February 2003  

French-Russian-German Axis Is No Force for “Peace” – 
Class Collaboration Won’t Stop Imperialist War

Mobilize Workers’ Power Against the 
War on Iraq! Defeat All the Imperialists!

All the imperialists are warmongers. Above: U.S. troops practicing invasion of Iraq, Djibouti, January 2003. Below: (Left) Dutch occupation troops on patrol in Kabul. (Right) French occupation troops in Mazaar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, December 2001. (Photos: New York Times, AP)

 Dutch troops in Kabul     French troops in Mazaar-i-Sharif

The following is a translation of a leaflet issued by the Verbond voor de Vierde Internationale (League for the Fourth International) at a demonstration against war on Iraq in Amsterdam, Netherlands on February 15 .

The imperialist rulers of the United States and its British ally are poised to carry out a horrendous slaughter in Iraq. Currently, the French, German, Belgian and Russian governments are maneuvering to avoid a new United Nations resolution explicitly authorizing war. Yet all the imperialists and their allies and flunkeys backed Security Council Resolution 1441, which is the banner under which the massacre of the Iraqi people will be waged. Whenever Bush and Blair decide that they have had enough of the charade of UN “weapons inspection,” their murder machine will be unleashed. Tens and hundreds of thousands are slated to die. The League for the Fourth International declares that this imminent invasion of Iraq must be fought by mobilizing powerful working-class action internationally, including labor boycotts of war material and workers strike actions against the war. Iraq must be defended and the imperialists defeated!

This war is not just about Iraq or just about oil, and it’s certainly no “war on terrorism”. As for “weapons of mass destruction”, it is the imperialists and their allies like Israel who have vast arsenals of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and are prepared to use them. This is a war for imperialist world domination, in which the U.S. intends to nail down the “New World Order” proclaimed by Bush Sr. a decade ago in the wake of Gulf War I. It is therefore no surprise that inter-imperialist tensions are mounting, with France and Germany increasingly reticent to subordinate themselves to Washington. Now, a French-Russian initiative calls for sharply increasing the number of UN “inspectors” in Iraq as an “alternative to war”; another version is floated for bringing in thousands of UN “peacekeepers.” But such a “peaceful” occupation of Iraq would still be an imperialist takeover under the fig-leaf of the United Nations. 

French President Chirac and German Chancellor Schröder are quite simply opposed to a U.S. monopoly over the division of the spoils in the Middle East. At the last minute they may well abandon their opposition and send in their troops in order to get in on the action. At this very moment French paratroopers are in the Ivory Coast attempting to prop up the neo-colonial puppet regime there – the latest episode in French imperialism’s long history of murderous interventions in Africa. Even as he distanced himself from Bush in his Thursday 13 February speech to the German parliament, Schröder hailed the 10,000 German soldiers who are at the core of the imperialist occupation police forces in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Macedonia. Indeed, these SPD/Green “pacifists” pushed through the German participation in the imperialist attack on ex-Yugoslavia in 1999. 

Yet fake-leftists all over Europe are scrambling to hail these latest “peace” initiatives. The journalist Paul Foot, a prominent spokesman for the British Socialist Workers Party, thus hailed the bourgeois reactionaries Chirac and Putin and their call for the occupation of Iraq by imperialist troops with UN blue helmets. “Chirac and Putin were not alone even among heads of state. In Germany, Belgium and Greece, to name but three European countries, the people and their representatives think the same way,” declares this self-proclaimed “socialist.” (London Guardian, 12 February). Foot merely deplores the “absence in this sublimely moderate and sensible coalition of any representative of the British government or indeed the British opposition”. Then “the people” would be in harmony with “their representatives” (the capitalist government), according to these sublimely reformist social democrats!

The League for the Fourth International has warned from the outset that the looming invasion of Iraq would be a “trigger for new world war.” “Pentagon’s “First Strike” Strategy: Careening Toward World War III,” headlined our 17 October 2002 statement. Today reactionaries and “progressive” bourgeois politicians in the U.S. unite in bashing France and Germany. Liberal Democrats declare: “Had it not been for our military commitment, France, Germany and Belgium today would be Soviet socialist republics” (New York Times, 13 February). Meanwhile, their French counterparts talk of a Paris-Berlin-Moscow “Antiwar Axis” (Libération, 11 February). But rather than allying with one set of imperialists against another, to put an end to the endless cycle of imperialist war it is necessary to sweep away the capitalist system which spawns them. And where the popular-front antiwar movements around the globe look to bourgeois politicians, the LFI statement emphasized, “As opposed to bourgeois pacifism, we communists call instead for class war against the imperialist war.”

Antiwar demonstration in Amsterdam, February 15. (Photo: indymedia.nl)

This week-end’s anti-war mobilizations throughout Europe are being organized on the basis of anti-American social patriotism, in order to pressure their respective bourgeois governments to oppose Bush/Blair’s war plans. Foot’s nakedly pro-imperialist aria was no aberration. Regrouped in the “European Social Forum” a kaleidoscope of “socialists”, “communists” and pseudo-Trotskyists already declared in September of last year “we do have the chance to influence European governments”. In Belgium, the antiwar protests are being organized by the “Stop U.S.A.” coalition, led by the Stalinist PvdA (Party of Labor), whose aim is to pressure the European imperialists to break from Washington. As in World War I, we see the assorted reformists lining up behind “their own” bourgeoisies. 

In the Netherlands, we have the “Platform Against the ‘New War’” which calls upon the Dutch government “to end its support of this war” and supports the French and German imperialist “resistance” to Bush. The Platform spreads the illusion that imperialist governments  can “contribute to democratic, diplomatic  and non-violent means as the solution to international conflicts.” Meanwhile 370 Dutch troops and Patriot missile units are to be sent to “defend” Turkey and Dutch F-16s bombard the Afghani population, in raids that killed more than a dozen civilians this week.

The pages of the “left” press like De Socialist put out by Internationale Socialisten are filled with denunciations of imperialism – mainly U.S. imperialism – and even warnings against relying on the UN, but all these groups are building an “anti-war”movement embracing bourgeois forces. The IS may denounce “Bush – Blair – Balkenende” but the essential criteria for them is whether or not [Dutch premier, Christian Democrat] Balkenende is following the American line. But for authentic Marxist revolutionaries the main enemy is at home! The fake-Trotskyists of Offensief  reprint the 7 February manifesto of the Committee for a Workers International giving [German premier, Social Democrat] Schröder plus points for opposing Bush, but minus points for enforcing capitalist austerity at home – as if these are not the two sides of the same coin for this social-democratic representative of the interests of German capital. The drive to imperialist war is part of an all-sided attack on the living standards and democratic rights of working people.

The League for the Fourth International has called for workers action against the war on Iraq, including labor strikes and boycotting war material. With millions around the world outraged at the impending massacre in Iraq and with the example of the recent action by Scottish train engineers in refusing to move a freight train loaded with munitions bound for the Gulf, the perspective of class struggle opposition to the war is clearly not utopian. In contrast, the bulk of the left is intent on building a bigger, better and “broader” popular front anti-war coalition – that is, looking to the bourgeoisie rather than the working class. 

Some left groups even give lip-service to the call for workers action. For example, the Vonk group, the Belgian section of Ted Grant’s Committee for a Marxist International, talks of the “impact” of “ship-spotting.” But in the face of the strategic trans-shipment of U.S. war material through Antwerp harbour, what Vonk means by this is small groups of antiwar activists wandering around the docks rather than fighting to mobilize the power of the organized working class. And no wonder, since it is buried inside the Belgian social democracy, and in fact makes workers action dependent on the good will of the social-democratic tops. Meanwhile, in response to representatives of the LFI, Antwerp’s “socialist” trade union bureaucrats explain that these preparations for imperialist mass murder are giving dock workers employment. In fact, a fight for jobs in Antwerp, as in Rotterdam and elsewhere, means class struggle against both imperialist war and the bourgeoisie’s schemes to “liberalize” port hiring. The struggle against the war must also mean a political struggle against the treacherous labor lieutenants of  the bourgeoisie.

Contingent of Internationalist Group, U.S. section of the League for the Fourth International, at January 18 antiwar demonstration in Washington, D.C. (Internationalist photo)

It is important to understand that the war on Iraq is also a war on working people in everyfull citizenship rights for immigrants and their families, against the scapegoating of refugees is inseparable from the mobilization of workers and the oppressed against the war, but it is dropped by the fake lefts in their frenzied search for an alliance with “anti-war” social-democratic and bourgeois forces. imperialist country, and on the immigrant sector of the proletariat in particular. It is not only Bush who has pushed through police state measures against immigrants under cover of anti-Muslim hysteria. The bourgeois reactionary Chirac and the social democrat Schröder are equally increasing police repression of immigrants and asylum seekers, just as in the Netherlands the shared anti-immigrant policies of Balkenende and the “socialist” Bos are the basis on which they are negotiating for a rerun of the “Purple” coalition. The fight for

The politics of class collaboration further means accepting the imperialists’ self-appointed right to police the planet, ultimately accepts the lie that the imperialists are capable of “humanitarian” interventions. We stand for the defense of Iraq as we stand for the defense of all colonial and semi-colonial countries against imperialist domination, without giving one iota of political support to Saddam Hussein, the butcher of leftists, workers and Kurds. The imperialists are the greatest threat to the peoples of the world, eclipsing the havoc that small-time dictators like Hussein and Islamic fundamentalists like Bin Laden and the Taliban can accomplish.

We fight on a class basis against imperialist war. We fight for the Iraqi working class and toilers to topple Saddam Hussein. We fight for working people throughout the Near East to overthrow their rulers. We call in Israel and Palestine for an Arab-Hebrew workers revolution and a socialist federation of the Near East. We fight in every part of the world for internationalist socialist revolution. The only real way to fight the capitalist-imperialist system that produces the war is to build parties based on the program of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. And that is why we seek to forge Trotskyist parties in Europe, in the United States, throughout the world.

– Verbond voor de Vierde Internationale (League for the Fourth International)
15 February 2003

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