Skip to content


Personal tools
You are here: Home » Documents » Aggression, fascism, strategy and logic - discussion from previous LS site. Why, and when, should we support the US overthrow of fascist regimes?

Aggression, fascism, strategy and logic - discussion from previous LS site. Why, and when, should we support the US overthrow of fascist regimes?

Document Actions

            If I understand correctly, the point being made is that people who
            opposed the US aggression against Vietnam, the Vietnamese invasion
            of Kampuchea, the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and the Iraqi
            invasion of Kuwait based themselves on a consistent principle "to
            oppose acts of aggression" regardless of how much we may dislike the
            politics of the victim.

            That is certainly true and makes more sense than the unifying
            principle perceived by most of the pseudo-left, namely that we
            opposed whatever the US supported. The examples of leftists opposing
            the Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea, Russian invasion of
            Afghanistan and Iraqi invasion of Kuwait refute the principle
            asserted by the pseudo-left (though there were of course many who
            adopted a pseudo-left position supporting the aggressor in each of
            those wars).

            Although supporters of the current war prefer to describe it as a
            "liberation" of Iraq rather than an "invasion" of Iraq, it certainly
            meets the definition of an invasion and the war was clearly
            initiated by the US, not by Iraq. This is clearly unlike for example
            the situation in East Timor, where even most of the pseudo-left
            supported Australian military intervention.

            Departing from the logic of the principle we have adopted in the
            past is said to require some over-riding principle such as Saddam
            being fascist rather than just another "tin pot third world

            Why then should we say Saddam was a fascist while treating Gulbuddin
            Hekmatyar of Afghanistan as a freedom fighter? Specifically there is
            a request for "some testable criteria about what Facism is and how
            Saddam fits this criteria" as distinct from just saying that he is
            "a bad person or even an evil one".

            Fair enough, that is the sort of issue on a lot of people's minds
            and it needs to be answered.

            First, although this is a side issue it should be noted that only
            the US and Pakistan pretended that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was a
            "freedom fighter". He was in fact a particularly vicious Islamist
            warlord (currently being chased by US and Pakistani troops in the
            border areas). Whether or not he can technically be described as
            "fascist", he was certainly vicious enough to justify a war aimed at
            liberating or saving Afghanistan from being ruled by him or people
            like him.

            The Soviet Union and its pseudo-left supporters pretended that their
            invasion of Afghanistan was to liberate or save Afghans from
            Islamist warlords like Hekmatyar. The reason they pretended this was
            of course that this would have been a perfectly good excuse for an
            invasion if it was true - just as the Vietnamese invasion of
            Kampuchea would have been justified if the propaganda they and their
            supporters spread about Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge was true.
            But of course it was a naked lie. The government of Afghanistan was
            dominated by a pro-Moscow revisionist "Communist" party. The Soviets
            initially pretended to have been "invited" in by that government (as
            with the invasion of Czechoslovakia) and then murdered the President
            and established a complete puppet regime (based on another faction
            of the same party).

            Islamist warlords dominated the resistance and received all of the
            CIA supplies and funding (with Hekmatyar getting the lion's share
            and using it to attack and destroy progressive resistance forces).
            As a result Afghanistan was plunged into utter darkness when the
            resistance won, but the USA didn't care a damn about that since all
            they wanted was to inflict damage on the Soviet Union, not to
            liberate Afghanistan.

            The US even encouraged islamist terrorists from all over the world,
            coordinated by Osama bin Ladin to flock to Afghanistan and form "the
            base" ("Al Quaeda"). Furthermore, as documented in links from
            Maintain your rage, the US even deliberately provided open CIA
            support for terrorist attacks by extreme reactionaries like
            Hekmatyar six months before the invasion with a view to encouraging
            the Soviets to invade and thus lure them into the "trap" of their
            own "Vietnam".

            Of course this US support for Islamist terrorism did not justify the
            Soviet aggression and the Soviet invasion did not justify the US
            support for Islamist terrorism.
            Afghans suffered the most for the superpowers playing out their
            "great game" and the rest of the world, including the people of New
            York have also paid a heavy price.

            The warlords still influential in Afghanistan are behaving a lot
            better than they did when Hekmatyar was leader of the pack and they
            were so bad that the Taliban was welcomed as an alternative. But
            they are still pretty awful and what is needed there is more
            international intervention to suppress the warlords and build a
            modern democratic society. Unfortunately that isn't a US or European
            priority and they are doing the bare minimum to improve the
            situation. There ought to be a mass movement demanding that more be
            done, whether we call the warlords fascists or not. They are evil
            and vicious and should be driven out of power by armed force.
            Second, the Baathist regime led by Saddam Hussein was as vicious and
            evil as claimed by the US and British governments and the people of
            Iraq deserved international support to liberate them from it,
            whether we call it "fascist" or not. It was not just some "tin pot
            third world dictator" but an exceptionally vicious regime.           

           That of course was not the main reason why the US and Britain
            attacked it (and neither was WMDs). But it is a good enough reason
            to support them doing so.

            Third, that regime was "fascist" in the narrow sense of the term. 
            Check  out the details of the origin of the Ba'ath party in the
            fascist movements of the 1930s. See also my explanation of my use
            of the terms fascism, social-fascism, etc in connection with the of
            the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. 

            Third, although these are good reasons for supporting the liberation
            of a country they are not decisive - either for the "Coalition of
            the willing" or for leftists that support it.

            If for example the strategic goal had been, as claimed by the
            anti-war movement, to dominate the middle east, seize energy
            resources etc then that would be grounds for opposition even if they
            had happened to pick on a particularly bad regime.

            The strategic goal of the Coalition is to modernize and democratize
            the middle east, starting with the most "doable" country, Iraq,
            before things get even worse.

            That is a reversal of the previous US/Israeli strategy of seeking to
            hold back the development of the middle east (to benefit from
            cheaper oil etc, suppress communism and weaken the Arabs relative to
            Israel) by supporting the most reactionary forces in each country
            (the Ayatollahs against a nationalist regime in Iran, Saddam in
            Iraq, the Saudi royals, Israeli zionism etc etc).

            It is a reversal the US considers strategically necessary in the
            light of the results of their previous Afghan policy supporting
            Islamic terrorism and their general middle east policy supporting
            reaction, as demonstrated spectacularly by 9/11.

            They consider it urgent in view of the likely emergence of an Al
            Quaeda regime in Saudi Arabia after the present regime collapses.
            Giving Osama bin Laden "stinger" missiles to use against the Soviet
            Union and encouraging Saudi Arabia to fund wahabi and salafi
            terrorism seemed to them like a good idea at the time but it hasn't
            seemed so clever since 9/11. Allowing Al Quaeda to acquire WMDs from
            Arabian oil wealth doesn't strike them as a viable policy option.
            Modernizing and democraitizing the middle east is the sort of policy
            the left has always stood for and we're not about to change our
            minds now. It certainly makes more sense as a means of defeating
            Islamist terrorism then trying to hunt them down with police methods
            while the madrassas keep churning them out - as advocated by the US
            Democrats etc.

            While many on the left support the war for "humanitarian" reasons
            (overthrowing an exceptionally vicious regime), I see that as only a
            subordinate part of the wider "strategic" reason.

            The logic of the left in considering questions of war and peace is
            not solely concerned with opposing aggression. That often appears to
            be the dominant concern for a very simple reason - aggression is
            normally resorted to by reactionaries in order to hold back
            progress. Since the left opposes reaction and supports progress it
            finds itself opposed to aggression (alongside pacifists and others
            with quite different motivations). The left tradition of supporting
            wars against fascism is simply a link between the two - fascism
            fights against progress and uses wars of agression to do so.
            But circumstances have and will arise when the strategic goal of
            supporting progress and opposing reaction may justify an invasion
            that was not aimed at liberating a country from an exceptionally
            vicious regime.

            For example immediately before the second world war the then
            revolutionary Soviet Union invaded Finland to seize a strip of
            territory that was vital for the defence of Leningrad in the coming
            war. There was no issue of liberating the Finns from an
            exceptionally vicious regime (although the Finnish regime was pretty
            bad, the war was to seize territory, not to liberate the Finnish
            people who were in fact opposed to the Soviet invasion).

            It was simply considered absolutely necessary as the consequences of
            allowing Leningrad to remain exposed were far more grave than
            violating Finnish sovereignity (despite the very real negative
            political consequences of doing so).

            Likewise the Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were
            annexed to provide defence in depth - not to liberate their peoples
            from exceptionally vicious regimes.

            The current situation is causing cognitive dissonance on the left
            because people just can't cope with the idea of the US fighting a
            revolutionary war to modernize and democratize Iraq and the middle
            east in the light of its previous policies.

            One major reason for that is that there are basically no functional
            left organizations capable of analysing world affairs seriously as
            the left has been swamped by a pseudo-left for a long time.
            Another is that the US has gone out of its way to avoid being seen
            as having to retreat from a totally catastrophic previous policy in
            the middle east by hypeing itself as a mighty superpower rather than
            a declining one.

            US strategy is global democratic revolution

            [owenss] Ok I think Ive got it now You  think that we should
            support the war effort because of the new strategic goal of the
            coalition this being to modernize and democratise the middle east.
            Well Im all for modernity and more democracy but I struggle to see
            the evidence that this is what is happening.

            Yes, I think you have now "got it" as to what I am saying.
            Your tone now seems to be less sneering and more a matter of
            reasonable argument. Please note however that as you have apparantly
            only just "got it" as to what is being said, you have some
            responsibility to review the evidence yourself (eg by looking
            through the substantial amount of material on this site) rather than
            just glaring at us expectantly.

            [owenss] If your right then this process is about two years old. The
            USA has its greatest degree of influence over Israel yet my
            impression is that over the last two years Israel has ramped up the
            level of oppression.

            Yes, any credible strategy to modernize and democratize the
            middle east must involve ending Israeli oppression of the
            Palestinians and so far, the US has given the impression of moving
            far too slowly on that front.

            However it is important to understand that the US has a strong
            interest in giving the impression of moving very slowly on that
            front and therefore it is not surprising that people have gained
            that impression.

            Over the last 2 years your "impression" that "Israel has ramped up
            the level of oppression" has become nearly universal. That puts the
            Bush administration exactly where it wants to be on this issue -
            responding to a near universal consensus.

            By committing itself to a viable Palestinian state within a set
            timetable the US has thoroughly undermined the Israeli position and
            greatly accelerated that perception of Israeli intransigence (which
            in fact has not ramped up dramatically in the last 2 years but goes
            way back without having been noticed as much).

            During that 2 years most people have actually forgotton that the
            original goal of the Israeli occupation was to annex the whole of
            Palestine and prevent the formation of a Palestinian state. Instead
            they now believe the only purpose of the occupation is to combat
            Palestinian terrorism. This is very similar to what Nixon did in
            convincing Americans that the goal of the US forces in Vietnam was
            to recover US POWs - which he triumphantly achieved by agreeing to
            withdraw all US troops! Likewise public opinion is being prepared
            for the establishment of a Palestinian state as being a triumph for
            long standing US and Israeli policy and a defeat for terrorists (led
            of course by that arch opponent of a Palestinian state, Yassir
            Arafat ;-).

            Withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza and establishment of viable
            Palestinian state represents a total defeat for nearly four decades
            of Israeli policy which the US has spent many billions on backing.
            Unlike the US support for reaction in the other countries of the
            middle east generally, that US support for Israeli policy is well
            known. Reversing it is a major defeat. Therefore there is nothing
            surprising about a US government wanting to establish a broad
            consensus before taking on the US zionist lobby (and putting itself
            in a position where any counter-mobilization claiming that Bush is
            hostile to Israel, soft on terrorism etc etc would just look silly).
            For more on that, please review the thread re:Arafat posturing in
            which I pointed out that the Israeli "decision" to remove Arafat and
            the related US Security Council veto was just posturing, but others
            here whose overall analysis is similar to mine were disagreeing. I
            think the issue on which we were arguing has been pretty
            conclusively settled by Sharon's announcement that Israel will not
            remove Arafat. 

            My guess is that now Bush has the 87 billion he is relatively free
            from constraints due to Congressional opposition and will proceed
            rapidly both with troop rotations for Iraq and with a Palestinian
            settlement along the lines of the Geneva Accord.

            [owenss] In Iraq the picture is less clear the coalition has made
            some steps towards rebuilding a civil society but I think Iraq poses
            a unique problem and this is where comparisons with Germany and
            Japan are misleading. Both Germany and japan were well ordered
            homogenous societies rebuilt by Democrat newdealers not Republican
            free marketeers. When people tell me that the USA can rebuild Iraq
            just like post war Germany I ask yes but which war and which Germany
            Wiemar or Federal.

            The comparison with Germany and Japan is just a reminder
            that "American occupation" is not necessarily synonmous with
            "Vietnam quagmire". I agree that any further comparison is

            The strongest evidence for the new strategy is of course that
            without such a strategy US tactics in Iraq would make absolutely no
            sense whatever. That's precisely what most of the US foreign policy
            establishment and the anti-war people believe - with "explanations"
            like "oil" being an admission of not having an analysis rather than
            a serious attempt to explain what is going on. See What Bush is up
            against for a discussion of the sort of tactics the US would be
            following in Iraq if it was not committed to a strategy of bourgeois
            democratic revolution.

            [owenss] What happens in Iraq as happens in Turkey and Morroco and
            Algeria when in free elections the Islamists get up.

             Don't confuse Islamists with Islamic parties. In Turkey for
            example the current governing party has been described as Islamist
            but is actually more Islamic (like the Christian Democrat parties in
            various European countries are Christian). Most of the major Islamic
            parties in Iraq (including some Islamist ones) are already part of
            the Governing Council collaborating with the occupation authorities.
            This includes the Shia Hezbollah, Dawa and SCIRI and Sunni Muslim
            Brotherhood (along with non-Islamic parties like the Kurdish
            nationalists, "Communist" Party and Iraqi National Congress).

            [owenss] Finally to that godforsaken place Afganistan I think Karsi
            has done well not only to survive but to produce a constitution that
            states that you cant head a private army as well as a political
            party. And its interesting that the international force has ventured
            beyond Kabal. However positive this may be the reconstruction is
            underfunded fighting has started and stopped between rival warlords
            the Taliban has recovered in some southern provices.

            I would call Afghanistan God saturated rather than God
            forsaken. There is a severe shortage of infidels ;-)
            Afghanistan is not critical for the new strategy and the primary US
            objective was simply to avoid US casualties while getting rid of Al
            Quaeda (and hence incidentally getting rid of the Taliban).
            Consequently they allied again with their old friends the Islamist
            warlords (plus Dostum, a secular Uzbek warlord) and have been very
            slow about promoting social revolution outside Kabul.
            Nevertheless, as you have mentioned Karzai (who basically represents
            US interests without much other base in Afghanistan) is now starting
            to move against the warlords and NATO forces are taking up the slack
            left by US disinterest and beginning to extend the regime beyond
            Kabul. I agree with you that the reconstruction is underfunded. In
            addition there are not enough "boots on the ground". That of course
            is a call for more vigorous military intervention - directly
            opposite to what the (much smaller) anti-war movement wanted for

            [owenss] So what am I asking Im asking for evidence that the
            strategic goal of the coalition is modernity and democracy.

            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

            I mentioned last year 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).

Created by keza
Last modified 2006-08-06 10:51 PM

Powered by Plone

This site conforms to the following standards: