Workers’ Power for Defeat
Strikes Against the War! No Police State!
The following is a leaflet issued by the Internationalist Group, U.S. section of the League for the Fourth International, on March 20 .
Last night, U.S. president George Bush Jr. launched the long-announced invasion of Iraq. The huge expeditionary force assembled by the United States and Britain in the Arab/Persian Gulf is on the march to seize Iraq and place it under imperialist occupation. The invaders’ bombs are raining down on the population of Baghdad. Now the U.S. is cynically preparing to install a military dictatorship in the name of “democracy.” They intend to finance it with billions of oil dollars looted from the Iraqis.
In this war of imperialist rape and conquest, working people and the oppressed around the world have a side. The Internationalist Group/U.S. and League for the Fourth International call to mobilize workers power in defense of semi-colonial Iraq and for the defeat of the imperialist butchers who are laying waste to the besieged Near Eastern country.
The sociopathic mass murderers in the White House and Pentagon have planned an Armageddon on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff announced that 3,000 “precision-guided bombs” are to be unleashed in the first 48 hours of aerial bombardment of Baghdad. This U.S. strategy of “shock and awe” is copied straight from the Nazis’ doctrine of “Schrecklichkeit,” trying to terrorize the population into surrender. What Bush intends is precisely a Hitler-style Blitzkrieg (lightning war)
The war on Iraq is also a war on labor, minorities and immigrants “at home.” Class-conscious workers must fight for full citizenship rights for all immigrants, and for worker-immigrant defense against chauvinist attacks such as occurred after the September 11 indiscriminate attack on the World Trade Center.
Wall Street and Washington’s war is already being used as an excuse to impose police-state measures in the United States and the rest of the imperialist powers. Military forces stationed in the cities, indefinite detention without charges, star chamber trials, a huge increase in police spying on political activists, arrests and deportations of thousands of immigrants are already being carried out under the U.S.A. Patriot Act. Accusations of sedition and subversion will be hurled at striking workers defending their rights. And now U.S. rulers are preparing a Patriot Act II to remove the citizenship of those who oppose their bloody aggression.
The war of the capitalist-imperialist bosses must be answered with a class war by those whom they exploit and oppress. Many millions of people have repeatedly marched in opposition to this war in demonstrations that are bigger than at the height of protests against the Vietnam War. But pacifist peace crawls, no matter how large, will not stop the imperialist warmongers. Civil disobedience, in turn, is ultimately a futile appeal to the “conscience” of the capitalist murderers. Their butchery can only be stopped by mobilization of a greater power, that of the international proletariat that has the strength and social position to bring the war machine to a grinding halt.
Like the war on Afghanistan and the U.S.-led NATO war on Yugoslavia, these imperialist wars have been waged by the twin parties of U.S. capitalism, Democrats and Republicans alike. While organizers of the official “peace” marches routinely appeal to bourgeois politicians like Democrats Jesse Jackson and Barbara Lee, and march to the offices of Senator Hillary Clinton, begging the “liberal” capitalist politicos, whose hands are drenched with blood, can only mislead those who would fight against imperialist war.
The IG/LFI has called from the outset for labor to “hot cargo” (refuse to handle) war materiel and for workers’ strikes against the war. In recent months, railway workers in Britain and Italy mobilized to stop the transport of war cargo. These actions inspired militant workers internationally. Now it is urgently necessary to go beyond this to undertake combative strike action against the war and the governments who are waging it. Today, hundreds of thousands of Italian workers walked off the job and joined in antiwar mobilizations in the principal cities. Wildcat labor actions against the war are reported from Britain. Tomorrow a Europe-wide “general strike” has been called to protest the war. But whether it is measured in minutes or a few hours, this is merely a symbolic action. All-out workers mobilization is called for to defeat the capitalist rulers and their war.
The fact is that support for the war is extremely narrow. The populations of Britain, Italy and Spain are heavily opposed to the war in which their own governments are participating. Even in the United States, opinion polls show that a majority of the population of New York City (and almost three-quarters of NYC blacks) opposes the war, as do even larger percentages on the West Coast. Numerous local and state labor councils and national unions have passed resolutions against the war and the accompanying attack on civil liberties. Even the AFL-CIO approved a mealy mouthed “antiwar” statement. But paper statements mean nothing to the Bush gang. Militant labor action, such as shutting down the docks, would galvanize the widespread discontent.
The U.S.’ erstwhile imperialist allies (now rivals) France and Germany and the rulers of capitalist Russia cooed like peace doves in the United Nations, but they are now busily mending fences with Washington, hoping to get in on the postwar plunder of Iraq. They only wanted to delay the war so they could have a say in the war councils, which Bush haughtily denied them. In fact, they together with the bureaucrats of the Chinese deformed workers state all voted for UN Security Council Resolution 1441 in the name of which the U.S. is waging this obscene war.
The European imperialists are no saviors of the Iraqi people, any more than they are of the oppressed Palestinians under the boot of the Israeli Zionist occupiers in the West Bank and Gaza. The “United Nations,” meanwhile, served as a cover for imperialist slaughter in Korea (3 million Koreans dead), for the assassination of Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba and for imposing imperialist protectorates in the former Yugoslavia. We demand that all U.S., British, UN and other imperialist military forces get the hell out of the Near East, now!
The war on Iraq is centrally aimed at locking in U.S. imperialist domination of a New World Order. Washington wants its hand on the Near East oil tap so that it can control its rivals from Tokyo to Berlin and Paris. As we have warned from the outset, war on Iraq is intensifying interimperialist rivalries, pointing to a Third World War between nuclear-armed powers. Next on Washington’s target list is North Korea, followed by Cuba, Vietnam and above all China. As Trotskyists, we defend the North Korean, Cuban, Vietnamese and Chinese deformed workers states against imperialist threats and aggression, while fighting for workers political revolution to oust the bureaucracies that conciliate the imperialists and internal capitalist forces and thereby open the door to counterrevolution.
Saddam Hussein is a nationalist capitalist ruler little different from many tinpot dictators who have routinely been supported by the imperialists in the past, such as the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile and the Videla junta in Argentina each of which killed tens of thousands of leftists with U.S. approval. Upon taking power in 1970 with the backing of Washington, Hussein unleashed terror against communists using lists supplied by the CIA. The chemical weapons he is accused of having were supplied to him by the U.S. government for use against the Iranians. The plants which produced such weapons were built by German and British companies. The many crimes of Hussein are the crimes of the imperialists who backed him. And it will take revolution by the Iraqi workers, Sunni and Shi’ite alike, mobilized independently of and against the imperialist aggressors to put an end to the likes of Hussein and his former patrons.
In Palestine, the Israeli militarists have intensified the brutal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, killing thousands. The Sharon regime has been waiting for the war on Iraq to begin the mass “transfer” (ethnic cleansing) of tens of thousands of Palestinians, whom the Zionists want to drive out of their ancestral homes as they did in the 1948 war. Revolutionary Trotskyists defend the oppressed Palestinian population in their uprising against the Zionist jackboot, and fight for an Arab-Hebrew workers republic in a socialist federation of the Near East. Such a federation would also make possible a united socialist republic of Kurdistan.
From the Near East to the imperialist centers, the key to combating this imperialist war of aggression is the building of revolutionary workers parties like the Bolsheviks of V.I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky. During the carnage of World War I, the Bolsheviks fought to turn the imperialist war into a civil war, fighting for the defeat of “their own” imperialist rulers. This internationalist program enabled them to carry out the first successful workers revolution in history, the October Revolution of 1917. It was the destruction of the bureaucratically degenerated Soviet Union during 1989-92 that set the stage for Bush Sr.’s 1990-91 Gulf War. Today, it is necessary to take up the Bolshevik banner to reforge an authentically Trotskyist Fourth International that can end imperialist war through international socialist revolution.
Radical youth who want to fight against imperialist war and get rid of the capitalist system that spawns it should join in the struggle to mobilize the tremendous power of the working class against the bloody war criminals whose drive for global domination threatens all the peoples of the world.
Defend Iraq! Defeat U.S. Imperialism!
– 20 March 2003
To contact the Internationalist Group and the League for the Fourth International, send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org