Against the Current No. 30, January/February 1991

— The Editors

AS THIS LETTER is being written, the United Nations Security Council has "authorized" military action against Iraq. 200,000 more U.N. troops are being deployed to satisfy the desires of President Bush for "offensive military capacity” unless Iraq withdraws unconditionally from Kuwait. By January 15 or shortly thereafter—or some incident or provocation—the U.S. may already be at war. Thousands of people may be dying.

What the military experts are debating now is how many U.S. troops would die in the first week or so of fighting: 5000, or 10,000, or 20,000, or 30,000....

— Wilold Jedlicki and Israel Shahak

MOB VIOLENCE AGAINST the Arab began on Monday, August 6, in at least three separate locations in the Jewish city of Jerusalem, when the police assisted by civilian volunteers were still searching for two missing Jewish adolescents Ronen Karamani and Lior Tubal.

Presuming the boys had fallen victim to Arab terrorists, spontaneously assembled Jewish gangs began to "retaliate" by throwing stones at passing can and buses with the blue license plates of the Occupied Territories. At the same time, the Arab village of Beit Safafa (which lies partly within pre-1967 Israel and was annexed in 1967 along with all of Arab Jerusalem) was attacked by crowds from surrounding Jewish neighborhoods. The villagers, however, put up fierce resistance....

— Betsy Esch

WHEN THE SHOOTING began on the morning of October 8, I was at my house in northeast Jerusalem. As on most occasions (usually at night) when we heard gunfire, my roommate and I went outside to try to determine from which direction the sounds were coming. From our house we could see clouds of tear gas near the Old City, and two military helicopters alternately circling around and hovering.

We stood on the porch listening to fifteen minutes of continuous gunfire. At about 11:00 am I decided to run the ten minutes to the Old City to see what was happening....

— Carlos Muñoz, Jr.

AS A VIETNAM war era veteran who paid homage this past Veterans Day holiday to my comrades who died on the battlefields of Vietnam, I am deeply disturbed that the president of the United States ignores the tragic lessons of the Indochina War.

As the crisis in the Persian Gulf intensifies, and as we observe the mass mobilization of U.S. troops, President Bush speaks loud and clear. We read his lips and his message is not one of hope and peace. It is a chilling message of intolerance for the rights...

— Salim Tamari

A MAIN Consequence of the Gulf crisis is that it compels us to rethink our basic premises about conflicts in the Middle East It calls into question the character and future of Arab nationalism, the legitimacy of post-colonial Arab states, the utility of regional alliances in the Arab world, and the future of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Above all, it compels us to reconsider the predicament of the Arab states and their peoples in the era of realignments after the Cold War....

— Peter Drucker

WHY IS THE United States on the brink of war in the Middle East? What should socialists do about it?

U.S. troops are in Saudi Arabia because of oil, but for other reasons as well: to inflict a major defeat on Arab nationalism; to make the U.S. the supreme military power in the Middle East; to overcome the "Vietnam syndrome" once and for all; and to save the military-industrial complex from any threat of a substantial contraction. If the people who rule the United States want to achieve all or even most of these goals, they probably need a full-scale war against Iraq. Let's look at each of these reasons in turn....

— Justin Schwartz

IT'S A COMMONPLACE that the Gulf crisis threatens to become "another Vietnam." Despite the disparities of geography and the changed world situation, for once this platitude is correct on an important dimension which has disturbing implications for U.S. foreign and military policy in the post-Cold War era. This is that, oil notwithstanding. U.S. intervention in the Gulf has no more rational economic or strategic basis than did U.S. involvement in Vietnam, even from a capitalist perspective.

War would certainly be irrational for all parties.(1) But whether or not the Gulf crisis escalates, none of the plausibly cynical rationales for U.S. policy in terms of protecting its economic or military interests will stand up to examination. The main lessons of the crisis so far, then, are these:...

— Janice Haaken and Larry Bowlden

IN THE FILM Drugstore Cowboy, William Burroughs proclaims that drugs are now being demonized in a systematic, international campaign to justify the creation of a police state. Perhaps apocalyptic, this position has a ring of truth. Many agree with President Bush that "drugs" are the most important problem facing the country today. In the name of the war on drugs they're willing to sacrifice personal liberties and support increased spending for law enforcement and prisons.(1)

The war on drugs does appear to be replacing the war on communism as the most important ideological justification for a conservative agenda, domestic as well as international....

— Robert Brenner

TODAY WE ARE WITNESSING two very different sorts of crises, even if their historical development must, finally, be treated together. In the East; there is occurring a revolutionary crisis of thesocial system itself, which is in a state of disintegration and transformation into something else, most likely capitalism. In the West, the crisis of profitability of the last two decades has threatened the well-being of many of the capitalist system's constituent firms, although not the system itself.

In first exploring the origins and development, of the crisis in the East, we can subsequently better analyze how the two regions' respective crises interpenetrate,...

— Milka Tyszkiewicz

FROM THE PERSPECTIVE of Solidarnosc's program of a self-managed Republic, published during our first congress in 1981, it is difficult to understand why, ten years later, Polish society has not rejected Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz' International Monetary Fund (IMF)-backed austerity program of a crash transition to a market economy.

Why has the mass labor movement not been able to create any serious alternative political and economic proposal? It is obvious today, with the changes underway in Eastern Europe as a whole, that this can no longer be understood as a product of local conditions in Poland (Catholicism or the nationalist legend of a "Great Savior")....

— Ernie Haberkern

WE ARE ALL FAMILIAR with the headlines. Polish Solidarity has split in two. Lech Walesa is under attack by the Tadeusz Mazowiecki government which he put in power. The attack is led by the same political tendency—today organized as the Civic Movement/Democratic Action and formerly organized as KOR that first backed Walesa and was the main political force which made him the "dictator" they now denounce.

What is more, much of the criticism of Walesa is clearly justified. He is a highhanded “labor boss” whose methods of dealing with opponents and potential rivals leaves much to be desired....

— John Barzman interviews Tamas Krausz

HUNGARY IS OFTEN presented in the Western media as the East European country the furthest on the road to capitalism. The following interview, which examines only Hungary, suggests there is still a long way to go.

Hungary has had the longest experience of market reforms and praise of capitalist efficiency. The old (post-1956) regime of Kadar and his successors introduced such reforms consistently since the early 1970 and with increasing speed, under the pressure of the International Monetary Fund, in the last few years....

— Douglas Wixson
"Someone talked to me about going to business college. I thought it over, and decided I would rather end in the poor house than go to business college and work in an office.” —Floyd Dell, Homecoming

NEAR THE END of his long life, Jack Conroy often said that one day he would rejoin his old friends in the final great writers' conference in the sky; but my hunch is that he much prefers the company of the miners in Sugar Creek cemetery, near Monkey West mining camp in northern Missouri where he was born....

— Wang Fanxi

I FIRST MET Louis Sinclair in 1975, but we knew of each other several years earlier, when I was living in Macao and the Chinese edition of Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution was reprinted in Hong Kong. I think it was 1970.

I had sent one copy of the History to Pierre Frank (a leader of the Trotskyist movement—ed.) in Paris. In his reply, Pierre informed me that he had forwarded the three volumes of the History to Glasgow where a friend of his, Louis Sinclair, was collecting Trotsky's works in all languages....

— R.F. Kampfer

IN ACCORDANCE with their Constitution, the Japanese have refused Bush's request to send military forces to the Persian Gulf. They are, however, shipping over 40,000 transistor radios as their contribution to the morale of U.S. troops. Batteries not included.

The Pentagon assures us that the M-16 rifle will work just as well in sand as it did in mud....

— Michael Hahn; Peter Drucker

I HAVE A brief comment on Peter Drucker's article “The Peace Movement Respond” in ATC 29. In my view, your presentation of the New York City Coalition/Workers World Party/Ramsey Clark position is totally inadequate. I am sure that you are familiar with their arguments—as stated, for example, by Ratner and B. Schaap in the October 24 Guardian.

However, rather than engaging in a serious debate you chose to fail back on cheap polemics and ridicule by drawing an analogy between the refusal to condemn Iraq and the WWP's “applause” for the Tiananmen massacre....