Peace in the Middle East


Peace in the Middle East
reprinted from
THE PEOPLE, February 19, 1983


Peace in the Middle East

Last July, we observed that if the U.S. Marines were sent to Lebanon, they might stay "a lot longer than the 'few days' estimated by Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger."

After a shorter stint, the Marines have been in Beirut since September 26. Some military sources reportedly believe the leathernecks will remain 12 months more. However, other military experts say it will take Lebanon's ruling class five years to deploy an army capable of controlling the country.

In September, we wrote, "The military defeat of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon and its forced exit from Beirut won't bring peace to the troubled Middle East." Moreover, we also noted, "the danger of war in the Mideast remains great and the Reagan plan offers no real basis for believing otherwise."

That assessment stands. Five months later, Lebanon is still occupied by foreign armies and rent by class and sectarian conflict. Battles between rival militias could erupt into full-scale civil war at any time,

Israel continues to tighten its grip on the West Bank and Gaza Strip which it seized in the 1967 war. Its intransigent terms for leaving Lebanon have resulted in negotiations becoming, in the words of one Lebanese diplomat, "hopelessly deadlocked."

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has spoken of "a disaster" if Israel refuses to withdraw from Lebanon and continues to settle the West Bank. Other pro-U.S. Arab leaders have joined Egypt in warning that time is running out.

Despite its substantial influence on both Israel and most of the Arab states, the United States hasn't gotten to first base with the Reagan plan for defusing the Palestinian situation. U.S. relations with Israel are growing more strained, and one Israeli major general recently told U.S. envoy Morris Draper, "We will do what we please."

The Soviet Union is waiting in the wings, hoping to gain if the U.S. strikes out.

No one can predict when new hostilities will break out in the Middle East. But a new war-and, ominously, one that could involve the two nuclear superpowers-is only a matter of time within the existing material and social conditions.

Class antagonisms, conflicting national interests and superpower rivalry cannot be papered over by facile formulas concocted in Washington or Moscow. Indeed, the two imperialist superpowers seek only to exploit and manipulate the conflicts to advance their own material interests in the region.

Nor can peace come from Jerusalem or the Arab capitals. The exploited masses of the Middle East will not advance their own interests by lining up behind their ruling classes in their bloody national conflicts.

The only hope for a lasting peace in the Middle East lies with the working class and its creation of a viable international socialist movement. Toward that end, Mideast workers-Arab and Israeli alike-must stop drawing national and religious lines and start drawing class lines. Workers' enemies are not workers in other countries but the ruling classes of all countries, their own at the head of the list.

Despite the existing ideologies that divide them, Mideast workers have common class interests. They are all exploited and oppressed by the ruling classes, and they have suffered grievously from their ruler's wars and preparations for war. Midwest workers objectively share an interest in peace.

Yet no class resolution is likely within the context of the Middle East alone. The Middle East is an area of the world in which the vital interests of the imperialist nations-particularly those of the superpowers-are at stake. Those nations are not likely to stand by idly while their interests are challenged by classconscious working-class action aimed at accomplishing fundamental economic, political and social change in the region.

Accordingly, the ultimate resolution of the conflicts in the Middle East depends on an international revolutionary working-class movement and particularly on socialist revolution in the developed imperialist nations. By defeating their own ruling classes, the workers of these nations would destroy for all time the sources of imperialism, thereby laying the foundation for the international socialist society upon which lasting world peace depends.

Almost three-and-a-half decades of conflict in the Middle East, four major Arab-Israeli wars, dozens of lesser wars and the ever-present threat of a superpower confrontation that could lead to global nuclear war testify in abundance that there is no solution in the Middle East except world revolution. The choice is clear: socialism or, eventually, world-ending war.