Why Danish socialists support the US attack on ISIS

September 23, 2014 at 11:27 pm (anti-fascism, internationalism, iraq, islamism, kurdistan, posted by JD, solidarity, statement of the bleedin' obvious, Syria, terror, trotskyism, war)

An advance upon the traditional Trotskyist anti-fascist ‘Proletarian Military Policy’.

From the USFI’s International Viewpoint:

Why Danish leftists supported military aid to Iraq

Monday 15 September 2014, by Michael Voss

Danish socialists voting for a parliamentary decision to send a military plane to Iraq under US command is not usual. Even more unusual is the fact that I – considering myself a revolutionary Marxist – voted to support that decision. Nevertheless, that is what happened a few weeks ago.

The parliamentary group of the Red-Green Alliance (RGA – Enhedslisten) voted together with all out parties for sending a Hercules airplane to Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government. The plane will transport weapons and ammunition to the Kurdish militias fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

According to the statutes of the RGA such a vote in parliament has to be approved by the National Leadership (NL) of the party. A thorough discussion took place a few days before the vote in parliament, which was also before the exact wording of the proposal was known. The National Leadership voted instead on a resolution, allowing the parliamentary group to vote Yes under certain conditions. Almost all NL-members had some kind of doubts before voting, but finally the text was adopted by a majority of 14 for – myself included – to 6 against, and 5 not voting or not present.

Many valid arguments were put forward against the decision. Most basic was the problem of supporting a military action under the command of the US. The US government and military defend the interests of US big business and imperialism, both in the narrow sense of gaining access to resources, markets and profits, and in the more general sense of geopolitical dominance.

US imperialism is the basic reasons for the sectarian fighting in the region – due to the previous Iraqi wars, and specifically US imperialism has a big part of the responsibility for the existence of IS. Some of their close allies have been funding ISIS, and Turkey – without any objection from Washington – has allowed ISIS to operate across Turkish borders.

Finally, Denmark has had three very bad experiences of participating in US-led warfare in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

Everyone in the RGA leadership and the parliamentary group was aware of all this. But the decision was based on a concrete analysis of the situation in area. US imperialism created ISIS and allowed it to grow to a certain point. But it grew too much and became militarily too strong and dangerous for US interests – exactly as happened with the Taliban. So at the moment US imperialism wants to stop IS.

I don’t think that much argument is needed to back the fact that revolutionary socialists also want to fight and stop IS, a murderous, sectarian and deeply reactionary force. A victory for IS will set back any social, democratic, pro-women or anti-imperialist development that may have taken place in parts of Syria and Iraq.

In that way there is a temporary coincidence of interests between imperialism and socialists on the simple issue of fighting IS. We want to supply the Kurds with weapons, and US imperialism want to supply the Kurds with weapons – for the time being. Not supporting it, only because of the US command, would be as if Lenin had refused to travel in the sealed train supplied by German imperialism through imperialist Germany to Russia in the middle of the Russian revolution, as another NL-member said.

But don’t we risk being a part of a broader US military campaign that has quite other intentions than we have, and which will do much harm to the people of the region? That was another argument against the decision. No one will deny that this can happen, also with the acceptance of the Danish government. But – in accordance with the resolution of the National Leadership – our MPs made sure:

- that the Danish Hercules plane cannot be used for any other purpose than delivering arms to the forces fighting IS;

- that this decision does not allow any other Danish military activity in the region;

- that whatever happens, a new parliament decision is necessary if the government wants to prolong the activity of the airplane after 1 January 2015

Counting as an argument against the decision was also doubts about who exactly will receive the arms. No one in the RGA was keen to supply this government with weapons, to say the least. But in the formal language of the parliamentary decision it was called an action for the Iraqi government and other forces fighting IS.

The National Leadership was assured and convinced that this was necessary for the decision to be in accordance with International Law – only governments can receive military help from other governments. Secondly the Iraqi army is not lacking weapons, and Eastern European weapons would be of no use for them. Thirdly the Iraqi army is practically not fighting IS at all.

That still leaves the question if the most progressive Kurdish forces, Turkish PKK and its Iraqi counterpart, YPG, actually will receive the weapons, or if the regional Kurdish government in Iraq will monopolise them. This government traditionally is in conflict with the PKK/YPG, and it is pursuing a strict neo-liberal policy in the areas that it controls.

There is really no telling exactly who will get how big a share of the weapons. But all the Kurdish forces have established a common military front to fight ISIS. There is evidence that they are actually sharing weapons, and the PKK/YPG is doing most of the effective fighting.

Confronted with relevant arguments against and without any 100 % guaranties of the outcome, I and the majority of the committee voted for the resolution allowing the MPs to vote Yes in Parliament. What tipped the balance between Yes and No for many of us, was the fact that all the progressive Kurdish forces, including socialists, in the region plus all the Kurdish organisations in Denmark, including several RGA-members, not only advised us to vote for, but begged us not to oppose the decision. They were sure that such a decision will most likely result in weapons for the PKK/YPG, a necessary strengthening not only of the fight against IS, but also a strengthening of the progressive forces in the region.

As a follow up to the decision the RGA have taken other initiatives to stop military and financial supply for IS, to popularise the fight for the Kurdish peoples’ right to self-determination and to have the PKK removed from the US and the EU list of so-called terror organisations. A special Danish aspect is the fact that the TV-station of Kurds for all Europe was based in Denmark until it was recently banned, and 10 people from the Kurdish community face trial for collecting money for organisations that – according to the police – transfer the money to PKK.

When the first shipment of weapons to the PKK/YPG by a Danish airplane under US command has taken place, it will be hard for the authorities to explain that they are supporting a terror organisation.

H/t: Comrade Coatesy

3 Comments

  1. Jim Denham said,

    Alan Thomas comments on Facebook:

    So, the STWC are against bombing ISIS, to the point where they are prepared to call a protest outside of Downing Street. And in favour of… What, exactly?

    Re: “Protest 25 September: Don’t Bomb Iraq – Don’t Bomb Syria. Downing Street 5.30pm – Stop the War…

  2. Lamia said,

    “US imperialism is the basic reasons for the sectarian fighting in the region”

    No it is not. Sectarianism itself is the basic reason, and that is the result of hundreds of years of Islamic history in the region, dating far back before the US even existed. The people there are not children and they are not forced to kill each other for their religious or ethnic differences.

    “US imperialism created ISIS and allowed it to grow to a certain point.”

    No it did not. In its previous form as Al Qaeda in Iraq, ISIS was allowed a base by the Syrian government so it could operate over the border and destabilise US-occupied Iraq. The Syrians were the ones who lost control of the monster they had allowed to occupy their basement. The US government quite obviously – and in this they WERE culpably negligent – was largely unware of ISIS until a few months ago. They weren’t ‘allowing it to grow’ – you would have been outraged and accusing them of imperialism had they intervened against it earlier.

    The reason the US and others have intervened so late in the day, after atrocities against tens of thousands of innocent people, is in part because public opinion has largely fallen in with pious ‘no military action ever again at any costs’ types with their childish ‘America always wrong’ attitudes.

    But please pat yourself on the back for agreeing, finally, in Septmeber 2014, that maybe just chanting ‘Hypocritical warmonger!’ at the US is not after all going to save any innocent people in Iraq or Syria right now.

    “But don’t we risk being a part of a broader US military campaign that has quite other intentions than we have, and which will do much harm to the people of the region?”

    I am not sure that one Hercules transport plane is going to swing the result one way or the other. It will do a little good, and that is something. If it makes you feel a little bit conflicted, too bad. There are more imprtant things at stake than your ideological purity. the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, for starters.

    “all the progressive Kurdish forces, including socialists, in the region plus all the Kurdish organisations in Denmark, including several RGA-members, not only advised us to vote for, but begged us not to oppose the decision.”

    Which any sane person could have predicted, and which makes all the long-winded agonising among Danish Marxists look rather short-sighted and self-important.

    “As a follow up to the decision the RGA have taken other initiatives to stop military and financial supply for IS, to popularise the fight for the Kurdish peoples’ right to self-determination and to have the PKK removed from the US and the EU list of so-called terror organisations.”

    Good for you. That will actually be be something positive. Good luck.

  3. Andrew Coates said,

    Adding to Lamina’s points, the StWC has taken on itself the right to refuse support asked for by the different Kurdish groups, religious minorities, and by the Iraqi government.

    This demolishes the claim that they are backing the people of the region.

    The StWC are out on a limb, not only amongst the general public but on the European left,from which every day brings more news of calls for material support for the Kurdish left (and we are well aware of the problems this may entail).

    It comes to a pretty point when the French Communist Party has a more progressive stand on the region than the remnants of the British ‘new left’, self-styled Trotksyists, and trade unionists.

    For some more recent commentary and news see: http://tendancecoatesy.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/will-bombing-make-the-isis-problem-worse-first-back-the-kurdish-fighters/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: