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International Strategy Nº 20
September 2003



In the previous issue of International Strategy, January 2003, we indulged in a polemic with Perry Anderson's "Force and Consent" (New Left Review 17, september-october 2002) , arguing that he simply minimized the divergences between Europe and the US and that he just envisaged the prospect of a quick victory in Iraq that would easily restore the unstable balance of the last decade, and in which the inter-imperialist divergences would become increasingly absorbed.
Ever since the US invasion, the scenario has been badly more complicated than Anderson's expectations. Certainly the US scored an impressing military victory. Nonetheless, despite this success it hasn't been able to set up a “Pax Americana”. On the other hand, the lasting of the economic crisis, its deepening foreign policy neo-imperialist course and the strong resistance it brought about, mainly a guerrilla warfare against the occupation forces and the resurfacing of inter-imperialist divisions as a lasting fact of international affairs, may be indicating that we are approaching a new historical stage in which US domination be strongly challenged.

We devoted the whole first part of this journal to these issues, called “The world after Iraq”, as the fate of the new course of US imperialism and the character of the international situation for the next period is currently at stake in this Middle East country.
The US launched its invasion on Iraq not as an end in itself, but rather as a supporting base for deploying its domination across the region and to redefine the world power balance in its own benefit and in detriment of its imperialist contenders and the semicolonial bourgeois classes. They aimed at showing off an out-of -boundaries might. The onset of guerilla resistance and the chaos still reigning in Iraq goes strongly against such a perception. The human and economic costs of the occupation grow as dozens of dead American soldiers are mounting since the fall of Saddam's régime. Moreover, several sabotage acts against the country's infrastructure have been occurring, especially in pipelines and oil refinement plants (according to surveys carried out by consultants working in Iraqi territory, a strong flow of a decade-long investment is required for reconstructing the oil infrastructure of the country). Against this background, the recent attacks against the UN headquarters in Bagdad and the Najaf mosque illustrate the failure of the US in “pacifying” the country, compels it to redefine its strategy in order to prevent the situation from going out of control. Deeply bound to the Iraqi front, in the regional level, the Bush sponsored "road map" designed for putting an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is almost in terminal crisis, thus triggering a new round of attacks and counterattacks between the Israeli armed forces and the Palestinian fighters, which has been a constant feature of the current Intifada since its beginning more than three years ago.
Beyond conjuncture, from a more strategic point of view these heavy obstacles in the way of the US attempt at redrawing the regional political map poses the possibility that its offensive intervention in this key peripherical area of the international system may become its contrary. This could be posed provided the struggle of the genuine Palestinian national liberation movement strengthens or -more decisively- the current resistance in Iraq multiplies and broadens its social base not just in the Sunni areas but in the whole of the country. If this latter variant developed and the Anglo-American occupation forces withdrew its positions in the country's command or, worse, they were forced to leave Iraq, then the international position of the United States and, to certain degree, of the imperialist order as a whole, would seriously deteriorate. This proves that Washington's gamble in Iraq is not a trifle. Contrary to Vietnam, where the US military defeat had a tactical character and was finally absorbed in the framework of the postwar period world order, the current warmongering gamble of the White House comes against the background of an entirely different international context, characterized by the crisis of that order or even its absence. Thus the importance of what is at stake in Iraq.

A great deal is also at stake in Latin America, facing the imperialist pressure and the pro-capitalist forces in Cuba, the single triumphant socialist revolution in the continent. As the subsidies from the former USSR were cut in the early 1990s, the reforms of the Castro-ite bureaucracy have been encouraging social forces that are threatening the fate of the Cuban revolution. Moreover, for the first time in decades, the US and the European imperialisms, especially Spain, are pressing Castro for democratic and economic reforms that would entail the collapse of the Cuban workers state if they are ever implemented. A victory for capitalist restoration in Cuba would be a strong blow against the whole vanguard and the masses in Latin America. We would be blind if we didn't see these dangers and we didn't set the task of preparing ourselves as well as the masses to reject it and to fight against this prospect. That is why we devote an extensive dossier in assessing the current Cuban crossroads, in turn analyzing the genesis of the Cuban revolution in the light of the theory of permanent revolution.

In the Latin American section we devote two articles in assessing the first months in office of two of the most important new governments that look forward to preserving or restoring the capitalist domination régime in their respective countries, facing the failure of neoliberal reforms. We are talking about Lula's government in Brazil and Kirchner's in Argentina. The former has decided to go along with neoliberal politics, bringing about important divisions and convulsions within the very Brazilian bourgeoisie and in the ranks of the historical social base of the Workers Party, whose first months in office have meant a quickly paced unmasking of the reformist and pro-bourgeois character of this party. The latter one has chosen for some face-value reforms in the régime, as he looks for gaining time for dealing with the inherited economic and social problems of last year's economic catastrophe, seeking for a reinforcement of its inner supporting base, so as to close the situation opened up in Argentina during the revolutionary days of December 2001. Hence, for the weight both countries have in South America, the fate of these governments and their deviation policies are essential in order to decide the course of the whole region.

The last pages of this journal are devoted to the 'Theory and Culture' section. There we discuss on the book 'Contingency, Hegemony, Universality. Contemporary dialogues in the left' which gathers the intellectual exchange among Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau and Slavoj Zizek, sparing some reflections on the important question of subjectivity from a revolutionary approach. This contribution questions the horizon –modernised by post-modernism - that the only possible prospect for social movements is the democratization of the existing capitalist relationships.





  Fracción Trotskista is formed by PTS (Partido de Trabajadores por el Socialismo) in Argentina, LTS (Liga de Trabajadores por el Socialismo) in México, la LOR-CI (Liga Obrera Revolucionaria por la Cuarta Internacional) in Bolivia, ER (Estrategia Revolucionaria) in Brasil, Clase contra Clase in Chile and FT-Europe. To contact us: ft@ft.org.ar