The ISO on Stalin A Critique by David McMullen

First published in Red Politics (A journal for the discussion of revolutionary ideas) No.1 Sept. 1993
From Lastsuperpower

In keeping with Strange Times’ policy of bucketing nonsense from the pseudo left, this issue is devoted to examining a central dogma of the International Socialist Organisation,(ISO) namely that relating to Stalin’s Russia. While the discussion does have a wider relevance to the extent that it relates to the whole issue of what went right and wrong in the Soviet Union and the nature of socialist revolution, the primary aim is simply to show once again how the ISO is not up to scratch in the ideas department.

When you first start reading stuff by the ISO (or the Socialist Workers Party in Britain) on the Soviet Union of the 1920s and 30s you feel there must be something you’ve missed, that the apparent stupidity has to be deceptive. However, it does not take long to realise that no deception is involved. It really is genuinely silly. The silliness can be divided into two categories – those they share with other trotskyite groups and those which are uniquely their own.

What they share with other trots is the habit of holding two mutually exclusive views at the same time. They claim in the same breath that Stalin betrayed the Russian revolution and that socialism in Russia in the absence of a revolution in Europe was impossible. They pull a similar stunt with Stalin’s foreign policy.

On the one hand they claim that Stalin let revolution abroad go hang and geared his foreign policy to the narrow priority of preserving (and expanding) his own regime. On the other hand they admit that after about 1922, revolution in the capitalist countries was no longer an issue – capitalism had stabilised. In other words by the time Stalin came to power there was no longer a revolution abroad for him to sabotage or neglect.

Underlying all this muddle is the fact that the main problem for trotskyites is their distaste for the situation the Soviet Union found itself in rather than Stalin’s program for dealing with it. This is manifested in the fact that they had no alternative except heroically launching forth to support some non-existent revolution in Europe. They were not prepared to accept as socialist or progressive the measures necessary to ensure economic and social development in Russia.

It also shows up in the fact they can’t quite sort out whether they are claiming that Stalin was the cause of the degeneration or whether he was simply a response to conditions that shouldn’t have been – reality was unfair!

Quite often Stalin is denounced for doing what was obviously necessary given the conditions. Like a child throwing a tantrum, they denounce reality for being wrong;it shouldn’t have been like that. The following quote is a classic example of this. (It is taken from an article by Binns in Education and the Modern World, Socialist Workers Party, London 1987, page 14.)

“The extreme backwardness of Russia in an age of imperialism forced it to industrialise rapidly. If the revolutions in Germany and elsewhere had succeeded in the early 1920s, plenty of means of production and skilled labour could have flowed into Russia [?!] to accomplish this task. But when the perspective changed, from stressing the need to spread the revolution internationally to stressing the building of ‘socialism’ in a single country, as was proposed by Stalin in 1924, the situation was completely reversed. If industrialisation was to take place in Russia in isolation, this could only be by forcing many of these peasants off the land into the mines and steel mills.”

Notice how a change in reality – the defeat of the revolution in Europe – is transformed into a devilish change of perspective by Stalin!

Where the ISO differs from other trotskyite groups is in their characterisation of the Stalin regime as state capitalist rather than as a ‘deformed workers state’. The post-Stalin regimes are similarly characterised because they were seen as a straight continuation of the earlier regime in all essential respects. According to the ISO the Soviet Union was capitalist under Stalin because the aim of production was accumulation and this is what distinguishes capitalism from socialism or communism. Under the latter on the other hand production is to meet people’s needs.

Binns explains why capitalists accumulate as follows:

“The drive for accumulation as a means to still greater accumulation, which is the essence of capitalism, is due to two main factors. Firstly, workers are separated from the means of production. If they controlled production as a whole, it would be subordinated to use, to consumption. In so far as they decided to accumulate, it would only be as a means for the further end of consumption. Secondly, there is competition between the capitalists. Without it each capitalist could decide freely whether to consume the surplus products, to accumulate it, or even to return it to the workers who created it. It is competition which makes him accumulate and it does so by threatening him with extinction by rival capitalists if he doesn’t. That is why ‘competition makes the imminent laws of capitalist production to be felt by each individual capitalist, as external coercive laws’ [Marx in Capital, volume 1].”

This is not bad as an explanation of why there is accumulation for its own sake under capitalism. However, the attempt by Binns and his confreres to characterise the crash industrialisation of the 1930s in Russia as capitalist accumulation is misconceived.

They make their case on the basis that the two conditions applied: workers were separated from the means of production and competition still existed through military or strategic competition with the West. Let’s examine these in turn.

Binns tells us that Stalin took away workers control over the means of production. “The last remnants of workers’ control over production, the ‘Troika’, was abolished in 1929. In its place stepped the manager whose orders were to be unconditionally binding on his subordinate administrative staff and on all workers.”

The first point to make here is that even if you had all the troikas and workers’ councils that your heart desired worker appropriation of the means of production is always going to be very limited during the early phases of socialism, particularly in an economically backward country. Appropriation is not essentially a question of establishing a set of formal institutions. Rather it is bound up with the abolition of the division of labour which is a process requiring an entire historical epoch.

For the individual worker a prerequisite for work being a controlling rather than controlled experience is the acquisition of the higher skills and abilities associated with organisation, communication and design. This would only be fully achieved with the transition from socialism to communism.

In the Russia of the 1920s and 30s when the average worker was an illiterate ex-peasant, it was unavoidable that production was run by a caste of engineers and managers. In fact because of this backwardness, production organisation would in some respects need to be more hierarchical than it is in present day capitalist industry.

You can argue about whether Stalin could have taken things further, however, the extent of repossession would still be severely limited.

Now how does Binns show that the crash industrialisation of the 1930s was driven by capitalist accumulation? While the forms of competition we generally associate with the drive to accumulate are absent there is a new form – strategic or military competition with the West.

“The bureaucracy’s monopoly of foreign trade enabled it to seal off Russia from price competition. But strategic and military competition completely dominated the process of capital formation in Russia from the moment accumulation became the bureaucracy’s central concern in 1928. From the beginning of the Five-Year Plans armaments dominated the accumulation process. For instance in machine-building plants, which are probably the best gauge of the development of accumulation, already by 1932 munitions plants accounted for as much as 46 per cent of the total iron and steel consumed. By 1938 this figure had risen to a staggering 94 per cent, and virtually all other machinery plant construction had ceased. Accumulation in the period before the outbreak of the Second World War, in 1939, was dominated by strategic and military competition with the Western nations.”

The remark about ‘price competition’ is muddled. In the home market the Soviet government sealed off all competition, price or non-price. As for exports, the kind and level of competition faced would vary with the market conditions for each good and this was beyond the control of the Soviet government.

This notion of military or strategic competition being a form of capitalist competition is mumbo-jumbo. It is market competition that underlies capitalist accumulation – the protection of the exchange value of capital in the face of the threat from competing capitals. We are not talking about any old competition – for example, there has been military competition throughout history but it was not capitalist competition.

Certainly military power can be used to defend or expand a country’s markets and to destroy the market power of others. However, in this role it is a weapon or adjunct of capitalist competition but not the thing itself.

So given that the only field where the Soviet economy was in competition was in its export markets, you would have to show that its military power was being used, or about to be used, as a weapon in that competition. This of course is nonsense. It was a backward country with limited connections with the rest of the world economy and minimal reliance on export earnings. Its ability to industrialise during the 1930s while the capitalist world stagnated in depression is an indicator of how limited its reliance on external trade really was.

The policy of industrialisation and arms build up in the 1930s tells you nothing about whether the Soviet Union was or was not socialist. Just as capitalism develops modern industry, you would also expect a revolutionary government in a backward country like Russia to undertake a program of industrialisation because modern industry is a prerequisite for socialism and communism.

As for emphasising military production, Nazi aggression confirmed the wisdom of this policy. Why does preparing for the inevitable Nazi onslaught rate as capitalist accumulation? It is what any self-respecting revolutionary government would have done. You would expect a revolutionary regime to ‘compete’ militarily with a hostile capitalist world. OK the ISO’s case for characterising Stalin’s regime as state capitalist is unsatisfactory but are they still right even for the wrong reasons?

They are at least half right in that socialism itself is a form of capitalism, a form presided over by a revolutionary government that leads a protracted struggle to transform society from capitalism to communism.

Furthermore, in the Soviet Union, the Bolsheviks had the even more rudimentary task of converting a country of illiterate peasants into a country of unskilled and semi- skilled factory workers. In other words the task of revolutionaries in Russia was basically to create capitalism. The extent that the capitalist stage could be jumped was constrained by the limited scope for eliminating the division of labour.

However, having said this the regime was socialist in the sense that it generally speaking did everything revolutionaries could be expected to do in the conditions in which they found themselves and given the level of understanding and limited experience at the time.

In particular it expropriated the bourgeoisie and collectivised agriculture. This enabled the Soviet Union to rapidly industrialise while the capitalist world was in depression and provided a socialist economic base which was a prerequisite for more fundamental changes in relations between people at work and in society generally.

The capitalist label appears much more appropriate for the post-Stalin period. While the Stalin period was essentially one of dramatic revolutionary change, the subsequent Khruschev and Brezhnev periods were characterised by stagnation and conservatism.

There was no ongoing radical change but rather an entrenchment of the division of labour and the private expropriation of resources by a minority by every conceivable legal or illegal means. In this way socialists property forms became an empty shell and in fact a fetter to the proper working of capitalism which required the full development of bourgeois property rights. In this sense the Soviet Union had become totally capitalist.

Weren’t there better alternatives to Stalin? Not really. He was the best of a generally poor lot. Lenin (who died in 1924) was the only one who gave strong leadership in ideas and action. There was nothing exulted about the ‘Bolshevik Old Guard’ that Stalin purged and their policies were moronic and would have lead to failure.

Stalin on the other hand was prepared to take the necessary hard decisions on collectivisation of agriculture and industrialisation.

For those who are not radically inclined there was of course the non-socialist alternative. However, that alternative was not liberal democracy but a fascist White regime.

Originally published as ‘Not the 1917 news’ in Strange Times no.16 April 1992.

96 Responses to “The ISO on Stalin A Critique by David McMullen”

  1. 1 admin

    Moved from Dunkirk Blunder thread as off topic

    By Red Blob aka Steve Owens
    Patrick you clearly think that history is important but for socialists the Dunkirk controversy is small beer.
    Big beer is the Moscow show trials.
    In the 1930s Communists could argue that at least the trials were above board. The accused may have had links to the Gestapo after all they did all confess (with the exception of Trotsky)
    But since the trials we have the German government archives and since the Soviet Union fell historians have access to the Soviet archives.
    No evidence has emerged that points to the guilt of the accused.
    Over the years you have upheld the idea that the show trials were fair
    As someone who cares about history dont you think that its about time to overthrow illusions?
    The reality is that during the 1930s the political police rounded up many of the most eminent Communists in the world put them on farcical trials and had them exterminated.
    The tradedy is both that this happened and that the world wide communist movement was that spinless that they just rolled over and swallowed bullshit.
    Where has the left gone you ask and I say that it stopped being able to recruit people who could swallow this stuff.

  2. 2 paul

    how come you guys are debating Dunkirk and stalin?
    What century are we in?
    I am left guessing what your opinions are on more up to date issues like Israel

    Let me guess , as Israel is a modern industrial state full of proletariat and bourgeoisie that you therefore support hamas hesbolah and isis and their stated destruction of Israel .

  3. 3 Red Blob aka steve owens

    paul no one is debating Dunkirk
    paul I dont see anyone debating Stalin
    As to Israel Patrick holds the position that the US after creating a model democracy in Iraq will then apply pressure on Israel to reolve the Palestinian question
    I guess you could say that no one is debating about Israel
    I try to pick a fight with Patrick about Stalin because I know that Patrick supports the murder of many prominent Communists by Stalin to the point that he once told me that his critisism of Stalin was that he killed to few people.

  4. 4 admin

    Why are we thinking and discussing Dunkirk and Stalin?…’Cos we feel like it. This link seems a good place to start a discussion about what Israel is up to at present from a non anti-Semitic, or non anti-Jewish perspective as held here. Senator Norris from Ireland giving it to them full blast. PS I assure you there is nada nada zip support for ISIS/L here. As for Hamas and Hesbollah as compared to ISIS/L there is no good reason to put them all in the same basket. But that is not the issue you obviously have something on your mind so what have you got to say about more ‘up to date issues’? Meanwhile this 8 or so minutes provides an interesting discussion point.

  5. 5 admin

    For some reason the link does not appear here as I thought and now I seem to only be able to upload images not video. I’ll keep on it but you can go to Irish Friends of Palestine on Facebook and scroll down 4 or so articles and there is Sen.Norris waiting to go.

  6. 6 admin

    Steve, it is preferable for you to allow others to explain their own positions and for you stick to explaining your own. Thanks

  7. 7 Red Blob aka steve owens

    I have misrepresented someones position?
    Was not Iraq seen as a model for demcracy? Do you not still have a link to a site called Iraq the Model? Were contributors here not very positive to that site? Did Patrick not write at length about how after Iraq the US would bring the movement for Greater Israel into line?
    As to Patrick arguing that Stalin killed too few well Im sorry I heard him say it.
    Is the problem that Im misrepresenting peoples views or are you just not wanting debate about my substantive question about the organised murder of prominent Communists in the USSR during the 1930’s
    OK admin I ask you how do you justify the extermination of many prominent Communists via a legal process where evidence was restricted to confessions. Where through the passing of time we now know that there was no collaborating evidence held in German or Soviet archives

  8. 8 Red Blob aka steve owens

    Rereading Dave McMullens piece about the ISO and Stalin prompts me to point out the following. Dave argues that Trotskyists were just unhappy with reality where as Stalin did something about reality.
    Thats not too accurate Trotsky was very forthcoming about what should be done. In China Trotsky argued against merging the CPC with the Kwo Ming Tang. Who now thinks that Stalin was correct?
    In Germany Trotsky argued for a united front against facsism. Stalin argued that Social Democrats were equally bad. Who now agrees with Stalin?
    In Spain Trotsky argued that the CP should stick to its own programme and support Moroccan independance at a time that Francos army was mainly Moroccan. Under pressure from Stalin the Spanish CP supported right wing demands to oppose Moroccan independance. Who now argues that Stalin was correct?
    Domestically Trotsky supported the development of productive forces within the USSR but without embracing the reactionary idea of Socialism in one country.
    An easy way to decide right and wrong is in the field of ideas which leader needed an assasin to silence the other. Trotsky stood for world communist revolution Stalin stood for murdering anyone who was or could be a threat to his reactionary idea of socialism in one country

  9. 9 patrickm

    Steve, obviously the fact that you are finding yourself in long term agreement with cruise missile sorts including us very few Marxists (with all of us glad of NATO war making and all that killing over in Libya) is STILL stressing you all these years after.

    That revolution is in the news right now with no comment from either of us! No doubt, if one could be bothered to hunt around, we could find some ‘anti-imperialist / anti-war’ pseudoleftists tut tutting and scoffing at the current events but not you. You seem to understand the sort of horrors to expect in this part of the world particularly after what has gone down in Syria. It was a magnitude of worse all those years ago when the ruling classes slaughtered us workers at will in the meatgrinder of imperialism known as WW1.

    Don’t worry, breathe deep – you won’t have to backtrack on your Libyan stand as you have been glacially doing over the Kurds, Kuwait and Iraq. You won’t be backing down over supporting the Free Syrian Army side by side with John McCain either! Your days in Neverland could be behind you, as ‘hands off’ won’t work in Africa either for that matter. There is a long haul unity already laid before all progressives from Somalia to Senegal and virtually all points in between.

    Not quite sure why you are trying to present as a Trotskyite again. Have you found some site that is worth a look at? I just ‘know’ you haven’t. 100 years after the aristocrats and bourgeois started WW1 it might have dawned on you that capitalism really is a rotten system except for all that’s come before. But really it should have dawned on you by now that the justified revolution to get rid of the filthy system that could deliver WW1 failed everywhere that Lenin wasn’t!

    Life is too short to deal again with someone as confused as you are over the ‘reactionary idea of socialism in one country’, when – to your credit – you won’t have a bar of any of the current ‘left’ remnants.

    Since I’ve had anything to do with Marxists – trots or otherwise – I have never found any that were worth a cracker unless they were rock solid – fighting – democrats to start with. Names don’t mean much and as all older comrades know talk really is cheap. When you are in the actual struggle you ‘unite and don’t split’ if you have half a brain.

    Protecting Australians from Communists is a bit redundant at the moment, and there are no Communists to worry about in Africa or the ME and there might not be for quite a while but there is going to be plenty of revolutionary struggles and Libya is as you know not a ‘model democracy’ (you can indicate which African country is because I can’t think of one) and the more ‘liberal’ proletarian masses there have a harder row than any western country that I know of. But if it were up to all the usual western suspects they would be either dead or worse off.

    Here we are (you and I) pushing for cruise missile actions from the great Satan (for example glad of the U.S. Navy’s imminent deployment that forced Assad to hand over the chemical weapons) while this incredibly blatant butchery in Gaza is going on from the little Satan with limp wristed criticism by our capitalist ruling classes – essentially cover by them for this racist butchery in the interests of a failed war for Greater Israel and that is no doubt distressing you Steve. It is me.

    Netanyahu is up to what exactly? (other than what appears to most as fairly pointless slaughter that’s now pushed to the point of a blatant war crime) Why you feel you have to remind yourself and anyone unfortunate enough to be noticing ‘us’ (while we hibernate and think)that Communists are evil, is beyond me.

    I know, and you ought to, that Netanyahu is stuck with a failed war for Greater Israel that is so outrageous that every time they lash out they revolt yet another large number of the world’s people’s and harm the interests of the Great Satan. So I am as usual stuck with logic. I understand how the U.S. bombed the crap out of Nth Vietnam in the Christmas bombing just prior to the Paris Accords, where they had to hide the defeat, and Netanyahu is confronted with a strategic position that remains almost as complete a failure. If it wasn’t for the weakness of the Ditherer in Chief I would be banging this drum for all the world to hear. The Palestinian State is looming! It can’t be established without East Jerusalem so the border is now the only issue that the U.S. want to see talked about! Yet all is ‘intractable’ endless violence etc etc from the liberal MSM and the idiot pseudoleft.

    Perhaps Cairo will be the Paris for this ending of another failed war. Yet another ‘superpower’ must hide its defeat! What leftists are trumpeting the coming two state peace deal?

    It has been many years after people like Arthur on this site have explained the logic of U.S. interests that required an end to the failed 6 Day war yet it has not happened and nothing has changed that strategic direction. Political facts on the ground continue to grow as surely as the settlements and occupation troops have gone from Sinai and Lebanon and Gaza. Now they have to end the blockade on Gaza and the West Bank is beginning the refusal movement as we speak. Palestinian peoples in the one occupied territory of East Jerusalem and the West Bank are now moving front and centre where they belong. The Golan heights will have to wait for a later day.

    How do you think the war for greater Israel is going Paul?

  10. 10 Red Blob aka steve owens

    I once had a friend in the CPAml A guy that Ireally admired he was a doctor of philosophy and boy everytime I ventured an oppinion he had one that was sophisticated where mine was always stating the obvious.
    Well as you know Ive always been pretty anti Stalin and I would badger my friend as to why his politics were Stalinist when Stalin was such well such a blood soaked murderer. He stopped me in my tracks by saying that in the Stalin/Trotsky debate Trotsky was clearly correct and that he held this position whilst also believing that the CPAml was the best option for Australian workers whilst the Australian trotskyists were a hopeless bunch.
    Wow so my friend the apparent impecable Maoist was a secret supporter of Trotsky (as is the number 2 guy in the Nepalese Maoist party)
    Now I believe that there are other Maoists out there that really believe that Socialism in one country is crap so I say to them swim against the tide drop the group think and tell your friends that Stalin was wrong the show trials were legalised murder of Communists you can do it Ive seen it done trust me you will like yourself more in the morning

  11. 11 Steve Owens

    “What they share with other trots is the habit of holding two mutually exclusive views at the same time. They claim in the same breath that Stalin betrayed the Russian revolution and that socialism in Russia in the absence of a revolution in Europe was impossible”
    Is Daves critisism here credible?
    Are these views mutually exclusive?
    The answers are clearly no and no.
    On the evidence that Stalin murdered thousands of communists. That Stalin introduced a nationalistic view of socialism (socialisnm in one country) and that it was/is a Marxist view that socialism cant be developed in a situation of want and backwardness.
    The “trots” clearly express ideas that are not mutually exclusive but complimentary one might not be able to see this if one wears strong ideological blinkers.

  12. 12 Steve Owens

    “Underlying all this muddle is the fact that the main problem for trotskyites is their distaste for the situation the Soviet Union found itself in rather than Stalin’s program for dealing with it. This is manifested in the fact that they had no alternative except heroically launching forth to support some non-existent revolution in Europe. They were not prepared to accept as socialist or progressive the measures necessary to ensure economic and social development in Russia.”
    Wrong again Dave the Trots believed that the fate of the Soviet Union rested on 2 factors internal ie the struggle within the Soviet Union (some trots still believed that rectification within the USSR was still an option up until Yelsin and they were big Gorby supporters)
    There was no European revolution but in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s there were revolutionary oportunities in Spain France England and Germany but all of these were hampered by Soviet foriegn policy which clearly did sublimate revolution to the national interests of the USSR. So maybe the trots wernt so incorrect as they were correct.
    The closest anyone got to a revolution was Spain and if the revolutionaries had said Free Morocco and land to the tiller there was a very good chance that Spain would have raised the red flag. However the actual policy of tailing rightwing elements opposing land reform and opposing decolonisation was a dead end. Who pushed the CP into that position? It wasnt Trotsky.

  13. 13 Steve Owens

    “Weren’t there better alternatives to Stalin? Not really. He was the best of a generally poor lot. Lenin (who died in 1924) was the only one who gave strong leadership in ideas and action. There was nothing exulted about the ‘Bolshevik Old Guard’ that Stalin purged and their policies were moronic and would have lead to failure.”
    Dave to describe the people who lead the Russian Revolution as “a generally poor lot” is just so very very sad
    Isnt it really that you want to diminish their murder you so engauge in such libel.
    “Their policies were moronic” Really? The left opposition advocated increased industrialisation based on revenue gained through higher taxation on wealthy peasants. The right opposition held that prices of agricultuaral should be raised to encourage farm output. These ideas arnt moronic.
    What is moronic is to believe that Lenin was the only one with leadership skills and ideas.

  14. 14 Steve Owens

    Ha Ha The USSR was such a revolutionary regimen that it was supplying Facsist Italy with oil at the time Italy invaded Ethiopia and USSR couldnt do anything because it would break a comercial agreement. Yes Communists being hamstrung to Facsist aggression because of commercial interests. If it wasnt so serious it would be funny but its not funny because it was a betrayal of oppressed peoples

  15. 15 Steve Owens

    In this thread I tried to engage you in a discussion about the Moscow show trials.
    You responded by mentioning
    Cruise Missle Marxists
    Anti war pseudo leftists
    My lack of breath
    Libya again
    Free Syrian Army
    John McCain
    My being a Trotskyite
    WW1 again
    Socialism in one country
    Protecting Australia from Communists
    Cruise Missle activism
    Greater Israel
    North Vietnam
    and the Golan Heights
    All I wanted was for someone like yourself who clearly takes history seriously to put forward an argument about the Moscow show trials.
    My suggestion is, re write your response and then delete anything that is not about the Moscow show trials. No more no less.

  16. 16 patrickm

    1. You were moved here because you were disrupting another thread.

    2. Virtually all the ‘communists’ that I had contact with could not swim against the tide in 1976 and those of us that did were NEVER even slightly attracted to the always foolish trot swamp. It has not ‘gone bad of late’ it was trash all along! ‘…that the world wide communist movement was that spinless that they just rolled over and swallowed bullshit.’ is a form of the thought that has guided my entire political thinking since my late teens. I have lived this as a constant reality.

    3. Since the helmsman dropped dead and the ship immediately wrecked in 1976, the tide of local and world events has scattered all those ‘swimmers’ and nothing remains of old communist life raft formations. There is only a history of choices made and I am on broad brush principles content to point back to the points of division over this period and not regret my choices. I climbed on a Leninist raft of ideas that wasn’t built by me. I choose not to ‘swim alone’ and this is all that remains for me and others have all that remains for them. Anyone is free to point me to a worthwhile political site and organization because I don’t know of anything.

    Everywhere I look there is nothing that holds together – as a political school of thought – so well as the general thought expressed in the requirement to have a swamp draining effort right across planet earth. I remain an internationalist and a materialist and I try to use the method of dialectics. I ought to be running into many more materialist people as the world trend is towards materialism and the obvious global nature of the problems humanity faces is stark so I’m not well positioned at the moment. But these are Strange Times despite a ‘Bright Future’. I remain a Marxist so I am stuck with the ancestors warts and all. WARTS AND ALL.

    The thing is; the whole trot tradition from well before ww2 was IMV muddle headed where not just plainly wrong by comparison to Mao and Stalin (always upheld as only 70% on the right track note). The absolute stupidity of the whole trot tradition – that has now been dumped even by you – stands out clearly to me. Trots were always my political opponents whenever I tried to do anything! Nothing has changed in that respect and we see just how low they have sunk in the practice that we daily live with. But the same applies to ‘Maoists’ like the outright loonies of the RCP type or the liars of the KASAMA variety as well as the revolting ex ISO and Anarchist type creeps like those who took over The North Star. I much prefer useful individualists like Pamela Bone, and Hitchens; and I guess I have always mixed with such useful individualists.

    3. You say
    ‘Where has the left gone you ask and I say that it stopped being able to recruit people who could swallow this stuff.’
    Well you have now stopped swallowing current trot thinking yet even though you now side with the Marxist types all you seem really interested in is exposing us as wicked.

    I am a communist who has made – with reasonable adjustments along the way – arguments that followed logically from the organized attempts to put a stop to the imperialist slaughter of WW1. It’s long ago got boring justifying the intellectual process that got me to this point. I still choose to stick with Lenin type thinking and remain a Marxist. When I have to think about a political issue I try to apply Mao style etc thinking only because I find it useful. By now you ought to have seen how useful it is as well but it’s all horse water drink stuff.

    4. I live a class stand and I take that class viewpoint. Issues as they have come up since 1976 have seen me uphold positions and practice unity of the persistent type. I really got it when Mao advised ‘unite and don’t split’. Thus my current judgements that have me standing as a cruise missile Marxist, able to happily unite with all manner of others who I have little in common with. But 21stC events are now pressing. Economics, Obama, Putin, bourgeois democratic revolution, environmental hysterics, 21st C proletarian interests be they political economic and cultural, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Africa and so on; these things interest me and I am not short of views and have even written extensively in this quiet year of 2014. Researching the Moscow trials of the 1930’s does not fit in at the moment.

    5. As wars like that in the Ukraine unfold I am satisfied that I see further than you because I stand on the shoulders of the man that wrote Marxism and the National question no matter how many warts the old ancestor had! You remain a cruise missile something or other fresh off the good ship Neverland. You have climbed on board this sturdy life raft and watched ALL the others sink. You can talk of something else but you can’t swim to it and sit on it and call to us to come over and join you: IF YOU COULD YOU WOULD.

    ‘Where has the left gone…’ well in our case we sit on this raft and observe the bodies in the water and make our comments about events like Ukraine. Those in the water or on what looks like other rafts are no longer waving for help they have died. There are only zombies left ‘waving’.

    Actions really do speak louder than all your taunting words. You have nothing to do with the Pseudoleft that formerly sustained your interest and you recognize in advocating US bombing of targets in Iraq and Syria, and weapons supplies to the Ukrainians and economic sanctions against Putin’s Russia that you are well outside your former comfort zone and now down off the fence.

    Are you now uncomfortable about your stand on Ukraine from 6 months ago? Putin is making aggressive war and you know that people ought to take a stand against aggression. Are you looking for the ‘comfort’ of sitting back up there on the fence rather than pressing on.

    In the face of such an overwhelming political bankruptcy as you have demonstrated across 40 years your feeble minded attempts to play ‘gotcha games’ using 1930’s Moscow trials no less – as the world slid into the meat-grinder of WW2 – are noted.

  17. 17 Red Blob aka steve owens

    Trotsky argued that a revolution isolated in a backward country would deteriorate. He argued that the Soviet system was being taken over by a bureaurocratic class that it would eventully lead to a full capitalist restoration.
    Stalin argued that the revolution was going from strength to strength and that by the 1930’s antagonistic classes had been eliminated and that the USSR had achieved socialism.
    As people that have lenthy interets in Communist politics we are free to decide whose explanation of reality makes more sense but if we choose the second we are left with the problem that everything is going great, one guy dies and pretty well immediately everything turns to shit

  18. 18 patrickm

    This article is about a group called the ISO and curious enough someone who chose to be a member of that group would like to comment on it; fair enough. So he ought to state what the ISO stand – that he accepted as the correct analysis and chose to promote – was/is. Instead we get ‘treated’ to a ramble over a rubbish tip of whatever Trot materials can be now applied to the task of NOT dealing with the ISO article.

    Steve does not accept that the USSR was any ‘deformed workers state’ deserving of any support at all! NOT a scrap of any of that Trot tradition was accepted by the ISO. The USSR was seen as one of the capitalist superpowers that had to be struggled against with revolution not reform. The ISO correctly laughed at all the foolish Trot formations that did not even grasp that much.

    So the ISO style Trots had an understanding of the USSR similar to the Mao inspired people in that they declared it not to be any deformed workers state capable of reorienting policy and becoming less deformed and ultimately totally undeformed. The USSR was not reformable from within the political options available but rather it was a capitalist imperialism (state capitalist to be sure as the Maoists also insisted) that could not be reformed. To be perfectly clear it was a state that would have to be overthrown by revolution where one class – the workers – would have to overthrow the class that ran the USSR and as good as owned it. So far so good. Formal ownership is not central in the Maoist and ISO thinking here. The difference between the agreed concluding endpoint – that the USSR was an enemy state run by and for enemies of the working peoples of the world that would have to be overthrown via armed struggle – was only in setting the date that this political reality was placed before the workers of the world.

    Steve can inform people when this situation arose according to the ISO theory that he held to but it WAS for him and his ISO at some point when Stalin was alive and as the period after WW2 does not stand out it would appear to me to be pre WW2. At this point he can tell us what changed and when the revolutionary state of the Lenin period turned into the state capitalist imperialism that required revolution.

    Maoist thinkers talk in terms of capitalist roaders taking the capitalist road with the enemy right inside the communist party and that’s what the cultural revolution theories are all about. When capitalism is expanding and concessions and reforms are being won from the owning or capitalist class then the ‘descent from the trees’ continues to some extent. Modern marxists might suspect that reforming capitalism out of existence is not very likely but no reform achieved by or even sort by any reformist trend will be refused support because it does not totally address the ownership question.

    Some of these issues have been raised in ‘Unemployment and Revolution’.

    Maoists are naturally very critical of the Stalin period (Mao famously declaring Stalin as an old ancestor 30% in error) but we date the change of the revolutionary USSR into capitalist enemy requiring revolutionary struggle from approximately the post Stalin period after the Sino Soviet split in about 1963. We western ‘Maoists’ understood that we were from that point mortal enemies of the USSR imperialism to the same extent as the USA or any other imperialist capitalism while always being quite prepared to do deals as usual ie. as ‘we’ had been prepared to do in the past. Thus as communists could work with imperialist powers like the US in WW2; we could do the same over supplies to the Vietnamese even while they (the enemy class run USSR) were rolling their tanks through Czechoslovakia and the theory was applied again and again over issues like attacking ISIL, Supporting the Free Syrian Army, Libya, Iraq, Timor Leste, Kuwait, Falklands etc etc There has never been any problem for revolutionary thinkers informed by the revolutionary thinking of Mao in rejecting authoritarian ‘leftists’ like those who in the mid 1970ies tried to prevent the democratic revolution in Portugal. Steve and the other refugees from trot tradition have a complex problem.

  19. 19 Red Blob aka steve owens

    Trotsky always thought that the USSR was a workers state and worth supporting against attacks from the Capitalist world. He wrote against the idea of state capitalism. In his book Revolution Betrayed he devotes a chapter to dismissing the idea of state Capitalism. He didnt have the opportunity to develop his ideas further because although at the time his weapons were words him being a stateless refugee his ideological opponents were quite happy to use weapons instead of arguments.
    Tony Cliff was the follower of Trotsky who popularised the idea of the USSR being State Capitalist and I think that it would have been early 1950’s that he started doing this.

  20. 20 Steve Owens

    Patrick there is nothing more important than theory. Stalin developed a theory of Socialism in One Country. Trotsky argued that an isolated revolution in a backward country would degenerate and that revolutionaries should struggle to preseve the gains of the revolution as it inevidably went backwards as in the USSR with bureaurocracy and totalitarianism and eventual capitalist restoration.
    On all points Trotsky was right. Socialism in One Country was tried again in China and in Cambodia. Everywhere the same a nightmare for the people and disaster for the revolutionaries.
    Trostsky mounted the intelectual dismantling of SIOC and history has proven him correct.
    The Cliffs view of State Capitalism is just an historic relic. I doubt that anyone pushes it anymore I think that Socialist Alternative got rid of it because it no longer explained anything but I heard that second hand you would have to ask them if you were interested.

  21. 21 patrickm

    As we agree that the USSR became at some point a counter revolutionary state capitalist imperialism it really does seem rather boring that you focus your thinking on being anti ‘communist’ when it was the capitalist imperialist powers that had got WW1 going in the 1st place and then DID it again for WW2 when they tried their best to destroy this ??? USSR thingy.

    What is it with the ‘Red’ nic, when you are so rabidly anti communist and so clearly opposed to every sound materialist fighting tradition that has ever emerged from the working class movement? In Iraq you have only just now accepted a fight against fascists who are on an offencive. Only now after the obvious slaughter of members of what would be termed ‘elements of the people’ has unfolded you propose fighting off the back foot! That is so foolish as to require an explanation. Why fight now? What was it in your theory of how the world works that has you scrambling for US bombing now when territory and people have been lost. These peoples and that territory were always vulnerable to the enemies declared aim. This advance by the enemy is no surprise to me and ought not be to you. It apparently is to Obama. Any thinking that enabled such a fighting force to grow and launch forth out of Syria is obviously junk thinking.

    Us cruise-missile Marxists have been calling for armed struggle for years. Neverland blames the liberation of the Iraqi people! Neverland scoffs at the very thought that they have been liberated. Not you anymore. You now call for armed struggle in close cooperation with COW troops. Talk about pear shaped. Your old anti-war and anti-imperialist mates are denouncing you for being in league with the great Satan. You want to quibble about what is the perfect force structure to throw against this problem? I don’t think so.

    Only pseudolefts and open right-wingers declare that removing the Baathist tyranny and enabling the Iraqi peoples to set up political parties, contest election and thus form their own democratic an hence (from any progressives POV) legitimate government really caused this. Idiots like the Australian Greens for example! The pseudoleft have exactly zero intent to support further revolutionary transformation here or anywhere else across the planet. They would rather – in their grand tradition – damage that war effort. Hence they ought be exposed as your priority. Yet…

    Back in the WW2 era the French and the British imperialists where ‘the sun never set and the blood never dried’ and the USA’s variety carried on plotting the destruction of this strange USSR phenomena -whatever it was! Yet all these years later the badness of the 1 person that came to run that joint is all you can focus on! This while you excuse or say nothing over the do nothing lack of fight that all the Neverland Trot groups have pushed yet again.

    It appears to me that you would now have it that the the Ukraine government is at fault because they are prepared to resist Putin’s aggression! That is so Neverland!

    ‘Will the ends, will the means. Otherwise, you’re not being serious.’ is a fair statement.

    The Middle East is badly in need of a revolutionary transformation and I will that end. There was a major shake up of the place by imperialist politicians 100 years ago and the consequences from dealing with the Ottoman empire then and their methods of doing so in the 20th C are still unfolding now. The reason the ME and Africa is – as described by Chomsky – a political and cultural ‘swamp’ we can set aside for the moment. Western progressives to the extent that we are internationalists have an interest in changing this. The first revolutionary ends clearly call us into war. So we must get real about the means. The US ought to lead an international COW in a very big war and Australians ought to be involved.

    Proletarian voices are the only intellectual force that has any credibility in this current western intellectual swamp. It has been this way for many years. We are the only argument that is still standing. That is why you are so reluctantly standing with us in calling for military intervention of a COW into Iraq. You might be choking on this but there is nothing else to do!

  22. 22 Steve Owens

    Now be fair I opposed the Iraq invasion because in part I believed that there was a fair chance that the invasion would ignite a civil war.
    With the US in charge I argued that the occupying power had a responsibility to stop militias from generating ethnic cleansing but they chose not to stop the militias.
    When Maliki was in power I argued that he was returning the country to civil was through his anti Sunni arab policies.
    Now that the civil war that I warned about is in full swing Im for humanitarian interventions ie saving the stranded.
    I also support arming the Pershmerga because they represent the inresets of the Kurdish people.
    What I think is of upmost importance is for the post Maliki government to come to some accomodation with Sunni arabs because if an accomodation is not reached then US bombing will do the situation more harm than good

  23. 23 patrickm

    To be fair what the worlds masses understand to be western ‘leftists’ opposed the liberation of the Iraqi masses because in part these ‘leftists’ believed that there was a fair chance that the Iraqi masses could ignite a civil war THEMSELVES and overthrow the heavily armed Baathist tyranny without any outside meddling. To be fair that was stupid thinking but understandable given that none of them believed the Iraqi masses would be liberated.

    Now after we have all had to live through the many bloody years of the Syrian revolution and the ISIL attacks on the Iraqi peoples, that stand is so silly that it has to be forgotten about and instead air strikes by the US are supported without hesitating any more than Obama has at anyrate. Now the Germans and Italians the French and the British plus a few Australians are getting involved in something and ‘Red’ Steve is supporting the western involvement.

    With the US in charge in Iraq you once argued that this occupying power should leave ASAP – rather than slowly and systematically step by step; and then when it became necessary to send a surge of troops you opposed that; now you advocate fighting and you know that fighting these fascists is the only way to go; so how stupid was that former stand that has that Green leader Milne bleating have we learned nothing about going to war in Iraq? Yes we have learned a lot and it is exactly the opposite of what she thinks it is. You are rock solid against her now. You want war waged against ISIL and of course you want the politics of this fighting to be thought about.

    When Maliki’s party was in power – like it is now – you argued that the Shia political leadership were returning the country to civil war rather than fighting it. You focused on Maliki ‘through his anti Sunni arab policies’ now you accept that the Shia led government ought to be comrades critically fought along side. Good, keep marching away from that fence.

    You say ‘Now that the civil war that I warned about is in full swing I’m for humanitarian interventions ie saving the stranded.’ So all I can conclude is that you were always a supporter of western intervention as soon as the revolutionary transformation of Iraq got underway! After all the old argument was that no one supported the Baathist regime etc

    Now you support the COW
    1 arming the Pershmerga
    2 training them
    3 sending special forces for calling in air strikes etc fighting alongside the Iraqi government troops and Peshmerga as the specialists see fit
    4 providing them an air force to act as an artillery to destroy the enemies they face
    5 sending the navy into the Mediterranean and Red sea and Persian Gulf with as much force as is required to achieve an outcome against the enemies of the region.

    Co-operative politics with Sunni Arab peoples and an accommodation is obviously part of an emerging western strategy otherwise US bombing will do little good past killing the immediate ISIL troops.

    Just accept and declare that you have joined this war, and that the Pseudoleft is harming the war effort. We Cruise Missile Marxists welcome all people and politics that contribute to the war and have had a sound strategy to see the revolutionary transformation of the whole swamp from the start; Obama has no strategy. He will essentially have to tread the path that drains the swamp.

    All you are saying now is that the side that you are with will have to drain the swamp to win this war. Well done.

  24. 24 patrickm

    It would be difficult to not conclude that a swag of people considered of the left are now following Obama into war.

    Obama is establishing as broad a COW as is possible and he has accepted that this is a long term fight that will go well beyond his Presidency.

    So what does all this mean. I wonder what draining the swamp theory can add to peoples thinking on this at the moment?

  25. 25 patrickm

    Not long now!

    Today Nobel Peace prize winning POTUS Obama is going to the American people with what will be a whitewash of his ME failures to date as he changes course and declares a war for the future. Not long to wait and people can buy his spin if they choose but already the take home is that it’s September 2014 and finally Obama is pulling together a serious force to deal with the regional issue of ISIL in Iraq and Syria and whatever he says now it will be much more besides.

    The new COW will keep the current US policy that Assad must go and also a Palestinian State must be established! I would not be surprised if the Palestinians didn’t get a mention at all actually I would be surprised if they did. But when the COW sit down to deal with the whole mess that his Administration has made of this war as it currently stands it WILL come up. Petraeus laid the issue out so clearly as a vital US interest. It will be brought up by others who will lead this COW on the ground.

    At long last, Obama is obliged to hold a meeting with the regional players and that meeting has to confront what this year in that neighborhood has produced! The new COW has to confront several years of Obama’s failure to deal with Assad and it throws the slaughter of Palestinians right on the table because obviously an effective strategy for this region must include ending the failed war for Greater Israel.

    So far there are 9 western countries committed including mighty Denmark and if Obama keeps at the task of building this he could well double than number of countries. Actually I can’t imagine any fighting commander from any of the potential coalition of the willing countries NOT wanting a crack at this lot of islamo fascists.

    Here is some bits from a discussion from back in August 2012 and a couple of current links.
    Arthur ish • 2 years ago
    Thanks for the reminder of an important aspect of pseudo-leftism.

    That is their position within a milieu that they see as extending from liberal Democrats to themselves. That is what they understand to be “left”. Since they denounce Republicans more extravagantly than a typical Democrat does, they picture themselves as far left. By insisting that conservative Republicans are fascist monsters they sound revolutionary to themselves.

    (A few also insist that the Democrats are fascist monsters but my impression is that most of the pseudos see the more liberal Democrats as weaker brethren quite distinct from Republican monsters).

    When there is a genuine left it won’t be as “partisan” as the pseudos. From a left perspective both mainstream US parties are fairly similar. Both are conservative and both are reformist. Neither are fascist.

    On major issues it will be normal for leftists to be in opposition to both parties (as for example in demanding air strikes in support of democratic revolution in Syria, which neither Republicans nor Democrats support yet).

    Sometimes we will find ourselves advocating something that is also advocated by Democrats, and rejected by Republicans. Sometimes we will find ourselves advocating something that is also advocated by Republicans and rejected by Democrats.

    For example it’s certainly true that there are more Republicans (eg John McCain) advocating intensified support for the Syrian revolution than there are Democrats. Since the pseudo-left view things from a perspective that sees themselves as on the same side as the Democrats that means its to the “right” of the Democrats and therefore “weird”.

    If the US does act its going to be done by a Democrat administration and liberal Democrats are either going to be apologizing for it as usual or be neutralized.

    But the pseudos still won’t support it. They will take the same position as the US foreign policy establishment in gravely warning against islamists and Al Qaeda, worrying that instability could get out of control etc etc ad nauseum.

    The more obvious the parallel between their own position and the traditional position of the US foreign policy establishment in support of tyranny and stability that resulted in widespread hatred for US imperialism, the more they will shout about how anti-imperialist they are.

    Brian S. Arthur • 2 years ago
    The layout of your exchange with Chomsky makes your argument there hard to follow. You state here that you are not arguing that there has been a structural shift in the policy orientation of the US state, but merely that “a very small group in the Bush administration” engineered a policy shift in the wake of 9/11 – presumably one that led to the invasion of Iraq, which you view positively. But if this was such a narrowly-based and administration-specific shift, why should we assume that it has any relevance to the current determinants of US policy and Syria? Why should we think that any significant force in US capitalist circles will be “supporting democratic revolution” rather than simply pursuing US national interests?

    You place great emphasis in the Chomsky exchange on a speech by Bush, but you don’t actually quote from it, and I’ve not been able to locate it. But anyway, why on earth would you have so much faith in a speech that seems to be basically a PR presentation by a political leader about to embark on a war that he has been feverishly preparing on totally different grounds. As you say, “Finally, although Bush stuck rigidly to the “Saddam must disarm” line right up until the last minute, this has now taken a back seat to more or less open explanations of the new policy ” If your foreign policy analysis is based on naive acceptance of politician’s public statement at their face value, then I don’t give it much credence.

    Arthur Brian S. • 2 years ago
    We wouldn’t be discussing the POSSIBILITY of the US offering armed assistance to a democratic revolution in Syria if there had not already been some major shift in US policy. I said it hasn’t been consistent and doesn’t amount to being globally a force for progress. That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a major shift.

    It was noticeably a very small and isolated group in the first Bush administration and the overwhelming consensus of the US foreign policy is STILL that their policies were awful and must never be repeated.

    Nevertheless, aspects ARE being repeated. The NATO air war in Libya was not just a “humanitarian intervention” but a war for regime change in Libya. Despite thoroughly rejecting the Bush administration policies, the Obama administration also decided it was in the interests of US imperialism to support democratic revolution in Libya.

    It isn’t all that unusual. The US also supported democracy in occupied Germany and Japan – and it did so entirely out of concern for US interests.

    Adopting the opposite policy in Vietnam and in the middle east turned out spectacularly badly for US imperialist interests. What is surprising is how long it took for them to get the message,

    There was a long period of semi-open discussion among think tanks in the US before the Iraq war. I studied that closely to reach the conclusion that the “disarm Saddam”, WMDs stuff was just a smokescreen and the war had quite different objectives.

    The anti-war movement on the other didn’t study anything at all (there were NO “teach-ins” like over Vietnam). They just assumed the war was about oil and became unshakable from that position when became clear it wasn’t about WMDs.

    The test was not the speeches but the actions, The Baath party and its army was suppressed, Free elections were held. Governments led by forces that had been hostile to the US were elected and are in power. The Kurds got autonomy. Every prediction made by opponents of the war was refuted.

    The key point in analysing it before seeing the results was simply the sheer absurdity of what the anti-war movement was fantasizing about. The US had lost in Vietnam and would have had to be literally insane to imagine they could establish a puppet regime and steal oil. Instead of analysis the “anti-imperialists” just proclaimed (along with much of the US foreign policy establishment) that the Bush administration literally were insane.’

    Now we have Obama dragged along by events and essentially forced to take actions that we revolutionary democrats had called for several years ago. Now The US people are demanding that he put in the military and deal with this stuff.

    A Washington Post/ABC News poll published Tuesday found that nine in 10 Americans saw Islamic State as a serious threat. Some 71 percent backed air strikes in Iraq and 65 percent agreed with extending air strikes into Syria.’

  26. 26 patrickm

    well here it is

    My take (after I put on some rose colored reading specs) goes a bit like…

    1. we will be expanding our efforts beyond directly protecting our own people and any separate humanitarian missions and take action in Syria as we make determined war – particularly from the air – and with regional powers as the main ground forces but with as big a COW as we can get. This is now a core principle of my presidency.

    2. although we don’t intend to get dragged into another ground war in Iraq, we will immediately send an additional 475 service members there who will not have a combat mission. Our troops will help stand up National Guard style Units first in Iraq then as we go across the region to help local communities secure their own freedom.

    3. because the Assad regime terrorizes its people we have ramped up our military assistance to some of the Syrian opposition while attacking others like ISIL who are just as bad as Assad. We will be pursuing a political solution necessary to solve Syria’s crisis but it will take a long time. We will wage protracted war with politics in command.

    4. we will fight on all fronts right across the Middle East and also expose our enemies in the UN Security Council and work at all times to further mobilize the international community around this effort.

    5. we will continue providing humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians who have been displaced and we cannot allow communities to be driven from their homelands. Now who else fits this bill…

  27. 27 patrickm

    BTW it is also very notable that Obama appointed a Marine to head this whole ‘anti ISIL’ mission. This is not being run by the US air-force and nor ought it be. I doubt that there is any real dispute as to what the A10’s can do in this situation. I’m sure the Australian SAS will want to reprise their desert war activities. The US military together with a big COW has just been let loose with the blessing of the peoples of the western world and they are going to liberate more of the masses of the ME and hunt down some fascists. That’s good news. Not many doubt that they are going there to liberate but unless the US liberate the Palestinian peoples the double standard will undo all the good as the enemy rightly point to this as a refutation of all liberating intent.

  28. 28 Red Steve

    You can drop as many bombs on Iraq as you want but truth is if you dont get the politics right you may as well drop them in the sea.

  29. 29 patrickm

    Abbott has announced a small deployment to the region including an SAS contingent. Red Steve supports this and both know that they can send the military to fight ISIL fascism but that politics had better be put in command or this will be endless fighting. That is the core proposition behind the draining the swamp theory.

    But ‘Red’ you must stop the old habit and talk now about ‘we’. You have signed up to war making and rejected the Milne view in total.

    WE can drop as many bombs, but WE must get the politics right.

    This is the part that YOU are uncomfortable about.

    ‘We’ westerners that are proposing to NOW join the fight against this latest variant of head lopper Islamo fascists are joining an old fight. The fact that Obama is sending Kerry to cuddle up to the Egyptian thug regime shows he still has no clue.

    Islamists are the solution to Islamo fasists. Militarist fascists are no solution at all they are the other half of the problem. The Assad regime is just the Egyptian coup regime further down the track. They have a policy of tyranny and the consequences for the Egyptian people is already measured in innocent people killed and jailed for wanting their freedom.

    Obama is a disaster.

  30. 30 patrickm

    Oh and BTW… our side is not dropping them on Iraq! We are launching attacks against our numerous enemies where ever we find them right across the region and far beyond and we are doing so in a way that MUST empower locals – that are very low on the western evolutionary scale so to speak – because we are putting politics in command.

    Cruise missile advocates are only part of what we are. The key as you know is launching and sustaining the fight for bourgeois democracy and that is nothing very special, but it’s at least clear that a proletarian class perspective is really able to come to grips with all of the issues involved. The owning classes and their political elites have great big blind spots and gangsters hide in these dark regions.

  31. 31 patrickm

    On a day when Australian troops have been ordered off to fight a war some people are organizing protests about it but not you. ‘Red’ your current stance is not following Chomsky but Hitchens.

    ‘The very first step that we must take, therefore, is the acquisition of enough self-respect and self-confidence to say that we have met an enemy and that he is not us, but someone else. Someone with whom coexistence is, fortunately I think, not possible. (I say “fortunately” because I am also convinced that such coexistence is not desirable).

    But straight away, we meet people who complain at once that this enemy is us, really. Did we not aid the grisly Taliban to achieve and hold power? Yes indeed “we” did. Well, does this not double or triple our responsibility to remove them from power? A sudden sheep-like silence, broken by a bleat. Would that not be “over-reaction”? All I want to say for now is that the under-reaction to the Taliban by three successive United States administrations is one of the great resounding disgraces of our time.’

    The view of the fighting left that you have now joined is starkly contrasting with the isolated Milne and other pseudoletfs. Don’t start to think that they used to have a clear way forward for humanity to come down from the trees and have only now lost their way because they never did. They will quickly point out that it is you who has changed not they!

  32. 32 Steve Owens

    Firstly please dont tell me where I stand unless it is a position that I actually hold.
    Secondly I think that you say put politics in command but anyone familiar with your writing would be hard pressed to argue that your first priority is politics over your second priority which is putting military thinking in command.
    I think that a re examination of the draining of the swamps theory is in order.
    The theory holds that Islamic terrorists breed in a despotic swamp that the USA has been maintaining for 60 years and that if the USA reversed course toppled despots and promoted democracy the breeding ground of the mosquitos would disappear.
    Well the USA has been following your preferred course for over a decade, 2 countries have been invaded 5 despots have been toppled but instead of reducing the number of mosquitos the number of mosquitos has expotentially increased.
    So we should agree that your proscription has failed. When I have a belief that has failed the test of reality I try to examine the belief and alter it match reality or drop it entirely.
    History is full of examples of people who when their beliefs fail double down and become more firm but also more isolated.

  33. 33 patrickm

    Am I now to understand that you claim not to have joined the fighting left? That would have you complaining about Australian troops being deployed but you make no such complaint. You are not attending any Stop the War meetings that Milne might turn up at, nor will you.

    Has the current US ruling elite forced the ending of the War for Greater Israel as the inevitable defeat that it is YET? Is it still required that they end that war? Have they flooded troops in as I have said is required? They have had to be dragged to war under Obama! Do they talk like me? I don’t think so.

    Think again about what has and has not been tried and failed! Obama has just got a bit out of the way. He has been a real impediment to understanding the requirements and getting them done.

    Has not Obama done his best to avoid doing what he is now doing? Had I not criticized him from well before he was elected near 6 years ago? Has he not disrupted the fight that was required all along? Is he not half heart-ed? Even GWB went soft headed and backed down quite a bit in his second term. So the US is not doing this policy well but they are still stuck with it.

    Consider just how big the anti-war demos were at the end of 2002 beginning of 2003 that will not be the case now as the western peoples accept the fight and hope this fight sorts out Syria as well. Obama has no real strategy! The progressive peoples of the world are learning how to fight by fighting.

    The ABC is right this moment talking of Australian troops returning to the ME to fight a ‘Blitz’ is that clearly not getting it yet? The whole MSM is full of shit.

    You now stand shoulder to shoulder with the Kurdish fighters as your best example of regretting your former stand. Now we have no talk of ‘No Fly Zone’ but a clear active air-war to destroy the enemy. I think people want the fascists that have just shown what they are to the whole world destroyed. What do you think?

    All know that the whole region is full of god bothering knuckle drag-ers but so what we both know NOW there is no choice other than elections and Islamist parties coming to power over fascist tyrants. Western public opinion has shifted to war mode and that is a good thing long over due.

    Now I want the A10’s at work so I want bases for them to operate from so they can push right through Syria. The quicker the sea bees are at work in Jordon the better I would like it but Obama is the blockage. As he has been for years. Hillary and his military advisers were overridden and that shows just how crucial even 1 man is.

    People who stand on a fence are uncomfortable. But you are off that fence and support the attacks on ISIL, do you not?

    I advocate an understanding of the transformation of the world that is well known for focusing on the protracted nature of revolution that can only grow out of the barrel of a gun. My thinking is Clausewitz based so I have always asked what is the political purpose of the destruction of the Baathist regime that ran Iraq and concluded that the purpose was to begin a process that has gone on ever since. That is exactly where the whole anti-war movement was wrong and failed from the start.

    You have found yourself now caught up in this process and I suppose wishing it was run by better people than those that run the world and no progressive could complain about that. But we are where we are.

    you say ‘I think that a re examination of the draining of the swamps theory is in order.’

    We should not agree that the fighting lefts proscription has failed because the world has not been run by people that think like me. You have examined some of your views and dropped them. You will drop more of them because you are caught up in the same way that Obama has been caught up.

    History is being made and the leaders of the massive anti-war protests are the ones that are now, as this ‘new’ war gets going, the ones who are more isolated.

  34. 34 patrickm

    Reflect on this exchange;

    Red Blob patrickm • a year ago
    patrickm lets look at your ‘Draining the swamps theory’

    Step 1 Al Qaeda attacks the USA on 9/11
    Step 2 The US ruling class decide that these Al Qaeda mosquitoes come from the anti democratic swamp the Middle East
    Step 3 If the US initiates democratic revolution in the Middle East the mosquitoes will have no where to breed
    Step 4 Invasion of Iraq to produce model democracy as inspirational example to peoples of Middle East
    Step 5 Pressure Israel into 2 state solution
    Step 6 Help facilitate movement of individual countries to democracy

    The problems lie with steps 4,5 and 6

    Iraq is not a model democracy. It is arguable whether Iraq is a democracy at all.

    Israel has shown no inclination towards reaching a settlement and the US response under Obama is to send Israel much more money than it did under Bush. Where is the pressure on Israel that your theory states will happen?

    10 years on and there are more mosquitoes.

    The Middle East is alive with democratic activity and thats great but I think that it comes from the following reason. People in the middle east always wanted democracy but were restrained from putting their necks on the line because the bottom line was that these dictators had powerful backups in the form of the USSR and the USA. With the USSR just a memory and the USA bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan the peoples of the area said to the dictators “wheres your powerful friends now fuckface”

    Arthur Red Blob • a year ago

    Re 1-3. Accurate except re 2 shift in policy was by senior policy makers in Bush administration not decision by “The US ruling class”. Almost entire US policy establishment and most “opinion leaders” remained opposed to recognition that the anti-democratic swamp was breeding terrorism and favoured traditional policy of supporting autocracies for “stability” plus police methods (in collaboration with the dictators) to suppress terrorists. (This helped produce policy inconsistency as the new policy did not entirely displace the old). Also re 3, “initiates” should be more like “unblocks”.

    Re 4. A lot of rhetoric was along these lines but the actual policy shift only required that the autocracies breeding terrorists cease to exist, not that their replacements become “shining models”. Some of the rhetoric even claimed that their replacement would be pro-American – which was patently absurd given how deeply the US was hated throughout the region as a result of its previous policies but those patently absurd claims helped both to neutralize conservative opposition (who still just don’t “get” how the US could prefer an unfriendly non-swamp to friendly autocrats presiding over a swamp). Also helped avoid any “left” support which would only have made it harder to neutralize the conservatives.

    Re 5 More an obvious consequence than part of the policy shift. The war for “Greater Israel” obviously becomes untenable if Israel is surrounded by modern Arab democracies rather than a swamp.
    “…the US response under Obama is to send Israel much more money than it did under Bush. Where is the pressure on Israel that your theory states will happen?”

    True, Bush proclaimed how keen he was on Israel and how confident he was in the Israeli economy instead of providing the extra subsidies they hoped for. The Democrats have always been much closer to Israel than Republicans (historical legacy from liberal immigrant Jews being Democrats). What’s interesting is how far the Democrats have moved and how isolated the Israeli government has become (even among American Jews) as a result of its irrational failure to adapt to the new strategic reality. There hasn’t been the pressure there should have been for policy consistency but the unavoidable consequences of the new policy are still there and a majority of the Israeli people do know it although they have not yet rationally adapted to it.

    “People in the middle east always wanted democracy but were restrained from putting their necks on the line because the bottom line was that these dictators had powerful backups in the form of the USSR and the USA. With the USSR just a memory and the USA bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan the peoples of the area said to the dictators “wheres your powerful friends now fuckface””

    Fairly accurate. But “bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan” doesn’t fit the context. Try EXACTLY the same paragraph with the words “USA helping overthrow their colleagues in Iraq and Libya” substituted:
    “People in the middle east always wanted democracy but were restrained from putting their necks on the line because the bottom line was that these dictators had powerful backups in the form of the USSR and the USA. With the USSR just a memory and the USA helping overthrow their colleagues in Iraq and Libya the peoples of the area said to the dictators “wheres your powerful friends now fuckface”

    Can you imagine demands from the Syrian people for US support to an islamist led revolution in Syria if the US had NOT helped overthrow a Baathist regime in Iraq and supported free elections which inevitably resulted in an islamist led government?

    Also, can you imagine the Baathist regime in Iraq not providing the same sort of military support for counter revolution throughout the region that Tsarist Russia did in the 19th century. Its no accident that Marx put a lot of energy into advocating war with Russia in the common interests of revolutionary democracy and British commerce. There really wasn’t much hope for European revolutions while Tsarism could still intervene.

    This is why Sadaam’s deputy Tariq Aziz toured the region warning the other regimes that the American plan was “region change” not just “regime change” and why the old Arab League was loudly (and Israel more privately) hostile with warnings about the “gates of hell” being opened. They are now open.

  35. 35 Steve Owens

    My point is that nothing will be resolved until there is a resolution of the sectarian divides. Dropping bombs is more likely to harden positions and aid recruitment. As a start Iraqi forces should stop bombing residential areas Oh look the new Prime Minister has told the military to stop bombing residential areas.

  36. 36 patrickm

    Before we think about ‘resolving’ let’s first lay out our thoughts on how the enemy is to be defeated right across the area – town and country – that it holds now. Obama has asked people to go to war, are you part of the fighting left that is prepared to fight NOW?

  37. 37 Steve Owens

    I think that Ive made myself pretty clear. Im for doing stuff that helps ie rescuing people on mountains or people who are under seige.
    I am for defeating IS but I think that that cant be done until some basic political problems are solved. The government of Iraq must represent all. It was refreshing to hear the new PM order the military not to bomb civilian areas. It was dissapointing to hear that one day later the military for the second time bombed a hospital.
    I am for arming the Kurds in both Iraq and Syria because they need to defend themselves as does the Free Syrian Army
    The problem can be solved once the majority of Sunni Arabs have been convinced that their future lies with Iraq and not with IS
    I have been arguing this position for a long while now, I cant see why you are confused about it?
    Obama has asked people to go to war really? Since when have I taken my political lead from the US president.

  38. 38 patrickm

    Clear? You clear? Hahaha! What you are is pathetic. There is an Australian deployment and the dopey greens oppose it because it will make Australia more unsafe from terror bombers and it will make things worse in the ME. Do you oppose this deployment and stand with the greens or do you call for more than what the ruling elites are so far prepared to deploy? Do you reject their ‘green-left’ conclusions? Do you call for boots on the ground? Or would you like to serve up some waffle about rescuing people? Does that mean you are prepared to restore these people to their homes? Or does it mean you are prepared to give up territory as it is taken by the Islamo fascists? Clear…you. Milne is clear. Abbott is less so. You would rather gesticulate about how all the rag heads are bad and gee look at the time I have to go to a progressives who love people meeting. Clear? I am fucking clear you are fresh off the fence and as usual useless. Still nice to be good and advocating that people be rescued! That is much better than ‘war mongers’ advocating attacking the enemy after all people will get killed. Pathetic!

  39. 39 patrickm

    ISIL didn’t drop from the skies but has recently gone on an offensive and attacked and grabbed great swathes of territory and then executed THOUSANDS of prisoners and butchered huge numbers of people, including a couple of westerners in terrorist manner for all the world to see.

    Unsurprisingly this, let’s just say fascist style enemy behaviour, upset many people in the west and in the region, but ISIL got to this level from years of building up via other actions killing all the way. Like the Baathist officers that teach them how to kill the prisoners just like they used to when the U.S. sold out the Shia after Bush the elder called on them to revolt.

    The other actions like constant terror bombing had been fought back against by some like the very imperfect Iraqi government and essentially ignored by ‘leaders’ like the liberal Obama. It is essentially a government he didn’t want to exist.

    Many of these ISIL style actions had been justified as resistance to the sectarian bias of the Iraqi government. That Iraqi government had been like the vast majority of the Iraqi people subject to terror war for years and undoubtedly many people had been pushed beyond their endurance. But what are the demands of the ISIL?

    Now Obama and all those other ‘leaders’ have said OK let’s fight. With Steve I don’t really know because he is too busy being clear. Now Obama has said there will be no ‘boots on the ground’ am I to take it that Steve would rather that there were some COW boots on the ground because war from the air is – how to put this – less personal and the collateral damage usually higher?

    Somewhere between the bayonet and the cluster bomb is still not going to solve Steve’s problem. If Red Steve is supporting a fight against ISIL then he will have to do more than just support the COW sending small arms to the Kurdish fighters. Steve is wanting troops sent in to go house to house I take it?

    Fighters on the ground have to out range the enemy. That’s how it works. Recall Berlin. It is no different this century. Street to Street fighting. Determined ISIL and other fascist sorts are going to be as uncooperative to kill as German Nazis were. They won’t stand out in a field for ‘goodies’ to kill.

    Comrade ‘Red’ you are not clear in your proposals to kill the enemy. You almost agree that ISIL ought be fought. Do you agree that air-attacks are vital to kill the enemy and ensure that they are driven back into the cauldron of Syria? Do you agree that they will have to be hunted down in Syria and that they are likely to put up a stubborn fight? German soldiers for example were of a very high standard in WW2 and many military historians would say they were the best fighting forces one on one of the era. If the same is true about the current ISIL troops then ‘force multipliers’ are now -just like back in WW2 – essential to deal with the threat that these motivated and effective killers pose.

    Western forces are going back to Iraq now because this ISIL force was permitted to develop and go on the rampage. Western boots-on-the-ground are now and always have been better than leaving this swamp to drain itself.

    It is stunningly stupid for you to claim ‘Im for doing stuff that helps ie rescuing people on mountains or people who are under seige.’ when you have always argued that it is best – indeed RED- to abandon to a chemical weapons wielding mass murdering bastard the people he manages to capture and enslave! Surely, you can’t even take yourself seriously if you think that the tyrant of Iraq can take possession of Kuwait years after he showed the world how to slaughter Kurdish men, women, and children, and now you are for somehow rescuing people…?

    You are only NOW for rescuing people after you have learned how stupid you were to not support U.S. air-power attacking Baathists in the No Fly Zone Warfare AFTER the liberation of Kuwait. Now you are FOR that air-power to attack ISIL if they are found near a mountain where people are running from them. But you won’t even say deploy these troops and more to do the job. You won’t say build these forces to do this job. Get REAL.

    If you will such ‘rescue’, you must will the prevention of any ISIL advance. You must NOW be ‘off the fence’ and advocating that people stand to their guns. So what about that Australian deployment?

  40. 40 Steve Owens

    Chelsea Manning makes some good points
    The Iraq problem will remain a problem until a political solution is A government that cant be presented as the instrument of one sect.
    Bombing may kill a thousand Jihadists but what if the same slaughter is used to recruit 2 thousand. General McCrystal was on the TV the other night. He said that the problem in Iraq pre the awakening was that for every al Quaeda person killed Al Quaeda would recruit 2
    General Petraeus was also on and he said what impressed him when he took over was how complex the situation was.
    But as usual if you want simplistic solutions the White House is not a bad place to look

  41. 41 patrickm

    I couldn’t help but think about ‘Red’ Steve today because I’ve just watched one of the world’s well known peace campaigners do his ‘but I want to be clear’ shtick. Just listen to the current POTUS – ‘clarifying’ what his current deployment of warriors is all about. “After a decade of massive ground deployments it is more effective to use our unique capabilities in support of partners on the ground so they can secure their own countries future and that’s the only solution that can succeed over the long term…’ was how Obama put it. After all these years of his presidency and such gross neglect of Syria and he has the chutzpah to run the Red Steve shtick.

    That line above, was prefaced with; ‘One of the things we’ve learned over this last decade is America can make a decisive difference but I want to be clear the American forces deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission they will support Iraqi forces on the ground as they fight for their own country against these terrorists. As your commander in Chief I will not commit you and the rest of our armed forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq.’ Well what a surprise. Once more dragged kicking and resisting and then when shamed into action the ‘leader’ – without accepting that he has followed – delivers little on top of late. Whether it’s ‘too little’ we will have to see. But it’s far too much ‘imperialism’ for the usual suspects that report the genius thinking of Code Pink, and Ms Manning and say they want Democracy NOW.

    The peace prize winning POTUS who has always believed that the COW ridding the Iraqi people of the tyrannical fascist regime was a ‘dumb war’ has a minor problem with credibility. Like mainstream Mark Latham and almost as mainstream Christine Milne in Oz the very mainstream Obama has believed that the liberation of the Iraqi people was a big mistake, but just like them he can’t be so clear as to state the two concepts in the same paragraph. Such clarity would never do for any ‘progressive’. Washing their hands and letting others ‘look out for themselves’ is what the openly right can do but even they tend not to be as gross as that in these globally interconnected days. That’s why we require a term for such internationalist ‘leftists’ that hold such rightwing views.

    Obama as the face of real politics is the POTUS that has let the years of slaughter go on and on in Syria until ISIL grew strong enough that it could and did advance right through a swathe of Iraq where it had been terror bombing for many years. NOW the U.S. has – and this POTUS insisted on reminding everybody who will listen that the whole progressive western world has after all the former effort over more than a decade – an interest in ensuring that another form of fascist tyranny not take and hold territory in Iraq! What a genius! But why not? That’s exactly what the mainstream ‘leftists’ want. They want to be lied to so they can pretend to have relevant politics.

    GWB appointed Petraeus and after killing all those Al Quaeda sorts in Afghanistan Al Qaeda is so much stronger there today I suppose! What a surprise waffle about why we must not kill the enemy for fear there will be more of them. Why this didn’t work for the Germans and Italians and Japanese of WW2 is never quite explained by you Steve but why not have a go. After all you’re in the fighting ranks now and want the measures to be effective now don’t you?

  42. 42 patrickm

    There ARE people who think themselves leftists and who call the current use of drones by Obama a war crime and they don’t want him to put any ‘boots on the ground’ neither. Most of them won’t speak up in open debate and small wonder. They fear the method of the dread nought radicals of the 60’ies. They don’t engage in open, honest, and above board debate and a search for the truth out in the open. These people are so removed from fighting against fascists like ISIL and Al Qaeda that they call this air warfare a crime and Obama an aggressive war monger. The US in their view is currently an enemy of the worlds people led by a drone weilding war criminal. They will not lay out a credible method of fighting any current enemy like ISIL with or without air attacks and piloted or not. Credible people discuss both political and military issues when there is a war to fight. I think there is a war to fight and it can’t be avoided by people who propose to build a world fit for 21st Century humans. The enemy tries to kill us, so we engage in Philosophy and peace-mongers are not in this discussion.

    There is a long list of people (like Obama and Abbott) who are ‘for defeating IS but [who] think that that can’t be done until some basic political problems are solved. [such as that] The government of Iraq must represent all. [It’s a very long list because everyone knows there are political issues in every civil war – yet most of these people (not the stop the war sorts mind)are also]… for arming the Kurds in both Iraq and Syria because they need to defend themselves as does the Free Syrian Army. [These garden variety western and regional political ‘leaders’ all believe that] The problem can be solved once the majority of Sunni Arabs have been convinced that their future lies with Iraq and not with IS. [They all] have been arguing this position for a long while… [but what is new is that] Obama has asked people to go to war…

    ‘Stop the war’ does not want anyone armed by the west nor any forces sent; they don’t even want any forces built. They are very clear in what they think. They think the west is the problem that we western ‘progressives’ must attend to. They think that the west has caused this warfare in the ME and tell everyone as loudly as they can to remember that it was destroying the Baathists regime of Saddam Hussein in the first place that set this process loose. Naturally they can’t put it like that but that is the way I view it.

    Australian greens are possibly less clear than that. But they are at least clear that they do not want Australian forces deployed, and they also remind everyone of the disaster that the COW unleashed when they ‘illegally’ attacked the old stable Baathist regime.

    People like ‘Red’ Steve who have rallied and marched with these Neverland sorts for many years and only now have gone their separate way – advocating weapons being sent, and ‘rescues’ launched – ought to explain how they now won’t march with the old crowd and just how bad the politics are that they are NOW repudiating.

    A knife level war is in our western faces and neverlanders propose look the other way politics. A fight is required and ‘Stop the war’ policies stoke the war. Red Steve in reality repudiates phoney pacifism and such turn away politics and all their talk about being anti-war. People know that there is a fighting left and always has been and that there is no fight at all in the old peace movement. Steve knows that the west can’t just get ‘others’ to do the fighting and dying for us ‘progressives’. Yet ‘Red’ is a little bit worried about fighting because we might make things worse!

    ‘Red’ political forces of any kind can’t just turn away and leave those with the knife free to use it. Yet there are those who present as reds who call the U.S. the greatest threat to peace and call for an arms embargo to the region! Naturally, all gangsters and Putin sorts are left free to do what they want unencumbered by any democratic pressures but the call is for the West to embargo all arms supplies! Right… that will work! The crime is that the peace-mongers are not sent to pilot the drones!

  43. 43 Steve Owens

    Patrick you point out that the method of defeating the Nazi’s can be the same method that should be used against IS as if it is that simple. You may have read some history and if so you would know that the bombing of residential areas in the UK stiffened resistance and that the bombing of German cities stiffened resistance despite the aim being to break resistance. The ultimatum given to Germany of unconditional surrender weakened the anti Hitler forces where as the unconditional surrender ultimatum given to Japan was given with the conditions that allowed Japan to surrender quite peacefully without invasion.
    So my point is that one size does not fit all.
    The starc reality remains that no one has a hope of ruling Iraq without gaining at least the aquiesence of the Sunni Arab minority just as the US did during the awakening. There is a blueprint for what is needed I cant see why you think that brut force is a better option.
    As to me siding with anti war people in 2003 but having disputes with them in 2014 well in 2003 I think that they made a better case that the pro war movement did and even you admit that the pro war movement was full of lies. 2014 is not 2003 people learn more, the situation alters and people move on. Well at least some of us do.

  44. 44 Steve Owens

    One thing I support is giving the Kurds some decent weapons
    but I doubt if your new BFF Obama will do this because the Baghdad government and the Turkish government will be against

  45. 45 patrickm

    An Iraqi – western and regional fightback is being planned right now to take on and ‘degrade’, and over an indeterminate time defeat ISIL,in my view that is a good thing and well overdue. A holding fight is already underway while a big U.S. led Coalition (apparently 50 countries to one extent or another)is quite rightly being formed to see to the longer term task. This is all better late than never stuff IMV and all expected by the enemy. The enemy plan for a protracted war.

    Obama has perhaps fudged over the effort that the West will have to put towards it, but I think has indicated that it is likely to extend past his term in office and given that he had no strategy and really still doesn’t that can’t be doubted. Anyway, from a progressive POV quite separately and irrespective to the requirement of killing the immediate crop of fascists, winning the politics requires a protracted approach where we ‘put politics in command’.

    At this stage Australia’s ruling-elite has agreed to contribute a small force to help achieve the eventual result that’s desired at least as far as ISIL in Iraq is concerned. I think this is unquestionably a good thing, both the air-power and ground contingent. (That appear to be ‘training’ and force protection elements) I would like to see a far larger effort with lots of boots on the ground for direct intervention but like the FSA I will take what I can get from our ruling-elites.

    From media reports it’s apparent that ISIL in Syria is already on the COW agenda with the Kurds under attack as I type, so we can expect the Syrian front to open sooner rather than later. However once Iraq is cleared of ISIL controlled towns then the Syrian issue will be fully on the table and leftists ought to be clear on that issue right from the start. It is already the case that major ISIL convoys between towns in Iraq and even in Syria are under U.S. air power threat, and that the Generals’ hope for such formations so that they can be attacked out on the open roads, but the enemy will quickly learn to hide and so towns are central to their strategy.

    U.S. politically minded General’s like Petraeus and McCrystal are central to the planning of this counter attack. The plan has tight political understandings as a foundation and just as tight civilian oversight. No one is planning on WW2 style carpet bombing of civilian areas and no-one intends to leave one single town in Iraq and then in Syria under the control of ISIL or Al Qaeda. This work will therefore take some time but there will be periods of rapid advance and the enemy will find effective ways to fight back. The enemy is highly motivated and seems often well trained with a long military tradition.

    The first point to grasp is this.

    What a wondrous change has taken place in so little time; (just a little over a decade) and how sad it is that a ‘Red’ was not able to have it explained to him before or during that first decade of the protracted event, but at some point it’s become a ‘stark reality’ NOW for at least this one Red!

    ‘The starc reality remains that no one has a hope of ruling Iraq without gaining at least the aquiesence of the Sunni Arab minority just as the US did during the awakening.’


    (I bet people can already see this coming)

    Saddam could rule this joint for many decades with his iron methods with no problem at all, and the Ottoman empire for hundreds of years before WW1.

    Now sectarians might think Baathists from the Sunni sect ruling over Shia and Kurds is one thing but not Shia and Kurds ruling over Sunni, but I bet that is not thought in this instance.

    NO the world has changed because GWB changed it with a ‘dumb’ war!

    What’s more, it is possible that the electoral system that the U.S. ruling-elite preferred but that was rejected because it did not match the proportionately democratic standard of the South African model that was insisted upon by the Shia majority, may well have assisted in transitioning the Sunni from supremacist sect through power sharing to modernity. We shall never know but it is worth reflecting on while discussing political issues that ‘Red Steve’ insists are central to solving the war.

    The level of power derived by virtue of constituting 60% of the population when another 18% are off to the side in an autonomous region, leaving a few smaller sects and a disgruntled 20% having to step down from a long term position of privilege has consequences. Not going into Syria and dealing with the forces that would strike at will from that safe haven has also had serious consequences. That period is now going to be ended. Syria no longer constitutes a safe haven for forces who would bomb Iraqi markets and slaughter ‘inferior’ people at will. Hooray at last!

    I have to accept some responsibility for not making a better case before the war to convince people that it would result in a region wide revolutionary upsurge but I think that Red Steve now agrees that it has done just that and that the swamp draining project that this constitutes WAS intended by the tiny elite that thought strategically about their response to 9/11.

  46. 46 Steve Owens

    “What a wondrous change has taken place in so little time; (just a little over a decade)….”
    “Saddam could rule this joint for many decades with his iron methods with no problem at all,…..”
    “NO the world has changed because GWB changed it….”
    “I have to accept some responsibility for not making a better case before the war to convince people that it would result in a region wide revolutionary upsurge…..”
    What ever made me think that I could argue with this.

  47. 47 patrickm

    Steve where possible people ought to get others to evaluate what they are contributing to any debate. Here is one debate from 3 years back. You will recall it but it really is worth closely reviewing now that the issue of how to deal with events in Iraq is hot. Have a real good listen and once more consider how people voted before and after.

    Particularly listen hard to Sonya Ziaee when she talks of ‘The rescue of my country’ and is then feebly followed by Eva Cox. Winning this argument is IMV a start to winning the Iraq argument that is before us right now. It’s just not a good idea to be judge in your own cause but when no valid independent judge is available one ought to at least TRY to imagine what others might think. If you don’t well…
    Look, this isn’t an argument.
    Mr Vibrating
    Yes it is.
    No it isn’t, it’s just contradiction.
    Mr Vibrating
    No it isn’t.
    Yes it is.
    Mr Vibrating
    It is not.
    It is. You just contradicted me.
    Mr Vibrating
    No I didn’t.
    Ooh, you did!
    Mr Vibrating
    No, no, no, no, no.
    You did, just then.
    Mr Vibrating
    No, nonsense!
    Oh, look this is futile.
    Mr Vibrating
    No it isn’t.
    I came here for a good argument.
    Mr Vibrating

    No you didn’t, you came here for an argument.
    Well, an argument’s not the same as contradiction.

    Mr Vibrating
    It can be.
    No it can’t. An argument is a connected series of statements to establish a definite proposition.
    Mr Vibrating
    No it isn’t.
    Yes it is. It isn’t just contradiction.
    Mr Vibrating
    Look, if I argue with you, I must take up a contrary position.
    But it isn’t just saying ‘No it isn’t’.
    Mr Vibrating
    Yes it is.
    No it isn’t, Argument is an intellectual process … contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.
    Mr Vibrating
    No it isn’t.
    Yes it is.
    Mr Vibrating
    Not at all.
    Now look!
    Mr Vibrating
    (pressing the bell on his desk) That’s it. Good morning.
    But I was just getting interested.
    Mr Vibrating
    Sorry the five minutes is up.

    Anyhow here we both are, ‘Red’ Steve and me, rejecting the old peace crowd for 2014 and any hands off chanting that they propose for the current deployments and possibly you Steve are wondering why they can’t see the obvious requirement to send at least a ‘rescue’ force.

    I don’t know that I can venture a new theory but I guess they will tell everyone some of the old theories and you could explain to them why the cost benefit analysis that you employ has now swung over to some form of fight mode. I don’t think you will convince many, nevertheless their numbers will still fall. Naturally they don’t tend to change sides when it dawns on them that they are up shit creek they just ‘drift away’. The once convinced just drop out when they understand that they have lost the debate.

    Virtually all the arguments in the above Jim Molan led debate are, it seems to me, currently relevant with the ISIL/Baathist/Al Qaeda/???enemies, the only change needed being to replace place names scale of fight and quantities of Iraqi and Kurd fighters on the side of the COW.

    The lies that the US and COW bourgeois leaders had to tell to the right-wing establishment back in 2003 were not required to be told to left wing liberationists. For example all I had to realise was that the people of Iraq and then the whole region would have a chance if the oppressive fascist army got smashed for them. Once that was clear I was on board and I remained on board when I realised that they were NOT smashed as much as they had to be. They had mostly only lost their heavy weapons. But better some progress than none. Others like ‘Liz’ from the audience had a very different take opposing the war at the start but being clear about what is required NOW.

    Now one way or another Steve wants to see the fighting work got on with provided the politics are not neglected and by all accounts that is what all the ‘leaders’ seem to be pushing. ISIL only apes the methods of mass graves for prisoners and ‘other’ that the Saddam led Baathists always employed. No overcrouded prisons for this lot! If Iraqi people need ‘rescuing’ from ISIL – and they do according to Steve – they sure as hell required rescue from the industrial version of the same style fascism that Saddam was running. As we know Bush the elder under realist policies sold the Iraqi people out so mass graves were then the order of the day for anti fascist fighters then and I don’t want a repeat of that. Obama has sold out the Syrian people till it became obvious that this was harming US interests and I am glad that realist policy is ended but he sells out the Egyptian people now.

    I made up my own mind that the old style fascists formations that completely controlled the Iraqi peoples unfortunate slavelike lives were not going to survive a COW attack but were going to be thoroughly ‘degraded’. That will happen this time as well with the ISIL formations that only partially run things. All we pro-liberation leftists needed to know was that a very powerful fascist army (far more powerful than the rag tag ISIL ‘army’ that currently has to be ‘degraded’, would be smashed by a force that would then in our view be compelled to assist in ensuring that a democratic political transformation take place. That is the plot right now but the Neverland usuals can’t see it.

    The first liberation ensured that the Iraqi people would thus move into an era where – the stark reality would be that no one would have a hope of ruling Iraq without gaining at least the acquiescence of the Sunni Arab minority and the majority Shia and the other large minority known as the Kurds.

    That reality is what Steve says has a chance now if people attend to the politics while they fight.

    That reality had no chance before 2003 and thats definitionally a revolutionary transformation.

    People who are obliged to agree that these outcomes are good and only argue that they came at too high a price must now consider Syria and ISIL emerging from a failure to make war. That reality now mocks people as they advocate armed forces sent in to ‘rescue Iraqi peoples’ engaged in a civil war as well as a regional war.

    That stark reality is so stark now that 2014 leftists like Red Steve consider further unity with the western military forces that are forming up to kill another fascist army only this time using far fewer ground troops and far more locals! I ask myself how good is that change really?

    I conclude that this is real political progress from when huge numbers of progressive people all marched in protest about western aggression for impure oil motives and how they thought that a former POTUS just wanted to enrich companies like Halliburton. All now gone with the wind for most people but not the loony elements and particularly not the Milne led Greens.

    Now Red Steve more than just hopes the current drone loving POTUS gets the politics right as the US leads the required western effort just to ‘rescue’ various Iraqi and Syrian peoples. Such activities used to be called imperialist ‘meddling’ and hands off was the chant. How good is that change? The understanding of the real situation has altered and THAT has finally enabled people to move on.

    Like begets like and the first COW of 2003 delivered the second of 2014. I am quite sure that I am not moving towards Obama but rather that he is moving slowly and painfully towards me. Politics as specific policies are at issue now not chants about ‘not im my name’ and ‘no blood for oil’.

    ‘argue; give reasons or cite evidence in support of an idea, action, or theory, typically with the aim of persuading others to share one’s view.’

    Red Steve; seeing as you are wanting to be so clear an all I ask you to listen to Peter Singer in the above debate and for my sake copy him. He changed sides as well but he is clear to me and you are not. You ought to want to be clear to your audience.

    Remember as Singer says of the enemy ‘They place bombs in girls schools’ . Singer says the COW can and have changed as he wanted them to and he supports fighters getting to their work. I think he would now want ‘boots on the ground’ in Iraq because that is the logic of his position.

    What do you say about the above debate?
    Are you on the Jim Molan side now?

  48. 48 Steve Owens

    “Are you on the Jim Molan side now?” Patrick the debate is about withdrawing troops imediately from Afghanistan.
    As I pointed out to Arthur September 2009 @ 12:11 in the thread Guy Rundle’s support for “righteous killing” Strange Times

    “Arthur, I have never advocated that troops should be pull out of Afghanistan. You say I have, so please provide some evidence. Since landing in Afghanistan I have argued that foriegn troops should protect the people and that withdrawing would be a distater.
    Please argue your case with out misrepresenting mine.”

  49. 49 patrickm

    Pardon me about that confusion. I’m not the sort that wants to misrepresent anyone. I did not understand that you were for a troop withdrawal from Iraq and at the same time for continued deployment in Afghanistan. That is a bit of an odd stand from my POV, but anyway things are now changed. So I am glad we can move on from that.

    Just to be clear.

    I take it you are for
    1) the return of COW forces to Iraq
    and I suppose you think
    2)a residual force in Afghanistan is a no brainer if we are to see some social progress there
    and I quess the quicker ‘we’ westerners get some
    3) ‘boots on the ground’ in Syria the better hey?
    I also suppose you are,
    4) glad to hear of the first US air strikes that have been happening in Syria against ISIL.
    and I presume
    5) you agree it was good to hear Tony Blair remind everybody to talk sence about the requirement for those boots on the ground.

    With perhaps 130,000 Kurds crossing over to Turkey over a couple of days they are clearly running from an advance of ISIL and you would agree that a counter attack is required.

    Do you agree that the anti-war crowd in trying to present as left are bizare as their current stand just isn’t?

  50. 50 Steve Owens

    “Pardon me about that confusion.” Thanks for the appology much appreciated.
    After the COW invaded Iraq I did suggest that if the US troops made a speedy exit they might be able to forstall the inevidable anti US backlash.
    When it was clear that the US intended to stay and that the backlash occurred. I changed my position and became an advocate of the occupying force living up to their resonsibilities as an occupying force. My position about a speedy withdrawl was more hopeful than realistic and I held that position for a very small time.
    If you remember I opposed Australian troops being withdrawn.

  51. 51 Steve Owens

    In answer to your questions
    1) no
    4)probably not relevant and I dont know the situation on the ground well enough to have a meaningful opinion
    5) havent heard about Tony Blair and dont care much for his ideas
    Im all for the Kurds repelling the recent IS gains but they will need some heavy weapons. I havent heard that anyone is supplying the Kurds with heavy weapons. Wake me up when that happens.

  52. 52 Steve Owens
  53. 53 Steve Owens
  54. 54 patrickm

    Well Steve can I take it you are for;
    The return of COW air forces and heavy weapons trainers and special force air coordination specialists to the region to do the job – that you called on the west to do. That is rescue and enable locals to effectively fight back against ISIL, and presumably therefore also be trained to use longer range weapons systems. Things like coordination with attack air-craft, or use other forms of ‘artillery’ to kill the enemy and advance. That is stop the retreat and advance into what had through former neglect become ‘their’ territory, and to find them (the enemy) and deal with the enemy. That is deal with them at as much range as optimal so as to keep ‘our’ side safe – to out range the enemy – and use the heavy weapons that you have called for – to again kill more of the enemy – and force any survivors who won’t surrender further back till they are all defeated (either dead or captured) in the manner of any troops that fought street to street in Berlin, and to do this till final victory just as in 1945? I take it you agree with John Kerry who said today something like there can be no geography or borders or safe havens anywhere for the enemy to hide in and regroup and spring out from yet again. I’m sure you agree that the ‘Rescue’ that you call for means more than facilitating urgent retreats and conceding territory and supplies to the enemy when the enemy is advancing – and more than just dumping arms and ammunition on the Kurds that you have long since called liberated by the COW back in 2003 and others in say the FSA or the Iraqi armed forces you approve of who are still fighting the marketplace sect bombers and electricity disrupters – as you know they are – and that as you think a residual force (for killing the enemy) in Afghanistan is a no brainer if we are to see some social progress there and as you understand how sect divided the god bothering peoples of Iraq and Syria are that you might at least consider it an understandable stand for a fighting leftist or marxist to think some non sectarian ‘disinterested’ outsiders can assist to defuse such sect tension in the broader ‘swamp’.

    As you became an advocate of the COW living up to their responsibilities as an occupying force and I had forgotten that you opposed Australian troops being withdrawn from Iraq when they were and you asked to be woken when the Kurds were being helped with heavy weapons well I must say wake up because more air attacks are the Kurds current artillery in the same manner that NATO provided it in Libya till victory for those assisted was achieved on the ground.

    The devilishly complex politics are still in command and they are still being run by Obama and other bourgeois types but I don’t think that the US and others in the new COW will be selling out the Kurds anytime soon. The crucial point right now is that there are people who are prepared to sell out everyone in the region and Africa and in Ukraine. They have nothing to say about the coming Palestinian victory either!

    It took years for Obama to launch these 1st round cruise missile attacks. I had called for the full course of treatment 200,000 deaths ago. But I had wanted them at that time first against Assad. US and the world’s progressives have interests that require attacks to come to pass against Assad as well, but Obama has almost had to be pushed aside before anything was done and who knows how long this will take to play out.

    See Arthur sorting out some of the confusion in the comments section of this thread at TNS.

  55. 55 Steve Owens

    I think that you are too superpower focused. You thought that GWB could easily knock over Saddam (evidenced by Arthurs public comments that no one would fight for Saddam and that the wars death toll may be as low as hundreds) You were wrong the US military is not that powerful.
    You wanted the full force of the USA to hit Assad but the reality is that the FSA were always on a hiding to nothing. As R Fisk pointed out this civil war will be decided by tanks and the FSA have none.
    People did send the rebels money but that money went mainly to the extremists and it came from the gulf states and the Saudis. Obmama derided the FSA as doctors and dentists with no military trainning and a few weapons. No matter how much his words irritate he probably has a point and from a US military view there is no upside in backing the loosing side. You are mainly focused on what the US can do.
    I think that this is a wrong approach. There are 4 main actors, the IS the Kurds the Iraqi government and the Sunni Arabs
    John Howard on the radio this morning stated that the single biggest factor in getting us to this deplorable situation was the sectarian approach taken by the Maliki government (sound familiar)
    A resolution needs to be found by the Iraqi government the Kurds and the tribal Sunnis (it wont be easy because the Iraqi government has squandered a lot of goodwill that existed at the height of the Sunni awakening (you know that period before many awakening leaders were accuse of terrorism and thrown in prison)

  56. 56 patrickm

    Arch conservative John Howard’s great claim to fame goes all the way back to supporting the U.S. attempt to prevent elections in Vietnam and failing and doing nothing to end the filth of apartheid except in the rearview mirror – following the idiot Thatcher not pushing for the release of the ‘terrorist’ Mandela and excusing Pinochet. Howard spent a lifetime backing and excusing Zionist aggression for greater Israel (how is that war working out?) and lying about the Irish struggle and selling out the people of Timor Leste and so on through a sickening display of typical conservative idiocy. That Howard focuses on Maliki when the cancer was let grow by the Obama led west who would not put in the bigger effort required is not any surprise to me.

    Howard would also share your view on Mao and Stalin so yes he does sound familiar, and like the way he spent his life backing Kissinger style rightist ratbaggery ought to be heavily discounted. That Howard was in NY at 9/11 still gave him little insight into the strategic war required, and when the war was launched he kept Australian involvement to a ‘follow the U.S.’ level and made no real breakthrough at all. Australians were not told to dig deep and that Australians would now pay a heavy price for what had and still has to be undone. Even Obama could slap him down when Howard correctly pointed out that if he was Al Qaeda he would want Obama to win. Obama just noted how few were the Australian troops. Even those few were kept safe from the real war. Rather than stiffen GWB and advise him well, Howard was no Churchill but a useless running dog luckily for us doing a good thing. He hasn’t even got the honesty to slam Obama for his almost 6 terrible years of dithering ISIL into such strength. For Howard to state ‘that the single biggest factor in getting us to this deplorable situation was the sectarian approach taken by the Maliki government (sound familiar)’ is to be a sad joke. All these blithering idiots are using Maliki as a scapegoat.
    The reality is that the Shia leadership have had a very hard row to hoe as the enemy regularly killed their supporters in markets, mosques and even universities. The Sunni are so supremacist as a rule that their terrible leadership is standard gangsterism that makes Putin look like a truth telling do-gooder. This is a swamp!

    How can Steve be taken in by a dope like Fisk? He has just been conclusively shown by the reality of years of the massively mechanised Assad army being slowly ground down on the way to being defeated, and THEN the ISIL literally grabbing all these tanks etc., from the Iraqi army that was caught by their swift moving light infantry. Fisk is a joke yet Steve brings him up as an authority. Are you well Steve? You’re the one going on about heavy weapons!

    GWB could easily knock over Saddam’s heavy weapons reliant army and did so! Then the all important troops that had melted into the background took real control of the population in the dark, going door to door killing people with pistols and knives and ropes etc.. The mafia style murder is what makes all this truly bloody if you are prepared to unhorse the emperor. Who do you think ended up being the leaders in Sunni areas?

    A political leader read well in the works of Mao could have contributed to a profound understanding of what the peoples’ of the swamp were up against but unfortunately the west had bourgeois conservatives knuckle dragging their way past even more conservative pseudoleftists.

    You say ‘You wanted the full force of the USA to hit Assad but the reality is that the FSA were always on a hiding to nothing. As R Fisk pointed out this civil war will be decided by tanks and the FSA have none.’ What the hell are you saying? What can this possibly mean other than you now insist that the only thing to do was for the COW to rid the Iraqi people of their mighty oppressors? The Iraqi people were on a hiding to nothing if the FSA was.

    You say ‘People did send the rebels money but that money went mainly to the extremists and it came from the gulf states and the Saudis. Obama derided the FSA as doctors and dentists with no military training and a few weapons. No matter how much his words irritate he probably has a point and from a US military view there is no upside in backing the losing side.’ Whatever these scattered thoughts are supposed to mean Obama is NOW getting involved and the U.S. and the west can’t let either ISIL nor Assad win! The ruling-elites of the west are now doing what they ought to have been doing when ‘a stitch in time would have saved nine’ as the saying goes. Nothing has really changed from my POV.

    ISIL is real and they will not disappear in a puff of general western forgiveness for what they have been up to anymore than Assad. How is it you understand what is required to go from Nazis running Germany to bourgeois democrats doing so and yet you are in such a twisted state over the fight just launched by Obama to rid the world of ISIL and Syria of the Assad regime.

    It is true that at some point hundreds of tanks will roll forward from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq but this is not what Fisk was on about.

  57. 57 Steve Owens

    Lets put aside some of your nonsense and focus on a real issue.
    First the nonsense John Howard is a cunt no argument from me but he was your ally during operation shock and awe.
    John Howard didnt do what you wanted ie “Australians were not told to dig deep and that Australians would now pay a heavy price for what had and still has to be undone.” but in fuckfaces defense how could Howard prepare the Australian public for the tough road ahead when the pro war industry was full of lies promoting how easy it would be. Lies that you describe as necessary.
    “Then the all important troops that had melted into the background took real control of the population in the dark, going door to door killing people with pistols and knives and ropes etc.. The mafia style murder is what makes all this truly bloody if you are prepared to unhorse the emperor. Who do you think ended up being the leaders in Sunni areas?” Wheres the evidence for this bold assertion?
    “Howard would also share your view on Mao and Stalin” Again how could this be true I support the Russian and Chinese revolutions. My position is that the theory of Socialism in One Country has inevidable consequences. I very much doubt that Howard shares my view.
    OK enough of the nonsense. The substance of your argument is that Obama through neglect has allowed the monster ISIL to get out of hand.
    Well lets see if thats true. If Obama had given a lot more help to the FSA say airplanes and boots on the ground would that have stopped ISIL? Well thats the level Bush gave Iraq and the result was a rapid growth of ISIL (type org) so that clearly didnt work in Iraq why should anyone believe that it would work in Syria?
    Obama could have replicated his intervention in Lybia but there again we see that the result of that has been the rapid growth of groups like ISIL
    So intervention small and large have resulted in the outcome we didnt want as has do nothing.
    The reason that US intervention is immaterial to the outcome probably lies on other quarters.
    To grow big ISIL must posses two things. One is an attractive set of ideas which they have in the form of Wahhabism the extreme form of Islam that is the official Saudi religion
    The second thing is money and they has been plenty of that coming from Saudi Arabia and the gulf states (Plus places like France have generated $60mil in payment of ransoms please will people stop paying ransoms)
    Now these arse holes(saudi arabia and friends) have been promoting the Syrian civil war because it is a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran
    Obama could have tried to cut of funds going to Syria but this would have strengthened Iran
    This thing is way more complex than your simplistic shoot the bad guys narrative

  58. 58 Steve Owens

    Patrick heres a question
    You support the surge yes?
    The surge was made up of 30,000 extra troops, taking troops out of bases and placing them in communities and paying off the Sunni militias to change sides and giving them weapons. The Shia politicians were much against this giving of weapons.
    Now you write that the Sunni militias were run by murdering gangsters.
    So what is your position on the surge, murdering gangsters should not have been given weapons or murdering gangsters should have been given weapons.
    Obviously if you say no weapons to murdering gangsters it means that you really dont support the surge.

  59. 59 Steve Owens

    ” Then the all important troops that had melted into the background took real control of the population in the dark, going door to door killing people with pistols and knives and ropes etc.. The mafia style murder is what makes all this truly bloody if you are prepared to unhorse the emperor. Who do you think ended up being the leaders in Sunni areas?”
    Your position just isnt coherant. You cant have it both ways the Sunni leadership were gangsters or they were people worthy of partnering with during the “awakening”. You cant give these guys weapons one day and another day say that they are beyond contempt.
    What happened from 2007 when these guys were anti Al Quieda heros to 2014 when these guys are pro IS terrorists.
    Oh of course it was Obama. Why didnt I see that.

  60. 60 Steve Owens

    Sorry the five minutes is up.aW3w

  61. 61 patrickm

    Steve consider this thread from back in January 2007.
    Mark as he ended the thread said this.

    Meanwhile, back in the real world:
    ‘First among the American concerns is a Shiite-led government that has been so dogmatic in its attitude that the Americans worry that they will be frustrated in their aim of cracking down equally on Shiite and Sunni extremists, a strategy President Bush has declared central to the plan.
    ‘€œWe are implementing a strategy to embolden a government that is actually part of the problem,’ said an American military official in Baghdad involved in talks over the plan. ’We are being played like a pawn.’

    The American military’€™s misgivings came as new details emerged of the reconstruction portion of Mr. Bush’€™s plan, which calls for more than doubling the number of American-led reconstruction teams in Iraq to 22 and quintupling the number of American civilian reconstruction specialists to 500.

    Compounding American doubts about the government’s willingness to go after Shiite extremists has been a behind-the-scenes struggle over the appointment of the Iraqi officer to fill the key post of operational commander for the Baghdad operation. In face of strong American skepticism, the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, has selected an officer from the Shiite heartland of southern Iraq who was virtually unknown to the Americans, and whose hard-edged demands for Iraqi primacy in the effort has deepened American anxieties.

    Mark then concluded saying
    ‘I’d ask anyone wishing to perpetuate the discussion of the beliefs of the pro-Iraq war left to go here, please:

    The problem that you Steve are now posing was understood as THE central problem way back then so what did Obama add to this understanding? I think he added nothing! I think he made the situation worse. But who cares really when we are faced with a far deeper problem than the degree of uselessness that the Obama years have delivered.

    When people arm themselves they first secure the space where they speak because they are going to contest with at least a known entity over some known issues and in the process no doubt also uncover some unknowns.

    The armed people that gather together try to listen to everyone that is relevant and appoint their leaders and make their plans. In short they assemble the known knowns and known unknowns as best they can and make plans accordingly. People who arm are (whatever the merits from a progressives POV) in a power struggle. People are perhaps trying to kill them and so they in their turn plan to fight and as required kill their enemy. Thus they come to philosophise as Mao put it.

    People tried to kill Mao so he engaged in philosophy. One year troops would be trying to kill him the next year they would be inducted into the PLA. Who does not know that? Troops that change sides are not the enemy anymore. Once they are on our side they are our side’s troops and require everything that troops require. If they change sides again well that’s a pity but there you are, someone is once again trying to kill you.

    Sunni militias were set up to resist something that did not require resisting. The militias united with the enemies of all progress. They, when not formed directly of them, united with Baathists and Al Qaeda. All these sort of groups are run by murdering gangsters. They were never a noble resistance except in the eyes of western Neverlanders. But when they turned on Al Qaeda sorts, the murdering gangsters should have been given weapons and struggled with in a different manner than one struggles with those who are still shooting at you. At some points some Sunni had to arm themselves and unite with others just to protect themselves from Shia sect death squads that had developed in reaction to the initial actions of the ‘resistance’ groups. These sunni had no choice at all and no doubt formed the best units of the ‘awakening’ when the surge response got underway.

    Nowdays, people probably have a better notion of why Mao won the ongoing war that he fought as a lifetime of revolutionary struggle. His policy was always to unite the many to defeat the few and in that sense he was utterly predictable. Yet, his enemies who were mighty watched him reverse the tables on them and we saw entire divisions change sides.

    Armed elements existed as a 1st Sunni ‘resistance’ because those with the guns and training and the inclination to do just that formed up and they were not led by any newbies. After their heavy losses these elements later also existed as the ‘awakening forces’ but did so only because they existed in the first instance. They were compelled by the realities of their situation to adapt and that does not at all imply that they had changed their spots.

    It never dawned on you Steve that the ‘resistance’ was “Then the all important troops that had melted into the background took real control of the population in the dark, going door to door killing people with pistols and knives and ropes etc.. The mafia style murder is what makes all this truly bloody if you are prepared to unhorse the emperor. Who do you think ended up being the leaders in Sunni areas?” and so you ask ‘Where is the evidence for this bold assertion?’

    The issues were spelt out from the very first over the reasons why ‘we’ fight! There was as I explained, never a requirement for these elements to risk their lives and try to kill the others that they were up against as the ‘resistance’. They could have talked their way forward if they were interested in democracy. They were never interested in democracy so they constituted a resistance fighting the revolution for democracy that was underway. This was the revolution that was never understood or genuinely desired by pseudoleftists and other more open right wingers. The western pseudos instead told lies or were genuinely deluded about ‘let’s get serious, of course it’s about oil’. The locals who were sectarians to start with could easily believe what the western leftists told them. That ‘narrative’ could with great effort be made to appear to float for awhile anyway. Later there were other simpler sectarian reasons anyway.

    Maoists have always thought that all political power grows… Most of the world is run by gangsters with terror as their method and you want me to offer proof that people who are prepared to arm themselves and use their weapons will actually run things whatever the surface appearance. Well just as Italy still had to transition out of a strong Mafia era and ordinary people are often caught in the middle while the terror is employed, and just as easily as people in Chicago took to turning the other way when bad government policies gave rise to more of the same gangsters that are always to be found, similar armed men did their thing in Iraq.

    But the old mob didn’t have much luck in the Kurdish areas nor in the newly liberated Shia areas. New forces emerged in these areas and you have had plenty to be critical of them over. How many times have you explained what a pack of pricks are running Kurdish Iraq and terrorising journalists etc..

    Obama (because he says his people underestimated what ISIL strength was) in essence admits that through neglect he as POTUS has allowed the monster ISIL to ‘get out of hand’ because he thought it was in hand when it was just killing away in Syria. Sure they kept popping over to bomb the Shia in Iraqi markets and Universities and knock over their power lines but..ah well…!

    Obama could have replicated his intervention in Libya that you Steve and I have supported without any illusions that some instant model democracy would emerge. I knew a further struggle would unfold and told everyone that this would be the case.

    U.S. intervention simply is not immaterial. That is why the Kurds want it NOW. That is why the Kurds have as Hitchens told us their pictures of Bush the liberator!

    David Jackmanson nailed some very important issues back in 2007 as did Barbara B and she is not any sort of Marxist. The thread then continued as detailed above into ‘strange alignments’.

    What I propose to do is edit these threads so that the thinking at the start of 2007 is clear of all the mush. They were very good debates and events then unfolded that has included the surge and the now almost 6 yrs of Obama’s dithering neglect and his return to failed realist policies.

    The whole world is slipping into conflict as push back against tyranny is met with the usual bloodshed from the Putin side of history. Even China now wobbles a little and many people will eventually blame the students when the fascists start the bloodshed in Hong Kong. The only source of authority that the Chinese leadership have is brute force. It is the same the world over. Cast aside your illusions prepare people for armed struggle against tyranny. Only those who are prepared to defend democracy are able to build any sort of ground dwelling environment fit for the 21st Century ‘naked apes’.

    So are the Australian forces deployed with your blessing?

  62. 62 Steve Owens

    So are the Australian forces deployed with your blessing?

    The Australian forces are currently waiting for an invitation from the Iraqi government. I think that international law is important but is trupmed by urgent situations. For the last week or so an urgent situation has existed for the defenders of Kobani. My preferred position is that people with weapons help the defenders of Kobani no matter what international law is broken.

  63. 63 Steve Owens

    Patrick I think that you exhibit a fantasy view of what was reality in post invasion Iraq, you often repeat that the Sunni’s had nothing to fear from the new situation however Dr Izady would beg to differ
    “ 2005 the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council’s Badr Brigade militia took over the Interior Ministry under the government of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, and began setting up death squads and carrying attacks on Sunnis. The Supreme Council also began pushing out Sunnis from the security forces, and replacing them with its followers.”

  64. 64 patrickm

    I am nothing if not persistent so… currently the Australian air fueler and the air radar airplanes are deployed and working NOW and in a few days time the ‘invitation’ from the Shia dominated government of Iraq will be ‘sorted’ so that the pointy end Hornets will deploy on ground attack missions. So whatever you think about international law being important though trumped by urgent situations or about other desirable urgent deployments to ‘rescue’ or assist the defenders of Kobani where your ‘preferred position is that people with weapons help the defenders of Kobani no matter what international law is broken.’ Would you mind blessing the actual deployment under discussion or not as you see fit. There is no shortage of space for you to address other issues as you see fit but I just want to be clear on this question.

    As to the reality in post invasion Iraq I start from the raw numbers. The raw number of Baathists and others such as Al Qaeda sorts that survived and flourished in the Kurdish region or in Basra or Shia neighborhoods was radically different to those who ‘hid’ by blending in in Anbar province. That reality of where these people were had consequences for good people with progressive thinking that lived near them. Those good people were the first to be killed! They had to be the first killed because they posed an immediate danger to the ‘resistance’; their deaths made the raw numbers even worse. No doubt all manner of people were blamed for killing them as well. The key question for the underground ‘government’ in Anbar was tight control of that area.

    From my POV good and desirable locals interested in liberating their fellow Iraqis were bound to be the very 1st deaths once ‘mission accomplished’ announced the start of the occupation phase. They were going to be deaths blamed on the COW especially by the discredited anti-war pseudolefts as a policy. All deaths were lumped together and a noble resistance was fantasised. It was created as a given understanding of what good Iraqis would do!! The good Iraqi peoples’ would not sit down with the imperialist overlords like the Shia clergy were doing and talk about what the election system ought to be! No. They would not sit at a table and plan a peaceful demonstration of political resolve. No. Like the French of WW2 we were told that a noble fight would have to be waged against the aggressor ‘imperialism’ there to steal the wretched oil and so on.

    By 2005 sufficient numbers of Iraqi underclass Shia had been deliberately targeted and killed to provoke the sought stage 2 civil war sectarian response. The enemy had to get control of their areas as stage 1 then ensure the Sunni had something to fear so that they all knew that they required the armed protection of the resistance. Then sure enough they did. What a surprise when swamp dwelling peoples turned to sectarian civil war conduct!! You even quote this and still don’t know what you’re looking at. The Sunni ought not have had anything to fear if progressive interests and ALSO western bourgeois interests were going to be furthered and tyranny overthrown. However the enemy sought to ensure they did have something to fear!

    Here is how Dr Izady explained it…“ 2005 the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council’s Badr Brigade militia took over the Interior Ministry under the government of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, and began setting up death squads and carrying attacks on Sunnis. The Supreme Council also began pushing out Sunnis from the security forces, and replacing them with its followers.”

    Black operations are a central feature of modern war. Watch Putin in Russia or Assad in Syria. The enemy of progress in Iraq were the Baathists and they retreated to Anbar and secured their home front first and they also sought the safety of Syria as you know. I am at a loss to know why you can’t see this basic numbers game.

    But you do NOW want the Kurds in Syria and Iraq helped and you do now want people in both countries under ISIL threat supported with a ‘surge’ of help both with war materials and ‘people’.

    Progress with you is always glacial but you can’t even think in the old way now.

    All of the trot groups around the world are still chanting ‘hands off Iraq / or Syria’ and ‘No blood for oil’, and Milne is proclaiming these troops ought not be deployed and they are not in her name, and we are just following the U.S. (she won’t say Obama) and she is looking as stupid as any Green you ever marched with.

    No discreditable ABC / BBC style fence for you to get hung up on here while laughing at dumb old George. Those old days are long gone. The peace marching remnants have never looked so forlorn and stupid at the start of any war as they do right now!

  65. 65 Steve Owens

    So you just want a yes or no answer to whether I support the current Australian military deployment to the Mid East.
    Well yes I do

  66. 66 Steve Owens

    “All of the trot groups around the world are still chanting ‘hands off Iraq / or Syria’ and ‘No blood for oil’,…”
    Well thats not entirely true. Trots in the Danish parliament are voting against military deployment and raising money for Syrian Kurdish organisations that are fighting IS.

    No matter how much you dislike Trots they tend in my experience to be people prepared to do hard work and always side with the oppressed.
    Speaking of Trots did you ever come to a conclussion about the murder of Leon. Yes or no will do. You agree with his murder or you think it was disgusting.

  67. 67 Steve Owens

    Just in case you are unfamiliar with the facts, Stalinists for decades denied that they had anything to do with the murder.
    So are you in favour of Trotskys murder, yes or no?

  68. 68 patrickm

    Talk about verballed; I hardly ever want just yes or no answers and I very rarely give them. I make an effort to understand the world and explain reasonably and truthfully what stand people are actually taking. All that ‘who, what, when, where, how’ stuff.

    Where and why people stand in a war is pretty important stuff. Some young Australians have just been sent off to drop bombs on people. All of us understand that the fact that they are going to make war requires more than just flag waving my country right or wrong crap. They are re-joining an ongoing war. Remember – the people who do this graph don’t know how to stop this graph and I doubt that U.S.and Australian bombs falling on Iraqi targets just now would give a good reason to do so.

    This presents Steve with a dilemma because he now approves of the war making, and says that after opposing the start of the war he supported COW troops staying to fight when it was underway. He says that this is all just a cost benefit style of analysis because he was always for liberating the Iraqi people from the Baathist thugs, but did not think this undoubted GOOD would come at the right cost. Now it’s clear that Syria is a legitimate alternative comparison cost and you say send the bombers in. That is to be a cruise missile something or other sort like me.

    Lots of people might find this an uncomfortable position to have come to but thankfully not Steve.

    He is not like the now very much older anti-Vietnam war protest veterans and others who have since the big marches in 2003 just gone embarrassingly silent as this protected revolution unfolded. Ah yes the old chant “One side’s right the other’s wrong victory to the Vietcong”. Good times, good times. The old crowd could scoff at the U.S. imperialists ever doing anything worthwhile but even they had heard of WW2.

    Now they are far too busy gardening, or world travelling while belly-aching about global warming to protest this deployment alongside that intellectual giant Christine Milne. They ‘know’ that our ruling-elite are just toadying behind the U.S. as usual; but what is the point of organising to stop our involvement in the war? That’s not what they said when they were young and could actually stand up for their views without being shamed out of any debate! Still we all have to admit there are not very many prepared to chant; ‘One side’s right the other’s wrong victory to Jihadist scum.’

    Yet another split in the anti-war ranks has inevitably arisen. I think Steve stands head and shoulders above a whole swag of timid people that are neither on the streets protesting with Milne (so they are out of Neverland) nor openly supporting this war-making as Steve is.

    Milne is obviously isolated back in Neverland and the timid refugees are just as obviously up on that old wobbly fence that Steve abandoned when taking the cruise missile stand. It’s Steve’s job to encourage others to come down and trudge forward.

    Nobody has to admit to being wrong in the past to climb down from the fence now and move forward, but it REALLY is strange to see a call for and support for a surge now and yet still not get that this is just 1 ongoing war of liberation that seamlessly changes form. The leading and the main forces involved are not what they used to be that’s for sure. How this war transformed into one that Steve now supports is perhaps what we ought to focus on.

    Putting politics in command is not about micro managing our bourgeois led troops (that you have just sent with your blessing) as they engage in the attacks. It is up to them now to find the enemy and destroy them. It is up to the allies that we must have on the ground to win the ground war with whatever special forces etc., we have deployed. War can’t be micro managed but you know that and you support the deployment.

    What of a left political oversight? What ought a left stand now be showing up as? Milne presents a ‘left’ target for Bolt that ought not be gifted to him. The concept of a pseudoleft that is actually nothing to do with the left is THE important concept that still requires placing front and centre lest the left worldview be taken to be such mush.

    Bourgeois forces are so pathetic, how about Netanyahu and Obama now that IS a relationship in the toilet but with a pathetic POTUS who knows what it means. The Palestinians want November 2016 as the UN ordered final withdrawal date for the Israeli occupation. I don’t see why Obama ought not drag in the UN, after all he is currently looking like being played the fool for his eight long years of peace prize presidency. What has this self promoter got to lose? Australian politicians are truly dopey and irelevant on this front.

    I think we now have a view of this war as a protracted regional war that is soooo not at a very high level of cultural development, and that can’t be helped because that is the level that the ME is at. To get beyond that swamp to a society as tolerant as is Australia or Germany I have to remind myself of what has been achieved over these last few decades of struggle 1935,45,55. But I find I have to think in decade lots 65,75,85,even 95 and then I can spot real progress.

    Now I can even spot a difference back to 2005! compare…
    and have a read of yourself Steve from just such a decade ago and compare to what you now think.

    None of us even knew that Shorten existed then and in another decade will have forgotten him. Not so Christopher Hitchens who was just 1 of the few to sign! He made a difference. About time we did a bit more!

    That won’t happen if you keep playing silly games.

  69. 69 patrickm

    Not interested in Trtotsky but I am in this speech from Shorten
    the current ALP leader approves the sending of troops to bomb and otherwise fight in Iraq.

    It’s such an important set piece speech that it requires close examination of the language usage. Despite the words, Shorten has not – like strangetimes people and others – declared the region a metaphorical swamp and the terrorists the sort of creatures that emerge from the swamp like mosquitoes do from the stagnant conditions in physical swamps; instead the carefully chosen fudge wording provides plausible denial of what was meant. The ‘Yes Minister’ style is on full display!

    Nevertheless, Shorten’s inescapable point remains that military action is designed to work towards something that it cannot do alone. Thus cooperative democratic politics from the peoples’ of Iraq has to be the central effort that drains the terrorist swamp in his fuzzy formulation.

    His actual words ’I recognise that military action alone cannot drain the swamp of terrorism.’ appears to present terrorism AS the stagnant water and that’s all wrong.

    The correct metaphor has the problem emerging from the swamp. Otherwise one could leave them to it as they kill each other (as Obama and Abbott and Shorten HAD in Syria). That is what a lot of working people think as well, and political elites will have to convince them that this is not so.

    The water is the issue of a swamp metaphor and its that water – being whatever part of the populations in the Islamic world, that sustain and generates the mosquitoes that are the terrorists. The societies are ‘stagnant’ is why there is a terrorist problem emerging from this region. The terrorists are being churned out from across an entire region and across a small but noticeable part of the culture of that region that has transplanted itself into the west.

    Terrorists are not dropping from the skies, so the further point is that either way – water or mosquitoes that breed in those waters – the condition cannot be left alone and we all now know the terrorist problem can’t be solved by just killing the terrorists.

    Back in January 2003 no person that thought of themselves as in any way progressive could make this statement

    ‘I understand, Labor understand that the security of Iraq ultimately depends upon the government of Iraq’.

    They couldn’t because a mass murdering fascist was running the lives of ‘the people of Iraq’ who in their overwhelming majority desperately wanted the terror – that they lived under – ended.

    ‘Labor [NOW] understand that peace and stability in the Middle East ultimately has to be driven by the nations of the Middle East. But at this time, in the face of the threat [that ALL forms of fascism poses], Australia does have a responsibility to join a very broad international Coalition, both of regional nations and nations more broadly.’

    GOOD. Anti-fascists understood the bigger fight that was required a decade ago!

    The world has so changed now that the policies of the past disappear in a dim memory for many. Back in the 80s of the 20th C a blind eye WAS turned on the slaughter of the thousands of men, women and children when Halabja stank of death and all the politicians across this planet knew who was doing the killing as they advanced just as ISIL does now. Not their business then! Back in the 20s of that century it was the British ruling-elite that were using gas on the Bolsheviks (with mixed evidence of them even using it in Mesopotamia)!

    Listening to Obama and Shorten it is now as if twas always that the people would be defended against such terror from ISIL type forces that advanced on them.

    What a joke! Obama did nothing while they built up their strength killing away in Syria.

    Steve might like to consider this old thread;

    and take the opportunity to point out where my thinking was so misdirected. Hell, rather than continue to pull such stunts as pretending ‘So you just want a yes or no answer…’ you might even review what the old Steve carried on like.

  70. 70 Steve Owens

    I looked at that old thread. Yes I refused to sign a one sided protest against terrorism on the grounds that I had publicly denounced terrorists while also denouncing terrorist methods used by the US such as Use of white phosphorus

    “On 10 November 2004, the Washington Post reported that some U.S. artillery guns fired white phosphorus rounds that created a screen of fire.[47] Insurgents reported being attacked with a substance that melted their skin, a reaction consistent with white phosphorus burns.[47] On 26 November 2004, Dahr Jamail also reported that white phosphorus had been used in the battle.[48]

    On 9 November 2005 the Italian state-run broadcaster Radiotelevisione Italiana S.p.A. aired a documentary titled “Fallujah, The Hidden Massacre”, alleging that the United States’ used white phosphorus as a weapon in Fallujah causing insurgents and civilians to be killed or injured by chemical burns. The filmmakers further claimed that the United States used incendiary MK-77 bombs in violation of Protocol III of the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. According to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, quoted in the documentary, white phosphorus is permitted for use as an illumination device and as a weapon with regard to heat energy, but not permitted as an offensive weapon with regard to its toxic chemical properties.[49][50]

    On 16 November 2005, BBC News reported that an article published in the March–April 2005 issue of Field Artillery, a U.S. Army magazine, noted that white phosphorus had been used during the battle. According to the article written by a captain, a first lieutenant, and a sergeant, “WP [White Phosphorus] proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes where we could not get effects on them with HE [High Explosives]. We fired “shake and bake” missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out.”[49] BBC News noted that the article had been discovered by bloggers after the US ambassador in London, Robert Holmes Tuttle, stated that US forces do not use napalm or white phosphorus as weapons.[49] The United States continues to maintain that white phosphorus was not used against civilians, but has since confirmed its use as an offensive heat weapon against enemy combatants.”
    As to you not being interested in Trotsky well blow me down. I thought that after you wrote an article about what Hitler was thinking in relation to Dunkirk you would have the interest to comment about the most prominent Communist in the world having the founder of the Red Army and close collaborator of Lenin murdered. I just guess that Hitlers thinking is more important to you.

  71. 71 Steve Owens

    “What a joke! Obama did nothing while they built up their strength killing away in Syria.”

    What exactly did you want Obama to do?

  72. 72 patrickm

    All those years ago Steve you were standing with Milne but NOW you are blessing Australian pilots and SAS returning with the new COW led by the Great Satan itself.

    No wonder you don’t want to point to what I got wrong, nor what you got right.
    BUT almost 9 years ago to the day your contributions in full were as follows…

    Re: Unite against Terror statement by owenss at 2005-10-22 10:14 AM

    Hi Pat In your last post you ask us to “guess who are the largest political party in Northern Ireland?” My guess is the Democratic Unionist Party of Ian Paisley with 30 seats in the assembly.

    You also ask why I wont sign the Unite against Terror statement? Well Im perfectly happy to denounce terror. Look at all the bombs going off in Iraq I just wish those foriegn terrorists would go home.

    Posted by owenss at 2005-10-16 05:23 AM

    Does anyone else here think that the war on terror is crap?

    You have more chance of being killed by a bee sting than by a terrorist.

    Even in areas where they have terrorists in numbers you’re more likely to be killed by the war on terror.

    Now to defeat this problem of bee sting like proportions they are going to introduce draconian (their word) legislation to protect us.

    Now my understanding is that what really tics Bin Laden off is the presence of US bases on the Saudi Peninsula. Well as n anti-bases campaigner here in Australia may be he’s got a point. Not a point that justifies planes into buildings, but a point non the less.


    and this is what I had to say…

    Posted by patrickm at 2005-10-20 07:11 AM

    Steve says;
    ‘Does anyone else here think that the war on terror is crap?’
    I would say, both no and yes.

    There are obviously several aspects to what’s been going on since that terrible day: now known by the American dating method as 9/11/2001.

    That was the day the people of the world were instantly shocked into thinking about the perennial question, “What is to be done?”, and IMV, that involvement and engagement of the masses is what denotes a change to a new political period. They woke up, and four years later have still not gone back to sleep.

    For activists like those of us who participate at Lastsuperpower thinking about Lenin’s question is something of a way of life. We already understood the need to think things out for ourselves, and we understood the requirement to both unite and struggle with others who do not think as we do. Our previous experience and study naturally enabled us to think much more deeply about the issue than the masses. We had placed ourselves in a position to contribute and we have done so, but it must be said with very limited success.

    Suddenly, there was in western countries a market for analysis that could make sense of the world from a class-based position. Suddenly the pseudo-left, were no longer just an annoying joke of the intellectually walking dead to be, as a rule, ignored. (Rather than engaged with, as mindlessly, in snotty little responses, occurs at sites like Harry’s Place for example).

    Suddenly the pseudo-left presented a definite and present danger to the revolutionary aspirations latent in the industrialized peoples of the world. Yet leftists achieved very poor output and made few advances over this four year period given such rich opportunities against such a poor enemy.

    Looking back on this period it seems that the process of globalization had reached a qualitatively new level. This change required a dramatic shift from a liberal style business as usual complacency, and the appearance of tolerance through bored neglect. Leftists had been shrugging their shoulders and actually living liberalism for years, and the urgent work that was placed before us by the new realities suffered badly for it.

    The anti-globalization brigade in all its forms, as of 9/11, had to be dealt with. The pseudo-left had urgently to be named and specifically identified and this at least has been achieved by Lastsuperpower. This movement that discredits left politics in the eyes of the masses, had to be identified as anything but left and the understanding that they were only ‘left in form, but right in essence’, had to be widely conveyed if the genuine left was not to be swamped for yet another decade. But it has not been widely conveyed.

    It must be said that we have made a very poor fist of it

    It was never a case of trying to persuade the politically active pseudo-left, but of exposing them and that situation remains the case. It is no good saying that the bourgeois elements are doing a good enough job of that task, and ‘I don’t want to do that work, while we have no expanded vision of the direction of future left tasks’ because that failure hinders the development of those next tasks. (Everything being connected to everything else as comrade Keza is wont to say.)

    It is essential that isolated revolutionary leftists, (hereafter referred to as the royal we) remind ourselves about 9/11, and Bali, and Madrid, and all the rest to grasp the essential point that it is progressive for people to want there to be a war waged against these Islamic reactionaries.

    Leftists have no intention to share the planet with Islamic reactionaries who engage in, or encourage this type of treatment of their fellow human beings; we intend not to tolerate them, nor to excuse them in any way. We want this scourge wiped out. That means war, and war means killing or capturing the enemy and keeping this up till we have defeated them.

    We therefore need both a strategy that is theoretically capable of delivering us our desired outcome, and allies amongst other classes, groups and beliefs to build an overwhelming force to do the job. We need a very broad united-front of all that can be united for the task. We need to maintain unity and we need to maintain independence. Lastsuperpower as a web site that contributes to the debate is maintaining both.

    Lastsuperpower is not behaving in the old sectarian manner; we are not dragging up old issues that were cold even before we were born, and distracting attention with them while refusing to support the purple stained people of today. But Steve Owens is.

    Contrary to the lies of Robert Fisk et al, we started to hunt the terrorists down and weed them out, in exactly the way that we conduct a standard investigation. We DO ask WHY, just as we ask who; what; where; when; and how. We know that this hatred was blow-back from years of rotten to the core U.S. policies in the Middle-East. We know there must be motive to such an attack, and we will not be intimidated by anyone from asking even the question of what could possibly have provoked such a monstrous attack.

    We already knew that the U.S. was maintaining a political swamp in the Middle-East propping up reaction and tyranny throughout the region. Leftist critics of the U.S. ruling-elite already knew that years of U.S. policies had helped to breed these despicable mosquitoes. So also did those ruling-elite that were sitting at G W Bush’s war cabinet table. They drew the conclusion that these policies had to be ended but we had always held to this. We warmly welcomed them finally agreeing.

    Any policies that held up the world-wide development of decent bourgeois liberal democracies would need to be abandoned. This was what we had always said, and they were now being convinced of this through their own experience, through practice.

    Revolutionary methods would have to be applied to achieve the new revolutionary aims and they have been. Who does not know that the war was illegal! Even Steve could write a useful paper to explain how law is established by revolutions, and revolutions not established by laws.

    There has been a resumption of the bourgeois revolution by the Coalition of the essentially English speaking world, and it reminds one of the English ruling-elite, when they were the ‘almost superpower’ of the time, going to war at sea against the slave trade.

    Speaking frankly, the bourgeois revolution is not crap and the swamp in the Middle-East undoubtedly has not undergone this revolution and is in great need of it. We are all for it.

    This will not mean invading every country of the Middle-East, but it will often require more than trade sanctions and the like. Armed struggle is very much a part of the mix, even if the main effort will be the political efforts of democrats within the region.

    However another Taliban style regime cannot be permitted to emerge anywhere and we will have to remain flexible in our response to developments.

    The very fact that class society still exists in the west is reason enough for the ruling-class to conceal its actual rule despite us all having a vote etc.. So we could hardly expect them to talk about the need for bourgeois revolution, as the mere mention of it begs the question of then what, and drags one to think in terms of a class analysis. But we can not shy away from explaining class struggle. Why on earth should we?

    Class struggle in a political context cannot harm the united-front. United-front participants get approved of and voted for, by the people according to their standing, or at least they would if we had in the English speaking west, electoral systems that were at least as good as those which have been installed in Cambodia; East Timor; and Iraq for example. The United-front cannot be harmed by the greater spread of democracy in the west as well.

    Imperialist Islamist forces that seek to establish a Caliphate spreading from Indonesia to Spain are an enemy, as are all tyrannies world wide and will have to be opposed. That means regimes will have to be changed from Uzbekistan to Zimbabwe and their peoples assisted in doing so. It will not mean however advocating striking out in all directions at once and failing to achieve anything. The efforts should be focused and determined.

    As opportunities arise different methods of assistance to the latent democratic forces will obviously be employed by those with the real forces to actually contribute. We ought not be upset by taunting from the pseudo-leftists about our having double standards.

    We are a miniscule bunch of isolated revolutionary leftists that have no armed forces to contribute to anything, but we can write, and argue, and we no doubt will continue this.

    People that are still unable to support the revolutionary democratic forces of the Kurds as led by the Kurdish revolutionary Jalal Talabani, who can not share great pride in the ‘purple finger movement’, can teach us very little about acquiring such armed forces to contribute to liberation struggles.

    Why would people expect the ruling-elite to tell the truth, and admit that they are involved in spreading the bourgeois revolution? They can not be expected to behave like a class conscious proletariat that has an interest in eliminating class society.

    They, our current ruling-class in the personification of our ruling-elite, only want to rid the world of the medievalists, and anti-democrats who are a threat and a menace, and a distraction from the business of making profit. They make more profits in countries like Australia so they want the world to be like Australia.

    That is why some of us show so little enthusiasm for the tasks involved in encouraging the revolution, and just encourage them to get on with it so that we can address the next problems that emerge and that are of more direct interest. After all overthrowing medievalists and tyranny is a settled question on the part of the left.

    Steve says; ‘You have more chance of being killed by a bee sting than by a terrorist.’

    That could not be true in the Middle-East; but at any rate for an internationalist it is irrelevant. Western people have gone through an extended bourgeois revolution and we ought to know that things have progressed through enormous effort and sacrifice. Communists have more chance of dying from a bee sting than being gassed in Auschwitz but, and this is the important issue, it wasn’t always so. As internationalists we gladly shoulder an internationalist pack.

    Steve says; ‘Even in areas where they have terrorists in numbers you’re more likely to be killed by the war on terror.’
    This is short term thinking in the extreme. The armed revolution might very well be bloody, but in the long run, give me a gun to defend my united-front against tyranny, and terrorists and all the rest of the enemy any day. Actually where terrorists are in number tyranny is not far away and both sorts kill atheists; communists; homosexuals; and liberated women; and so on, and so on.

    As my kind is on the list to be attacked by the enemy I think it would be stupid of us not to go over to the offensive. Standing on the defensive loses wars. There is only one world and I am an internationalist.
    I will not advocate that the devil-take-the-hind-most from here to eternity and that is the flavor of Steve’s post.

    It really depends on who ‘you’ are. I want people to be free over the entire planet and where necessary am in favor of actually killing the enemy but while the revolutionary forces seek to minimize civilian casualties I am under no illusions that any war will be accomplished without innocent casualties.

    Steve says;

    ‘Now to defeat this problem of bee-sting like proportions they are going to introduce draconian (their word) legislation to protect us.’

    Here Steve has failed to comprehend just how seriously our ruling-elites take the question of Islamic Terrorism. They know that the situation can change and that hundreds of casualties can become thousands of casualties.

    The ruling-elite are indeed often wrong about the laws they would impose on the people and that may in this instance again require struggle, (After all some of us have some experience in changing laws, and have been involved in years of struggle with the vicious activities of bourgeois forces backed by; you quested it; the stinking thugs of the pseudo- left). But this time such struggle may well be within the confines of the united-front.

    But remember they are the ruling-elite, and unless we develop electoral politics way past the notion of actually advocating voting for them as Steve consistently advocates, and instead, set about gaining political space for a genuine left to develop in, then we can hardly complain that they do what they think best.

    They want to both win this revolution and entrench their own class rule but westerners are not about to descend into a police state comparable to China, or the old police states of Eastern-Europe. So let’s all get a grip on the issues.

    I am reminded that the English used the law to attack Irish nationalists and now guess who are the largest political party in Northern Ireland?

    The English ruling-class and their ruling-elite eventually lost interest in this uneconomic side-show of a war against Irish nationalists and had to negotiate because the era is one where ‘nations want liberation, countries want independence and the people want revolution.’

    What started as part of the world-wide, western, 1960’s civil-rights struggle was met by vicious repression from the forces of a sectarian state, and the greater repression built resistance, and ultimately a form of warfare that forced the British to abandon their support of this divisive repression.

    The old wisdom of divide and rule that had worked for hundreds of years no longer worked and will never work again in Ireland in this century. The English ruling-class is going global, and the British Isles no longer makes sense. The British Empire disappeared, so to will the British Isles. So how did this come about?

    We all know of the Guilford four; the Birmingham six; the killings of Bloody Sunday; (And the thousands of IRA recruits that resulted from it), the Widgery Enquiry; the huge economic bombing that took out the centre of the London financial district; and on, and on.

    The end result after 40 years of reasonably intense (by western standards) struggles is that both sides have been almost unrecognizably changed by that struggle. This generation of croppies, are not about to lie down. Nor are the English ruling-class going to attempt to make them. Another era is rapidly closing. Gone with the wind.

    The ruling-elites may not know it yet but sooner or later they will have to negotiate with a reborn left leading a political movement for greater democracy separate from the nationalist struggles that will have eventually come to an end. Let’s face it there are only so many nationalist struggles.
    Steve says;

    ‘Now my understanding is that what really tics Bin Laden off is the presence of US bases on the Saudi Peninsula. Well as n anti-bases campaigner here in Australia may be he’s got a point. Not a point that justifies planes into buildings, but a point non the less.

    So is this a legitimate national struggle?

    The twin-towers were felled to the ground before the eyes of millions by a bunch of mostly Saudi religious fanatics. The Pentagon was attacked with another airliner packed full of civilians. The fourth attack, on memory intended for the White House, was foiled due to bravery and modern phone communications when passengers on the fourth civilian airliner, turned missile, learnt about what was happening elsewhere and decided not to die without a fight.

    “Let’s roll” was decided by some and they fought the hijackers in a desperate struggle that prevented the hijackers completing their murderous task but sadly the struggle to re-take the airplane ended when the terrorists crashed it into paddocks with the loss of all on board. Those that took the decision to fight did not have a vote from the rest of the passengers and everyone died but the fighters had taken the only option available.

    Eternal glory to those mostly American heroes!! Eternal shame to those mostly Saudi Islamist terrorists!

    Finally, to Steve this is not about fucking U.S Bases. This is about Islamic reaction. A few of us here have written 200 words as to why we signed the statement against terror, but it is possible to sign without contributing a statement. Check out the site about which you have posted, I think you should sign it or tell us why you won’t.

    Over the next two years, after the liberation of Iraq has bedded down occupied Palestine; Saudi Arabia; Syria; and other places; will still be breeding the mosquitoes that have to be dealt with. One way or another, the entire swamp must be drained. We must walk and chew gum as the Americans would say.

    Further progress in liberating the Palestinian people from the Zionists and their ‘settlers’ is the easiest path.

    Let us all push harder for the liberation of the Palestinian people!


  73. 73 Steve Owens

    “What started as part of the world-wide, western, 1960’s civil-rights struggle was met by vicious repression from the forces of a sectarian state, and the greater repression built resistance, and ultimately a form of warfare that forced the British to abandon their support of this divisive repression.”
    “ultimately a form of warfare” The word I think that you are looking for is terrorism The IRA conducted a terrorist campaign against the Brittish government thats generally what bombs in public places is called
    As to Bin Ladens struggle being not about bases I just think you are dead wrong. He came into existance opposing Soviet military occupation of a muslim country. He changed his focus to the US when the US implanted bases on the Saudi peninsular and he gained support when many US leaders talked about creating permanent bases in Iraq.
    If his recruitng strategy was come join me to create a Caliphate he would still be talking to a small band in a cave. The attractive recruiting strategy is join us because we are fighting the US which actively kills good Muslims and defiles the holy lands. Of course the US helps by urinating on dead Muslims by burning the Koran by piling up naked arab men so that young Christian girls can pose with these dogs.
    Generally I think that you are deluded to think that the Iraqi government has been anything but a sham democracy.
    I support military action because thats what the Kurds are asking for and the Kurdish government despite its many faults is a real representative of the aspirations of the Kurdish people.
    The Iraq government on the other hand has clearly persecuted the minority Sunni population but its just your oppinion against my oppinion.
    What I ask from you is find me one informed non partisan observer that thinks Maliki did a good job Just one and I will shut the fuck up Just one.

  74. 74 Steve Owens
  75. 75 Steve Owens

    Just in case you havent got 12 minutes to watch the above interview this is what US strategists think of Maliki
    This from the guy that invented Shock and Awe
    “EMMA ALBERICI: Presumably we thought we’d had them pretty well trained up and a leadership in place before we left the last time.

    HARLAN ULLMAN: We did. But the problem I cannot repeat is Nouri al-Maliki. This fellow is in many ways worse than Saddam Hussein. We spent $25 billion training the Iraqi Army. That country was more or less stable. It was an error, unfortunately, that we had to withdraw because I think our forces that stayed behind would’ve had a stabilising effect. But having said that, this is Maliki. He helped to destroy that country by pursuing grievances against the Sunnis and the Kurds and did not have an inclusive government. And what happened after three or four years was sadly predictable at the time and many of us predicted this would be the end state.”
    Yes he really did say in many ways worst than Saddam Hussein

  76. 76 patrickm

    The fascist government of Saddam terrorised the people of Iraq and realists like HARLAN ULLMAN turned a blind eye as he recommends to do with Assad now.

    After GWB overthrew the fascists and the U.S realists policy gurus like ULLMAN (that had kept the tyrants in power right across the swamp) the surviving Iraqi terrorists gathered in their Sunni heartland and continued to terrorise the Iraqi peoples’ – same as they always had – especially that inferior lot called Shia.

    Then after what Ullman sees as the ‘disaster of disbanding the Baathist army’ with the occupation the Ullman style trained then did Abu Ghraib. Ullman and realists ARE the bloody disaster.

    Al Qaeda (backed in the good old realist days by such as Ullman) naturally joined the fight with their fellow Sunni supremacists and the Shia were deliberately provoked. The worst of the Shia reaction were not the government. The Maliki government was genuinely faced with the most difficult form of warfare that there is.

    The Iraqi government really do have a difficult struggle on their hands as you ought to know because the methods of the ME terrorists are effective and cheap. The peoples’ of the region are to say the least not culturally much to write to another continent about, so their politicians aren’t either. But that is where the unblockaging begins. The biggest blockages are Ullman sorts and always have been. Iraqi politicians are not much cop but at least they are not the realist ratbags like Ullman that have always been the blockage keeping the ME the swamp that it is.

    The Kurds were more fortunate in that they had an ethnically defined reality already existing that was much easier to defend and far more difficult to NOW commit outrages like Halabja in.

    Now after the Obama disaster years the realist creeps like Harlan Ullman can yabber: ‘But the problem I cannot repeat is Nouri al-Maliki. This fellow is in many ways worse than Saddam Hussein.’ What a surprise! This guy won’t even now a decade down the road recommend launching the bourgeois democratic revolution.

    Have you read the realists? Any idea why Palestine is not a state yet? Consider what they want kept going in Egypt.

    Steve, you are now just desperately picking and choosing realists ravers that appear to make sense to the ABC types of dead heads. Those GWB was a disaster types are themselves now desperately trying to make sense of the ‘disaster’ that is not the ME but their entire outlook. This is the same as Ullman trying to preserve Saddam light Baathism and then squawking about how terrible it all is. What a disaster! We ought not have meddled! It really is none of our business. Let them kill each other so long as they don’t come out after us good westerners.

    ‘Ignoring reality risks finding a place atop its rubbish dump. If Obama does not want to become a latter day George W. Bush, he must listen. Bush never asked “what next?” Obama does not yet demand a comprehensive strategy.’

    This guy was exactly the sort that wanted the Baathist army left in place and Saddam replaced! Ullman is the very rightwing problem that GWB had to lie to, and he is bitter about it! Speak for yourself Steve and don’t laud the realist rat bags.

    Bin Laden’s struggle to institute his theocratic fascism naturally has – just like the Nazi’s in their objections to aspects of the Versailles treaty – issues brought on by the previous policies of the world’s imperialist powers, and notably the rotten to the core U.S. realist policies GW Bush dumped. The machinery of the U.S. state (particularly its nasty military that had been solidly trained for the old policies by the likes of Ullman) did not change into angels because a new and good policy direction was adopted. Ullman is exactly the problem that generated Abu Ghraib.

    OK the upshot is that this region is now in play and it will take decades. You should not be on Ullman’s side. He would do what he recommends and sell you out. He is the reason the region hates America!

    The Al Qaeda recruiting strategy is for Sunni to kill bad Muslims whose very existence defiles the holy lands. Of course the Ullman trained U.S. troops helps by…well they did it for decades.

    Whatever weasel wording you want to try YOU are blessing COW troops in an armed struggle WITH the Iraqi government against ISIL and you know who is in that government. If the Kurds stood fast where they are you would still support the fight of the Iraqi government to destroy ISIL and Al Qaeda types and also support the FSA and you do not support an Assad regime left standing.

    Nothing is easy or quick about this.

    If Maliki did a good job or not he is currently on your side! The US have unreliable elements and scum like Ullman. Leftists can and ought to be able to do better than that.

    As for Ireland.

    All such armed struggle =/= terrorism; Economic targets in that armed struggle =/= terrorism etc. Irish nationalists took up armed struggle directed at solving the national question that the violently resisted and thus blocked peaceful civil rights struggle had failed to make redundant. The Scottish and Welsh struggles have evolved quite differently and now since the Good Friday accords the Irish situation is also moving forward without the gun. Those guns were really reintroduced by the British! They brought on the resistance to their murderous thuggery. Only some very foolish and few elements of the ‘IRA conducted a terrorist campaign‘ (particularly the pub bombing disgrace) but naturally the British imperialists called all fighting against them and their troops etc the work of terrorists and terror activities as you now imply was the case. I don’t support and never have ‘terrorism’. I have often supported armed struggle and always the right to resist oppression. Civil rights given graciously would have been the best but reactionaries are like dust for the broom.

  77. 77 Steve Owens

    Problem solved I found someone who thinks that Maliki did a good job although Im not sure that you will be happy to know that the people closest to your political position are the same people you describe as fascist

  78. 78 Steve Owens

    Patrick you are wrong here
    “Whatever weasel wording you want to try YOU are blessing COW troops in an armed struggle WITH the Iraqi government against ISIL and you know who is in that government. If the Kurds stood fast where they are you would still support the fight of the Iraqi government to destroy ISIL and Al Qaeda types and also support the FSA and you do not support an Assad regime left standing.”
    Its only the desperate situation of the Kurds that has got me over the line to support this new war.
    Back to an earlier point what could Omama have done different that would have thwarted IS?
    No fly zone over Syria would have helped IS as much as FSA
    Clearly he decided against arminig the FSA on the basis that this would increase the arms flow to IS
    US troops on the ground would have led to another Iraq
    Obama faced no “good” choices and he made none but your position is that he could have done something decisive but just what was that?

  79. 79 patrickm

    Steve I’m quite sure we have been through this so I can say… as you well know… without verballing you… I have always thought that ending fascism in Syria would require a very big war and naturally I have always wanted the democrat side of that fight to suffer few casualties – not one casualty really but that’s not possible – I have always prefered to see the enemy oppressor troops and their supporters killed rather than see my side suffer casualties thus I hate to see a ‘fair’ fight. Just like you I am also a supporter of the Chinese revolution, however unlike you I have never expressed a desire to see the leader of that revolution shot through the head.

    I always prefer to see progressives use more troops and even weapons systems than is required for each individual battle – as Mao recommended – to ensure that the enemy is annihilated. And as the chairman said;
    ‘Wherever there is struggle there is sacrifice, and death is a common occurrence. But we have the interests of the people and the sufferings of the great majority at heart, and when we die for the people it is a worthy death. Nevertheless, we should do our best to avoid unnecessary sacrifices.’ and
    ‘All men must die, but death can vary in its significance. The ancient Chinese writer Szuma Chien said, “Though death befalls all men alike, it may be weightier than Mount Tai or lighter than a feather.” To die for the people is weightier than Mount Tai, but to work for the fascists and die for the exploiters and oppressors is lighter than a feather.’
    “Serve the People” (September 8, 1944).

    Now as it happens the ongoing ‘Iraq Body Count’ (IBC) site does not present the ongoing Iraq war in this light. The count was started from when the U.S. led COW attacked the lawful Baathist Government with the purpose of liberating the Iraqi people from that force that were holding the Iraqi people as their ‘slaves’ – litterally beheading them at will and so forth – and menacing the Kurdish area of that country that was being protected at the time by a NFZ war.

    That earlier NFZ warfare you have with the benefit of hindsight now fully approved of because it was helping to keap the Kurds safe from the fascist enemy and thus liberated.

    The COW attack greatly added to the purely US NFZ missions an attack was launched right across all the eareas of Iraq and we NOW know that a liberation happened BECAUSE the COW went home!

    But we also know that the COW went home leaving the fighting still going.

    You can call it an invasion if you still want to but I think the Iraqi peoples’ in the vast majority were as liberated as any European peoples’ were from June 6th 1944. You and I both say this was a good outcome but you question the price that the Iraqi peoples paid. You thought it is not worth it from a cost benefit analysis and I say it was never going to be any cheaper for liberation to arrive in that sad sect riven swamp land. Expensive or cheap liberation was delivered and Iraqi players came to run the new Iraq and contend as the fighting went on. The IBC shows how it went on relentlessly day after day. The COW went home but the ‘civil’ war with all manner of other meddling went on and the politics did as well. Of course the Shia were no longer an unarmed people.

    We both recognize that the casualties in the NFZ war were real but they are not part of the IBC. Perhaps they ought to be but anyhow the site owners had to start somewhere so thats fair enough. You approve of those NFZ war casualties in retrospect but I don’t think you will find one western ‘Trot’ organisation that did then or even does now. I hope I’m wrong on that but the whole anti-imperialist shtick is the problem here. The theory has not made sense for decades. The track record of any of the anti-war anti-imperialist groups is not good but as your confusion now shows there is hope that in retrospect at least a dim light bulb moment might be possible. It flickered for some with Libya and has split these groups again over Syria and now ISIL or Daesh as some people prefer it to be called and I will now refer to it as.

    The IBC goes on with all casualties weighted the same. I can’t go along with that. There is no similar Syria Body Count and perhaps there ought to be for all cost benefit analysis leftists to make their comparison analysis from but I digress.

    Once you join the fight you want to be good at fighting, not good at dying or at running away while Kurds etc., do some more dying. Once you join a ‘desperate situation’ that has developed in a very old war you want everybody else that can to join with you and change the ‘situation’, the fighting, the war. You want to rescue your mates first but not so you have to do it again tomorrow or the next day. You obviously want to regroup in order to put a victory together. You want to win the war not fight an endless war.

    How many casualties the other side suffer in your war is ‘light as a feather’ compared to the weight of your side’s casualties. I understood what it was that got you to admit that you were ‘over the line’ and joining in supporting this very OLD war – that is I understand what got you down off the fence and into the ranks of the fighting or cruise missile left – the desperate situation (battlefield losses) of the Kurds as the enemy front advanced but you are in it now.

    ‘Its only the desperate situation of the Kurds that has got me over the line to support this new war.’ No new war round these parts. This is a well known war that you have come to join.

    Obama has been a peace prize disaster and being late to the point of being dragged into Libya demonstrated how clueless he is. Then Daesh grew and attacked because it was not dealt with in Syria. Obama left Syria to itself and the Syrians to kill each other. Obama the great liberal identified the Syrian crisis as a bad vs bad ‘no win’ war in the same idiotic thinking expressed by the open conservative Abbott. Abbott shook the hand of the Egyptian tyrant pup while that bastard jails journalists etc and an Australian journalist at that! Useless tweedle party’s run the Anglo countries.

    A10 warfare over Syria would have made a difference to those that have had to refugee and for those that are dead now. McCain called on arming the FSA and wanted both Assad and Daesh attacked. The Kurds ought to be backed and the PKK ought to not be considered terrorist even if the Turks have a problem. You say ‘US troops on the ground would have led to another Iraq’ and forget who you are fighting along side now.

    War = no “good” choices but humanity drains our swamp conditions no other way. I dont think that Obama thinks very much past his own personal interests. He is as revolting a phony liberal as I have ever struck. He will be seen as eight wasted years. The swamp has got worse on his watch.

    As Netanyahu, Putin and even Assad have grasped, this preening narcissist is a drone loving liberal full of old realist poison. All I can hope is that the U.S. military has a budding McArthur about to outflank him over his last 2 years.

    Did I mention that I know of some leftists that think the U.S. is just the lastsuperpower in the sense of it going out the way of the USSR? Oh and China’s ruling class are not going to get past their own people for long either!

  80. 80 Steve Owens

    As John Howard said on the radio this morning context is everything, if I said “unlike you I have never expressed a desire to see the leader of that revolution shot through the head.” Are you sure I just wasnt teasing you? You dont produce it in writting so I guess that your repeating this from memory of a conversation.
    My old history teacher used to say that Ghandi was lucky because after achieving greatness he was shot dead and didnt have to suffer the mediocre life after liberation. I have expressed a similar view about Mao in that I consider his role in Liberation Great but his role in post revolution reconstruction to be somewhat ordinary.
    If you believe that millions died in the Great Leap famine then the death of the man who organised the famine would not be such a bad thing.
    Lots of historical actors come under the catagory of yes the world would have been better if they had died earlier but this is all in hindsight stuff and really the subject of jokes rather than serious discussion.

  81. 81 patrickm

    ‘Your mate Arthur demands that I choose between civil war or invasion a choice that I think is bogus. I generally believe that dictators should be left alone as these are haunted people with enemies every where. They all eventually die and are replaced by people who are not complete lunies. Even Stalin died and Beria and then Krushchov were able to release massive amounts of people from those awfull gulags. Even Mao died and was able to be replaced by people who had an economic clue there-by liberating millions of people from absolute poverty. This is not to say that I think monsters like Saddam, Stalin or Mao should be allowed to live, humanity would be much advanced by some hero putting a bullett in their deranged heads.

    But I digress the Americans seem to have bitten off more than they can chew and when you do this you court disaster but hopefully the Iraqi people will rescue the situation and then you can say I told you so.

    I don’t think Mao was deranged, rather I think that when people go to war they ought to read him first.

    Obama and you will have to learn the hard way.

  82. 82 patrickm

    Oh and just so your slander of Mao isn’t slipped through

    That’s what the Chinese people’s health and life spans did under Mao! Even with what went right and wrong during the GLF the whole point is that Mao was always concerned with the well being of the masses and tried to leap forward. Others have no confidence in the masses and yabber about the cultural revolution as if there is no obvious need for more revolution.

    The following is really great stuff. note especially from about 11:45 but the whole thing is worth a look.

  83. 83 Steve Owens
    Scroll down to Table of birth and deaths 1950-2013 1960 is the interesting year what 7 million deaths above the usual figure

  84. 84 patrickm

    Try this thought experiment.
    You get thrown back in time to 2002 and you are thinking about what is required for the revolutionary transformation of a world that had produced 2001
    do you;
    a) read Mao
    b) read Trotsky
    c) read anything you can find from the anti-war movement
    d) read nothing and chant anti-imperialist no blood for oil slogans
    e) read other (nominate)

    from this reading do you
    a) develop the draining the swamp theory
    b) conclude that nothing will convince any US ruling elite to change policies
    c) write about how Mao is as bad as Saddam and how the world would have progressed if some hero had shot Mao and will progress more if the anti-war movement stops the US from starting the coming war that will undoubtedly destroy stability in the whole region.

    Now as you return to the past and you grasp that you will be advocating sending troops in 2014 do you
    a) work out how to fight and tell everyone that everything will take decades to do not years
    b) change the subject till 10 years have past and hope no one notices that you are intending to change sides from anti-war to pro-war left
    c) denounce any communists that work out how to fight first because they had bad press in your youth and they always think of preserving themselves and killing the enemy and that bothers you, because communists are terrible people.
    d) emigrate to Hong Kong, Ukraine, Spain, etc now that capitalism has enabled a really bright future for the masses.

  85. 85 Steve Owens

    When people ask me to read Mao I ask them to read this
    “The Eighth Plenum of the Eighth CCP Central Committee was held in the scenic resort town of Lushan, Jiangxi, on July 2, 1959, to discuss Party members’ positions on the Great Leap Forward. Mao opened the conference by encouraging Party members to “criticize and offer opinions” on the government’s “mistakes and shortcomings”, and he promised that he would not attack any member personally as a “rightist” or “counter-revolutionary” for any opinions expressed at the conference. Peng had returned to China just previous to the conference after spending seven weeks abroad and was not planning on attending the conference, but Mao personally phoned Peng and invited him to attend. Peng obeyed Mao and travelled to Lushan to participate in the conference.[80]

    Peng participated in group meetings in the early portion of the conference, gaining consensus among his peers for criticizing the widespread practice of inaccurately reporting agricultural statistics, and emphasizing that “everybody had a share of responsibility, including Comrade Mao Zedong”. Peng bluntly criticized the hesitation of senior Party members to disagree with the Party leadership, implying that many Party leaders were cowardly for following orders that they knew were not in the best interests of the Chinese people. After gaining the consensus of several of his peers, Peng developed his opinions more systematically,[81] but was hesitant to bring up the full range of his criticisms in public. Peng discussed his thoughts with several other senior Party leaders (notably the CCP Secretary of Hunan, Zhou Xiaozhou), and Peng’s colleagues encouraged Peng to visit Mao privately in order to win Mao’s support for a reversal of the policies of the Great Leap Forward. Peng visited Mao’s quarters on the night of July 13, but found Mao asleep, and wrote Mao a “letter of opinion” articulating Peng’s ideas instead.[82] Peng delivered the letter to Mao on the morning of July 14, but Mao did not read the letter until July 17. Later on July 17 Mao had Peng’s letter widely circulated among the other delegates at the conference. Peng did not intend his letter to be widely read and attempted to prevent its circulation, but was not successful.[81] Most other senior leaders, including Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai, and Deng Xiaoping, supported Peng’s position before Mao began to attack it, indicating that they shared Peng’s views and that they did not see Peng’s letter as an attack on the Chairman.[82]

    In Peng’s letter, Peng compared himself to the courageous but tactless Han dynasty general Zhang Fei. Because of Mao’s appreciation of Zhang’s enemy, Cao Cao, Mao interpreted this as implying a confrontational relationship. Peng criticized the poor allocation of labour across China, especially the inefficient, country-wide practice of forcing farmers to work in backyard furnaces. He criticized the nationwide famine and severe shortage of cotton, and stated that the Chinese people were justified in demanding change from the present conditions. Peng blamed the problems of the Great Leap on what he called “problems in our way of thinking and style of work”, especially the tendency for Party administrators to submit exaggerated production reports, and for Party bureaucrats to accept these figures uncritically. Peng blamed the mistakes of the Party on a culture of “petty bourgeois fanaticism”, a tendency to believe in achieving change through blindly encouraging mass movements, and claimed that the acceptance of this culture had led to the Party leadership forgetting “the mass-line and the style of seeking truth from facts”, which Peng believed had led to the Communist victories over the Japanese and Kuomintang. Peng criticized Mao’s policy of “putting politics in command”, substituting economic principles and productive work for political objectives.[83]

    Mao’s decision to have Peng’s letter widely circulated completely changed the direction of the conference. On July 21, Zhang Wentian gave an independent, supplementary speech attacking Mao’s policies, and the same day a majority of delegates expressed their approval of Peng’s letter, making it an official conference document. Mao interpreted the letter as a personal attack, and began to defend himself on July 23, attacking Peng and those who disagreed with his policies. Mao defended his commune system by claiming that “until now, not a single commune has collapsed”. He attacked Peng and those who shared his political opinions as “imperialists” “bourgeoisie”, and “rightists”, and associated their positions with other Communist leaders who had led failed oppositions to Mao’s leadership, including Li Lisan, Wang Ming, Gao Gang, and Rao Shushi. Mao brought up an ultimatum, stating that, if the delegates of the conference sided with Peng, Mao would split the Communist Party, retreating into the countryside and leading the peasants to “overthrow the government”. The other senior leaders of the Communist Party, including Zhou Enlai and Liu Shaoqi, were unwilling to risk splitting the Party, and sided with Mao in opposing Peng’s position.[84]

    From August 2, the conference debated whether Peng should be disciplined, what punishment Peng should receive, and for what reasons. On August 16 the conference passed two resolutions. The first resolution condemned Peng as the leader of an “anti-Party clique”, and called for Peng’s removal from the positions of Defense Minister and Vice-Chairman of the Military Commission. The resolution did not eject Peng from the Communist Party, and it allowed Peng to retain his position in the Politburo, but he was excluded from Politburo meetings for years. The second resolution recognized Mao’s dominance within the Party and subtly called for an end to the policies of the Great Leap Forward.[85] After Mao had rallied the rest of the Party against him, Peng’s options were limited to stubbornly standing his ground, engaging in a humiliating self-criticism, or suicide. After private discussion with other senior leaders, Peng considered the prestige of Mao and the unity of the Party and agreed to make a self-criticism,[86] which was publicly reviewed at the conference, in which he admitted that he had made “severe mistakes” associated with his “rightist viewpoint”, that he had been a follower of Li Lisan and Wang Ming, and in which he openly implicated his supporters in his “mistakes”. After the conference, Peng said privately to Zhou Enlai regarding his self-criticism: “For the first time in my life, I have spoken out against my very heart!” Mao purged most of Peng’s supporters from important offices following the conference, almost completely isolating Peng politically for the rest of his life.[85] Peng later reflected that he was confused that Mao could have interpreted his private letter as a political attack, and wondered why, after thirty years of working together, Mao could not have discussed the matter privately with him, if Peng had indeed made the mistakes Mao claimed he did.[82]”
    So lets sum up Peng tours the countryside and finds people starving. He writes a personal letter to his old friend Mao and Mao distributes the letter at a party conference. Finding that many delegates approve of the letter Mao threatens civil war if people dont support him.
    What type of socialism is this. The annual death toll jump by 7 million live births plummet and the guy who is punished is the guy who writes a letter.

  86. 86 Steve Owens
  87. 87 Steve Owens

    I dont think that you really want me to do your thought experiment but may I say that a good book to read is Against All Enemies Inside America’s War on Terror by Richard A. Clarke, The Gaurdian continues to be worth reading and Im a daily reader of Kurd Net the daily online Kurdish news paper. When the war got underway I was addicted to Fox News especially the neo con forums with Kauthammer, Barnes and Kristol.
    Iraq News the online edition is useful to seeing what is happening day to day in Iraq.
    I read the Fisk book the Hitchins book and the Tariq Ali book the only one I woundnt recomend is the Tariq Ali book. I found Informed comment by Juan Cole useful and I got a lot of information from Last superpower and Strange Times. It mistifies me why we cant get a bit of discussion going on this site just baffeling

  88. 88 Steve Owens

    2 comments awaiting moderation really.
    Theres only two people talking What Im off topic it wasnt me who took this thread about the ISO and Stalin down the Iraq road.
    I was asked a direct question “do you;
    a) read Mao”
    I respond with some reading I suggest about Mao and the Lushan conference and its awaiting moderation.
    What does that even mean
    Come on Anita let 100 flower bloom

  89. 89 Steve Owens

    Thank you

  90. 90 Steve Owens

    I recently finished reading Churchills book about the lead up to WW2 Its a good read and for me confroting how a small group of conservatives were proved correct whilst people who I would have been close to ie the left were hopeless.
    Another book recently reread is Trotsky’s Revolution Betrayed I make much more sense of it now. When I was new to politics I read it and thought it quite poor but with age comes wisdom I hope
    Last year I read a good biography of Pol Pot. Made what happened much more understandable in the same way I read a book about the Irsh civil war which gave me a much greater appreciation of Michael Collins, previously I had always sat on the fence wondering how Irish Republicans could kill each other but now see it as a struggle between the Ideologically driven armed minority and the deomocraticly endorsed majority who were wedded to a much more pragmatic path. And yes I fully endorse Collins move to accept arms from the British something that had always been problematic

  91. 91 patrickm

    I did want you to consider unpicking a bit more of the past just as you have managed to do over the NFZ war in Iraq post the rescuing of Kuwait. IMV that was a significant breakthrough that ought to lead you further if you work through the issues it throws into your strategic problem. With that change properly explained and plotted another breakthrough might be available. A thought experiment in this situation I would think can’t hurt.

    We can already see how you’ve gone from anti-war blog commenter and occasional peace marcher pushing a variant of the ISO line in 2002, to pro-war commenter in 2014. A lot of people have travelled a similar path without your luck at having good contacts with a cutting edge theoretical position. Indeed this theory is ALL that remains standing and yet remains so obscure that only a few hundred Australians pricked up their ears when Shorten tried out a variant of it just the other day.

    Who knows some more dim lights might flicker to a dull glow if people keep the thought moving. But your replies indeed your tired method of reply shows yet again its just horse-water-drink stuff. So this becomes what most others would consider a complete waste of time. Ephemeral stuff like this is a waste if it doesn’t even develop on its own terms. It could develop my thinking of course but my experiments with debating across the net at various sites has produced interesting data I have been reflecting on, but more on that later…

    Hitchens turned his views around from getting Kuwait wrong to – not very long after on memory – rethinking his stand. He had an honest approach. For my money he didn’t play deceitful games and honest debate provides a potential for change. That’s why that one Marxist writer made a real and useful contribution right across the western world. He’s yet to be replaced and is sorely missed. You quite evidently don’t have the open enquiring approach required for progressing left theory or ‘discussion’ as you put it.

    The thought experiment is to consider what you could have studied from before 2002 that may have enabled you to join the pro-war ranks THEN rather than to have wasted all your years in the wilderness. It’s for you to explain your current cruise missile stand but all your old anti-war mates know that you are standing in the pro-war ranks.

    I don’t mind that people don’t trust authority, I don’t myself, but apart from the caveat ‘Nullius in Verba’, that is to say don’t take anybody’s word for it, we ought nevertheless to recognise the work that’s gone before us and try to stand on the shoulders of the giants in whatever field we work in.

    This field for our enquiry IS the revolutionary transformation – that is ridding the world of tyranny – that all democrats ‘will as an end’ and it’s either learn from the experienced past masters who found ways to ‘will the means’ for their immediate ends, or we have to reject them as esteemed ancestors and try some new methods. It makes no sense at all not to study people like Clausewitz and Mao when the issue is fighting a revolutionary war.

    A 2004 conservatives book ‘Against All Enemies … by Richard A. Clarke’ etc., could not help you in 2002 and you know this.

    You made no real attempt to grasp what was being said by pro-liberation leftists in 2002 and it stayed that way through the years of market-place bombing till the reality of events having dumped you in front of the Libyan crisis, and onwards since via Syria and now the ISIL offensive leaves you where you never expected to be standing but there is nothing else to do.

    Just as the Japanese attack put an end to America First, ISIL attacks got you right off the fence. But more importantly it woke up the western proletariat that is now calling for boots on the ground.

    In 2002 people made mistakes and joined in a movement that tried to preserve in power a fascist running a country in the Middle East rather than join in with the ultimatum given to him. Preserving that regime failed yet people walked away from that movement’s wreckage without understanding what had really been the issues. You might want to learn now why people don’t want to bother with your whole style. The politics that you drag along with you even after refugeeing from Neverland and after stopping for years on that wobbly fence and finally joining the pro-war ranks are still noxious.

    Some very few Australian Marxists at Lastsuperpower – while this VERY BIG anti-war movement came and went with zero positive effect – exhaustingly developed over several years (and with the greatest of detail and better than anyone world wide that I know of) a draining the swamp theory that is desperately needed for people to understand the 21st Century.

    Being leftists and therefore desiring change, pro-liberation leftists enthused about revolutionary forces emerging and destroying tyrannical stability in the whole ME region. People in the ME are learning to make revolution by making revolution. I would like people to learn from others that have made revolution that I already know I support. You can’t see the foolishness of fighting wars without learning from those that have predicted your war. These wars actually belong to a whole era of required revolutionary struggles against armed oppression.

    Marxist revolutionaries have shown people the broad brush method to fight and win this era’s wars and you want to talk about Great Leap forward issues that emerged after the revolutionaries had held countrywide state power for a decade. Running their shifting revolutionary part of the country for 3 decades and fighting the biggest war ever fought, well that’s hardly worth considering. Ah well.

    All those people still keep trying to work out how to fight and now I for one tell everyone that overthrowing the oppressors will take decades to do not years. No one that I know of has backed down or reversed their stand. No matter how confused people are as to what next and how bored with the pseudoleft the record is there.

    There is a Bright Future for the peoples’ of the world but no bright future for tyrants who ARE being overthrown by broad coalitions of democrats informed from all manner of political reading. But the ‘willing’ will all still have to learn to think in order to learn to fight; so for my part I will keep reading widely and particularly the big 5 from the old ML school of politics and try to stand on their shoulders. Wildly optimistic I may be but you have just seen yet another dozen years of leadership and the swamp will still have to be drained a hundred years from now.

    You are self evidently not interested in problem solving from the left and pushing your anti communist religion is sure to bore people. So as humans don’t get many dozen year periods to develop and apply our political thoughts – so even though “It mistifies me why we cant get a bit of discussion going on this site just baffeling” it does not mystify me.

  92. 92 Steve Owens

    Funnily enough I did read some Mao at back around the time of the wars start but it was so dated, all that stuff about the Arab people uniting to defeat US Imperialism and US imperialism being the number one enemy of the Arab peoples and no mention of a two state solution
    As to what was available what do you think were the important reads?
    I was relying on interviews articles and news stories rather than rather than books. Your side was hampered by your admission that the pro war side was cosciously lying. Even yourself didnt present a war for democracy argument until well into the venture and I started my argument with Barry and Kerry over their support of the war as a humanitarian war. They were not arguing democracy at the beggining

  93. 93 Steve Owens

    On another matter about when Saddam invaded Kuwait, we disagreed on this issue. I opposed the invasion and supported sanctions against Iraq.
    We have spoken since and our recollections of your initial position are at complete variance. Surely I was not the only person with whom you discussed this momentus event with. Could you please ask whoever else you discussed the invasion with so that we can at least decide whose memory is a piece of crap.
    The importatnt time period is between the invasion and me telling you that I had heard Albert Langer being interviewed on the Julia Lester radio programme. My memory is that several days later you informed me that you had changed your position about the invasion.

  94. 94 admin

    I have been too timid after stepping up to keep Strange Times free of spam and have also -like everyone else – not written enough. Initially, I hoped that more experienced members would step up and lead but there are obviously no ideas yet.

    After the usual left blockage was apparent to everyone, where to go from here for an exhausted and small bunch of comrades became the problem, paralysis just did it’s day job. Now it seems nobody has any ideas at all that they want to share.

    No-one but David McMullen has contacted me (saying he could start writing later this year) or been stopped from publishing anything, and no-one other than eventually Patrick has wanted to publish anything. So nothing has happened and the site has just ‘existed’, limping along, having only what must be to many an annoying exchange between Steve and Patrick effectively off to the side. Well it would be off to the side if there was a lively site. But ST has the ‘vibe’ of a site with nothing new to say even when the country is sending troops off to war, and that says more about the people and their ages than it does about ST.

    Perhaps people are worried about the oxygen being sucked out of the site via the likes of these interminable ‘exchanges’. People might want to call this effectively feeding a troll, but banning is no answer and the silence from others is just a sign of no ideas or inclination anyway. Issues can only be developed through discussion between opposites and till another site for proper debate emerges where people are proud to be contributing to it (as I am here) I will take their silence as confirmation that it just does not exist. People presumably do go and talk elsewhere, but have no interest in even indicating here for others to learn from where a worthwhile collective left activity is happening. That says it all it is not happening. At no other period of life would people not be able to point to a place to go where it was ‘happening’.

    However allowing people to play games as Steve does is also not a viable option either. So till I get around to it and have a proper junk file established as any good site would do, as a temporary measure a junk thread! And in the noxious twaddle will go.

    During the year that Strange Times was a spam only site I too thought it not worth bothering with but I changed my mind. Also there is now another Strange Times site that predominantly peddles conspiracy theories and so there may even be some confusion over the orientation of the brand conspiracy/anti-conspiracy but here the work will have to speak for itself and the brand Strange Times Lastsuperpower will need to be in use. Obviously, in the end I concluded that the body of the work needs to be kept and the site if possible resurrected. I still think that but others clearly don’t I guess I hope to change that.

    The whole idea of shrinking even further is ridiculous. The North Star was almost at the point where it could actually do what it had set out to do and Australian leftists could then have contributed on a growing single stage, in a sea of pseudoleft micro blogs but it was taken over and with the revolting behaviour came the smell of certain death and sure enough the North Star imploded.

  95. 95 patrickm

    Steve your recollection is faulty and I have explained that to you before. I went into detail then and have no time to find it and reprint it. At any rate all you are doing in this thread is demonstrating a disgraceful method that I will not indulge further. The truth is that you have no call to submit material explaining how the chinese in 1967 etc., were exposing rotten to the core U.S. ‘realist’ policies being followed by the world’s biggest blockage and swamp maker of the time. That is site wrecking conduct when you know that the point of the site is exactly to work through what has changed over these fifty years as these policies crashed and burned.

    Neither do you have the right to dump what amounts to your anti- communist quotes all over a discussion and I support such junk being thrown in a junk file where it belongs.

    I would (like all the others who will not respond to you) not ordinarily tolerate such disrespectful conduct, but since the disappearance of even the quite pathetic, The North Star and Larvatus Prodeo, I have found it difficult to find anything even that bad to present a left argument at and instead have I suppose just practiced writing and have used you as a foil. But for the sake of ST that will have to change. Get real or get lost ought to be my motto.

  96. 96 patrickm

    And BTW self bloody evidently the pro-war left was only ever interested in the liberating consequences from destroying the facist tyranny and getting the revolutionary blocking lump out of the way.

    When we were thinking about this war that’s exactly what we were talking to each other about! I only got to the go point from realising that the U.S. would not be able to stop events once they were rolling even if they wanted to. It was pointless for the U.S. to be going to the trouble unless they were changing from those rotten policies of the past. Obama in Syria shows what retreating to the right has produced.

    The pseudoleft wanted this retreat! What remains of them still do!

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