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Workers Vanguard No. 1168

17 January 2020
The closing date for news in this issue is 14 January.

Workers Vanguard skips an issue in January. Our next issue will be dated February 7.


Workers Vanguard

Democrats, Republicans: Parties of Imperialist War

U.S. Hands Off Iran, Out of Near East!

JANUARY 13—Donald Trump’s drone-strike assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and Iran’s second most important official, at Baghdad International Airport on January 3 was nothing short of an act of war. Several leaders of Iraqi militias backed by Tehran were also killed in the attack. The White House ordered some 3,500 additional troops to the Near East and imposed still more sanctions on Iran.

The Trump administration cynically declared that Soleimani needed to be taken out because he represented an “imminent threat” of attack against U.S. citizens. The biggest threat to life and limb in the Near East, and beyond, is U.S. imperialism, self-declared cops of the world. It was widely reported that one reason Soleimani had traveled to Baghdad to meet Iraq’s prime minister was to discuss easing the confrontation between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia. The same day that Soleimani was murdered, U.S. forces tried unsuccessfully to kill another key IRGC commander in Yemen, where the U.S. has heavily backed Saudi Arabia’s reactionary war against Houthi-led forces. And as Washington stoked fears at home of Iranian retaliation, Iranian Americans trying to cross back into the U.S. from British Columbia were detained for hours by border cops.

The Iraqi parliament reacted to the killings by calling for the expulsion of the 5,000-plus U.S. troops stationed in the country, with Sunni and Kurdish members boycotting the session. Trump countered by threatening Iraq with “sanctions like they’ve never seen before,” and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo contemptuously dismissed the Iraqi prime minister’s request to simply discuss the issue. Trump also threatened Iran with “disproportionate” attacks—including against cultural sites in one of the world’s oldest civilizations—if Tehran retaliated against “any U.S. person or target.” He dialed back the war threats after an Iranian missile attack on two bases in Iraq on January 8 did not cause U.S. casualties. But the region remains a powder keg.

Mass demonstrations in Iran after the assassination revealed the white-hot anger in the population over U.S. belligerence. But much of that anger turned against the Tehran regime in the days after a missile took down a Ukrainian passenger jet with mainly Iranian and Canadian passengers, just hours after Iran’s attack on the Iraq bases. After three days of lying denials, Tehran had to admit that it was an IRGC missile that had struck the plane, with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani declaring that the country “deeply regrets this disastrous mistake.”

Iranians, who in the weeks prior to Soleimani’s killing had staged mass protests against austerity, and had been met with bloody repression, reacted with furious demonstrations condemning the IRGC and the country’s clerical leaders. Some are now demanding that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, resign and that the U.S. get out of the region. However culpable the Revolutionary Guards are for the tragedy, central responsibility for the air disaster lies with the American imperialists who had made the skies a war zone. Among Iranians, there is still bitter memory of the USS Vincennes firing two missiles in July 1988 that brought down an Iranian commercial aircraft in the Persian Gulf, killing all 290 people on board. Washington later awarded to the ship’s captain the Legion of Merit for his “outstanding service.” (read on)

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About the ICL

V.I. LeninLeon TrotskyThe International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) is a proletarian, revolutionary and internationalist tendency committed to the task of building Leninist parties as national sections of a democratic-centralist international. Our aim is the achievement of new October Revolutions—nothing else, nothing other, nothing less. The ICL bases itself on Marxist historical, dialectical materialism and seeks in particular to carry forward the international working-class perspectives of Marxism developed in the theory and practice of the Bolshevik leaders V. I. Lenin and L. D. Trotsky and embodied in the decisions of the first four Congresses of the Communist International as well as key documents of the Fourth International such as the Transitional Program (1938) and "War and the Fourth International" (1934). We also look to James P. Cannon, a leader of the early American Communist Party who was won to Trotskyism and went on to become a principal founder of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), working in close collaboration with Leon Trotsky. The origins of the ICL are in the Spartacist League/U.S., which began as the Revolutionary Tendency in the SWP and was bureaucratically expelled in 1963. Our ICL "Declaration of Principles and Some Elements of Program" was modeled on the Declaration of Principles adopted at the 1966 founding conference of the SL/U.S.

Adopted at the Third International Conference of the ICL in early 1998, the declaration presently exists in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, German, Russian, Polish, Italian, Turkish, Indonesian, Greek, Korean and Tagalog. In this post-Soviet period, marked by a deep regression of proletarian consciousness, we continue to be guided by Trotsky's statement that "the task of the vanguard is above all not to let itself be carried along by the backward flow; it must swim against the current." Reforge the Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution!