Russian Intervention and Syria

No to Imperialist-Imposed Regime Change in Syria

12 April 2017 – For the last several years, the U.S., Australian, French, British and other allied Western imperialists have sought to impose regime change on the people of Syria.  The former U.S. Obama regime intervened by providing arms, ammunition, training, special forces back-up and diplomatic support for the Syrian “Rebel” forces who had been subordinated to the imperialist agenda. In 2014, this former U.S. Democratic Party administration upped the ante of its intervention by using the pretext of fighting ISIS to directly conduct military operations in both Syria and Iraq. This enabled the U.S. and its allies, like Australia, to move forces into the region, grab control of territory and build-up proxies in order to – among other goals – further its regime change agenda. Five days ago, the extreme racist Trump regime qualitatively cranked up this U.S. intervention. It openly unleashed a missile barrage on Syrian government positions.

The struggle of the Syrian people against this intervention and against imperialism’s “Rebel” proxies is a struggle of the people of a former colony, which to this day remains economically subjugated by richer capitalist countries, to prevent itself being once again completely trodden over by colonial powers. Thus, as Leninists, we in Trotskyist Platform stand for the defence of “Third World” Syria against the predatory U.S., Australian and other Western imperialists and their “Rebel” proxies. We do so without giving any political support to Syria’s Assad government. Although we defend the just war that Assad is currently waging against a neo-colonial takeover of the country, he nevertheless leads an oppressor government that oversees the exploitation of the Syrian masses by Syria’s rich capitalists.

We have maintained a position of military defence of Syria despite intervention on the side of the Syrian government by a capitalist great power – Russia. Russian intervention began fairly early in the conflict. It began initially with arms and ammunition support to the Syrian military, then included intelligence and special forces support and finally from September 2015 it included airstrikes. While it was primarily the heroism of the anti-colonial and secular-minded sections of the Syrian masses that have enabled the Syrian people to achieve victory over the imperialist-backed “Rebels” in Aleppo late last year, Russia’s military might no doubt also played a major part in this victory. This years-long Russian intervention does not change the stance that Leninists should take on the Syria question because although Russia has intervened in order to promote its great power capitalist ambitions it has not, up to the present, threatened to become the – or one of the – direct neo-colonial overlords of Syria. Furthermore, unlike the U.S.A and its allies, Russia is not using its Syrian intervention as a means to secure overall domination of the oil-rich Middle East. Russia’s capitalist rulers primarily seek in Syria to maintain and deepen the benefits Russia had in the pre-war status quo. In this pre-war set up, Russia had political and military influence – including access to strategic military bases on the Mediterranean coast – but was not the biggest player in the Syrian economy. It was Western powers that were the main predators in the Syrian economy – indeed, in Syria’s oil sector, the biggest foreign players are not Russian corporations but the British/Dutch Shell, France’s Total and Britain’s Gulfsands. The Russian ruling class’ overall intentions are to assert itself on the global stage as a big-time world power that must be taken seriously, to protect and broaden its military bases in Syria, to form a forward obstruction to further grubby NATO meddling in ex-Soviet countries where Russia believes it has a Tsarist times-derived historical “right” to call the shots in, to incite nationalism at home and to advertise itself to more economically endowed capitalist powers that collaborating with Russia’s awesome military might in future ventures is a strategy that can guarantee their investments (out of which Russia would then be handed a share of the predatory spoils).

At the same time we should not be naive. If the Russian-backed Syrian forces triumph, the Russian establishment will naturally use their presence and increased influence in Syria to pressure Syria into accommodating Russian capitalist interests. For one, Russia would push to be granted a greater continued military presence than Syria would wish – even after the threat to Syria has been quashed. Already, this January, with Syria dependent on Russian backing, the Syrian government agreed to let Russia take 49-year leases over the strategically located Khmeimim Air Base and Tartus naval facility and even give Russia sovereignty over the latter’s territory. This loss of sovereignty of Syria over strategically located bases is for a far greater period than she would hope would be needed to secure and stabilise victory in the current war. One can bet that Syrian officials were quietly unenthusiastic about signing away sovereignty over their territory for so long in advance. Additionally, one can expect the Russian capitalists to, for example, consider preventing natural gas pipelines from rival gas suppliers to Russia passing through Syria into Europe even if that supplier were to offer to pay a level of royalties that the Syrians would be happy to accept.

In terms of the current conflict itself, the fact that capitalist Russia is, currently, inadvertently playing a positive role does not change the fact that its racist state forces who so brutally oppress non-European minorities and immigrants within Russia cannot in any way be trusted to take proper care to avoid hitting civilians in their air-strikes on enemy forces in Syria. Thus, we can expect the numbers of civilians killed by Russian air-strikes to be of the same order of magnitude as the thousands killed by the murderous U.S., Australian and other imperialists in their air strikes on Syria and Iraq. Furthermore, the fact that the Syrian anti-imperialist struggle is getting direct help from a major capitalist power makes it less inspiring to the anti-colonial sentiments of “Third World” peoples around the world when compared with, say, the Algerian independence struggle against France in the late 1950s and early 1960s and certainly in comparison with the Vietnamese revolutionary struggle against U.S. and Australian imperialism which was, after all, conducted by a workers state and a communist-led, toiling peoples’ armed movement. That is part of the reason why the level of solidarity with the Syrian anti-colonial resistance from the masses of other “Third World” countries has up to this point been so limited. Up to now, other than for protests in other Middle Eastern countries, most of the major rallies opposing the imperialist intervention in Syria have come from people living in Western countries or in capitalist countries whose governments are themselves backing the Russian intervention. Moreover, the success of the Russian intervention will further inflame reactionary nationalism within Russia which will dampen the class struggle there and incite even more racist terror against Russia’s racial and religious minority populations. This is at a time when Putin’s massive privatisation plans announced in February last year (see for example: which five months ago saw a huge $A15.5 billion stake in oil giant Rosneft sold off to Qatari interests and Swiss multinational Glencore  have the potential to spark mass working class resistance. Already the Russian masses’ hatred of the anti-working class privatisation agenda was reflected in the intense campaign to stop the privatisation of a dairy plant in the town of Vologda. Yet the upsurge in patriotism that will accompany any Russian war victories will undermine the Russian working class organising to fight as a class against their main enemy – the Russian capitalist exploiters. Furthermore, when the working class of Russia does rise up against its capitalist rulers it will now have to face a state whose armed forces capability has been boosted by the testing and experience of its military activities in Syria.

Nevertheless, the Russian intervention in Syria, as long as it continues to obstruct the drive for Western imperialist-imposed regime change and as long as it does not morph into a Russian experiment at re-entry into the club of neo-colonial overlords, is on balance having a positive effect. That means even while leftists within Russia must oppose the racist, capitalist rulers of Russia with the same vigour that we oppose the capitalist rulers of this country, they – and we – must not do anything which directly obstructs Russia’s Syrian intervention. Opponents of imperialism must not call for Russia to get out of Syria at this time. More importantly, the years long Russian intervention must not in any way change the obligation that leftists have to stand for the defence of Syria against the Western imperialists and their “Rebels”.

What the Leaders of the October Socialist Revolution Said about Similar Scenarios

To understand the question of the Russian intervention in Syria more deeply we refer here to 1917 Russian Revolution co-leader, Leon Trotsky’s 1938 article, Learn To Think. This article addresses two particular scenarios: in one scenario one capitalist power for its own geo-political purposes – in particular to weaken a rival – renders material assistance to an anti-colonial struggle of a subjugated country against another capitalist power. This is in a case where the power rendering assistance is not in a position to immediately replace the existing capitalist power as a new overlord of the subjugated country. In the second scenario, a capitalist power similarly, for its own machinations against rivals, finds it useful to pass arms to a workers state in conflict with another capitalist power. The first of these above scenarios is, up to the time of writing, similar to the scenario with the Russian assistance to Syria in its conflict with Western imperialism’s “Rebel” proxies. Thus we should study what Trotsky outlined should be communist policy in such a scenario. Trotsky explained that in such a scenario, we should not in any way obstruct the capitalist power that is giving military assistance to the anti-colonial struggle against a rival capitalist power – provided, of course, that the power rendering assistance is not currently seeking to itself become or is currently capable of becoming the colonial/neo-colonial overlord of the country waging the anti-imperialist struggle. At the same time, Trotsky insisted that this does not in any way, at all, make the capitalist power giving the assistance any more progressive. Indeed, Trotsky postulated an example where the capitalist power rendering anti-colonial assistance is a fascist one and the power fighting against the anti-colonial forces is a “democratic”-ruled capitalist power. Trotsky insisted that communists in the capitalist country rendering assistance to an anti-colonial struggle – in our case this is Russia – should “not in the slightest” moderate “their own irreconcilable struggle” against this regime which is the “the main enemy in their own country.” And they should call upon the people standing against the imperialist forces “not to trust their treacherous ally” even while ensuring that the assistance from this “ally” gets through.

In summary, the lesson from Trotsky’s Learn To Think article (which itself is a re-statement of the line of Lenin’s Bolsheviks) in regards to the Syria conflict is that we should not in any way oppose the Russian intervention at this time while at the same time we should avoid any prettifying of the purposes of the Russian intervention and should explain that Russia’s capitalist rulers remain the main enemy of Russia’s working class people. On the latter, we should additionally note that a workers’ revolution in Russia that topples the racist, capitalist ruling class there would not only be immensely beneficial for working class people and ethnic minorities in Russia but would also boost the Syrian people’s struggle against neo-colonialism. A future Russian workers state, led by an internationalist party like Lenin’s Bolsheviks, would more consistently support the Syrian people’s struggle against imperialism and its proxies, would not – unlike the present Russian government – use its influence to seek unfair concessions from the Syrians and could not be tempted to betray the Syrian anti-colonial struggle by any U.S. promises to boost her great power status. Moreover, a Syrian struggle against imperialism backed by a state where the multi-racial working class rules is far more inspirational to the toiling masses of the “Third World” than the current situation where the Syrian government is backed by a Russian regime that, at home, oversees the exploitation of its working class while brutally oppressing non-white ethnic minorities and immigrants. Thus, a Syrian anti-imperialist struggle backed by a workers state would win far more solidarity from the masses living in the ex-colonial countries than in the present case.

We need to stress here that Trotsky’s Learn To Think article which outlines when it may be necessary to not oppose the intervention of one capitalist power in a conflict abroad was specific to two particular scenarios. We emphasise this because this article has been one of the Marxist works that has been most twisted and most used out of context by opportunist leftists (even by some grandstanding as anti-Trotskyist “Stalinists”!) looking to justify collaboration with capitalist powers. We need to stress that only in the two very narrow and specific cases outlined in the Learn To Think article – cases related to a capitalist power driven by its necessity for geo-political positioning supporting either an anti-colonial struggle or a workers state against rival powers – is it permissible to not oppose the intervention abroad by a capitalist power. In absolutely all other cases, without exception, we must oppose intervention of any kind by such capitalist powers – whether diplomatic, material support to allies/proxies or direct military intervention – regardless of the particular circumstances leading up to the intervention and regardless of their stated “justification” for the intervention.

All Capitalist Powers Have Zero “Commitment” to Opposing Imperialism

Our attitude to the Russian intervention in Syria is summarised in an article written five years ago, at a time after Russia had already, very publicly, started intervening in the Syrian conflict:

Russia, unlike the PRC, is administered by a capitalist state. The Russian rulers are military powerful but not currently economically strong enough to as yet be a full-blown, independent imperialist power like any of the main NATO states. But they would like to be one – Russia certainly ain’t the socialistic Soviet Union! Russia objects to Western intervention in Syria because Syria is its ally and Russia takes offence at its power being challenged. Furthermore, the Russian bourgeoise would like to draw a line in nearby Syria to try and reduce NATO encroachment into the affairs of its ex-Soviet neighbours which Russia would like to be within its own sphere of influence. Nevertheless, despite Russia’s intentions, opponents of imperialism can only welcome any Russian arms going to the Syrian government at a time when it is battling a takeover by imperialist proxies.’

July 27, 2012, No to Neo-Colonialism: Defend Syria against the Pro-Imperialist “Rebels”

At the same time it is our duty to warn the Syrian masses of the possibility that Russia could stab them in the back in the future. After all, Russia’s capitalist rulers have zero commitment to opposing imperialism. Like all other capitalist powers their main concern is to further their ambitious economic and political interests. It is worth noting that while the Russian intervention in Syria is happening to, at this time, have a positive effect, the Russian intervention in Libya is playing a reactionary role. Today in Libya we see rival gangs of the pro-imperialists “Rebels” brought to power by NATO in 2011 engaged in blood feuds with each other. Russia is backing one of these cut-throats, Khalifa Haftar, and has sent financial, diplomatic and weapons support to back the forces that he leads as well as private military contractors.  Haftar’s “Libyan National Army” (LNA) backs one of Libya’s rival governments, the Tobruk-based “House of Representatives”. Russia, like the NATO powers, is also meddling diplomatically and has sought to be the broker of talks between the LNA-backed government and the U.N.-recognised and strongly Italian-backed Presidential Council government headed by Fayez al-Sarraj. The main goal of the LNA, like all the murderous rival, former “Rebel” militias, is to seize control of Libya’s oil ports and other oil facilities for themselves. This is hardly a case of Russia defending a country against imperialist takeover – not even inadvertently as is the case with its Syria intervention. Thus, also backing Haftar’s LNA are not only Egypt but the French imperialists who have conducted air strikes in support of Haftar’s Russian-backed forces. Indeed, the most open backers of Haftar’s army is the UAE which not only arms the LNA but has a joint airbase with France in Libya’s al-Sulaiyah region from where it conducts operations in support of Haftar’s forces. The strongly pro-Washington UAE regime is one of the regional players strongly backing the imperialist drive for regime change in Syria and is a key part of the reactionary U.S.-backed, Saudi-led intervention in Yemen. Meanwhile, the LNA, even while claiming to be secularist, receives some backing from that bulwark of religious extremism, the Saudi regime! Haftar himself was for over two decades a CIA asset who worked on plans for U.S.-imposed regime change in Libya. Indeed, he even lived close to the CIA’s Langley, Virginia base after going into exile in the U.S. in 1990! In 2011, Haftar was a key figure in the imperialist-backed “Rebels” that were brought to power on the backs of a NATO air and special forces operation against the former Gaddafi government. This NATO-“Rebel” imposed regime change has plainly destroyed Libya.

Russia’s backing of Haftar and its other diplomatic meddling in Libya is aimed – like all the other capitalist powers intervening in the squalid conflicts there – at securing prized access to Libya’s oil terminals, ports and airports. Additionally, Russia seeks to secure the renewal of the billions of dollars-worth of weapons and oil infrastructure contracts that it had signed with the pre-2011 Libyan government. All the capitalist powers involved in the mad scramble for privileged access to Libya’s oil resources and future infrastructure contracts are deepening the regional and tribal conflicts there.  Opponents of imperialism must demand that all the foreign capitalist states intervening in Libya – including the U.S., French, Italian, Russian, UAE, Egyptian and Saudi regimes – should get their grubby hands off this already devastated country.

Relations Between the Two Military Superpowers

A significant factor that will influence Russian – and U.S. – policy on Syria will be the state of future U.S.-Russia relations. After a deterioration in relations during the last term of the Obama regime, the billionaire Trump outlined a perspective of strengthened U.S. relations with the world’s only other military superpower. His outlook represented the views of a section of the U.S. capitalist class. The U.S. ruling class is highly divided about what attitude they should take to Russia to best further their own interests. A majority of the media and political representatives of the U.S. ruling class currently favour a harder line against Russia. However, among the actual capitalist business owners, opinion is more evenly divided. Those in the U.S. ruling class who favour an antagonistic line don’t believe the U.S. needs to share dominance of the globe with anyone – certainly not an upstart trying to enter the imperialist club. On the other hand, those U.S. capitalists who want to forge a partnership with Russia see its awesome military power as a useful tool to help suppress and isolate U.S. adversaries. Specifically, Trump and his co-thinkers had been hoping to build a U.S.-Russia capitalist super alliance that would, on the one hand, be used to isolate and pressure socialistic China and, on the other, weaken the U.S.A’s European NATO allies cum imperialist economic rivals.

The U.S. missile barrage against Syria and the angry diplomatic exchanges between the U.S. and Russia that followed have, for the short and medium term, scuttled any plans Trump had to forge a partnership with Russia. But what of the future? Relations between the military giants could continue to spiral downwards. Alternatively, there could be a strong rapprochement. Or something somewhere in between. Interestingly, the U.S. actually informed Russia of its missile strike on Syria before it took place indicating some effort to at least open the possibility for stronger ties with Russia in the future.

As we pointed out in our article written soon after Trump’s election, there were always going to major hurdles to stride over if Trump’s original strong proclivity for a U.S.-Russia capitalist superpower alliance was to be implemented. Trump’s administration is, in effect, an alliance of hard line right wingers who favour closer ties with Russia – like himself, chief strategist Steve Bannon and Attorney General Jeff Sessions – and more mainstream figures from the right wing of the Republican Party who support a more antagonistic line. So, the pro-Russia hard right wingers will not always get their way. In the end, the direction that the U.S. ruling class chooses will depend in good part on what the decisive sections of their class think of Russia’s capability to become a significant imperialist rival to the U.S. If they assess that Russia can at best play second fiddle to the imperialist powers they will be far more open to an alliance with Russia in order to use its military might for their own purposes. In other words, they would be quite prepared to accept and nurture a Russia that would play a role similar to what the Turkish ruling class has played up to now – as an ambitious regional power largely enforcing Western imperialist interests while angling to get its own pieces of the stolen pie for itself. According to this analysis, the U.S. would still expect to have some occasional sharp disagreements with Russia but overall relations would be kept strong – as has been the case with Turkey up until now. On the other hand, if they decide that Russia could in the future emerge as an independent, rival predatory power, they will be far more inclined to push for aggressive containment of Russia.

However, there is additionally an ideological aspect to the debate within the U.S. ruling class. Putin, because of his government’s hard line anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim policies, its brutal attacks on the LGBTI community and the fact that it, like the Trump regime, has outright fascists in it, is a hero to far right groups throughout the West. Prominent far right politicians from Pauline Hanson to France’s Marine Le Pen have sung Putin’s praises as have most of the outright fascist, white supremacist groups in the U.S., Australia and Europe. All these groups also see in the possibility of a U.S. and European alliance with Russia the possibility of a grand, “white peoples of the world,” racial supremacist alliance. All this is why it is the extreme right wing of the Trump administration that is most in favour of strong ties with Russia whom they see as a force for spreading right-wing, white European-centric “values.”

Other than for dissension within his own regime, there are other hurdles that Trump would have to overcome to implement his original perspective for a partnership with Russia. One key hurdle is the probe that has been launched into alleged links between his presidential campaign and Russia and allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. election. It is no secret that Russia wanted Trump to win the election. Russian state television was pretty open about backing Trump just as they and Putin are pretty open about backing France’s Le Pen. However, all capitalist powers interfere with each others elections and the U.S. is by far the biggest culprit. Not only will the U.S. mainstream media bombard a country with propaganda supporting their favoured outcome but the U.S. has used funding of favoured political parties and NGOs, training of activists and plenty of really dirty tricks to swing elections. We cannot know if Russia used even the lowest level, dirty tricks to help Trump. However, if they did, in the context of things, while it means something … it does not mean much at all! For all elections in capitalist countries are profoundly unfair! They are shaped by the fact that it is the wealthy capitalists who own the media and disproportionately have the resources to fund political advertising, lobbyists, meeting venue hire and full-time activists. Forget Russian hacking, neither Trump nor Clinton would have even been in the running for president if they did not each have hundreds of millions in political funding from wealthy capitalists (in Trump’s case also including from his own fortune gained from cruelly exploiting workers) and the backing of Murdoch’s Fox media in Trump’s case and CNN, NBC, New York Times etc in Clinton’s case. That is why for us Marxist-Leninists: all elected presidents in capitalist America are not “legitimate”! The idea that some may be “legitimate” and others “illegitimate” is a whitewash of the fundamentally anti-working class nature of even the “cleanest” elections in any capitalist country.

What’s important to understand here in terms of U.S.-Russia ties is that the probe into the Trump campaign’s alleged links with Russia is not only about Democrats and mainstream conservatives trying to undermine their hard-right rivals but also, partly, about that faction of the U.S. exploiting class that wants an antagonistic line towards Russia trying to pressure the new Administration into bending to that line. And this tactic does work. For the moment, the Trump regime feels pressure to be seen to be not too close to Russia. Probably, a minor subsidiary reason for his air strike on Russia’s Syria ally is to be seen to be tough on Russia. Indeed, any ongoing plans that the Trump’s far-right co-thinkers have to forge an alliance with Russia will depend on the probe not showing any too serious links between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia and even then they will have to wait for the political impact of any probe revelations to fade away.  If the probe does “conclude” that there was significant collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government – whether that “conclusion” is actually true or not (!) – then this would likely kill off for a lengthy period any attempt by pro-Russia elements in the Trump regime to forge an alliance with Russia … if not kill off the Trump presidency itself!

In the event that the pro-Russia types can both win the day within the Trump regime and ride their way through the “Russian collusion” probe, they will have to find a way to mesh the interests of U.S. imperialism and those of the wanna-be-imperialist Russian ruling class. In Syria, the interests of the two powers clearly clash so a broader partnership between the two could only be made by one or the other side making concessions in other areas. However, even on the bigger picture Washington will have a problem in enlisting Moscow for the role it would want it to play: a force that joins in – or at least accepts – counterrevolutionary pressure against socialistic China and acts as a counterweight against America’s West European NATO allies cum economic rivals (especially Germany, the “ally” whom the U.S. was revealed to be spying on). The reason Russia’s capitalist ruling class will be reluctant to do both these things simultaneously boils down to one factor: oil/gas profits! The Russian capitalist class makes an absolute fortune from sending gas exports to both Europe and China. So it would be reluctant to enter an alliance that risks it losing these two sources of fabulous wealth simultaneously. Therefore, Moscow would find it hard to accept the whole of Washington’s program for what it wants Russia to do and would demand major concessions on one of several issues – such as Crimea, the Donbass or, indeed, Syria – for even partially accepting Washington’s broader international agenda.

Even if the U.S. and Russian ruling classes did manage to negotiate the mutual concessions needed for them to forge a partnership, would such an alliance actually last for any length of time or would it fly apart at the first test? This question simply cannot be answered in advance. Certainly, the long-term trend of capitalist powers is to thrash themselves into a frenzied rivalry. The fact that there are only a finite amount of markets, raw materials and sources of labour in the “Third World” that the different imperialist powers (and indeed would-be imperialist powers) are each trying to grab increasing shares for themselves of means that these capitalist powers are inevitably drawn into conflict with each other. This truth stands notwithstanding the efforts of modern day pseudo-socialists to resuscitate the dead, counterfeit “socialist” Karl Kautsky’s theory that capitalist powers could unite as one to amicably exploit the world together – a “theory” which Lenin so fiercely denounced. These latter-day continuators of Kautsky’s line posit that there is just one seamless, homogenous imperialist bloc in the world led by the USA. The truth, however, is that there are actually several discrete, often competing, capitalist powers who, after assessing their own separate predatory interests, have in many cases chosen to be, for the moment, in uneasy alliances with the strongest power, the U.S.A as well as with each other. As Lenin understood, even competing capitalists powers do seek alliances in order to better challenge other capitalist powers … and most significantly right now to more strongly threaten workers states (like, today, the Peoples Republic of China, Cuba and North Korea). So, although a U.S.-Russia alliance is rather unlikely right now it is not completely impossible.

In the, presently unlikely, event that such a U.S.-Russia alliance were to be forged it would have to be negotiated with a deal cut on Syria. Such a deal is then going to end up favouring the interests of one or the other capitalist military superpower or to involve some sort of mid-way compromise. It would be harder for Russia to back down since its intervention has been more direct in Syria and this is its one major area of prominent intervention whereas the U.S. has about half a dozen very high profile theatres where it is directly meddling. For Russia’s capitalist rulers to back down over Syria would, thus, be a big blow to its prestige as a major world power, the pursuit for which is a major motive for its intervention in the first place. However, it is possible that the U.S. and Russia could strike a deal whereby U.S. wishes are satisfied for a new regime that would allow greater economic exploitation of the country by U.S. corporations and a foreign policy more “synchronised” with U.S. “goals” for the region while, at the same time, guaranteeing Russia’s bases in the country, Russian influence in the choice of the new political set up and – most importantly for Moscow – recognising Russia’s role as a major world player that has been dominant in shaping the whole arrangement. A sign that such a deal is not completely impossible was indeed seen in February last year when Russia publicly rebuked Assad for saying that he wanted to re-capture the whole country from the pro-imperialist “Rebels”. Russia’s then UN envoy, the late Vitaly Churkin stated:

“Russia has invested very seriously in this crisis, politically, diplomatically and now also militarily.

“Therefore we would like Assad also to respond to this.”

Russia’s envoy even openly insisted that Assad now had to “follow Russia’s leadership” in resolving the crisis.

Following Trump’s unilateral missile strike, a U.S.-Russia rapprochement over Syria is now considerably less likely than it even was previously. Nevertheless, however improbable the scenario of Russia cutting a deal with the U.S. against Syria’s interests, it is our duty to warn other opponents of the imperialist takeover of Syria of this possibility. For armed with a scientific understanding of the nature of capitalist ruling classes and imbued with Lenin’s understanding that capitalists of more powerful countries are compelled to seek out new spheres of exploitation in the “Third World” in order to stave off economic crises at home, Marxist-Leninists – in contrast to Syrian nationalists or nominally anti-imperialist, Western liberals – are uniquely able to foresee both the full range of possibilities and to know what is, indeed, impossible (like a capitalist power acting out of benevolence when it makes a major intervention abroad). And if no one does anti-imperialist activists a favour and patiently explains to them – however uncomfortable they might be to hear it – the possibility that Russia in the future could cut a deal with the U.S. that stabs Syrian independence in the back, then these activists will be taken by surprise, demoralised and hence paralysed if such a scenario did indeed play out.

The Potential Anti-Imperialist Force is the Working Class

Guided by our Marxist-Leninist class analysis, Trotskyist Platform, even while stating that we should not be, at this time, opposing the Russian intervention in Syria and should indeed be, at the moment, happy it is taking place, opposes any illusions that capitalist Russia – or indeed any other capitalist power – can be the champion of anti-imperialism. The one world power that opponents of imperialism should be appealing to is the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). This is because, unlike the U.S.A, Australia and Russia, the PRC has a socialistic system. Although the PRC workers state is bureaucratically deformed and although China’s leadership has allowed too large a capitalist private sector into her economy, it is state-owned enterprises – based on collective ownership by all the PRC population – that still dominate the key sectors of the PRC economy. That means that although there will be the odd private sector capitalist intruding with greedy, selfish motives, any PRC intervention in Syria – or any other country – has, on the whole, no decisive material basis for a predatory, thieving agenda. This is why at actions against imperialist intervention in Syria, Trotskyist Platform has raised, among other slogans, appeals like the following: “Peoples Republic of China: Do Your Socialistic Duty and Stand Still More Strongly Against Western Imperialist Diplomatic and Military Intervention in Syria!”

China has provided some economic and minor military supplies to Syria in the face of the imperialist assault on her. It has also joined Russia in vetoing some Western-sponsored UN resolutions aimed at greasing the skids for imperialist-imposed regime change. Yet, China failed to condemn Trump’s recent missile strikes on Syria. Instead, China only made a neutral-sounding call to solve problems through negotiation. This reflects the Chinese government’s national-centred, ultimately suicidal strategy of trying to appease imperialism – a policy which it, in vain, hopes will entice the capitalist powers to pull back from attacking China’s building of socialism in her own country. Those within the Chinese leadership who most want to appease imperialism are, in general, those that want to allow greater openings for capitalism within China. On the other hand, there are many within China, including activists within the ruling Communist Party of China, who want a firm anti-imperialist policy as part of their commitment to fighting for socialism. The struggle for socialistic China to adopt an internationalist – and thus anti-imperialist – policy on Syria and other questions is, therefore, part of the fight to build a PRC government that will campaign for the revolutionary victory of the working class over capitalism abroad and will oversee a decisive weakening of the insurgent capitalist private sector at home.

While appealing to Red China, the main work here of opponents of imperialist attacks on Syria must be to mobilise the working class in opposition to the U.S./Australian intervention in the Middle East. It is possible to win politicised sections of the working class to this perspective because the imperialist intervention in Syria and Iraq is bad for working class people and bad for other oppressed groups in Australia including Aboriginal people and embattled Muslim and other targeted coloured communities. This predatory intervention abroad is pumping up the capitalist rulers to, at home, even more viciously attack workers’ rights, Aboriginal people and embattled minorities. Thus, the Middle East intervention is only good for Australia’s capitalist exploiting class. So let’s fight for workers action to demand: U.S., Australian, French, British, German and all imperialists: Get out of Syria and Iraq! No to military intervention! No to funding of “Rebel” Proxies! No to diplomatic meddling! Defend Syria against imperialist-imposed regime change!