IG & Revolutionary Defeatism

‘A Blank Page’

The Summer 2005 issue of the Internationalist, published by Jan Norden and his comrades in the Internationalist Group (IG—1996 refugees from James Robertson’s Spartacist League) contains an article entitled “Drive U.S. Imperialists Out of Iraq!” which lists American interventions in the neo-colonial world after Vietnam:

“Contrary to the right-wing ‘stab-in-the-back’ myth that the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam because of ‘Hanoi Jane’ Fonda and hippie peaceniks at home, that war was basically lost on the battlefields of Indochina. The U.S. was driven out, its army was ripped apart by conflicts between officers and soldiers, and its puppet South Vietnamese army collapsed. Even so, the imperialist rulers keep launching new wars: in the 1980s, a proxy war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, the invasion of Grenada, contra war on Nicaragua and the death squad slaughter in El Salvador; in the ’90s, the first war on Iraq (Gulf War), the failed Somalia adventure, the first Yugoslav war (Bosnia) and the second Yugoslav war (Kosovo); since 2000, Afghanistan again, and now Iraq again.”

Missing from this list is the single biggest military disaster for U.S. imperialism between the defeat in Vietnam and the current debacle in Iraq: the destruction of the American Marine barracks in Beirut by an Islamic Jihad truck-bomb in October 1983. This single, devastating blow forced Ronald Reagan to abandon his attempt to establish a U.S. military toehold in the Middle East. This humiliating setback is very much in the minds of Cheney, Bush and the Pentagon, but, for reasons of personal prestige, the IG leaders omitted it. At the time, Norden was a leading member of the Spartacist League and shares political responsibility for its shameful, social-patriotic call for saving the Marines (see Trotskyist Bulletin No. 2, “Marxism vs. Social-Patriotism”). The contrast between the cowardly flinch in 1983 and the IG’s forthright revolutionary defeatist position today cannot be rationally explained, so the IG leaders pretend it did not happen—thus producing an example of what Mikhail Gorbachev used to disparage as a “blank page.”

Published: 1917 No.28 (December 2005)