Reflections on The Anti-war Movement

by Communist Corresponding Society on March 19, 2013

Originally posted by the Communist Corresponding Society in 2011, The North Star republishes this reflection on the anti-war movement on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.


London anti-war demonstration, photo: William M. Connolley
The pitiful response to the war on Libya—not one major national demonstration from the start of bombing in March to the fall of Tripoli in August—confirms that the anti-war movement, which once mobilised so many against the invasion of Iraq, is now dead. For those of us who have been activists in this movement from the beginning, this is a painful admission. Trying to analyse it in the form in which it exists today is of limited benefit, as its social significance is almost zero. However, it was a different story back in 2003. It is important to study the movement as it was at its height, so as to learn whatever lessons we can. The following is offered as a contribution to this.

From 2002 to 2004 the anti-war movement seemed to become a significant player in national politics. Every town, every village, every college seemed to have an anti-war group. The big national mobilisations were built on the back of thousands of street stalls, public meetings, local demonstrations, and other events. The first obvious question we can ask is why it became so big. Why did the attack on Iraq precipitate such a wave of protest when the attack on Yugoslavia had not? Probably because it was not just about Iraq. In the case of Yugoslavia, Labour was still fresh in office after 18 years of Conservative government. By the time it came to Iraq four years later, not only was the context different because of the aggressively militarist policies being pursued by the US and British governments in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, but there was also a sense of disillusionment across a broad front. It was the fifth time in six years that British military might was being unleashed overseas. People were angry about restrictions on civil liberties—ID cards, inclusion of innocent people in the DNA database, etc.—as well as about growing levels of official racism, tuition fees, and the increasing spread of unbridled market relations into health and education. Most of these were bound up in one way or another with the war, and for that reason opposition to it managed to draw all these issues and those concerned with them together. The anti-war movement became the channel through which a variety of specific pent-up grievances and more generalised discontent were expressed.

The movement failed to stop the war—and that was not the result of deficiencies in its leadership. It is true there were mistakes. Some slogans were ill-thought out (“Troops home by Christmas”), and one could not help but cringe when the anti-war case was presented in the media in terms of opinion poll figures rather than on its own merits. And at times the movement seemed too focused on the Middle East, worrying obsessively about a potential invasion of Iran which didn’t happen and ignoring the actual invasion and ongoing occupation of Haiti. We must all take our appropriate share of the responsibility for these errors. But the most important fact is that, prior to the invasion of Iraq, the movement was essentially correct on all important questions of slogans and tactics. It avoided seductive overtures, either from the right (e.g. “Give the arms inspectors more time”) or from the left (“Victory to Iraq”). By making “Don’t attack Iraq” the central slogan, the movement laid the basis for building the biggest and broadest possible campaign—which it went on to do. It is a testament to the leadership of the movement that so many diverse strands of opinion—pacifists, liberals, leftists, religious groups, environmentalists and others, as well as the completely general public—felt able to remain part of it and did not organise separate demonstrations. And that sufficient funds were raised to produce the enormous quantities of leaflets, posters, badges, stickers, placards, and other campaigning materials which were essential to the movement.

In retrospect it seems unlikely that there was much chance of stopping the war. All kinds of strategies were advanced at the time. Some people advocated the blind alley of “direct action”. Others wanted to emulate the velvet or orange (or whatever colour, fabric, or fruit) “revolutions” in vogue at the time in former Soviet republics—presumably not realising that these were imperialist projects and had been resourced accordingly. Others argued that a general strike would do the trick—which may well have been the case; but it would have been difficult to wish one into existence. There were attempts to promote inter-faith dialogue, or so-called alternatives to war. The former only makes sense if one believes the Iraq war was the result of some kind of misunderstanding between faiths, and the latter only if one believes its aims were something to be desired. The brutal truth we must face is that all the other strategies which were suggested would have been less effective than the ones the movement actually used, and the ones which the movement actually used were not good enough.

There were certainly some genuine achievements: millions of people were drawn into taking political action, many for the first time in their lives. The date of the largest demonstration, 15 February 2003, will become a reference point in the history of progressive struggles. Serious questions were forced onto the political agenda, about the nature of government, of democracy and of decision-making. However, it would not be unreasonable to expect that the experience would have educated large numbers of people: that thousands would have become politically-aware activists with an understanding of the way society works and a desire and commitment to change it. The movement against the Viet Nam war produced a whole generation of such people, and left a lasting impression on the mass culture industry. In contrast, there is no “Iraq generation”. There are no memorable protest songs or movies, no iconic posters, no books of note. The movement was huge but ephemeral, lacking the minimal understanding of imperialism which would have served as a backbone. To a very great extent, the anti-war movement failed to change the consciousness of the people who became involved with it. It has left barely a trace of its former existence.

It is difficult to criticise the leadership for this: in a single-issue campaign, the main priority of those at the top has to be to keep the movement as large as possible and as united as possible, without making concessions which would gut it of its content. The task of educating the movement about imperialism must mainly be handled by rank-and-file activists. A major reason for the movement’s low level of consciousness was the small number of activists. The demonstrations were the biggest mass mobilisations in British history, but they came at a time when the left was numerically, organisationally and programmatically the weakest it had been for a long time. The resources for educating the movement simply didn’t exist. Rather than inspiring a new generation of activists, the huge demonstrations had an ultimately demobilising effect—if people feel that even the biggest demonstrations fail to achieve anything, it makes them more reluctant to go on further demonstrations.

The anti-war movement was not led by people with church backgrounds, or by pacifists, but by the far left. Many figures in the movement, including at the very top, were prominent leaders of left organisations. Organisations of the left were centrally involved in building and leading branches of the movement at local level. Yet none of the groups involved managed to recruit members as a result. Imagine if in another European country a left-wing organisation of, say, 2,000 members led a broad, popular, progressive campaign which mobilised hundreds of thousands of people over a period of months or years. No matter how poor its politics, how incompetent its leaders, how inept its members, it is almost beyond belief that it wouldn’t at least double or triple in size. It could not possibly not grow. Yet that is what has happened here. And it is not just the anti-war movement: the left failed to grow in significant numbers as a result of the movement against the poll tax or the movement around the miners’ strike. So consistently and so frequently does the left fail to grow when conditions are favourable that it cannot be ascribed either to bad luck, or to bad leadership, or to pressure from the Establishment.

There is clearly something deeply unattractive about the far left in Britain today—and it is worth trying to identify what that is. The left is weak and organisationally fragmented. This leads to periodic calls for left unity—based on the belief that the large number of groups is itself an obstacle to recruitment, growth, and progress. Such calls are misplaced: fragmentation is not the cause of failure, but its consequence. There are two real problems. The left catastrophically failed to articulate, generalise, or give expression to the feeling of the millions who were mobilised. For these millions—whether they consciously realised it or not—were certainly feeling something for that brief historical moment. The contextual reasons have already been suggested: Iraq being the latest in what seemed like a never-ending series of wars, accumulated grievances over the further dismantling of social services, and so on. It was a vague feeling of unease, a sense that all was not well with the world—a subconscious yearning for something other than that which was on offer. But nothing that any section of the left had to say in 2003 either caught that mood or addressed it. That was a real failure on our part.

The other problem we have is that the left serves no discernible function. It has no plan, perspective, strategy, or objective, other than to perpetuate its own existence. No left group in Britain today is perceived as serious, because no left group has a perspective of one day acquiring state power. The truth is that for almost everybody on the left politics is merely a hobby and, as hobbies go, an exceptionally unrewarding one. It is no wonder that nobody joins.

This relates to the final major lesson of the anti-war movement, and the obvious question: if the anti-war movement could never have stopped the war, what could? There is a historical parallel with events in the mid-19th century. Before that time, the traditional way of trying to influence government policy was through petitions. The Chartists organised several enormous petitions, with millions of signatures. These were ignored—showing that petitions didn’t work. Since then petitions have retained a place in the armoury of political campaigning, but are no longer the main form of activity. Subsequently, the primary method of trying to exert pressure on authority has been the demonstration. The anti-war movement organised a series of enormous demonstrations, which were ultimately ignored—showing that, if the issue is something of sufficient importance to the ruling class, demonstrations don’t work. This is unpalatable but in practice widely—although not always consciously—acknowledged. Before 15 February 2003, it was always possible for us to kid ourselves that if only we’d managed to get more people on a particular demonstration, if only we’d worked a bit harder, that would have made the difference. We now have no excuse for this particular belief: all the more so because the Establishment will also have noted the same fact. It could not have known for certain that it could hold firm in the face of demonstrations of millions of people. Now it knows it can, and in future it will be a lot more confident in the face of similar—or bigger—mobilisations.

As for the future, we will have to come up with new forms of organisation and new forms of struggle, which go beyond demonstrations in the same way demonstrations go beyond petitions. A demonstration is a more advanced form of struggle than a petition—firstly because it involves more active involvement of the participants and secondly because people have to be physically mobilised for a demonstration, giving it a dynamic which is potentially unpredictable. The new organisational forms we need have to involve even more active participation and to have an even more unpredictable dynamic. As part of this, we need to understand the importance of state power as a strategic horizon. The anti-war movement also advanced the concept of People’s Assemblies. The events that were organised under that label were, in truth, merely conferences of the movement. But the slogan itself hints at new organisational forms. Doing for the demonstration what the Chartists did for the petition, as well as pointing—albeit indirectly—to the need for something better and the need to challenge for state power, is the true, lasting, historic legacy of the anti-war movement.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Manuel Barrera, PhD March 19, 2013 at 11:30 am

Well, the short answer is that history has happened. Specifically, the capitalist austerity assault on the working class and the rising realization among the broad masses that imperialism and national “advanced”(sic) capitalism is at the root of every struggle since 2003. This assault, politically initiated with Bush’s wars based on lies, was answered by the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street movement that spawned it in the imperialist countries. Fighting against war, more than at any time since WWI has literally become the class struggle. The anti-war movement of Bush’s wars was the last time such a “single-issue” movement could possibly have held up legitimately without directly making solidarity with peoples struggles worldwide and and a fightback against austerity and essential component of a mass anti-war movement.

All discussions about Leninism aside (important as they are), it is this objective reality that has largely been missed by the “traditional” anti-war movement. Indeed, of all the anti-war leaders of Bush’s wars, Cindy Sheehan, with her solidarity with Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution has been one of the few instances where former anti-war leaders have made even a modicum of transition on this issue (there may be others that I simply have not followed, so, my apologies to those of similar movement). Today, we have the rather odd phenomenon that current “anti-war” organizations (e.g., WAMM and, even the current version of what was once NPAC) appear conservative in fighting against imperialist war without being even willing to acknowledge that the masses of Libya, Syria, and even Egypt constitute a significant ally in the fight against imperialist war by their struggle to overthrow despots or, in the context of Egypt, seeking to move beyond the national capitalists who wish to put the brakes on the revolution. Solidarity movements influenced by this conservative anti-war “diaspora” like the Palestinian solidarity movement or the Cuban solidarity movement in the Euro-U.S./NATO capitalist world have also attempted to create a schism between solidarity with the Arab revolution and these movements. Interestingly, the Palestinian people (not to mention the broader Arab masses) have not made that mistake often taking to task their own leaderships (like Hamas and Hezbollah) for not making this link.

The world has changed since the victory of the Vietnamese over U.S. imperialism in 1975 and even more so since 2003. That is why the “anti-war” movement has become largely ineffectual. I say this not to gloat because I believe it a travesty and tantamount to a betrayal of the revolutionary spirit that was the basis of the anti-Vietnam war movement and of the French Spring of 1968. It sure would be nice if our comrades, sisters, and brothers of this too narrow-minded faux anti-war movement could realize the current era is at one devastating to the working class and rife with opportunity for the working masses to understand the true nature of imperialist war, to learn how to mount a real fightback that begins with solidarity among the peoples of the Arab East and North Africa and as well with Latin America and the Bolivarian revolution. It is not a simple issue of “our fight is your fight” politics, but a fundamental strategic necessity if we are to be successful in ending the “endless wars”.

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Richard Estes March 19, 2013 at 11:52 am

“The other problem we have is that the left serves no discernible function. It has no plan, perspective, strategy, or objective, other than to perpetuate its own existence. No left group in Britain today is perceived as serious, because no left group has a perspective of one day acquiring state power. The truth is that for almost everybody on the left politics is merely a hobby and, as hobbies go, an exceptionally unrewarding one. It is no wonder that nobody joins.”

I would put it slightly differently. The far left has failed to articulate an alternative vision of society which does not rely upon war to sustain it. Many would perceive the left as “serious” if it could do so, regardless of whether there was the prospect of it taking power anytime soon.

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Brian S. March 19, 2013 at 12:31 pm

@Richard E. I think most of the British “Trotskyist” groups had (and indeed for the survivors still have) “a perspective of one day acquiring power” – and that was what was wrong with them; indeed the more seriously they held to such a perspective the worse they were (e.g. WRP)

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Brian S. March 19, 2013 at 11:58 am

I think the main reason for the unique force of the anti-Iraq War movement was the uniquely clear-cut nature of the issues in the eyes of both the vast majority of the left and a very large section of the population: a conflict palpably driven by US post 9/11 determination to restore its superpower status; an abject tailing of the British government behind this project; and the shocking cynicism of Labour in pursuing it (I still remember watching the discussion between Blair and members of the public at the Newcastle Baltic Centre where Blair promised that there would be no British involvement without a second UN resolution, and thinking “Well that’s it then, they can’t possibly go to war.”)
All of the conflicts since then have been more complex and the left has been divided -and rightfully so. The fact is the left has never evolved a clear position on how to respond to complex international conflict situations. The dominant position tends to be a mechanical, reflex “anti-imperialism” (which the authors of this piece seem to share); a minority alternative has simply bought in to the “humanitarian intervention” agenda uncritically.
I think discussions on this site and elsewhere have helped create a “third force” who try to understand situations in more concrete terms and give priority to support for genuine popular revolutions. I would like to think that we are partly responsible for the lack of mobilisation (on the wrong side) over Libya and Syria. And we have made some conceptual gains – few on the left dare parrot “what about” arguments any longer without looking desparate. But we still have no general framework to guide our thinking or to build a political movement.

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Louis Proyect March 19, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Did the PSL rename itself?

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PatrickSMcNally March 19, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Many of the young people who joined in the antiwar demonstrations after 911 came of age in a time when they were taught at school that Martin Luther King and Gandhi had shown us how to bring about change without violence. Quite a few of them went into these events with the assumption that this was their time to put what they had learned about King & Gandhi into practice. It often did not work the way they had expected, because most of what they had learned in school about this was really simplistic drivel. Most education programs play down the way that the Cold War and the emergence of the USSR as a global superpower, as well as the rising revolutions in Asia under people like Ho Chi Minh, tended to influence the British decision to withdraw from India and the subsequent enactment of the Civil Rights Acts here in the USA. People who were raised with such a misleading indoctrination tended to experience “shock and awe” when exposed to how they seemed to be just ignored by the Bush administration.

But that doesn’t mean that it was all a waste. After several decades of broad capitalist prosperity in which someone like Ronald Reagan could comfortably sign into law a Martin Luther King Holiday, people are going to need to relearn a lot of lessons which Eugene Debs & Big Bill Haywood might have taken for granted. But the antiwar protests of 2002-3 were a good first step in that direction.

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Arthur March 20, 2013 at 5:39 am

Large numbers of people mobilized against the Iraq war because it was obvious that the government was lying about its reasons for going to war and there was a major campaign against doing so by a virtually united foreign policy establishment with access to all forms of mass media.

Those people feared it was going to be some sort of repeat of the Vietnam war and that there would be a massive atack on the Iraqi people by invadng troops. As soon as the war actually broke out, it immediately became obvious that opponents of the war were lying too and knew literally nothing either about Iraq or why the US decided to invade Iraq. So naturally the “movemnt” collapsed completely almost overnight.

For a precedent, look to the collapse of the large “America First” anti-war movement.

The article’s admission that the anti-war movement was a comprehensive failure in every respect is long overdue. But isn’t it rather mind boggling that even noticing that doesn’t cause a moment’s reflection about whether just conceivably they might have been wrong abou the war.

Even now, 10 years later there is no analysis whatever about Iraq itself. Contrast with the Vietnam war movement which organized teach-ins and demonstrated that opponents of the war knew far more about Vietnam, and about the actual reasons for US policy, than supporters did.

“The pitiful response to the war on Libya—not one major national demonstration from the start of bombing in March to the fall of Tripoli in August—confirms that the anti-war movement, which once mobilised so many against the invasion of Iraq, is now dead.”

A great relief for the Libyan people. Good riddance!

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Ross Wolfe March 21, 2013 at 1:13 am

It astounds me that anyone ever believed that the antiwar movement was even remotely a success.

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patrickm March 20, 2013 at 9:05 am

Feb 11

to thenorthstar.i.
Here is the corrected version

I just witnessed a scene on the TV of a proud young black African woman who was delighted that the French soldiers had liberated her in Tombouctou. It had apparently become an intolerably oppressive city for her since the blatant Taliban / Al Qaeda style Islamists had arrived with their guns. This women and many more in the crowd were very unhappy before the arrival of those French forces of liberation. The women of Mali were being driven backwards and it goes without saying that any communist, anarchist or gay person in that city was living in abject terror of being discovered and dealt with; because Al Qaeda deals with the ungodly with a bullet.

So naturally in the west we have had crowds carrying purple, red, black, green, and rainbow flags out in celebration of the French led liberation. We have had ‘Sawant socialists’ out explaining to the masses that all political power grows out of the barrel of a gun and as the enemies of all progress are armed and advancing so the peoples who resist them have to unite with anyone who will fight Al Qaeda, and the people will have to also train their own soldiers and fight to defeat them in what will be a protracted war. Naturally socialists will be out explaining how the peoples under attack will have to develop an army and advance and ensure that Al Qaeda are not able to establish or maintain any base anywhere in the world. They are bound to explain that it will be a protracted war not because anyone wants it to be protracted but because the forces of such extreme reaction are very powerful and revolutionary armies are only just being formed to fight for the most basic of all freedoms. The right to hold an opinion set up a political party and contest free and fair elections just like they do in Iraq.

Anyone with a short memory ought to be reminded that the new and intolerable oppression had been imposed on the people of that African city as the direct result of a recent military advance by Islamist forces the like of which Kasama types like Mike Ely supports in Afghanistan. That may seem unbelievable but it is perfectly true. (see his clear promotion and my reaction with – AWTW: Maoists on the military situation in Afghanistan).

These political forces in Mali are quite different to the sort of MB Islamist who is now the President of Egypt. These Islamists on the rampage in Mali are the sort that beat and even shoot women that won’t cover themselves ‘properly’ and naturally feminists around the world (flying their purple flags) ought to be in the forefront of any such crowd that was clearly enthusiastic about the liberation and yet they are not.

These Taliban style blatant enemies of women are spread right across the region all the way to Pakistan where recently a little girl was shot in the head to try and stop her tremendous campaign for education for girls. Yet the ‘loud and proud’ western women identifying as feminists, are very quiet and instead of loud and proud solidarity with the women of Mali and the forces that are assisting their struggle – yet another embarrassing liberation effort gets added to the very long list of revolutionary ‘events’ that western sect socialists, outright greens and feminists (as the triple flag set that have been promoted at TNS identify) have sat-out.

As far as I know all the usual suspects from the mind numbingly green Naomi Klein, through to anti-war journalist Amy Goodman; to sect socialist Kshama Sawant all the way through to Australia’s Eva Cox, or Germaine Greer have all turned up to the various peace marches this century that have steadily diminished into a parade of political zombies and have sat on their hands over the last few weeks. Neverland condemns the French liberation as imperialist neo-colonialist meddling. Libya, Syria, Mali, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and it goes on alongside brother Mike Ely. The flags of Red, Green and Purple as well as Black and rainbow have remained furled while the red,white and blue of France is at war with this black woman’s direct and deadly oppressors.

A ‘hands off Mali’ chant can now be added to all the others when the ‘old gang’ gets together on 15 February for the ten year reunion of what was, as it turned out, the pinnacle event of ‘the mother of all’ FAILED hands off movements, ‘Hands off Saddam Hussein Mk II’.

Naturally it was never framed in those words but that was one consequential ‘objective content’ of whatever it subjectively was for those involved.

The MkI version of ‘Hands off Saddam’ was obviously very different for Aaron Aarons than for people who genuinely chanted ‘No to Saddam. No to intervention.’ alongside him. If the MkII movement had been successful – and there was no chance of that – then we can be confident that there would sooner or later still have been a body count of huge scale. So there was never a moral high ground from where anti-war activists could look down on ‘pro-war’ activists and demand accountability for the ‘war crime’ of launching the illegal war against a lawful tyranny.

Anyone who tries to deny the transformation of Iraq will be rejected by the masses as would anyone who tried to pretend that one could be of the left and not seek that transformation and more. There is no avoiding the reality of the change in the country of Iraq. Revolutionary transformation is what was done and the struggle goes on but now from the ‘front foot’. The lawful tyranny was overthrown by a revolutionary war that altered the way a massive country at the strategic heart of the ME functioned. What has been achieved in Iraq clearly enables a political struggle to unfold to further these modest, very limited achievements. A Sawant type can these days stand for election in Iraq whereas before Saddam’s regime was destroyed root and branch, any attempt by such a person would have simply seen them meet with death at the hands of the tyranny.

‘Sawant’ type election activities are (for reasons less than any attempt to win) currently advocated at TNS for western countries like the U.S. and Australia so naturally ecumenical unity efforts are sought to create something that can emulate the efforts of say ‘anti austerity’ centre leftists like those of Syriza in Greek elections. Nothing unusual about any of this; after all revolutionary Maoists actually fighting a civil war advocated elections for Nepal and then took part in them and became the largest party and right now head the government. Elections and participating in them are also advocated for the ‘Arab spring’ countries now open to those free and fair elections. Revolutionary violence only arose during the struggle to achieve precisely those electoral opportunities in for example Libya and Syria and as a direct response to and result of the reactionary violence started as ‘resistance’ to the holding of those elections and despite all the excuses from the Assad forces nothing more.

Indeed the revolutionary victory in the Syrian revolution, after however many tens of thousands more deaths, will be marked by just that series of election events as has been marked by them actually taking place in Iraq. Actual support for that revolutionary process with the broadest possible united front to fight for it in Libya, Syria, Mali and so on, divides people from the ongoing Neverland anti-war pseudoleft of the SWP; ISO; S Alt; Kasama; etc.. The division that broke open in the context of the revolutionary struggle for Libyan democracy is deepening. Neverland sect dwellers are defined not by their irrelevant differences but by the fact that they are now and have been all along linked in their various failed – reactionary from the start – Stop the War Coalition’s etc..

We now know how hard the Syrian revolutionaries have it in making democratic revolution against the Assad tyranny. We know there is still no ‘Syrian Body Count’ to tick along side by side the continuing Iraq Body Count. There is however a Syrian body count and we are all acutely aware of its growth. We see now with Syria the ongoing counter-revolutionary stance of the SWP types and all the other micro groups that have been involved with them. We see it in Mali.

In the spirit of abandoning a so-called anti-war ‘moral high ground’, or sharing it with those who spoke out as left supporters of intervention we can all agree that if the essentially unarmed Iraqis had attempted what the Libyans were attempting at huge expense until aided by a NATO intervention, and what the Syrians are coping with at the running cost of over 1,000 lives (no doubt mainly the revolutionary side) per week, a catastrophe would have unfolded.

The subjectively left 21st Century anti-war movement was framed from days after 9/11 in the only way it could be without instantly shaming itself out of existence as any sort of progressive movement. It didn’t really work as the years rolled on and collapsed in the debacle that is the pseudoleft’s response to the revolutionary transformation of Libya and Syria. The anti-war movement’s political line, 6 months after Afghanistan when Iraq was becoming the focus, was not framed as hands off Saddam’s territorial possessions and his army of repression. It was of course vital to get the tyrant and his possessions and his army right out of the discussion as early as possible. In fact right from the start by declaring ‘No to Saddam’ in order to declare the real point of the chant ‘No to an attack on Saddam and his fascist army’. That chant could not be made so it had to be misleadingly put forward as opposition to an attack on Iraq. If it was an attack on Iraq then it could not be an anti-fascist war bringing obvious liberation to the Iraqi peoples’ in its wake.

A revolutionary transformation of any society, to be ‘real’ – we were told by the dogmatists – had to be from the bottom up. The Iraqi people just had to deal with their entire revolution. THEY had to overthrow Saddam despite his regime being immune to internal transformation without casualties beyond count over years beyond guesstimate. What about the people of Mali?

Dogmatic drivel was served up from all the usual suspects on the foundational assumption that whatever was planned for Iraq by the U.S. ruling elite led by GWB, it was not a revolutionary transformation but some form of business as usual. Whatever it was it was an ‘imperialist’ goal of some sort and that was inevitably interpreted as a grab for oil one way or another. All such assertions brazenly flew in the face of the WW2 experience for Germans, Italians and Japanese. The WW2 model was run-away from as if there were no leftists that even had valid united front history to draw on.

Clearly U.S. policy as applied to Iraq has had more in common with U.S. policy towards the fascist powers of WW2 than it did with post WW2 realist meddling to install or prop up puppets across the ME. Neverland faced with the bankruptcy of pre-war explanations now claims the war failed! The only way they can get away with such nonsense is to pretend that self declared Marxists didn’t tell them how this war would unfold from before it began when others would not debate the issues.

We are days away from the ten year anniversary of the biggest of all the Zombie led events – when the eyes of the sect members lit up as the masses really turned out in huge numbers. But failure is the first, middle, and last names of this whole genre of ‘politics’! This obvious 2013 implosion, predictable and entirely appropriate, was predetermined from the initial policy errors from 2001. Marching off in the wrong direction led by StWC resulted in the honest anti-war masses waking up and either turning around, or drifting off as the years of struggle rolled on. The masses grasp what it means for a political trend to hold a stupid position as the ‘Sawant’ sects do on piracy; Mali; Libya; Syria; Kuwait; and so on. The masses would not continue to support formations and activities that demonstrably have had zero effect on the course of the war in Iraq – having not altered by as much as one day the departure of the COW troops. If it could be argued that there has been some affect from all the effort it would only be negative.

There were bombs set off only the other day in Kirkuk, and it makes no sense to support French efforts to deal with the sort that set them off in Mali and not support the Iraqi government in their efforts to deal with this ongoing region wide conflict in Iraq. The Afghanistan war is ongoing and will be for many more years and it just isn’t a good idea to pull all western troops out of the country at the end of 2014. Yet that’s what Obama is up to. In one way or another Afghanistan will remain a central feature of any international struggle for any kind of progress and fight for modernity and especially for the liberation of women. Obama won’t get away with just abandoning the peoples’ of Afghanistan.

However, the war is undoubtedly not on a sound strategic footing and the revolutionary left must contribute our perspective on how to get it correctly strategically oriented realistically with what human material forces are currently in existence. We are not about ‘the future’ we are about making revolution now. United front politics that have been applied to Libya can’t be ignored when the ‘front’ of this one war becomes Afghanistan. The key question is to recognize that progressives are involved in one war spread right across the region and beyond that has multiple fronts and national complexities but that has always required fighting or arming people on one side against the other.

Progressive interests have never been served with any anti-war coalition of any kind from the very first day that the SWP sect help set up the disgraceful StWC. IMV it is self evident that a revolutionary left that has developed a fighting response to tyranny in Libya or Mali can’t allow that enemy a haven in the wilds of Afghanistan or the border regions of Pakistan. The united front politics that saw people cheer the French and NATO warfare earlier must spread to every front -with every appropriate distinction and differentiation but with the understanding that they are all parts of this 21st Century war of liberation. Progressive war must develop so the Neverland anti-war movement that has rightly imploded must be exposed for what it is. Sawant socialists can only remain ‘anti war’ – to the extent that they do remain engaged in these activities – to the extent that they harm the interests of all the world’s progressives. They are reactionary counter revolutionaries to the extent that they continue the discredited activities they have engaged in since 9/11.

Libya, Syria and now Mali have cried-out for military support to assist the necessarily messy revolutionary fight and refugees from Neverland have naturally been hesitant to whole heartedly back efforts of bourgeois governments to jump in ‘boots and all’ in support of a bourgeois democratic revolution. That’s understandable but must be overcome precisely because this is ongoing. We are not talking in the manner of an academic about some wars of the recent past. The casualties in Syria demand that people grapple with what stopping this mass slaughter really requires. We all know that whatever policies (actions or failure to take actions) is implemented by NATO a civil war with outside interference is underway ready or not right now.

Humanity is in a big war now and the only way to end the war is to win it, otherwise the enemy will go over to the offensive. As we see the reality is that Obama has been the blockage to the required intervention in Syria and McCain has shown up to have been the far better war leader. Sawant type socialists more often than not worked hard to get Tweedledee elected and demonise Tweedledum. They continue to do this. Obama is not meaningfully left of McCain.

The important first step for people waking up to Sawant sorts was dramatically breaking with the Neverland leaderships – rather than the usual drifting away. That is the key difference that has led to the open debate approach that people are rediscovering. People have not just lost confidence in an old leadership and drifted away in the business as usual model that Neverland operates in but they have changed sides and joined with people that will debate.

The ME region is now alive with ascendant revolutionary and waning counterrevolutionary struggles. From the Atlantic coast of Western Sahara right through to Burma revolution is flaring up or smouldering along ‘about’ to flare up. Never mind ‘a single spark can start a prairie fire’, it has. From Algeria one week to Tunisia today through Libya, Egypt into Palestine, stability, the holy grail of realist policies still beloved by backward elements like Obama, has been smashed.

Revolution is underway right through blood soaked Syria and the sooner the U.S. air attacks start on Assad’s forces the sooner the forces of reaction will be reduced to IED’s and suicide bombers with vests, cars and trucks killing hundreds now and then as they currently manage in Iraq, rather than killing hundreds every day as the air and artillery power achieves NOW!

There were bombs in Kirkuk the other day as real and as reprehensible as any bomb on the London or Madrid trains requiring police actions but where is Tariq Ali or any Sawant socialist? Who is talking about the legitimate Iraqi governments difficulties (no matter the flawed individuals) in dealing with these issues? Where is the matter of fact support for the Iraqi government?

Western leftists ought to know there is a seething population in Iran that hates it’s illegitimate government and ought to know full well that their revolution will get going when the local event, probably directly inspired by the coming achievement of a vote in Syria but certainly indirectly sparked by the mother of all 21stC ME elections in Iraq, breaks the spell of mass terror and turns into the mass revolutionary rage that at whatever cost over whatever time produces no less than a bourgeois democracy and probably, for quite some years but who can tell with international capitalism in such a state, no more than that.

Western reds ought to know that the murderous thugs that run Iran won’t go when they are asked to by their people who take to the streets to demand that their elections actually mean something legitimate. Iranian thugs won’t be replaced via elections where Sawant candidates can present as an alternative. We are not in a world where Putin or the Chinese are interested in delivering even low level bourgeois democracy to their people. Allende is not the model that we ought to look to. Are not the armed candidates of the Nepalese elections a more realistic model than the unarmed winners of the Chilean elections? After the Chilean armed forces murdered Allende and instituted their reign of terror against the people of Chile they formed a government that ran the country for many years. Their political power having dramatically come from the barrel of a gun. Ought not the Mao led government of China have been the very first to recognize that political power? Mao signalled to the peoples’ of the world in such recognition that the so-called peaceful road to socialism was a road to the peoples slaughter.

Events in Nepal have unfolded quite differently, but that transformation from a remnant feudalism is not much relevant for any advanced industrialized country where reds have never had any viable program for going beyond the capitalism that we have always had to win ongoing concessions from anyway. We are living through the armed overthrow of tyranny after tyranny across the world – with no program at all for what we in the west must do to move beyond our paltry levels of bourgeois democracy even when they are in the capitalist economic doldrums of Greece or Spain.

There is no plan of either of the potential ruling elites of U.S. imperialism for an imperialist war of conquest against Iran. If for no other reason than because it is not possible for them to win such a war, just as it was not possible in the case of Iraq as was argued 10yrs ago. Yet that is what the sects are out and about promoting and have been for the best part of the decade! The coming war on Iran is bullshit. The masses in Iran appear to have a hard row to hoe but they will rebel and the outcome can be more like Egypt but we ought to plan on it being more like Syria. The faster Syria is assisted (and the ditherer is in no hurry) is the best way to help the people of Iran in avoiding the Syrian route to freedom.

Meanwhile U.S. and other troops are fighting in Afghanistan and drone attacks are made on Pakistan and also over in Yemen. Do revolutionary leftists oppose such attacks? Whatever these attacks are all about it is not about installing puppets.

The attack on the Iraqi tyranny would – in the 21st Century (and I say in 2013 it’s rather obviously so) result in a modest yet clear liberation of all the peoples (in all their classes) that the tyrant held in bondage. The root and branch destruction of the Saddam Baathist state enabled a space to open for the achievement of nothing more remarkable than a low level bourgeois democracy. A system that from such a traumatized and conservative society (perhaps 100yrs behind advanced western liberal democracies) could and would permit western leftist style Iraqis the freedom to hold meetings, set up political parties, distribute their political thoughts in news-papers, in short compete in elections and campaign for further rights like a regular eco-socialist Iraqi Sawant might want to. (and while making about as much sense)

Several schools of political thinking argued that the tyrant Saddam Hussein was blocking the revolutionary transformation of not just his territorial possessions but the entire region of the Middle East. Revolutionary Marxist-Leninist thinkers did not abandon their thinking when their independent analysis led them to roughly the same conclusion as neo-liberal thinkers. That shared or agreed understanding had to be denied, or obscured, or avoided in any purported investigation of the problem by the anti-war left. But the question of what had to happen to kick start the revolutionary transformation of the Middle East had to be addressed where ever the facts took us.

That transformation was both obviously required in the view of any leftist internationalists and was just as obviously resisted by the U.S. foreign policy establishment. Both a revolutionary Marxist and a Neo-liberal school had rejected the failed realist policies that had led to the blow back attacks of 9/11 and both advocated a new set of policy directions. Following conventional realist policies (as declared by Ms Rice so clearly in Cairo years after the process was underway) had failed cross class U.S. national interests and now the U.S. administration was taking a new path! This change of direction was missed almost entirely in the initial stages, precisely because it was not trumpeted and this has led to the constant wrong footing and splitting at every otherwise predictable major event over the last ten years.

The British SWP gathered within 10 days of the 9/11 attacks, not to investigate what was the way to fight but to set up the infamous Stop the war Coalition. These people there and then declared that the war could even be stopped before it got going! That was, as Hitchens pointed out the following April in his debate with Tariq Ali, to declare that the war had not started on 9/11 but rather would only start with the coming counter attack. This was for Neverland dwellers like Tariq Ali not war it was a mere police matter! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LepJfRwCEb8 This recorded debate is well worth listening to to grasp the depth of what was and is wrong with the apologists for the so-called Iraqi ‘resistance’.

And this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZH9QqBEofPw from Democracy Now Dec 4th 2003 before the real civil war had got going in Iraq. Who won that war? Could it have been entirely avoided? No Baathist air power was used during that civil war and not 1 Baathist tank either! That’s not what we have been seeing every day for almost the last 2years in Syria. 60,000 dead and counting with absolutely no end in sight!

Is there any wonder at all why Tariq Ali did not support NATO acting as the artillery of the democratic revolution in Libya against the Gaddafi tyranny? Also why he will not support the fight in Mali and does not call for the ditherer to act sooner rather than later in Syria? He is not just starting to get confused and losing a sense of direction. This is the foolishness of April 2002 after Afghanistan and before Iraq and then more foolishness in December 2003. We have been witness to a decade of reactionary drivel when a revolutionary war has been fought and is being placed on a sound strategic footing.

Intervention in Mali has just begun! Neverland dwellers know where they stand. What are the views of people that debate issues openly and honestly at TNS? How are we developing a view rather than producing an endless magazine style, flip- through-and-move-on blog? The crucial thing for any western revolutionary leftists over the last few years has been to encourage western government’s to militarily intervene in Syria. Have people worked out yet (after it happened in Mali and they didn’t bat an eyelid) that they are in favour of intervention in Syria, and won’t bat an eye lid when it finally happens there either? If people actually get that reality, can we direct our efforts in this discussion to produce a broad left pro-intervention out and about ‘loud and proud’ statement or article for the MSM. Can we work for a unified public stance in support of that intervention? Can a western revolutionary left world view begin to lead rather than follow events in the ME and North Africa, and of course suitably outrage the pseudoleft in the process?
Patrick

Feb 15

to thenorthstar.i.
Given the timing (my fault for late submission I understand) any feadback??
Patrick

Feb 15

to thenorthstar.i.
OH and it ought to be effect
If it could be argued that there has been some affect from all the effort it would only be negative.

and
Meanwhile U.S. and other troops are fighting in Afghanistan and drone attacks are made on Pakistan and also over in Yemen.

ought to read.

…are made on identified enemy targets sheltering in Pakistan or based in Yemen, Algeria, Mali or anywhere else. Given this is fighting a war from the air it brings great risks of ‘collateral’ civilian casualties which are obviously in our side’s interests to minimise. There are also ground attacks on ‘high value targets’ like killing Bin Laden.
North Star

Feb 16

to me
Hi Patrick,

I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. Now that we have an ed. board of three instead of a one-man dictatorship, it takes a little longer for things to happen.

We’re going to pass on your submission because it tries to cover too much ground and does not give the subjects in question enough depth, namely:
– the rise and fall of the post-9/11 anti-war movements
– the situation in Mali
– the Arab Spring in general or specific countries
– the campaign of Kshama Sawant
– the role of existing socialist groups in the West

I can only imagine what the comment thread underneath such a far-reaching article would look like given its multiple focus points. You are welcome to post it as a comment (I’m not sure on what article because it touches on so much stuff).

I’m sorry I can’t be of more help.

– Binh

Reply

patrickm March 25, 2013 at 7:40 am

A point to reflect on is that no activity connected with this centuries anti-war movement has produced any western ‘left’ formation that was able to offer a useful contribution over Libya nor now over Syria. TNS is a result of there being nothing useful in the movement to go to work in once Libya shattered Neverland thinking and as Binh pointed out that’s a longish list of apparently contentious issues I’ve raised.

But lots of these issues unavoidably come up when recalling that its a decade since the liberation of the Iraqi people was launched and yet Binh recently didn’t even know what the Peshmerga were up to at the time. That ought to be astounding but it’s not. He has been in Neverland and that’s a place where they actually train people to not be open honest and above board. Rather obviously Binh has been partially trained and others aren’t calling him out on this conduct.

Binh does now know about the Kurds and their fight alongside the COW – against the Halabja culprits of Iraqi Baathism yet he continues with this nonsense over at Kasama to this day.

Pham Binh In reply to: Guest (irony) Permalink

Bourgeois democracy is a step forward from fascist tyranny. Yes? Workers having the ability to go on strike and fight for better conditions is a good thing. Right?

Iraq: there was no revolution or uprising in 2003. Could you explain to me why you supported the Bush Sr. administration’s decision not to shoot down Saddam’s helicopters in the no-fly zone in ’91 when there was a huge uprising in the south and the north of the country? Was Iraq 1991-2003 better off as a result of Bush’s non-intervention during the uprising?

Why do anti Iraq war activists know one thing and say another to each other when they talk in Neverland? Why not proudly admit to knowing about the Kurds and why not draw the logical conclusion about the other Iraqi peoples that were betrayed by the realists when Kuwait was liberated. Realist policy was to deliberately keep the Sunni Baathist Tyranny in power rather than risk the region wide destabilization that would as night follows day flow from destroying that fascism.

‘Try suggesting that the West should never have intervened to depose the dictator and you are met with astonishment in Halabja.’

Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/4858072/halabja-massacre-25th-anniversary.html#ixzz2OY35n4aw

Reply

jim sharp March 26, 2013 at 2:30 am

pat lad! & as marx said about the likes of you
But there was another, and that was the problem of Marxist organizations which believed that they had all the answers to all problems in their back pockets and that accordingly all social movements needed to listen to them. It was precisely this kind of perspective that Marx rejected when he said: We do not say here is truth, now kneel here! In short, Marxist organizations forgot how to listen.
http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1843/letters/43_09.htm

Reply

TTT999 March 26, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Thank you for your excellent contribution and solid points: why do Binh and others rightfully attack those “Leftists” opposed to NATO’s help in deposing Assad and Qadaffi, but continue to deny that Iraq is now a freer and more democratic society than it was under the dictator Saddam?

Reply

Pham Binh March 26, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Iraq is also a freer and more democratic society than it was under American occupation, but hey, whose counting?

Reply

patrickm April 22, 2013 at 8:30 am

People notice double standards, and a serious person should stop employing them.

I’ve been thinking through the issues that would impact on the Syrian civil war since the first peaceful demonstrations spread to Syria and I always thought it was too hard to get one’s head around from the outside and especially from a culture as removed as mine. Very complex and thus very bloody was my conclusion and that’s the way it’s gone so far.

So, from the start I had hoped for direct Turkish and NATO intervention – no Lincoln brigade thinking – and from what has unfolded they simply can’t join this war soon enough from my internationalist POV. Western ruling elite hands on was always going to be preferable to hands off; as was always going to be the call from the anti war people like Carl Davidson and from the always wrong sects and their unity efforts like StWC etc..

But despite the welcome increase of all forms of assistance to the FSA and democratically minded Syrian peoples generally that direct intervention to shut down the air power and silence the artillery is still not happening but might now be ‘in sight’ with the latest news over US support with night fighting equipment and body armor. After all the close quarter infantry war is the war that has already destroyed some air bases and the FSA have to get on with it and the focus is now turning towards Damascus.

We all recall that the ‘peace’ crowd wanted COW troops withdrawn from Iraq – no matter what the conditions and they still want them withdrawn from Afghanistan right NOW and they oppose the deployment of Drones to the region and to Africa as if the armed struggle for democratic revolution ought to be conducted as some silly game that risks the democratic sides soldiers when an option is available.

They were always wrong.

At least now we have a lot of fence sitting as a first step forward into revolutionary thinking and war fighting mode. Now when the bombs go off in Iraq the enemy is understood to make joint statements or friendly remarks from bases in Syria or the wilds of Pakistan etc..

Fortunately many fewer people that are really progressive want to hear from the apologists for these bombers like Tariq Ali. The revolutionary left wants the Iraqi state strengthened not attacked or harmed. Everyone knows that state was enabled by the liberation and developed during the required period of occupation.

No Fly Zones over Iraq were obviously fully supportable and after Libya the opposition to air attacks against the various tyrants air power and heavy weapons systems is now obviously reactionary. The Kurds would have paid in blood big time if the No fly zones had been stopped by Carl Davidson and this peace movement. As with the Syrian people now Carl was quite prepared to throw the Kurdish people right under the Baathist bus. Thankfully no one listened then and they won’t now. The masses want war against Assads forces.

Those who formerly went along with this troops out mush have no track record of defending the democratic revolution in Iraq or anywhere else (classically displayed in their attitude to the Nepal revolution). They do not even now appreciate the danger to this revolution and the requirement to develop that Iraqi front of this one war. Iraq is still, and will be for many years, an arena for sectarian mass murderers to constantly disrupt the revolutionary democratic transformation that remains underway (no matter how slow and at what low level, progress is now underway because the worse than Assad type blockage was removed).

More purple ink stained fingers on this very weekend but the peace crowd are very silent about the revolution. Nothing to see here folks.

Clay would correctly like to see the removal of Assad air-power and heavy weapons systems of all manner and thus will cheer NATO intervention while Carl will pretend to call for hands off Syria and actually do nothing with anyone who remains of his utterly failed and now remnant anti war group.

My desire for NATO intervention was 70,000 Syrian deaths before now, yet it is no real surprise to me that these deaths have been delivered and still no direct intervention is underway. Obama is IMV far closer to an old style Kissinger realist than McCain for example and being even more of a vacuous self promoter has had to be dragged into escalation by the obvious reality of the cross class US national interest. He has dithered before he acts and has never delivered enough military force on any of the fronts that he is nevertheless contributing to every day of his term of office. Obama has a Nobel peace prize for not being GWB who would be cheered through the streets of Halabja while Carl would want him tried as a war criminal for smashing the most powerful Baathist state in the region! The world is upside down.

Hands off Syria sounds so lame after the first 70,000 deaths that even those that call for it don’t really care if no one listens to them and the Assad Tyranny is smashed and a state like Iraq is assisted to come into being.

When you read an experienced revolutionary like Mao he advocates the exact opposite approach to Obama; anticipating the need for more troops spread over a wider region and a longer time frame summed up in the saying ‘Cast aside illusions prepare for struggle’.

There is a lot of indirect intervention underway NOW for Syria and the FSA is being both protected and built up for rapid advance should NATO air artillery and special forces of all manner be deployed. The Patriots are deployed the political red line established and the unsustainable grind goes on. With a solid weapons pipeline established they can be provided through what is now a completely porous border and of course should be. Also US intelligence gathering assets will be very helpful in the far more difficult next stage series of battles of this war.

Clay is currently pointing to ethnic cleansing slaughter in Damascus. It is a required part of establishing the ‘secure’ enclave that Assad’s forces are withdrawing to. That enclave can’t be left alone and that is when Carl Davidson etc will start squawking again. The strategic direction of the war is unmistakable.

It is a nonsense to think that the Obama Admin is intervening in anyway in support of Assad, so that thinking must be that some of this intervention is disrupting the fight against Assad and thus is objectively ‘support’. That is a properly ‘messy’ part of this war and worthy of consideration.

The first point is that
‘Their training and experience comes from the mass murder campaign against “Persians” (the Shia majority of Iraqis) they waged as part of Al Qaeda in Iraq – now using the name Islamic State of Iraq or perhaps changing again to Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (greater Syria). They are in fact terrorists who do the greatest possible damage to the revolution, despite any military contribution they may make in fighting the regime.’

The fight against these forces has been going on for a long time. The bombing that spread across Iraq the other day has goals and political impact. Such bombing must be shut down and can’t be shut down easily. Naturally this can tactically disrupt Syrian efforts but the region should be looked at strategically and the effort strategically focused. That is where Clay goes wrong.

That is why for example the US despite the incompetent ditherer being POTUS must still get on with the recognition of the Palestinian state as ultimately the most important log-jam breaking political effort. Internationally recognized Palestinian borders – from the failed war for greater Israel launched in 1967 being ended in defeat with such borders – provides the biggest fulcrum to lever the whole region forward into modernity. The biggest attack on all Islamic reaction will come from this unexpected direction. I note that Palestinian borders are now the main thing that the US are interested in when the issue of Palestine comes up. Turkish goods now go to Egypt and into Gaza with normal Palestinian border controls and nothing else! The blockade failed and Netanyahu made the phone call of appology that no one at TNS is trumpeting.

Everywhere the swamp draining is being delayed and dithered with by Obama but it goes on. The US are in deep retreat and steep decline. Fancy not being able to bully Netanyahu out of the way – YET!

The fight against the enemies of the democratic revolution in the anti Assad mix has the great benefit of lifting the fear of these sectarian terrorists and spreading that democratic revolutionary desire and impact into even more of the Assad base and thus it continues the disintegration of his army. It is most important that his fighting base see a way out of their present cul de sac.

No one in this region is going to trust to good will, especially from those that hate democracy and hate them for being themselves. There is thus not going to be any quick collapse of the Assad side but rather the risk is for a long term enclave and further spread of terrorist activities.

The current number of refugees, about a million I think, plus the many more internally displaced peoples’, while large is still predictably growing and yet are fewer than I had feared. I have expected even worse numbers than the numbers now dead and the almost always forgotten injured that are reported at this EARLY stage. All this is now fully comparable to the struggle for liberation and democracy in Iraq and what is more everyone at TNS knows it or bloody well ought to.

The western intervention will have to be multifaceted – is primarily revolutionary but is also obviously humanitarian and it will extend over many years. A revolution of this type in this swamp is bound to be protracted and extremely costly for all concerned and all results will not impress anyone from the west.

It is all happening when capitalism is notably regionally dysfunctional with 26%+ levels of Unemployment and massive underemployment now almost universal in the ‘neighbourhood’. People might have forgotten whats just up the road from Damascus over a couple of mountain ranges but a couple of mad Islamist bombers in Boston has just dragged our attention to that miserable part of this very wide swamp.

Massive gangsterism and the mass murder of journalists, especially rebellious women, atheists and gays and the existence of well organized internationalist minded god-bothering enemies of all progress is the swamp. People walk around this region in the context of genuine Russian imperialist policy that makes this period of revolutionary war impossible for the pseudoleft to get any handle on. For them the main enemy remains US and western imperialism! Yet Libya has shattered their illusions because their ‘hands off’ reactionary call was seen to be directly at the expense of the Libyan people.

I think peace campaigners like Carl Davidson are glad they were ignored over Libya and they know that the French were to be cheered in Mali so they shut up and let the liars like Mike/Nando get on with it.

Mao shook hands with Nixon because the US was going out the backdoor as an Asian power and the biggest threat and obstacle had become revisionism and (eventually) its successor gangster style regimes. Since then the USSR went out the back door as well but the reality of the successor states is stalled revolution and massive reaction that is an uncharted part of the bourgeois democratic struggle that proletarians have a total interest in. There is an obvious fight against barbarism that Putin claims to be involved with but is not.

BTW The Nepalese road to political power, via armed struggle against ones oppressors resulting in a genuinely multi-party political contest in a state that is not smashed, is not a revisionist ‘sell out’ but a comprehensive rejection of current delusional ‘left’ sect politics. The next decade, has the danger of massive and widespread war stamped all over it, and all political power comes from the barrel of a gun. But talking and negotiating votes and transfers of powers is good stuff, that real peace groups ought to notice and support.

As we have seen with the long struggle to liberate Iraqis from Baathism and tyranny more generally this struggle takes place in shockingly backward conditions and requires a new state to be established. The region is rightly called a political and cultural swamp and it will continue to shock and horrify genuine western progressives for many decades. Putin did not liberate Chechen people when he turned Grozny to rubble and slaughtered the Islamic peoples there who want to be rid of Russian imperialism and tyranny. GWB did liberate Iraq.

Progressives, democrats and communists should have no hesitation to support those required new imperfect states as they emerge and compare them and point to the best features of any developments as we – like Obama – cast aside illusions and accept protracted struggle and support the military effort required.

Reply

patrickm April 1, 2013 at 2:47 am

As I understand it The North Star is a forum essentially of left internationalists where other democrats are also welcome. TNS is seen to be required because all the existing left groups are not up to the forum style tasks it proposes – where the owners Pham Binh, Ben Campbell and Ismael Diablada (apparently a shy ‘backroom’ person) emphasize the importance of democratic, open debate because they aim to facilitate (in the broad sense of contribute to) a left renewal,and they have a firm belief that a culture open to “the ruthless criticism of everything existing”, is required for building anything worthwhile that is recognizable as internationalist and left. The owners have declared their intent to throw off the baggage of dogmatism and sectarianism and have no intention of establishing a party line.

Internationalists can thus stay broadly united with each other at TNS and yet vary widely between possible positions conceivable as of the left. Articles posted reflect the views of their authors not those of the editors who naturally prioritize posting material they think merits serious discussion, then in the usual manner they expect comments to stay reasonably on topic and be a substantive engagement with no one-liners or snarkiness for its own sake.

The owners appear to have been involved with or sympathetic to post 9/11 anti-imperialist, anti-war formations of one sort or another. I’m a communist from a ‘pro-war’ background that specifically rejects what I call ‘Neverland’ thinking and hold that one should always think through and work out an independent attitude to every war in what I consider to be the orthodox M-L manner.

The following was salvaged from 2003 after the 1st lastsuperpower site crashed.
‘Aggression, fascism, strategy and logic – discussion from previous LS site. Why, and when, should we support the US overthrow of fascist regimes?’
http://www.lastsuperpower.net/docs/prowar-argument The thread develops the left pro-Iraq-war-argument and this is how the discussion concludes;
[sowens]
So what am I asking Im asking for evidence that the
strategic goal of the coalition is modernity and democracy.

Arthur ” Coincidentally, since you wrote that, I was interrupted
while replying to listen to Bush’s speech at the National Endowment
for Democracy. Whereas previously I was basing my analysis on
careful reading of the tea leaves it is now pretty much “official
policy” with the strategic rationale fairly clearly spelled out by
Bush himself. See Bush commits to global democratic revolution:

“The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East
will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution.”
“Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack
of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe – because
in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of
liberty. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom
does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment,
and violence ready for export. And with the spread of weapons that
can bring catastrophic harm to our country and to our friends, it
would be reckless to accept the status quo.”

“Therefore, the United States has adopted a new policy, a forward
strategy of freedom in the Middle East.”

As I pointed out in an article for May Day, that made sense when
Noam Chomsky was advocating it and it makes sense when Bush
advocates it.

The “Western nations” of course actively promoted rather than merely
excusing and accommodating tyranny in the Middle East and the US was
“leader of the free world” in pushing that policy. But it would be
extremely stupid for Bush to spell out that this policy was
catastrophic and its continuation would be “reckless”, unless he is
serious.

I mentioned last year [2002] that Bush was following Lincoln’s policy of
never taking a step until it has become obvious that the step cannot
be avoided. The latest speech comes close to an “Emancipation
Proclamation”. A global democratic revolution isn’t what Congress
signed up to when they authorized a threat to use force to disarm
Saddam, just as abolition of slavery wasn’t what Lincoln’s Congress
signed up to. But they have just handed over the funds and are stuck
with it now.

Ignore the hype about how the US won democracy for Latin America etc
instead of retreating in the face of it and look at what Bush is
actually saying about the middle east. No other policy makes sense
from the standpoint of US imperialist interests. (As Rumsfeld
pointed out its pretty pointless chasing Islamist terrorists while
the madrassas keep churning them out unless you also have a long
term strategy for transforming the societies where that occurs).”
End Quote
Events as they came and went in Libya have opened some western left activists minds, and they can now think far more clearly going forward about what actual liberation and progress is all about in Syria and also reflect on Iraq but most often they still choose not to. The point is there was the usual sect error of thinking over NATO Libya intervention that has now been retreated from. Binh was already withdrawing from the sect idiocy as he had experienced the irrelevancy of them in the OWS events so when he sensibly admitted that he got it wrong over Libya there was nowhere to go and TNS has if not resulted/developed accordingly. No ‘left’ organization that I’m aware of reviewed events and organizationally reversed their former stance. Sectarians simply can’t do that and what remains of anything organized as something the general public might think of as radical left (and has been for decades, where not a mad cult) stands exposed as the sectarian pseudoleft.

So now that the always ‘hands off’ position has been rejected a broad but disjointed discussion is now clumsily underway over very similar issues in Syria. The discussion is understood to be over the struggle for bourgeois democracy as it is quite clear that nothing more can or will be won in this round of revolutionary struggle for human progress in Syria than has so far been won in Iraq and Libya. I say that people who accept progress in Libya can’t reject the same progress in Iraq and so do the Neverland usual suspects. They solve any dilemma by refuting the obvious progress in Libya. They refuse to have a dog in the fight!

All genuine progressives, all western lefts have a dog in this Syrian fight, only the pseudoleft does not. What will bring the large scale day-to-day fighting in Syria to an end? What strategic process will stop Al Qaeda operatives from continuing to emerge from the regional swamp and (without tanks and air-power) from week to week wreak mass murder with their racist equivalent sectarian bombs in Iraqi market places?

Leftists who simply dismissed speeches like http://www.ned.org/george-w-bush/remarks-by-president-george-w-bush-at-the-20th-anniversary, as simply a pack of lies and business as usual, rather than making the effort to explain the actual changes in US policy have been wrong footed ever since, and have no depth of understanding of ‘Arab Spring’ events to-date, nor any grasp of what the ongoing revolution in Syria requires. Consider the world weary ‘left’ tosh that gets served up by the MSM http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2013/s3726416.htm It is patently not the case that the COW lost the war they waged in Iraq. Anti-war remnants are obliged to foolishly declare that the COW lost so as to maintain the fiction that they had a grasp of what was going on from day one!

The Arab spring confirmed Arthur’s analysis and as these secondary ‘fronts’ of a larger revolutionary war have broken out others began to think about what is required for the revolutionary transformation of the ‘swamp’. A wider review of former positions confronts people with the big questions, like what defines a western progressive in the first place? Using simple measures like a quadrant graph to plot attitudes to both progress and liberation generally and in the ME people can easily find that left sect types oppose progress, and even deny political liberation if the artillery that brings forth the liberation is NATO owned and operated. What seems to be the common thread is utter confusion over WW2. If you get WW2 wrong then you will have no show of understanding Kuwait or much of any war since, and like America First lose track of where to stand when the first question is put. That question is about the right to put any question to the peoples’ at all. That question is about the whole process of free and fair elections. A failure on that one question causes the masses to reject your politics. The pseudoleft don’t give a tinkers cuss about the right to vote because they are the political right-wing. Identifying where people are politically ought to be done with sympathy and care, but it has to be done. As Ben said on another thread ‘This nitpickery needs to stop, because it is preventing productive debate around here. People should really interpret the arguments of others charitably, instead of assuming that they are fools or religious zealots.’ People involved in politics have to have a head for figures and be able to plot the numbers.

To further illustrate the point we can see over at Kasama in this thread http://kasamaproject.org/threads/entry/new-psl-book#!kmt-start=50 (where Binh is coping with the thinking without convincing any of them that he hasn’t got a double standard himself) there are self proclaimed ‘Maoists’ that in the early 1980’s rejected the very successful WW2 approach of Mao. They reject the mass based communist forces of that WW2 period. In doing so they are rejecting the politics that unite the many to defeat the few and adopt the discredited WW2 Trotskyite ‘never unite with the bourgeois forces’ mantra that Mike/Nando proudly blather to this day. Mao’s whole approach to politics is thus dispensed with, and not surprisingly with such isolated ‘America First’ style bankruptcy they end up with the dishonest sect/cult activities.

I don’t think one can be sympathetic to NATO intervention in Libya and oppose the collective security type goals of WW2 era communists. A fighting response to the attacks of 9/11 (that the masses both accepted and demanded) is not just a legitimate discussion for us to have but a no brainer. None of us sympathetic to TNS come from pacifist schools of thinking and we now probably all have substantial WW2 points of unity. The recent various collapsed anti-war movements were formed from a bankrupt thinking that can’t now adopt any pro-war approach to solving the Syrian issues that are costing many tens of thousands of deaths with no end in sight.

The Tariq Ali ‘police matters’ stance is rejected and we now debate how to strategically fight the war with the broadest possible unity.

According to Binh’s logic I was ‘wise’ over the issue of Libya, sound on the issue of piracy, and admittedly come from a huge left tradition over the issue of WW2 and write substantively with never any accusation that I’m not open, honest and above board in presenting my views. Yet I’m an internationalist that is barely tolerated at TNS.

TTT999 asked; ‘Why do Binh and others rightfully attack those “Leftists” opposed to NATO’s help in deposing Assad and Qadaffi, but continue to deny that Iraq is now a freer and more democratic society than it was under the dictator Saddam?’

Well you can see Binh and Brian are only hinting that they could argue their corner if they wanted to – but there is no real fight in them. They can’t fight or contribute much just yet as they still wobble about on a shaky fence that sees Mike/Nando and his mates in Kasama denounce them for having crossed over even for being up and on that fence. They are almost but not quite out of the Neverland mindset and still don’t see themselves as wandering refugees from that terrible dead end it would seem. TNS core protest to Kasama pseudolefts that they are not on the ‘other’ side “really” just because they are pouring scorn on Kasama, The Left Flank, Lenin’s Tomb the SWP and anyone else who won’t stand up for the revolutionary demands that are the foundation of the revolution in both Libya and Syria. Any revolutionary understands one has to build the broadest of united fronts to overthrow powerful tyrants and that any such unity is built on very very simple demands. Arthur demonstrated just how easy it is to make real progress if you work on very broad agreements.

The core group at TNS is still trying to demonstrate their ongoing anti-war credentials by not associating in any systemic way with the people that they have come to agree with over Libya, Piracy, Syria and probably by now Mali, Egypt and Kuwait but who can tell with the determined attempts to waffle rather than nail down issues tightly and move forward. Instead of patiently resolving some issues that have arisen an end point issue is already known to be verboten territory so the effort goes into attacking at every opportunity the forces that they have only just come to agree with over Libya and Syria . But they know they aren’t going back to ‘Kasama’ land thinking and the fence sitting is truly ‘unsustainable’ politics so something is bound to give before they bore themselves to death sitting there.

Naturally Binh knows that Marxists were explaining that the occupation of Iraq was both required and would end ‘soon enough’ considering the amazing tasks that were being fought for in this ‘swamp’, and that the important issue was the revolutionary transformation that the liberation and thus required occupation would bring and that we said in 2002 that it would spread to the whole region as it is doing, so he is just pointlessly lashing out . Brian effectively informs us that he has solid DATA from opinion polls that ought to mean something while totally forgetting about the actual country wide votes that produced real political representation and a real government that really did ask the COW to stay until the point that they waved them good by.

But anyway that’s all in the past and the death toll in Syria creeps up on the Iraqi toll by the day, so confusion reigns but let us as Ben would have us all ‘interpret the arguments of others charitably, instead of assuming that they are fools or religious zealots.’

So to be fair almost all experienced leftists and all the pseudos involved in the sect and cult world eventually got utterly confused as 2001-02-03 unfolded and it has taken a decade of actual war fighting, country building and elections to sort the major issues out and gain a strategic reorientation established for what can be recognized as a radical fighting democratic/communist left to emerge. The record is there and there is no hiding from it. Positions were put forward that slowly failed but nevertheless failed as comprehensively as the America First movement dramatically failed. That era of political bankrupts had the great advantage of experiencing 1 day that shook their world, our current crop of shell shocked refugees have had to experience 10years that shook their world.

Nevertheless their comfortable world of understanding the ME events as almost invariably issues of US domination based on oil and realist doublespeak that were responded to with chants of ‘Not in my name’ or ‘No blood for oil’, is in political ruins and they find themselves being associated with terrible people even worse than ‘Hitchens like’ sorts, and pilloried by their old comrades for holding to a blatantly contradictory position that’s getting worse as the years roll on. Events in Syria will however drive a massive wedge between people like Mike over at Kasama and Tad at Left Flank and people (TNS) that support the Syrian revolution SO those that continue to prattle on about the centrality of US imperialism will slowly be dropped off the ‘eco-socialist’ team.

Looking back the worthless sects were out of the blocks very early establishing shameful organizations like the SWP dominated StWC. The masses around the world were having very little of this idiocy and the opposition didn’t go very deep. But the ruling elites are so lacking in credibility with the masses and so distrusted over what was actually happening and what ought to be happening in response to what some fools like Tariq Ali termed ‘criminal conduct,’ that confusion reigned supreme. The Taliban had every chance to hand over anyone connected with Al Qaeda but they didn’t and so brought on a 100% correct tactical counterattack in Afghanistan.

Even after the strategic events unfolded and Iraqis formed political parties, held elections and constructed their state (Tariq Ali notices the police but comes over all quiet, and like Robert Fisk proclaims that the US – actually the COW – lost the war!!) all the (shrinking) anti-war crowd still stuck with the realists in the foreign policy establishment! The foreign policy establishment was sure that destroying open fascist power in Iraq was a disaster and would destabilize the whole region. Naturally it did. Even in the face of current events in Syria, Neverland anti-war groups smugly think that the failed America First style anti-war movement of this century was sound in opposing the destruction of Iraqi Baathism.

The masses turned away from anti-war activists/groups and are now wanting war to put a stop to the Syrian tyranny. Despite the prattle of the MSM and the realist foreign policy establishment united with the isolated pseudoleft, I think the masses can see how Syria and Iraq can and should be compared. 21stC western peoples’ are not keen on war, but they are even less keen on watching a tyrant cling to power using tanks and air-power. The masses support Obama’s threats over chemical weapons. Even people in the anti-war groups know that it is correct to attack and destroy tyrants that use chemical weapons. Nobody that is currently a refugee from Neverland is going to make a serious fuss when Assad’s troops are finally attacked by NATO.

Left activists attracted to TNS have all politically grown through the events that we are reviewing and if they don’t want the lesser (and it is) Syrian variety of fascism dealt with via a helpful NATO attack (and it is coming even if from the ruling elites POV it’s still not urgent), virtually all will do nothing to protest the NATO involvement as it escalates. Silence will be the activist response! Just like Mali, Piracy, the silence over WW2, and reflections on Kuwait. Just like the requirement for leftists to run their organizations with a disputes committee that Brian and Binh now understand but can’t / wont openly admit. Perhaps they are having too much trouble dealing with all these new thoughts and are misplacing the open honest and above board part of any politics worth developing.

Kasama and Left Flank sorts will isolate themselves further in the depths of Neverland – and I think TNS people will get further revolted by their dishonest carry on and the drift apart will continue – TNS blog roll or not – eventually people will stop copying that whole bankrupt style or TNS will have fallen over. Another pointless flip through left magazine is not required and TNS is still drifting that way. Track records will remain showing who stood where when it mattered and Neverland people’s stand against the Libyan liberation etc., and people associated with http://www.lastsuperpower.net/ will still be shown to have stood with the Libyan; Syrian; Iraqi; Kurdish; and Kuwaiti peoples’. The net is leaving a record and it is not a pretty sight for some. Hiding views in comments threads is not a good look.

In 2013 all at TNS are forced to accept that freeing peoples’ (Kurds, Turkomen, Shia 80% of Iraq, plus the live and let live and democratically minded Sunni as well – say 95% of the Iraqi peoples’) from a regime prepared to rain death down so freely as to murder in 1 day in Halabja more people than the COW lost in 9 years – is to undoubtedly be involved in liberation!

Brian and Ben and Binh all understand what Baathists with tanks and air-power can do in Syria even without the chemical attacks that Iraqi Baathists got on with. They understand that there is a red line that Obama will act on. They understand the war is costly and yet must be fought, so internationalists ought to have a view on how to unite the many to defeat the few which are so effective at slaughtering the unarmed.

Obama is doing what in the ME right now? How goes the war for greater Israel? These issues are red hot right now and the views and analysis developed many years ago at http://www.lastsuperpower.net/ is slowly revealing itself in the actions that are still not understood on the left let alone among the pseudoleft. There are good reasons for the Netanyahu phone call to the Turkish PM, there are real and exciting developments coming to fruition. I would encourage everyone to get serious about open, honest and above board debate and stop playing the silly games that are endemic in the sects because there is a word to win.

When the disgraceful StWC was established in the grand tradition of the failed America First movement it didn’t get far and soon both the pseudoleft and the confused genuine left no longer engaged in debate. Debate was shut down by the simple expediency of avoiding any ongoing environment that was alive with real debate it was not hard to confuse eager young leftists (like the owners of TNS) and then predictably and pointlessly the anti-war movement continued reacting like right-wing realists keen on stability, rather than thinking about what revolutionary transformations were required to change the post 9/11 world and make this planet fit for human beings to live on. Plenty of young people got roped into ‘organizing’ to stop the ‘war’ and that inevitably became wars. (with the required strategic effort to get the revolution underway right at the heart of the ME and at that point the StWC type positioning seemed spot on) But it wasn’t that long (remarkably under a decade) before lots of former anti-war people found they were on the other side and had left Chomsky behind to continue to present his now tired mantra that nothing ever really changes. When TNS owners were too ‘involved’ say printing ‘No blood for oil’ placards and ‘building’ anti-war movements they were in Neverland, that unlike the Vietnam era worthwhile example of an anti-war movement achieved nothing. The correct approach was to get involved in ‘teach in’ type research and conduct long debates that get somewhere.

We have seen in Libya, Syria and Mali a rejection of the old thinking and people are worried where this is leading them. Looming events won’t bring people back to where they were comfortable in a StWC back in 2001. The next few years of revolutionary events in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and so on is not going to put humpty back together.

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Aaron Aarons May 6, 2013 at 1:48 am

Thanks to things like search engines and ‘find’ commands, one doesn’t have to read through the article-length ‘comments’ Patrick Muldowney posts here to notice that he and his pal, Arthur Dent (Albert Langer) lie, mainly by omission. For example, in order to keep defending George W. Bush as a ‘revolutionary democrat’, they have to ignore almost everything that has happened in Iraq over the last ten years except for elections. They never, as far as I can tell, talk about the massacres of Fallujah, the Abu Ghraib prison atrocities, the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad, the use of Shia death squads to crush the Sunni-dominated resistance, etc.. They never deal seriously with the question of why, if Bush were motivated by preventing attacks by radical Islamist terrorists, he would attack one of the countries that was most inhospitable to such terrorists, while maintaining cordial relations with the main country, Saudi-occupied Arabia, that produced and financed such terrorists. They do claim that Bush was “draining the swamp”, but without any explanation of why it was Iraq, rather than the Gulf monarchies, that needed to be “drained”.

The most revealing omission, though, is their refusal to discuss the Bremer orders — orders that have had more to do with shaping Iraq, particularly its economy, than any elections have.

The idea of Bush as a ‘revolutionary democrat’ is so absurd on the face of it that I tried making the point here by pointing out the things Bush would have done differently if he were not such a democrat. For example, he might have overthrown, or tried to overthrow, the democratically-elected Presidents of Haiti and Venezuela, he might have put through repressive laws to take away traditional civil liberties. In particular, if he were not a democrat, he would not have vetoed that awful law called the ‘P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act’ and he might have used the Guantanamo Naval Base in U.S.-occupied Cuba, which had previously been used to hold Haitians kidnapped on the high seas, to hold Arabs and Muslims kidnapped in Afghanistan and other places.

But it appears that my sarcasm offended one of the moderators of this site, so I have had to make the same points in a less entertaining way.

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jim sharp May 6, 2013 at 2:27 am

Aaron Aarons
for eight decades i’ve heard it asked where
does the patience of jove come from
now that you’ve shown you it & read some
of pat lad’s imperial diatribes i surely know

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patrickm June 26, 2013 at 8:45 pm

The sister article to this one provoked lots of comments after Arthur started with
‘This is pathetic. The author clearly understood [the] utter and complete bankruptcy of the anti-war position but consciously chose to maintain the same sort of ambivalence with rhetorical flourishes in all directions so as not to break completely with the pseudo-left that he also understands is dead.’

It took a little while to get rolling but eventually drew the most comments so far on TNS and also provoked this curious but very telling intervention from Ben. (that because of the importance of this issue I reproduce in full).

Ben Campbell April 29, 2013 at 12:35 pm

As an editor of this website, I originally posted this article by Chris Cutrone. However it has since come to my attention how truly awful Cutrone’s actual (“closeted”) position on imperialism and, e.g. Israel-Palestine, is. Had I known that at the time, we would not have (re)-posted this article originally — and while I haven’t discussed it with the other editors, I can’t see us running articles by Cutrone in the future, knowing what we know now.

Many of the comments in this thread are neo-con apologism, and I would also like to actively distance North Star from the views of its commenters, several of which come from this “Last Superpower” collective in Australia, and which contain overt apologism/support for the Iraq War. I certainly couldn’t disagree with them more.

I apologize that there hasn’t been more moderation on the site in recent weeks. This is largely because we are relaunching the website, and have thus become distracted. Some of the comments on various articles have been quite vile, however, including e.g. blatant sexism. As such, we appear to have failed in our moderation duties.

We are actively discussing a new moderation policy for the new website, and would appreciate the input of any of our readers/commenters.
END Quote

Sometime between that intervention and now Ben has withdrawn from being an editor, so there has been an internal debate over something and an outcome as people don’t have their name removed for no reason.

Now I believe that one should ‘start as one intends to go on’ and on another thread Binh talks of building a left organization of 10,000 as a realistic goal among US leftists that have grown up via the various sects like the ISO and can now see the basic flaws in sects generally. Fair enough. But being open honest and above board is the central part of the process that could build anything worthwhile. When 1/3 of the people involved in something cease being involved it may mean virtually nothing if there is only 3 people, but it would mean a lot if it happened in the British SWP as it just did. The point is what is the issue and why aren’t we readers being drawn in to build this 10,000? When do people get drawn in if not from the very beginning?

So IMV TNS is still only a half honest step forward from the fence that formerly anti-war activists had taken to sitting on – while telling people off in both directions! People were on the fence because there was no choice but to step away from the bankrupt pseudoleft milieu over the mistake of Libya by doing no more than insisting that real debate be ‘permitted’!

However – possibly due to years in the ISO – debate has often not been genuinely engaged in once a conclusion is compelled from what has unfolded in the exchange. Hence we get an absurd silence over the need for a disputes committee as one classic example at TNS.

IMV a pro-war left site is now squirming it’s way into existence with a big effort put into unity with the anti-war ‘comrades’ and constant spitting of chips at pro-war activists who obviously made Ben very uncomfortable.

Ben has now dropped off the editorial board with never even a word of the dispute that saw him pull out.

Last I heard from him he was showing no confidence in this project because he had to feebly bleat that;
Ben Campbell April 29, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Arthur, I have argued with you before. I am not going to use this website to endlessly argue with people who are essentially neoconservatives. We have better things to do around here.

Yes, it is important for our website to distance itself from your terrible politics, since you and your co-thinkers insist on bombarding our site with comments. We have allowed that, in the interests of open debate — but this is not an “open forum.” Do not abuse our hospitality.
END quote

Growing through the junk politics and organisational practices of the ISO sect politics to arrive in opposition to them as a pro-war activist has been more than a ‘rude and unexpected shock’ to Binh. It has been so wrenching that Binh has had to spend a couple of years sitting on the fence on his way out of Neverland.

Now events have moved on not because people got bored on the fence but because there has been a private debate and Ben has removed himself from the editorial board. The rest of us were not invited and in true ISO fashion he just disappeared.

I think it would be good to open this internal issue up.

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Arthur June 27, 2013 at 2:44 am

Patrick, please focus on the politics. This focus on individuals and internals is completely unproductive. It can only antagonize, not help to move forward.

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Brian S. March 26, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Try taking a look at the long sequence of Iraqi opinion polls taken throughout the occupation.

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Christian March 20, 2013 at 12:36 pm

As far as the US goes, people generally dislike and fear political activity. Like the legal system, it tends to be run by other people, who are probably doing bad things, but you can’t stop them and the best you can hope for is to try and ignore and avoid it as much as possible and just get on with your own life. That is at least the opinion of most people. While the economy was still doing well, people thought they could carve out a life for themself within it, and not worry too much about foreign policy.

As earlier commenters said, invading Iraq was so eggreciously based on lies, misguided, immoral, and destructive that people who tried to avoid politics most of the time came out into the streets for a movement. There were ups and downs, but I think the last significant demostration was after Hurricane Katrina in September 2005. People’s anger with Bush’s non preparations to Katrina joined with their anger over the Iraq war. Hundreds of thousands stood outside the white house with signs (Bush left town for the day), one of which I recall a black woman held and said “No Iraqi Left Me on a Roof to Die.”

However, the brewing revolt- stalled since the summer of 2003, supressed by the election of 2004, and briefly revived in the summer and fall of 2005, dissipated. People returned to their private lives and their private ambitions, leaving politics once again at arms length. The all volunteer military and the media blackout did the rest. Unless an immediate member of your family was serving in the military, you hardly were reminded that Americans were dying over there. You certainly didn’t hear much about Iraqi deaths. The broad liberal left forces we had mobilized pushed that horrible war to the back of their minds. As far as the veterans go, the argument was one by the right that being in the military is “a job”, and it might be a crappy job, but it is just a job someone else is doing. The idea of the military being an instrument of war, or the moral obligation to oppose our illegal invasion and oppression of another country, did not resonate.

I played a leadership role at the college level in the student antiwar movement from 2002 to 2006. I thought we were going to climax into something like the student strike of May 1970. But instead of getting angry and more and more mobilized, people drifted away. I wanted a generation of radicals and activists. Instead I got a generation of hipsters.

What changed is the economy’s collapse after 2008. As long as we could eek our own lives out, people were prepared to ignore what Washington was doing, and didn’t care about their victims abroad. Now we see how we are affected, and I think the prospects for organizing are much more solid

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Cort Greene March 23, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Many people have hit the head on the nail per say in different ways but in a sense I think that here in the States many aspects played a role, political repression by the state and anti war groupings within i for years at each others throats, the sectarianism of some groups against one another the CP/USA and WWP who even split themselves into different groups PSL with almost the same agenda and even that of the anarchists and their 57 varieties , the political opportunism and tail ending by the CP/USA going after the Democrats and also Cindy Sheehan in that regard at first ( she even has done that around the Bolivarian revolution, as someone who knows and has worked with the grassroots and militants to this day for over a decade their, I know she has done zero but try to place herself as the leader of the parade rather than do the hard work of proletarian solidarity, as has most the degenerated tendencies here fighting over some patch of credibility which they have lacked for decades) and that brings us to the real question of a working class perspective w/ tactics and strategy geared towards it rather than reaching everyone at the lowest possible level.

As for the grown issue I have to take exception in relationship to England, certain groupings did grow around the miners and poll tax movements but sectarianism, egotism and the wrong tactics and strategy did in most, except one grouping.

Rojo Rojito
cort

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jim sharp April 1, 2013 at 6:30 pm

pat lad!
hope you feel better
after your diatribe coz
’tis sure -fire it’ll catch
the eye of the sky pilot
whose watching our thee
its a done deal now you’ll
“get some pie in the
sky when you die”

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Arthur May 12, 2013 at 8:08 am

In another thread, Carl Davidson writes:

“Faded away in a few weeks? You’re living in an alternate universe. From 2002 to 2007, our demos grew in scale, until, among other things, we helped elected a POTUS who began drawing them down. Or was your team McCain-Palin? And as for lying, it’s become clearer and clearer every day to the masses in their millions that Bush and Cheney were lying, and we were telling the truth. Or do you still think there are hidden WMDs in Iraq, and that in any case, it was a useful lie to start a war?

This is the swamp you’re now stuck in. You’re welcome to it.”

http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=8511#comment-49920

and:

“If you think PSL is going to be the main force opposing US bombing and widening the war in the Middle East, you’re going to be a bit shocked, should US ‘kinetic intervention’ come to pass–and I hope it doesn’t. You need to make use of a wider picture here. The vast majority of the American people are opposed to getting into another war in the Mideast, along with the large majority of the left, the peace coalitions, and other progressive forces.”

http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=8511#comment-49958

I’m responding here because its about the “Anti-war movement” rather than about Syria and in the hope that Carl might read and think about the original post of this thread, which seems to be from a participant in the Iraq anti-war movement Carl supported and admits that it was a complete failure and is now so completely “dead” that it could not mobilize at all over Syria.

Some of the other comments in this thread, and the article itself, also reveal a stunning level of incomprehension about the reasons why that “movement” was so pathetic, so I think it’s worth reviving the thread.

I take Carl to be a serious person, with experience of what a real anti-war movement looks like, yet there is a hallucinatory quality to his claims.

Is it just bluster in the heat of discussion, or does he really believe that the anti-war demonstrations grew instead of shrank and that the troops were witdrawn as a result of the election of Obama rather than as a result of the decision of the freely elected Iraqi government respected by the Bush administration as originally promised?

If Carl really does believe that there will be some kind of serious mobilization by anybody except the likes of PSL in the event of US intervention in Iraq then hopefully events in the relatively near future might force him to actually start thinking again, just as being proved wrong about the consequences of NATO intervention in Libya forced Pham Binh to reverse his position.

My estimation is that Carl is correct in believing that a large majority of US opinion is still opposed to “getting involved in another war” but wrong in believing that will remain so once the US does get involved or that there will be any sort of mobilization.

The reason is that those who actually pay any attention to what’s going on in Syria are far more sympathetic to action than those who don’t. So when events make the public pay attention they will also shift public opinion against any anti-war movement. Closely related is that in order to actually build any kind of serious movement you have to study what’s actually going on, as the Vietnam movement did with teach-ins etc. But anyone even mildly progressive who studies what’s going on in Syria instead of resolutely ignoring it, will not want to put energy into organizing to allow the regime to continue its mass murder.

The obvious fact that the Bush administration was lying about WMDs in Iraq was not enough to initiate but not to sustain an anti-war movement.

The obvious fact that NATO was actively assisting “regime change” rather than merely “humanitarian protection” did not result in ANY mobilization.

These are simple facts. People mobilize against unjust wars. They don’t mobilize against assistance to people overthrowing tyrants.

It would be useful for Carl to record here his reasons for believing there will be a serious anti-war movement in the event of US intervention in Syria, as a reference point for reconsidering his understanding of things in a few months time.

In particular it would be useful for Carl to present the sort of arguments that such a movement would use to mobilize around. After all a dry run here would help sharpen them up for the “real thing” if and when it happens.

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patrickm August 25, 2013 at 8:24 am

The call to unite and make war against fascist savagery in Syria is now overwhelming from the Turkish, British and French governments and so you no longer have to be years ahead of events to foresee the coming U.S. led NATO involvement in this war. A U.S. cruise missile strike is on the way, but then what?
And what about the anti-war movement?

The problem is, and always has been, the man who is in charge of the U.S. military and who is next to useless in that role. Obama wants to do as little as is possible but that ‘little’ is I think going to become more than just to lob a hundred cruise- missiles and then leave it to the Syrian peoples’ to sort out the end of the civil war.

NATO will imv want to strategically shut down the Syrian air-force and establish several zones of protection as they proceed to arm and train the FSA.

Will Carl Davidson and Kashma Sawant now call for an international coalition of the willing to put a stop to Assad’s regime AND deal with Al Qaeda in Syria? NO, because they are both part of Neverland, and she like Carl when it comes to liberating the peoples’ of the ME, are useless as the milieu has been for decades.
Sawant and Davidson are not blatant fascist hyenas that actually supported the fascist Iraqi Baathists invading and annexing Kuwait, but just of the common group of pseudolefts that advocated doing nothing about it when they all disgraced themselves back in 1990. http://home.vicnet.net.au/~dmcm/red_politics/rp17a.htm .

No doubt pseudolefts are appalled at the slaughter just gone down in Syria. My take is that the strategic requirement of the Assad regime to establish a rump enclave in order to even exist , has brought on – during a period that presented the regime with some semblance of plausible denial- an overreach effect. A case of ’twere well it were done, ’twere well it were done quickly’. Assad government’s plausible denial ground collapsed when the inspectors who were only minutes from the affected sites were not granted immediate access.

The Syrian military took a high risk strategy that was / is banking on the Obama led NATO forces not having the stomach for the fight. They have measured Obama as hitting back but in a manner that they can still handle. The Obama administration is loudly declaring that it wants no U.S. boots on the ground instead of declaring all options for the liberation of the Syrian masses are now on the table and under serious consideration.

If McCain were POTUS the Assad forces would already have been confronted and with much more than just the coming cruise-missile attack that Obama is now obliged to make. This dithering joke of a self-promoting lawyer who was so ‘important to get elected’ according to the likes of Carl Davidson and so many others that turned up at the NY Left Forum (and only because he was the ‘anti-Bush’, anti-McCain alternative) turns out to be almost useless at fighting fascists. But even he is not as piss weak as the pseudolefts who will be miserably bleating about even these very late efforts which are now quite clearly on the horizon.

From my aggressively active anti-fascist Antipodean POV, McCain was always the better choice and was always to the left (whatever that means in this context) of Obama. But note this well; Obama is now going to stand to the left of Carl, Kashma and Mike Ely/Nando, and all the other ‘Socialists’ that will now drag their sorry arses into some gutter or another and chant ‘NO to Assad; No to intervention’ while standing alongside the actual supporters of Assad and the active supporters of Iraqi Baathism! Nobody that is just confused will have their heart in it of course. It’s just what they do when war is involving ‘their’ soldiers. It will be just formal clap trap because they don’t know what else to do but they know what is Halabja like, on their TV screens right now. http://www.todayszaman.com/columnists-324256-the-massacre-in-damascus-is-the-second-halabja.html

The theory of U.S. imperialism being the main danger to the people of the world (the masses) making any real progress is what is quite obviously in the way of making sense of what to do about this slaughter.
Even the grossly ignorant Australian bourgeois politicians have understood that this conflict has now tipped over and drawn in western troops. Starting with those that launch the cruise missiles. Neverland calls to Brian up on his fence to come down and join them, but though he’d really like to he won’t be coming down. He’ll stay up there with his collection of blindfolds and ear muffs. From piracy to Portugal he can block his ears, close his eyes and chant la, la, la, while the struggle for bourgeois democratic revolutions rolls on without him. He used to be out there hindering but since Libya he’d rather not bother.

Across time and all round the globe, we are able to observe that genuinely democratic people are peaceful peoples’ who only resort to armed struggle in the face of the oppression that they are compelled to deal with as an issue of self- defense. We have seen this phenomena recently in Egypt and in Turkey, just as we have in Syria and as we did in Libya. It is just as plainly an issue for the democratically minded peoples’ of Mali as it was all along for Iraqis.

The anti-war movement is dead because there is now no hiding this Halabja!

When the peaceful and therefore democratic peoples’ of the world were attacked in the dramatic, massive, and totally unmissable manner, as we were by the openly fascist movement, Al-Qaeda, back on 9/11/2001, the isolated zombie like ‘left’ groups and many individuals widely thought of in the western world as of the radical left, (all were actually only remnants from a decades ago ended era of genuinely positive struggle) took to the streets and proceeded to demonstrate to all classes what exactly had happened when that former movement went through its process of collapse. Residue is really nasty stuff. Only the utterly hopeless or the transparently reactionary remained active participants in what entered the 21st Century as the western ‘left’.

The genuine left of WW1-WW2 through to the Vietnam war period had through this process turned into it’s exact opposite and had become the pseudoleft that we see and despise to this very day. They took to the streets to oppose the 9/11 counter attack and bullshitted to the world about oil pipelines etc.. The foolish pacifist elements of the reactionary peace movement united with the reactionary anti- imperialists who set up their St0pWar Coalitions, and in typical manner controlled them in the interests of whatever boring ‘left’ sect was dominant in them. They were largely ignored, and the fight against Al-Qaeda and all who would shelter them was supported by the masses.

This residue organisation from what was formerly progressive political forces were then and remain now direct and implacable enemies of the working masses. They were and still are on the wrong side of virtually every modern conflict.

In a world where it turns out that John McCain is more often than not to the left of Barack Obama when it comes to the big international questions of the armed liberation of the peoples of Nth Africa, and the Middle East it ought to come as no surprise to find that Sawant socialists are even further to the right.

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patrickm August 25, 2013 at 8:25 am

The call to unite and make war against fascist savagery in Syria is now overwhelming from the Turkish, British and French governments and so you no longer have to be years ahead of events to foresee the coming U.S. led NATO involvement in this war. A U.S. cruise missile strike is on the way, but then what?
And what about the anti-war movement?

The problem is, and always has been, the man who is in charge of the U.S. military and who is next to useless in that role. Obama wants to do as little as is possible but that ‘little’ is I think going to become more than just to lob a hundred cruise- missiles and then leave it to the Syrian peoples’ to sort out the end of the civil war.

NATO will imv want to strategically shut down the Syrian air-force and establish several zones of protection as they proceed to arm and train the FSA.

Will Carl Davidson and Kashma Sawant now call for an international coalition of the willing to put a stop to Assad’s regime AND deal with Al Qaeda in Syria? NO, because they are both part of Neverland, and she like Carl when it comes to liberating the peoples’ of the ME, are useless as the milieu has been for decades.
Sawant and Davidson are not blatant fascist hyenas that actually supported the fascist Iraqi Baathists invading and annexing Kuwait, but just of the common group of pseudolefts that advocated doing nothing about it when they all disgraced themselves back in 1990. http://home.vicnet.net.au/~dmcm/red_politics/rp17a.htm .

No doubt pseudolefts are appalled at the slaughter just gone down in Syria. My take is that the strategic requirement of the Assad regime to establish a rump enclave in order to even exist , has brought on – during a period that presented the regime with some semblance of plausible denial- an overreach effect. A case of ’twere well it were done, ’twere well it were done quickly’. Assad government’s plausible denial ground collapsed when the inspectors who were only minutes from the affected sites were not granted immediate access.

The Syrian military took a high risk strategy that was / is banking on the Obama led NATO forces not having the stomach for the fight. They have measured Obama as hitting back but in a manner that they can still handle. The Obama administration is loudly declaring that it wants no U.S. boots on the ground instead of declaring all options for the liberation of the Syrian masses are now on the table and under serious consideration.

If McCain were POTUS the Assad forces would already have been confronted and with much more than just the coming cruise-missile attack that Obama is now obliged to make. This dithering joke of a self-promoting lawyer who was so ‘important to get elected’ according to the likes of Carl Davidson and so many others that turned up at the NY Left Forum (and only because he was the ‘anti-Bush’, anti-McCain alternative) turns out to be almost useless at fighting fascists. But even he is not as piss weak as the pseudolefts who will be miserably bleating about even these very late efforts which are now quite clearly on the horizon.

From my aggressively active anti-fascist Antipodean POV, McCain was always the better choice and was always to the left (whatever that means in this context) of Obama. But note this well; Obama is now going to stand to the left of Carl, Kashma and Mike Ely/Nando, and all the other ‘Socialists’ that will now drag their sorry arses into some gutter or another and chant ‘NO to Assad; No to intervention’ while standing alongside the actual supporters of Assad and the active supporters of Iraqi Baathism! Nobody that is just confused will have their heart in it of course. It’s just what they do when war is involving ‘their’ soldiers. It will be just formal clap trap because they don’t know what else to do but they know what is Halabja like, on their TV screens right now. http://www.todayszaman.com/columnists-324256-the-massacre-in-damascus-is-the-second-halabja.html

The theory of U.S. imperialism being the main danger to the people of the world (the masses) making any real progress is what is quite obviously in the way of making sense of what to do about this slaughter.
Even the grossly ignorant Australian bourgeois politicians have understood that this conflict has now tipped over and drawn in western troops. Starting with those that launch the cruise missiles. Neverland calls to Brian up on his fence to come down and join them, but though he’d really like to he won’t be coming down. He’ll stay up there with his collection of blindfolds and ear muffs. From piracy to Portugal he can block his ears, close his eyes and chant la, la, la, while the struggle for bourgeois democratic revolutions rolls on without him. He used to be out there hindering but since Libya he’d rather not bother.

Across time and all round the globe, we are able to observe that genuinely democratic people are peaceful peoples’ who only resort to armed struggle in the face of the oppression that they are compelled to deal with as an issue of self- defense. We have seen this phenomena recently in Egypt and in Turkey, just as we have in Syria and as we did in Libya. It is just as plainly an issue for the democratically minded peoples’ of Mali as it was all along for Iraqis.

The anti-war movement is dead because there is now no hiding this Halabja!

When the peaceful and therefore democratic peoples’ of the world were attacked in the dramatic, massive, and totally unmissable manner, as we were by the openly fascist movement, Al-Qaeda, back on 9/11/2001, the isolated zombie like ‘left’ groups and many individuals widely thought of in the western world as of the radical left, (all were actually only remnants from a decades ago ended era of genuinely positive struggle) took to the streets and proceeded to demonstrate to all classes what exactly had happened when that former movement went through its process of collapse. Residue is really nasty stuff. Only the utterly hopeless or the transparently reactionary remained active participants in what entered the 21st Century as the western ‘left’.

The genuine left of WW1-WW2 through to the Vietnam war period had through this process turned into it’s exact opposite and had become the pseudoleft that we see and despise to this very day. They took to the streets to oppose the 9/11 counter attack and bullshitted to the world about oil pipelines etc.. The foolish pacifist elements of the reactionary peace movement united with the reactionary anti- imperialists who set up their St0pWar Coalitions, and in typical manner controlled them in the interests of whatever boring ‘left’ sect was dominant in them. They were largely ignored, and the fight against Al-Qaeda and all who would shelter them was supported by the masses.

This residue organisation from what was formerly progressive political forces were then and remain now direct and implacable enemies of the working masses. They were and still are on the wrong side of virtually every modern conflict.

In a world where it turns out that John McCain is more often than not to the left of Barack Obama when it comes to the big international questions of the armed liberation of the peoples of Nth Africa, and the Middle East it ought to come as no surprise to find that Sawant socialists are even further to the right.

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Richard Estes August 25, 2013 at 6:38 pm

“The theory of U.S. imperialism being the main danger to the people of the world (the masses) making any real progress is what is quite obviously in the way of making sense of what to do about this slaughter.”

Without commenting upon the situation in Syria, this is not a “theory”, unless, of course, you are a neoconservative fronting as a leftist.

Reply

patrickm August 27, 2013 at 7:52 pm

In a few days time people will have to take a stand. Will they support the NATO attacks or join with the usual suspects and join an anti-war demonstration similar to those of the recent past. Going quiet while others demonstrate is one response and that will be what most former anti-war demonstrators will do. Joining the pro-war left is the other response.

I too ‘believe that the intellectual culture of the left must be renewed and refreshed’ right across the planet and am glad that ‘The North Star is a forum for discussion, debate, and “the ruthless criticism of everything existing.” The current critical path IMV lies through a debate about the coming anti-war demonstrations.

I think it’s rather obvious by 2013 that ‘the future of radical politics’ anywhere does not lie ‘with the existing three-letter left groups’ and that to find any progressive future for themselves radical democrats of all progressive schools of though will have to ‘throw off the baggage of dogmatism and sectarianism plaguing Marxism’ , and instead and immediately conduct themselves differently than the way western left activists get trained in these stupidly destructive three-letter groups and begin to think again ’emphasizing the importance of open debate.’ My prediction is that no three-letter group will stand with US/NATO forces and all will loose some members as people are heart sick at uselessly standing by while a mini Halabja is carried out on their TV screens

Nobody really cares what ‘long tradition of socialist thinkers’ people descend from as we continue our human attempt to get out of the trees and stand upright without dragging their knuckles on the ground.

Nobody ought to care what inspired the current walking upright editors who ‘aim to put North American socialists in conversation with socialists in different traditions and cultures to enable the dialogue to revitalized what can seem like a field that has little new, original thinking.’ I believe the founders of TNS want to put DISPARATE socialist thinkers in dialogue rather than the ‘desperate’. The desperate are sorts who run away when the going gets intellectually challenging.

The question is what politics have emerged after a year of putting the disparate socialist thinkers in dialogue with traditions and tendencies which they were often completely unaware of, let alone be hesitant to address. What has the investigation of ‘leftwing “orthodoxies” such as the anti-war movement already produced after a year of work as we all stand smack bang in the middle of a large scale war with U.S. led NATO intervention now imminent?

We all know that ‘Articles posted here reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of the editors or other participants.’ But the owners of this site have a method of appointing the editors, and they ‘prioritize posting material that we think merits serious discussion.’, and while the whole world is discussing Assad’s Halabja-like activities and Obama’s pathetic dithering, and while Carl and Sawant are dusting off their placards and penciling in a booking for some venue or another to wave them at, the editors here are churning out the pap articles that are being met with the predictable response of utter boredom.

Cruise missile Marxists ought to be in cruise missile debate right now. Distancing TNS from any HITCHENS-like politics is not going to work right now when the whole world is watching.

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patrickm August 26, 2013 at 3:14 am

Richard: I think these business as usual chatter posts which some people at TNS would prefer to turn their minds to, even when the mass media is full of what it currently is, are disturbing.

Events like these in Syria have big implications for everyone that used to be involved in anti-war activities as you did, and for this site the implications are profound. Some of the old gang are going to get together again soon and condemn Obama when he orders the strikes against the fascists that have been slaughtering away in Syria unmolested by ‘imperialist’ intervention for the last couple of years (this time round). The Assad forces started this rather than allow free and fair elections and they are now seeking to establish their fascist enclave by terror and ethnically cleansing ‘problem’ suburbs and towns.

The regime can’t be permitted (by any who think themselves in any way civilized, let alone progressive) to get away with what they have to do in Damascus, and Al Qaeda can’t be permitted to thrive anywhere on the planet! War is the only answer to what has unfolded in Syria over these last two years.

Progressives are or ought to be at war with both these forces and ought to have been all along. NATO meddling is required!

The fascist enclave ultimately can’t survive if it does not stay armed to the teeth and fully in control of the Syrian air space, and it can’t do this without controlling Damascus. That’s why they have taken such a big overreach. They want to terrorize the world’s people and like the deadly octopus they are flashing their blue rings. Nothing is going to be easy about the next two years and casualties will clearly not be less than the last two. The question is whose side are you going to be on?

Past behavior is a good indication of future behavior. So Obama will likely blunder along and not make enough war on Assad when the attacks do start. From the first attacks people in the western’ left’ sects will condemn him. He will later probably try to settle for a division of Syria and it just won’t work. Obama’s incompetence risks spreading the war right across the region. A region wide war is very much still on the cards and IMV only a very big NATO effort can prevent middle eastern rules applying. Obama the anti-war activist is a very poor wartime leader.

TNS must be somewhat notorious in your milieu as a site started by a maturing young leftist who became a convert to the NATO air war against the Libyan tyranny AFTER it was all over. The usual suspects did not review their failed views – as always – and all their sects and cults could not generate a site for a worthwhile and genuine debate. The debate that you had never before heard or engaged in has been able to happen for real on this site only and the sects have continued to implode.

Carl Davidson and Kashma Sawant will stand somewhere when the attacks on Assad start. Everyone on this site will also take their stand. We already know where the fascist hyenas who supported Saddam Hussein annexing Kuwait will stand. They are consistent reactionaries as opposed to the liberation of the Libyan people as they were to the bourgeois democratic revolution that swept the east European police states away. As we see with their voice on TNS they have had a long involvement with ‘anti-imperialism’.

I’m a cruise missile Marxist. I can’t wait to cheer all of NATO on as they smash as much of that fascist Baathist army as they can manage. I have always been on the side of the FSA and have understood what was at stake in this region for many years.
Your faith in a unchanging theory of imperialism is more like a theory of the ‘Great Satan’. But because this issue is so foundational to where we will travel on the next stage of revolutionary struggle as it unfolds across the world, the notion that the ‘mighty’ USA is what is currently blocking progress (when actually all is change) warrants a serious response from me. I wrote the following back in 2006 http://www.lastsuperpower.net/Members/patrickm/papertiger/view?searchterm=Imperialism
The article started out with this;
“Paper Tiger on the prowl. How far down the road to collapse is modern imperialism?

‘Imperialism will not last long because it always does evil things. It persists in grooming and supporting reactionaries in all countries who are against the people, it has forcibly seized many colonies and semi-colonies and many military bases, and it threatens the peace with atomic war. Thus, forced by imperialism to do so, more than 90 per cent of the people of the world are rising or will rise in struggle against it.
Mao Tse Tung: (September 29, 1958).’

The world has changed profoundly since the 1950s, and that change is accelerating: yet when it comes to the diminishing imperial power of the last superpower not many people noticed, until recently, just how low this mighty power has fallen. Now quite a few are noticing; but they are more often than not supporters seeking to arrest the trend and not left-wingers delighted at the progress.”

I said in that piece that an era has almost gone with the wind and that your ‘theory’ hasn’t made sense for decades. Seven years down the track I think it’s notable that people here are not commenting on Syria, and what Obama has been dragged kicking and squirming to (almost) do after this Halabja-like event (but note with far fewer casualties). The coming NATO attack is not imperialism. No one is currently worried that U.S. capitalism is being headed up by politicians that are implementing reckless imperialist policies.

Progressives are worried that rather than the clarity of Condi Rice, we have soothing clap trap of Obama. See the following and consider events that have unfolded since 2009 Obama in Cairo (therapy for liberals) by keza on July 14, 2009

http://strangetimes.lastsuperpower.net/?p=273

Anyway I think these events of clear mass murder in Syria which DO require more than just a comment Richard, will require a review of what people think they know about imperialism, and I hope you find these two pieces at least honest attempts to deal with the challenges of 2013, though they were written back in 2006 and 2009 before the horror of even Libya had challenged people to rethink what they thought they knew about their cherished theories of imperialism.

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patrickm August 27, 2013 at 12:27 am

As you see Richard, the current 5, North Star editors, and through their selection of topics the general readership, are strangely silent at a time when the leadership of the U.S., is openly following the British, French and Turkish governments in preparing their countries for war against the Assad regime.

NATO led by the hopeless ditherer is preparing in some manner to go up against the Syrian fascists, and at the same time all progressives and all the NATO governments want the FSA and anyone and everyone else that is able to deal harshly with any Al Qaeda type forces that are attempting to highjack the Syrian revolution!

I think it can easily be shown to be wrong by them personally contradicting me, that most of the current 5 editors have now jumped off the old anti-war team and they have all probably come from, and are about to at least silently support if they can’t bring themselves to openly cheer those on board the pro-war cruise missile NATO war ships.

Quite frankly TNS would not now make any sense as any sort of new model of open left site if it fell silent at this crucial time.

People should open up and make their position plain even if they want to seek out further opinions on this the most difficult of all questions. It was all very easy when ‘progressive’ people were just opposing what they imagined was aggressive imperialist war for oil, or whatever they thought it was. Now the whole world view that underpinned that ‘I won’t deal with Halabja’ world view has collapsed .

All these other fine issues could I think (if only out of a sense of decency) be set aside for a while, at least while we discuss more fully the issue of active support for war or not. Carl has his opportunity to convince readers that they ought to re-form the anti-war ranks and march. I have made my position plain and would be happy to review what has unfolded in this broadly ongoing debate over the last year since I was first published here last August

Genuine open, honest, and above board politics requires I believe that people speak up and take a stand (even if only a provisional stand pending a big debate). But silence over the current dramatic issue of the chemical attack in Syria that is so profound in the potential contrast it presents to their activities over the last few decades. So, others will be coming down from the fence after this attack, but we will have to wait and see how far they are behind even bourgeois politicians.

I guess all the organizations that turned up at the NY Left Forum know where they are going to stand, and we see Sandwich Artist #456894560435035 knows what he/she thinks of TNS. Somebody will know doubt inform us of Kashma Sawant’s fence sitting antics or whatever soon enough. But we really ought to have those who have taken the lead at TNS take some public stand rather than all just have to guess.

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