Statement of the International Communist League:

Down With the UN Starvation Blockade!
Defend Iraq Against U.S. and Allied Imperialist Attack!

The following statement was issued on 23 October 2002 and was subsequently published in Spartacist English edition No. 57, Winter2002-03.

U.S. imperialism is leading the world to war. Tens of thousands of American and British troops are getting positioned for a full-scale attack on Iraq, while other powers from Australia to Turkey elbow each other for a role in the slaughter and a share of the loot. The White House has already revealed plans for a post-Saddam Hussein military occupation of Iraq. Look at the war chest of nuclear weapons the U.S. has and threatens to use today and it’s clear that the fate of life on this planet is threatened by the continued existence of this imperialist order.

In the war against Iraq, the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) clearly takes a side: We stand for the military defense of Iraq without giving a milligram of political support to the Saddam Hussein regime. Hussein is a bloody oppressor of Iraqi workers, leftists, Shi’ite Muslims, the Kurdish people and others. As such, he was a close ally and client of U.S. imperialism for two decades before he made a grab for Kuwait in 1990. Now the U.S. wants a more pliant regime and tighter control of the oil spigot, not least to put economic rivals like Japan and Germany, who are more dependent on Near East oil, on rations. With its renewed saber rattling over North Korea, Washington makes clear that that country will be next on its hit list in the event of an easy win in Iraq. The fact that the imperialists have not already threatened to bomb North Korea in response to news that it may be developing a nuclear capability only underlines that nuclear weapons are the sole guarantor of a country’s sovereignty in today’s world. Every victory for the imperialists in their predatory wars encourages further military adventures; every setback serves to assist the struggles of working people and the oppressed.

The colossal military advantage of the United States against neocolonial Iraq—a country which has already been bled white through 12 years of UN sanctions which have killed more than 1.5 million civilians—underscores the importance of class struggle in the imperialist centers as the chief means to give content to the call to defend Iraq. Every strike, every labor mobilization against war plans, every mass protest against attacks on workers and minorities, every struggle against domestic repression and against attacks on civil liberties represents a dent in the imperialist war drive. To put an end to war once and for all, the capitalist system that breeds war must be swept away through a series of revolutions and the establishment of a rational, planned, egalitarian socialist economy on a world scale. Anti-imperialism abroad means class struggle at home! Defend Iraq against imperialist attack!

The extent to which Washington’s allies in the United Nations, especially Germany, have openly criticized the Bush administration’s rabid provocations in the Near East is a measure of the growth of tensions among the imperialist powers in recent years. But while objecting to the rudeness of an American cowboy boot on their necks, all the subordinate imperialist states will acquiesce to the diktats of the master of capitalist ruling classes, U.S. imperialism, because they lack the might to oppose the U.S. and they want to be rewarded with at least a share of the spoils. As an official for the French oil company TotalFinaElf bluntly stated, “We want the oil and we want to be in the game of rebuilding the country. If there were a new regime and we have not been with the Americans, where will we be?”

War: The Continuation of Politics by Other Means

The American ruling class cynically manipulated the grief and horror felt by millions at the criminal and demented attack on the World Trade Center to wage war on Afghanistan. But the patriotic consensus in the U.S. is wearing thin, and elsewhere there is massive opposition to a war against Iraq. War demands civil peace, and from Los Angeles to London the imperialist warmakers are revealed as vicious domestic union-busters and strikebreakers. Declaring that a strike could “threaten national security,” the Bush administration has brought down the force of the capitalist state to coerce the powerful American dockers union, the ILWU, to work under the dictates of the union-busting employers association. Across the seas, British firefighters are threatened with strikebreaking by the army. Plunging stock markets rob millions of workers of their pensions while public scandals expose insatiable corporate greed. Tens of thousands of working people, including the entire workforce at a number of Fiat plants in Italy, face a future of being chopped off like a gangrenous limb by owners seeking to protect their own profit margins amid the capitalist economic crisis. Civil liberties have been shredded and the capitalists have intensified their assault on social welfare and other gains wrested through decades of workers struggles.

Everywhere, the anti-immigrant witchhunt has been whipped up to fever pitch in an effort by the capitalist rulers to deflect working-class struggle with racism and xenophobia. The anti-immigrant hysteria provokes a tide of blood as thousands of desperate refugees die trying to cross the U.S. border from Mexico or to land a rickety boat in Australia or Europe. Having brought in large numbers of immigrants when their labor was needed, in the face of recession the bourgeoisies of West Europe do not need more immigrants as a supply of cheap labor. All this shows clearly that the capitalist system is the biggest threat to working people everywhere. A decade ago, the rulers crowed about the supposed “death of communism.” But capitalism has brought the world to an impasse which the Iraq war illuminates with the terrifying glare of missiles streaking across a night sky. The fight for authentic communism (not its Stalinist perversion) through the instrumentality of revolutionary workers parties is the only way forward.

In the U.S., not even dizzying flag-waving or the heavy fist of state repression has induced the masses to embrace war with Iraq. In Europe, hundreds of thousands of workers and anti-imperialist youth have demonstrated their opposition to this war. The problem is that the antiwar protests in Europe have all been channeled into a national-chauvinist direction of getting one’s “own” rulers to stand up to the Americans. In the U.S., antiwar liberals and leftists bleat, “Money for jobs, not for war” and so fuel the lie that fundamental priorities of the capitalist rulers can be altered to serve the interests of working people.

The truth is that this whole capitalist system is based on the extraction of profit for the owners of the means of production through the exploitation and subjugation of the workers who produce the wealth of society. War is a concentrated expression of this, as competing capitalist ruling classes scramble to steal natural resources and to carve out new markets for export of capital and fresh sources of cheap labor. The leader of the Russian Revolution, V.I. Lenin, emphasized the difference between bourgeois pacifism, which lulls the masses into passivity and embellishes capitalist “democracy,” and the yearning for peace by the masses. Following the outbreak of the first interimperialist world war, Lenin wrote:

“At the present time, 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, and turns it into a plaything in the hands of the secret diplomacy of the belligerent countries. In particular, the idea of a so-called democratic peace being possible without a series of revolutions is profoundly erroneous.”

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

In wars between the imperialist predators and plunderers and their colonial and semicolonial victims, the proletariat has a side. As Lenin stressed in his 1915 pamphlet Socialism and War: “If tomorrow, Morocco were to declare war on France, or India on Britain, or Persia or China on [tsarist] Russia, and so on, these would be ‘just,’ and ‘defensive’ wars, irrespective of who would be the first to attack; any socialist would wish the oppressed, dependent and unequal states victory over the oppressor, slave-holding and predatory ‘Great’ Powers.”

There are palpable opportunities to organize class-struggle opposition to imperialist war and to break the narrow nationalist and economist limits of strikes contained by labor lieutenants of the capitalist class. During the 1999 U.S./NATO war against Serbia, Italian COBAS unions organized a one-million-strong political general strike against the war. Fiat workers, who today battle plant closings in Italy, organized a campaign of material aid—a campaign which all sections of the ICL actively supported—for their class brothers and sisters at the Yugoslav Zastava car plant, which had been bombed by the imperialists. Last year, Japanese dock workers at Sasebo pointed the way forward by “hot-cargoing” (refusing to handle) Japanese military goods destined for the war in Afghanistan. Today, courageous Turkish workers at the U.S. airbase in Incirlik, which is planned to be a major launching pad for the Iraq war, threaten a strike.

What’s essential is to draw a class line and unshackle the working people and anti-imperialist youth from bourgeois politicians, their agents in the trade unions and their left servants, who seek to channel justified hatred of war into illusory calls for parliamentary reforms of the profit-driven system that breeds war and, in West Europe, into support for their own national bourgeoisie against the Americans. In the heart of the imperialist beast, the Spartacist League/U.S., American section of the ICL, has pointed the way forward with revolutionary internationalist contingents in the antiwar protests. We demand: For class struggle against the U.S. capitalist rulers! Defend Iraq against imperialist attack! Down with the UN starvation blockade! All U.S./UN/ imperialist troops out of the Persian Gulf and the Near East!

Bush Doctrine: Nuclear Top Cops of the World

In September, the Bush administration released its “National Security Strategy,” a diplomatic bombshell enshrining the principle of “pre-emptive” war, including with nuclear weapons, against anyone who steps in America’s way and avowing that no power will ever catch up with the huge military advantage the U.S. has amplified since the Soviet Union was destroyed through capitalist counterrevolution in 1991-92. (The U.S. military budget is now greater than that of the next 19 countries combined.) This threat is directed first and foremost against China, as well as against America’s imperialist rivals. The new policy represents a significant shift from how America has dominated the world since it emerged triumphant over its rivals in the first and second imperialist world wars. For decades, the U.S. has wrapped its outright brigandage in the guise of “democracy” and “liberating” people from “dictatorship.” The United Nations often served as the “humanitarian” fig leaf for the terror and destruction of U.S. imperialism worldwide, from the 1950-53 Korean War to the starvation blockade of Iraq.

Complaints by European social democrats and fake leftists about American “unilateralism” do not represent any class opposition to U.S. imperialism, merely the squeals of less powerful states and their apologists who want a bigger cut of the take and would prefer to be treated less rudely. Their maneuvers in the UN are essentially power plays to squeeze the U.S. a bit for their own rival national interests. Lenin called the UN’s predecessor, the League of Nations, a “den of thieves,” and the UN serves that purpose today: regulating global disputes within the framework determined by the most powerful imperialist powers, covering all its maneuvers as “peace” missions. Now the U.S. feels confident to drop this mask and snarl an overt “Roll over, or you could be next.” And they do roll over, acquiescing to exempting the American military from international war crimes tribunals and to U.S. appeals to Iraqis to assassinate their head of state!

The White House policy change is not merely semantic nor an absence of diplomatic niceties. This is the shape of the “new world order” emerging from the demise of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was the homeland of the October Revolution of 1917, the world’s first and, to date, only victorious workers revolution. The exploitative capitalist system was overthrown and replaced by a planned, collectivized economy. Yet in the absence of socialist revolutions in Germany and other advanced industrial countries, the young workers state remained impoverished and encircled by hostile imperialist powers, and the Soviet workers themselves were politically expropriated by a conservative bureaucratic caste, akin to the labor bureaucracy which sits atop the trade unions in capitalist countries. Leon Trotsky, co-leader with Lenin of the October Revolution, fought the bureaucratic degeneration of the Soviet Union under Stalin and struggled to return the Soviet Union to the road of revolutionary internationalism. In 1933, Trotsky called for a political revolution to oust the bureaucracy, while continuing to insist that it was the duty of the proletariat internationally to militarily defend the world’s first workers state from internal or external attempts at capitalist restoration.

Despite Stalinist deformation, the Soviet Union represented the industrial and military powerhouse for every state that overthrew capitalist rule, from Vietnam to Cuba. Without Soviet military might to stay its hand, U.S. imperialism has been riding roughshod over and expanding its military presence on every continent and on every sea. Interimperialist rivalries that were usually subordinated to the common cause of destroying the Soviet Union have now come to the fore. The re-election of German chancellor Gerhard Schröder on the basis of his anti-American stance in the Iraq conflict, the first time since the end of World War II that capitalist Germany has expressed overt opposition to a major American military-strategic policy, is one indication of the widening rift in the imperialist camp. Japan’s wooing of North Korea in September in defiance of Bush’s aim to starve and quarantine that “rogue state” is another. Mexican president Fox, who wants to be Bush’s man in Latin America, can’t even get a diplomatic crumb tossed from Washington’s table for his services rendered. During the 1991 Gulf War, Germany and Japan alone paid over 25 percent of the cost of the war, with other U.S. allies (like Saudi Arabia) covering almost all of the rest. Yet Schröder vows not to pay a pfennig this time, and Japan has made clear it does not intend to contribute either. The deepening world economic recession is exacerbating tensions between the West Europeans, the United States and Japan. Economic trade wars between and within the rival blocs for larger shares of the world market will ultimately lead to military conflicts.

Today the U.S. has its sights set on holding and grabbing more of the oil wealth of the Near East, but the ultimate prize it wants is China. Emboldened by capitalist counterrevolution in the former Soviet Union, the U.S. is mounting military pressure on China—from the expansion of U.S. bases in the Philippines to new bases on the Afghan border. At the same time, the U.S. and other imperialists, as well as overseas Chinese capitalists, promote incursions of the capitalist market in “Special Economic Zones” for free-market exploitation in the heart of the Chinese deformed workers state. China is one of seven potential targets in the cross hairs of U.S. plans for a nuclear first strike, as laid out in the “Nuclear Posture Review” issued by the Pentagon earlier this year. Nonetheless, the miserable Beijing Stalinist bureaucracy endorsed the U.S. “war on terror” in Afghanistan. As well, elements of the bureaucracy seek to become a new capitalist ruling class, assisting the economic penetration of China by the imperialists and the overseas Chinese bourgeoisie. The terrible reversal of human progress by every measure, from infant mortality to life expectancy to literacy, since capitalist counterrevolution in the former Soviet Union and East Europe is a warning to the Chinese working masses that a sellout to the “free world” means a free fall into capitalist exploitation and misery—and so much the more so for China, with its vast expanses of economic backwardness. The gains of the 1949 Chinese Revolution, which lifted China from the yoke of imperialist domination, ended the enslavement of women and vastly improved the conditions of life of the worker and peasant masses through the creation of a planned, collectivized economy, are at risk. We Trotskyists fight for the unconditional military defense of China—as well as North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba—against imperialist attack and internal counterrevolution, while fighting for proletarian political revolution to oust the treacherous Stalinist bureaucracies which undermine the workers states.

The ICL threw every resource at its disposal into the fight to stop capitalist counterrevolution in the former Soviet Union, and earlier in East Germany. We sought to reimplant the authentic communism of Lenin’s Bolsheviks, and to bring to the working class Trotsky’s brilliant analysis of the contradictory character of the deformed workers states, in order to build revolutionary internationalist parties as the instrument to defend the old gains and conquer new ones. We did not succeed, but the bitter result of capitalism’s victory—a far more dangerous world of unbridled imperialist exploitation and war—makes the struggles at hand all the more urgent and steels our resolve. In contrast, virtually the entire “left” howled along with the imperialist wolves in backing the forces of counterrevolution in the Soviet Union and the deformed workers states of East Europe. In so doing they expressed their rapprochement with their national bourgeoisies. Thus it is not surprising that, reflecting growing differences among the major capitalist powers, these “leftists” went on to act as “human rights” drummer boys for their imperialist rulers against Serbia in 1999 and today adopt an “antiwar” posture which is nothing but pink window-dressing on the national interests of their own capitalist ruling classes.

Fake Left Marches to the Beat of Their Own Capitalist Rulers

It is correct to oppose American imperialism, but to promote the idea that the European imperialists are more benevolent and progressive than their American rival is nothing but vile social-chauvinism. Yet this is precisely the counterfeit currency of the European “left.” Thus the Italian Rifondazione Comunista (RC), the French Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR) and the British Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and Workers Power (WP), among a raft of others, signed a call “To All Citizens of Europe and to All Their Representatives” which proclaims:

“Those who show solidarity with the people of Iraq have no hearing in the White House. But we do have the chance to influence European governments—many of whom have opposed the war. We call on all the European heads of state to publicly stand against this war, whether it has UN backing or not, and to demand that George Bush abandon his war plans.”

What a poignant appeal to the German bourgeoisie of Auschwitz, to the French imperialists who soaked Algeria in blood, to the British who pillaged the Indian subcontinent and carved up the Near East and whose imperialist troops enforce brutal repression of the Catholics in Northern Ireland! How about today’s minor players, like the Belgians, whose colonial occupation of the Congo was unrivaled in brutality, or the Dutch, who subjugated Indonesia and also engaged in an intercontinental slave trade? Let’s not forget it was the Italian bourgeoisie which set up concentration camps in Libya and which used poison gas against the Ethiopian population. Moreover, this bloody colonial past paved the way for the murderous repression of dark-skinned immigrants by West Europe’s rulers today, from the racist Rasterfahndung (a computerized system for racial profiling of mainly Muslim immigrants) in Germany to the institutionalized racist cop terror of France’s “Vigipirate” campaign, Italy’s drowning of boatloads of Albanian refugees, Britain’s deportations of asylum-seekers, and on and on.

Perhaps the “leftist” signatories of the above-quoted statement feel their imperialist masters “owe” them one. After all, they did help install the reactionary governments in place across Europe. The British SWP declared itself “over the moon” when Bush’s poodle Tony Blair first became prime minister. The French LCR vigorously campaigned “in the streets and at the polling booths” to “stop Le Pen” and install the right-wing Gaullist Jacques Chirac. The German Cliffite group Linksruck helped put Schröder, who seized on the Balkans War to become the first man to roll Bundeswehr tanks out of Germany since Adolf Hitler, back in office as an anti-American “peace” candidate. Italian RC leader Bertinotti talks out of the left side of his mouth about a “European general strike for peace” (conspicuously excluding the American workers), while simultaneously appealing to the European heads of state, including the right-wing, fascist-allied Berlusconi, to oppose the war. In effect, Bertinotti calls for a “strike for peace” by capitalist governments. Proposta and Falcemartello (the Italian offshoot of the British Grantites), nestled inside RC, refuse to take a side to defend Iraq and promote mobilizations against U.S. military bases in Italy without addressing Italian imperialism. Indeed, Proposta supported the previous RC/ “Ulivo” government which invaded Albania in 1997. In cyberspace, Workers Power and its League for a Revolutionary Communist International (LRCI) calls to “defend Iraq,” but on the streets of Britain they campaigned for Tony Blair, who wages war on Iraq. Workers Power openly campaigned for the defeat of Serbia by the Kosovo Liberation Army—tool of NATO imperialism in the Balkans War—and turned up at a London demonstration which featured the call “Good luck NATO!” WP also issued the demented proclamation that “in the aftermath of NATO’s victory in Kosova, a pre-revolutionary situation is maturing” (“The Fight to Overthrow Milosevic in Serbia,” 11 August 1999 LRCI statement).

In Britain, the Cliffite SWP froths mightily against “Bush’s war,” yet it supported the entry of British imperialist troops into Northern Ireland in 1969 and still can’t bring itself to call for their immediate unconditional withdrawal! While occasionally denouncing the United Nations in their newspapers, various international affiliates of the Cliff tendency make up the right wing of the antiwar movement and criminally build illusions in the UN, whose sanctions against Iraq are a murderous act of war. In 1990-91, the SWP built the Committee to Stop the War in the Gulf headed by Tony Benn, who supported UN sanctions. Now Linksruck has published a petition on its Web page demanding: “We appeal to the German Federal Government with much concern: To do everything possible in the framework of the UN in response to the U.S.A. to avoid the threatened war!”

In Australia, the International Socialist Organisation (ISO) announces in its 4 October issue of Socialist Worker that it backs the Victorian Peace Network (VPN), an antiwar confab which states, “UN resolutions on disarmament and human rights will only work if they are applied equally, without fear or favour. All the nuclear powers and all Middle East states must abolish their stocks of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.” This is an openly pro-imperialist call for the disarmament of Iraq in the face of impending U.S./British attack. As for the imperialists, they will only be disarmed when they are expropriated by victorious workers revolutions. Clinging to the coattails of liberals like the VPN, the ISO ends up again in the camp of the imperialists.

Similarly, the Marcyite Workers World Party (WWP) in the United States talks a little more left in its newspaper but in practice dedicates its efforts to subordinating the antiwar movement to capitalist politicians in the Democratic Party of war and racism. The WWP promotes Ramsey Clark, who was top cop under the Vietnam War administration of Lyndon Johnson and today demands that U.S. imperialism “lead us on the road to peace”!

U.S. military bases across Europe and Asia, as well as high-tech spy installations such as Australia’s Pine Gap, have become deserving targets of antiwar protests by leftists and trade unions. It would be a good thing if the U.S. were deprived of its international launching pads for war against Iraq. For all of German chancellor Schröder’s electioneering against war in Iraq, it is highly unlikely that he will interfere in any way with the key American air bases and military installations across Germany which house some 70,000 American troops. What we need is not an “antiwar movement” of social-chauvinist support to one’s “own” bourgeoisie, but a revolutionary proletarian and internationalist opposition to the U.S./NATO bases. The Spartakist Workers Party, German section of the ICL, calls for the immediate withdrawal of all German troops from the Balkans, Afghanistan and the Near East. And while much of the left campaigned for imperialist intervention in East Timor in 1999, the Spartacist League/Australia opposed the Australian military presence there from the outset.

The French Lutte Ouvrière (LO) group appears to have set itself apart from the swamp and even denounced “the total hypocrisy of the European states regarding the escalation of Bush’s warmongering” (Lutte Ouvrière, 6 September). Yet LO offers no perspective for any class-struggle fight against war, much less against the domestic reflection of this war drive: an escalation of police-state terror against immigrants, sans-papiers (undocumented immigrants) and “second generation” youth. LO has swung wildly in recent months, from grotesque support to cop “strikes” and calls for more cops in poor neighborhoods to opposing police brutality. Yet where LO is consistent is precisely in their steadfast refusal to fight for anything but the most narrow economic demands in the proletariat. Incredibly, in months of LO factory leaflets you can not find one word against anti-immigrant racism, but plenty of their perpetual reformist babble about “banning layoffs.” Thus LO does its bit to tie workers to their exploiters with the lie that the capitalist system can somehow be regulated under a “good” government to be humane.

In Lenin’s classic antiwar primer Socialism and War, written in 1915 in the crucible of World War I, he wrote:

“Opportunism and social-chauvinism have the same politico-ideological content—class collaboration instead of the class struggle, renunciation of revolutionary methods of struggle, helping one’s ‘own’ government in its embarrassed situation, instead of taking advantage of these embarrassments so as to advance the revolution.”

Indeed, the pseudo-Marxists’ support to their own rulers as somehow more moral and humane than the American bourgeoisie is the same argument used by the German Social Democrats as “justification” for “defense of the fatherland” and voting war credits to the Kaiser in 1914. This renunciation of the fundamental Marxist perspective of class vs. class—encapsulated in the clarion call of the Communist Manifesto “Workingmen of all countries, unite!”—impelled Lenin to rip off the dirty shirt of the Second International and build a new, Communist, Third International. The betrayal by the Social Democrats made Lenin realize that opportunism had a material base in the workers movement itself, particularly in the trade-union officialdom which tied its fortunes to the capitalist system. Lenin’s greatest contribution to Marxism was his conclusion that a decisive split from the opportunists was the precondition for the proletariat to fight for its own class interests and its own class rule. Contrast this understanding with the base opportunism of groups like Peter Taaffe’s Committee for a Workers International, headed by the British Socialist Party, which may occasionally make orthodox-sounding statements about capitalism being the root cause of war but is wedded to support to social democrats like the German Party of Democratic Socialism.

Lenin explains in Socialism and War:

“Today unity with the opportunists actually means subordinating the working class to their ‘own’ national bourgeoisie, and an alliance with the latter for the purpose of oppressing other nations and of fighting for dominant-nation privileges; it means splitting the revolutionary proletariat of all countries.”

He concludes that the task at hand is:

“To rally these Marxist elements, however small their numbers may be at the outset; to reanimate, in their name, the now forgotten ideals of genuine socialism, and to call upon the workers of all lands to break with the chauvinists and rally about the old banner of Marxism—such is the task of the day.”

Near East Trip Wire for World War Three

In order to fully and effectively mobilize the workers and rural toilers of Iraq against American imperialism, it is necessary that the Iraqi regime be overthrown and replaced by a government of workers and peasants councils (soviets) such as was established by the 1917 Russian Bolshevik Revolution under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky. A Leninist-Trotskyist party in Iraq today would thus seek to combine the struggle for national independence against American militarism with a social revolution against the Iraqi capitalists and landlords. Arab leaders throughout the Near East fear that a U.S. invasion of Iraq will ignite social turmoil in their own countries. Meanwhile, Israel continues to pound the Palestinians, shattering every building block of society in the Occupied Territories and posing the very real possibility of mass expulsion of the Palestinian people. It is the U.S.-led war on Iraq that would provide the “cover” for Sharon’s genocidal plans. Turkey fears that the destruction of the Saddam Hussein regime could incite struggle by the oppressed Kurdish people in Iraq—and Turkey—for their national rights. The Near East is a patchwork of artificial states whose borders were literally drawn by the imperialists to suit their colonial appetites, including control of vital oil reserves.

Imperialist domination has reinforced social backwardness and the brutal repression of women, of homosexuals, of national, ethnic and religious minorities in the Near East. Not least, it was U.S. imperialism’s anti-Soviet “holy war” in Afghanistan in the 1980s which, along with the bankruptcy of Arab nationalism and the nationalist betrayals of the Stalinist Communist parties, helped fuel the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the Near East. Where much of the rest of the left marched in lockstep behind the imperialists and against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, uniquely we took a side with the Red Army against the CIA-backed Islamic reactionaries. The Soviet presence brought the hope of liberation to the Afghan peoples, especially the women enslaved by Islamic law and the veil. We proclaimed: Hail Red Army! Extend social gains of October Revolution to Afghan peoples! We opposed Gorbachev’s treacherous withdrawal from Afghanistan and presciently warned of the impulse it would give to counterrevolution, noting “It’s better to fight in Afghanistan than in Moscow.”

In urban centers throughout the Near East, there is a modern industrial proletariat which has the social power and class interest to transcend ethnic and religious division and sweep away the capitalist order. The task is to render the proletariat conscious of its interests, combatting all variants of nationalism, including the “progressive” nationalism of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and all manner of religious fundamentalism. The key is forging a revolutionary leadership based on Trotsky’s program of permanent revolution, which teaches: “With regard to countries with a belated bourgeois development, especially the colonial and semi-colonial countries, the theory of the permanent revolution signifies that the complete and genuine solution of their tasks of achieving democracy and national emancipation is conceivable only through the dictatorship of the proletariat as the leaders of the subjugated nation, above all of its peasant masses” (The Permanent Revolution, 1929).

Trotsky stressed that “the subsequent fate of the [proletarian] dictatorship and socialism depends in the last analysis not only and not so much upon the national productive forces as upon the development of the international socialist revolution.” Today in the Near East, the struggle against imperialist war and domination and against oppressive capitalist rule by the despotic sheiks, colonels and Zionist rulers cannot be resolved within the confines of a single country. Justice for the Palestinian people, national emancipation for the Kurds, freedom from the veil and sharia (Islamic law) for women, require sweeping away the medieval fundamentalists in Iran and Sudan, the bloody butchers in Syria and Iraq, the reactionary monarchies in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, and the kill-crazy Zionist rulers of Israel. U.S./NATO and all imperialist forces out of the Near East! Israel out of the Occupied Territories! Defend the Palestinian people! For a Socialist Republic of United Kurdistan! For a socialist federation of the Near East!

These struggles must be linked to the fight for socialist revolution in the advanced capitalist countries of Europe, North America and Japan. Throughout the imperialist centers, immigrant workers and their children represent a living bridge linking class struggle between the metropolis and the former colonies and linking racially oppressed immigrants to the power of the proletariat as a whole. A struggle against war and against national and racial oppression cannot be waged through the politics of compromise pushed by the social democrats, the ex-Stalinists and their so-called “far left” tails. The struggle against war presupposes a revolutionary instrument of struggle, an internationalist Trotskyist party. This is the task to which the International Communist League is dedicated.

The vast machinery of death in the hands of the imperialists is a measure of the enormous scientific and technological progress made possible by the Industrial Revolution. Today, science and technology are centrally deployed to advance the bourgeoisie’s untrammeled pursuit of profit through grinding exploitation of the overwhelming mass of the world’s population and threaten the very existence of human civilization. Turning science and technology to the benefit of humanity requires wresting the means of production from the hands of the capitalist imperialist rulers and creating an international planned economy. Only in this way can the needs of the billions of toilers now consigned to dreadful and stultifying poverty begin to be met and the threat of war ended once and for all. Only socialist revolution can end imperialist war—Reforge Trotsky’s Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution!

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