Workers Vanguard No. 884

19 January 2007


U.S. Out of Iraq Now! Hands Off Iran!

Imperialists Escalate Bloody Iraq Occupation

Break with the Democrats—The Other Party of War and Racism!

For a Class-Struggle Workers Party!

President Bush’s January 10 announcement that the U.S. will dispatch over 20,000 more troops to Iraq in a “surge” to subdue Baghdad will mean even more death and destruction in the living hell that U.S.-occupied Iraq has become. Bush’s speech also stepped up U.S. threats against Iran. As revolutionary Marxists in the belly of the imperialist beast, the Spartacist League, U.S. section of the International Communist League, demands the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. hands off the world!

Dispensing with all pretenses that the Iraqi government is anything but a puppet regime, Bush informed Congressional leaders that he had told Iraqi prime minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki: “This has to work or you’re out.” The day before Bush’s speech, U.S. troops along with Iraqi soldiers swarmed onto Baghdad’s Sunni-dominated Haifa Street, slaughtering dozens. Immediately following Bush’s speech, U.S. forces seized five Iranian officials in two separate raids in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil, during which an Iranian diplomatic mission was attacked. The raids were so provocative that they even angered local Kurdish officials who are front-line agents of the U.S. occupation.

Bush’s desperate “plan” to send more troops into the Iraqi quagmire is being openly opposed by large sections of the U.S. bourgeoisie, including in Bush’s Republican Party, who see his policy as damaging to U.S. imperialism’s interests. Senate Democrats plan to introduce a non-binding resolution opposing Bush’s plan. While a few Democrats threaten to deny funding for additional troops, Ted Kennedy made clear that by the time a request for funds arrives in Congress, “The horse will be out of the barn” and the Democrats will vote yes. Indeed, the first contingent of new troops has already arrived in Iraq.

Last year’s Democratic electoral victory represented a mid-term correction by the bourgeoisie. For the ruling class, the fact that more than 150,000 U.S. troops are stuck in a losing situation in Iraq means that the military is greatly overstretched, undermining Washington’s ability to array its forces against more strategically important targets, from the mullahs’ Iran to the deformed workers states of North Korea and especially China. And Bush’s “faith-based” gambles have only sunk the imperialists even deeper in the Iraq morass. The Shi’ite-dominated government in Baghdad isn’t too happy with the U.S. troop buildup, which might impede the mass killings and expulsions of Sunnis.

Iraq’s Sunni population erupted in anger over last month’s “legal” sectarian lynching of Saddam Hussein, a onetime henchman of U.S. imperialism. On January 15, the al-Maliki government hanged two former Hussein aides, including his half brother, who was decapitated during the execution! The bloody U.S. war and occupation have utterly destroyed what was a relatively advanced Near Eastern country and have unleashed communal slaughter on all sides. Thousands of Iraqis are dying each month, and hundreds of thousands have fled their cities and towns, many for neighboring countries.

And now the U.S. imperialists, as well as the Sunni-dominated states of the Near East, seek to curb the Tehran government’s growing influence and power in Iraq and the region, in large part a product of the U.S. occupation. Bush has charged Iran and Syria with supporting Iraqi insurgents and threatened to “interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria.” In an expression of the opposition to Bush inside the bourgeoisie, Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor under Jimmy Carter and a key fixture of Cold War II, pointed out in a Washington Post (12 January) op-ed piece: “The commitment of 21,500 more troops is a political gimmick of limited tactical significance and of no strategic benefit…. The other alternative [to withdrawal], perhaps already lurking in the back of Bush’s mind, is to widen the conflict by taking military action against Syria or Iran.”

Provocative war moves against Iran are well under way. Bush has ordered a second aircraft carrier strike force to the Persian Gulf, including cruise-missile-firing ships, to threaten Iran. Patriot missiles have also been sent to the region. And the London Times (7 January) reports that Israel has plans to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities using “bunker buster” nuclear weapons.

We say: U.S. hands off Iran! In the face of imperialist nuclear blackmail and with continuing threats of attack, Iran needs nuclear weapons and adequate delivery systems as deterrence. In the event of a military attack against Iran by the U.S., or by Israel or other forces operating on behalf of the imperialists, we declare: The international proletariat must stand for the military defense of Iran. At the same time, as Marxists we give not one iota of political support to the reactionary mullah regime in Tehran.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, at least one U.S. gunship fired on people in the southern tip of Somalia. The attack targeted Islamic forces fleeing Ethiopian troops who had acted as American proxies—and in the service of Ethiopian interests—in unseating the Islamic Courts regime in Mogadishu. According to the British Oxfam group, some 70 nomadic herdsmen were killed in air strikes by both Ethiopia and the U.S. A small contingent of American troops was also sent into Somalia, supposedly to check on who was killed in the air strikes. This was the first known time that U.S. troops have entered the country since Somali militiamen shot down two Black Hawk helicopters and killed 18 soldiers, prompting the U.S. withdrawal in 1994. U.S. stay out of Somalia!

Reform or Revolution

Opponents of imperialist depredations must understand that there can be no real struggle against imperialist war without a struggle against the capitalist system that foments such wars. Mass slaughter is the concentrated expression and ultimate logic of capitalism, a system that daily condemns countless numbers around the world to death by malnutrition, lack of medical care and industrial murder. In the U.S., the attacks on working peoples’ living conditions, the swelling black and Latino prison population, the rotting social infrastructure—all these are expressions of the “normal” brutal workings of the capitalist system. The rulers’ horrendous murder-by-abandonment of black people and the poor in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina signified that in the interests of the masses of this society, the capitalist profit system must go.

What is necessary is the forging of a revolutionary workers party that fights to overthrow the capitalist system through socialist revolution. Such a party can be built only through politically combatting those who retard the political consciousness of the working masses by preaching that this system can be reformed to serve their interests. Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky in The Permanent Revolution (1930) described “the boundary that separates Marxism from opportunism, the revolutionary from the pacifist position”: “The struggle against war is decided not by pressure upon the government but only by the revolutionary struggle for power.

In the lead-up to and during the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, we raised the calls: “Defend Iraq against U.S./British Imperialist Attack!” and “For Class Struggle Against U.S. Capitalist Rulers!” We took a side militarily with semicolonial Iraq against the imperialist invaders, while politically opposing Saddam Hussein’s bloody capitalist regime. We stated that the foremost means to defend Iraq was not on the military plane, given the colossal American military advantage, but through class struggle, particularly in the U.S. As we predicted, the initial war led to easy victory, while the subsequent occupation has become an intractable mess for U.S. imperialism. Our revolutionary perspective requires fighting against the policies of the pro-capitalist labor misleaders who chain the proletariat to its capitalist class enemy, not least through their support to U.S. “national interests.”

Today we continue to defend the peoples of Iraq against any U.S.-led attack and repression. Insofar as the forces on the ground in Iraq aim their blows against the imperialist occupiers, we call for their military defense against U.S. imperialism. Every blow struck against the imperialist occupiers is a blow against the enemy of workers and the oppressed. At the same time, we are vehement political opponents of the Islamic fundamentalists, remnants of the Ba’ath regime and other forces carrying out sectarian carnage.

The day after Bush’s “surge” announcement, the liberal-reformist left responded with protests around the country aimed at egging on the Democrats to resist the escalation. A chant raised at a rally in New York City’s Times Square said it all: “Stop the killing! Stop the war! What the hell is Congress for?” National antiwar demonstrations are planned for January 27 in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. Whether organized by United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), ANSWER, World Can’t Wait (WCW) or the Troops Out Now Coalition (TONC), the program of these mobilizations offers nothing but the lie that capitalist imperialism can be made to be peaceful and to serve the needs of the masses.

These coalitions and the reformist left groups that have built them—the International Socialist Organization (ISO), Workers World Party (WWP), the Party for Socialism and Liberation, the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP)—have all along sought to build an “antiwar movement” premised on pleading with the imperialist rulers to stop acting like imperialists. Countering such liberal-pacifist nonsense, a resolution adopted during World War I, an interimperialist war, by a conference of exiled Russian revolutionary Marxists in Switzerland that included Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin explained:

“Pacifism, the preaching of peace in the abstract, is one of the means of duping the working class. Under capitalism, particularly in its imperialist stage, wars are inevitable….

“The propaganda of peace unaccompanied by a call for revolutionary mass action can only sow illusions and demoralise the proletariat, for it makes the proletariat believe that the bourgeoisie is humane.”

—“The Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. Groups Abroad,” February 1915

None of the reformist left groups that presented themselves as the best builders of the antiwar movement came out for the military defense of Iraq during the 2003 war; their aim was not to mobilize the working class on the side of the Iraqi people and for the defeat of U.S. imperialism. Now the reformists seek to revive the “antiwar movement” that went splat when its purpose was better served by working for a Democratic Party victory in the midterm elections. Debra Sweet, national director of the RCP’s World Can’t Wait, explicitly laid out the politics of the “antiwar movement.” Speaking of the new Democratic majority in Congress, she said: “We’ll give them a couple of months or a few weeks to see what they come up with, but if they don’t do something very decisive around the war and these other issues, I think there will be trouble” (Washington Post, 3 January).

Defeat Imperialism Through Workers Revolution!

The reformist left’s entire opposition activity consists of working within the framework of the capitalist order, which leads them to grotesquely embellish the fraud of bourgeois democracy. Workers World’s TONC is calling for a protest in D.C. on March 17 where at the end of the day, “instead of getting back on our buses and heading home we must be prepared to stay in Washington to make sure that Congress votes no.” Along the same lines, the ISO opines in Socialist Worker (8 December 2006): “The long dormant antiwar movement must take to the streets to remind this country’s ruling elite that they ultimately must answer to the people they govern.” The reality obscured by these reformists is that the “ruling elite”—i.e., the capitalists—have armed forces, cops, courts and prisons to defend their profits and rule, over which they throw a “democratic” veil in order to hide their class dictatorship.

As the other party of war and racism, the Democrats aim to redirect U.S. imperialism’s energies to better serve the rulers’ interests. Their “first 100 hours” in Congress were carefully calibrated to institute a more effective “war on terror.” As the Washington Post (3 January) put it: “Nowhere in the Democrats’ consensus-driven agenda is legislation revisiting last year’s establishment of military tribunals and suspending legal rights for suspected terrorists. Nor is there a revision of the civil liberties provisions of the USA Patriot Act, a measure curbing warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Agency or an aggressive confrontation of the president on his Iraq war policies.” New House legislation, based on recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, ramps up “security” measures on the home front. Meanwhile, the Democrats trumpet their pitiful increase in the minimum wage that keeps impoverished workers impoverished. The Democrats’ agenda: Money for war and “homeland security” repression, and peanuts for the poor.

As revolutionary Marxists, we see the problems encountered by U.S. imperialism as an opportunity to promote struggle by the multiracial American proletariat against the capitalist rulers at home. It is the road of class struggle that points the way toward smashing imperialism from within, through socialist revolution. If there is to be a future for coming generations of working-class and minority youth other than one of grinding exploitation, joblessness, mass imprisonment or use as cannon fodder, if the impoverished masses of the world are to have a future other than starvation and slaughter, this whole system must be torn up by its roots and replaced by a rational, planned economy under workers rule internationally.