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Australasian Spartacist No. 208

Autumn 2010

Afghanistan: Imperialists Escalate Occupation

All U.S., NATO and Australian Troops Out Now!

In December the Rudd Labor government fully backed the U.S. Obama regime’s announcement of a further escalation of the imperialist occupation of Afghanistan. Speaking from Washington, Rudd declared “Australia takes its alliance with the United States very seriously. That’s why we have been with America for a long time in Afghanistan and why we will be with America for the long haul” (, 1 December 2009).

With 1,550 Australian troops deployed in Uruzgan province Australia has the largest non-NATO troop presence in Afghanistan. In line with the mobilisation of an additional 30,000 U.S. and 20,000 NATO troops, the Australian government has promised additional federal police. Needless to say, over the years the Australian troops have been up to their necks in the bloody slaughter that has taken place in Afghanistan since the occupation began in 2001. The recent atrocity in which a U.S. helicopter fired on and killed 27 civilians in central Afghanistan is but the latest in an endless string of deadly attacks against civilians. In February 2009, five Afghan children were slaughtered in an attack involving Australian troops.

Like the Obama regime, the Rudd government has waged war in Afghanistan under the rubric of the “war on terror.” Serving as a pretext for imperialist depredations abroad and increased state repression at home, the Rudd government’s draconian “anti-terror” campaign has demonised the Muslim minority and whipped up xenophobia and nationalism. It serves to divide the working class and oppressed while regimenting the population into accepting gross violations of civil rights. This ultimately is in the service of suppressing class and social struggles against the exploitative capitalist system of racism, unemployment and war. The government’s recent Counter-Terrorism White Paper proposed that the “anti-terror” laws be expanded.

Committing no terrorist act or even laying down plans for one, Muslims arrested in raids in Sydney and Melbourne in 2005 have been sentenced to draconian jail terms of up to 28 years for expressing opinions, for alleged thought crimes. Meanwhile five men ensnared in raids in Melbourne last August remain buried alive in Guantánamo Bay-like conditions at Barwon prison and may not face trial for years! We say it is in the direct immediate interests of the organised working class to fight to drop the charges. From Melbourne, to Sydney, to Iraq and Afghanistan: Free all the detainees now! Down with racist “war on terror” government repression!

Currently the reformist left in Australia, from Socialist Alternative (SAlt) to Socialist Alliance (SA), are organising for protests during Obama’s expected visit to Australia sometime in March. These protests feature their “opposition” to the war in Afghanistan, including the involvement of the Rudd ALP government. This is the same ALP that these groups gave backhanded support to, via preferences, during the 2007 federal elections. Then, these slippery reformists treacherously championed a vote to the bourgeois Greens as a means to apply pressure on the Labor party, which they above all hoped to have in government. In contrast, we Spartacists declared: “No Vote to ALP! No Vote to Bourgeois Greens!” We fight to break workers from the politics of Laborism as part of the struggle to build a revolutionary workers party.

The reformists have been ensconced for years in the Sydney “Stop the War” Coalition which channels opposition to the Afghanistan occupation into alliances with representatives of the capitalist class such as the Greens. SAlt’s leaders who were then in the International Socialists, sided with the imperialist-backed Islamic fundamentalist Afghan mujahedin women-haters against the Soviet intervention in 1979. Now they demand “End the Occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, Bring Troops Home Now.” In calling to “bring the troops home” they identify with the appetites of a wing of their own ruling class, reflected in the push by the ALP and the Greens for Australian imperialism to play a greater role in the region. Last July, Greens leader Bob Brown yet again made this explicit, declaring his only “opposition” to the troop deployment in Afghanistan was that the troops ought to be “retained for use within our region.” Making his loyalty to the Australian imperialist military crystal clear Brown continued, “We will always support Australia’s defence force personnel in Afghanistan or wherever else they may be deployed by the government of the day” (Greens Media Release, 21 July 2009).

Against reformists like SAlt who sow illusions in such bourgeois forces, we Marxists––proletarian, revolutionary internationalists––understand that it is impossible to defeat imperialism in alliance with capitalist and pro-capitalist parties that uphold the very state that exists to defend the interests of the exploitative capitalist rulers over the working class and oppressed. In contrast, standing in class opposition to imperialist militarism, we fight for class struggle against the capitalist rulers at home and demand: Not one person, not one cent for the Australian imperialist military. Down with the counterrevolutionary U.S./Australia alliance! U.S. bases out now! All Australian imperialist troops and cops get out of Afghanistan, Iraq, East Timor and the Solomons!

The following article is reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 949, 1 January 2010, newspaper of the Spartacist League/U.S.

* * *

On December 1 at West Point, President Barack Obama announced a further escalation of the U.S./NATO occupation of Afghanistan through the mobilization of 30,000 U.S. troops at “the fastest possible pace.” No one could miss the irony when, nine days later in Oslo, Norway, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In his acceptance speech, Obama invoked the virtues of a “just war” in defense of a barbaric occupation that has resulted in the deaths of untold thousands of Afghans and the pounding of villages through aerial bombardment. Obama also took the occasion to rattle sabers at capitalist Iran and the North Korean deformed workers state for their work toward developing nuclear capability in defiance of imperialist threats and sanctions.

The Nobel Peace Prize itself does not have any history of nobility. Past U.S. recipients include Vietnam War criminal Henry Kissinger and Jimmy Carter, who in 1978 directed the CIA to begin a program of massive military and financial support to the fundamentalist mujahedin cutthroats in Afghanistan who killed Soviet troops fighting on the side of the modernizing nationalist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) regime. The mujahedin forces, who threw acid in the faces of those who dared teach schoolgirls to read, included those who went on to found the Taliban and Al Qaeda—Washington’s Frankenstein’s monster.

In jacking up U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Obama is doing exactly what he promised in his 2008 campaign. As we wrote at the time of his election, Afghanistan is “Obama’s preferred theatre of imperialist carnage” (“Fight for a Revolutionary Workers Party!” WV No. 924, 7 November 2008). Meanwhile, the slaughter under the U.S. occupation of Iraq continues unabated. Upon assuming power, Obama also stepped up bombing attacks by pilotless drones in neighboring Pakistan. Now, as Jeremy Scahill reports in “The Secret US War in Pakistan” (Nation, 23 November 2009), U.S. operations in Pakistan include a secret program in which a division of the infamous Blackwater mercenary outfit working under the Joint Special Operations Command plans “targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, ‘snatch and grabs’ of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan.” Noting the escalation of drone bombing raids since Obama’s inauguration, Scahill writes, “The Obama administration has now surpassed the number of Bush-era strikes in Pakistan.”

The occupation of Afghanistan by U.S., British and other NATO forces, with its attendant atrocities, has fueled bitter resentment among the Afghan peoples. Washington’s quisling Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, is widely discredited, not least due to last year’s rigged “election” that left him in office. As civilian deaths mount ever higher and detainees continue to be brutalized in the notorious Bagram prison, resistance to the U.S./NATO occupiers is gathering strength. Obama agreed to his military commanders’ demand for more forces. However, the latest escalation has caused quivers particularly among Obama’s fellow Democrats, reflecting worries in the ruling class—shared by U.S. allies, some of which are threatening to pull out—that Afghanistan is becoming another endless quagmire. Opposition to the occupation continues to grow in the U.S. population, which has been battered by the economic recession that has thrown millions out of their jobs and homes.

As revolutionary Marxists, our starting point is proletarian class opposition to the U.S. rulers and the capitalist-imperialist system as a whole. Insofar as the forces on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan aim their blows against the imperialist occupiers, we call for their military defense despite our political opposition to Islamic fundamentalism and bourgeois nationalism. We demand the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan! Hands off Pakistan and Iran! Defend North Korea! The same capitalist rulers in Washington who rain death and destruction on the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan have seized on the recession to dole out hundreds of billions to the bloodsucking banks and to rip up union contracts while bailing out the auto giants. For class struggle against the U.S. rulers at home! For a workers party that fights for socialist revolution!

The liberal left cried “betrayal” over Obama’s West Point speech. But Obama is loyally serving the interests of the ruling class, which wanted a facelift for U.S. imperialism after eight years of the internationally despised, wacky Bush regime. It was so-called “socialists” who betrayed the working class and oppressed by building liberal “Anybody but Bush” antiwar coalitions and then hailing the election of Obama as a harbinger of “change.” The Workers World Party (WWP) proclaimed Obama’s election “a triumph for the Black masses and all the oppressed” (Workers World, 20 November 2008), while the International Socialist Organization (ISO) enthused in Socialist Worker (21 January 2009): “Obama’s victory convinced large numbers of people of some basic sentiments at the heart of the great struggles of the past—that something different is possible, and that what we do matters.”

What the reformists do is preach the liberal lie that the wars, exploitation and oppression that are integral to the capitalist system can be stopped by exerting pressure on the rulers to change course—“democracy” from below. Thus the ISO cosponsored with the Socialist Alternative reformists a “Seattle Inauguration Day Celebration” that pathetically begged: “We Voted Barack, Now Get Out of Kabul and Iraq!” Now that Obama has done exactly what he promised over Afghanistan, the reformists have ditched their pom-poms, for the moment. Wringing its hands over the Afghanistan troop surge, Workers World (2 December 2009) writes that “the administration will have to rely most heavily on its vicious political enemies within the ruling establishment, while alienating its strongest rank-and-file supporters.” This complaint dovetails with the worries of Congressional Democrats that the surge, combined with the effects of the recession at home, might ruin their chances in the 2010 midterm elections.

In “Answering Obama’s Afghanistan Deceptions” (Socialist Worker online, 8 December 2009), the ISO “discovers” the war lies that are used to justify the buildup of troops, complaining that a “skeptical attitude toward the use of U.S. military power is what most of his supporters expected of an Obama presidency.” Then there is the Maoist Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), which, after spending years howling to “Drive out the Bush regime,” now lectures its readers to “face reality” about Obama and “judge him by what he’s actually doing, not his false narratives, his empty promises, and his double-talk” (Revolution online, 13 December 2009).

Lying is what imperialist politicians do. Their whole system of “democracy” is based on the deception that the government serves “the people.” The fact, as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels explained more than 150 years ago, is that the bourgeois government serves as the executive committee for managing the affairs of the ruling class as a whole. Bourgeois democracy—paid for with the toil and blood of millions of the imperialists’ colonial and neocolonial victims—serves as a cover for the dictatorship of the capitalist class over those they exploit and oppress.

Falling in line behind “democratic” imperialism, the bulk of the reformist left eagerly enrolled in the imperialists’ Cold War drive to destroy the Soviet degenerated workers state. This included leading cheers for murderous, reactionary forces like the Afghan mujahedin. To this day the RCP is quite proud of standing with those who fought against the Soviet Army’s intervention on behalf of the PDPA, which sought to ameliorate the conditions of women who were subjected to the bride price and burqa and terrorized for seeking an education. No less enthusiastic was the ISO, which went on to hail the counterrevolutionary destruction of the Soviet Union itself in 1991-92.

The RCP concocted and still claims a mythical “third force”—unnamed “revolutionary Maoists” (Revolution online, 13 December 2009). Bunk! There were two sides in the civil war in Afghanistan: the Soviet Army and the U.S.-backed Islamic reactionaries, whose rebellion against the PDPA regime threatened the USSR’s southern flank. We Trotskyists took a clear side, proclaiming: Hail Red Army! Extend social gains of October Revolution to Afghan peoples! We denounced Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s withdrawal of troops in 1988-89—an abject capitulation to imperialism that paved the way for the final undoing of the Soviet workers state itself. For the RCP and Maoists elsewhere, it was the Soviet Union that was the “main enemy,” as Mao Zedong earlier declared when the Chinese Stalinist bureaucracy forged its anti-Soviet alliance with U.S. imperialism. (Begun by the RCP’s revered Mao, this treacherous alliance was continued by Deng Xiaoping, reviled by the RCP as a “capitalist roader.”)

The ISO social democrats and RCP Maoists contributed what they could to the destruction of the USSR and the restoration of capitalism there. This was a world-historic defeat for the proletariat and the oppressed internationally, including by removing what was the main counterweight to the bloody ambitions of U.S. imperialism. The capitalist-imperialist system will continue to wreak havoc and death until it is overthrown through a series of workers revolutions.

As opposed to the reformists who lull the workers and oppressed with the promise of capitalism reformed, we revolutionary Marxists reaffirm our fight to build a workers party modeled on Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolsheviks, which led the workers to power in the October Revolution of 1917. For new October Revolutions!

Australasian Spartacist No. 208

ASP 208

Autumn 2010


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All U.S., NATO and Australian Troops Out Now!


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