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Economic and Philosophic Science Review

Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is the touchstone on which the real understanding and recognition of Marxism is to be tested. V. I. Lenin

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No 1298 29th August 2006

Worldwide impact of imperialism’s stunning defeat in Lebanon via its proxy Zionists continues to grow, shattering the “Israeli” colonists, and the Bush/Blair axis; exposing European imperialist “buffer zone” UN collusion; hugely strengthening Middle Eastern anti-imperialism, rousing support throughout the Third World; and exposing further the fake-”left” class-collaborating condemnation of militant leaderships like Hizbullah. But most of all it raises many new questions that only Marxist-Leninism can begin to tackle

Zionism’s invasion failure in Lebanon is a shattering blow to the entire imperialist order sending shockwaves in all directions through the world capitalist system, driving wider its festering contradictions and enormously increasing its chaotic failure to keep a grip on the world as its crisis deepens ever closer to historical catastrophe.

The effects of this historic defeat by armed and effectively-organised militancy transforms not only the confidence and spirit of the rising Middle Eastern struggle and the Palestinian intifida at the heart of it, but of Third World hostility throughout the planet, and of working class confidence and consciousness everywhere against the endless 800 year tyranny of capitalism.

The calmness with which one Hizbullah fighter explained to Radio 4’s Today programme last week, that a great victory had been won - despite the grotesque and terrifying brutality of the Nazi Zionist onslaught and massive losses ten or twenty times greater than suffered by their side - is a measure of the huge maturity of understanding and grasp now revealed to run throughout the Middle East and particularly around the Palestinian intifida and the countries closest to it.

The point was that Israel’s “invincibility” had been exposed for all time, he said to the puzzled interviewer, and the huge losses are simply “the price we have to pay.”

One obvious immediate impact has obviously been to crack wide open the Zionists themselves, now riven by a turmoil of recrimination and finger-pointing blame-seeking, the classic signs of defeat and humiliation.

Within “Israel”, the forcefully imposed artificial colonialist state on stolen Palestinian land, the backbiting and infighting are at fever pitch, threatening to bring down the Ehud Olmert government and further tearing apart an already psychotic and fevered “society”, capable of surviving only for as long as it can maintain complete intimidatory dominance over the Arab and Middle Eastern state around it:

An Israeli brigade commander who was a key player in the Lebanon war has accused senior army officers of being badly out of touch with events on the ground and of exposing soldiers to unnecessary risks.

Amid widening recriminations in Israel that are threatening to bring down the government, Colonel Amnon Eshel, commander of the 7th tank division, in an interview accused his division commander of being insensitive towards the plight of reservists who were called up at a moment’s notice and ill-prepared.

Talking about events leading up to the ground operation Amnon said: ‘I realised there was a problem with the readiness of the reserve regiment to carry out its mission. The regiment commander told me he was not ready. So I went to the division commander ... he told me: “I don’t care, we’re going in”.’

Amnon returned to his division commander twice to request the order be changed and was rejected both times. In the end, he said, he subverted his orders because of his fears of mass casualties. Amnon, who made the claims in an interview with award-winning Israeli film director Nurit Kedar, commanded thousands of soldiers on the eastern section of the south Lebanon front.

Referring to the need to balance the pressure from higher up the military chain to launch the operation swiftly with trying to minimise the risks to the soldiers, Amnon said: ‘It was clear to me that I must carry out my mission, but I did not want others below me to know I was in this dilemma. Many things went wrong in the decision-making process concerning the handling of my operation. My division commander had his own evaluation. The officers at army headquarters were out of touch with what was happening on the ground ... we made so many changes in 24 hours. They did not know how to react.’

...More than 50 reserve soldiers, mostly married with families and businesses, died in the war. Last week reservists protested outside the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem as anger continued to grow over operational failures.

Some have accused the government and senior military of sending their comrades to unnecessary deaths. Amnon’s admissions are particularly controversial as they have serious implications for some senior officers when pressure is growing on the government to conduct a state inquiry. The Israeli government is so worried about the political fallout that its Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz, has banned senior military officers from speaking to the media.

Reserve soldiers make up 70 per cent of the Israeli army and, unlike the rest of the army, they are free to speak out. Many have echoed Amnon’s concerns.

One, protesting in Jerusalem last week, said: ‘Reservists got bad treatment, bad equipment and bad decisions.’

The protests outside Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office have been growing daily, with some reservists bringing their families with them. As men, women and children waved protest banners, and chanted ‘Olmert resign’, Israelis arrived to sign petitions backing calls for the resignations. The war was supported by the majority of Israelis - but many are deeply dismayed by its conduct and outcome.

Frenzied talk of putting in an “even harder” Netanyahu Likud government to do the smiting “properly” itself only underlines the enormous weakness and confusion now besetting even this most dementedly single-minded fascist expression of imperialism and its colonialist suppression of the world’s masses for ever-increasing exploitation.

Zionism’s boggle-eyed religious lunacy and fanatical bigotry has been threatening “no more Mr. Nice Guy” escalations and increased violence and hardness for the last 100 years, from the beginning of the Zionist terror campaigns and ethnic cleansing atrocities which drove millions of Palestinians off their land for the forcible imposition of the Israeli ”state” in 1948 to the ever-expanding “self-defence” warmongering it has engaged in ever since.

But endless collective punishments, sniping assassinations (of children and women as well as militants) and the imposition of ever more fear, violence and oppression, of an inventiveness to shame even the Nazis (low flying plane sonic boom terror e.g.) pushing down the smallest signs of resistance from the Palestinians, the Arab world or the Middle East in general, has failed utterly to stop the steady maturing and growth of patient and determined struggle, within especially the focal point of the decades long Palestinian resistance but as the latest events show, also on a much wider scale throughout the Middle East.

And the entire world imperialist leadership is this time so tangled and entwined with this monstrous barbarism – more overtly supporting the most grotesque atrocities and “punishment” of innocent women, children and civilians than ever before - that the splits and cracks will run right through the entire world order.

Just as the 1968 Tet offensive in Vietnam was a massive loss for the Vietcong in sheer numbers killed, so too was it also a titanic political victory for the nationalist and communist forces, enormously strengthening and motivating the puny resources of a sometime almost barefoot peasant rebellion and shattering mighty technologically powerful western arrogance.

Its seismic reverberations exposed the growing contradictions and difficulties of relentlessly accumulating capitalist crisis. All the turmoil of 1968 from street fighting in Paris and Berlin to the upwelling of the anti-Nixon anti-Vietnam movement in Chicago in the summer followed on, caused by, and dialectically then contributing to the defeat and the eventual withdrawal of the US forces, and the humiliation of the Nixon presidency in the mid-1970s.

US imperialist confidence remained openly shattered throughout the 1970s and the humbling Carter presidency and in some respects has never recovered.

And that was from a fight with containable impact on the overall imperialist system which was still on a post-war upward curve and capable of continuing its overall world domination in the Cold War “balance” conditions of the time, later aided over further growing inter-imperialist crisis troubles by the disastrous revisionist capitulations of the late 1980s caused by the complete abandonment of all revolutionary perspectives by long retreating Moscow revisionism.

There can be far less recovery from the blow now inflicted to western imperialist hubris.

It comes at a watershed moment in the entire 800 year history of the capitalist order when it is now clearly teetering on the edge of utter disaster, with the contradictions of its class rule and exploitation reaching catastrophic breaking point. The claims of the bourgeoise to be “taking the world forwards” into prosperity, peace and progress have never looked more empty, hypocritical and hollow.

Almost the strongest signal of the fears eating at the ruling order has been the frantic way world dominant US imperialism has been desperately investing all its might and credibility into achieving just the opposite image – painting itself with an “stop-at-nothing” ruthless face to smash down by “shock and awe” all thoughts of growing resistance and rebellion, while simultaneously warning off all competition for its supreme position that only merciless war and destruction can be expected by any challengers - explicitly stating that all military and technological advances that start to come close to its capacities will be attacked and destroyed.

But this grotesquery and shouted fascist violence has immediately run into ever great difficulties, bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq in mounting military, social and political quicksands, reflecting the disastrous misjudgments and miscalculations of a ruling order now out of time historically.

The intractable contradictions of its production-for-profit system continually lead it into unsolvable “over-production” tangles. The devastating result has always been destructive and impoverishing slump, blighting tens of millions of lives with unemployment, hunger and want (even in the relatively early conditions of the Victorian period) and turning, in the imperialist epoch into the all-out hostility of increasingly vicious trade war, and its ultimate culmination in open inter-imperialist inter-monopoly warmongering to “sort out” the rivalries and destroy the competition, physically and permanently. (See economic quotes on page 6).

The warmongering destruction simultaneously reduces the mass of accumulated capital and production capacity on the planet (by wiping it out) and with it the surplus of unemployed workers giving the chance to the system to re-start its investment and expansion cycle.

The world has seen this brutal “solution” reached three times on a world war scale (counting the Europe wide devastation of the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 and the two world wars) with each time massively increased and wider spread destruction.

The desperate economic slump crises which preceded each slide into war are back on the agenda, held off for the most “advanced” countries only by the insane distortions of the world credit system, now pushed to extraordinary limits with the ever-growing and unsustainable American multi-trillion dollar government deficit and the equally unrepayable “private” debts of the entire metropolitan west, (and by the temporary relief given by increased demand from the of the titanic growth of the Chinese workers state economy.)

But all the credit inflation built up with decades of insane dollar printing to saturate the entire world trading system is straining the entire world economy to bursting point, with huge pre-tremors of economic disaster and collapse now regularly sweeping sections of the planet: slump collapse after slump collapse and bankruptcy after bankruptcy forced onto various parts of the world over the last decade and a half, wiping out entire countries like Argentina, and threatening Mexico at one point, and devastating other parts of south America; scorching with currency collapse much of south-east Asia’s industry and agriculture; and paralysing with deflation, for fifteen years, the world’s most technologically and financially advanced economy in Japan.

The carpetbagging plunder of the giant mineral and labour resources of the former Soviet Union, wide open to capitalist piratical depredation after the deluded capitulation of the workers state to western “market forces” by Gorbachevite revisionist liquidationism has seen further waves of 1930s slump conditions imposed on workers throughout Russia and the other former soviet states, as the steady (if somewhat boring) progress of the socialist economies has been ripped apart.

There can only be much worse to come as the relentless logic of capitalist production for profit is worked through and ever-increasing oceans of credit-bloated capital accumulate, to slosh around the planet looking for ever fewer profitable investment prospects, creating further massive waves of instability and slump collapse and threatening the bring total world disaster ever closer.

The pattern of now continuous warmongering since 1998 with Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq and now Lebanon torn to shreds, and the insane hysteria of the “war on terror” (now the Pentagon’s “endless war”) hyped up daily with theatrical and false alarms (as in east London and as widely suspected of the latest “liquid bomb plot”) to sustain the fascist atmosphere and impose increasingly draconian dictatorship measures everywhere, is the result, and a powerful signal that a desperate imperialism is preparing for the next world war, as it stares panic stricken into the unsolvable depths of this greatest ever crisis catastrophe.

But taking on the Nazi mantle has gone badly wrong already and the shock and awe has simply deepened ten thousandfold the world resistance to the injustices and tyranny of this rotten foul imperialist exploitation.

Everything it touches turns to rot including now the irredeemable smearing with the fascist foulness of the Zionist barbarities in Lebanon. And for the record, as the capitalist press once again fills its pages with diversionary celebrity trivia and holiday news, let the depravity and Nazi criminality of the events be re-painted:

Three days ago, next to the gutted and destroyed house in Qana, seven bodies lay covered with bedsheets, a blanket and a prayer mat. One small arm stretched out from under the sheets; thin, the arm of a little girl, a piece of cloth like a bracelet wrapped around the wrist. As bodies were loaded on the stretcher, I saw another dead girl; she was dressed in a black shirt with a coloured scarf wrapped loosely around her head. Her face was swollen.

In some ways I was relieved. The rumour we had heard in the hotel in Tyre was that at least 40 people, half of them children, had been in the house in Qana when it was bombed by Israeli planes, and here I was an hour later, with Red Cross workers and others running up and down, and all I could see was the bodies of two girls and five adults.

...But even as I stood there registering that emotion, hellish scenes were unfolding. Four medics carried a little boy by on an orange stretcher: he was perhaps 12 years old, dressed in black shorts and a white T-shirt with a coloured motorcycle on it. His arms were stretched behind his head, but apart from the bruises on his face and the swollen lips, he looked OK. For half a second I told myself...that he was just sleeping, and that he would be fine. But he was dead.

Then came two more boys in the arms of the rescuers. One of them, the younger, around eight years old, had his arms close to his chest, his nose and mouth covered with blood. The elder, around 10, had dirt and debris in his mouth. Their slight bodies were put on a blanket, the head of the younger boy left resting on the shoulder of the elder, then four men carried the blanket off, stopping twice to rest as they took them away. The bodies of the boys were piled with other corpses in the back of an ambulance.

Two more small dead boys followed them. The medics were running out of stretchers, so they piled the corpses of the boys on one orange stretcher. One of the kids was slightly chubby; he was wearing a red T-shirt and shorts. His head rested on the lap of the younger, who was about six years old; both had the same exploding lips, covered with blood and dirt. It was obvious to everyone that these boys were not sleeping.

Then another child was pulled from under the rubble, and another followed, and then another. You go a little crazy when you see little body after little body coming up out of the ground. I looked around me and all I could see in the house was the detritus of their short lives - big plastic bags filled with clothes, milk cans, plastic toys and a baby carriage.

By three in the afternoon, when the corpse of a one-year-old boy was pulled from the rubble, he looked more like a mud statue than a child. The medics held him high above their heads, clear of the rubble. The faces of the rescue workers said everything that needed to be said.

What is obvious to everyone covering this conflict is that children are bearing the brunt of it. The few official figures collated so far seem to support this. Unicef says that 37 of the 60 dead in Qana on Sunday were children, and everywhere you go, it seems that it is the children who are being killed, injured and displaced. Yesterday the Lebanese government said that of the 828 of its civilians killed in the conflict so far, around 35% have been children - that’s around 290. Unicef also estimates that about a third of the dead have been children, although it bases that figure on the fact that an estimated 30% of Lebanon’s population are children, rather than any actual count of the dead. There are no official figures yet for the number of wounded children, but they will certainly exceed the number killed; as for those displaced, Unicef says that 45% of the estimated 900,000 Lebanese to have fled their homes are children.

...Children often suffer most in wars like this - wars in which civilians suffer heavy casualties. They are weaker, they may be too small to run or walk, they may suffer more on long journeys by foot. And as Amelia Bookstein, head of humanitarian policy at Save the Children, points out: “Children who are wounded, separated from their families, or traumatised, may be too frightened or unable to flee their homes.”

There are the official statistics, and then there are the children, who seem to be everywhere in the heart of this conflict, all with their own, painful, awful stories. A week ago I met Abbas Sha’ito, a chubby 12-year-old boy in a bright orange T-shirt who was sitting on the side of a road south of Tyre, blood covering his face, his T-shirt torn by the bomb that had hit the minivan he had been in. He and 17 others had been inside; his mother, brother and aunt were all injured, moaning and in agony a few feet away. Inside the minivan remained the headless corpse of his uncle, and the bodies of his grandmother and another man who had been fleeing with them.

Abbas was weeping, and had an arm round his mother, who seemed to be fading fast: she was injured in the chest and head, and one of her arms was almost severed at the bicep. “Don’t leave me, mother,” the boy wept. “Don’t go, don’t go.”

It was clear that his mother believed herself to be close to death. “Take care of your brothers and sisters,” she said to Abbas.

“Don’t leave me,” Abbas kept saying.

“My purse is under me. There is money, take care of it,” his mother said; as she did, her head began drooping, and Abbas screamed... Abbas’s mother is still alive, although still in intensive care, but Abbas was not to know this then. He buried his face in his hands and wept, while his brother Ali stood nearby, one hand bandaged and his eyes on the horizon.

Last Wednesday, in a hospital in Tyre, I met Samah Shihab, a seven-year-old girl with beautiful long eyelashes from the hamlet of Mlooka near Tyre. She was in the yard of her house with her two brothers, aged four and nine, and her 14-year-old sister, when a shell fell. “I was playing with my sister and brothers when the rocket came,” said Samah. “They started screaming and crying. There was pressure in my ears and my hands and legs were all in blood. I was scared. My brother was screaming and I was scared.” According to her doctors, Samah, who was badly burned and needs skin grafts on her legs, is unlikely to walk again.

On Monday I met Ali (he didn’t give me a second name), who is nine and had been hiding in the basement of his house, along with his aunts, his grandmother and an uncle with learning difficulties, for 20 days in the village of Bint Jbeil. While the family hid below, war raged above: the village has suffered the heaviest shelling of anywhere in the south of Lebanon, as well as intense street battles between Israeli soldiers and Hizbullah fighters. When Ali emerged from the basement on Monday, during a brief halt to the aerial bombardment, he was visibly frightened and shocked, and seemed unable to recognise his surroundings.

As he made his first steps on the big chunks of rubble and concrete strewn everywhere, clutching a bottle of water in one arm and a blue bag in the other, he began shaking and crying. His grandfather, who was leading him through the rubble, collapsed in the shade of a doorway, and Ali and other family members continued their walk to the Red Cross vehicles - parked a kilometre away, at the edge of the village, beyond the edge of the vast and almost impassable rubble field - without him. I walked with them.

As we walked, jumping from one boulder to the other, Ali said: “My father and mother went with my other brothers and sisters to another town. They said they will come and get me when the bombs stop.”

In the scorching sunshine above, Israeli jets were flying, their sound mixed with that of the drones. Suddenly a thud came from the hills and Ali froze. “They are going to bomb again!” He started to cry. “Why are the Israelis hitting us? Do they hate us? My cousin Mahmoud called me on the phone and he told me that the nuclear bombs are really big. Are they as big as these rockets?” It’s hard to convey quite how shocked, perhaps quite literally shell-shocked - this little boy was. He was almost delusional.

In another hospital in Tyre, which has seen 120 injured and 35 dead so far, I meet the young son of the head of the hospital. Muhammad Najem, 11, spends his days inside where it’s safe, because a week ago a car was hit by a missile on the road directly outside the hospital. Muhammad draws on a computer: his latest drawing is of Hizbullah fighter. Next to the fighter is a star of David stabbed with a dagger - blood drips down into a vat full of blood marked “Hell”.

His elder brother Ali Najem, a fourth-year medical student in his 20s, is rueful. “The Israelis are planting very bad hatred in the children against Israel,” he says.

...Ali also talks about the impact on women delivering babies in the midst of conflict. In the first week of the war one of them named her new son Intisar, which means victory. In the past week, two new names have been given to newborns at this hospital: “Wahid, which means ‘the lonely’, and Dayaa, which means ‘the lost’.” The woman who gave birth to Dayaa did so alone, having been separated from her husband somewhere in the Bekaa Valley. Ali says that she became disturbed, and called out to her husband: “If you don’t come and take me out of this place, I will put myself under these bombs and kill myself and the baby.” For newborns, as well as for the older children, the scars of this war are going to take a long time to fade.

Only the rapidly degenerating historical floundering of the ruling class can explain the clumsy and crude way the Blair/Bush axis has so inextricably intertwined itself with the Zionist Rottweilers’ onslaught - so desperate for some kind of victory against the rising tide of Third World rebellion that all pretence at even-handedness and “seeking for a peaceful solution to the Palestinian problem” has been utterly abandoned.

US imperialism has always juggled with its domination of the Middle East by keeping its distance and, while in practice totally backing, financing and arming the Zionists, kept its hands “clean” with endlessly spun out “peace processes” and “roadmaps” (eagerly supported by every flavour of the petty bourgeois fake-”left” and Moscow revisionism, for decades capitulating to the humiliating and insufferable nonsenses of a “two-state” solution for the Palestinians.)

Giving up this pretence of democratic fairness and reason is disastrous as a previous EPSR (No 1205) was already warning in 2003:

If Palestine [or equally south Lebanon too] now gets a direct US blitzing (as opposed to American repression via Zionist proxies), the entire Third World could go into uproar.

If the Americans just pretend to ignore it, or walk away, or just let Zionist brutality “avenge” it, then the USA’s “peace process” involvement in the Middle East will show up blatantly as merely a complete sham which cannot cope with any real engagement.

This open exposure of Washington’s “peace” fraud would be a devastating blow to all the rotten Arab-nationalist and Muslim regimes all round the Middle East who have hitherto sheltered from their own irate anti-Western public opinion, to some extent, on the basis of US promises for “comprehensive just peace settlements” for all, once “rogue-state terrorist disruption” (i.e. Saddam Hussein, al-Qaeda, etc) had been “dealt with”.

These regimes have used this ludicrous eyewash so they can continue to sit on their hands and do nothing about the monstrous humiliation for all Arab-nationalist and Muslim “pride” that the armed Zionist tyranny over Palestine (and other Near-East states, and beyond) has always represented.

Mass discontent with the Western imperialist “New World Order” was already swelling anyway. A bloody end to the sham of US “neutrality” in Palestine, adding to America’s mounting discomfort and unpopularity over Iraq and Afghanistan, etc, would bring this anger closer to boiling point.

This Zionist colonial symbolism of Western imperialism’s “might is right” unfairness and incompetent economic domination is now receiving more and more open condemnation from the Third World, marking a new decisive stage in monopoly capitalist crisis.

And for all the lack of actual soldiers on the ground the US diplomatic and military mat退riel backing for this invasion is glaringly clear as even the bourgeois press has underlined:

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that “more than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to US and other diplomats, journalists and thinktanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail”. The attack, he said, would last for three weeks. It would begin with bombing and culminate in a ground invasion. Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University, told the paper that “of all of Israel’s wars since 1948, this was the one for which Israel was most prepared ... By 2004, the military campaign scheduled to last about three weeks that we’re seeing now had already been blocked out and, in the last year or two, it’s been simulated and rehearsed across the board”.

A “senior Israeli official” told the Washington Post that the raid by Hizbullah provided Israel with a “unique moment” for wiping out the organisation. The New Statesman’s editor, John Kampfner, says he was told by more than one official source that the US government knew in advance of Israel’s intention to take military action in Lebanon. The Bush administration told the British government.

Since Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000, there have been hundreds of violations of the “blue line” between the two countries. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) reports that Israeli aircraft crossed the line “on an almost daily basis” between 2001 and 2003, and “persistently” until 2006. These incursions “caused great concern to the civilian population, particularly low-altitude flights that break the sound barrier over populated areas”. On some occasions, Hizbullah tried to shoot them down with anti-aircraft guns.

In October 2000, the Israel Defence Forces shot at unarmed Palestinian demonstrators on the border, killing three and wounding 20. In response, Hizbullah crossed the line and kidnapped three Israeli soldiers. On several occasions, Hizbullah fired missiles and mortar rounds at IDF positions, and the IDF responded with heavy artillery and sometimes aerial bombardment. Incidents like this killed three Israelis and three Lebanese in 2003; one Israeli soldier and two Hizbullah fighters in 2005; and two Lebanese people and three Israeli soldiers in February 2006. Rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israel several times in 2004, 2005 and 2006, on some occasions by Hizbullah. But, the UN records, “none of the incidents resulted in a military escalation”.

On May 26 this year, two officials of Islamic Jihad - Nidal and Mahmoud Majzoub - were killed by a car bomb in the Lebanese city of Sidon. This was widely assumed in Lebanon and Israel to be the work of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency. In June, a man named Mahmoud Rafeh confessed to the killings and admitted that he had been working for Mossad since 1994. Militants in southern Lebanon responded, on the day of the bombing, by launching eight rockets into Israel. One soldier was lightly wounded. There was a major bust-up on the border, during which one member of Hizbullah was killed and several wounded, and one Israeli soldier wounded. But while the border region “remained tense and volatile”, Unifil says it was “generally quiet” until July 12.

..But there is no serious debate about why the two soldiers were captured: Hizbullah was seeking to exchange them for the 15 prisoners of war taken by the Israelis during the occupation of Lebanon and (in breach of article 118 of the third Geneva convention) never released. It seems clear that if Israel had handed over the prisoners, it would - without the spillage of any more blood - have retrieved its men and reduced the likelihood of further kidnappings. But the Israeli government refused to negotiate. Instead - well, we all know what happened instead. Almost 1,000 Lebanese and 33 Israeli civilians have been killed so far, and a million Lebanese displaced from their homes.

On July 12, in other words, Hizbullah fired the first shots. But that act of aggression was simply one instance in a long sequence of small incursions and attacks over the past six years by both sides.

.. But the suggestion that Hizbullah could launch an invasion of Israel or that it constitutes an existential threat to the state is preposterous. Since the occupation ended, all its acts of war have been minor ones, and nearly all of them reactive.

...So why was the Israeli response so different from all that preceded it? The answer is that it was not a reaction to the events of that day. The assault had been planned for months.

Israel’s assault, then, was premeditated: it was simply waiting for an appropriate excuse…

The European imperialists are also smeared with the effects, as the rush to volunteer troops for a “UN peace force” is underway, already widely understood to be nothing more than protection for the Zionists even by capitalist commentators. The contamination will be particularly damning on the Italian “left” government and its revisionist “refondazione” communist participation.

Meanwhile the transforming effect of imperialism on the masses of the planet and the lessons it is teaching them about the twisted and oppressive realities of its lying joke “freedom”, “rule of law”, “democracy” and “progress” has forged a new capacity for struggle and organisation which will find an expression way beyond the immediate Middle East and the astonishing achievements of the Hizbullah and Hamas leaderships.

Again the capitalist press itself is clear:

The Muhammad family arrived back at their home in the south of Lebanon three days after the ceasefire. Twenty-five people - women, children of all ages, and their grandmother - were squashed inside two rickety cars piled high with mattresses, food boxes and cooking pots. Pictures of the Hizbullah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, were taped to the back windows. Their house was intact, but there was a look of gloom on everyone’s faces. The father sat on the steps and took off his shoes, the children gathered around him quietly as the mother sat in a corner weeping silently. The eldest son of the family, Sheikh Hassan, a very religious young man, had stayed behind in the village to fight. He was a Hizbullah member and this war was his first battle. He wasn’t in the house.

Then: “Sheik Hassan, Sheik Hassan,” shouted a small boy as he came running up the street. Behind him came a young man with a thick beard and eyebrows, dressed in a clean brown shirt and a baseball cap. His mouth was wide with a big grin, and five boys and girls were pulling his shirt and hands.

The women, his sisters and cousins, jumped on him, kissed him on the forehead and on his cheeks. His ?ianc退 hugged him, held his head and kissed him on the cheek. A taboo for a religious man in times of peace, but today was a day of celebration. Sheik Hassan’s grin grew bigger.

“It’s OK, it’s OK! Nothing happened to me. I was with the brothers here; why did you worry so much?”

A young boy put his face on Sheik Hassan’s chest and wept; the elder women ululated and sang: “You made us victorious over the Jews ...”

Up in the living room, Sheik Hassan started to tell friends and family his stories. “Everyone wanted to fight - the young teenagers would come to us asking for weapons. Hizbullah told them to go, we have enough fighters. They would weep, refusing to leave - we had to give some of them weapons,” he recounted.

Sheikh Hassan was one of hundreds of fighters - most of them from Hizbullah, but others from different Shia factions, along with communists and nationalists - who fought against Israeli troops. In the days following the ceasefire, the ones who survived came out to tell their stories.

In the village of Mais al-Jabal, Sheik Hussein, who had been with Hizbullah since he was a young boy, was recruited into a cell with other fighters.

“We had our weapons ready. They gave me an ak47, and we sat in one of the houses,” he said, as a little boy sat next to him, holding his arm and listening attentively. “The Israelis talk about tunnels and caves, but it wasn’t like this. They like to exaggerate our strength. We didn’t have any tunnels in this town; we stayed in normal houses and waited.

“The most difficult moment in the war came when the Israelis approached the outskirts of the town. Our commander told us: be ready to die. Even with faith and even if you have been raised waiting for martyrdom, it’s a difficult moment,” he said.

“I thought of the little kids, my sisters, my ?ianc退. I wrote my will and waited. We considered ourselves as martyrs in waiting.”

In the town centre, the traces of the battle were all around: tank tread on the tarmac, shrapnel, shell holes. A graveyard had been pummelled with artillery and ranks of yellow Hizbullah flags stood on ledges facing the last valley before Israel.

“The Israelis had everything in this war: drones, jet fighters, helicopters, and tanks, the Merkavas. Do you know what a Merkava is? The fourth generation of the Merkava?

“But we had God fighting on our side, we had God.”

Sheik Hussein’s cap fell and a big white bandage appeared on his shaved forehead. “I look around and I see my brothers and I can’t believe it - how did we survive? Under all that bombing, we came out alive with few scratches.

“We didn’t use suicide bombers at this battle. In each village, there were people waiting to do martyrdom operations, but we didn’t need it. If you have a rocket that can do the job, why do you need a man?”

Mustafa started fighting when he was 17. He is now 35. He is a poor Shia, and like many of his generation, he fought against the Palestinians, the Israelis, as well as Christian and other Shia militias in Lebanon’s civil war. In his partially destroyed living room, he walked me past the photographs hanging on his wall.

“That’s me in Beirut in 1987.” He pointed at a picture of himself dressed in jeans and trainers, carrying an m16 rifle. “We were fighting Hizbullah then.” He pointed at pictures of other young men, their portraits mixed with those of religious imams and flowers. “This one is my brother, that is my cousin, next to him my father-in-law. They are all martyrs.”

Times have changed, and Mustafa, a fighter for Amal, a Shia militia turned political party and a long-time foe of Hizbullah, found himself in a bunker fighting with Hizbullah against Israel.

“I hate them, those Hizbullah, they are arrogant and they believe they are holy because they fought Israel. Look at them walking in the street as if they have liberated Jerusalem,” he said. Everywhere around him in the town of Khiam, a few kilometres from the Israeli border, Hizbullah fighters were standing on street corners.

“But if your town is attacked by the Israelis, everyone will fight, whether they are Amal, the communists or the nationalists. They [Hizbullah] don’t have the right to monopolise the resistance.”

Hizbollah has trumped both the UN army and the Lebanese government by pouring hundreds of millions of dollars - most of it almost certainly from Iran - into the wreckage of southern Lebanon and Beirut’s destroyed southern suburbs. Its massive new reconstruction effort - free of charge to all those Lebanese whose homes were destroyed or damaged in Israel’s ferocious five-week assault on the country - has won the loyalty of even the most disaffected members of the Shia community in Lebanon.

Hizbollah has made it clear that it has no intention of disarming under the UN Security Council’s 1701 ceasefire resolution and yesterday afternoon, Major-General Alain Pellegrini, the commander of the UN Interim Force in southern Lebanon - which the Americans and British are relying upon to seize the guerrilla army’s weapons - personally confirmed to me at his headquarters in Naqoura that “the Israelis can’t ask us to disarm Hizbollah”. Describing the ceasefire as “very fragile” and “very dangerous”, he stated that disarming Hizbollah “is not written in the mandate”.

But for now - and in the total absence of the 8,000-strong foreign military force that is intended to join Unifil with a supposedly “robust” mandate - Hizbollah has already won the war for “hearts and minds”. Most householders in the south have received - or are receiving - a minimum initial compensation payment of $12,000 (£6,300), either for new furniture or to cover their family’s rent while Hizbollah construction gangs rebuild their homes. The money is being paid in cash - almost all in crisp new $100 bills - to up to 15,000 families across Lebanon whose property was blitzed by the Israelis, a bill of $180m which is going to rise far higher when reconstruction and other compensation is paid.

In the 20sqkm of Beirut’s southern suburbs which have been destroyed or badly damaged in 35 days of Israeli bombing, 500,000 residents - most of them Shia - lost their homes. But money is being poured in. For example, one Shia owning four floors of an apartment block, Hussein Selim, has already received $42,000 in cash for his possessions and lost furniture. And Hizbollah has pledged to rebuild the entire municipal area from its own - or perhaps Iran’s - funds.

A frightening side to this long-term promise for believers in the UN ceasefire is that Hizbollah has encouraged its Shia population to rent homes in Khalde, south of Beirut, since it intends to delay its entire city construction project for a year - because of its conviction that the ceasefire will break down and that another Israeli-Hizbollah war will only wreck newly built homes.

Across the devastation of southern Lebanon, Hizbollah has now visited hundreds of thousands of Shia families for details of their losses. In some cases, Lebanese government officials - largely distrusted by the local population - have also made notes of compensation costs but all the authorities have done so far is to start the repair of water pipes and power lines. I found bulldozers working for Hizbollah’s “Jihad al-Bena” company, clearing rubble from streets and tearing down half-destroyed houses. “We are doing this for nothing at the moment, but we know we will get paid because we trust Sheikh Hassan,” a construction team leader told me. Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizbollah leader, has promised to indemnify all survivors.

Driving more than 100 miles across the south of the country yesterday, the sheer enormity of Hizbollah’s task - and of the Lebanese government’s failure - becomes evident. Looking across the green countryside of southern Lebanon, the villages appear undamaged as they bask in the sun. But the closer you get, the more you notice vast grey fields of rubble that were once homes. Some villages - Bint Jbeil, for example, and Zibqin - have been half-destroyed.

Bodies of civilians and Hizbollah fighters were still being unearthed from the wreckage of southern Lebanon this week; four brothers, all members of Hizbollah it turned out, died together under Israeli fire in the eastern town of Khiam. Some civilian families searched in vain through the rubble for relatives. In Siddiqin, just east of Qana, I found one shopkeeper who had spent hours trying to discover the ruins of his two shops which had been turned to dust by aerial bombs. But he, too, believed that “Sheikh Hassan” would rebuild his home. A few miles away, I found a 65-year-old woman clambering like a cat over the pancaked roof of her home, looking for her family gold in clefts between the packed concrete.

It is Hizbollah’s army of workers which has been told to rebuild these villages. The guerrilla army’s political and economic organisation will hire the tens of thousands of men to reconstruct a virtual city within Beirut and turn south Lebanon’s wasteland back into the farming and tobacco-growing villages that existed two months ago.

This is not yet Marxism, which with its scientific clarity and objective understanding of the balance class forces constantly fought for, is the only leadership which can take the whole of mankind through to the complete overthrow of the imperialist system, constantly charting the zig-zag progress of the crisis to best judge its strategy and tactics, going on to build a planned worldwide socialist economy.

But its maturity and organisation has shown a revolutionary leap as discussed in the last EPSR. And the press pieces above are clear that it is not the religion but the militancy which counts, drawing in (correctly) the cooperation of numerous still-hostile-to-Hizbullah forces under the common need to fight imperialist tyranny. “Strike together but march separately” is the watchword..

The deep cultural influences of the Moslem ideology within the local culture may continue as a surface expression of the militancy of the struggle and may even serve to carry the nationalist struggle to the end.

But they may hamper it too. The contradictions of the material demands of the conflict intensified endlessly by the rapidly deepening capitalist crisis will force to the surface increasingly the need for much greater understanding of the real class issues, and the revolutionary nature of all historical progress.

For decades revisionism has failed miserably to provide any such leadership, a core reason why “communist” ideology has so little support in the region (or throughout the Third World), let alone giving mass leadership.

The growing heat of the crisis now makes the need to rebuild Leninist scientific clarity ever more insistent.

Don Hoskins


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World Revolutionary Socialist Review

(edited extracts from a variety of anti-imperialist struggles).

How the Bush Government is planning illegally and violently to overthrow the Cuban revolution as part of its escalating crisis warmongering and anti-communism on the planet


Chronicle of a war

RICARDO ALARCON DE QUESADA —President of the National Assembly of People’s Power—

ON May 20, 2004, with all pomp and ceremony, George W. Bush announced his Plan for the annexation of Cuba. The interminable monster document -of more than 450 pages - provoked a volley of criticism from all sides.

Above all, from the Cuban people, who are threatened with extermination and with the liquidation of their nation. As the sinister Plan states in plain language, Cuba would simply disappear, would cease to exist. Let us quickly review what would happen here if what Bush has approved was to be applied:

• The return to their former owners of all properties, including all homes from which millions of families would be evicted, in less than one year and under the supervision and control of the U.S. government via the U.S. government Commission for the Return of Properties.

• All aspects of the economy would be completely privatized including education and health services; all cooperatives would be dissolved and the old latifundia [giant plantations - ed] restored; social security and assistance would be eliminated, including all pensions and retirement plans, and a special program of public works would be organized for senior citizens which would employ them as long as their state of health allows it; the guidelines of the crudest neoliberalism would be rigorously applied. Another Yankee government apparatus, the U.S. Standing Committee for Economic Reconstruction, would be in charge of all that.

• In order to carry out what is perceived as meeting the tenacious and invincible resistance of the people (“It will not be easy,” Bush acknowledges in the above-mentioned document), they would give maximum priority to mass and generalized repression: of all Party members, all members of social and mass organizations and “other government sympathizers,” according to the text, which warns (is there any need?) that the list of the victims of repression will be a “long one.” The U.S. government would also directly supervise this with a repressive apparatus “organized and directed by the State Department.”

• The leadership of this program would be in the hands of a bureaucrat appointed by Bush with the pompous title of “Coordinator for the transition and reconstruction of Cuba,” a species of administrator and governor general for the island, as was General Leonard Wood more than one century ago. He would have the same function - including the same title - as that carried out by Mr. Brenner in invaded and destroyed Iraq. Only in the case of Cuba, the coordinator has already been appointed, a Mr. Caleb McCarry, who has visited certain European countries to receive shameful complicity. His anticipated appointment was presented by Bush himself as evidence that his Plan against Cuba and Cubans is a serious matter and not just words.

• The Plan Bush also included specific measures against Cuban Americans, whose links with their families on the island were drastically reduced. Their general licenses to visit them were eliminated and the discriminatory limitation of only being able to do so every three years if granted a special permit to do so was imposed on them, and all of that within a cruel and arbitrary redefinition of the concept of the family, from which uncles and aunts, nephews and nieces, cousins and other relatives were excluded.

In order to achieve its goal, the U.S. government would intensify its actions to do away with the Cuban Revolution by following three basic lines: a constantly more rigorous economic blockade, an increase in funding and material support for internal mercenary grouplets and an ever-growing campaign of propaganda and disinformation.

Anyone knows that undertaking to defeat the government of another country; change its political, economic and social regime; and subject it to its domination is a scandalous outrage to international law only conceivable by people with a fascist mentality.

The illegal and aggressive nature of the Plan Bush is so evident, such is its delirious lack of moderation, that it was overtly objected to even by agencies and individuals opposed to the Cuban Revolution and defenders of imperialist policies and interests. That was the case of various members of the so-called Inter-American Dialogue - including known enemies of Cuba - who sent out a public letter rejecting that Plan because they see in it a call to warfare and violence. One individual described it as “terrifying” and “the most explosive in relations between the United States and Latin America for the last 50 years.”

Bush obtained something that is the dream of any U.S. politician: to unite the broadest front, from the left to the right. Only this time they came together to criticize him and his devilish Plan.

But he did have something in his favor. The media itself, the famous media that accompanied him in May 2004 and echoed his publicity show, knew how to keep a hermetic, disciplined silence from that point up until the end of that year and afterwards. Something that was “the most explosive” thing in half a century, simply disappeared from the attention of the “information networks.” The subject simply ceased to exist. And that was the situation for a year and a half. Up until December 2005.

Suddenly, out of the blue, when everybody had forgotten about it, it was announced from Washington that there was to be another report on Cuba in May 2006.

Speculation abounded. Among the politicians and academics who criticized the simplistic barbarities from the right, there were even those who imagined the possibility of a rectification.

May 20, 2006 arrived. The media became edgy and asked questions. But nothing happened that day or in the following days and months. Official spokespersons responded with evasions to inquiries from journalists. Until, once again, they forgot about the matter.

The third week of June arrived and strangely, stealthily, it appeared on the State Department website datelined 06/20/2006. But it would appear that nobody saw it. A week went by while spokespersons and informers maintained a total silence. Until some of the Miami media and certain news agencies “discovered” what they decided to baptize a “draft.” Curiously, the discovery was simultaneous. And not at any moment, but precisely coinciding with the most prolonged U.S. holiday in the United States, which goes on up until Tuesday, July 4. As if the information was to be buried in the midst of firework displays, patriotic rhetoric and special sales in commercial centers, which is how people over there recall the anniversary of Independence.

The text that has now been published does not stray one millimeter from the Plan Bush. On the contrary. It begins by noting its ratification, greeting the supposed successes that its application has had and, on that “solid base,” announces “additional measures” to “accelerate” the end of the Cuban Revolution.

Those measures are worthy of analysis and I propose to do that later.

But there is something that demands the most energetic and urgent condemnation. Something totally unusual.

Before detailing the “additional measures,” those that have been made public, the Report states that there are others contained in an appendix that is to remain secret for “reasons of national security” and to ensure their “effective realization.”

After having divulged everything that they have divulged - tens of millions of dollars more for their mercenaries, new economic restrictions and illegal actions against international trade and the sovereignty of Cuba and other nations, additional punishments for Cubans and for citizens of other countries - and having made public more than two years ago their Plan that describes to the finest detail their intention to re-colonize Cuba; after all that, what is there at this height to conceal with maximum secrecy? What are they hiding for reasons of “national security and effective realization?”

More terrorist attacks? New assassination attempts on Fidel? Military aggression? In the case of Bush and his buddies anything is possible. •

Part two:

Bayamo forever

THERE is something in the report approved by Bush on July 10 that is so evident and reiterative that it has not even escaped the attention of the media most obedient to the empire: the effort to fabricate, direct, and finance, within Cuba, mercenary groups at its service.

After recalling, on Page 14, that this was one of the principal directives of the May 2004 Bush Plan—”to give more direct U.S. government support to these groups within the island”—it reaffirms and even describes it as “the solid foundation” of the “additional measures” to “hasten the end” of the Cuban Revolution.

From Pages 19 to 22 the report specifies that over the next two years $80 million will be dedicated to that plan and expounds the details: clarifying over and over again that the money is to come from the U.S. government; that it will be directly distributed to its payees in Cuba; that it will not only pay its mercenaries but also train and supply them with equipment and materials; and as if that wasn’t enough, mentions some of its payees by their full names.

This is what appears in the part of the Report that has been released. Let us not forget the most important thing, the secret part, the extent and content of which no one knows and which includes other measures that have been withheld “for reasons of national security and effective implementation.” The only thing known about this secret program is that Bush approved it during the morning of July 10, 2006 in a meeting with the National Security Council. Anyone would be obliged to think the worst. Suffice it to recall the extensive history of covert actions against Cuba in order to suppose that their plans conceal more terrorism, sabotage, assassinations and military operations in which, as proven in the 50 years of experience, they are also thinking of utilizing mercenaries.

U.S. policy toward Cuba has been invariable since January 1959. The substance has not changed. It has always had a public face charged with deceitful rhetoric that attempts to hide the truth, the suffering, and the pain - pre-meditatedly and in cold blood “ that they have inflicted on our people.

Over time, slowly and with difficulty, their secret plans have become known, at least in part, however limited and with angles that are never disclosed, allowing one to comprehend the genocidal nature of their policy.

It wasn’t until 1991 that official documents became available in which U.S. leaders acknowledged that it was exactly genocide they had unleashed against Cuba from the very triumph of the Revolution.

In an internal report dated June 24, 1959, which analyzed the suppression of our sugar quota, one of the first measures they adopted, the State Department stated its purpose: “the sugar industry would promptly suffer an abrupt decline, causing widespread further unemployment. The large numbers of people, thus forced out of work, would begin to go hungry.”

Another document from April 6, 1960, which bore the president’s signature, recognized that “ the majority of Cubans support Castro there is no effective political opposition the only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship. Every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba A line of action that makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and the overthrow of the government.”

Since then, systematically, mercilessly, the economic war has expanded and intensified. One measure after the other, culminating in the Helms-Burton Act of 1996, which established the continuance of the blockade until we Cubans have “returned” to those claiming them their alleged properties, including all houses and land, and until we have also lost our independence and sovereignty.

The 2004 annexationist Plan does nothing other than expose, to the last detail, how this law would be applied, putting emphasis on dismissals and evictions; the complete privatization of the economy; the elimination of the health, education and social security systems; and minutely describes the “future” regime of Yankee occupation. That plan is ratified by the July 2006 report, which adds certain additional measures that I have been analyzing for Granma readers.

Another line integrates Washington’s policy from day one: the creation of a fifth column that will serve as its tool. Many previously classified documents are dedicated to its fabrication, organization and direction. But much of this information is now public domain and can be found on the internet under what Washington calls the Cuba Project.

In February 1998 the cia declassified a report drafted by General Kirkpatrick, at that time Inspector General of the agency. The purpose of that document was to evaluate the aforementioned program. Kirkpatrick specified that the Cuba Project was initiated in the spring of 1959, “to create an opposition inside Cuba nurtured... by means of clandestine assistance from abroad and to organize an opposition abroad that would serve as a cover for the Agency’s activities.” For the U.S. general that was the “principal substance” of a program that has existed since then, some of whose components—obviously those that are not secret— can be found on the internet and in other official U.S. publications.

Upon proclaiming his annexationist Plan in 2004 and referring to his efforts to “create” that so-called “opposition,” Bush described them as the “cornerstone of our policy to accelerate and bring an end’ to the Revolution. In the July 2006 report, he is stepping on the accelerator and now talking of “hastening” and “ensuring” the end.

On the one hand is the “hunger and desperation” they want to impose on an entire people; on the other, the shameful pay-rolling and material support for a handful of traitors along with some frauds from other countries also covered by the U.S. budget.

In that context, the report that has just been released in Washington is essentially a continuation of the same policy. But this time the cynicism has surpassed all limits. The cynicism and the indecency.

More resources for their agents, nothing for the Cuban people nor for their churches and their fraternal associations; equipment for the traitors that are facilitating their genocidal labor, but none for the hospitals that are restoring sight, health and life; material support for the mercenaries but threats, punishment and even imprisonment for those seeking family reunions.

Those are the “solid foundations” of the anti-Cuba Bush policy. Supposing that such a policy could defeat the Cuban people, implies being very ignorant, no offense meant to other ignorant people.

The foundations of the Cuban nation are solid and profound. Upon their unshakeable base, Cubans have built a homeland that no whip-persnapper, however powerful he believes himself to be, could ever destroy. It has very strong roots that are deeply anchored in the heroic deeds of many generations.

Our foundations, truly solid, are there in the heroic province of Granma where we will celebrate this Wednesday the 26th of July. In doing that we will also be celebrating October 10 and February 24 and many other glorious dates that mark the history of a people that has neither surrendered nor sold out.

[We proclaim] yesterday, as we do today and our children and grandchildren will tomorrow, the slogan that synthesizes the life of this people: Independence or Death. •

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