Resisting Israeli aggression is just,
but Islamic fundamentalism threatens the masses

WWP glorifies Hezbollah

by Mark Williams
(CV #40, August 2007)


Islamic theocracy is no answer to Western imperialism
Hezbollah's maneuvering with the Siniora government
Hezbollah touts Iranian theocratic rulers
Syria and Iran vs. Western imperialism: rivalry for regional domination
Hezbollah blurs the difference between anti-Zionism and anti-semitism
WWP vs. Marxism on Hezbollah
For class organization

. What attitude should left-wing activists take toward Hezbollah? This question came to the fore during the July 2006 Israeli bombing and invasion of Lebanon. The Israeli war, backed by US imperialism, was nothing but wanton slaughter of the Lebanese masses. But Israeli and US plans were set back by the stiff resistance movement in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah was the dominant organizing force of this just resistance. But Hezbollah represents its own dangers to the Lebanese masses. It advocates a Shia Islamic theocracy and looks to the fundamentalist clerics running Iran as role models. At the same time Hezbollah presents a more moderate face much of the time in its political stance within Lebanon. It forms alliances with first one and then another sectarian bourgeois political force as it maneuvers to increase it power within Lebanon's confessional system of government. Hezbollah thus combines resistance to Israel with two varieties of reactionary politics overall. This means that despite their successes in fighting the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Hezbollah can not offer the Lebanese working people a way out of oppression. This situation calls attention to the need for the Lebanese workers and poor to organize on a non-sectarian basis, uniting the workers and poor on a class basis across religious and ethnic lines.

. But various pseudo-socialist groups claim that since Hezbollah has resisted the savage US-backed Israeli invasions of Lebanon, we should close our eyes to the danger represented by Hezbollah itself. Prominent among the cheerleaders for Hezbollah is the Trotskyist Workers World Party. They denounce "some in the anti-war movement, even some who call themselves Marxists, [who] have separated themselves from Hezbollah and Hamas, [and] have even attacked them when they are under fire [from Israel], on the grounds of ideology, because they are religious. " Such activists "cannot in reality be on the side of the oppressed" WWP asserts. (1) Thus, it is implied that anyone criticizing Hezbollah is against the unity of the masses against the Israeli invasion. Indeed, the WWP promotes Hezbollah's fundamentalist views as a virtue "whose actual content is the struggle against imperialism. "(2) WWP claims that Marxists should share their love for Hezbollah. But, as we shall see, real communist principles show not only the need to fight imperialism and US-backed watchdogs like Israel, but to explain to the masses the reactionary agenda of the Islamic theocrats running Hezbollah.

Islamic theocracy is no answer to Western imperialism

. According to WWP, the Islamic ideology of Hezbollah is merely a form of anti-imperialism. No doubt Hezbollah has stood up to Israeli aggression. And there is a powerful connection between imperialism and Israel. US imperialism gives Israel massive financial and military aid. In so doing, the US has built up a powerful ally, always ready and able to attack anyone perceived to be a threat to US interests in the Middle East.

. But while Hezbollah opposes features of US policy in the Middle East, it does so with the aim of imposing a repressive Islamic dictatorship over the masses. The issue isn't, as WWP pretends, that the Hezbollah leaders or members merely happen to be Muslims, or that they are politically progressive though religious. It's that Hezbollah's goals would subject everyone to their version of fundamentalist Islam. In the 1980s, Hezbollah imposed strict Islamic codes in certain communities under its control. This did not sit well with the local populace, however, and they were forced to retreat. Thus, in recent years Hezbollah stresses it will not impose such a repressive order on others. At the same time, Hezbollah indicates that when it has enough support, such compromises will no longer be needed. For instance, in Hezbollah's "Statement of Purpose" issued on March 20, 1998, it states:

. "We don't seek the application of Islam by force or violence but by peaceful political action, which gives the opportunity for the majority in any society to adopt or reject it. If Islam becomes the choice of the majority then we will apply it, if not, we will continue to coexist and discuss till we reach correct beliefs. "(3)

But even if Hezbollah could claim support by the majority in Lebanon, that would not make a Hezbollah-dominated government any less oppressive. Here in the US, Christian fundamentalist leaders may get a majority of votes for politicians who push their agenda. But that doesn't mean their agenda is more benign.

. The rule of Hezbollah would mean negating basic democratic rights. It would mean opposition to the separation of church and state, just as fundamentalist right-wing Christian leaders want in the US. Fundamentalist doctrines justifying the second-class status of women and other horrors would become state policy. Indeed, its notable that women are relegated to "their place" in Hezbollah today. They are allowed leadership roles in their social welfare organizations, but not in the political and military organizations. Presumably, this is in line with fundamentalist dogmas that women are only fit for traditional motherly "care-giving" roles.

. The imposition of Hezbollah doctrine would also continue the scourge of sectarian conflict in Lebanon. Hezbollah considers a society based on its variety of Shia Islamic values to be ideal, but having to obey the edicts of Hezbollah-style Shia law would not sit well with the large population of Christians, Sunni Muslims, other Shia groups, secular trends, non-believers, etc. Once again, the workers and poor of one religious group would be pitted against those of another.

. Hezbollah has complained about the unjust confessional system in Lebanon. This is a system based on perpetuating the dominance of certain religious and ethnic groups over others. Under this system, the Christian Maronite minority has been guaranteed a certain share of government power much greater than its weight in the population, and the position of president is reserved for them. The Prime Minister must be Sunni Muslim. Neither post can go to a Shia Muslim, and although Shia Muslims are 40% of the population, they are limited to 21% of the seats in parliament. The confessional system is no good, but Hezbollah opposes it simply because it restricts its influence, not out of devotion to democratic principles.

Hezbollah's maneuvering with the Siniora government

. While Hezbollah's leaders are unhappy about the present political structures, they have had an on-and-off alliance with the ruling Siniora government. They supported the political coalition behind Siniora in 2005 elections, and were given two ministerial post (energy and labor) in it. The dominant forces in the Siniora coalition represent a notoriously corrupt section of the Lebanese bourgeoisie who have been gorging themselves at the expense of the masses. Siniora's economic program, for example, calls for higher taxes on gasoline and on consumer goods that hits the poor heavily and continues a very regressive income tax system. Meanwhile, even some political groups which generally glorify Hezbollah, report that when plans were floated to privatize electricity production, the Hezbollah energy minister was "not combative. "(4) Hezbollah could hardly have been taken by surprise by Siniora's assault on the poor. After all, Siniora oversaw massive corruption as finance minister under the government of Hariri, the former prime minister and billionaire business tycoon who was assassinated in 2005. But Hezbollah told the masses to vote for these capitalist crooks.

. In return for electoral support of Siniora, it was understood that Hezbollah could keep its militia. Such maneuvering has preserved the source of much of Hezbollah's strength. For the masses, however, Hezbollah's wheeling and dealing has helped place them at the mercy of the neo-liberal economic plans of the Lebanese government. (5)

. Later Hezbollah became disenchanted with the government. They have led protests against it for months on end. And they had the their own and other Shiite government ministers boycott the government. These protests attracted broad sections of the workers and poor, including some trade unionists, not necessarily because they agreed with Hezbollah's fundamentalist agenda, but because they saw it as a chance to fight back against the hated Siniora regime. A series of large, angry demonstrations in Beirut put the heat on Siniora and his cronies. The Siniora government responded by accusing Hezbollah of fomenting a coup.

. This does not mean that Hezbollah is on the side of the masses, however. Yes, they talk about how Siniora's policies are hurting the poor. But their main reason for opposing the government was not concern about the treatment of the downtrodden by Siniora, who they had allied with only a short time before. Hezbollah's main concerns with Siniora lay elsewhere. They saw their alliance with Siniora mainly as a way to increase their governmental power, while Siniora saw the alliance as a way to mitigate Hezbollah as a threat to its power by bringing it in as a junior partner. The Israeli invasion undid this uneasy balance of power, however. Hezbollah calculated that it could parlay its popularity for standing up to the Israeli invasion into pushing for more governmental power for itself. But Siniora, with backing by the Western imperialist powers, saw the new situation as a threat and moved to limit Hezbollah's power.

. One way this conflict has played itself out is over the question of the murder of former Prime Minister Hariri. Hezbollah has been unhappy that the government endorsed the establishment of a UN-backed international court to investigate the murder of former Prime Minister Hariri. Siniora blames the murder on the Syrian government, which supports Hezbollah. As well, according to Hezbollah, this decision by the Siniora regime violated a condition of their earlier agreement to participate in the Siniora government. Hezbollah claims this agreement required a unanimous vote of government ministers over certain matters, giving Hezbollah the ability to block measures like the approval of the international court.

. As the months of anti-government protests continued, Hezbollah's main demand was for veto power within the Siniora government or new elections. But various power-sharing proposals have failed. In April, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah announced that Hezbollah and its allies would no longer demand veto power. He said Hezbollah would seek to resolve the governmental crisis through a referendum or new elections. Thus, Hezbollah's conflict with Siniora will continue, but Hezbollah is not really fighting on behalf of the masses.

Hezbollah touts Iranian theocratic rulers

. The loyalty of the Hezbollah leadership to the clerical tyranny in Iran is further evidence that the masses should be leery of the Hezbollah's ultimate goal of Islamic rule. Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, considers Ayatollah Khomeini to have been the infallible interpreter of god's will. Nasrallah considers Ayatollah Khamenei, Khomeini's successor, to be the present religious authority to follow. But the Iranian clerics believe in a system where ultimate authority rests with unelected bodies of clerics. The Iranian system is considered too extreme a form of theocratic rule even by many other Islamic theocrats.

. Theocratic rule in Iran, as in other countries, is a nightmare for the masses. The ruling Iranian clerics rode to power on the backs of the mass revolution which brought down the hated Shah in 1979. Ayatollah Khomeini's forces won the contest for power after the Shah's fall through brutal suppression of all the other anti-Shah forces. In particular, this involved crushing the organizations of the masses. The clerical tyranny imposed brutal anti-women measures. And they imposed censorship against those who dared to question any of their teachings. There is a parliament, but an unelected group of clerics can overturn their decisions and has banned parties they don't like. A similar reactionary tradition is being continued by current Iranian president Ahmadinejad, who over the past year called for purging the universities of professors who don't meet his religious litmus test. Ahmadinejad also organized the infamous meeting of deniers of the Jewish holocaust by Nazi Germany. And Ahmadinejad is supposed to be more tolerant than the clerical council which has the last say in political affairs! Not surprisingly, WWP also promotes Ahmadinejad as a great anti-imperialist fighter.

. Hezbollah runs a series of social services which give various kinds of aid to the masses. This is no doubt one of the reasons they have gotten mass support. And in some official documents, they even talk favorably about labor movements. But the Iranian regime brutally crushes any independent motion of the workers and poor. Meanwhile, the ruling clerics have enriched themselves at the expense of the masses. The ruling clerics have taken control over major enterprises alongside a major private capitalist sector which benefits from the clerical tyranny. The clerics in Iran have been implicated in all kinds of corruption scandals as they run their establishments for their own enrichment. The leading clerics subverted land reform at the behest of the rich landowners. At the same time, the regime tries to smooth over the contradictions of capitalism with certain subsidies and social programs. But the Iranian masses remain poor and oppressed. None of this lessens the support of Hezbollah for the Iranian regime, however.

Syria and Iran vs. Western imperialism:
rivalry for regional domination

. Hezbollah's alternative to Western imperialism involves not only a repressive Islamic order in Lebanon. Hezbollah also idolizes the Iranian despots because they see them as a bulwark against the US and other Western imperialist countries. Hezbollah has ties with Syria as well, but they are of a more pragmatic nature. Hezbollah is not enchanted with the domestic order in Syria, but they do believe the Assad regime in Syria is another force against the Western powers. But in fact, the Iranian and Syrian rulers, and not just the Western powers, are engaged in a rivalry for domination in the Middle East.

. With the shattering of the old colonial rule of the traditional big powers, countries like Iran and Syria have developed into regional capitalist powers. And they have their own independent efforts to have spheres of economic and political domination. True, they are not nearly as strong as the big imperialist powers, and they are subject to indignities imposed on them by US and European imperialism. Nevertheless, their conflict with the US is a rivalry for domination of the region. There are also other regional capitalist powers that are in rivalry with Iran and/or Syria, such as Saudi Arabia. Of course, the US-watchdog, Israel, has the most powerful military machine in the Middle East and menaces the whole Arab world and Iran.

. The regional power ambitions of the regimes supported by Hezbollah have long contributed to the misery of the masses of the Middle East. The rivalry for domination between the Iranian clerical rulers and Iraq under Hussein fueled atrocity after atrocity in an eight-year war between them, costing hundreds of thousands of lives. Today, while Iraq languishes under the brutal US occupation, the Iranian clerical dictatorship seeks to displace US domination with its own. In order to do so, the Iranian regime contributes to the sectarian violence ravaging the Iraqi people. The Shia Muslim clerics who rule Iran helped train the sectarian SCIRI militias. These militias, the Badr Brigades, have infiltrated the Iraqi security forces of the Shia-dominated Iraqi government and act as death squads against Sunnis. The Iranian regime is also cultivating ties with the US-backed al-Maliki regime in Iraq.

. While Iran contests with the US for influence in Iraq, they have sometimes found themselves supporting the same forces, each for their own reasons. Thus, Abdel Aziz Hakim, the leader of SCIRI, several months ago had a friendly visit with Bush where he urged Bush to launch stronger attacks on SCIRI's Sunni rivals in Iraq. As well, while Iran wants the US to get out of Iraq, this is tempered by its courtship of the al-Maliki regime in Iraq, which still relies on the US occupiers.

. For its part, the Syrian regime has a long history of domination over Lebanon. From the mid-1970's to 2005, tens of thousands of Lebanese troops occupied Lebanon. Syria intervenes heavily in Lebanese politics and has used its leverage to extract favorable economic concessions. Indeed, Syria is the overseer of the vast system of corruption that has enriched business and government elites both in Syria and Lebanon.

. In order to maintain their domination, the Syrian rulers have been willing to alternately create and betray alliances with all sorts of forces in Lebanon. During the 1975-76 Lebanese civil war, Syrian leader Hafez Assad sent troops to Lebanon who helped the pro-US, pro-Israel Christian Phalangists slaughter the Lebanese left and the Palestinian movement. This temporary alliance was not done to promote Israeli or US interests, however. It was done because Syria felt the Palestinian presence was a threat to their own hegemony in Lebanon.

. Anti-imperialism today cannot be merely opposing the US and other traditional big powers. It must also include opposing the regional capitalist powers in the Middle East. Hezbollah chooses to align with certain regional powers who are opposed by US imperialism.

. But this does not bother the WWP. Like Hezbollah, the WWP's anti-imperialism consists of backing the rulers of the regional capitalist powers in the Middle East in conflict with the US or other Western imperialist powers. They may have this or that criticism of the local capitalist powers, but when they are in conflict with the US, the WWP forgets about them and about the striving for domination of these regional bullies. Thus, the WWP backed Saddam Hussein in his conflicts with the US. They back the tyrants ruling Iran as anti-imperialist heroes, though the Iranian regime's desire to dominate the region helped perpetuate the horrific slaughter with Iraq. The WWP rightly doesn't want the US or Israel to control Lebanon. But when Hezbollah acts as an apologist of the Assad regime in Syria, the WWP forgets that Syria has subjugated Lebanon and praises Hezbollah's anti-imperialism to the skies. In essence, the WWP's anti-imperialism means supporting the efforts of the lesser capitalist powers to carve out their own spheres of domination at the expense of each other and the strongest capitalist countries. (6)

Hezbollah blurs the difference
between anti-Zionism and anti-semitism

. Hezbollah's owes much of its popularity to its resistance to Israeli invasions of Lebanon. Resistance to the Israeli war machine is certainly just. But Hezbollah blurs the line between opposition to the Zionist ruling class in Israel and anti-Jewish bigotry. Hezbollah clerics talk about opposing Zionism but also cite religious texts with anti-semitic messages. While the racist Israeli rulers want Israel kept as a Jewish theocracy and are in a frenzy to avoid Israel having "too many" Arabs, Hezbollah ultimately wants Israel replaced with an Islamic theocracy and thinks there's "too many" Jews there. Hezbollah says they would be tolerant to Jews there. But their plans involve removal of all Jews who did not already live in the area where and when the Israeli state was established, which is most of the Jews in Israel. (7)

. Hezbollah realizes that it will not soon be in a position to conquer Israel, and is reconciled to confining itself to reacting to Israeli provocations for a lengthy period of time. Nevertheless, the anti-semitic nature of Hezbollah undermines the cause of the anti-imperialist masses. It provides the Israeli rulers with a convenient way to keep the Jewish masses under their spell. It helps further dull the class consciousness of the Israeli workers and fosters support for the Israeli military machine as a force supposedly merely protecting Jews, not persecuting the Arab peoples. Similarly, it dims the class consciousness of the Arab masses and converts their anti-imperialist impulses into religious sectarianism.

WWP vs. Marxism on Hezbollah

. Despite the reactionary nature of Hezbollah's clerical doctrine, the WWP's stand amounts to chiding activists that they must cover up Hezbollah's medieval agenda. This is supposedly required by the need to stand up to Israel and US imperialism. In an editorial in the Aug. 17, 2006 edition of their paper, Workers World, they write:

. "Some in the anti-war movement, even some who call themselves Marxists, have separated themselves from Hezbollah and Hamas, have even attacked them when they are under fire, on the grounds of ideology, because they are religious.
. "Ideological differences should not stand in the way of uniting against imperialism in the living mass struggle. Breaking unity at a time when US imperialism and the Israeli ruling class want to extinguish the forces of resistance is an abandonment of internationalist duty. One cannot in reality be on the side of the oppressed in general while opposing their actual, living struggle and the organizations that are carrying out that struggle."

. During the Israeli invasion, it was inevitable and proper that the attention of the Lebanese masses should, regardless of which political trend they follow, be focused on resistance to invasion. Hezbollah's militias certainly played the major role in bogging down the Israeli war machine. In the present situation in Lebanon, there were, unfortunately, no other organized forces that could have played this role. Thus, to imagine that Hezbollah could be excluded from the resistance to the invasion would be wrong. Much less would it make sense to boycott the resistance because of Hezbollah's role.

. However, the strength of Hezbollah also presents its own dangers to the Lebanese masses. WWP wants to belittle these dangers. They lecture that to tell the truth about the clerical agenda of Hezbollah would be to sabotage unity in the face of Israel and imperialism. But what sense does that make? Does the WWP expect that if other groups who oppose the invasion criticize Hezbollah that it would no longer take up resistance to Israel? If so, then Hezbollah couldn't even be that serious about opposing Israel.

. For good measure, the WWP even accuses progressive critics of Hezbollah of being against Hezbollah simply because "they are religious. " Evidently, to be against Hezbollah is to be against Muslims in general according to WWP. Thus, they equate opposition to Hezbollah's doctrine of religious bigotry with religious bigotry itself.

. The WWP is especially shocked that certain Marxists would not join their chorus of adoration for Hezbollah. In that case, they must find Lenin's stand, which they claim to uphold, very shocking. Lenin was a staunch defender of the right of oppressed nations to self-determination and supported the revolutionary movement against colonialism and all forms of imperialist oppression. However, Lenin also emphasized the different role of various class trends opposing the colonial system of his day. He stressed that a revolutionary proletarian trend would be the most resolute and consistent force in the anti-imperialist struggle. As well, he supported revolutionary-democratic trends, while recognizing their limitations. And Lenin distinguished between the revolutionary democratic trends and the reformist bourgeoisie which sought accommodation with imperialism. Lenin also specifically dealt with the need to stand up to the clerical reaction dressed up in anti-imperialist garb. In his Preliminary Draft Theses on the National and Colonial Questions for the Communist International's Second Congress, Lenin's eleventh thesis talks about

. " .  .  . the need for a struggle against the clergy and other influential reactionary and medieval elements in backward countries" and "the need to combat Pan-Islamism and similar trends, which strive to combine the liberation movement against European and American imperialism with an attempt to strengthen the positions of the khans, landowners, mullahs, etc. "

. A group like Hezbollah is precisely the kind of anti-imperialist group that Lenin says should be struggled against. In contrast, WWP singles out Hezbollah's Islamic fundamentalist doctrine as its strong suit. They write in the July 27 Workers World article that

. "The Saudi monarchy is Islamic, as is the Kuwaiti monarchy and the Jordanian monarchy. The Shiite collaborators in the Iraqi puppet government are Islamic. They are all with imperialism.
. "But Islam also plays a role as the rallying cry of the masses of the Middle East and elsewhere to take up arms against Washington and its agents in the region. To that extent, it is the ideological form whose actual content is the struggle against imperialism. .  .  . " (see article "With US backing: Israeli terrorists bomb Lebanon". )

. WWP is clearly unconcerned that Islamic fundamentalism has influence over a section of the masses in the Middle East. Unlike Lenin, they do not give a damn if that means tying the masses to medieval backwardness. According to WWP's logic, fundamentalist oppression is only a problem when carried out by a pro-US political force. Evidently, the fundamentalist dogma imposed by the likes of anti-US forces like the ruling clerics in Iran is not repression at all, but a liberating experience!

. But when all else fails, the WWP has one final argument.

. "Unfortunately, the role of Islam in the struggle against imperialism confuses some in the progressive movement, but it shouldn't. The struggle of oppressed people for self-determination can and has emerged in different forms, including religious ones, and is best judged by the oppressed, not by ideologues from the oppressor nation. "(8)

. In other words, according to WWP, activists in the US who don't share in their love affair with Islamic reaction are in no position to judge. Indeed, by WWP's "logic" what right did Lenin have to judge the various trends in the colonial world of his time, seeing as he was an ideologue in Russia, a major oppressor nation?! But what if the ideologue from the oppressor nation is from the WWP? Then, evidently, you are in a position to decide that Islamic reaction is just what the masses in the Middle East need! This is little more than an attempt by the WWP to have activists blindly accept whatever they deem acceptable. Sorry, but we and other thoughtful activists will not play along.

For class organization

. We fully support the right of the Lebanese people to resist the Israeli bullying of Lebanon and its US backers. We do not blame Hezbollah for the invasion or equate their resistance with the Israeli incursion. But we do not expect the masses to resign themselves to clerical bigotry, either. There is another path, the path of class independence for the masses. True, such a trend will have to be virtually built from scratch. And true, at present Hezbollah is a powerful force by comparison. But it's popularity among a section of the masses in Lebanon does not change the danger Hezbollah represents to the workers and poor, to women rights, democracy, etc. Building up an independent working class trend is a daunting task but it is the only way forward for the masses. However, the history of Lebanon shows examples of secular leftist forces playing a major role in standing up to Israeli incursions and of organizing across ethnic and religious lines. At their best, these forces showed that there are possibilities for attracting the oppressed to a secular and militant class appeal. But these groups degenerated and could not maintain their independence from various bourgeois factions.

. Activists concerned about the fate of the Lebanese masses should long for the day when they will no longer feel obliged to turn to Islamic fundamentalism to stand up to Israel. They should seek to encourage a trend extending the concept of anti-imperialism to include opposition to the regional capitalist powers in the Middle East, including those who disagree with the US, like Iran and Syria. The Lebanese masses need an alternative that is seriously concerned about democratic rights and ending religious sectarianism. They need organizations that fight the class oppression of the workers, poor farmers, and other downtrodden sections of the population. This is what's needed both for a consistent struggle against imperialism, and to enable a firm struggle against the bourgeois factions and sectarianism that has ruined the Lebanese masses for decades on end. <>


(1) "Stop US-Israeli terror! Long live the resistance!", Workers World editorial of Aug. 17, 2006. (Return to text)

(2) "With US backing Israeli terrorists bomb Lebanon", Workers World, July 27, 2006. (Text)

(3) This statement can be found on the "Hizbullah ­ the Party of God" web site at http:/almashriq. hiof. no/lebanon/300/320/324/324. 2/hizballah/statment01. html. (Text)

(4) The Lebanese Communist Party, a reformist party which long ago abandoned real communism, is generally pro-Hezbollah but admits Hezbollah was willing to compromise with the Siniora economic program. See "Hezbollah and Resistance: the viewpoint of the Lebanese Communist Party", interview with Marie Nassif-Debs, member of the Political Bureau of the Lebanese CP, Sept. 2006. This article can be found on the web site of the Trotskyist group International Viewpoint at www. internationalviewpoint. org/spip. php?article1159. (Text)

(5) Hezbollah is by no means mere followers of the Siniora regime, however. They have maneuvered with a host of political forces. They have recently developed ties to General Auon, a Christian general who fought the Palestinian guerrilla forces in the 1970s, and Amal, a rival Shiite group that has been getting its share of the massive corruption in the government. (Text)

(6) One of the problems faced by the WWP when it claims that anti- imperialist activists in the US should support reactionary regional powers, provided they have conflicts with the US, is that the interests of these regional powers may clash. Such was the case in the bloody eight- year war between Iraq under Hussein and Iran, for most of that time under a clerical tyranny. Even the WWP has had to admit that Hussein waged " a reactionary bourgeois war of conquest ". As a result of this and other actions, such as suppressing working class forces in Iraq, the WWP has to say that Hussein had played " a contradictory and often reactionary role " (see their statement on the capture of Saddam Hussein in the Workers World of Dec. 25, 2003).

But not matter what Hussein did, the WWP still tells anti- imperialists in the US that Saddam Hussein is one of their own and should be defended. Thus, the WWP was grief- stricken over Hussein's death sentence and hanging in December 2006. The WWP even called emergency demonstrations (poorly attended, thankfully) hoping to save Hussein's life. Meanwhile the Iranian regime, which WWP calls part of " the axis of anti- imperialism " (" Israeli terrorists bomb Lebanon", Workers World , July 20, 2006), cheered the conviction of Hussein.

The WWP contended that no trial conducted by the occupation regime would be legitimate. Well, the trial of Hussein, for all its irregularities, was no worse than the many trials in neighboring Iran of trade unionists, students, women and activists, none of which the WWP called emergency demonstrations against. Yet these victims of persecution deserved the support of workers the world over, while Hussein deserved nothing but contempt for his crimes. The question isn't whether Hussein got a proper trial, but why the WWP can't oppose both the occupation regime and Hussein and feels compelled to choose between them. It is not Hussein and the Iranian regime, but the working masses they have victimized, who deserve the support of anti- imperialist activists everywhere. (Text)

(7) Hassan Ezzeddin, a Hezbollah spokesman, gave this view in the first of a two part interview with Jeffrey Goldberg that appeared in The New Yorker of Oct. 14 and 21, 2002. Goldberg, beginning with a quote from Ezzeddin, writes: " 'Our goal is to liberate the 1948 borders of Palestine,' he added, referring to the year of Israel's founding. The Jews who survive this war of liberation, Ezzeddin said, 'can go back to Germany, or wherever they came from. ' He added, however, that the Jews who lived in Palestine before 1948 will be 'allowed to live as a minority and they will be cared for by the Muslim majority.'" (Text)

(8) "Islam, Malcolm X and the right to self-determination", Workers World, Aug. 17, 2006. (Text)

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September 6, 2007.