Widening Threat of Imperialist War in the Middle East

23 posts / 0 new
Last post
Widening Threat of Imperialist War in the Middle East
Printer-friendly version

In an article from IR 149 titled Massacres in Syria, crisis in Iran: The threat of imperialist disaster (https://en.internationalism.org/internationalismusa/201207/5037/massacre...) the ICC acknowledges very clearly that "the Middle East is a powder-keg" of imperialist tensions. This article was written half a year ago today, and it's clear this threat has anything but subsided.

There are a number of new developments which should be of great concern. Just yesterday a Syrian-bound plane from Moscow was forced by Turkish fighter jets to land in Turkey.(https://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/11/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE88J0X7...) The Turkish government has claimed they found "Russian-made munitions" bound for the Syrian regime on board. Russia denies this claim, and is taking the incident very seriously. This comes only a few months after an incident in June where according to a Syrian government spokesman, Syrian armed forces loyal to Al-Assad downed a Turkish fighter jet in international waters. (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-18561219) Turkish and Syrian forces have been exchanging fire somewhat regularly over the past week. (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19855180)

On the 27th of September, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu literally drew a red line on Iran, claiming if their nuclear program reaches a certain point of development, Israel would attack Iran. (https://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57521658/netanyahu-draws-red-line-o...) Meanwhile, Lebanese militia Hezbollah has just admitted to having launched an Iranian made reconnaissance drone which was downed by Israel in the Negev desert region. (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19914441)

This came after an incident earlier in September where the US Ambassador to Libya was killed by people whom Defense Secretary Leon Panetta labeled as "terrorists." (https://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/27/us-libya-usa-investigation-id...)

These events in Libya, and the all others mentioned above have changed the tone and even the rhetoric of the US presidential race, which polls show is now much closer than anyone would have predicted just two months ago (https://online.wsj.com/article/SB100008723963904446578045780489920932874...).

Just earlier this evening, much of the first and only vice-presidential debate was focused on these issues. Paul Ryan, Republican VP candidate and Wisconsin congressmen, claimed that current US President Obama was "asleep at the switch" (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2012/10/2012101223523359794.html) in regards to Libya and Iran. "Let's just look at this from the view of the Ayatollahs," Ryan said. "What do they see? They see this administration trying to water down sanctions in Congress for over two years. They're moving faster toward a nuclear weapon. They're spinning the centrifuges faster."

What does all this amount to? Bad news for the proletariat. I wonder and hope to discuss whether or not the threat of open imperialist war, with possible participation from Israel, Iran, the US, and Russia has reached a boiling point. Every active soldier that I know in the US Army is preparing to be shipped off to Egypt, and the US congress is giving the military money and weapons for which they haven't asked. (https://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/09/army-to-congress-thanks-but-no...) These are indeed frightening times.

Was that article really

Was that article really written six months ago? Good lord, time flies.

I don't know what will happen, but it is clear the central factions of the US bourgeoisie do not want another war in the Middle East. There may be some differences between them on Syria, how far to support Israel, etc. but it is tough to find any real substantive differrences between the Obama administration and Romney/Ryan here. Of course, the repugs will talk tough to appease their lunatic base--or to use Baboon's awseome phrase "the apocalytic factions" of the bourgeoisie (I hope I got that right), and the Dems will warn us that Romney/Ryan will start more wars to scare the shit out of us, but for now at least, I think there is a general consensus that getting involved in another war there is a bad idea. They'd rather bank on some kind of "Persian Spring" solving the Iran problem magically.

That of course doesn't mean things can't change. One of the dangers of a Romney/Ryan administration (for the bourgeoisie) I think is that it could be pushed too far in a hawkish direction by the base of the party in Congress. We have to continue to follow this........

Heating up but not quite boiling point

Generally agree with the observations above about the dangers of the situation in the Middle East. I think that on the question of Democrats/Republicans, one of the major elements of consistency over the last decades has been the seamless transition of the defence of US imperialism from Reagan, Clinton, the Bushes and Obama - no fundamental differences whatsoever. However what the Republicans are aware of, and the Obama administration and the Pentagon are even more aware of, is the historical weakening of US imperialism and the growing threats and challenges that it is facing. Within this there are certain punctual elements that can provoke criticism of the administration. One of these has been the attack on the US embassy in Libya. First of all the administration spun this attack as a result of the anti-Islam Hollywood trailer, when it was clearly a pre-planned jihadist attack that stymied a major CIA operation that was about to get underway. This resonated even more for the terrorists taking place as it did on the 11th of September. But this is just one small example of the difficulties that the US is facing.

I don't think that anyone, any bourgeois faction, wants war in the Middle East - but then they never do. The dynamic of imperialism has to drive them towards it. The western powers unleashing forces that then go beyond their control, or actively turn against their masters, has been a major feature of the growth of terrorism since the 1980s - and they continue to make the same "mistakes". I would think that there are some elements in Washington and London that are quite happy that Iran is bogged down not only in general economic crisis and the effects of sanctions but also the drain of supporting the Assad regime. But this is not a stable situation and again imperialist dynamics take over: the war has already spread to other countries - Lebanon and Jordan are being destabilised, there's direct fighting between Syria and Turkey and, under Syrian manoeuvrings, fighting between the PKK and Turkish forces has escalated. There are some reports that Turkey is trying to put a lid on the foreign mercenaries and arms that are flowing from its country into Syria - and there's been reports of social protests in some Turkish border towns against the foreign fighters based there. There's also disagreements coming out between the Saudis, Qataris and the Americans about the level of arms provided and everyone, everyone (including Israel) wants to see a strong military "government" in Syria. But centrifugal tendencies, chaos and uncertainty prevail and will do for the future.

Isn't it likely that one of

Isn't it likely that one of the participants in this itching for a war but not quite knowing how to set it off, will make a ghastly mistake? How about Israel? Does anybody "bigger" exercise any real control over them; do they have any real control over themselves? Wouldn't they love to try out the nuke - which they don't officially have - on Iran- which isn't officially trying to make one - just by accident so to speak; just to preserve the freedom of the free world blah blah blah, just to teach Iran and other cheeky Moslem countries a lesson, and prove who's boss, and whose side god is really on and other vital issues so dear to capitalism when profits are thought to be at stake?

p_p writes: "What does all this amount to? Bad news for the proletariat. I wonder and hope to discuss whether or not the threat of open imperialist war, with possible participation from Israel, Iran, the US, and Russia has reached a boiling point.".

I suppose it has to be "bad news for the proletariat" but then everything our exploiters do these days is bad news for us. But if the threat of war began to boil over noticeably more, might not this just be the spark required to fuel an international revolt, especially if the oil dries up? Not a happy prospect (apart from the international revolt) and not one I advocate. Just a thought.

The issue of nuclear weapons

The issue of nuclear weapons and imperialist tensions is an interesting one. Some have argued that the existence of nukes acts as a restraint on war. Its not just bourgeois theorists who argue this, its been broached in the milieu also--specfically in realtion to MAD. It is interesting though that there has only ever been two instances where nukes have actually been used in the last half a century plus.


Given the the increasing number of countries  acquiring them and the general increase in imperialist tensions, then the odds against the use - even accidently - of nuclear weapons, must be idecreasing all the time. Their existence has certainly been a tactic into considerations of going to war, though in 1962, over Cuba/Turkey, it threatened to get out of control.

The other point is the development of "conventional " weapons, fuel air bombs, uranium tipped armour piercing shells and the like, as well as the latest nightmares they are conjuring up. Natal and pre-natal deformities around Fallujah and other parts of Iraq show very high increases above normal. In the first Iraq war (1993) more explosive was dropped than in the whole of WWII.

I guess a point I was trying

I guess a point I was trying to make, but was not so clear about, concerns the fundamental purpose of open wars between big armies. Isn't the point of these wars to throw a wrench in the maturation of consciousness? Wasn't that the point in the early 20th century? To take as many of these workers who were starting to "figure things out" in regards to class struggle and capitalism, and throw them into the battlefields to kill each other off?

Are we suggesting here that the ruling class is too "humanitarian" to start a war like this? I don't believe that for a second. In fact, I have no problems suggesting as the maturation of consciousness grows and grows (a trend we've seen since, what 2001?) the ruling class becomes more and more hawkish, just based on the simple fact that getting rid of some of these angry, under or unemployed workers would help to derail that very maturation itself.

If people are really starting

If people are really starting to figure things out, then are they going to let themselves be massacred as cannon fodder?


Fred wrote:
If people are really starting to figure things out, then are they going to let themselves be massacred as cannon fodder?

Sure, I think it's a possiblity. I'm just going off the historical example of WWI. All the leaps and bounds in consciousness were more or less undone by Nationalism and imperialist war.

I think there was some

I think there was some considerable debate about the issue of imperialist war being a "war against the workers" in the history of the Italian Left. I don't think the bourgeoisie goes to war with the intention of avoiding class struggle. War is a result of imperialist tensions breaking down to the point of blows. Its a function of tendencies internal to the capitalist state system. I don't think anyone suggested the bourgeoisie was "too humanitarian" to start a war. But there does seem to be a general consensus that getting involved in a war in Iran right now is a bad strategic move for the major powers. That of course doesn't mean, as Baboon states, that whatever their desires, they might not be drawn into a war anyway depending on how the situation evolves.

On another note, I am not sure its right to say class consciousness advances in such a way that it could be openly measured in "leaps and bounds." Class consciounsess tends to advance on a subterreanan level (particularly in decadence). In fact, the outbreak of World War One was probably a result of a low level of consciounsess (at least in the West) resulting from years of social democratic and trade union reformism. It was probably a different situation in Russia however.

Isn't the ICC take on WW1

Isn't the ICC take on WW1 that the workers were betrayed by their own organizations ie social democracy and the unions? Isn't the ICC take on the 2nd world war that the workers were already defeated, but just to make sure that the war didn't end in emerging class struggle, the bourgeoisie prolonged it deliberately into 1945, thus being able purposefully to slaughter thousands more of workers in Europe quite by plan, just as the Russian elite had allowed the Germans to massacre thousands of rebellious workers in Warsaw when they could have intervened to stop it. After all, the Germans were supposed to be the enemy, and the USSR a workers' state! Aren't these examples of the bourgeoisie avoiding any potential for class struggle, and using war as an aid?

As to class consciousness advancing in leaps and bounds: didn't Rosa L. (oh no! not her again!) think that it might, it probably could, through mass strikes, and solidarity and "fructifying waves" (my favorite expression of all time - but did she actually use it?) ? I think maybe she did think leaps and bounds possible. Anyway, they sound good even if fiction. The ICC reliance on the "subterranean" version is comforting, but maybe more an act of faith than something concrete. It surprises me that jk has fallen for this! (a partial joke in passing), but I have fallen too. We have to cling to something don't we, and times are difficult aren't they?

On the other hand, can you imagine the bourgeoisie getting away with something like calling up young people for a war in the present climate? They barely got away with it in 1968.

How else are we supposed to

How else are we supposed to measure class consciousness? When half the working class votes for Republicans--there better be a subterreanan level to it or we are screwed. I suppose it may be right to say that consciousness advances in "leaps and bounds" in the course of struggles, but outside of open struggle (and I would hazard to guess that we are not in one of those periods at the moment)--its not  clear how we can operationalize class consciousness.How do we read what is going on at the subterreanean level? Lack of willingness to submit to war as Fred points out?

There do seem to be important differences regarding how consciousness develops in the ascendant period, when it more or less took place out in the open/in the public sphere, and the decadent period, characterized as it is by the colonization of the public sphere, that are challenging to get a grip on and do seem to raise issues of scientific rigour, as Fred suggests.

Thanks jk. I'm glad I raised

Thanks jk. I'm glad I raised issues questioning(?) scientific rigor, though I can't for the life of me find where I did it! In fact I try deliberately not to sound "scientific" - not difficult to do at all, as I'm not at all scientific as everyone can tell - and don't want to sound "academic" (the idea of Fred having a go at being academic will probably raise a laugh!) though, many years ago, I was able to pull that off in a limited way. In fact I am starting to feel a bit embarrassed at even having the cheek to post on this forum at all, being apparently without the proper qualifications for the job. When confronted by the breadth of knowledge of someone like d-man (I mean this in all seriousness, and as a compliment) I cringe for my own ignorance and, yes, laziness. But what am I to do? Sometimes I think that there must be other readers of this forum as limited in scientific, technical and academic understandings as I am myself, and as I post I think of them. This keeps me going. But this forum seems to be tilting more and more towards esotericism and displays of intimacy by comrades of highly specialized areas of knowledge, that occasionally appear to lack much connection to every day life, and "ordinary" people. I will confess that I make efforts to appear as ordinary and as "down-to-earth" as I can manage. And probably bend the stick too far. Is this "workerism"? But I am pushed into doing it by what I hear as the tone of voice of the majority who post on here, whose tone of voice can get up my nose and trigger this reaction. If this was just my problem it wouldn't matter, but I increasingly realize that it could be a problem especially for young people of the kind to be found, for example, on the red-Marx site, where some intelligent youngsters are easily enraged by anything emanating from the ICC, not because of what the ICC says so much but perhaps because of what I have unhelpfully labelled "tone of voice"

The above post clearly

The above post clearly doesn't belong on this thread so apologies to p_p who started it. I sympathize with his worries that war could be round the corner, and that somehow the threat or the possibility of it could be used to scuttle any maturation of consciousness in the proletariat. But has he been given the sort of in-depth analytic response he deserves? He might well think not. Instead, a few ICC oldies and hangers-on, well versed in the bourgeoisie's endless war mongering and brinkmanship, have made grunts of sympathy and persuaded him that war - probably - isn't on the agenda blah blah. And don't worry yourself about class consciouness at the present time: it isn't on the agenda yack yack.

But p_p is young, like the folk on red-marx, and might just feel that being fobbed off with well-tried formulas (cf.Fred "the ICC take on this...") doesn't do, and isn't satisfactory, and might feel disappointed. If he'd been given a quarter of the attention that the crisis theory thread has aroused - before it began it's retreat up it's own bum - he would have been better served AS A YOUNG MILITANT and aren't these what we need to be encouraging?

Sorry Fred, I wasn't clear.

Sorry Fred, I wasn't clear. What I meant by "questions of scientific rigour" was your raising of the issue that the whole "subterreanan maturation of consciousness" theme could be seen as an article of faith. Its related to the entire "how do we measure class consciousness?" question. I sympathize with your frustration about "qualifications."

There are a couple of people on Red Marx who seem to have particular bones to pick with the ICC. I am not sure how much credence to give their rage.


Sorry Fred (and P_P), I tried

Sorry Fred (and P_P),

I tried to respond. Sorry if it sounded like "yack yack" and "blah blah."

You don't need to apologize

You don't need to apologize to me jk, my blah blah and yack yack weren't aimed at anyone in particular and certainly not at you. Nor do you need to apologize to p_p for criticisms Ive made in his name! In fact my attempt to say something - about the "qualifications" needed for posting on this site, as I see it - has so far been a mess.

There are young people on red-marx who are interested in communism: but some are extremely defensive and back away if approached head on or too boldly. They question the proletariats' need for self-organization, but seem finally to accept it; but then question how to do it, and what kind of organization, but almost appear compelled (not everyone) to reject existing organizations like the ICC as fossilized, out of touch, dogmatic, formulaic and concerned only with "dry and dusty books" - I think this arose as a result of Alf talking about Bilan. This is a sad and unfortunate state of affairs. Should we not wish to work to rectify this? But how? And I have a kind of sympathy for their predicament. If you come suddenly, unprepared, to this web site, what do you find? Well, you will certainly find excellent articles criticizing the bourgeoisie's latest exploits, the collapsing economy explained, and the latest struggles of the class on an international basis presented and analyzed and much more. But then there's the forum. This is a more daunting place, where the kind of open friendliness (or unfriendliness depending on the case) and the freeness of exchange so beloved by the younger generation on web sites, does not prevail, and instead there's often a kind of icy formality, as comrades who've been around a long time find themselves yet again having to address some repetitive old question they first dealt with in 1980.

If WR really does have younger, newer members, why don't they come and post on the forum and give it their freshness in addition to what we have already which is the voice of long experience.

Shouldn't the younger militants on a number of web sites now be excited and jubilant to discover something like ICC/ICT and rejoice in the re-discovery of the proletariats' history, theory, and present day struggles, instead of looking for as many ways as possible to rubbish and reject it? What are we doing wrong?

What I am doing wrong is posting this here when it should be somewhere else. Really it should be a new thread. I'm sorry for the continued incompetence, and apologize to jk and p_p if I've caused offence. But you could say that my concern for younger militants and their well-being arises precisely from the threats of war in the Middle East, the damage this may cause to emerging class consciousness, and to the re-groupment of our small but growing (?) international forces.

interesting discussion

interesting discussion developing above; I'm no moderator but it doesn't have much to do with the thread. Start another thread?

agree with baboon

Baboon is right - the issues Fred is raising are certainly important. Will the existing communist organisations connect with the new generation of 'searchers'? If they don't, they will die out, and if the searchers don't, they will (we are convinced) miss out on a great deal. So it's a major issue. Does Fred want to start a new thread? 

So Israel has bombed

So Israel has bombed Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, just hours ago.


So, Israeli jets bombed

So, Israeli jets bombed another country, but they aren't taking responsibility?

A point

A point seems to be being reached around the war in Syria - not a conclusion by any means but a stage before a further descent. There's around 400 German troops on the Turkish/Syria border with a battery of Patriot missiles. The French are not "providing arms" but pouring in money to the rebels in order to buy them, some of which is going to various jihadists. The US and Britain have made some noises about a more open intervention and now the "intelligence agencies" which warned of Saddam's WMD report the movement of chemical weapons by the Syrian state. Their use would be a "red line" they say, as if there's much difference getting blown apart by high explosives or eaten up by the toxic legacy they leave.

It's certainly not an "end-game" and nor is one in sight.


The weekly edition of the New York Times has a piece that underlines the importance of the Kurdish question in the unraveling of the Syrian state. The Kurdish militias in northern Syria, given a certain "autonomy" by the Assad regime in its war plans, are now being drawn into the fight and represent a further factor of destabilisation across four countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. There are now battles going on between ethnic Kurds and the rebel forces. The peaceful coexistence between Arab and Kurds is now under threat, particularly given the strength of the jihadist forces spearheading the rebel forces. This puts the Kurds in the same basket as the Christians, the Shi'ites, Druze and Alawite. It doesn't mean any sort of "unification" of these forces but it does strengthen the Kurdish dream of an autonomous homeland. As al-Qaida in Iraq has been transplanted into Syria so now Iraqi Kurds are training Syrian Kurds to fight. Even in Syria now there are mixed religious and ethnic communities living side by side (even if in fear), but as with the Kurds this is becoming increasingly fraught.


On another point, I thought that the German army and their missile battery was on the ground in Turkey very quickly and well before the US made any sort of announcement. There could be some additional tensions here and there are historical imperialist links between Germany and Turkey.