[Marxism] FW: Chomsky, Tariq Ali appeal to Italian antiwar MPs

Richard Fidler rfidler at cyberus.ca
Tue Jul 11 09:09:07 MDT 2006

Appeal can be found at this site:


Chomsky, Tariq Ali criticise Rifondazione on Afghanistan,
back antiwar MPs 


World-famous academic and peace campaigner Noam Chomsky, and
well known writer and socialist campainer Tariq Ali have
added their voices to those calling for Rifondazione to
change its position on Italian troops in Afghanistan and
backing antiwar MPs. Here we publish Tariq's open letter to
Fausto Bertinotti and Chomsky's statement, with an
introduction by Gilbert Achcar. 


Introduction by Gilbert Achcar 


Eight members of the Italian Senate and two members of the
Italian Chamber of Deputies, all belonging to the left-wing
of the ruling coalition (l'Unione, led by Prime Minister
Romano Prodi) have announced their intention to vote against
the government on the issue of Afghanistan. 


Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's previous Premier and George W.
Bush's buddy, had sent 1,300 Italian troops to Afghanistan
as a component of the Nato force operating there, as well as
2,600 troops to Iraq as part of Bush's "coalition of the


The new "center-left" government, betraying the expectations
of the majority of its electors, has announced a phased
withdrawal of troops from Iraq that doesn't differ much from
the one Berlusconi had already negotiated with the US
government. At the same time, l'Unione has proclaimed its
intention to extend the mission of Italian troops in
Afghanistan, despite the fact that Nato forces in that
country, recently redeployed toward the South, are
increasingly engaged in war activities, acting as US
auxiliary forces. 


Even if Italian troops were not sent to the South, they
would nevertheless be part of Nato's war-machine. The Afghan
people are of course entitled to security, but neither US
troops, nor the troops of the US-dominated Nato, can provide


Since l'Unione holds no majority in the Senate without the
eight Senators, there is tremendous pressure being exerted
on the latter to get them to change their stance, in the
name of coalition solidarity and interest, including a
threat to move the decree by means of a vote of confidence
that would face them with the choice between reneging on
their stance or letting the government fall. 


However, the latter threat is defused by the announcement by
some members of the "center-right" that they will vote for
the decree extending the mission of Italian troops in
Afghanistan, as they don't want to abstain on an issue that
they support wholeheartedly, particularly since the Afghan
deployment was initiated by the Berlusconi government to
which they belonged. 


To counter the pressures exerted on them, the antiwar MPs
have launched a petition and called for expressions of
support. These will be reported at an important antiwar
assembly, organized by the Peace movement and the antiwar
MPs, to be held in Rome on July 15. The debate and vote in
the Senate will take place in the last week of July. 


The build-up of support, including international support,
for the antiwar Italian MPs is thus very important for their
fight and their ability to resist the pressure. To support
the anti-war MPs, sign the petition, link at the bottom of
this page. 





Dear Fausto, 


I was surprised to hear that Rifondazione was preparing to
vote in favour of keeping Italian troops in Afghanistan, for
'humanitarian reasons'. I want to try and convince you that
this would be a serious error, just as I argued in the last
century with those on the left, who supported the Soviet
intervention in Afghanistan. 


Big powers or surrogate states acting on their behalf have
no right to occupy countries. The two big projects of the
global neo-liberal order have been (1) to insist that the
new capitalism is the 'sole' way of organising humankind
from now till the planet implodes and 

(2) to disregard national sovereignty as a key to
international relations in the name of 'human rights'. 


A few weeks after 9/11, I debated a leading Bush ideologue,
Charles Krauthammer for one hour on Canadian television. He
admitted that the war in Afghanistan was as I had put it 'a
crude war of revenge.' 


Three days ago the CIA disbanded its special unit created to
track and exterminate Osama Bin Laden, a tacit
acknowledgement that the situation had changed drastically
since 9/11. So what is the function of NATO armies in
Afghanistan. 'Human Rights'? Even conservative journalists
in Britain (whose soldiers are being killed regularly) would
laugh at any such assumption. One of them, Simon Jenkins,
recently returned from a trip to Kabul and wrote a public
warning to Blair: 


"The debacle of Britain-in-Afghanistan cannot be ignored,
because British troops are at risk. They were never meant to
be at risk and their presence in that country has nothing to
do with British security. 


"They are sweltering and dying in Helmand not to prop up an
embattled regime in Kabul, for which they are hopelessly
undermanned, but to keep NATO alive in Europe, an unworthy
mission... How did the Americans induce Nato in 2004 to
become Hamid Karzai's mercenary army? What intelligence did
the cabinet receive from Washington, where officials openly
spoke of dumping Afghanistan on uppity NATO to teach it a
lesson after the Balkan shambles? ...Every assessment I have
heard suggests that the sort of campaign envisaged by the
government in southern Afghanistan would require not 

3,000 or even 10,000 troops, but over 100,000. Even the
latter total has failed in Iraq, and Iraqis cannot hold a
candle to Afghans for insurgent fanaticism." (The Guardian,
5 July, 2006) 


There is simply no excuse for the NATO presence in
Afghanistan except that of pleasing Washington. In recent
weeks the killing of Afghan civilians has increased tenfold.
Headlines which speak of '500 Taliban killed' are deliberate
disinformation. As was predicted by some of us at the time,
the Afghans do not like being occupied and would begin to
resist sooner or later. Fausto, ask yourself why there
should be any foreign troops there at all. 


That the centre-left supports NATO and backs most US wars is
well-known. Let them do it with the support of Fini, Bossi
and Berlusconi (they are, after all, of the same opinion). 


Why should the occupation of a foreign country be treated as
a vote of confidence? And if it is the honest answer has to
be: we do not have any confidence in the NATO presence in
Afghanistan. For Rifondazione to vote in favour would be a
tragedy for the European Left and I fear can only lead to
disasters both in Afghanistan and in terms of creating an
alternative in Italy. 


If you get into arguments such as the character of the
regime that might follow a Western withdrawal you will be
swimming in a dangerous sea. Don't forget the pathetic
imperial past of your own state. The invasions of Albania
and Abbyssinia by Mussolini were explained by the same
logic: we are taking European civilization to these backward
feudal monarchic states. Regime change was not acceptable
them and it should not be now. 


I write as an old friend of Rifondazione. I hope I can
remain one after the vote next Tuesday. 


Yours fraternally, 


Tariq Ali 



Noam Chomsky's Letter to the Italian Antiwar MPs 


Dear friends, 


I have learned of your courageous stand against Italy's
participation in military operations of NATO, as it is being
converted into an international intervention force
subordinate to the United States. 


Expansion of NATO to the East, in violation of firm
guarantees to Gorbachev when he agreed to a unified Germany
within NATO, was already a very serious threat to
international peace and security, even apart from the


The new and still more expansive role NATO is assuming poses
serious threats to international order. I would like to
express my personal appreciation for your insistence on
upholding the principles of Article 

11 of the Italian Constitution, that "Italy repudiates war
as an instrument of offence against the liberty of other
peoples and as a means of resolving international disputes;
accepts, on the condition of equality with the other States,
the limitations on sovereignty required for an order which
ensures peace and justice between nations; promotes and
encourages the international organisations established with
that end." 


Sincerely yours, 


Noam Chomsky 


Noam Chomsky is the most prestigious theorist of linguistics
in the English-speaking world. He has been a courageous and
tireless critic of American imperialism and the Zionist
state since the 1960s. 


Tariq Ali is a socialist writer and broadcaster who has been
particularly active in anti-imperialist campaigns, from
Vietnam to Iraq. Born and brought up in Pakistan, he now
lives in London. 



More information about the Marxism mailing list