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America's Fifth Column Goes to Iraq By: Ben Johnson
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, July 28, 2003


When the left failed to prevent the American military from entering Iraq, it turned from protest to sabotage of the liberation effort. Conducting illegal "direct actions"  to disrupt everyday life, so-called peace activists organized illegal demonstrations to shut down key financial districts and tie up homeland security forces. While some tried to close Oakland’s seaport, others stormed military bases and called on American troops to desert their posts en masse. Now, as the Bush Administration attempts to consolidate its victory and restore order to a liberated Iraq the radical Left has stepped up its sabotage effort, this time inside Iraq itself.

For the first time since the abortive efforts of the "human shields" who volunteered to protect Saddam Hussein from American missile strikes, radicals are putting themselves on the battle line. An organization calling itself the “International Occupation Watch Center” has set up shop in Baghdad with the express purpose of inciting U.S. troops to seek discharges and be sent home as conscientious objectors. It is inciting defection of troops at war by (technically) other means.

This latest assault on the American military  is designed to undermine the difficult task of securing the perimeter of the war on terror in the Middle East. Ba'athist guerrilla strikes claim roughly one American life a day. General John Abizaid recently classified this wave of warfare as “a classical guerrilla-type campaign” carried out by "either lookalikes or al-Qaeda." As the difficulties in Iraq require American forces to stay a longer tour than expected, morale can become a serious problem -- a fact known both to the  terrorist enemy and to the Fifth Column "peace" left. As Americans come under fire, Occupation Watch wants to deplete the number of Americans who will be shooting back. Weakening the American military -- which is what the peace movement has generally intended -- encourages further terrorist resistance and killing. It puts American soldiers at greater risk , emboldens the enemy and -- if successful -- will shift the battlefield advantage to Saddam and al-Qaeda. Which is exactly what "International Occupation Watch Center" intends.

The organizers of this sabotage effort have a long history of supporting America's enemies and the enemies of freedom generally. The Baghdad effort is the brainchild of Medea Benjamin,  a long-time Castro acolyte and a key organizer of the "anti-war" protests as head of "Global Exchange" and instigator of "Code Pink" (a feminist front for the anti-war radicals). She is abetted by long-time Communist Party member and pro-Castro  spear carrier, Leslie Cagan. Cagan is the leader of the "moderate" wing of the peace movement, United for Peace and Justice, a brainchild of People for the American Way. Cagan maintained her membership in the Communist Party  even after the fall of the Berlin Wall. As head of the anti-Semitic and pro-Communist Pacifica radio network, Cagan is a key promoter of the anti-American cause. Benjamin, who once described Castro’s gulag as “heaven,” was a key proponent of the effort to send “human shields” to terrorist rogue states like Iraq. She was also one of the planners of the 1999 Seattle "anti-globalization" riots. These anti-capitalist farragoes were the real spawning ground of the "anti-war" crusade.

Medea Benjamin laid out a skeletal blueprint for Occupation Watch in her essay “Toward a Global Movement," which was published in the flagship organ of the anti-American left -- The Nation. “Working with local communities where U.S. troops are based, let's start a Bring All the Troops Home campaign to stop the expansion of U.S. bases and start dismantling some of the hundreds of existing bases overseas.” She also called upon these “grassroots teams” to “link up with appropriate local and regional groups” in terrorist states. What are these “appropriate groups”? The fedayeen, perhaps? Hamas? The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades? Benjamin does not name names, but her exhortation for the Left to “channel the bursting anti-American sentiment overseas” speaks volumes.  

At least one member of the Advisory Board for Occupation Watch has called for the murder of U.S. troops and anti-Saddam Iraqis. Author Tariq Ali, who intimated that 9/11 gave America a taste of its own medicine, made his bloodthirsty goals explicit in the May-June 2003 issue of New Left Review. Asking where one could find “any serious obstacle” to the “re-colonizing” of Iraq, Ali forecasted:

First of all, naturally, in the region itself. There, it is to be hoped that the invaders of Iraq will eventually be harried out of the country by a growing national reaction to the occupation regime they install, and that their collaborators may meet the fate of Nuri Said before them.

Nuri Said (1888-1958) was a pro-Western Iraqi ruler with close ties to Great Britain, who actively opposed Communist expansion into the Middle East. When he sent his military to assist besieged Christians in Lebanon, the officers – many of them Communists – staged a violent coup on July 14, 1958. The thugs murdered Nuri Said and ruling King Faisal II, then proceeded to drag Nuri Said’s corpse through the streets of Baghdad. Tariq Ali devoutly wishes this same future for American troops. This echoes the appeal for "a million Mogadishus" uttered by Professor Nicholas de Genova at a Columbia University anti-war teach-in. It is a common theme of the anti-American left although it is not always so baldly stated.

Ali is not the only member of the International Occupation Watch’s Advisory Board with a history of  anti-Americanism. The board is in effect a “Who’s Who” of Hate-America radicals. Other luminaries include:

*Jodie Evans co-founder (with Medea Benjamin) of Code Pink. As Jean Pearce has noted on FrontPage, Evans is also institutionally tied to Mike Roselle, founder of the domestic terrorist organization Earth Liberation Front (ELF), “which along with the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) is ranked the No. 1 domestic terrorism threat by the FBI. The FBI attributes over 600 criminal acts and $43 million in damages to the two groups since 1996.”

*Rania Masri of the Iraq Action Coalition. Masri frequently writes for the International Socialist Review, “A Journal of Revolutionary Marxism.” The Iraq Action Coalition itself is tied to Ramsey Clark’s International Action Center, an offshoot of the pro-North Korean Workers World Party.

*Maria Luisa Mendonça, who sits on the Organizing Committee of the World Social Forum, a modern day “Fifth International,” whose meetings draw neo-Communist organizers from around the world. Their most recent meetings were the site of anti-Semitic physical assaults.

*Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies. The IPS has a long and infamous history of supporting Communist regimes around the world and collaborating with their agents.

*Milan Rai, who co-authored the book War Plan Iraq with Noam Chomsky. Rai labelled the war in Iraq, not a liberation, but a re-branding exercise." He also co-founded the UK branch of Voices in the Wilderness, a Clinton-era group that called for an end to the Iraqi sanctions. 

*Pratap Chatterjee of the Berkeley-based anti-capitalist CorpWatch. Chatterjee is also a “reporter” for Berkeley’s Pacifica station KPFA. He was able to combine business with pleasure by broadcasting live from the Seattle riots in 1999.

According to Medea Benjamin, United For Peace and Justice will also work with Quaker organizations and Veterans for Peace. Quaker Associations have a reputation as dovish pacifists, although for the past 40 years groups such as the American Friends Service Committee have become the religious component of the far-left. VFP, which will feature Rep. Jim McDermott as keynote speaker at its annual convention in September and has decried the “murder” of Rachel Corrie, has called for the impeachment, not just of George W. Bush, but also Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft. According to Benjamin, “We will be testing occupation forces in many ways.” Indeed, she already threw one roadblock in the way of rebuilding this war-torn nation; earlier this year, Benjamin led the fight to topple General Jay Garner as transitional leader of Iraq. Sending one general packing inspired Benjamin to carry out her larger scheme of expelling the entire military from the Middle East.

Naturally the cover for all these anti-American, anti-human rights schemes is.....human rights! Occupation Watch told American authorities that its intention for opening an office in the middle of a combat zone was to serve as a “watchdog,” reporting “possible violations of human rights, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.” (The Left seemed remarkably unconcerned about these issues when Saddam’s regime was busy filling the mass graves seemingly as plentiful as the nation’s oil reserves.) It also claimed it would provide “accurate information” about the occupation. To this end, their website has posted helpful articles by distinguished commentators like ‘60s pro-Communist activist Tom Hayden. According to Medea Benjamin, it was only after Occupation Watch was firmly entrenched on embattled foreign soil that it “changed” its mission to shipping troops home. Benjamin told a Green Party meeting that this goal came about after she returned from Iraq on July 14, although her Nation article demonstrates months of premeditation. Presumably, telling the authorities her true goals would have complicated her application..

The agenda of Medea Benjamin and her comrades is clear:

  1. Undermine the Bush Administration’s reconstruction efforts through propaganda and dissimulation in the American media.
  2. Demoralize the troops by relaying tales of wavering public support.
  3. Encourage widespread desertion via newfound “conscientious objector” beliefs.
  4. Ask the Quakers to provide moral cover for the sabotage effort.
  5. Weaken the forces of freedom and offer terrorists an easier target, increasing attacks.

These agendas, it is hoped, will create a cycle of demoralization and desertion, leading, to a second Vietnam-style defeat for the capitalist Great Satan. The first cost the lives of two-and-half million peasants in Cambodia and Vietnam after America was forced to leave -- a genocide that gave even Tom Hayden some pause.

 If necessary, Occupation Watch may facilitate the actions of “appropriate” indigenous groups by staging acts of sabotage like those its members carried out during the war. Or perhaps they will facilitate terrorism in Iraq the way International Solidarity Movement members do in Israel, always on the periphery yet enabling its ultimate success.

The rest of us should be aware of the radical game Medea Benjamin, Leslie Cagan and their anti-American volunteers are playing. When Jane Fonda visited Hanoi in 1972, she encouraged desertion, telling the troops, “If they told you the truth, you wouldn't fight." Her visit was an act of no-fault treason. But even “Hanoi Jane” did not physically approach GIs to desert the field of battle. Apparently, Medea Benjamin wants to go one step further and a bridge too far.

Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and co-author, with David Horowitz, of the book Party of Defeat. He is also the author of the books Teresa Heinz Kerry's Radical Gifts (2009) and 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving (2004).


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