|Imperialism is targeting Syria and Iran|
By Darrell Rankin, People's Voice
The Middle East is the epicenter of the militarization of relations between China and Russia on one side and NATO's imperialist, or advanced capitalist countries, on the other. Imperialist countries which twice plunged the world into war in the last century are getting ready for round three. The arms race is growing around the globe and the battle lines are getting clearer.
Even without considering the potential for a new global war, fear and tension are flowing from the threat of smaller wars of regime change and occupation in Iran and Syria. Positions are hardening on both sides of the intervention issue. So far, China and Russia will veto any UN Security Council resolution that may trigger military action, but that may not be enough.
It may be only a matter of weeks or months before imperialism targets Syria or Iran, adding to its list of imposed regime changes which are not approved by the UN. For the Security Council to even talk about military action against sovereign countries signals that imperialism (NATO and Japan) dominates world politics. And if imperialism acts outside the UN, as in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti and Libya, it is another nail in the coffin to the actual words of the UN Charter.
Imperialism: source of the war danger
Protecting civilians is a monstrous argument for starving, bombing and invading a country. So what is really behind imperialism's rising bloodlust?
Arrogance cannot fully explain imperialism's growing dependence on its enormous military potential. The answer to the problem is that capitalism is in deep trouble and the most reactionary forces in all imperialist countries are preparing to use war as a way to wipe out all resistance at home and abroad.
If we are to believe our corporate media, the U.S. military will enjoy early and sudden success in a future limited war. After all, the U.S. succeeded in Iraq and very quickly in Libya, the troop surge is helping in Afghanistan, and no one else has the same high quality of weapons, trained troops and leadership. Vietnam was then; this is now.
The main brake to prevent these wars is still public opinion in the imperialist world, filtered through considerations like Obama's chances for re‑election. The governments that are most pro-war such as Canada, Israel, France and Britain are acting like they are immune to public opinion, making the task of strengthening the peace movement harder and more urgent.
War spells danger and ruin to workers of all lands
We need to realize that war is placing all civil rights and democracy on the chopping block. Under a dictatorship, it is easier to impose the full burden of capitalism's great problems on the working class, farmers and small capitalists. In the global capitalist system, war protects and hikes corporate profits. Imperialist war crushes popular and revolutionary movements whose aim is to solve unemployment, famine and climate change.
Every new war creates more difficulties to begin shifting the balance of forces against imperialism. Wars are extremely unpredictable; adding to the list of current wars is a straight path to a new world order of corporate fascism.
Despite the foolish belief in quick and predictable success, hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of Iranian and Syrian lives would be lost in a serious war, especially if the countries are occupied. We should recall Hitler's expectation that Britain would surrender after a drastic bombing campaign. It was unrealistic and the Nazis had to conclude Britain would surrender only if it was fully occupied.
Western imperialist countries should draw the obvious conclusion that a war of regime change will not be easy and will involve lengthy occupations. But their whole scenario is based on flawed strategic concepts ‑ fast wars and victory through air power and powerful new weapons. The West will have to pay a large military, economic and political price, even if they are restricted to a serious bombing campaign. The stakes for people in Iran and Syria are incredibly higher.
In Canada, the labour movement and all people must act now to prevent imperialist aggression, at home and abroad.
To avoid war, we need the strengthened coordination and unity of non‑aligned and developing countries, larger sections of the international working class movement, the resistance in imperialist countries, and communist and working class parties, including the left social democratic variety who should reject the further appeasement of imperialism's drive to war. The global anti‑war, anti‑imperialist movement must be strengthened.
Every new war makes creating international unity more difficult.
More wars, more uncertainty
Each new war of occupation by imperialism carries the seeds of a more general war, a violent continuation of its efforts to dominate and exploit all sovereign countries which do not bend to its will. In addition to the expansionist aims of all imperialist countries, there is also the counter‑revolutionary purpose of imperialist war and aggression. Each has its own dangers.
Imperialism's increased aggression to divide the world builds rivalries that may erupt into another inter‑imperialist war. More immediately, the spread of war in the Middle East is the greatest enemy of the Arab Spring revolutions and the genuine aspirations of the broadest masses of people.
Imperialism's flawed strategic concepts for war against Syria or Iran add to the unpredictability of the outcome. Several recent wars are spreading to new countries; for example, the Afghanistan war is spreading to Pakistan. Pro‑NATO Libyan armed groups say they will move to Syria.
Most western imperialist countries see attacking Syria as a stepping stone for war against Iran, but Israel wants Iran to be the first target. Either way, Israel's position towards Syria is clear. An official state of war has always existed between the two countries. Equipped with a strict reading of the United Nations Charter, Syria has always viewed Israel as an illegal, imposed state.
In the Arab League, recent votes on both Syria and Libya show that Saudi Arabia and the small emirates dominate the leadership, with the support of Egypt's military regime and other anti‑popular governments.
Last year's Arab League vote to suspend Syria as a member was a clear invitation for imperialism to target the country. The vote fell short of formal support for war because such a move is opposed by the broad working masses. So why are most Arab League members ignoring the war danger and aligning themselves with the most pro‑war countries in the region, including Turkey, which is a base for anti‑Syrian forces, and Israel?
The national bourgeoisie in the Arab League are more afraid of the growing popular unrest than of a war instigated by imperialism against Syria and Iran. They do not fully realize the threat that spreading imperialist occupations brings to the sovereignty of all Arab League countries.
At the expense of their own sovereignty, the Arab national capitalist classes are united in the expectation that a limited war against Syria would help them crush the Arab Spring and remove the threat of fundamental democratic and social change. Until the anti‑imperialist forces in the region gain strength and effectively support each other, the sovereignty of Iran, Syria and all Arab League countries is in danger or, in the case of the Palestinian people, is completely submerged.
The lack of popular support in Arab countries for using war to promote democracy and progress also explains why imperialism is resorting to sudden, blitzkrieg‑style operations. For example, Libya was a sudden war associated with a barrage of propaganda that helped stop opposition from developing. However, the expectation of sudden victory can easily be dashed when met by firm resistance.
Build the anti‑war movement
With the most powerful imperialist countries close to launching new wars in the Middle East, the anti‑war forces need to be strengthened quickly. The corporate media and governments are carrying out a frenzied drive to justify the need for regime change, dismissing the ability or actual wishes of the Syrian and Iranian peoples to manage their own affairs.
Yet there are weaknesses and potential divisions in imperialist circles, which may help the anti‑war movement. NATO may not achieve consensus on a decision to attack Iran or Syria, preventing its official participation. So only a handful of NATO countries and Israel are likely to participate. About Syria, Israel could stay out of a fight if the outcome could jeopardize its continued occupation of the country's Golan Heights.
The parties of the Socialist International, such as the NDP in Canada, are making a monumental mistake by lining up to support aggression against Syria and Iran. Opposition to war in all NATO countries will grow one way or the other and become much sharper than over Libya. In the end, the rise of anti‑war forces will deal a heavy blow to the Socialist International by exposing social democracy's bankrupt collaboration with imperialism.
The anti‑war movement must be strengthened throughout the imperialist camp, especially in Canada and the U.S. Although no serious divisions exist now in the U.S. Congress or in our parliament, these must be encouraged, including in the ranks of the NDP, a situation which will help mobilize protests and opposition outside parliament.
Protests must become large enough to block Canada's entry into a new imperialist war. The NDP and the labour movement have said virtually nothing about the looming war danger. Monte Solberg, a former Reform/Conservative MP, studied the NDP's position and wrote last fall that "the little Iran problem didn't merit a single mention" in the party's statements, speeches and media releases (Toronto Sun, November 13, 2011).
Yet the NDP's actual position supports the Harper government's war effort against Syria and Iran. Asked to comment on the Conservative government's decision to send a warship to the Mediterranean for possible use against Syria, the NDP foreign affairs critic said "I don't have a strong opinion about that" and urged "tougher pressure" on the Syrian government (Toronto Sun, November 21, 2011).
By focusing only on the Syrian government, the NDP has an unbalanced approach to resolve the country's civil conflict, has no real objection to sending military forces into the region that could invade or attack Syria, and lists sanctions as the only diplomatic remedy. The way is left open for the NDP to conclude at a later date that sanctions are not working, so it's time for foreign intervention. The NDP policy on Syria indicates how it will behave towards Iran.
Peace groups have made some good statements and some are starting to mobilize and build alliances against a new war. More attention needs to be paid to parliament, where there has been no serious debate yet on Syria or Iran (if it will happen at all before a war), but it is important to prepare and lobby as if a debate might happen soon. It is important to pressure all opposition parties to reject a war and at least force a debate.
Despite the war mongering, broadly‑supported efforts against war can and must grow, at the local and cross‑Canada levels (days of action, meetings, open letters, etc.). Waiting for a war to start is the wrong approach. All peace groups should be working on this. There needs to be more effort to pin down the positions of NDP leadership candidates on the issue of intervention against Syria and Iran. There should be immediate work to strengthen opposition to war in the labour movement and in all popular activities to raise the need to oppose war, well beyond International Women's Day and May Day.
War can be prevented.
(Darrell Rankin is the Manitoba leader of the Communist Party of Canada, and a longtime anti-war activist.)