Trotskyist Bulletin No. 8
AFGHANISTAN & THE LEFT
Extract from Doubletalk in the 2 1/2 Camp, 1917, No. 10, 3rd quarter 1991
In early 1980 Workers Power publicly renounced the third-campist Neither Washington nor Moscow position of Tony Cliffs Socialist Workers Party (SWP), out of which it had emerged in the mid-1970s. Rejecting the SWPs description of the USSR as state capitalist, Workers Power announced that it now subscribed to Trotskys analysis of the Soviet Union as a degenerated workers state, and that henceforth it would defend the USSR against capitalist restoration despite its bureaucratic deformations.
Workers Powers break with its past proved, however, to be only superficial. On all the central questions of international class politics of the last decade, in which the defense of collectivized property was posed, Workers Power couldnt find its way to the proletarian side of the class line.
Workers Powers particular brand of centrist confusion crystallized around its response to the 1979 Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. This was for much of the Reagan decade an important dividing line between defensists and those who bent to the pressures of the imperialist war drive against the USSR. Revolutionaries defended the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, which bolstered the modernizing regime of the Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) and prevented the establishment of an American ally on the USSRs southern border. We took a side in this conflict, and called for the military victory of the Soviet army and the PDPA over the tribalist fanatics of the mujahedin. Workers Power responded by placing a bet both ways. It denounced the 1979 intervention and said that it was strategically in favor of Soviet withdrawal. However, at the same time, it suspended its call for withdrawal for tactical reasons.
The attraction of this double-edged position became clear when, later in the decade, a Soviet withdrawal became imminent. In 1988 Workers Powers Movement for a Revolutionary Communist International (the pre-cursor to the LRCI) passed a resolution which, while omitting the need to defend the USSR, continued to condemn the  invasion as counter-revolutionary (Trotskyist International No. 1, Summer 1988). At the same time, these centrists warned against any treacherous withdrawal by the USSR, which would confront the Afghan left, workers and peasants with the imminent threat of a bloodbath at the hands of the reactionary forces.
Workers Power candidly admitted that the intervention they denounced had prevented just such a bloodbath, in the context of an escalating civil war [in which] the disparate forces of Islamic and monarchist reaction threatened to completely destroy the weak and faction-ridden PDPA regime. Whats more, these sophisticates of confusion demanded that the Soviet armed forces provide the necessary troops, ammunition and economic aid to make land reform, industrialisation, literacy and the defeat of reaction really possible. In other words, they called for the extension of an intervention which they condemned as counter-revolutionary! Workers Power replaces Trotskyist analysis with simply damning the Stalinists if they do and damning them if they dont.