[Marxism] pro-Palestinian, but

Clay Claiborne clayclai at gmail.com
Wed Jun 6 22:58:01 MDT 2012

Working on this newq piece for Daily Kos:

Tonight we are learning about what is already being termed another
"Houla style" massacre in Syria.
Given the deafening silence from the US left with regards to Assad's
atrocities in Syria, the ordinary observer, not schooled in the
"anti-imperialist" perspective, might well conclude that while the left
may care a lot about the Palestinians, they obviously don't give a fuck
about the Syrians.

They may also conclude that these leftists are really more anti-Israel
than they are pro-Palestinian the way they were more anti-NATO than they
were pro-Libyan.
They don't get that while Israel's atrocities are what they are, and
Egypt's Mubarak and Tunisia's Ben Ali were clearly tools of imperialism,
Libya's Mummar Qaddafi and even Syria's Assad have received the left's
goodhousekeeping seal of approval and should be given a pass when they
try to roll over popular opposition with tanks.

The BBC News <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18346137> had an
interesting segment tonight, an interview with a Chinese activist named
Shen Tong. Shen Tong has a unique life history. He was an activist in
Tienanmen Square 23 years ago and targeted by the Chinese government.
Later he was able to escape to New York where he created a successful
software business, but when Occupy Wall Street broke out, he found that
he was called back to his activist roots and got fully involved. From
his point of view both were popular struggles for social justice.
Separated by 23 years and 10,000 miles, they were the same struggle.

*Violence and the coming world revolutions.
Why the left should have an uncompromising stance with regards to the
use of military power against peaceful protesters./*

!'m afraid the final struggle against capitalism may be a very bloody
one. Before it is overthrown worldwide, the use of military violence
against peaceful protesters, as practiced by Mummar Qaddafi and Assad,
could well become the norm in many countries including in North America
and Europe.

It is against the future interest of the people everywhere for the left
to tolerated the regime's use of such violence against a popular
opposition anywhere, as it did with regards to Qaddafi's violence in
Libya and, most shamefully, continues to do with regards to the plight
of the Syrian people today.

After Qaddafi initiated the use of military power against the
non-violent Arab Spring, in February 2011, regimes in Algeria??, Yemen,
Bahrain and most significantly, Syria, followed suit. The gloves were
coming off.

I think it extremely important, and I mean on a world historic level,
that Qaddafi's use of military violence against a popular uprising did
not succeed in Libya. That reason alone is enough to support the
outcome, regardless of future developments in Libya. Successes tend to
be imitated and if Qaddafi had shown that the violent beat down could
keep him in power, neighborhoods around the world would be more likely
to come under artillery fire in the future.

It is now equally important that Assad not prevail. If for no other
reason than his widespread use of military power against a largely
peaceful opposition, for wantonly shelling rebellious neighborhoods, he
must go down! Anyone on the left, that is to say, anyone who thrives to
be a true champion of the people and their future must demand it.

*"rules of engagement" for the class struggle*

Fundamentally what groups like HRW, AI and UNCHR are about is trying to
establishing some basic /"rules of engagement"/ for the class struggle.
What will and won't be allowed. No land mines, no cluster bombs, no
torture, no shelling of neighborhoods, etc. This is not the same as an
end to all violence against the people, nothing will but an end to
capitalism, the last system of the class exploitation that gives that
violence its energy. In the meantime, any effort to minimize the level
of violence used against the people is welcomed.

Of course, any attempt to enforce /"rules of engagement"/ any attempt to
bring a level of civility to warfare will ultimately crash upon the
rocks of desperation, but since we will win by numbers, not by violence,
anything that lowers the level of violence, even if in only a particular
sector or short period, works in our favor.

The left must also be involved in establishing and enforcing /"rules of
engagement"/ for popular uprisings. I think we should now have /"rules
of engagement"/ that say if you shell rebellious neighborhoods, if you
use helicopter gunships against popular assemblies, etc, you will go
down! A worldwide network of activists will immediately direct its focus
on you. The view we should be promoting is that if you do that, as
Qaddafi did and Assad is doing, you will immediately become the target
of the full force and fiery of the world's people!

Every head of state who violates these rules of engagement should end up
like Qaddafi did. I disagree with the protesters in Tahrir today
demanding a new sentence of death for Mubarak. I say let Mubarak live
with his life sentence, he never opened up with his tanks in his efforts
to stay in power. Let Ben Ali escape to Saudi Arabia, his army didn't
open fire on the protesters. In every successful uprising, the rulers
will be tempted to use massive violence to save themselves. They must
all be taught a lesson. They must all know that if they don't,  they may
be allowed to live but if they do, they will come to the same ignoble
end that Qaddafi did.

The neo-liberal trend that is in the leadership of NATO also currently
see these attempts of dictators to use massive violence to stay in power
as counter-productive to their goals of stability and imperial
domination. In this regards, they have some tactical  agreement with us.
The army brass in both Egypt and Tunisia are very much influence by both
NATO and this neo-liberal thinking. That is why they refused to open
fire when first Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt ordered them to.
Better to ditch the one man that had become identified with the
dictatorship and preserve as much of th old order as possible than to
have an all out fight to the end with the risk that the imperialist lose
all their influence. This is what has almost happened in Libya.

In Libya, the people responded to Qaddafi's use of massive military
violence against peaceful protests with massive courage from the
beginning and finally by waging a people's war that, for the first time
in the Arab Spring revolts, sweep away not only the dictator, but also
the dictator's army and all the organs of state power. In Libya today,
they have reclaimed the term 'revolutionary' from the revisionist
Qaddafi and they are creating a new Libyan state from scratch.

Certain refineries in France and Italy are designed to run on the type
of crude that is Libya's specialty. So, with the world economic crisis
and all, the EU, UK & US needed Libyan oil back on line ASAP, this and
the fact that NATO cultivates a reputation of being the good guys that
they have to uphold, meant that they were willing to give limited
support to the Libyan opposition. The Libya opposition wisely limited
that to air support and that air support was far from what many on the
left have cracked it up to be.

It was far, far from the massive air campaigns than we have seen in the
past over Vietnam and even over Iraq. I have written about this in the
past, Louis Proyect did a good piece analyzing NATO's air campaign over
Tripoli. While thousands of 'so-called' strike missions were flown by
NATO, most did not actually bomb targets. Of the targets that were hit,
most were air defense targets and since the Libyan opposition didn't
have any planes, that wasn't such hot news to them. That the UN
investigation found only 72 civilians, an extraordinarily low number,
had been killed by NATO in the Libyan campaign is a testament not just
to the accuracy of the NATO bombs, but also to their rarity.

But that won't stop the NATO leaders from claiming credit for the Libyan
people's hard won victory over Qaddafi, of the anti-interventionist left
giving it to them.

While on the subject of NATO, there is also the interesting way that the
contradictions within NATO played out during the Libyan campaign. US
anti-interventionists have been so quick to see the US masters of war as
ramrodding NATO and even controlling the Libyan NTC, that they probably
didn't notice that US forces carried out less than 20% of the air
strikes, or ask themselves why. Defense forums and other NATO watchers
became kneenly aware of the power struggle being played out between the
US and its European allies in the Libyan campaign, but i have yet to see
anyone on the left address this. 

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