illusions of power, each assumes a need to accommodate itself to a larger force.
To stay in a governing coalition with the Social Democrats, German Greens showed that they were as willing to abandon anti-war principles as their senior partners had been in 1914. While Social Democratic votes mattered for WWI, in 2001 Germany would have supported the US militarism with or without the Greens.
The EFGP saw this illusion of power as the best thing any European Green Party had going. Seeing the Germans as having attained a sort of New Age nirvana by being in a government, the European Federation found itself incapable of rekindling a Green flame of anti-war fervor.
…terrorism does not cease to be terrorism when carried out by a government.
Suffering from the delusion that they will outvote Democrats and Republicans by becoming just like them, ASGP leaders have sought to eliminate their internal red menace with the same vigor as the corporate parties. But they recognize the difficulty of doing this with a rank and file which would not tolerate such behavior if they were aware of it. So they pretend that European Green Parties oppose US butchery as they remain silent on German war crimes.
Just as the German Greens stand in awe of the Social Democrats, just as the European Federation stands in awe of the Germans, just as the ASGP/GPUS stands in awe of the Europeans, the GA stares with its mouth gaping open in befuddled admiration of the vast powers it attributes to ASGP/GPUS.
Despite its self-fantasies of being a “left” force, the relationship of GA’s leadership to its tiny base of support is fundamentally the same as that within ASGP/GPUS, EFGP and the German Greens. Each grouping has a leadership which seeks to drag its rank and file to the right in order to secure a tie to a group it imagines to be more important.
Each Green entity rationalizes that it had to lie prostrate because nothing could be gained without the larger group. Rushing headlong after illusions of power, they ignored the original Green vision that true power lies in the power of the people, in the untapped anger of hundreds of millions who feel the lash of globalization.
But it is unlikely that Green honchos lie awake at night trying to figure out how to mobilize this mass anger. It is more likely that they view concepts like “power of the people” as adolescent slogans which a mature politician slops to the crowd and discretely dumps in the trash on the way to the table of corporate power.
Participation in the War for Empire involves more than slaughtering children so that a handful of former leftists can remain in a coalition government. It means more than laying the military foundation for the destruction of civil liberties.
Endorsing the War for Empire means aiding and abetting the extermination of life. Expansion of natural resource industries such as oil and expansion of toxic industries increases global warming and the production of poisons whose levels are already growing at a rate sufficient for the destruction of humanity.
The central task of all progressives is putting an end to the War for Empire and its twin War on Civil Liberties. Greens must never forget that terrorism does not cease to be terrorism when carried out by a government. Nor do war criminals cease being war criminals by painting themselves green.
Green Parties need to regain their own heritage. Now is the time for rank and file Greens at every level to retake Green organizations and turn them into instruments for building a new society, a society that abolishes war as it extols human rights.
Documents for understanding Green politics
a. April 9, 1999, “An Open Letter from The Greens/Green Party USA to Joschka Fischer and Our Sisters and Brothers in Alliance 90/The Greens,” in S/R 20, pp. 38-40.
b. Winter, 2001, “Genuine Green Unity,” Debates on the Boston Proposal, S/R 24, pp. 21-41.
c. November 3, 2001 GPUSA Media Alert, “Green Party USA Coordinator Detained at Airport,” S/R 28.
d. November 4, 2001 GPUS Press Advisory, “Correction of Erroneous Information in Press Reports on the Detention of a Green at Maine Airport,” S/R 28.
e. November 10, 2001, Bruce Kyle’s Bangor Daily News story, “It’s Not Always Easy Being the Right Shade of Green,” S/R 28.
f. November 22, 2001 “Open Letter to the Green Party of Germany,” GPUSA Coordinating Committee, S/R 27, ifc.
g. November 24, 2001 Resolution of Alliance 90/The Greens, “Fight International Terrorism, Practice Critical Solidarity, Continue the Red-Green Coalition,” in S/R 28.
h. December 13, 2001 GPUS/EFGP Media Release, “European Greens Release a Statement Supporting International Cooperation in Response to the September 11 Attacks,” in S/R 28.