For Workers Struggle to Defeat Imperialism in the Near East!
American Workers: Don’t Be Fooled by the “National Interest”!
Big oil rules the roost at the NY stock exchange and in the City of London and most other stock exchanges around the world. It is for them that over 2 million Iraqi civilians have met a violent end at the hands of the U.S. and its successive coalitions. And deductions from your paychecks have paid for twenty four years of Iraq wars and sanctions that have produced no stability, never mind peace. The U.S. Government has wrecked Iraq and slowly but continuously slaughtered its people. We should not forget that the sanctions regime that was supposed to cause the overthrow of Saddam Hussein killed upwards of 500,000 Iraqi children and there seems to be no count of how many civilians died as a result of collateral damage during the air campaign that coincided with these sanctions. There are no hard figures from the two wars, and you can take your pick whether you consider the current U.S.-led military campaign a continuation of the second or a third U.S.-Iraq war.[i] For the Sunni population, oppressed since the “de-Ba’athization,” beginning in 2003, the first U.S. war on their denomination has never ended.
Obama sells his coalition air campaign as a defense of the ‘democratic’ government of Iraq, but it is clear to anyone on the ground that their principal goal is to attack anyone associated with the Syrian Revolution, under the guise of attacking ‘terrorists’. The U.S. government has not said who is in and who is out of the ‘moderate opposition’ to the Assad regime, while the question goes unanswered whether the U.S. itself opposes the Assad regime. We see Assad applauding the bombing and his air defenses don’t molest the marauding coalition bombers; likewise we see the U.S. air force being fastidious about not attacking the Assad regime military installations or forces.
Thus we see Obama’s ‘coalition of the willing’ bombing oil fields controlled by ISIS in Syria and while leaving Kurds in Kobane in the lurch as soon as darkness falls. A number of sources who have proven reliable have already decided to call Obama’s campaign a “war against the Syrian revolution.” This certainly explains the acquiescence of the Iranians and the China/Russia imperialist bloc in the U.S. attacks on the Sunni uprising. And this goes a long way to explain the strange bedfellows we see where the UK have conferences with Iran for the first time in many years, then joining the U.S. air campaign, and where Jordan and even Saudi Arabia put aside their belligerence of generations against Iran to join in the attack on the Syrian Revolution on the pretext of fighting terrorism. In fact, the New Caliphate project of ISIS scares the royals half to death.
Egypt has joined Washington’s coalition against terrorism. And the U.S. administration is silent on the human rights violations of the el-Sisi regime. In fact the throttling of the Egyptian Revolution looks to Washington like it has been accomplished, and now Washington and the monarchs and the dictators look to finish off the revolution in Syria behind the pretext of fighting another “war on terror” in Iraq.
Of course there are anomalies aplenty making it easy for those who reject dialectics to confuse the working class. Washington was not able to pursue its preferred course uninterruptedly. Palestinian resistance put the Central Command’s plans temporarily on hold. It was not possible to have a U.SA.-led coalition against Muslim enemies at the same moment that the U.S. was obviously supplying the Israeli assault on Gaza.
Dialectics Clarifies and Resolves the Picture
We will explain: the strategy the U.S. has pursued, the insurgency, the reactionary theocrats who seek to co-opt the legitimate democratic demands of the Sunni population, the legitimate national aspirations of the Kurds, the Syrian revolutionary struggle against Assad, the international sources of support for the U.S.-led bloc and the reactionary regional supporters for the Islamic State caliphate project. We will show the rhetoric of the Democrats for what it really is and we will condemn the almost preposterous politics of the supine left and liberal labor misleadership for what they are, social-imperialists of the worst sort.[ii]
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) generally, and Syria in particular has recently become the main arena of the inter-imperialist conflict between the U.S.-led bloc and the China/Russia rising imperialist bloc. What surprises many is the fact that the contention is actually for the allegiance of the Iranian bourgeoisie and with it the oil they control. Chief instigator of the conflict and the shooting war is of course the United States, which fears that Iran will become a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the formal name of the China/Russia alliance. We call for and seek to build the broadest movement to end Washington’s Middle East military adventure, which they claim to wage in the “national interest” and in defense of the security and safety of American persons.
Just as in 1990, with the first Gulf War against Saddam Hussein and Iraq, a U.S.-initiated imperialist coalition is shaping up to launch yet another military adventure in the region under the guise of going after the reactionary, barbaric fundamentalist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). Right now, a coalition of more than 50 nations, plus the EU and NATO, are backing Obama’s war drive. This includes such bankrupt social democrats and social imperialists as President Hollande of the French Socialist Party. France has already conducted air strikes.[iii] Now the arch labor-faker and leader of the UK Labour Party Ed Miliband has signed on to the imperialist bombing project. Germany under Merkel has sent military advisers and arms to the oppressed Kurds (although fighters in Kobane say they haven’t received so much as a band-aid.) To date, we have heard nothing from Richard Trumka. The deafening silence indicates unanimity with his master Obama.
Both Merkel of Germany and Hollande of France have claimed that hundreds of their citizens have joined ISIS in Iraq and in Syria. British Prime Minister David Cameron is having an apoplectic fit over what he perceives to be thousands of British Muslim volunteers joining ISIS and/or the al-Nusra Front, the Syrian al-Qaeda organization. Imperialist propagandists are creating a panic about the return of “terrorists” to the ‘homeland’ not only to justify intervention in Iraq and Syria, but also to criminalize the movements of workers and youth in their own countries. No doubt these leaders will fuel yet more anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant racism throughout the EU and use it to justify state discrimination and repression. Even before the current conflict, the European economies, staggering through the world crisis of capitalism, all tried various schemes to limit Muslim immigration and now face an inundation by refugees from the American-led bombing campaign.
Of note also is that none of the BRICS countries have joined Obama’s coalition. The BRICS countries are quickly lining up as full-fledged allies with the emerging imperialist China/Russia bloc in competition with the U.S. and the EU.
A century after the beginning of the First World War, world capitalism is shaping up to be just as much of a tinderbox, only this time playing with modern, sophisticated conventional weapons of mass destruction, while the world remains on a hair-trigger nuclear alert.[iv] The over-arching question now is just whether climate destruction or world war will be the next or perhaps final great human catastrophe, if the working class does not take all power from the ruling class and sweep away the profit system while there is still time.
We oppose Obama’s continuation war, AKA Bush’s’ legacy war, which is another episode in the Wolfowitz/Perl war for the benefit of the Military Industrial Complex, a plan for the Pentagon to blow the Cold War “peace dividend” and to extend into the 21st Century the pre-eminence of Big Oil’s profits in the shaping of the global economy.[v] The end of the Cold War, the “End of History”[vi], has not resulted in the ushering in of liberal democracy and peace, but repression, poverty, environmental destruction (see chart below)[vii], endless wars, austerity and a very unstable world.
As climate change threatens humanity, U.S. imperialists invest not in a green economy, but yet more war
U.S. imperialism is continuing its role as the biggest threat to humanity in the 20th Century where they used nuclear weapons twice against civilian populations, mass bombed Korea and North Vietnam, brought the world to the brink of nuclear war over the Cuban Missile Crisis (Turkish missile crisis for the Russians), and engaged in numerous covert and military operations to suppress popular uprisings from the Bay of Pigs to Indonesia to Nicaragua. The Democratic and Republican parties always support U.S. imperialist military adventures, even if some of their elected members sometimes object, as shown by the recent saber-rattling against Syria, Iran and North Korea. As the world’s one hegemonic military power wobbles on its perch, U.S. imperialism becomes an ever-greater danger for the international working class. Its economic power wanes and that of the emerging imperialist powers of China and Russia grows and conflicts over spheres of influence and trade preference have already begun. So what the U.S. could not enforce through economic pressure before will soon have to be resolved through military conflict.
Workers Need To Prevent Any New Vietnam War In Iraq and Syria
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) continues to be a focal point of social and class struggles, as well as a key strategic area for the imperialist blocs of the U.S./EU and the China/Russia bloc, as capitalists the world over reel from economic crisis. On top of the democratic aspirations of the working masses, the unresolved national questions of the Kurds and the Palestinians, the workers of the region face increasing exploitation and immiseration at the hands of the imperialist powers and their own brutal comprador bourgeoisie. This new Iraq War episode follows the genocidal bombing and military devastation by the Zionist Israeli U.S. client state against the Palestinian people in Gaza, armed by the U.S. and with unanimous bi-partisan Democratic/Republican support. While Obama is for air strikes and trying to form an imperialist coalition, U.S. chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Dempsey is speculating that ground troops will need to be used. 500 members of the 1st Infantry Division were dispatched to Iraq while he spoke (the afternoon of September 26th).
John McCain said he had no problem with a 100 year war on terror as long ‘we win’. The CWG said in an editorial in Class War Vol. 2, #2 (pg. 17) that this idea did not find favor with voters who saw Obama as a peace candidate pledging to end the Iraq War.[viii] So they voted for him instead. Now we see how that turned out; as in every other fundamental question the Democrats in power are the mirror image of the Republicans. They work for the same people–the 1%–and that ain’t us!
So under Obama we are now engaged in the third of the more or less continuous Iraq Wars that date back to 1991, which together with the sanctions (“war by other means”)[ix] goes back to 1990, almost a quarter century of war. If Obama goes back on his word not to send ground troops, and does so, many of the poverty draft enlisted ranks will have been born after the onset of this ‘endless war’.
Liberal NGO’s such as MoveOn.org and progressive activists promote peace while supporting the Democratic Party of war.
U.S. policy has made a wreck of Iraq and its political connivance has caused communal warfare that drives the insurgencies of the oppressed. Playing world policeman has not made the world safer, but has destabilized a strategic region of the world. World imperialism has driven the masses both into progressive directions, such as the Local Coordinating Committees (LCC) in Syria and the Palestinian resistance, but also into the camp of social reaction where a political vacuum exists, such as what we are witnessing with ISIS. It is ever more crucial that the oppressed working masses of the world once again see the struggle for socialism as their beacon of hope for social progress.
ISIS: Bourgeois Reaction In Theocratic Robes
ISIS is a relatively recent phenomenon. It now claims to have 10,000 foreign fighters who have rallied to its New Caliphate project, although until recently its main sources of membership were the preceding al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and defectors from the Syrian al-Nusra Front. In the political vacuum caused by the U.S. de-Ba’athization campaign, they found themselves in local control. While the U.S. made war against the post-Saddamist insurgency in Iraq, AQI made a contest for leadership of the Sunni resistance but were driven from Iraq into exile in Syria by the U.S. and U.S.-rented militias. Ayman al-Zawahiri told the AQI leadership that they were to confine their activities to Iraq and that the al-Nusra Front was the al-Qaeda standard-bearer in Syria. But ISIS managed to secure its own sources of funds and weapons and rejected tutelage from Bin-Laden’s successor and launched their own New Caliphate project. The western press has trumpeted ISIS’ bank robbing, extortion, protection racketeering and oil-siphoning as sources of their where-withal, but the real wellsprings have been captured oil fields and sections of the Saudi and Gulf emirate aristocracy and bourgeoisie who have been generous with their funds and weapons caches precisely because they have no faith that Obama will liberate or protect any Sunni peoples and can see the obvious overarching tilt of Obama’s foreign policy aimed at luring Iran out of the China/Russia SCO imperialist camp. They don’t trust the U.S. The Sheiks and bankers watched every time the U.S. switched its position on the Kurdish question.
It was the policies of the U.S. puppet al-Maliki government in Baghdad, in particular its Shiite and pro-Iranian biases together with de-Ba’athization which prepared the conditions of ongoing oppression of the Sunni minority and a Sunni uprising was thus bound to take place sooner or later. The reactionary theocrats of the ISIS group have scammed the righteous Sunni uprising. Their project is for a theocratic state and no different in essentials from the Iranian or Israeli model for that matter. This is an attempt to elevate a Sunni bourgeoisie to positions of privilege in a caliphate ruled by religious zealots.
One of the major appeals of ISIS that the left often overlooks is their stated aim of liberating the historical Levant from the western powers and western culture and this includes Lebanon and parts of Saudi Arabia, as well as the present spheres of conflict and naturally enough this appeals to sections of the Sunni ‘out’ bourgeoisie who have been excluded from the gravy train since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
No doubt about it. ISIS is a reactionary, mortal enemy of the MENA working class, as they engage in barbarous attacks on Kurds, non-Muslims, Shiites and Sunnis they perceive as enemies. The crimes of ISIS though pale in comparison to those of the U.S. imperialists, who are responsible for millions of Iraqi deaths from the two wars and sanctions. It was Clinton’s UN Ambassador, Madeleine Albright, who in 1996 told Leslie Stahl on “60 Minutes” when asked about a half million dead Iraqi children that “…we think the price is worth it.”[x] Our contacts in the region have pointed out to us that Assad has killed 150 times as many Syrians as ISIS has.
The Obama policy requires a suspension of disbelief to be able to claim that they are going in to spend three more years liberating Iraq from the ISIS ‘barbarians’. This isn’t about moral outrage by Obama or any other Democratic or Republican representative of the ruling class. The U.S. simply sees ISIS as an unreliable alternative to Assad, which also has the nasty habit of chopping heads off, so it’s hard to make business deals with these folks. Raking in profits requires something of a stable political and social environment. If tomorrow ISIS was perceived as advancing U.S. interests, you can bet Obama would be there behind them selling their virtues.
Military Policy for the Working Class
For the working class, ISIS’ sole ‘virtue’ is its resistance arms in hand against the Coalition air war. Already there are questions whether ISIS is indeed the target of these attacks. The ultimate target of these attacks is always the Syrian and unfinished Arab national revolution, which threatens Big Oil and all of capitalist property. We know what any kid in the schoolyard knows and what much of the petty-bourgeois left never did learn; that the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend by any means. When ISIS is firing upon the imperialists, we fire upon the imperialists as well. To that extent we would exist in a tacit military bloc, but no political support would be implied. The working class would expect to be the target of ISIS gunfire tomorrow, and not only because of religious collisions, but because of white hot opposition of class interests. To survive, even if triumphant, ISIS will need to make a deal with one or the other imperialist bloc. Thus they are among the ultimate enemies of the working class; even nowadays they give the Assad regime a free pass. They have avoided all but the most incidental and accidental clashes with Assad’s forces while they concentrate their fire on the Syrian revolutionaries. We call for an end to the bombing and the withdrawal of the U.S. troops and the withdrawal of all support to the puppet regime in Baghdad!
We are for the Local Coordinating Committees (LCC), who are the expression both of the masses self-organization and the basis and command and control for local self-defense. They find themselves in political and armed conflict with the Assad regime, with ISIS, and now with Obama’s Coalition, as a matter of survival. We are for their proliferation across Syria, Kurdistan and Iraq as well. The principle reason Obama has withheld surface to air missiles (SAMS) and man portable air defense weapons from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) is the bourgeoisie’s fear that these weapons will find their way to the LCC’s and not whether they will get into the hands of ISIS or other terrorists. Above all the U.S. seeks the eradication of the LCC’s. The LCC’s have the potential to become the basic organs and expressions of popular democracy and can develop politically and in their membership into the basic organs of workers’ state power through the Permanent Revolution.
The working class in Iraq, Syria, Kurdistan and Palestine is opposed and besieged militarily by Assad, ISIS, al-Abadi (Iraqi Prime Minister) and the U.S. coalition of the willing. All of whom have taken up arms against the advance of the Arab national revolution and in particular against its most advanced forms to date, the Local Coordinating Committees that form the base of the Syrian revolution and against the organizations of the Kurdish national movement and particularly the fighters of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The Kurdish fighters today face off against ISIS and find themselves in a tacit military bloc with U.S. imperialism, but they know well that imperialisms’ guns have long supported the Turkish and Iraqi claims to Kurdistan, and the mere fact that the PKK and the USA are both fighting ISIS does not make them allies.
ISIS, while full of bluster in its attempt to provoke the ire of the west with hideously staged beheadings, is not an honest broker when it comes to leading the Sunni masses in their righteous uprising against the U.S.-backed Iraqi Shiite regime. So while the Sunni workers and oppressed have every right to rise up against the oppression of the U.S./Iranian-backed regime, they are being led by reactionary forces whose New Caliphate only trades one form of oppression for another. ISIS does not fight imperialism, it fosters sectarian rivalries and will tomorrow broker a deal via their regional bourgeois and monarchist sponsors with one imperialist bloc or the other.
Today, ISIS fights the Kurds on one side and al-Abadi on the other, while they are on the receiving end of U.S./coalition air strikes which are far from pinpoint and kill more civilians than ISIS militants. While workers have no interest in supporting ISIS politically, in the theater of war there is a pecking order of military targets. So while ISIS is firing upon coalition forces, revolutionary forces, to the extent that it is tactically possible without endangering their own fighters should stand back and shoot in the same direction against the imperialists. Nevertheless, while ISIS is targeting the forces of the revolution no such tacit military bloc is possible. ISIS has been doing this for years, so such a bloc would be suicidal for the working masses under these conditions. It should go without saying that no suicidal military bloc with any of the forces of the imperialist coalition is permissible either. Such a confusion would be pure poison for the revolutionary fighters. The Syrian, Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish workers and military detachments must fight to overcome sectarian division politically and maintain their independence from the reactionary forces of the New Caliphate, the al-Abadi regime, the Assad regime and the coalition of imperialists. Multi-ethnic, secular workers self defense guards based in local democratic popular councils are the only road toward peace through the advance of the Arab revolution toward the unfolding Permanent Revolution.
U.S. Goals and Strategy
The U.S. is going to war again in the Middle East to replace the regimes that no longer serve its imperialist interests. Bashar al-Assad was tolerated by the U.S. and Israel even though he was allied to Iran and Russia, because his dictatorship was a bastion against a popular revolution in Syria. The U.S. refused to arm the rebels with anti-aircraft missiles hoping that Assad and the rebels would fight to a standstill and a new pro-U.S. regime would emerge. This has failed and ISIS has filled the vacuum created by the 3 year war. Then ISIS spread to Iraq and threatened to overthrow the U.S. puppet Maliki. Once again the U.S. stepped in to prop the regime up, bombing ISIS in the north and arming the Kurds, while it worked to replace Maliki with a regime more friendly to the U.S. than Iran.
The strategy of the U.S. is to create a huge panic about ISIS terrorists returning to the ‘homelands’ to justify the ruthless bombing of the territory controlled by ISIS. But ISIS is much less a threat to U.S. domination of the region, not to mention the homelands, than it is the enemy of the popular resistance that is capable of breaking from both the U.S. bloc and the China/Russia bloc. ISIS is the product of imperialist invasion, wars and occupation of the Middle East since WW1. It is a reactionary social movement that has grown up around warlords like Bin Laden only because imperialism, in cahoots with the Arab leaders and Stalinist parties, seek at all times to destroy the Arab national revolution. The Ba’athists and Nasserites ended up in bed with the U.S. and Israel and leaving the masses prey to the appeal of sectarian movements.
The U.S. aim is to bring the Sunni and Kurd comprador bourgeoisies into a Shiite-dominated government that is a vassal of the western imperialist bloc. There is nothing new in this policy except the opponent of the moment. Today’s ‘boogey-man’ ISIS is led by former leaders of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Thanks to U.S. intervention their political influence has grown at the expense of former Ba’athist party membership. And today they are poised to capture, depending mostly on what the U.S. does, the support and participation of the Iraqi ‘no-future’ generation who have survived a lifetime of U.S. bombings and sanctions and who are offered $400.00 a month to carry a rifle for the New Caliphate.
Workers should ask themselves whether they ever wonder where the funding for these reactionary insurgent groups like ISIS comes from today. It is fairly well known that Rep. Charlie Wilson for the Republicans and National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski for the Democrats organized the dollar conduits for the Afghan Mujahedeen in 1979, a funding supply gleefully joined by construction magnate Osama bin Laden. But nowadays members, and it can even be said a wing of, the ruling classes in Kuwait and the Gulf States raise funds for ISIS and al-Qaeda alike.[xi]
What the U.S. bourgeoisie is really fighting for is a chance to make the resulting Iraqi state beholden to the U.S. imperialist bloc and all that that implies, including gaining more oil territory parcels in future auctions at the expense of the Chinese/ Russian bloc. And part of their long term strategy is to retake Iran out of the political and economic orbit of the China/ Russia bloc. Recently Kerry (and now also Cameron at the UN) told the Iranians that they would be welcome to play a part in the war against ISIS. This invitation should be seen in light of this long term policy goal.
Who supports Obama’s new Iraq war? No surprise he has the same supporters as Bush had in the last Iraq war. All the hereditary monarchies and their suites of lackeys are depending on imperialism to sustain their rule; they are the nominal landlords for where the oil rigs pump profits to the western oil oligarchs. This is particularly true given the Arab Spring uprisings and the rising discontent of the masses. Only the intervention of Saudi troops in March, 2011, sustained the Bahraini monarchy and crushed a mass popular uprising.
The bourgeoisie does not have a new plan for the wealth of Iraq. They have not succeeded in re-jiggering the Iraqi government post-Maliki. The neo-liberal plan was to buy militias with cash and buy the whole population with shares of oil stocks (presumably worth 5.8k/year). Iraq is not Alaska and this is no more attractive now than it was in 2005, when proposed by the Hoover Foundation.[xii]
For the Right of the Kurds to National Self-determination
How did ISIS think they were going to win Kurds to the Islamic State project? When the Sunnis were running the show, Saddam gassed the Kurds and the Kurds fought back. The Iraqi Kurds have been more or less autonomous from at least 2011. There was even the preposterous situation where al-Maliki issued orders of arrest for his Kurdish vice president.
For ISIS to be beheading Kurds who are not Sunnis was bound to cost them politically. Sunni Iraq was a fairly westernized society. Unlike Saudi Arabia, women enjoyed many rights during the period of Ba’athist republicanism and were not legal chattel of their fathers or husbands. Now with ISIS attacking Kurds in northern Syria, 140,000 Kurds have fled into Turkey.[xiii]
The woman’s question is a strategic question for the MENA working class, as it is for the international working class.
As a Kurdish woman of the YPG (People’s Protection Units) stated a few days before she was killed:
“The field is something divine. It reminds me of my comrades who died. They were with me in the same trench. I was obliged to take up arms because the islamists want to take us back to the Middle Ages and reduce women to slavery.”[xiv]
The U.S. has changed its position on the national rights of the Kurds many times over the last several decades. As Marxists, even though we stand for a world without borders, we do support the bourgeois democratic right to national self-determination of the Kurdish people, not just in Iraq, but in Turkey, Iran, Russia, and Syria also. This defense of democratic rights is part and parcel of the fight for socialist revolution in the region. For a socialist Kurdistan as part of a socialist federation of the Near East! In the same vein, the rights of the Palestinian people will never be realized as long as the Zionist Israeli U.S. client-state exists and Palestinians are under the yoke of world imperialism. These national liberation struggles can only be realized through the working class taking power throughout the region. The Israeli Zionist state must be smashed by united working class struggle of Arab and Jewish workers that establishes a secular socialist workers Palestine!
Democrats: One of the Twin Parties of U.S. Imperialist Slaughter!
As yet another bourgeois electoral circus rolls around in America, Obama beats the drums of war and the liberals beat political drums for the Democratic Party of Hiroshima, Korea and Vietnam Wars, Bay of Pigs and the current War on Terror abroad and NSA spying at home. There was overwhelming bi-partisan support for the genocidal Zionist Israeli bombing of Gaza, even the so-called Progressive Caucus, of which only 6 of 65 members even expressed formal opposition. Fake-socialist Bernie Sanders, a long-time supporter of Israel, did not oppose the unanimous Senate resolution supporting Israel during the Gaza massacre. Sanders even told protesters at a Town Hall meeting to “shut up” when challenged on his position. Obama’s current campaign has more divided support, but both the Democrats and Republicans are majority on-board, leaving wiggle room for both parties if this whole scheme backfires.
As far as the social-imperialist AFL-CIO and Change to Win trade union bureaucracies, they are not only not organizing opposition to this war, but gearing up for the November elections to make sure the Democrats win. As Trotsky wrote in 1938 of the union and left bureaucracy:
“Those working class “leaders” who want to chain the proletariat to the war chariot of imperialism, covered by the mask of “democracy,” are now the worst enemies and the direct traitors of the toilers. We must teach the workers to hate and despise the agents of imperialism, since they poison the consciousness of the toilers; we must explain to the workers that fascism is only one of the forms of imperialism, that we must fight not against the external symptoms of the disease but against its organic causes, that is, against capitalism.” Leon Trotsky, Anti-imperialist Struggle is Key to Liberation
The Revolutionary Left Movement in Syria recently released a position against the bombings by the U.S.-led International Coalition:
“We do not welcome these bombings, even though we have called since the advent of these reactionary and fascist forces to oppose them because they are hostile to the popular revolt, unlike the positions of the various liberal opposition bodies linked the Syrian National Council and the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, which consider them by all their foolishness and immorality as components of the revolution. We oppose and strongly condemn the bombings and imperialist military intervention in Syria and call to confront it, in opposition to the Liberal bodies of the Syrian National Council and of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces that welcomed it”[xv]
International working class solidarity in action is desperately needed. Unfortunately much of the left has abandoned the Syrian and Arab revolutions, aligning with the comprador bourgeoisies of the region, such as Assad, Hamas or Ghadafi. This means the abandonment of the fight for the revolutionary Marxist political program for the Middle East and North Africa and for the international working class. Generally we can characterize these errors as one of two varieties: neo-Stalinism, which sees a revolutionary role in the democratic revolution for the colonial national bourgeoisie, the other are the varieties of Orientalism which recognize no Arab national revolution, or sees the uprisings of the Arab Spring as U.S. imperialist inspired, or sees no Arab working class. Still other anomalous takes on the Arab revolution that befuddle the international working class vanguard are such positions as advocated by the Workers’ Power/League for a Fifth International (L5I) tendency, the Committee for a Workers International (CWI), in the U.S. their section is Socialist Alternative (Soc Alt), and the Internationalist Leninist Trotskyist Fraction (FLTI) based in Argentina.
In a front page article in their September 23rd edition, byline Tom Crean, Socialist Alternative gave a boiler-plate historical account of the U.S. debacle in Iraq but offered no political program for the international working class apart from prescribing socialism, presumably to be achieved by socialist electoral campaigns.[xvi] Elsewhere we have dealt with Socialist Alternative’s domestic politics, but their worldview is no different in substance and we regard them as a Kautskyian political phenomenon.
Workers Power, when it was the flagship of the League for the Revolutionary Communist International (LRCI), produced what should have been a seminal restatement and vivifying of modern revolutionary Marxism in the “Trotskyist Manifesto” (1989).[xvii] Scarcely was the ink dry when the League failed its first major test when it misjudged what the Boris Yeltsin faction of capitalist restorationists were consolidating, which was not expanded democracy but fast-track capitalist counterrevolution. Today Workers Power stands at the head of the League for a Fifth International and they dismiss the righteous uprising of the Iraqi Sunni population as a reactionary movement. For a leadership based in the former colonial power this is a remarkable display of political blindness and in scale it rivals the misleadership proffered to the UK working class by the Healyite sects.
Much more grave is the misapprehension of the international situation the Arab national revolution finds itself in that is promoted by the FLTI. This is a life or death question on the ground, and not only because of the misunderstanding of world politics it spreads in the region where the class and inter-imperialist conflicts are most fiercely joined, but because they also endanger the lives of the recruits to the heroic Leon Sedov Brigade who are fighting Assad’s murderous forces arms in hand. The FLTI does not recognize the existence of Chinese or Russian imperialism, never mind the collisions between the Beijing/Moscow bloc and the Washington-led imperialist bloc. For the FLTI the imperialist division of the world’s markets was accomplished once and for all time by the First World War as described in Lenin’s Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism. To the FLTI we say that Lenin’s “Imperialism” is not a catechism, but a methodology. And that history permits of no unalterable arrangements.
For the FLTI all of the overseas foreign direct investment flying out of China and Russia into Southeast Asia, Africa, South America, Britain, Canada and even the U.S., is nothing other than the round-tripping of U.S. capital from overseas U.S. imperialist institutions and stock companies. This view becomes a hopeless mess when applied to Syria, Iran, Iraq and the Middle East. The FLTI has never told us what they think the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is, but this does not mean it doesn’t exist. It is in fact the cause of Obama’s Pacific Pivot and we have yet to hear how the FLTI explains the obvious collision of interests in the East Sea/South China Sea, in Ukraine, or explain why the China/Russia bloc backs Assad while the U.S. tries to find a new pro-U.S. Syrian vassal. For the FLTI we have Assad backed by U.S.-agent Russia(!). Additionally, rival moderate bourgeois factions backed by the U.S.; and a reactionary bourgeois ISIS backed by U.S.-agents Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Fighting? Why would there be fighting?
Assuming for a moment that these are true facts, why would these forces be at loggerheads? Could it be because the U.S. cannot control Assad who belongs to Russia? Or because the U.S.-aligned moderate bourgeoisie are too weak to control the masses, and because the reactionary ISIS has broken its leash and wants a New Caliphate and is sitting on valuable oil reserves? Serious observers have to yell out ‘stop all this nonsense!’ Assad would be long gone were it not for the troops of Hezbollah and the support of Iran and the supply train of weapons and munitions from Russia. Iran has an observer-status membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. And Russia enjoys a warm water naval base on the Mediterranean, a centuries old geo-strategic dream of Russian rulers, thanks to Assad.
The FLTI cannot see that when it comes to smashing the revolution, the two imperialist blocs can compromise until the stakes become too high. The stakes become too high when local elements start to destabilize their deal over access to oil.
Hence, the U.S. tried to advance their alternate regime in Syria by trying to get Assad to compromise, to abdicate leaving his regime in all essentials intact. But that plan got knocked down by the masses. So in the meantime, the U.S. blocks all deliveries of MANPADS from reaching the LCCs, a fact members of the Leon Sedov Brigade must acknowledge whether the FLTI does or not. Such MANPADS could be game changers against Assad’s helicopters and barrel bombs. Then the U.S. tried to get Russia to get rid of Assad to allow an alternate regime to replace him. The U.S. even threatened to bomb Assad when he used poison gas, until according to the FLTI, their Russian asset made a deal that allowed Assad to stay(!).
So we have a stalemate and the vacuum in the North favoring a pro-U.S. Kurdistan. But the revolution keeps on going on, and ISIS is promoted to smash it. But then why would it be necessary we have to ask, if Assad is ultimately a U.S. asset?
How can a world hegemon be so stupid it can’t control its assets? So ISIS versus the LCCs becomes a new front. The LCCs are then fighting on three fronts, which was our position from the start. The FLTI pretends that it was only when ISIS got too big for its boots and tried to destabilize the deals in Syria and Iraq by building a New Caliphate that there appeared to arise a difference between U.S. imperialism and its subordinate Russia. This is how they explain how it became time for the U.S. to step in and use the war against ISIS as the pretext for war against the non-sectarian revolution in both countries. We certainly do agree that this is what Obama is up to right now, but the FLTI does its Leon Sedov Brigade a great disservice by spinning webs of U.S. hegemony and ignoring the inter-imperialist rivalry turning the Arab Revolutions into proxy wars. The increasing violence and frequency of the collisions between the U.S.-led imperialist bloc, as its economic power declines, with its rivals the rising China/Russia/BRICS bloc led by the SCO, is leading to proxy wars and foretell a coming inter-imperialist world war that only triumphant proletarian revolution can prevent. The present analysis of the Munzer leadership of the FLTI does nothing to orient the international working class to prevent this cataclysm. This is why we speak of them as a misleadership sui generis.
For Permanent Revolution!
With the destruction of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the restoration of capitalism, much of the world’s oppressed masses no longer look towards socialism as a beacon of hope like they did through much of the 20th Century, despite the betrayals of Stalinism and social democracy. This degradation of workers consciousness, along with the mass imperialist slaughter and devastation, has opened the gate for reactionary religious groups like ISIS to gain a footing among the desperate masses who are seeking a solution. As Marxists, we seek to re-orient the struggle on the basis of proletarian internationalism, both against the national bourgeois regimes in the region and all imperialist powers. We stand for the building of revolutionary Leninist parties and Permanent Revolution throughout MENA.
Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution states that in the colonial and semi-colonial countries with combined and uneven development under imperialist exploitation, the national bourgeoisie in these nations is tied to social backwardness and the remains of feudalism and also to imperialist capital, and are incapable of carrying out the unfinished democratic tasks of the great bourgeois revolutions. Trotsky insisted that these tasks fell to the working class in countries with belated capitalist development, that “democracy and national emancipation is conceivable only through the dictatorship of the proletariat as the leader of the subjugated nation, above all of its peasant masses.”[xviii]
American workers don’t have to look far to find their enemy. It is the capitalist ruling class right here at home that has driven the standard of living of the workers and oppressed downward, with job cuts, layoffs, low-wage jobs, cuts in social benefits, and racist police terror against the Black, Brown and immigrant communities. On top of this, capitalism is leading to environmental destruction. In late September a liberal led group of capitalists and NGOs want to tell American workers that they have a capitalist solution to the climate change crisis, one that involves a “low carbon future”, but in fact they have no plan. It is in the interests of the U.S. working class to unite through labor actions with their working class Arab, Persian and Kurdish sisters and brothers, with all the working masses of the Near East to defeat Obama’s war. Driving the U.S. and EU war machine out of MENA would be a tremendous victory for the entire world’s working class.
American workers: the main enemy is at home!
Organize mass labor-centered protests and workers actions against Obama’s war!
Transport workers boycott military goods! For labor political strikes against the war!
Down with anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant racism!
For international working-class solidarity through action!
For international labor solidarity!
All out for the emergency actions for the 41,000 Egyptian political prisoners on October 10th and 11th!
Victory to the Arab Spring across the whole of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)!
U.S. forces OUT of the region NOW!
Victory to the Palestinian liberation movement!
Defeat Zionism! For a multi-ethnic secular workers state in Palestine!
For a revolutionary socialist Kurdistan in the socialist MENA!
Down with the feudal monarchies and all theocracies!
For Permanent Revolution!
For a Socialist Federation of the Middle East and North Africa!
Down with Democratic/Republican parties of war!
Build an internationalist workers party to organize opposition to imperialist wars!
For a workers government to sweep away the imperialist, pro-war ruling class!
For a revolutionary workers international!
Liaison Committee of Communists