Workers Vanguard No. 875
1 September 2006
Lebanon: Down With UN Intervention! Israel Out Now!
U.S. Out of Iraq, Afghanistan! Hands Off Iran!
For a Socialist Federation of the Near East!
For over a month, Lebanon was a place of carnage, destruction and horror inflicted by relentless Israeli bombardment backed up by some 30,000 invading troops, all with the full support of U.S. imperialism. Over 1,000 men, women and children were slaughtered, nearly a quarter of the population was displaced, and the infrastructure of the country was devastated. The Zionist regime of Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz declared that their intent was the annihilation of Hezbollah. But Hezbollah not only survived the onslaught, it inflicted significant casualties on the Israeli military as well as damage to tanks and other vehicles. Israels setback in Lebanon has touched off a crisis for the Olmert regime, while Hezbollah is now idolized by much of the regions Arab population.
The failure of Israels campaign in Lebanon is really what is behind the United Nations-sponsored cease-fire agreement, which Israel has repeatedly violated. Having opposed a cease-fire for weeks, the Bush administration suddenly switched track when it became clear that Israel was running into trouble in pursuing its military objectives. The crux of the agreement is a plan to deploy some 15,000 UN troops in southern Lebanon, although no foreign power was exactly jumping to place its forces between Hezbollah and Israel and get caught in a potential quagmire. But after initially offering only 200 troops, the French imperialists, Lebanons former colonial overlords, have now committed 2,000 troops and the Italians up to 3,000.
The purpose of this imperialist UN force is to try to accomplish what the Israeli military could not—the neutralization of Hezbollah and its fighters. It is a set-up for more repression against the peoples of Lebanon. It was U.S., French and Italian peacekeepers in Lebanon who disarmed Palestine Liberation Organization fighters in 1982, laying the basis for the massacre of some 2,000 Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps at the hands of fascistic Christian forces organized by the Israeli military. In the recent conflict, we called for the military defense of Hezbollah while maintaining our political opposition to that reactionary Islamic fundamentalist outfit. Today, we demand the full and immediate withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Lebanon and say: UN troops out of Lebanon now!
As they carried out their slaughter in Lebanon, the Zionist rulers continued their campaign of repression and murder in the Occupied Territories. Nearly 200 Palestinians have been killed since late June, when militants seized an Israeli soldier. Dozens of Palestinian legislative and government officials from Hamas remain in Israeli prisons, while several imperialist powers, as well as Israel, have continued their embargo of the Palestinians as punishment for the election of a Hamas government in January. Defend the Palestinian people! Down with the embargo! All Israeli troops and settlers out of the Occupied Territories—Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights!
A July 21 leaflet issued by the Spartacist League/U.S. that was distributed at protests throughout the country warned against any illusions in the UN or other imperialist agencies as protectors of the oppressed masses of the Near East and declared: 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 (Down With Zionist Onslaught Against Lebanon, Gaza! WV No. 874, 4 August). Opposed to this Marxist perspective, the reformist left internationally has given either open or backhanded support to imperialist peacekeepers.
In Britain, Socialist Workers Party leader Lindsey German signed a letter on behalf of the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) pleading with the Tony Blair government to call for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. Then, shortly after the UN-brokered cease-fire went into effect, the StWC canceled an August 19 London demonstration. For the StWC there was nothing left to protest, even as the imperialists were gathering forces to occupy Lebanon! In France, the pseudo-Trotskyist Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR) cosigned a call for an August 12 Paris demonstration calling on the Chirac government to act without delay for an unconditional ceasefire and demanding that the European Union (EU) impose sanctions against the Israeli government. These fake socialists promote as a force for peace the imperialist rulers who have waged war against the immigrant and Muslim populations of their countries, who carved up the Near East into a cauldron of national, ethnic and religious bloodletting, who slaughtered countless millions in their former colonies. And now theyre getting the cease-fire they called for, in the form of the biggest peacekeeping force in the EUs history.
In the U.S., the Workers World Party (WWP), which acts as press agents for the Hezbollah fundamentalists, covers for imperialist intervention by refusing to oppose the UN intervention to which Hezbollah agreed. In 1982, when Israel invaded Lebanon in the midst of the Lebanese civil war, the WWP helped build a demonstration that June, which demanded effective U.S. action to achieve Israeli withdrawal. It was such action that led straight to Sabra and Shatila.
Imperialist Hands Off Iran!
The U.S. firmly backed Israels onslaught against Lebanon as part of its attempt to build a new Middle East by stamping out any regime or political force that does not bow to its dictates. In Iraq, the bloody U.S. occupation is resulting in the deaths of thousands each month, mainly now at the hands of sectarian violence. Meanwhile, U.S./NATO forces continue to pound the peoples of Afghanistan, where the imperialist occupation has meant continued brutal oppression of women and tribal warfare.
Syria and Iran, both of which support Hezbollah, have been repeatedly threatened by the U.S. and allied imperialists. A 21 August New Yorker article by Seymour Hersh stated that the U.S. and Israel had made preparations for an attack on Hezbollah well before the group abducted two Israeli soldiers on July 12. Hersh quoted a Middle East expert who said, The White House was more focused on stripping Hezbollah of its missiles, because, if there was to be a military option against Irans nuclear facilities, it had to get rid of the weapons that Hezbollah could use in a potential retaliation at Israel.
In the event of an attack on Iran or Syria by the U.S.—or by Israel acting as a proxy for the U.S.—we would stand for the military defense of those countries without giving an iota of political support to the Baathist dictatorship in Damascus or the Persian-chauvinist Shiite clerical regime in Tehran. The U.S. is pushing for UN sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program if Iran does not suspend uranium enrichment by August 31. However, the U.S. is far from guaranteed that Russia and China would vote in the UN Security Council to impose sanctions.
On August 26, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that the country was opening a new heavy water plant, which is used to create nuclear fuel. The Iranian regime says that its development of nuclear technology is entirely for energy purposes. Regardless, what is clear is that in the face of imperialist belligerence and threats, Iran needs nuclear weapons and effective delivery systems to defend itself and deter 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.
Lesser-Evil Leftists on Parade
The true enemy of working people, minorities and the oppressed in the U.S. is the U.S. capitalist ruling class. The imperialist bourgeoisie that rained death and destruction on Afghanistan and Iraq is the same ruling class that left black and poor people to die when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, that has taken an ax to U.S. working peoples pensions, health care and jobs while shredding democratic rights in the name of the war on terror. In protests against the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the Spartacist League raised the call for class struggle against the U.S. capitalist rulers at home. We fight to forge a workers party—a U.S. section of a reforged Fourth International—to lead the fight to sweep away the bloody U.S. imperialist system through socialist revolution.
Crucial to our perspective is the need to break workers and minorities from capitalist Democratic Party lesser-evilism, which is actively promoted by the Anybody but Bush reformists. A case in point was an August 12 rally in Washington, D.C., organized by ANSWER, which was founded by the WWP and is currently led by the Party for Socialism and Liberation, which split from WWP in 2004. Speeches at the rally were directed almost exclusively against the Bush regime with barely a mention of the rabidly pro-Zionist Democratic Party.
All of the various antiwar coalitions supported by reformist groups like the International Socialist Organization (ISO), the WWP, Socialist Action or the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) sought to build a liberal-pacifist antiwar movement premised on appealing to Democratic politicians to oppose Bushs war in Iraq. Thus none of these organizations forthrightly called for the military defense of Iraq in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion. And these coalitions either ignore or downplay the occupation of Afghanistan, not least because the Democratic Party hails this as a just war waged in retaliation for the September 11 attacks.
The current focus of the reformists lesser-evilism is Camp Democracy, slated for the National Mall in Washington, D.C., beginning September 5. Cindy Sheehan, the Progressive Democrats of America, Democrats.com and like-minded liberals are building this as a demonstration for peace, justice, and impeachment, aiming to advance the Democrats fortunes in the November elections by drawing together all causes—from immigrant rights to labor issues to environmentalism—under the anti-Bush umbrella. Among its activities will be lobbying for an End the Iraq War Act that calls for replacing U.S. troops in Iraq with a UN/NATO occupation force. And among Camp Democracys endorsers are the ISOs Campus Antiwar Network front group and the RCPs World Cant Wait outfit.
The other face of the ISOs bourgeois lesser-evilism is ISO leader Todd Chretiens campaign for U.S. Senate in California on the ticket of the Greens, a small-time capitalist party whose electoral work is aimed at pressuring the Democrats to be more progressive. For its part, the WWPs International Action Center (IAC) is calling for a vote to Democratic Congressional candidate Charles Barron in Brooklyn, with IAC head Larry Holmes declaring that the election of this capitalist politician would help put one of our own in Congress (Workers World, 27 July).
For New October Revolutions!
In the Lebanon protests in the U.S., the Spartacist League was unique in stressing the need to militarily defend Hezbollah against Zionist attack while at the same time making clear our political opposition to Hezbollah, Hamas and all other Islamic fundamentalist forces. WWP appears to have taken notice, writing in a Workers World (17 August) statement: Some in the anti-war movement, even some who call themselves Marxists, have separated themselves from Hezbollah and Hamas, have even attacked them when they are under fire, on the grounds of ideology, because they are religious. This is a complete violation of principled anti-imperialism and Marxism.
It is the ABC of Marxism to fight for the complete political independence of the proletariat from any and all non-proletarian forces and social classes, which certainly includes the anti-woman, anti-Semitic Hezbollah. We stood for the military defense of Hezbollah because an Israeli victory would have deepened the oppression of the Lebanese masses, strengthened the Zionists whip hand against the Palestinians and furthered U.S. designs in the region.
Workers World (31 August) reprints an interview with Hezbollahs Hasan Nasrallah under the headline Hezbollah Leader Calls For: United Front Against Imperialism, while another article in the same issue approvingly quotes the head of the Lebanese Communist Party calling Nasrallah our Arab Che Guevara with a turban and describes Hezbollah as the party of the downtrodden and oppressed. Building on the popularity it acquired by standing up to the Israeli military onslaught, Hezbollah is today taking the lead in rebuilding southern Lebanon and in providing relief. But Hezbollahs increasing authority represents a dire threat to women, Christians, the Druze, Sunnis and also Shiites deemed by Hezbollah to be non-believers. Far from an expression of anti-imperialism, the rise of Islamic mass movements reflects despair in the face of brutal oppression. It is the reactionary product of the political bankruptcy of nationalism and the absence of a communist alternative.
What is needed in the Near East is the forging of revolutionary internationalist workers parties through irreconcilable struggle against bourgeois and petty-bourgeois nationalism and religious fundamentalism. It is capitalist rule, which fuels national, ethnic and religious divisions, that has driven the constant bloodshed in the region. There will be no equitable resolution to the conflicting claims of the peoples of the Near East until bourgeois rule is overthrown and imperialist subjugation ended. This is particularly the case for Israel/Palestine, a case of two interpenetrated peoples who lay claim to the same piece of land. Assuring the right of self-determination for both the Palestinian and Hebrew-speaking peoples requires shattering the Zionist garrison state from within through Arab/Hebrew workers revolution and the overthrow of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the bloody Baathist bonapartist regime in Syria and the capitalist regime in Lebanon, establishing a socialist federation of the Near East.
U.S. imperialism played a key role in fostering the growth of Islamic reaction during the Cold War as a counterweight to Communism and secular nationalism in the Near East. The crucial battle was in Afghanistan following the Soviet intervention in 1979. The U.S. imperialists funneled billions of dollars in aid to the mujahedin cutthroats to kill Soviet soldiers. We said, Hail Red Army in Afghanistan! and called to extend the gains of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution to the Afghan peoples. In 1989, when the treacherous Stalinist bureaucrats in Moscow pulled out the troops, we denounced this betrayal, warning that it was far better to fight and defeat counterrevolution in Afghanistan than to have to confront it in Moscow.
The bulk of the left traitorously joined the imperialists anti-Soviet human rights crusade. This was exemplified by the anti-Communist ISO, which proclaimed in Socialist Worker (May 1988): Just as socialists welcomed the defeat of the U.S. in Vietnam, we welcome the defeat of the Russians in Afghanistan. It will give heart to all those inside the USSR and in Eastern Europe who want to break the rule of Stalins heirs. The ISO and much of the rest of the left cheered the triumph of capitalist counterrevolution in the Soviet degenerated workers state in 1991-92, a world-historic defeat for the proletariat internationally and a boon for the growth of Islamic fundamentalism.
The International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) stood at its post to the end in defense of the Soviet Union against capitalist counterrevolution. Today we fight to cohere Marxist workers parties committed to the struggle for new October Revolutions—the only road to ridding the world of imperialist war, national oppression and capitalist exploitation.