We condemn the slogan Marines Out of Lebanon, Now, Alive as a cowardly, social-patriotic betrayal of the Trotskyist tradition of the iSt. The acid test of a communist leadership occurs at times of revolutionary opportunity or crisis. The demolition of the U.S. Marine and French Foreign Legion barracks in Beirut last month was just such a crisis. Trotskyists take a side in a military confrontation between the imperialist hit-men and the oppressed Muslim population of Lebanon. After weeks of U.S. Navy warships pounding defenseless Muslim villagers, while the peacekeeping Marines launched increasingly aggressive attacks on Muslim militiamen, a few hundred of these professional killers were given a richly deserved one-way ticket to hell. We say: Good riddance! Two, Three, Many Defeats for Imperialism!
But this is not what the SL/US leadership says. They solidarize with the desire of the remaining Marines to save their skins. Marines interviewed in Beirut wanted out, now, alive. We can support that. The tearful laments of the families of the deceased thugs are quoted without comment: Those poor boys dying, and Im sure they dont know what theyre dying for.
Further on in the article the SL leadership explains that it raises its shameful slogan for saving the lives of the poor boys of the Marine Corps to evoke the widespread anti-government outrage felt by the American masses at Reagans squandering of life in the Lebanon quagmire! It both saddens and sickens us to read this social-patriotic crap in the paper which for over a decade has been the worlds leading exponent of revolutionary Marxism. We say that every lifer squandered in Lebanon is one less who will be wading ashore in the upcoming Battle of Managua. Two, Three, Many Quagmires for Imperialism!
U.S. Marines: Live Like PigsDie Like Pigs!
Who are these Marines (and French Foreign Legionnaires[?]) whose lives Robertson wants to save?
They are the worlds most notorious imperialist butchers. They have the blood of millions of toilers on their hands, from Indochina to North Africa. The very words are synonymous with the bloody suppression of colonial revolt...
The parallel between the call for rescuing the Marines and the SWPs Bring Our Boys Home slogan from the Vietnam era is so striking that the leadership feels they have to address it. You see, Vietnam was a social revolution, Lebanon is not. In Vietnam, the defeat of the U.S. expeditionary force ... was key to victory of the social revolution. But in Lebanon, no side is fighting imperialism. On the contrary, from the PLO to Jumblatt to Gemayel, all sides are jockeying for sponsorship from one imperialist power or another. Who is going to be fooled by this logic-chopping? Everybody knows that the peacekeepers are in Lebanon to prop up Gemayel. If no side is fighting imperialism then who blew up the barracks? Of course revolutionists dont support any of the sides in the vicious inter-communal bloodletting. But military attacks on imperialist targets are something else.
Workers Vanguard is right about one thing though: Lebanon is not like Vietnam. Its like Northern Ireland. When the Provos engage in criminal acts of terror against the Protestant population, we denounce them. But when they blow away a couple of hundred crack imperialist peacekeepers we defend that action. In Lebanon Trotskyists have the same attitude.
The sleazy attempt to sign Trotskys name to this capitulation by tacking on a couple of quotes from the Transitional Program to the end of the article is right out of the Wohlforth school of politics. It is a new low for WV. In the quotations cited, Trotsky talks about intersecting the muddled, inchoate opposition of the masses to imperialist war which they express by support to bourgeois pacifism. He doesnt propose that revolutionists should raise social-patriotic slogans themselves! For the SL leadership to try to prostitute the Transitional Program in order to justify the call to save the lives of Reagans killers is repugnant, as well as dishonest.
The American masses do not want to die in Beirut says WV. But thats not the issue. The pro-imperialist American masses dont want the U.S. Marines to die in Beirut, and neither does the SL leadership. We say: Marines: Live Like Pigs, Die Like Pigs!
Last year when the Israeli conscript army invaded Lebanon, Robertson et al were not so concerned about their well-being. When we raised calls for the Israeli workers to strike against the war and for the Israeli soldiers to turn their guns around, in addition to the main focus of defense of the PLO, the SL leadership slandered us as Zionists. Throughout the invasion and to this day, the SL leadership, despairing of the fact that there are no Israeli Bolsheviks to implement such calls, refused to raise them. Instead WV argued that opposition to the war right now depends, above all, on how many Israeli soldiers come home in coffins (Workers Vanguard, No. 309, 9 July 1982).
Robertson & Co. hoped that in the absence of revolutionary cadres (the subjective factor in history), the objective effects of a lot of casualties would somehow produce a roughly correct response from within the Israeli working class.
But now when it is Americans in Lebanon, the leadership has suddenly developed a humanitarian concern for their safety. To the correct slogan of U.S. Out of Lebanon, Now, Robertson et al tack on the hope that they will be brought out alive. From Kill-`Em-All hysteria to Save-`Em-All social-patriotism. The SL leadership is politically adrift.
Eventually a lot of U.S. casualties in Lebanon would have the same effect as in Israelenough of them will produce war weariness. However, in lieu of any mass opposition to the U.S. presence in Lebanon, rather than intersecting pacifist sentiments, the SLs call intersects the deployment debate being carried on by the U.S. bourgeoisie.
John Stennis, the reactionary Dixiecrat from Mississippi and chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has the same line on what to do with the Marines in Lebanon as the SL. He wants them out, now, alive. He motivated his position in a speech to the Senate:
Bad politics gives you some pretty bad bedfellows. Not only has WV taken up the slogans of a wing of the capitalist class, but it scandalously refuses to defend the anti-imperialist attacks. For Robertson et al: The main enemy is at home, sometimes. In Facing the Reagan Years, the observation was made that:
Were expecting a rotten time with Reagan and the social climate in the country. So youre going to see political dives... Were going to see some other stuff too, mainly a loss of nerve and a loss of will.
Well were seeing it. And in the SL/US its starting at the top.The flinching over the Soviets bringing down the KAL 007 spy plane (WV No. 337 said that if the Soviets knew it was a passenger plane, then shooting it down would have been worse than a barbaric atrocity, despite the potential military damage of such an apparent spying mission) showed the erosion of revolutionary determination in the leadership of the SL. And now its save the Marines!
The U.S. Marines and the French Legionnaires are the same outfits that lost big in Indochina. And we want to see them lose again in Lebanon. Marines Out of Lebanon, Now, Alive is the most shockingly rightist betrayal of Trotskyism yet from the Robertson claque. Any iSt member with an ounce of proletarian class instinct should be disgusted by it. Those who adhere to the Trotskyist program must stand up and fight the leaderships social-patriotic drift. The precious cadre of the iSt must be saved for Trotskyism! It is desperately necessary to fight for Trotskyism, now, in the iSt!
Imperialists Out of LebanonBy Any Means Necessary!