Revolution #83, March 25, 2007

BRINGING FORWARD ANOTHER WAY  by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA

Part 1

• By Way of Introduction
• What Is Driving the Wars Being Waged, and Wars Being Threatened, by "Our Government"?
• How the Bush Regime Views "Stability" and "Peace" in the Middle East
• The "War on Terror": What Is Really Going On—and Why
• This Is Not Our War—and This Is Not Our "Quagmire"
• Invasions… and Occupations…Upheaval and Chaos


Editors' Note: The following are excerpts from an edited version of a talk by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, to a group of Party supporters, in the fall of last year (2006). This is the first in a series of excerpts we will be running in Revolution. Subheads and footnotes have been added for publication here. The entire talk is available online at

By Way of Introduction

In relation to what I am going to get into here, the 7 Talks I gave recently (plus the Q&A and the Concluding Remarks accompanying those Talks1), in addition to Views On and Basis, Goals and Methods, 2 serve as background. Obviously, I'm not going to try to repeat much that was said in those talks, but they should remain a point of reference for much of what I am going to say here and provide a foundation for it.

What Is Driving the Wars Being Waged, and Wars Being Threatened, by "Our Government"?

I want to begin by looking at not just the freedom and the ambitions of the imperial rulers of the U.S., and in particular the core of that ruling class now, grouped in and around the Bush regime, but also their necessity and how they perceive that necessity. We have talked a lot about the ways in which they have seized on a certain freedom, for them, as a result of the demise of the Soviet Union in particular, and their ambitions of making U.S. imperialism an unchallenged and unchallengeable power in the world. But it's also important for us to understand, and to enable others to understand, how they are seeing their necessity—particularly how this is seen by that core of the ruling class which has been driving things for the last number of years. Our responsibility lies in, first of all ourselves understanding, but second of all giving people as broadly as possible, at any given time, a full, scientifically based picture of what is going on in the world, where the dynamics are driving things—and why—and what are the means for acting to radically transform all this, with the objective of getting rid of all these horrors and bringing a new world into being—a transformation, in other words, that would be in the interests of the great majority of oppressed people, indeed the great majority of people throughout the world and ultimately humanity as a whole.

At any given time, many people will be out moving in relation to, and in opposition to, the crimes of this system—and we obviously need a lot more of that. Those who are part of this broad movement will have various levels of understanding and different views about what this is all part of, what it stems from, what to do about it, and so on. It is our responsibility at any given time not just to unite with whatever motion there is and to work to develop this into a much broader and more powerful political resistance, but also to be continually digging down more deeply, to understand more fully what's driving things and therefore how to move in relation to it, and through uniting and struggling with a broad diversity of people and forces, to enable people to move in greater numbers, and to greater effect, in the direction in which things need to go in order to actually deal with the root cause of all this.

Recently I read the book Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, by Thomas Ricks, who is a military correspondent for the mainstream, bourgeois media, the Washington Post in particular. This is very interesting—this is not simply Thomas Ricks, the military observer, writing—this book represents and incorporates a section of the U.S. military opening up its deep concern, anger, and, in a sense, protest about how the Bush regime has conducted the war in Iraq, with many of them coming to the conclusion that it should never have been launched in the first place—or, if it were going to be launched, then there needed to be a whole plan for what they were going to do after they toppled the Hussein regime, a plan which, in any real sense, they did not have. There is a lot of speaking bitterness from these military people that comes out in this book. In a real sense, besides Ricks' own analysis, this book acts as a conduit and a vehicle for what a lot of these military officials are saying, on the level of colonels and even up to generals, some still active-duty, some of them retired.

At the beginning of the book one of the things Ricks does, which is important, is that he discusses the role and motivations of people like Paul Wolfowitz (former assistant secretary of defense, and now head of the World Bank) and others of these "neo-cons" who were driving forces in insisting on overthrowing the Hussein regime—they were insisting on this even before Bush came into office. Ricks discusses how Wolfowitz and the neo-cons generally were viewing the situation, not only in Iraq but in the Middle East overall, and why they were so determined to invade Iraq and overthrow Hussein. As I was reading this, I thought of a metaphor which then later was explicitly used by Ricks: Among other things, these neo-cons in particular saw the Middle East as a swamp breeding all kinds of terrorist mosquitoes; and their calculation was that, even though Saddam Hussein as such was no threat to the U.S. (or even to his "neighbors" in the region), still if they left the Middle East the way it was, it would just keep on generating these poisonous creatures and this would get in the way of all their fundamental objectives in terms of U.S. imperial domination in that region, and in the world as a whole—objectives which are not those of the neo-cons alone but were, and are, shared by the ruling class as a whole, even with some significant differences among them over how to go about achieving those objectives. So this metaphor of drying up the swamp, which was explicitly invoked by Ricks in this book (Fiasco) clearly does capture the thinking, or an important part of the thinking, of people like Wolfowitz and these other neo-cons, who have been very influential in the Bush regime.

Another way to say this is that Iraq was not just seen as a "target of opportunity," to use their terminology, but invading Iraq was something they needed to do in order to begin installing in that part of the world regimes that would actually more fully serve U.S. imperial interests and would be "enablers" of their agenda in that part of the world (and their agenda overall). And if they didn't do this, if they left Iraq as it was under Hussein, then the whole "mix" in the Middle East—with Iran, on the one hand, and Saddam Hussein on the other, and Saudi Arabia and all the rest in the region—would just keep producing these intolerable conditions from their point of view. So they were looking at this in this way: If we don't get to this and do this pretty soon, this is going to be all out of control.

Yes, they saw real opportunity and some freedom they could seize on, in moving against Saddam Hussein, and this was part of their wild ambitions for further remaking the world under even more firm U.S. imperial domination; but they also were acting out of a sense of real necessity—perhaps more so than I, at least, had recognized previously. As they see things, a policy of maintaining the (relative) stability in the Middle East, as that has existed, has led to a very bad situation, breeding terrorism and getting in the way of everything they need to do, and reacting back against it. This not only comes through in how Ricks speaks to things in the book Fiasco, it was also explicitly stated by Bush in a recent speech, or in a series of recent speeches by Bush and others in the Bush regime.

How the Bush Regime Views "Stability" and "Peace" in the Middle East

For example, in September (2006) Bush and Rumsfeld gave extremely important speeches where they were talking somewhat honestly from their own point of view. [laughs] Now, it is important to recognize and keep in mind that their point of view doesn't accurately reflect reality, and it involves a distorted understanding, even on their own part, of what they themselves are doing—of what their objectives really are, as well as what their actions in pursuit of their objectives will actually lead to "in the real world," as the saying goes. But, nonetheless, these speeches by Bush and Rumsfeld were not simply deliberate distortions and demagoguery—they were a combination of demagoguery and actual articulation, by Bush and Rumsfeld, of their views and objectives. So for example, in a speech in Washington D.C., September 5 of this year (2006), on the "global war on terror," Bush said:

"The only way to secure our nation is to change the course of the Middle East."

And then again on September 11 (2006), speaking about the Middle East, Bush said explicitly:

"Years of pursuing stability to promote peace had left us with neither."

The "War on Terror": What Is Really Going On—and Why

By taking these comments by Bush—and subjecting them to critical and scientific analysis, to get to the essence of what these comments are actually speaking to—we can begin to see more fully the real motives and motive forces involved in the Bush regime's approach to not only Iraq but to the Middle East as a whole, as a region of great strategic importance. We can see even more clearly how the Iraq war is not a "distraction" or a "diversion" from "the war on terror" but is, in fact, a central part of what this "war on terror" (or, as we have also identified it, the "juggernaut" of the Bush regime) really is all about. In its essence, this is a war for empire.

As our Party pointed out from the beginning of the juggernaut by the Bush regime—in other words, from shortly after September 11, 2001 and with the U.S. war against Afghanistan following shortly after that—oil, in the more limited sense, has never been the essence of what this juggernaut has been all about.3 Yes, for the U.S. imperialists as a whole (and not just the Bush regime) controlling the oil, in the Middle East in particular, has been very important in terms of a whole ensemble of strategic relations in the world, including with regard to maintaining a superior position vis-à-vis other imperialists (in Europe, Japan, etc.); but all this has never been just about grabbing Iraq's oil, for example. That is involved, but what is more fundamental and essential are strategic calculations—the perceived freedom and perceived necessity on the part of this core of the ruling class, grouped in and around the Bush regime, now, and the ways in which this relates to the strategic interests of the U.S. empire and its ruling class as a whole.

As I'll talk about further as we go along, this relates to the fact that the "war on terror" is, on the one hand, a misnomer—it is not an accurate characterization of what is really going on, in fundamental terms, and this catchphrase "war on terror" involves a whole bunch of demagoguery, and a whole lot of deliberate deception—but at the same time there is also some truth to what's being described with the term "war on terror." Once again, this is the complexity of the reality that we have to understand, more and more deeply, in order to act to change it in accordance with the fundamental interests of the great majority of people, not just in the U.S. but throughout the world.

There is both demagoguery and instrumentalism on the part of Bush & Co. (by "instrumentalism" here I mean torturing reality in the attempt to make a distorted version of reality an instrument of certain aims), but there is also some truth with regard to the so-called "war on terror." That is, from the point of view of these imperialists, looking at a whole strategic arc from Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan all the way over to places like Indonesia (a country with a large population where Islam is the dominant religion and Islamic fundamentalism is also on the rise), if things were allowed to continue as they have been for a number of years, this would rebound against the interests of U.S. imperialism in very serious ways. Forces of militant, even fanatical, Islamic fundamentalism do not pose a positive alternative for the masses of people—including those currently drawn to or swept up in this fundamentalism—but to a significant degree and in significant ways they do pose a real obstacle to the aims and designs of the U.S. imperialists in particular at this point. These Islamic fundamentalist forces are what the Bush regime (and the U.S. ruling class as a whole) are largely referring to, at this point at least, when they talk about "terrorism"; and these Islamic fundamentalist forces do use methods and tactics that to a large degree can legitimately be described as "terrorism," including deliberate attacks on civilians.

At the same time, it is very important to keep in mind two things in this regard: First, it is the imperialists, and the U.S. above all, who, going back over many generations, have, by far, directly carried out (or in some instances have backed and been ultimately responsible for) the most monstrous acts of death and destruction, including the slaughter of millions and millions of civilians, in all parts of the globe, from the Philippines to Vietnam to Chile, the Congo, Iran, Indonesia, Iraq, and Afghanistan…and on and on…not to mention the actual use of nuclear weapons by the U.S.—the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japanese cities at the end of World War 2, with all the horrors that involved.

And, second, the way in which these imperialists use the term "terrorism" is deliberately calculated to be so broad and vague that it can be turned against any force, of whatever kind, that poses an obstacle to these imperialists—including revolutionary movements and revolutionary wars which do not involve, on the part of the revolutionary forces, deliberate attacks on civilians or the destruction of civilian infrastructure and which have the participation and support of masses of people. Even where all that is true, the U.S. imperialists will not hesitate to label these revolutionary forces "terrorists" if what they are doing runs counter to the interests of U.S. imperialism.

So, once again, there is a great deal of hypocrisy and deception in the use of this term "war on terror"; and at the same time it is also the case that this refers to a war that the Bush regime—and, in fundamental terms, the imperialist ruling class as a whole—feels compelled to wage in order to deal with obstacles to its interests, objectives, and grand designs of unchallenged world domination.

This Is Not Our War—and This Is Not Our "Quagmire"

The interests, objectives, and grand designs of the imperialists are not our interests—they are not the interests of the great majority of people in the U.S. nor of the overwhelming majority of people in the world as a whole. And the difficulties the imperialists have gotten themselves into in pursuit of these interests must be seen, and responded to, not from the point of view of the imperialists and their interests, but from the point of view of the great majority of humanity and the basic and urgent need of humanity for a different and better world, for another way.

It is very interesting to read some of these imperialist analysts. For example, Michael Scheuer (a long-time CIA operative), who was the actual author of the book Imperial Hubris (although he wrote it under the name "Anonymous"), made some observations a couple of years ago that were pretty prescient. And you have to give people credit when they have real insight and foresight. [laughs] In that book, he said two things (or two things I want to focus on here). One, he said the Iraq War is for Osama bin Laden the Christmas present he never thought he'd get. (Of course, that statement is somewhat ironic, since bin Laden is obviously a Muslim and not a Christian, but still the basic point is valid and important.) And two, Scheuer said: you watch and see, things in Afghanistan are gonna start going very badly for the U.S. pretty soon—that initial victory there is not going to look so good in a couple of years either. Well, he's been proven right on both counts, you have to say. I mean, he's not the only one who saw that, but if you read that book he made these statements rather emphatically and without qualification, and they're proving to be true.

This ties up with the bind these imperialists are in: In a very real sense, there was an accurate perception on the part of the neo-cons and the Bush regime that, from the point of view of the interests they represent, they did have to do something to change the equation in that whole part of the world ("to change the course of the Middle East," to invoke once again Bush's phrase); and, on the other hand, look at the difficulties they've gotten themselves into as a result of their invasion and occupation of Iraq in particular.

Whenever I get a chance I like to check out what these right-wing demagogues are saying—the way in which they are (to use that phrase) "spinning" the propaganda of the Bush regime and its program. These days many of them are putting out a very different line than the one they used to justify and drum up support for the invasion of Iraq in 2003—all the talk about "Weapons of Mass Destruction" and ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, and so on. At the start, they had one set of rationalizations for the Iraq war, but now they've got another set of rationalizations, which more correspond to the situation they face now and how they are seeking to deal with that. Now you hear these people—these apologists for the Bush regime—saying that the Iraq War was really about…Iran! Why? Well, to paraphrase the propaganda:

"Look what's happening now in Iraq. Look at all the gains that Iran is making in Iraq. They've got all these Shias and Shia militias, all these forces there, that the Iranians are basically controlling. So now we gotta take it to Iran."

Of course, these difficulties the U.S. has encountered in Iraq are not the real—or not the most fundamental—reason that they are setting their sights on Iran. I will get into this further a little later in this talk, but the fact is that Bush & Co. had identified the regime in Iran as one it wanted to go after even before they invaded Iraq (remember how, early on after September 11th, they included Iran in the "axis of evil"?). But the fact is that, if they hadn't invaded Iraq and overthrown Saddam Hussein, they wouldn't be having the trouble they are having with these Shia forces in Iraq, and they wouldn't have this whole mess. So Bush and the U.S. ruling class certainly don't have "all freedom" in this situation, and they didn't have "all freedom" all along.

If they had let things go along the way they were, in the Middle East in particular, this would have meant perpetuating conditions that do give impetus to Islamic fundamentalism of the kind that causes real trouble for the U.S. empire. There is, as you know, tremendous suffering on the part of the masses of people throughout that region. There is the corruption of the regimes there, and the repressive nature of those regimes. There is the worsening of the material conditions of the masses of people and, along with that, the tremendous upheaval and dislocation of millions and millions of people in those societies, with the "traditional way of life" significantly uprooted but with no real positive radical alternative possible within the dominant social and international relations—none that would really meet the needs and serve the interests of the masses of people. Is it really surprising that this situation and its driving dynamics would lead people to gravitate to extremes? And there is a force of "Islamic extremism" which has been and is moving to organize people in relation to this—organize them around precisely an extreme version of traditional relations and traditional values and culture, which seem to be, and in a real sense are, under attack from many sides, especially as the effects of globalization, and the imperialist system as a whole, increasingly penetrate into and make themselves felt within these societies.

So, it was the reckoning of those in and around the Bush regime—and, from the standpoint of their system and its interests, there was a logic to this—that they couldn't just leave things to develop as they were—they had to make some dramatic moves to "change the course of the Middle East."

Invasions… and Occupations… Upheaval and Chaos

But their problem is, as we are seeing, that whether it's Afghanistan or Iraq, these imperialists are good at invading countries and knocking over regimes, but then when they find themselves in the position of occupying the country and they have a population that gets aroused against them, it becomes a different dynamic, and it is not so easy for them. It is not so easy for them to maintain "order" and to impose the changes they want to impose in accordance with their interests. It is not so easy to impose this "from the top down"—which is the only way imperialist occupiers can impose changes.

In this connection—and referring back to the observations and predictions by Michael Scheuer about the difficulties the U.S. would have in occupying Afghanistan—I have to say that I cannot help noticing the great irony when I hear about these bourgeois feminists and others who got sucked into supporting the war in Afghanistan (or who rationalized their support for this war) on the basis that the U.S. invasion and occupation was supposedly going to bring reforms beneficial to women. Well, if you look at the situation now, the U.S. doesn't control much more in Afghanistan (if any more) than the Soviets did when they were occupying that country in the 1980s. And, if you are going to be honest and scientific, you have to recognize that the reforms that the Soviets brought in, during their occupation of Afghanistan, were a lot more thorough, particularly with regard to women. That's one of the things that provoked the ire of a lot of the Islamic fundamentalists.

Now, the Soviets did this from the top down; they imposed it by invasion and occupation and coups, and so on. Then, when they couldn't get very far with these reforms in this way, and they had trouble achieving a stabilized rule and order under their occupation, they backed off and conciliated with the forces of Islamic fundamentalism. After all, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan wasn't like the revolution in China, which came "from the bottom"—and which won the masses politically and mobilized and relied on them to carry out radical changes, not only in economic relations but also in the social relations and the customs and culture, and so on.

In contrast to this, the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, as well as the Soviet occupation before it, has represented and embodied an attempt to impose some changes from the top; but if you're going to talk about what was actually done, the Soviet reforms went further, particularly with regard to the status of women. Yet, in the end, the Soviet occupation could not succeed either.

And to get back to the main point here, the same thing has been shown in Iraq: It's one thing to go in and knock over a regime, especially one you've weakened by a previous war and ten years of sanctions, and so on; but it's another thing to maintain an occupation and to force things on the population you are now directly ruling over. At this point, many political strategists of the U.S. empire, and even many in their military leadership, are admitting this—many of the military people that are quoted in this Ricks book (Fiasco) are acknowledging, in effect: "Iraq was a pushover, their army was chump change, anybody with a formidable army could have gone in and knocked them over." Of course, they don't quite say that, because they want to talk about how great they are, what a great military power they are, but nonetheless they're pretty much acknowledging that, by the time of the 2003 invasion, the Iraqi military was a very weakened force, even compared to the first Gulf War in the early 1990s. Of course, if you go back and look at what many, if not most, of these "experts" were saying—and if you look at the propaganda of the Bush regime in particular—at the start of the present war, and in the lead-up to this war, there was an incessant chorus issuing dire warnings about how dangerous Saddam Hussein and his regime was: It was portrayed as one of the most dangerous and powerful enemies the U.S. faced in the world; it was ready to unleash a mushroom cloud over the U.S. itself as well as constituting a great danger to all of its neighbors.

Then they invade—and it doesn't go so well after Bush declares "Mission Accomplished" in 2003. And it's kept getting worse for them—and now they're really stuck. From the point of view of the imperialists—but we should also understand that this does involve fundamental questions that affect broad sections of the people in society, including many people with progressive sentiments and views in general—there is no easy way to deal with this. There's no easy way out for the U.S. imperialists—and admitting defeat is not an option they want to consider. As I emphasized at the beginning, our responsibility is to be thoroughly scientific. Our responsibility is not to just automatically dismiss whatever the imperialists say—"That's just a bunch of imperialist propaganda—next point, move on." While firmly maintaining our basic stand, in accordance with the fundamental interests of the masses of people, throughout the world, in opposition to the imperialists and their system of exploitation, domination, and oppression, we cannot be simple-minded. We have to be scientific and analyze reality in all its complexity.

It is a fact that it would cause a lot of upheaval and chaos in the Middle East if they just were to pull out of Iraq. It would encourage Islamic fundamentalists to step up their attacks against U.S. forces elsewhere; and given the worldview and the whole approach of those fundamentalists—which, as you know, is fundamentally different from ours and is not good—they would quite likely carry out further attacks against American civilians, to the degree they were able to do so. But it is also very important to keep in mind that in the world today—and in the situation and lives of the majority of people throughout the world—there is already a great deal of upheaval and chaos. And the dynamics that are now, to a large degree, driving things—the dynamics that have led to the current situation in Iraq and more generally in the Middle East, with ramifications and implications in every part of the world—this will, in any case bring a great deal more upheaval and chaos, affecting people everywhere, until there is a resolution of this of one kind or another.

Besides the moral bankruptcy of seeking to avoid chaos for yourself and the things that more immediately affect you, while many, many others are caught up in this and are suffering horribly—besides that whole moral dimension, which I will return to later, because it is in fact something that needs to be emphasized and joined with people—there is the reality that, even those now occupying more privileged enclaves in the imperialist countries and in other parts of the world will not be able to avoid being affected by great upheaval and chaos in the period ahead. The essential question is not whether there will be chaos or no chaos, or whether it will end up affecting people everywhere, in one way or another. The question is: What will this all lead to, what will come out of it, what kind of world will emerge out of all this?

Osama bin Laden and others like him are reactionary but they're not fools. Their program and the tactics which flow from that program—and from their basic worldview and values—are extremely reactionary and harmful to masses of people, even those they mobilize. But they are not without a sense of tactics, and even of nuance. Look at what bin Laden said in the context of the 2004 election in the U.S. In effect, he took the bourgeois democratic views and illusions that so many people in this society, including many progressive people, are mesmerized by and caught up in, and he threw it back in their faces. He said: "You have the right to vote your government in or out. You have the right to change the policies of your government through voting, so if these policies continue you are at fault." And more recently on CNN, I heard some Islamic fundamentalists in Britain saying the same thing about the British government and the British people.

If you think about it, this involves a kind of profound irony: people like bin Laden are taking these bourgeois democratic prejudices and illusions and using them for their own ends. Primarily, of course, statements like this from bin Laden and similar types are, from their point of view, aimed at justifying to their social base what they are doing—that it's justified to attack the civilians of countries like the U.S. and Britain. And there are a lot of people "in the Islamic world," including people drawn to the Islamic fundamentalist banner, who are very uncomfortable about these attacks on civilians. So statements like bin Laden's—about the right to vote out the government in the U.S. or Britain—are not primarily aimed at the people in those countries, but are aimed at the social base of the Islamic fundamentalists themselves. Now, from our radically different perspective and with our radically different objectives, we of course understand that such attacks on civilians are completely unjustified. But, at the same time, we must never lose sight of—nor fail to vigorously bring to light—that what has been done by the bin Ladens of the world pales in comparison to the truly monstrous and massive crimes that have been, and every day are being, carried out by imperialism, and in particular U.S. imperialism.

But the essential point I want to emphasize here is that, in a real sense, the situation that has been created through the U.S. "war on terror" so far, with its invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq (as well as its military actions in other parts of the world) is indeed a mess, and we shouldn't have any simplistic notions of what's involved in all this and what's going to come out of it. There is not going to be any kind of smooth way out of this. And, I'm sorry, as much as I respect John Lennon, "just give peace a chance" is not going to deal with the heightening complexity, and intensity, of the situation. Now let me emphasize here again that we can, and must, unite with lots of people for whom sentiments like that—the desire for peace and the belief that peace can prevail if in fact it is just "given a chance"—are their defining and driving sentiments, but we also have to be struggling with people about what's really going on here—what is the root cause, what are the actual dynamics, and what is the real and fundamental solution.

There is not an easy way out. And many people sense this. I have heard and read about discussions with progressive people who say things like: "Well, it was terrible that the U.S. went into Iraq, but we can't just precipitously pull out now." Again, I am not talking about reactionaries here. People can sense that one result from a U.S. pull-out from Iraq could be the strengthening of Islamic fundamentalist forces, and that these forces do not actually draw any distinction between the U.S. government and the people of the country. Now, let me be very clear once again: What I am saying here should in no way be understood to deny, or to lessen the importance of, the point that I have repeatedly stressed—that the interests of the masses of people in the U.S., as well as those of the great majority of humanity, are fundamentally different from, and opposed to, those of the imperialists; and the difficulties in which the imperialists find themselves as a result of their invasions and occupations must be seen, and responded to, from the point of view not of the imperialists and their interests but in accordance with the interests of the great majority of humanity, and ultimately humanity as a whole. My point here is that the situation is very complex and that bringing forward and rallying people to their own fundamental interests, on the massive scale that is required, cannot and will not be done with any naive and simplistic approach but only by coming to terms with what is really going on in the world, in all its complexity, and the challenges this poses—and struggling to win people to the correct understanding of this, and to acting on that understanding, in the context of and on the basis of grasping the actual situation and its dynamics.

Those who have been around since the 1960s will remember this, and those who weren't around then might find it interesting, and perhaps amusing: During the time of the Vietnam War, one of the justifications for the U.S. aggression against Vietnam was what was called "the domino theory"—if Vietnam falls, then that will set off a chain of falling dominos, not only in parts of Asia but with implications for the world as a whole. This was often expressed in terms such as: "If we don't stop them in Vietnam, pretty soon they'll be at our doorstep." Of course, underlying this was not only crude anti-communism (crude distortions of what communism is and what communists stand for and fight for) but, along with that, the basic assumption that people and countries all over the world constitute essentially nothing more than objects to be controlled, and exploited, by American (imperialist) interests and that it must not be tolerated for the U.S. to "lose" these countries to their own people. This came to be widely rejected, especially by the late 1960s, and one of the ways the "domino theory" in particular was ridiculed was by saying: "What are the Vietnamese going to do—take their boats (sampans, they were called) and sail over to California and attack us?"

Well, that kind of joke doesn't really go right now. Today, these Islamic fundamentalists are, first of all, coming from a whole different place than the Vietnamese liberation forces, which were genuinely revolutionary (even if their leadership was never thoroughly communist). Despite their shortcomings, the Vietnamese revolutionaries had a theory and strategy of people's war which was aimed against the imperialists and their armed forces but was not aimed against the people of the U.S. In fact, the Vietnamese put a lot of emphasis on drawing the distinction between the government and the people of the U.S., and on winning political support among the people in the U.S.—they did a lot of work which was aimed at gaining that support, or at least developing opposition to the war among broad sections of U.S. society. But things are different now, in some significant ways. It is definitely true that the Bush regime in particular seeks to manipulate things so as to continually manufacture fear among the people in the U.S. and the sense that they are constantly in need of repressive government actions "to prevent further terrorist attacks on America and the American people." But that is only one aspect of things. It is a definite orientation and aim, among at least some of the Islamic fundamentalist forces, to strike not just at the U.S. armed forces but also the people in the U.S. This is a very different situation than what obtained during the period of the Vietnam war, and if we are going to really move people in the way that people need to be moved, in order to really act in their own interests in fundamental terms, we're going to have to take account of all this—of the situation in all its complexity. While many others may provide valuable insights into all this, and while it is definitely necessary and vitally important to unite as broadly as possible with others in opposing what the Bush regime (and the imperialist ruling class as a whole) is doing in the world, there is no substitute for our Party speaking to all this in a thoroughly scientific way, with our communist outlook and methodology.


1. The audio files of the 7 Talks, along with the Q&A and Concluding Remarks for those talks, are available for listening and downloading at and [back]

2. Views on Socialism and Communism: A Radically New Kind of State, A Radically Different and Far Greater Vision of Freedom and The Basis, the Goals, and the Methods of the Communist Revolution are drawn from a talk given by Chairman Bob Avakian to a group of Party members and supporters in 2005. Both works are available online at [back]

3. See, for example, "The New Situation and the Great Challenges," a talk given by Bob Avakian in the latter part of 2001. The text of the talk, first published in Revolutionary Worker [now Revolution] #1143, March 17, 2002, is available online at [back]

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