Workers Vanguard No. 874
4 August 2006
U.S. Out of Iraq! Hands Off Syria, Iran!
Down With Zionist Onslaught Against Lebanon, Gaza!
No to Imperialist "Peacekeepers"! For a Socialist Federation of the Near East!
AUGUST 1—In the bloodiest massacre of almost three weeks of relentless Israeli bombardment, some 60 people, including many children, were killed on July 30 in a bombing attack on the Lebanese village of Qana. Qana is the same village that Israel struck in 1996, murdering over 100 refugees in a United Nations compound. Among those who died in Qana this time around were the most helpless of southern Lebanons suffering population—those too poor, too young, too old or too sick to escape the region. The 48-hour halt in aerial bombardment that Israel announced following the Qana slaughter was in fact a continuation of airstrikes and an expansion of the ground offensive. As we go to press, up to 10,000 Israeli troops are pushing into Lebanon.
The devastation of Lebanon is staggering: upwards of 750 people slaughtered; power stations, factories and entire neighborhoods leveled; over 800,000, nearly a fifth of the population, forced to flee their homes. The pretext for this carnage was the July 12 ambush by the Shiite fundamentalist Hezbollah of an Israeli border patrol, killing eight soldiers and capturing two. The Zionist rulers began their offensive by imposing a sea and air blockade and destroying roads leading to Syria, effectively trapping the population while turning Lebanon into a free-fire zone.
This is what U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice celebrated as the birth pangs of a new Middle East. A retired Israeli commander threatened: Israel is attempting to create a rift between the Lebanese population and Hezbollah supporters by exacting a heavy price from the elite in Beirut. The message is: If you want your air conditioning to work and if you want to be able to fly to Paris for shopping, you must pull your head out of the sand and take action toward shutting down Hezbollah-land (Washington Post online, 19 July).
Clearly, if Israel is the mother of this barbaric onslaught, U.S. imperialism is the father. Having armed Israel to the hilt over the years, Washington has opposed calls for an immediate cease-fire and rushed a shipment of precision satellite and laser-guided bombs to Israel in support of its bombing campaign. On July 18 the U.S. Senate passed a unanimous resolution endorsing Israels onslaught. Meanwhile, Israels brutal offensive against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip continues, with more tanks rampaging through Gaza and continued airstrikes and massacres, including some 24 Palestinians killed on July 26. At least 159 have been killed since the Zionist offensive began on June 28, while Palestinians starve as what remains of Gazas infrastructure is decimated.
The U.S. seeks to build its new Middle East by stamping out any regime that does not bow to its dictates, and by fully backing Israels assaults against Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Occupied Territories. The U.S. is embroiled in its bloody occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq while openly targeting Iran and Syria for regime change. With the counterrevolutionary destruction of the Soviet Union in 1991-92, the U.S. imperialists proclaimed a New World Order, and in 2001 declared an unlimited global war on terror as a pretext for unbridled imperialist depredation and attacks on the population at home. Washington has openly declared several countries, including the Chinese and North Korean deformed workers states, to be on its nuclear first strike list.
Hezbollahs success so far in resisting the Israeli ground assault has been a shock to the Israeli rulers self-image as invincible warriors. On July 29, Israel pulled its troops back from the Lebanese border town of Bint Jbail after days of fierce fighting. The New York Times (30 July) described the combat around that hilltop town last Wednesday: A well-laid Hezbollah ambush pinned down infantrymen from the elite Golani Brigade for hours. At times the firing was so heavy the brigades soldiers could not return it; eight Israelis were killed. The highly advanced Merkava tanks were reduced to ambulances and several were destroyed. Against Israels attacks on Lebanon, we stand in military defense of Hezbollah without giving that reactionary fundamentalist outfit any political support whatsoever.
The imperialists are now jockeying over proposals, supported by President Bush and British prime minister Tony Blair last week, to send troops to occupy southern Lebanon, where Hezbollah is based. France, Italy, Germany and Turkey have said they are considering participation in a UN-sponsored force. And Hezbollah itself has signed on to a Lebanese government proposal for (some sort of) international military force to occupy the south following a cease-fire.
The International Communist League has intervened in protests against Israels offensive in cities in Europe, the U.S., Canada and Australia, putting forward our perspective for proletarian internationalist defense of the Palestinians and the peoples of Lebanon and for a socialist federation of the Near East. Our comrades underlined our opposition to any imperialist military force being sent into Lebanon, whether under the banner of NATO, the UN or some other multinational force. In contrast, pseudo-Marxist groups have issued groveling appeals to the imperialists—either their own governments or the UN—to intervene into Lebanon or to pressure Washington to pressure Tel Aviv into a cease-fire.
At a July 18 demonstration in Paris, the speaker from the French Communist Party demanded that the Chirac government and the European Union support sending a UN-backed military force to Lebanon. Alain Krivines pseudo-Trotskyist Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire, while opposing the call for imperialist troops to Lebanon, calls for political and economic sanctions against the state of Israel, presumably to be implemented by, among others, French imperialism. As our comrades of the Ligue Trotskyste de France underlined in a July 23 leaflet, French president Jacques Chiracs proposals simply represent Frances bid to use the bloodbath—caused in large part by UN resolution 1559 [calling for Syria to get out of Lebanon and for Hezbollah to be disarmed]—to reinsert itself into its former colony and attempt to regain leverage in the oil-rich Near East.
The fake socialists are grotesquely and explicitly promoting their own imperialist rulers, who have waged war against the immigrant and Muslim populations of their countries, as a force for peace in the Near East. In Britain, Lindsey German, of the Stop the War Coalition and the Socialist Workers Party, signed a letter published in the London Guardian (28 July) complaining of Blairs total subservience to the US and declaring, Our country is being humiliated
. We therefore call on the government to join the vast majority of the worlds states, the UN secretary general and the Archbishop of Canterbury in calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. And in Berlin, a July 21 rally concluded with the singing of the Lebanese and German national anthems!
With Israel bogged down in fierce fighting with Hezbollah, the entry of imperialist peacekeepers would only serve to bail out the Zionists by assuming the task their military forces have been incapable of carrying out—the disarming of Hezbollah. That is exactly what happened in Lebanon in 1982, when UN peacekeepers disarmed Palestinian fighters, setting up the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. At protests in London and elsewhere, our comrades carried signs reading: Remember Sabra and Shatila—No reliance on the UN!
In the U.S., the reformist International Socialist Organization (ISO) complains of the weakness of the mainstream U.S. antiwar movement toward Israeli war crimes, and criticizes the Democrats for acting as vocal cheerleaders for Israel (Socialist Worker online, 28 July). Of course, the Democrats are superhawks for Israel, as they have been for decades. But the ISO sought to build a liberal-pacifist antiwar movement premised on appealing to just such Democratic capitalist politicians to oppose Bushs war in Iraq.
Unlike Israels invasion of Lebanon in 1982, which touched off massive protests in the Zionist garrison state, there has been widespread popular support for the current campaign. Nonetheless, there have been courageous protests against the assault on Lebanon, including a demonstration of 5,000 in Tel Aviv on July 22. Notably, 150 demonstrated against the war on July 25 in Haifa, a city that had been hit by Hezbollah missiles and where eight maintenance workers at a train depot died in a single barrage. The U.S. press has given wide coverage to Hezbollahs rocket attacks, which have hit innocent civilians, while grossly playing down the infinitely greater terrorism carried out by Israeli forces in Lebanon.
By standing up to the Israeli assault, Hezbollah has won widespread support among the Arab masses, including among Sunni Muslims. Even the Sunni-dominated regimes of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which initially denounced Hezbollah for provoking Israel, have backtracked in the face of growing popular support for Hezbollah. Gratifying though it may be to see Hezbollah hold out against the Israeli war machine, there must be no illusions that Hezbollah is anything other than a reactionary fundamentalist movement that seeks to establish an Iran-style theocracy in Lebanon. Hezbollah represents a deadly danger, especially for women, secular Muslims and Christians.
That masses of the oppressed in the Near East today look to reactionary Islamic fundamentalism for their liberation is a direct result of the political bankruptcy of the bourgeois nationalists and of the historic betrayals by the Stalinist parties that tailed and capitulated to them. In the 1950s, Communist parties in Iran and Iraq attracted mass support based on their association with the 1917 October Revolution, which overturned capitalist rule in Russia. But the Stalinists betrayed the aspirations of their supporters, derailing potentially revolutionary situations by supporting bourgeois nationalists like Nasser in Egypt, Mossadeq in Iran, and Qassim in Iraq (see Near East, 1950s—Permanent Revolution vs. Bourgeois Nationalism, WV Nos. 740 and 741, 25 August and 8 September, 2000). Throughout the Cold War, the U.S. manipulated and cynically reinforced religious fundamentalism as an organized force against Communism, most clearly expressed in the billions funneled to arm and train mujahedin reactionaries fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
The struggle against Zionist aggression and imperialist neocolonialism requires a fight against capitalist rule, both in the imperialist centers and in the Near East. Down with the U.S.-Israeli axis of terror!
We print below a July 21 leaflet by the Spartacist League/U.S.
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With Israeli troops poised to invade southern Lebanon, relentless Zionist bombardment is turning large areas of the country into a pile of rubble and twisted metal. At least 350 civilians have been slaughtered, the countrys infrastructure is in ruins, and Beirut is once again being devastated. Out of a population of less than four million, some 500,000 have been displaced. Meanwhile, the bloody Zionist rulers continue their murderous rampage against Palestinians in Gaza, pounding the densely populated strip, murdering dozens. The master-race mentality of the Zionist rulers dictates that for every Israeli killed, whether soldier or civilian, a score of Arabs must die. Behind Israels latest harvest of blood stand the U.S. imperialists, who have given Israel a green light while continuing to enforce their own savage occupation of Iraq and beating the war drums against Syria and Iran. This alone should underscore the futility of appealing to the U.S. imperialists or the United Nations to come to the aid of Lebanon or the Palestinians. The myriad peoples of the Near East will not know peace, prosperity or justice until bourgeois rule in the region is overthrown through a series of socialist revolutions.
Israeli Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz has ominously stated that Israel would turn back the clock in Lebanon by 20 years, a threat of total devastation recalling the 1975-90 civil war. Israel has called up thousands of reservists, having already made several incursions into southern Lebanon where they faced fierce fighting by Hezbollah forces. It is notable that amid the chauvinist frenzy whipped up by Israels rulers, some 2,000 people demonstrated in Tel Aviv on July 16 against the assault on Lebanon. As Trotskyists, we in the Spartacist League militarily defend Hezbollah against the Israeli military machine in this conflict, while maintaining our political opposition to this reactionary fundamentalist outfit. Israel out of Lebanon, Gaza and all the Occupied Territories! Defend the Palestinian people! Down with U.S. aid to Israel!
Israels latest offensive comes in the context of the murderous U.S. occupation of Iraq. American imperial barbarism, which includes the torture chambers of Abu Ghraib and mass murders such as in Haditha, has also stoked and unleashed an orgy of ethnic and religious bloodletting there. A recent UN report on Iraq stated that in the month of June alone some 3,000 civilians had been slaughtered—100 per day. In the first half of this year, on average, nearly 80 civilians were killed each day. Now the U.S. is ratcheting up its saber rattling against Syria and Iran, claiming they are the real powers behind Hezbollah.
In the event of an attack on Iran or Syria, whether by the U.S. or by Israel acting as its proxy, it is the duty of the proletariat in the U.S. and around the world to stand for the military defense of Iran and Syria, without giving political support to either the Baathist dictatorship in Damascus or the reactionary mullah regime in Tehran. In the face of imperialist nuclear blackmail, we say that Iran needs nuclear weapons and adequate delivery systems to defend itself and to deter an imperialist attack. Additionally, as part of our unconditional military defense of the North Korean deformed workers state, we support that countrys development and testing of nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Hands off Syria and Iran! No UN sanctions against North Korea! U.S. out of Iraq, Afghanistan, the Near East and Central Asia!
While the Beirut government, which came to power last year with Washingtons support, appeals to the Bush administration to rein in Israel, the capitalist Democratic and Republican parties pledge their solidarity with the murderous Israeli rulers. For their part, the European imperialist powers and the United Nations debate whether or not Israels onslaught is excessive or disproportionate, and several bourgeois Arab leaders have condemned Hezbollah for adventurism after it seized two Israeli soldiers. In the face of Israels savage offensive, there are increasing calls for a UN peacekeeping presence in southern Lebanon. An undated Web statement by the liberal antiwar outfit United for Peace and Justice demands a Security Council resolution calling for an immediate and unconditional cease-fire and an end to US blocking of UN action. Beware illusions in the UN, an imperialist den of thieves and their victims.
From the Korean War to the starvation sanctions against Saddam Husseins Iraq, the UN has acted as a tool of imperialist depredation around the world. It was the UN that disarmed Palestinian fighters during Lebanons bloody civil war, setting up the 1982 massacre of some 2,000 civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps by Christian rightist forces directed by Israeli troops under the leadership of the now-comatose butcher Ariel Sharon. No to UN intervention!
Israel and the U.S. state that their aim is to disarm and crush Hezbollah. This can in the end be accomplished only by the annihilation of southern Lebanons plebeian Shiite population, a larger of the numerous mutually hostile communities in the country. Far from being a nation, Lebanon is an artificial statelet carved out of Syria by the French imperialists following World War I. The civil war that ravaged Lebanon and killed over 150,000 people represented the bloodiest expression of the intercommunal strife that has always plagued the country.
The reformist Workers World Party, which prettifies Hezbollah as a national resistance movement, declares that Islamic fundamentalism is the ideological form whose actual content is the struggle against imperialism (Workers World online, 20 July). Far from it. During the period of the Cold War against the Soviet Union, U.S. imperialism (and Israel vis-à-vis Hamas) fostered the growth of Islamic reaction as a counterweight to Communism and secular nationalism. This was most clearly expressed in the billions funneled by the U.S. to the bloodthirsty mujahedin butchers fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s. We said, Hail Red Army in Afghanistan! and called to extend the gains of the 1917 October Revolution to the Afghan peoples. It is an indictment of the political bankruptcy of Arab nationalism and a sign of the reactionary political climate ushered in by the 1991-92 capitalist counterrevolution in the USSR that millions of Arabs today perceive the Islamic fundamentalists to be the best fighters against imperialism and Zionism.
Capitalist rule, which fuels national, ethnic and religious divisions, has driven the constant bloodshed that defines the Near East. As one after another peace plan heralds further massacre and immiseration of Palestinians, as every proclamation of democracy covers for bloody imperialist occupation and internecine bloodletting, it could not be clearer that there will be no equitable resolution to the conflicting claims of the peoples of the region until bourgeois rule is overthrown and imperialist subjugation ended. This is particularly the case in assuring the right of national self-determination for both the Palestinian Arab and the Hebrew-speaking peoples.
The fight for workers rule in the Near East crucially includes shattering the Zionist garrison state from within through Arab/Hebrew workers revolution. Key to this perspective is the forging of Marxist workers parties throughout the Near East to unite the proletariat—Arab, Persian, Kurdish and Hebrew, Sunni and Shiite, Muslim and Christian—in struggle against imperialism and against the Zionists, mullahs, sheiks and all the other capitalist rulers. Such parties, sections of a reforged Trotskyist Fourth International, are essential to break the proletariat from fundamentalism and from all forms of nationalism in the struggle for a socialist federation of the Near East.
The conquest of power by the proletariat in the Near East does not complete the socialist revolution, but only opens it by changing the direction of social development. But that social development can only be consolidated through the international extension of the revolution, particularly to the advanced, industrialized imperialist centers. Defense of those subjugated by the imperialists around the globe demands the pursuit of class struggle in the U.S. and other imperialist centers, pointing toward a proletarian struggle for power. The Spartacist League, U.S. section of the International Communist League, is committed to the fight to forge a revolutionary workers party to lead the multiracial proletariat in the struggle to sweep away U.S. imperialism through socialist revolution.