Revolution #56, August 13, 2006



“What we’re seeing here, in a sense, is the growing—the birth pangs of a new Middle East…”

U.S. Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice

As of August 4, one out of four Lebanese have been driven from their homes. Nearly 1,000 have been killed. Their cities have been bombed; hospitals, power plants, schools—whole communities—have been destroyed.

When the Lebanese obey Israeli orders to flee, they find themselves bombed from the air. When they huddle in their homes, seeking shelter, they are bombed—as they were at Qana, where at least 28 people, most of them children or handicapped people, were killed in an Israeli bombardment. [see article “The Bloody Hands of the U.S. and Israel in Lebanon”]

Through it all, Bush and Rice—and all their major Democratic Party counterparts—back Israel up. They rush bombs to the Israelis, to make sure they don’t run short. They insist that there be no ceasefire until Israel completes its offensive and re-occupies southern Lebanon. They respond to the outrage of the whole world by demanding that everyone fall in line with this latest atrocity in the so-called “war on terror.”

They are all, all of them, torturers, roasting the people of Lebanon over flames, slowly turning them on a spit, in the service of their “new Middle East.”

And note well: collective punishment of the civilian population, attacking facilities that people need to survive, and the use of “disproportionate force” that may harm civilians are all war crimes. Crimes carried out by Israel, and overseen by the United States.

This whole situation must be fully confronted and acted on. In short, THIS MUST STOP!

* * * *

In one sense, this “new Middle East” of Rice’s is the latest extension of a century of imperialist strangulation of the Middle East. To dominate the region’s oil resources, and the strategic advantage that affords, the imperialists—first led by Britain and France, and then the U.S.—have dominated the region politically. They have propped up reactionary regimes of various stripes, and working through the UN they violently created and implanted Israel as a settler-state enforcer in the region, financing its development and showering it with $90 billion in military aid. They have systematically wiped out opposition to this, including communists and revolutionary secular nationalists. They have at different times built up and used, and then turned on, Islamic fundamentalist forces.

But there is also a way in which this is new. Today, the force at the core of the U.S. ruling class—the Bush regime, in short—sees both a need and an opportunity to further extend and hammer down their control in the Middle East. Hence the war against Iraq—which is also a war crime, and which has already taken the lives of tens of thousands of Iraqis, with more falling each day. Hence the threats of war against Iran. And hence too the total unleashing of Israel—for the last six years against the Palestinians, and now against Lebanon. This war, as Rice so candidly reminded us, is not about a kidnaped soldier—this is, from the U.S. viewpoint, about a “new Middle East,” one which right now demands that the U.S. reshape Lebanon through Israeli terror, deal a blow to Hezbollah, weaken and perhaps overthrow the Syrian government, and lay the basis for militarily attacking Iran. It is about further crushing and trampling on the Palestinians—who themselves have endured incredible terror at Israeli hands even as the Lebanon invasion has gone on. It is about a whole plan for the U.S. domination of this region to go to a higher level than it already is.

The suffering already incurred is bad enough. Beyond that lie the serious risks of an even broader and more devastating war, with even more disastrous consequences for people in the region and all over the world, including in the U.S.. The U.S. ruling class as a whole is hellbent on “reshaping” the Middle East, no matter what the butcher’s bill. They are fully aware of the dangers involved but to them there is a greater danger yet: the prospect of a U.S. defeat in the region, of even the existence of a force that does not fit into its plans and even gives the impression of defying it.

And you cannot vote the “new Middle East” out of office. You cannot use the channels of the system to fix this. The Democrats have gone along with the rape and torture of Lebanon every step of the way, outdoing many Republicans in this. [See “This Is Not Our Dance; Let’s Step to Our Own Tune,” and "Democrats Defend U.S. Attack Dog Israel"] The Democrats, you see, are a ruling class party. They too see U.S. domination of the Middle East as essential to their interests. They too see Israeli aggression—and the overall maintenance and buttressing of Israel, which is a theocratic settler-state, dominating the people of the region—as essential to their interests. And they make no secret of this! Far from it.

But these are NOT the interests—nor even the immediate sentiments—of the overwhelming majority of the people who vote for and place their hope in the Democrats. This “new Middle East” threatens disaster for people in the Middle East and indeed for people everywhere on the planet, including in the U.S. itself. No one will be left unaffected by where those now in power in the U.S. are rapidly pushing things. And yet the Democrats on this critical issue stand—as they do on so many others—right in line with this disastrous direction. If you pour your energies and resources into the Democratic Party at this point and think this will have anything to do with altering this horrific course, you are deceiving yourself—and helping to deceive others. And that is unacceptable.

In short, the unavoidable conclusion: if you see what is being done to Lebanon for what it really is, then you can’t stew in impotent frustration and tell yourself there’s nothing that can be done. You can’t even just register your protest, and then watch as the U.S. and Israel go about their murderous business. And you can’t allow others to, either. There has to be a serious effort to mobilize massive political resistance to STOP this. To STOP this whole invasion and to reverse the whole course that this is part of. To take a leap out of the confines of “protest as usual”—which does not seriously challenge the way things are and the way they are heading—and to bring in a whole different political dynamic.

To be even more blunt, but no less sober: if you confine yourself to the limits of Democrat vs Republican at this point. . . if you do not seek to break out of those murderous constraints. . . if you go along at a time like this. . . then you have to face the fact that you are being complicit with a monstrous crime.

Don’t be. There IS a way to act.

*  * *  *

The only two poles in this cannot be support for the U.S. and Israel on the one hand, or support for the Islamic fundamentalists on the other. Neither of these forces represent progress. The imperialists talk endlessly of “democracy in the Middle East,” but what they are really spreading is imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism.

In regards to actually breaking with imperialism, the Islamic fundamentalist forces do not in essence fight for anything more than a slightly different deal within the imperialist setup—one in which they and the class forces they represent are “dealt in” to the spoils. Iran, for instance, remains solidly within the framework of imperialist production relations, with an economy structured to serve the needs of imperialist capital. At the same time, the fundamentalists have a cohesive and coherent “package” that combines a posture of opposition to certain elements of imperialist domination with very reactionary social relations: including the heightened oppression of women, the theocratic domination of all spheres of life and a general reinforcement ignorance. Each of these two poles reinforces the other. . . and this too is part of the disastrous course that must be reversed.

There must emerge another pole in this, one that firmly stands against imperialism and for genuine liberation. In our view, this means communist revolution, which alone strikes at the roots of imperialist domination—the production relations at the heart of it (which in this era are international in their scope); the oppressive institutions that it has spawned or carried forward in new forms; and the ways in which all this finds reflection in people’s thinking. In this regard, we urge our readers to listen to the new talk by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the RCP, USA, on “Why We’re in the Situation We’re in Today. . . And What to Do About It: A Thoroughly Rotten System and the Need for Revolution,” which analyzes both how we have arrived at this situation and the kind of revolution needed to get out of it.

Coming from that communist viewpoint, we—again—think it imperative to politically reach out to everyone who opposes this invasion and to bring forth real and powerful political opposition to this invasion. Now. People all over the world must see a political force emerge that very seriously takes on this imperialist offensive, that makes clear that there is a difference between the U.S. power structure and the great majority of people in the U.S.—who have no fundamental interest in murdering, oppressing, and ripping off the people of the world.

In that context, we have to stress the overwhelming importance of the October 5 actions called by World Can’t Wait/Drive Out the Bush Regime, and its watchword of we must “Bring This To A Halt.” The vision laid out in its Call and on its website—of people massively coming out “from below” to repudiate the whole direction of this regime (including but also beyond its depradations in the Middle East) and the increasingly and ever more sharply apparent disastrous course of events, and with a determination to build from there—must be realized. The millions to whom this Call and this program can speak must be seriously addressed and, yes, challenged to break from the painful paralysis that has locked people into the killing confines of “politics as usual” and rendered people in America largely mute in the face of towering crimes and a terrible trajectory.

Only by doing this—only by breaking out of those confines, with powerful demonstrations on October 5 and in a continuing way from there, and on a continually growing scale and by acting, on a massive scale and with the sense of urgency and determination which the situation demands, can the people really change the whole political dynamic and bring this whole horrifically accelerating course to a halt. If we don’t do that, there will be very serious consequences for people all over the world; if we do, the possibility of a truly different and radically better future can open up to a whole different level.

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