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Views in brief

September 8, 2006 | Page 4

Imperialism is the main enemy
A principled movement

Nader's stand against the war

JOHN OSMOND is right to point out that Ralph Nader's hopes, expressed in a Democracy Now! interview, that the Democrats will "diminish" their opposition to third parties are misplaced ("Nader wrong on Lieberman," September 1).

I only write to mention that Nader spent 90 percent of his time during the interview passionately denouncing U.S. support for Israel's invasion of Lebanon, and reminding the world that Israel and the U.S. were the aggressors and terrorists for targeting the civilian population. Jonathan Tasini, who was also on the show with Nader and is running in the Democratic primary against Hilary Clinton, bemoaned violence on both sides.

Socialists certainly have important disagreements with Nader, but we agree fully with his principled opposition to U.S. support for Israel's terror and his belief that the Democratic Party cannot be reformed.
Todd Chretien, Oakland, Calif.

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Imperialism is the main enemy

JOHN GREEN'S letter on the Afghan resistance is wrong in every way ("Taliban not a step forward," August 11). He falsely counterposes Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Taliban in Afghanistan, claiming that the former is leading (despite its socially reactionary politics) a genuine national liberation struggle while the latter "fails this criteria."

His proof of their failure is that "most Afghans don't support the Taliban's fundamentalism, drug-trafficking and intimidation tactics." This sounds a lot like the Bush administration's rhetoric about the Iraqi resistance, minus the drug trafficking, and Green provides no evidence about what most Afghans support.

Green's analysis leaves us totally unable to explain the new resurgence in the Taliban's strength. Occupation forces in Afghanistan have raided homes and villages with impunity, engaged in torture and committed other atrocities. This is precisely why the popularity of the Taliban has grown enormously since they were toppled from power almost five years ago.

Like it or not, the Taliban is leading the resistance to Western imperialism in Afghanistan. Socialists should never hide our political differences and criticisms of Islamists, but any criticism can come only in the context of support for the struggle they are leading.

In this case, the struggle is one for an Afghanistan free of imperialist control. Victory for the Taliban would not only be a blow to U.S. imperialism, but also a victory for the oppressed around the world, who are fighting the same enemy.
Pham Binh, New York City

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A principled movement

IN HER "Which Side Are You On" column, Sharon Smith correctly points out that "the weakness of the mainstream U.S. antiwar movement toward Israeli war crimes is not a temporary aberration, but a long-standing phenomenon." (SW, July 28)

She backs this up by connecting the United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) leadership's "repeat(ing) the mainstream media's depiction" of the recent events in the Middle East to the position taken by their political predecessors (in many cases, the same people with the same politics) on the eve of Israel's last invasion of Lebanon in 1982, when a massive peace that they organized rally in New York City's Central Park conveniently made no mention of Israel's bombing of Lebanon.

Both positions, however, stem from the "mainstream" liberal left's main "weakness"--toward the Democratic Party, which, as Sharon shows, is even more staunchly pro-Israel than the Republicans are.

This "long-standing phenomenon," whether it goes under the name of "popular front," "lesser evil," "ABB" or "taking back Congress," subordinates any and every struggle and mass movement to the election of Democratic Party politicians to whatever office is being contested. (Remember how the reformists said that the "real fight" begins the day after Election 2004. Well, we're still waiting.)

Since the mainstream left feels that anything else is an unobtainable pipedream--i.e., "another world" is not possible--its whole political universe revolves around putting more Democrats into office as the only "realistic" game in town, regardless of how right wing they are.

Since Israel is, as Smith points out, the "U.S.'s historic regional partner in enforcing its Middle East policy," both Democrats and Republicans, as partner parties of the capitalist class, always close ranks when it comes to backing up Israeli aggression. That's because imperialism is a system, and not a policy preferred by "unilateralists" or "neo-cons."

But since electing those same Democrats in November is UFPJ's top priority, any significant protest against Israel's outrages in Lebanon and Gaza will just have to be put on the back burner, as was opposition to the Iraq war in 2004, when electing the pro-war (and pro-Israel) John Kerry took top priority.

For the UFPJ leadership, the "thousands of lives that are at stake" are apparently so much "collateral damage"; the price the Palestinians and the Lebanese will have to pay in order for the Democrats to "take back Congress." Then they can continue to vote to give Israel even more money to carry out its endless acts of aggression as part of the bigger and better "war on terror" that the Democrats desire.

Indeed the Democrats recognize, no less than we do, that the one-sided "war" in Lebanon (and Gaza) is an important component of the war of terror to gain control of the Middle East, even if the leaders of UFPJ try to ignore or deny it.

After all, if the "maximum program" of the "politics of the possible" consists of replacing one set of pro-war capitalist politicians with another, you can't take any unpopular positions. That might get in the way of their winning office, regardless of how many "lives are at stake" or how much it sets back building movements "on a principled basis"--i.e., independent of both bosses' parties.

If the antiwar movement--or any other movement, for that matter--is to ever "revive" on that "principled basis" that Smith speaks of, it is necessary that those of us who are "principled" politically take on the mainstream left; not only by effectively exposing them, but by politically challenging and defeating them for leadership in these movements.

While this paradoxically requires the broadest possible unity with these same forces, in order to expose them in action before their supporters, it also requires that we recognize them for what they are: the left lieutenants of the capitalist class within the mass movements, as the early American socialist Daniel DeLeon described the trade union bureaucracy, and deal with them as such.
Roy Rollin, New York City

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