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September 1, 2006 | Page 12

Hezbollah can't bring liberation
Nader wrong on Lieberman

Torture: a tool of the U.S.

THE RECENT revelation of torture centers run by the Chicago police shocks even those who have a fundamental understanding of police terror and its role as a component of Black oppression in the United States. All of the victims of torture were African Americans. No one is being prosecuted.

Chicago is home to millions of Blacks, many of whom are descendants of African Americans who fled the racist South in the early- to mid-1900s. Police terror has always been a component of Black oppression, especially in Chicago, a city whose founding history was based upon the Haitian Black trader, Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable.

Police terror, however, is also an integral part of the torture centers run by the CIA in Guantánamo, Afghanistan or other centers internationally. Torture training was a part of the counter-insurgency training that Latin American military officers received from the School of the Americas in Georgia. There has been, and continues to be, international outrage against the CIA "extraordinary rendition" torture program.

Let us not be fooled. Torture is an integral part of the imperialist arsenal of oppression against the oppressed and the exploited masses, both at home and abroad. The police terror program of Chicago cops demonstrates this fact ever so clearly.

Readers of Socialist Worker should wage a campaign of outrage and opposition to the Chicago police torture program. We must do this in the name of fighting racism, imperialism and building a political movement for socialism.
Steve Johnson, Los Angeles

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Hezbollah can't bring liberation

THE ISRAELI invasion of Lebanon is an assault on a whole population and a human rights disaster. While recent Socialist Worker coverage makes this point well, it mistakenly portrays Hezbollah, the Lebanese resistance organization, as a force of national liberation while downplaying or ignoring its reactionary character.

Hezbollah translated literally means "The Party of God." It is an Islamist mass organization originally inspired by the Ayatollah Khomeini. Hezbollah to this day sees Iran as a model state and takes guidance from Iran. Its leader, the cleric Hasan Nasrallah, was trained in the seminaries of Iraq and Iran.

Hezbollah is less illiberal than some Islamist currents, but that is cold comfort, a bit like discerning that George Bush is to the left of David Duke. Nasrallah's statements have been not merely anti-Israeli but grotesquely anti-Jewish. Hezbollah's deep-seated cultural conservatism includes bigotry toward gays.

Lebanese Arabs and Muslims have a legitimate right to resist Israeli incursions. Affirming that right does not obligate the left to extend political support to Hezbollah, just as opposition to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s did not necessitate endorsement of the mujahadeen.

Israel's most recent offensive will increase sympathy in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Arab and Muslim worlds for Hezbollah. Socialists should not compound this tragedy by painting Hezbollah with celebratory brushstrokes.

The rise of Hezbollah and other fundamentalist holy warriors in the Islamic world is a direct result of widespread resentment of the unjust policies of the United States and Israel, combined with the decline of two alternatives: secular national liberation movements (compromised by corruption) and Marxist organizations (discredited by dependence upon Soviet-style bureaucratic collectivist regimes and models).

This dark moment conspires against us. A new alternative to imperialism and obscurantism is desperately needed in the Middle East. We can assist its birth only by adhering without compromise to the values of international solidarity, social equality, civil liberty, radical democracy, and secular rationality, including religious freedom.

Hezbollah, a movement partially analogous to our own fundamentalist right, may be popular, it may be under unjust attack, but it neither represents liberation nor merits our political approval.
Christopher Phelps, Mansfield, Ohio

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Nader wrong on Lieberman

RALPH NADER recently told Democracy Now! that he hopes Sen. Joe Lieberman's "entry as an independent candidate will diminish some of the chronic opposition by the Democrats to anybody who...runs as an independent or a third-party candidate, like a Green candidate"

Although Lieberman was soundly defeated in the Connecticut Democratic primary by presumably progressive Ned Lamont, Lieberman has continued his campaign to keep his Senate seat as an "independent Democrat."

However, Lieberman doesn't offer a voice for independence from the two-party status quo. In fact, his run to maintain his incumbency is a bid to preserve the status quo. Moreover, some Republicans like arch-warmonger Newt Gingrich have abandoned their unpopular candidate in the race to endorse Lieberman, according to the New York Times.

The Senate race is now between Lamont and Lieberman. Lieberman has never had much respect for democracy, even when he would have benefited. Where was his cry of outrage when Bush and Cheney stole the election from Gore and Lieberman, despite half a million more votes for the Democrats?

I'm afraid that these developments will only serve to strengthen the resolve of many progressives to vote for the official Democrat, no matter who he is. Who is Ned Lamont? Although the cable executive says he is against the occupation of Iraq, his Web site claims troops should remain in Iraq indefinitely for logistical and training support only, declares Iran more dangerous, and says that "It is not for the United States to dictate to Israel how it defends itself."

The question that remains is whether Connecticut progressives who want peace really have a candidate in the Senate race, or just the choice between the lesser of two evils.
John Osmand, campaign coordinator, Ventura County, Calif.

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