January 31, 2003

A Stalinist joins the War Party – and is welcomed with open arms

Okay, the jig is up: the New York Daily News has got my number, and I might as well confess. According to the News:

"Iraq sent spies from Canada to New York and Washington this month to snoop and stir up anti-war demonstrations, according to a government report obtained by the Daily News."

Omigod! We're busted! We're forced to admit that all those demonstrators – 150,000 in San Francisco alone – were really foreign agents, spies sent in from Canada to "stir up" the American people. I confess! My real name is Uday Raimondo, and you only thought I was Italian. Bwahahahahahahaha!

According to this "classified document":

"A source identified as a member of the Iraqi opposition told U.S. agents that Iraqis in Canada were ordered to recruit Arabs and other foreigners for espionage missions in the U.S., the report said. The Iraqi Embassy in Ottawa sent operatives to New York and Washington with instructions to 'intensify spying activities and to carry out anti-U.S. demonstrations to stop a war against Iraq,' the report said. The report said the Iraqis were willing to spend 'large sums' to back the effort."

So where's my share of these "large sums"? If those skinflint Iraqis think they're going to get away with not giving me the "large sums" I deserve, they have another thing coming!

It's pathetic, really, to contemplate the sheer stupidity of the U.S. propaganda effort: the War Party is so inept. Here they've had all these months – nay, years! – and who knows how many billions in tax dollars to come up with a set of lies that makes some minimal amount of sense. And what happens? Do they really expect us to believe this crap?

Aside from the obvious point that the American people hardly need Iraqi spies to be "stirred up" over Bush's headlong rush to catastrophe, the dead giveaway is the "source" of this alleged story, an anonymous "member of the Iraqi opposition." These are the same folks whose fearless leader, Ahmed Chalabi, a former banker, is a convicted embezzler who ran off with suitcases full of his depositors' cash. Now that's what I call a reliable "source." Chalabi, by the way, is now suckling at the breast of the U.S. taxpayers.

Smearing anyone who stands up to oppose them is the one and only tactic of the War Party, but it's somewhat heartening to note how bad they are at it. Susan Sarandon an Iraqi agent? Good luck trying to pull off that one.

But they can always fall back on the old red-baiting gambit, a tried-and-true technique that worked well in the cold war era. As the antiwar movement started to take off, a veritable torrent of articles appeared in venues as various as National Review, Salon, and LA Weekly, detailing the role of the formerly obscure Workers World Party in organizing recent demonstrations. Glenn Reynolds, a law professor whose "warblog" has been relentlessly promoted by All the Right People, has been relentlessly flogging this dead horse:

"Hesiod doesn't get it, so I'll try to speak very slowly: Antiwar protesters aren't Communists by definition. But A.N.S.W.E.R. and the WWP basically are. (And of the extra-nasty Stalinist variety.) Communists are, in my opinion, as bad as Nazis: mass murder, totalitarianism, etc. (And calling them 'Marxists' instead doesn't fool anyone.)

"Going to a march organized by Communists doesn't make you a Communist, any more than going to a march organized by Nazis makes you a Nazi. But knowingly going to either one makes you icky. And calling it McCarthyism when people point that out, or point out that the Communists really are Communists, makes you either dishonest, or stupid.

"Clear enough? … It's not okay to be in bed with Stalinists or Hitlerites."

Unless you happen to be for the war, in which case we're not supposed to notice that the statement put out by pro-war European heads of state contains the name of one prominent Stalinist, and at least one fellow-traveler. The Stalinist is Leszek Miller, Poland's Prime Minister, formerly a Politburo member of the Polish United Workers Party (PUWP), the Moscow-loyal Quislings kept in power by the Red Army. And we aren't talking about one of those "reform"-minded Gorbachev-style "soft" Stalinists. Anne Applebaum's profile of the neo-Stalinist who signed his name to a statement entitled "Europe and America Must Stand United" is instructive:

"These days he smiles a lot, and has studiously learnt to speak passable English. In a previous incarnation (I first met him about 12 years ago) he smiled less. At that time he was a member of the Politburo of the Polish Communist party, and was best known as a member of the party's 'beton' wing – concrete blockheads, for lack of a better translation – who stood solidly in opposition to democratic reforms. As late as March 1990 a year after Miller and the Polish Communist party were both defeated in elections he stated that 'the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Poland will do no one any good.'"

To read the ringing phrases of the unity statement and recall the career of comrade Miller is to induce a dizzying cognitive dissonance:

"The real bond between the United States and Europe is the values we share: democracy, individual freedom, human rights and the Rule of Law. These values crossed the Atlantic with those who sailed from Europe to help create the U.S.A. Today they are under greater threat than ever."

Comrade Miller fought off the rising tide of freedom as long as he could. In 1991, he spent his summer vacation in the Crimea, where, as Applebaum tells it,

"He just happened to share a hotel with Boris Pugo and Gennady Yanayev, two of the leaders of the Moscow putsch against Gorbachev. The putsch took place a few days after that holiday ended. Had it succeeded, Miller might well have become prime minister of Poland a good deal earlier."

Ah, but the timing was just right, from the War Party's perspective. Comrade Miller came to power just in time to act as a prop in the new bosses' propaganda war.

One of the big problems with red-baiting in the post-communist era is that many of the "former" Communists, especially in Europe, merely switched sides when the Soviet Empire imploded. Miller, assiduously courted by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, led his nation into the NATO alliance. He has also led a crackdown on the "free" media, recentralized the economy, rolled back privatization, increased Polish dependence on Russian energy supplies by canceling a contract with Norway, and shamelessly feathered his own nest in the commie-kleptocratic tradition.

How dare this hypocrite sign a statement in support of the United States that declares its fealty to "individual rights" and "the Rule of Law"! In Comrade Miller's Poland, the lone independent daily newspaper, Rzeczpospolita, is being harassed by the police: the paper's chairman and deputy chairman have been placed under "police observation," according to Applebaum. Their passports have been confiscated, and they are not allowed to leave the country. Just like in the old days….

Glenn Reynolds opines that "it's not okay to be in bed with Stalinists" – so why isn't he calling for expunging Comrade Miller's name from the "unity" declaration? Or isn't he sufficiently "icky"?

Typically behind the curve, Reynolds and his fellow red-baiters simply ignore the real story on the antiwar movement: that it is growing, by leaps and bounds, far beyond the ability of minuscule sects like WWP to control it. You can read all about that, however, in my article on the burgeoning opposition to Bush's war in the upcoming issue of The American Conservative. For now, let's consider how this seeming anomaly – a hardcore Stalinist joining Blair and Bush in a new version of the Warsaw Pact – came to pass.

The "Democratic Left" party of Poland, headed up by Comrade Miller and other veterans of the Soviet era, enjoys particularly warm fraternal relations with the British Labor Party. The fall of the Third (Communist) International, headquartered in the East, left Poland's reds without a foreign lodestar. But not for long. The advance of the EU, and, behind it, the Second (Socialist) International – where the Blairites and Miller's party come together – has the Polish commies' gaze fixed on the rising power in the West. Applebaum writes:

"One of the first things Miller did, on taking office, was to send his foreign minster off to Brussels to concede every single point under dispute in the Polish-EU accession agreements. The gnomes of Brussels will have noted, approvingly, that this is not a government much interested in saving any aspects of Polish sovereignty. Whether this fanatical subordinacy derives from Moscow's desire for access to Western European markets, via its pliable Polish partners, or whether it comes out of habit, is a matter for speculation. 'We're so used to taking orders from Moscow, we'll be good at taking them from Brussels,' one leading member of Miller's ex-Communist party once quipped."

It should come as no surprise that the "ex"-Communist leaders of the formerly captive nations should be so eager for re-imprisonment – and not only their own. The Soviet system kept them in power, and provided plenty of perks and material privileges; their new bosses do the same. The Empire of the West functions largely in the same manner as the Soviets once did – and often with the cooperation of the same leading personnel.

As Chalmers Johnson points out in his book, Blowback, South Korea's 1980 Kwangju rebellion – and its demise – was in no way different from the bloody crushing of the 1956 Hungarian uprising against the Soviets. In 1980, a South Korea general blocked democratic elections with a coup, and imposed martial law; South Korean forces, withdrawn from the DMZ, bayoneted student protestors. Johnson shows, quoting recently-released cables to and from then-U.S. ambassador William J. Gleysteen, that the U.S. coordinated the crushing of the rebellion just as surely as Imre Nagy and his fellow freedom-fighters were rolled over by the Red Army and its Hungarian accomplices.

In the new world order George W. Bush and Tony Blair are building for us, as in the bygone days of the Warsaw Pact, any country that steps out of line, whether it be Iraq, Korea, or some future victim, will be made an example of. Iraq's subjugation is meant as a lesson to any nation that dares take the idea of its own sovereignty too seriously.

Meet the new boss: same as the old boss.

In the 1980s, Hungary’s Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy, another signer of the pro-war "unity" statement, was finance minister and also deputy prime minister in the Communist government. But Medgyessy’s complicity with totalitarianism didn’t end there: after his election, in May, came the news that he served as a secret agent for the Soviet era Hungarian intelligence service – which, like the Stasi secret police apparatus in East Germany, was under the direct control of the Kremlin.

Our reds, and theirs: the tiny Workers World Party, on the one hand, and the Prime Ministers of two East European countries, who head up large left-wing parties, on the other. The difference is that ours – the marginal group of misfits who uphold the Leninist legacy in America – have never held state power in this country, and never will. Theirs, on the other hand, have the blood of millions on their hands.

– Justin Raimondo

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard.

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