19 April 2004


Paul Anderson writes:

(a) I'm no great fan of the notion of "Islamic fascism": like you I think it's a catch-all term to cover disparate contemporary regimes and terrorist groups that all differ in significant respects from interwar European fascism.

There are nevertheless legitimate parallels that can be drawn. Ba'athism was originally inspired at least in part by the example of European fascism, and Saddam's Iraq was a belligerent expansionist totalitarian police-state characterised by ultra-nationalism, the cult of the leader and systematic use of terror against its citizens - not unlike Hitler's Germany or Mussolini's Italy. Taliban Afghanistan was also a totalitarian police-state, and although it was not territorially expansionist and unlike Saddam's Iraq was inspired by Islamism, it did harbour and encourage al-Qaida, which has the goal of establishing a global totalitarian Islamist empire and echoes the Nazis in its irrationalism, its ruthless contempt for human life and its anti-Semitism. Whether or not you call them fascist, the targets of the US "war on terror" were and are enemies of everything liberals and the left should hold dear.

(b) Like you, I don't think the US had the purest of motives in getting rid of Saddam. The war was about US strategic interests first and foremost. The point the pro-war left made, however, is that these strategic interests were at least temporarily compatible with the interests of the Iraqi people in getting rid of Saddam and establishing a decent, civilised, democratic Iraq.

(c) I take your point that everyone on the February 2003 demo didn't support the SWP's defeatist position. But will you take mine that the prominent role the non-defeatist left allowed the SWP and other Leninists - to say nothing of reactionary Islamists - did untold damage to the credibility of the anti-war movement? As for Pilger, I'm sorry, but any nuances in his perspective are meaningless next to his fatuous statements backing the "resistance" in Iraq.

No comments: