Friday, October 26, 2007




The minute one enters into the murky waters of Middle East politics one is immediately confronted with words like, insolvable, daunting, and hopeless. If there is one area of the world that cries out for a multi-nationally derived socialist solution it is this benighted area. Practically speaking, however, that prospect is music for the future. Nevertheless some programmatic points can be put forth today that will cut across the racial, ethnic and religious divides that lead one to use the above-mentioned words of despair. One such point is not even a socialist point per se- the question of a nation’s right to self determination. Yes, that question is off the table for those nations that have already established their right to it by force of arms, or otherwise. However, in the case of the interpenetrated peoples of the Middle East some real nations have been left on the sidelines. In no case is this clearer than with the Kurds, the largest coherent population without a state of their own.

Recent headlines have highlighted this question point blank as Turkey, one of the four nations along with Syria, Iraq and Iran in the region that have significant Kurdish populations, has attempted to solve its Kurdish ‘problem’, as in the past, by militarily annihilating various guerilla operations wherever they crop up- here across the border in neighboring Iraq. I make no pretense that this solves all the questions of this area in regard to the Kurdish situation, for example, militants do not today raise the right of national self-determination for Kurds in Iraq who have consciously subordinated themselves to American imperialism but the beginning of wisdom today is to defend those guerilla forces, mainly the Kurdish Workers Party, in their fight against their national oppressor-Turkey. More, much more on this situation as it unfolds but for now the prospective slogan is –For the right to national self-determination for the Kurds in Turkey. For the future- A United Kurdistan.

Thursday, October 25, 2007




Anyone who thinks that we do not live in nightmarish times-think again. The latest news out of Washington is that the Bush Adminstration has decided to pull the hammer back on Iran. For those without a sense of recent history that means the trigger is ready to be pulled. Bush proposes a series of unilateral actions under the aegis of the ‘war of terrorism’ aimed directly at the military capacity of the Iranian state. These include essentially outlawing the Revolutionary Guard and putting the Quds Special Forces units beyond the pale. Frankly, these are acts of war, and should be treated as acts of war by the Iranian military. The only thing that I can say about this situation is that if I were an Iranian military leader I would be working 24/7 to get that nuclear program in place becauae the Americans, or their agents, are coming. For those with any savvy the only thing that can keep the American wolf from the door is such nuclear capacity. For all those who thought that Bush would not dare to open a three front war strategy-think again. The question really is whether we oppositionalists are capable of a three front anti-war policy. For now though- U.S. Hands Off Iran!

Here are some previous entries I have posted to round out this sorry story as it has developed over the past year.


The recent swirl around Iran makes me nervous. Every since Seymour Hersh’s article on White House Iranian war preparations in the April 2006 New Yorker I have been taking sideway glances at developments around that issue. I do not like what I see right now. Let me just summarize the litany here.

• Over the past several weeks Admiral Fallon, the head of U. S. Central Command (that means the Middle East), has been knocking on or kicking downs doors all over the capitals of most Middle Eastern countries giving the word on American intentions toward Iran. Fallon, like all top American military officers, is not known for ‘blowing smoke’ (or, at least, too much)when war is in the air. He is also not known, when the deal goes down, for being slow on the trigger.

• The French Foreign Minister has ‘accidentally’ mentioned that the military option was not off the table in order to resolve the Iranian situation. His boss, Sarkozy immediately reigned him in on and then turned around and basically said the same thing at his speech in the United Nations. The ‘cat is out of the bag’ now.

• The United States Senate, the same people who couldn’t muster up the energy to pass the placid Webb amendment on ‘troop rest’ has this past week gone out of its way to vote to label the nefarious Iranian Revolutionary Guard that sprung forth from the United States Embassy takeover in 1979 a “terrorist” organization. That means something, unlike the non-binding tripartite partition of Iraq resolution. I note that leading Democratic presidential contender Senator Hillary Clinton voted for the designation. Thus bi-partisan support for any future actions against Iran has a running start. This time it would be nice if Senator Clinton and the others at least read the documentation and 'intelligence' reports before they vote for war. Vain hope.

• The periodic talk, recently louder, about the Iranian role, and the need to call them to account for it, in providing powerful IED’s that are claimed to be the number one of death to American troops to both Shiite and Sunni factions in Iraq.

• Reports that Iran is shelling in northern Iraq in an effort to break one of its internal oppositional guerilla groups based in that area.

• The ongoing international pressure to increase various sanctions against Iran in order to halt its nuclear development program. Many of these types of embargos and boycotts are ‘acts of war’ under international law.

• The recent visit of the cunningly bizarre Iranian president to New York where he was cheered and jeered, mainly jeered with a frenzy that matched some of the buildup against Saddam Hussein (remember him) before the occupation of Iraq. Whether the president is anything more than a front man for the mullahs on the Supreme Council or not he is still the ‘face ' of Iran to the international public.

• Finally, the key to the whole situation, one George W. Bush and his coterie. Bush, already in a neck and neck race with Millard Fillmore for the title of least popular president, has nothing to lose. He is probably thinking why shouldn’t he go out in a blaze of glory. And if he is not up to it, his puppet master Karl Rove, oops, fellow draft dodger Vice President Dick Cheney certainly has the appetite for it.

There are some impediments in the way like a depleted American army in Iraq but where there is a will there is a way. In some ways there is a hell of a lot more going on concerning Iran than before the run up to the Iraq war. Yes, I am definitely nervous. A three front war strategy is in the air. We better have a three front anti-war strategy. Better dust off the old slogan-Hands Off Iran!

Lest anyone think that I wish to ‘coddle’ the Iranian leadership I have posted a commentary from around the time of the Hersh’s article from my blog. Hersh’s intelligence report probably needs some updating but the thrust of his article and my comments still retain their validity.


In the wake of Seymour Hersh’s revelations in the New Yorker concerning the Bush administration’s potential military plans, including a possible nuclear option, toward Iran there has been a hue and cry in political circles against some of the rasher aspects of such action. From the traditional opponents of such an action plan -the Left? No! From liberal politicians? No! If anything those types have been more belligerent and to the right on the issue of Iran than the Bush administration. The cry has come from conservative think tank magazines and hawkish political commentators like New York Times writer Thomas Friedman. After the disastrous consequences of their support for the adventure in Iraq as least a few of the more rational conservatives have learned something. Whether they continue to hold out once the onslaught of patriotism and so-called national interest comes into play remains to be seen. However, their self-made dilemma is not what interests me.

As I write these lines the paint has not even dried on my poster in opposition to the continuing Iraq occupation for an anti-war rally. Now that the newest plans of the Wild Boys in the basements of the White House, Pentagon and State Department have been “leaked” I have to add another slogan to that banner- Hands Off Iran! Overreacting one might say. No!! If we have learned anything in the last few years from the Bush Administration it is that the distance from “war games” and “zero sum game theory” to front page newspaper and television screen casualty counts is a very, very short elevator ride away.

That, however, begs the question of whether the current Islamic leadership in Iran is a threat. Damn right it is a threat. This writer opposed the Shah of Iran when he was an agent of American imperialist interests in the Persian Gulf. This writer also opposed the rise and takeover by the Islamic fundamentalists in 1979 when many Western leftists were, overtly or covertly, supporting these elements as ‘anti-imperialist’ agents of change. Unfortunately, many Iranian militants also supported these same fundamentalists. That did not stop the mullahs from rounding up and executing or imprisoning every leftist or militant worker they could get their hands on. The fate of the Western leftist supporters of the ‘anti-imperialist’ mullahs was almost as tragic. They, at great personal sacrifice, mainly went on to careers in the academy, media or parliament.

So let us have no illusions about the women- hating, anti-Enlightenment, anti- post 8th century hating regime in Teheran (Except apparently, nuclear technology. Did anyone else find it surreal when a recent photograph showed several thousand heavily- veiled Iranian women demonstrating in defense of a nuclear facility?). However, do we really want to outsource “regime change” there to the Bush Administration (or any administration in Washington)? No!!! Just as working people cannot outsource “regime change” in Washington to the liberals here this job of ousting the mullahs belongs to the Iranian workers, students, poor slum dwellers and peasants.

Let’s be clear here though. If the United States, or an agent of the United States, moves militarily against Iran all militants, here and worldwide, are duty bound to defend Iran against such imperialist aggression. Even with the current mullah leadership? Yes. We will hold our noses and do our duty. Their ouster is a separate political battle. We will settle accounts with them in due course.

The anarchists and others have it all wrong when they confine their slogan to Class Against Class in a conflict between capitalist states. Yes, in the final analysis it will come down to that. The problem is today we are dealing with the most powerful military power, relatively and absolutely, the world has ever known against a smaller, almost militarily defenseless country. A victory for American imperialism is not in the interest of the international working class and its allies. Thus, we have a side under those circumstances. And we certainly do not take some ‘third camp’ pacifist position of a plague on both your houses. IMMEDIATE UNCONDITIONAL WITHDRAWAL FROM IRAQ! U.S.HANDS OFF IRAN!! BETTER YET- HANDS OFF THE WORLD!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

*STALINIST BRIC-A-BRAC-The Long Historic View

Click on title to link to the Leon Trotsky Internet Archive's article by Leon Trotsky titled "Tell Workers The Truth About Stalin's Hounding Of Revolutionists In Russia".


On more than one occasion in the recent past I have had to reflect on the devilish harm that Stalinism has done, and still does, to the international working class movement. Here I am not just reflecting on the political gangsterism, the labor camps, the freezing of political life in the Soviet Union and elsewhere where Stalinists had influence. Those things certainly occurred under various Stalinist regimes but I refer here to the underlying crime, from a political perspective, of the conscious effort on the part of those regimes and parties to act as a road block to an international socialist society-the only way out of the crisis facing humankind in the age of international imperialism. The net result is that the fight for socialism has been pushed back, way back, and our fight is infinitely harder than it was at the start of the last century. With that in mind here are a couple of random comments on Stalin and Stalinism.

I have been recently reading "Young Stalin" by Simon Sebag Montefiore (Knopf, New York, 2007), which I will review more fully later, about the early years of this much misunderstood figure in world socialist history. Misunderstood? Yes. I have long argued that the Bolshevik revolutionary Leon Trotsky, among others including myself, never took the full measure of this foe. That lack showed itself in Trotsky’s writings on Stalinism placing it as simply a counter-posed reformist trend, like post World War I social democracy, in the international workers movement. Further evidence can be found in his sense that Stalin was, in the end, merely a rather vicious representative of another reformist trend in the movement. I confess that I also have shared those same misunderstanding even at the times when I was very close ideologically to Stalinism (especially my infatuation with the ‘third period’ Stalinism of the early 1930’s).

Here is what has always perplexed me about the figure of Stalin. How did a professed follower of Marx, a Bolshevik revolutionary of some merit and ability who faced all the usual exiles and other hardships that Lenin, Trotsky and others faced under Czarism and one presumably committed to a socialist future turn all of those ideas on their heads in the process of creating what in the end was a weak national variant of ‘socialism’. The book under review delves into some of those points concerning Stalin’s personality and his not unique combination of Mafia don and committed revolutionary we have found elsewhere in the history of revolutionary movements. A closer look at his time at the Tiflis (Georgia) Russian Orthodox Seminary, seemingly a training school for atheists and revolutionaries perhaps will shed some light. Thus far in my reading though, although Montefiore uses recent sources opened up in various Soviet archives, most of the material about Stalin/Koba’s youth were things known to me through Trotsky’s and other writings so I am not sure this source wil help clarify the issues. I will just pose the question here for now with the same quizzical feeling that I started with long ago. I am definitely looking for comments on this issue.

Welcome Home, Gorby

Recent news, reported by the Associated Press, out of Moscow is that former Soviet Premier and General Secretary of the All Russian Communist Party Mikhail Gorbachev has been elected to lead the Russian Union of Social Democrats. Well, the chickens have finally come home to roost. After doing everything in his power to hand back East Germany to the German imperialists Gorbachev then did everything in his power to hand back the then Soviet Union to international imperialism. His milk toast theory that somehow ‘market socialism’ would save the Soviet economy rather than a necessary extensive international socialist centralized planning helped grease the skids. Yes, I know we were all glad for any opening of the political scene in the last period before the demise but in the end this combination of economic reform and de-icing of the political scene proved too little too late along the Stalinist path.

And that is exactly the point. These Stalinist bureaucrats, and third generation Soviet bureaucrats at that, could only envision some kind of social-democratic merging of the Soviet economy with Western ‘social’ capitalism. Well we know that all those convergence theories, no matter how appealing for public consumption, were houses of cards. Christ, in the end the Stalinists could not even envision saving their own hides. When the deal went down, as Lenin and all serious Bolsheviks knew, over the long haul either socialism or imperialism had to win. We have reaped the sorrows of that defeat for the international working class.

Leon Trotsky once called Stalinists Mensheviks (Social Democrats) of the second mobilization. That is, as the revolutionary energy of the Russian Revolution ebbed and the Stalinists usurped power and changed the purposes for which the Soviet Union was created their political positions resembled the old Menshevik (and post World War I European social democratic) positions of limiting the fight for socialism to some far away future. I have long argued that Stalinism without state power is just another garden variety reformist facade. As an example, in America, where the Communist Party was historically weak, it was hard to tell the difference between them and an average Democrat, except for the goon squads they brought into play when they wanted to protect the ‘liberals’ from the criticism of those to their left. And that, my friends, is why Gorby’s new post is an appropriate place for him. As for us-We fight for new Octobers.