Spartacist Canada No. 150
Lebanon: Down With UN Intervention! Israel Out Now!
For over a month, Lebanon was a place of carnage, destruction and horror inflicted by relentless Israeli bombardment backed up by some 30,000 invading troops, all with the full support of U.S. imperialism and its Canadian junior partner. Over 1,000 men, women and children were slaughtered, nearly a quarter of the population was displaced, and the infrastructure of the country was devastated. The Zionist regime of Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz declared that their intent was the annihilation of Hezbollah. But Hezbollah not only survived the onslaught, it inflicted significant casualties on the Israeli military as well as damage to tanks and other vehicles. Israels setback in Lebanon has touched off a crisis for the Olmert regime, while Hezbollah is now idolized by much of the regions Arab population.
The failure of Israels campaign in Lebanon is really what is behind the United Nations-sponsored ceasefire agreement, which Israel has repeatedly violated. Having opposed a ceasefire for weeks, the Bush administration (echoed by Harpers Tory government) suddenly switched track when it became clear that Israel was running into trouble in pursuing its military objectives. The crux of the agreement is a plan to deploy some 15,000 UN troops in southern Lebanon, although no foreign power was exactly jumping to place its forces between Hezbollah and Israel and get caught in a potential quagmire. But after initially offering only 200 troops, the French imperialists, Lebanons former colonial overlords, have now committed 2,000 troops and the Italians up to 3,000.
The purpose of this imperialist UN force is to try to accomplish what the Israeli military could not—the neutralization of Hezbollah and its fighters. It is a set-up for more repression against the peoples of Lebanon. It was U.S., French and Italian peacekeepers in Lebanon who disarmed Palestine Liberation Organization fighters in 1982, laying the basis for the massacre of some 2,000 Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps at the hands of fascistic Christian forces organized by the Israeli military. In the recent conflict, we called for the military defense of Hezbollah while maintaining our political opposition to that reactionary Islamic fundamentalist outfit. Today, we demand the full and immediate withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Lebanon and say: UN troops out of Lebanon now!
As they carried out their slaughter in Lebanon, the Zionist rulers continued their campaign of repression and murder in the Occupied Territories. Nearly 200 Palestinians have been killed since late June, when militants seized an Israeli soldier. Dozens of Palestinian legislative and government officials from Hamas remain in Israeli prisons, while several imperialist powers, as well as Israel, have continued their embargo of the Palestinians as punishment for the election of a Hamas government in January. Defend the Palestinian people! Down with the embargo! All Israeli troops and settlers out of the Occupied Territories—Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights!
The Lebanese war provoked protests across Canada, rattling the political landscape. In Quebec in particular, the presence of a large and well-integrated Lebanese community, as well as the history of national oppression under the Anglo Canadian rulers, drove opposition to the war. Anger over Harpers open support for the Israeli assault, along with growing opposition to Canadas military adventure in Afghanistan, has helped fuel renewed support for the bourgeois-nationalist Bloc and Parti Québécois, whose leaders joined a 15,000-strong protest in Montreal. In English Canada, the NDP sent speakers to antiwar rallies, and after years of supporting the Canadian troops in Afghanistan Jack Layton is now calling for most of them to be pulled out by early next year. At the same time, the New Democrats are demanding that Canadian troops be sent into Lebanon as part of the UN occupation force!
A July 21 leaflet issued by the Spartacist League/U.S. and distributed internationally, including at protests in Canada, warned against any illusions in the UN or other imperialist agencies as protectors of the oppressed masses of the Near East. It declared: The myriad peoples of the Near East will not know peace, prosperity or justice until bourgeois rule in the region is overthrown through a series of socialist revolutions (Down With Zionist Onslaught Against Lebanon, Gaza! Workers Vanguard No. 874, 4 August). Opposed to this Marxist perspective, the reformist left internationally and at home has also given either open or backhanded support to imperialist peacekeepers.
In Britain, Lindsey German, leader of the Socialist Workers Party (parent group of Canadas International Socialists [I.S.]) signed a letter on behalf of the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) pleading with the Tony Blair government to call for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. Then, shortly after the UN-brokered ceasefire went into effect, the StWC canceled an August 19 London demonstration. For the StWC there was nothing left to protest, even as the imperialists were gathering forces to occupy Lebanon!
In France, the pseudo-Trotskyist Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (with whom Quebecs Gauche Socialiste is affiliated) cosigned a call for an August 12 Paris demonstration calling on the Chirac government to act without delay for an unconditional ceasefire and demanding that the European Union (EU) impose sanctions against the Israeli government. And in Canada, a call for cross-country protests on August 12 by the Canadian Peace Alliance (CPA), which is politically supported by the I.S. and Communist Party (CP), demanded that the Harper government exert all its efforts to achieve a cease-fire.
The fake socialists promote as a force for peace the imperialist rulers who have waged war against the immigrant and Muslim populations of their countries, who carved up the Near East into a cauldron of national, ethnic and religious bloodletting, who slaughtered countless millions in the former colonies. Now theyre getting the ceasefire they called for, in the form of the biggest peacekeeping force in the EUs history.
Imperialist Hands Off Iran!
The U.S. firmly backed Israels onslaught against Lebanon as part of its attempt to build a new Middle East by stamping out any regime or political force that does not bow to its dictates. In Iraq, the bloody U.S. occupation is resulting in the deaths of thousands each month, mainly now at the hands of sectarian violence. Meanwhile, U.S./NATO forces, of which Canadian battalions are a key component, pound the peoples of Afghanistan, where the imperialist occupation has meant continued brutal oppression of women and tribal warfare.
Syria and Iran, both of which support Hezbollah, have been repeatedly threatened by the U.S. and allied imperialists. A 21 August New Yorker article by Seymour Hersh stated that the U.S. and Israel had made preparations for an attack on Hezbollah well before the group abducted two Israeli soldiers on July 12. Hersh quoted a Middle East expert who said, The White House was more focused on stripping Hezbollah of its missiles, because, if there was to be a military option against Irans nuclear facilities, it had to get rid of the weapons that Hezbollah could use in a potential retaliation at Israel.
In the event of an attack on Iran or Syria by the U.S.—or by Israel acting as a proxy for the U.S.—we would stand for the military defense of those countries without giving an iota of political support to the Baathist dictatorship in Damascus or the Persian-chauvinist Shiite clerical regime in Tehran. The U.S. is pushing for UN sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program if Iran does not suspend uranium enrichment by August 31. However, the U.S. is far from guaranteed that Russia and China would vote in the UN Security Council to impose sanctions.
On August 26, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that the country was opening a new heavy water plant, which is used to create nuclear fuel. The Iranian regime says that its development of nuclear technology is entirely for energy purposes. Regardless, what is clear is that in the face of imperialist belligerence and threats, Iran needs nuclear weapons and effective delivery systems to defend itself and deter attack. Additionally, as part of our unconditional military defense of the North Korean deformed workers state, we support that countrys development and testing of nuclear weapons and delivery systems.
Pro-NDP Leftists on Parade
The No. 1 enemy of working people, minorities and the oppressed worldwide is the U.S. capitalist ruling class. The imperialist bourgeoisie that has rained death and destruction on Afghanistan and Iraq is the same ruling class that left black and poor people to die when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, that has taken an ax to U.S. working peoples pensions, health care and jobs while shredding democratic rights in the name of the war on terror.
Capitalist Canada acts as Washingtons loyal junior partner, assisting its imperialist rampages economically, diplomatically and at the military level. At home, the unions face continual attacks, and more than a decade of cutbacks under the Liberals and now the Tories have left millions with shoddy health care and crumbling schools while swelling the ranks of the homeless. In protests against the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, we raised the call for class struggle against the capitalist rulers at home. We fight to forge revolutionary workers parties, sections of a reforged Fourth International, to lead the fight to sweep away the bloody U.S.-dominated imperialist system through socialist revolution.
Crucial to our perspective is the need to break workers and minorities from the pro-capitalist labour misleaders and their political arm, the NDP. The NDP has administered capitalist austerity in several provinces and promotes base illusions in Canadian imperialisms fraudulent peacekeeping credentials. From the Korean War to the Golan Heights, Somalia and Bosnia, such peacekeeping has never been anything but the brutal enforcement of the imperialist order. Yet at the recent demonstrations against the Israeli assault on Lebanon, speaker after speaker denounced Harper for breaking with Canadas traditional role, without a peep of objection from the reformist left.
Through the CPA and various local coalitions, groups like the I.S. and CP sought to build a liberal-pacifist antiwar movement premised on appealing to the Canadian government, then run by Chrétiens Liberals, to oppose Bushs war in Iraq. Thus none of them forthrightly called for the military defense of Iraq in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion. Worried that mass opposition to the war, especially strong in Quebec, would fuel a new rise of pro-independence sentiment, the Liberal regime announced that Canada would not formally join the U.S. attack. With this, the fake-left declared victory and the antiwar movement all but collapsed. Yet Canada gave the U.S. crucial covert military assistance in Iraq while taking on a major role in the Afghanistan occupation.
The reformists portrayed the NDP as a party of peace, cheering on Jack Laytons speeches at antiwar demos. Soon after, the New Democrats began propping up the Martin Liberal government, including by supporting the biggest increase in Canadian military spending in decades. In a parliamentary debate on Afghanistan this May, after Harpers Tories had replaced the Liberals, Layton railed:
We will take no lessons from the government on supporting our women and men in uniform.
Let us all remember that last year it was the Conservatives who abstained rather than vote for a budget that invested 13.5 billion dollars in the Canadian Forces, a budget that invests 8.2 billion dollars more than the Conservatives budget this spring. It was New Democrats, not Conservatives, who voted for that budget to ensure our troops would get the equipment and training they need.
Now the CPA has joined with the Canadian Labour Congress, Canadian Islamic Congress and Quebecs Collectif Échec à la Guerre in a call for October 28 protests against the Canadian occupation of Afghanistan. Once again they bemoan how the role of the Canadian Armed Forces abroad has changed and demand a freeze in defense and security budgets until an in-depth public discussion is held on those issues. For its part, the CPA has a formal line against UN intervention in Lebanon, while its bloc partners (e.g., the CLC bureaucracy) are for exactly that—including participation of Canadian troops. Whatever their paper positions, the spineless reformist left has no intention of fighting for anything that would put them on a collision course with the NDP and CLC misleaders.
For New October Revolutions!
In the Lebanon protests around the world, the International Communist League was unique in stressing the need to militarily defend Hezbollah against Zionist attack while at the same time making clear our political opposition to Hezbollah, Hamas and all other Islamic fundamentalist forces. The I.S., in contrast, calls for unconditional support to Hezbollah and Hamas (Socialist Worker, 29 July). While noting that No resistance movement is perfect, they laud what they call a drive to unity in the local movements that have united Islamists with communists, pan-Arab nationalists with democrats, and so on.
In similar terms, the Vancouver-based MAWO (Mobilization Against War and Occupation) practically venerates Hamas, writing in a July 7 web statement that it has come closer than any other at this time to representing the legitimate and just demands of [the] Palestinian people. Meanwhile, MAWOs call for a September 16 rally around the Near East, Iraq and Afghanistan conspicuously fails to mention, let alone oppose, the UN occupation force in Lebanon.
It is the ABC of Marxism to fight for the complete political independence of the proletariat from any and all non-proletarian forces and social classes, which certainly includes the anti-woman, anti-Semitic Hezbollah and Hamas. We stood for the military defense of Hezbollah because an Israeli victory would have deepened the oppression of the Lebanese masses, strengthened the Zionists whip hand against the Palestinians and furthered U.S. designs in the region. Our military defense of Hamas against Israeli assault, including demanding the release of its leaders from Zionist prisons, has a similar starting point.
Building on the popularity it acquired by standing up to the Israeli military onslaught, Hezbollah is today taking the lead in rebuilding southern Lebanon and in providing relief. But Hezbollahs increasing authority represents a dire threat to women, leftists, Christians, the Druze, Sunnis and also Shiites deemed by Hezbollah to be non-believers. Far from an expression of anti-imperialism, the rise of Islamic mass movements reflects despair in the face of brutal oppression. It is the reactionary product of the political bankruptcy of nationalism and the absence of a communist alternative.
What is needed in the Near East is the forging of revolutionary internationalist workers parties through irreconcilable struggle against bourgeois and petty-bourgeois nationalism and religious fundamentalism. It is capitalist rule, which fuels national, ethnic and religious divisions, that has driven the constant bloodshed in the region. There will be no equitable resolution to the conflicting claims of the peoples of the Near East until bourgeois rule is overthrown and imperialist subjugation ended. This is particularly the case for Israel/Palestine, a case of two interpenetrated peoples who lay claim to the same piece of land. Assuring the right of self-determination for both the Palestinian and Hebrew-speaking peoples requires shattering the Zionist garrison state from within through Arab/Hebrew workers revolution and the overthrow of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the bloody Baathist bonapartist regime in Syria and the capitalist regime in Lebanon, establishing a socialist federation of the Near East.
U.S. imperialism played a key role in fostering the growth of Islamic reaction during the Cold War as a counterweight to Communism and secular nationalism in the Near East. The crucial battle was in Afghanistan following the Soviet intervention in 1979. The U.S. imperialists, fully backed by Canada, funneled billions of dollars in aid to the mujahedin cutthroats to kill Soviet soldiers. We said, Hail Red Army in Afghanistan! and called to extend the gains of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution to the Afghan peoples. In 1989, when the treacherous Stalinist bureaucrats in Moscow pulled out the troops, we denounced this betrayal, warning that it was far better to fight and defeat counterrevolution in Afghanistan than to have to confront it in Moscow.
The bulk of the left traitorously joined the imperialists anti-Soviet human rights crusade. This was exemplified by the anti-Communist I.S., which hailed the importance of the defeat of the Russian army, claiming this would spur the struggles of the oppressed nationalities in Eastern Europe (Socialist Worker, March 1989). By this they meant outfits like Polands clerical-reactionary Solidarność, another pro-imperialist force backed to the hilt by Washington and Ottawa. The I.S. and much of the rest of the left cheered the triumph of capitalist counterrevolution in the Soviet degenerated workers state in 1991-92, a world-historic defeat for the proletariat internationally and a boon for the growth of Islamic fundamentalism.
The ICL stood at its post to the end in defense of the Soviet Union against capitalist counterrevolution. Today we fight to cohere Marxist workers parties committed to the struggle for new October Revolutions—the only road to ridding the world of imperialist war, national oppression and capitalist exploitation.
—Adapted from Workers Vanguard No. 875, 1 September