Syria: No War for Imperialist Interests!
September 15, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
As we write elsewhere in this issue of Revolution: There is growing danger of a direct U.S. military attack on Syria using planes and/or cruise missiles.
This is a very serious move—one that is fraught with real danger for masses of people in that region and worldwide. We are told that this must be done because the president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, has used chemical weapons, and this must be stopped. So, first, we must ask the question: if it were to be actually proven that Assad committed the cold-blooded crime of using chemical weapons as charged, would such an attack be justified?
NO!! As we say in “Only Worse Suffering and Horrors Can Result from a U.S. Attack on Syria”, “The U.S. in Syria (and everywhere else) does not proceed from human rights. The rulers of the U.S. have never been, and are not now, motivated by a desire to act against atrocity, or to ‘prevent genocide.’ At this moment they are giving at least passive approval to the torture and slaughter of opponents of the pro-U.S. regimes in Egypt and Bahrain.”
Palestinians attend a concert inside the destroyed Al Quds hospital in Gaza City in March 2009. The hospital was hit during Israel's three-week U.S.-backed attack on Gaza in January of that year. Photo: AP
In the Middle East, as in other parts of the world, the U.S. attempts to dominate the resources and the people of the region. They build up the armies of reactionary powers like Egypt and Saudi Arabia; they utilize Israel as a sort of attack dog to keep other countries in line; they prop up hated governments so long as they serve their purpose; and they periodically rain down military terror to enforce their way. The fact is that in just the past decade, the U.S. has attacked Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Pakistan, and other countries, and has continually threatened Iran. They have caused the deaths of literally hundreds of thousands of people, and sent millions more into squalid refugee camps. Humanitarians? This country is rightly hated by tens of millions of people all over the region, in no small part because of the shit they do and why they do it.
This article further states that, “The Middle East is a pivotal region for the whole world—economically and geopolitically—and the U.S. has dominated it since World War 2. Everything it has done and continues to do is based on maintaining and deepening that domination. Right now the region is in tremendous upheaval—the old arrangements that ‘held things together’ (for the imperialists and local butchers) have come under increasing strain and in some cases begun to disintegrate, and there is a massive scramble by all kinds of forces. These include rivals like the Russians, who back Assad; ‘friendly’ imperialists like the French, who back the rebels; all kinds of local butchers; etc. And, painfully, there is no coherent progressive force acting within this mix.... This is a bloodletting which at this point is driven by a reactionary scramble for influence.”
So, if it’s not “humanitarianism,” what IS driving this? A lot of commentators talk about “U.S. credibility”—well, what IS that credibility? It is the ability of the U.S. to force the masses of people AND other powers in the area to bend to its will. This includes not just, or even mainly, Assad, but adversaries like Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, as well as global rivals like Russia. The interests of strengthening and protecting Israel’s position in the Middle East also enters into this mix. This is nothing more than the “credibility” of a gangster in a turf war over who will dominate the dope traffic, prostitution, etc.—why should ANYONE want to defend that? These are NOT the interests of the masses of people, around the world and right here.
Why Is There Conflict and Controversy Over Whether to Go to War?
As we go to press, there is tremendous controversy—in the Congress, on the talk shows, in the papers—over whether this attack should be launched. What is behind this? First, the debate is not over what is in the interests of humanity the world over or what is the road to end the suffering of the Syrian people in their vast majority, but what will best serve the global interests of the U.S. and its hold on the Middle East. Nor is this “democracy at work, the will of the people,” and so on.
Tens of housands of Syrian refugees fleeing to Iraq in August 2013. Photo: AP
What is really causing the controversy is mainly that some powerful forces think that this move may be too risky—that the blowback, or negative response, from both predictable and unpredictable sources, may end up undermining American domination of the people and resources of the Middle East. But Obama and the forces around him think that if America does not attack, too many forces might be emboldened to defy this domination. Obama, or some of the forces uniting with him, may also be aiming to do something even more bloodthirsty than they are talking about now, or they feel they may end up having to do something like that, depending on how things go. So Obama decided to go to Congress to politically strengthen his hand before attacking Syria—while making clear that he may attack no matter what Congress does. It is not clear how all this will turn out—which strategy will prevail, how all this will unfold, and what will result from whatever does happen. But in any case, it is very important that masses of people take political action against the possibility of this war.
Does this debate mean that “the people are getting a voice”? No—and any action must not be reduced to lining up behind one or another politician. The Senators and Congressmen do not “represent their constituents.” Above all, they represent the interests of the capitalist-imperialist system and the class that sits atop it. The current tension and conflict within the ruling class is not a situation where one side or the other in the “debate” is “more progressive.” Different sides in the debate represent different sections and trends within this ruling class, struggling over what will best serve continued U.S. domination of the region and the world.
These different forces (Congressmen, talk show guests, etc.) are attempting to do several things through this debate: one, they really are trying to maneuver to get their way (in other words, real arguments are being aired to forge consensus among themselves, that is, the rulers). Another aim is to win ordinary people, many of whom oppose this war for basically good reasons, to view and put their opposition within the framework of what will best defend this horrific imperialist system and extend its worldwide domination, including through military action. Getting people to think in these terms and within this framework ultimately serves to prepare them to go along with whatever course of action is finally taken. The fact that the rulers are even having such a debate shows how risky these stakes are; it lays bare some of the real divisions among them; and it also shows that some of these forces may be anticipating that this could develop into something really horrible and they feel the need to prepare people for something on a whole other level. The point, again, is this: people must act, but they must not allow themselves to be reduced to rooting for or lining up behind one or another section of these politicians.
(For a fuller description and analysis of this moment, see “In the Senate and at the G-20: Obama’s Agenda: Push the Syrians to Slaughter Each Other,” by Larry Everest.)
This Is an Important “Teachable Moment”
People are now following important global events in a way that they usually do not. What does this mean for the movement for revolution? It means that we have to show people that this whole planned attack is about defending the interests of the capitalist-imperialist class that actually rules the U.S. We have to show people how they are, in fact, being mobilized AGAINST the interests of the vast majority of people on this planet, who have no interest in supporting ANY imperialist power. We have to help people see—and, yes, we are going to have to struggle with them—that lining up with the Democrats is not just a dead-end, it is a setup and a trap to keep people locked within an outlook and framework that blinds them to the imperialist character of this whole setup and could easily lead them back into supporting it.
Most important, it means this: this is a moment when the right of these imperialists to rule and to impose horrific suffering on tens and hundreds of thousands of people half way across the world can and should be called into question. It means that we must bring to people the fact that THERE IS ACTUALLY A WAY OUT OF THIS MADNESS—the new synthesis of communism developed by Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, which could actually bring into being a world without the kind of horror we now see concentrated in Syria, or in countries like Iraq, which was the previous recipient of “U.S. imperialist freedom.” And yes, this is a moment when the revolutionaries need to dive in, uniting with the sentiments of thousands who oppose this assault, and joining in the resistance to that, while struggling to lead people and build the movement for revolution.
Thoughts on the Significance and Stakes of this Moment
In writing this editorial, Revolution is drawing on correspondence we received from a young revolutionary. This correspondent identified critical questions for revolutionaries to be thinking about and acting on, listing some key points:
“Point 1—It is important not to lose sight of what it would mean if the ruling class does go ahead and attack Syria. It would indeed be an outrageous crime that would rain down horrors, suffering, death, and destruction on the people of Syria. And no one could say exactly what further chain of events it might set in motion in that country and in the region as a whole that could mean still further horrors, on an even greater scale, for the people of Syria and the Middle East.
“Point 2—My sense is that it may actually not be a settled question whether the U.S. attacks Syria.”
The letter then goes on to examine different paths which the imperialists could take with regard to Syria and then concludes: “There is both an urgent need for anyone with a conscience to act politically now to oppose a U.S. attack on Syria and a possibility of contributing to creating the political conditions that [could] stop such an attack from happening. The former holds true whether or not the latter ends up coming to fruition.”
“Point 3: This moment is one that holds great significance in terms of building a movement for revolution.
“Right now, there is a great need to apply the overall, ongoing strategy of Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution to this specific situation—and a political opening to have a significant impact and make significant advances in the course of doing so...”
What are the implications?
First, this is a moment to spread the influence of revcom.us. We cannot and should not underestimate the importance and impact of revcom.us and Revolution newspaper in bringing the truth to people. Each month tens of thousands of people come to revcom.us, and in times like these the numbers are higher. It is here that people from all corners of society will not only be able to find out what this war and controversy are really all about, but they will also be exposed to the full picture of what this revolution is all about and the better world we could bring into being. Take the word of revcom.us to demonstrations and bring banners with the slogan: “NO WAR FOR IMPERIALIST INTERESTS” and the name of revcom.us.
Second, get BA Everywhere out everywhere! This enables people to know about the whole other way embodied in revolution, to think differently and act differently on that basis. The letter from a reader emphasizes the need to:
“I think it would be really good to get these quotes out and stir engagement around them in a big way on the campuses, neighborhoods, at demonstrations/rallies, political and cultural events/movies, and wherever else the movement for revolution goes/is doing work... and also, very importantly, to get these quotes out on the Internet/social media—in the appropriate ways, the quotes could be posted on Twitter, Facebook, forwarded to email lists asking people to write back with a response to these quotes, etc., and sent to prominent/influential voices as well ASKING THEM to TWEET OUT and FORWARD THE QUOTE/LINK. Imagine the impact if some prominent people posted/tweeted/sent around BAsics 1:28 or BAsics 1:3.”
In thinking over the letter, the editors of Revolution felt that, in addition, BAsics 3:8 is also extremely important to emphasize and distribute broadly. The reader goes on to explain:
“First, these quotes speak in a more overall sense to fundamental truths about the nature and essence of the U.S. and this whole system and what they are doing to the people of the world; about the relationship between the U.S. and the rest of the world and what is really motivating this country/the rulers of this system to do what they do. Second, these quotes really cut through all the bullshit and confusion that people’s heads have been fed and which demobilizes and paralyzes people, and keeps them from confronting reality and acting: ‘Well, doesn’t the U.S. have to do something?’ ‘Things in Syria are already really bad—if the U.S. doesn’t act, really bad forces there will take over and win out’.... ‘Just because the U.S. has done a lot of really bad shit in the past doesn’t mean it is incapable of doing something good in this case,’ etc. Third, and by no means last in order of importance: Getting these quotes out there is not at all separate from, and in fact should be seen as very much a part of, the BA Everywhere campaign: When these quotes get out there in society in a big way, and people know that it is Bob Avakian (BA), the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party and leader of the revolution who is saying these things; this in itself is part of spreading the work and vision of BA Everywhere and creates a basis to unleash people to imagine the difference it would mean for these quotes, and BA’s whole vision and work, to really be out in society in a huge way.”
So, right now, let’s get revcom.us, these quotes from BAsics, and the print issue of this paper out all over society. And as we do this, let’s ask for contributions to finance all this on the scale it needs to be.
All this should provide a basic orientation from which revolutionaries can unite with protests against any U.S. attack. Since Obama announced his intention to strike at Syria, there have been over 200 protests and demonstrations, big and small, around the country. The movement for revolution needs to be in the midst of these actions wherever possible!
Of course, this is not the only thing that the movement for revolution must be doing. In addition to other important struggles going on, there is the overarching need to build the campaign to get BA Everywhere in its own right. To return to the letter we received, “In my view, a concentrated push to get these quotes out should not mean either that other critical/leading edge elements of the BA Everywhere campaign and the movement we are building for revolution—including, importantly, getting the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION— NOTHING LESS! out, getting the BAsics Special Edition (Revolution #244) out on the campuses—are pushed to the background during that time... we do have to be able to do more than one thing at a time.
“Acting in relation to major developments in the objective situation should be seen as intertwined with/part of, rather than divorced from, building the movement for revolution and the BA Everywhere campaign as the leading edge of that movement.
“Moments like this, if anything, only underscore to an even greater degree the urgency of getting BA, his vision and work everywhere, because moments like this concentrate the need and possibility for the world to be radically different and BA represents the leadership, vision, strategy and method needed to make revolution to get to that world.”
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