What type of anti-war movement? Pacifist or anti-imperialist?
The need for a working class anti-war movement to stop imperialist war drives is more urgent than ever. However working class independent action is not the goal of the coalitions coming together under the guidance of UNAC, the International Action Center, Veterans for Peace and others in the Spring campaign against the Trump escalations. “Peoples’ Fronts” such as these have never once defended the working masses, but have delivered them to tyrants bound hand and foot. “Peoples’ Front” diehards make a habit of corralling liberal pacifists who wish to oppose imperialist outrages, putting them up to de facto support of tin pot “nationalists.” And in this case, they take no notice of the coordination between superpowers against the social revolution, but see only the conflict within the Putin/Trump “bromance,” taking the allegedly “anti-imperialist”, i.e. Russian side and supporting the “legitimacy” of Assad. Passing this project off as an anti-war movement is to defraud the working class.
How can you have an anti-war movement that supports the dictator’s side in his war against the Syrian revolution? How do U.Sec./Solidarity, the Morenoists of the LIT and the Lambertists support this? By denying the agency of revolution when the masses attempt to take power from crony capitalist regimes enforcing neoliberal austerity in the semi-colonies. Are they abandoning the Syrian comrades of their own currents?
How can you claim to support self-determination when you give back-handed support to Assad in his war against the people of Syria? Whose self-determination do you support if you oppose Kurdish self-determination in action?
Don’t let anyone tell you these folks are anti-imperialist just because they want to bring the troops home. Anti-imperialists don’t support bourgeois regimes and certainly not ones that historically carry water for imperialism like Assad with his black sites for the Bush/CIA wars, and anti-imperialists do not invest credibility in elections in bourgeois regimes that are one party states that poll only in areas under their own control. Anti-imperialists do not try to pass off a Pinochet-equivalent as an Allende!
Anti-imperialists don’t invest any credibility in bourgeois elections, never mind shill for a dictatorship and pretending it is popularly elected based on the votes cast only in areas it controls.
Anti-imperialists don’t justify a regime making war on its own masses.
Anti-imperialists don’t support the use of poison gases against popular uprisings, the destruction of neighborhoods by barrel bombs, the targeting of hospitals by bunker busters or ethnic cleansing by agreements between dictatorships and foreign powers.
Anti-imperialists do not bury the political differences.
Some UNAC leaders like Joe Lombardo and Jeff Mackler of Socialist Action used to know that it was not correct to chant “Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh…” or to associate Ho with all possible victorious outcomes of the Vietnamese Revolution. They knew it was not correct to support the VCP leadership and that such a critique did not prevent anti-imperialists from opposing the war drive of Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.
UNAC adherents continue to peddle Seymour Hersh reporting as an unimpeachable source for their claim that all gas gas attacks are the work of “so-called rebels.” But Hersh’s credibility self-destructed on the Democracy Now telecast of April 25, 2016 and he has not been a guest on that program since.
Lets for a moment step back from the blinders….
UNAC takes the word of Assad, Putin, Nasrallah and Khamenei against revolutionaries and even slanders the civil defense “White Helmets” rescue forces as “Al Qaeda” and “terrorists.” It does not occur to UNAC that the result of the U.S. invasion of IRAQ has been a righteous Sunni uprising against the prospect of elimination by ethnic cleansing.
In fact, to support UNAC is to support the projects of Assad and allied leaderships in the progress of suppression of dissent and making a proxy war with the U.S./E.U. bloc. Real anti-imperialism requires demanding the withdrawal of ALL foreign troops, advisors and mercenaries and their logistics and technical supporters of their military efforts. Real anti-imperialists are not indifferent to the drive to make Syria a colony of Iran and a host for Russian bases on the Mediterranean. Real anti-imperialists do not ignore the salivating of european imperialists and even the Brazilian Temer regime at the chance to profit from Syria’s misery with “reconstruction” project profits. Real anti-imperialists know you cannot credibly support the right of entry to the U.S. for refugees from the war in Syria and at the same time support Assad, who has made the most refugees in the 21st century.
The Syrian revolution is not being slaughtered by Assad alone. Hersh gives credit and rightly so to Russian forces that stepped in and reinvigorated the forces serving the regime. Militants who call for self-determination on the one hand and support the interventions of Putin’s imperialist kleptocracy on the other will never find a mass base among the international working class. They may find a mass base among those who never want to see working class independence and a working class anti-imperialist anti-war movement. That is why despite moving away from the single demand method of NPAC/SMC the ex-SWPers are now embracing what they used to deride as “laundry lists” of demands for their coalitions.
By putting quotation marks around the word rebel (in the UNAC statement of April, 2017,) those who can read between the lines understand that UNAC is stating that the Syrian war is not a legitimate rebellion, that the uprising is not a revolution and not a class war against the oppressive and brutal dictator Assad. Indeed, we heard coalition sponsor Rick Sterling tout the legitimacy of Assad’s election to a room full of Peace and Freedom Party “socialists” who supposedly put no faith in the capitalist electoral system.
Leading UNAC members pretend they can recreate the mass pacifist anti-war movement of the 1960s without introducing any program for socialist revolution. They will tell you they WOULD support a socialist revolution in Syria, IF THERE WAS ONE. But you won’t find any evidence that this is their view in print or in any of their resolutions. Don’t expect them to tell you that peace requires the victory of the working masses over their exploiters, foreign and domestic. Instead they peddle the fraud of a unipolar world where the U.S. government (no mention of Capital or its class!) is the leader of the one pack of bad actors on the world scene.
Conspicuously missing in their demands is OPEN BORDERS TO SYRIAN REFUGEES! This demand frightens them because when the Syrian refugees show up you get their oral history, a history which many in this movement insist are CIA fictions. But the voices of the masses of refugees are too numerous. The facts of the neighborhood by neighborhood self-organization, the social organization of the Local Coordinating Committees as the basis for the sustained participation of the masses in the uprising is coming to light as refugees are interviewed. Read Wendy Pearlman’s We Crossed A Bridge And It Trembled and Burning Country by Leila Al-Shami and Robin Yassad-Kassab and judge for yourself.
SMASH TRUMP’S MUSLIM BAN! DEFEAT ALL IMPERIALIST FORCES IN THE REGION!
U.S./NATO OUT OF THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA!
RUSSIAN IMPERIALISTS, IRANIAN “MILITIAS” AND MERCENARIES GO HOME! DON’T DEFEND ASSAD, DEFEAT YOUR OPPRESSORS AT HOME!
FOR WORKERS MATERIAL AID TO THE REVOLUTION! FOR LABOR POLITICAL STRIKES AND BOYCOTTS AGAINST IMPERIALIST MILITARY ACTIONS! FOR A ‘LET’S GO HOME!’ MOVEMENT AMONG U.S., NATO, RUSSIAN, IRANIAN & HEZBOLLAH FORCES!
VICTORY TO THE SYRIAN REVOLUTION! FOR WORKERS REVOLUTION TO SMASH ASSAD! FOR A SOCIALIST FEDERATION OF THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA!
Also see our previous article “Syria Fact Sheet: Victory to the Syrian Revolution!“