Middle East

With Global Capitalist Imperialism in Charge,
there Can Be No Peace!

By Brian Schwartz

Hugo Chavez extended a pledge of solidarity with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the recent Non-Aligned Nations summit in Cuba. Iran is determined to develop nuclear power, defying the United States and the United Nations. So far Chavez and Castro have been the only leaders of states to stand up against the United States and the UN for interfering with Iran’s sovereignty. As the first nation to use atomic power to incinerate human beings and inaugurate a suicidal arms race with the Soviet Union, the United States should be under international scrutiny and sanctions—not Iran.

Nuclear disarmament must begin in the United States, where the nuclear genie was let out of the bottle in the first place. It is unfair and dangerous for countries like Iran and North Korea to abandon nuclear options without extracting major economic concessions and guarantees that the U.S. will disarm its nukes. Having nuclear capability protects vulnerable countries from aggressive imperial rampages. The U.S. government has demonstrated its ability to storm-troop into countries like Panama, Grenada, and Aghanistan when these countries wanted to run things their way.

Middle-class environmentalists may shudder at the idea of favoring the use of nuclear power in Third World countries, but such a demand is necessary in the absence of a world economy in which resources are shared freely. As Marxists we are more aware of the dangerous legacy the nuclear age will bequeath to the coming generations of humankind. Hot waste will have to be stored and guarded for thousands of years by our descendants, barring a technological advance for its disposal. It would be like an urgent command imposed upon us by the builders of the Greek Acropolis and the Giza pyramid complex to keep these structures maintained throughout their millennia of existence.

U.S. nuclear disarmament and power plant decommissioning is a principled transitional demand uniting environmentalists and peace activists, provided it isn’t imposed on the developing world. At best, it is a pipe dream to expect the crisis of nuclear weapons and power to be settled under the leadership of the international capitalist class. Faced with extermination by their own tools and warfare, the capitalists will take society and humanity down with them.

As was the case in the two decades between the First and Second World Wars, the catastrophes facing mankind can only be prevented by a confident international working class. It must be willing to organize itself politically for an all-out fight in the streets and workplaces to take state power away from the capitalists and their so-called socialist and labor lieutenants. When our world is organized on the basis of class solidarity for the free exchange of resources and technologies, human beings can then, for the first time, face the challenges of building a democratically organized and controlled socialist world and embark on the road to abandoning nuclear power.

Dwindling oil resources and the reality of mass movements overthrowing reactionary monarchies and dictatorships in the Middle East have forced the U.S. ruling class to bite the bullet and establish permanent military bases in the region. They found that Iraq was the best option for building these bases: because Saddam Hussein had suppressed the Mullahs, Iraq was the most secularized of all the Middle East countries. Saddam Hussein was ruthless and hated, and maybe the Iraqis would welcome the U.S. Army. Then the new Iraqi puppet regime would sign a Guantanamo Bay type of treaty, allotting land for military bases out in the desert away from population centers. With bipartisan support the U.S. government invaded and occupied Iraq in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. This dangerous gamble to establish a permanent U.S. military presence will bleed the United States for years unless the Iraqis can unite and drive the coalition troops out, or popular discontent in the homelands of the U.S. and Europe forces a withdrawal of their troops.

Unlike in the Vietnam War, the U.S. ruling class will not retreat unless they are threatened by a mass movement at home capable of taking power away from the Democrats and Republicans. This mass movement would have to be dug in and visible for the long haul. Vietnam was a Southeast Asian backwater; making a tactical retreat out of Vietnam rather than fighting mass opposition to the war was a decision corporate America could live with. Middle East oil is different, as can be seen in the 9/11 Commission Report. On page 375, the Republican and Democratic members of the commission concur in writing: “The United States is heavily engaged in the Muslim world and will be for many years to come.”

If peace activists and dove Democrats are deluded enough to think they can stay attached to the Democratic Party at election time in hopes that their candidates will get the troops out of Iraq, then they’d better read the 9/11 Commission Report. In the preface it states:

“We present the narrative of this report and the recommendations that flow from it to the President of the United States, the United States Congress, and the American people for their consideration. Ten Commissioners—five Republicans and five Democrats chosen by elected leaders from our nation’s capital at a time of great partisan division—have come together to present this report without dissent.”

To disregard the Geneva Conventions for War on Terror Prisoners was a bipartisan decision. On page 379, the report says:

“The United States and some of its allies do not accept the application of full Geneva Convention treatment of prisoners of war to captured terrorists. Conventions establish a minimum set of standards for prisoners on internal conflicts. Since the international struggle against Islamic terrorism is not internal, those provisions do not formally apply, but they are accepted as basic standards of human treatment.”

A bipartisan green light is given from the top and pretty soon a network of secret prisons and torture practices become part of the arsenal on the War on Terror. Recently, John McCain and the so-called Republican opposition upheld the President’s right to interpret the Geneva Conventions as he saw fit. No real change in prisoner treatment was established by the compromise bill. The 9/11 Commissioners have formulated on page 362 of the report:

“As we mentioned in Chapter 2, Usama Bin Ladin and other Islamist terrorist leaders draw on a long tradition of extreme intolerance within one stream of Islam (a minority tradition), from at least Ibn Taimiyyah, through the founders of Wahhabism, through the Muslim Brotherhood, to Sayyid Qutb. That stream is motivated by religion and does not distinguish politics from religion, thus distorting both. It is further fed by grievances stressed by Bin Ladin and widely felt throughout the Muslim world—against the U.S. military presence in the Middle East, policies perceived as anti-Arab and anti-Muslim and in support of Israel. Bin Laden and Islamist terrorists mean exactly what they say: to them America is the font of all evil, the ‘head of the snake,’ and it must be converted or destroyed.

“It is not a position with which Americans can bargain or negotiate. With it there is no common ground—not even respect for life—on which to begin a dialogue. It can only be destroyed or utterly isolated.”

Osama Bin Laden’s al Qaeda has invited talks and negotiations with the United States and Europe. He even recommended that the American people read the book Rogue State by William Blum, quoting from its introduction: “If I were president, I would give an apology to all the widows and orphans and those who were tortured. Then I would announce that American interference in the nations of the world has ended once and for all.” Osama must have an open mind to have read Rogue State, because in it Blum harshly criticizes the Afghan Jihadists who fought the Soviets. Blum also is no friend of Islamic fundamentalism.

There was a time when the U.S. government could negotiate with Wahhabism and armed Muslim fanatics, when the CIA organized and financed Jihadists fighting the Soviets for control of Afghanistan. Here’s an entertaining yet revealing excerpt from Charlie Wilson’s War by George Crile. On pages 340–341, Gust Avrakotos, a CIA agent instrumental in organizing the Afghanistan War against the Soviets, recalls a visit that he and CIA Director Bill Casey made to King Fahd of Saudi Arabia.

“I told Casey,” he recalles, “that he should talk to the king about ‘your Muslim brothers,’” about using the money for food for the families, for clothing, weapons, for repairing the mosques. You should talk to him about being the ‘keeper of the faith.’”

“Jesus, fuck, I like that—keeper of the faith,” Casey said. “Oh fuck, I like that—keeper of the faith.” Avrakatos summarized for Crile: “The amazing feature of the Saudi grant is that the king did not dictate terms. He was content to let the CIA use the money as it saw fit.” On page 423, Milt Bearden, a former CIA Islamabad Station Chief, recalls:

“It remains one of the great mysteries of this entire history that virtually no one in the press—or Congress, for that matter—seemed to care that the CIA was running the biggest operation in its history: that it was supporting efforts to kill thousands of Soviets, that it was fighting a very dirty war, that it was arming tens of thousands of fanatical Muslim fundamentalists.” Bearden couldn’t quite figure out why no one was concerned about these facts, but he loved it.

Muslim fanatics like the blind Sheik Rahman and those connected with the first World Trade Center bombing were brought into the U.S. by the CIA in the first place as fundraisers for the Afghan war. U.S. war moves into the Middle East infuriated these CIA guests living in the United States.

The quest for oil and regional control have driven the U.S. and Europe militarily into the Middle East. Oil resources belongs solely to the Arabs, who have dwelled there for millennia. For our part, we can only organize, educate, and propagandize against the war. It would be a big help if peace activists and environmentalists did not vote for Democrats, who have in writing pledged their committment to this appocalyptic war drive into the Middle East.