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Commissar Wolfowitz.

Most Americans care little what label is used to describe the guerrillas responsible for daily attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq. For Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, however, this detail is far from trivial. Visiting Baghdad in late July, he pointedly told U.S. officials and reporters to refer to Iraqi guerrillas not as "resistance" fighters, but rather as "forces of reaction." Wolfowitz's insistence on using that phrase--one foreign to most Americans--says a lot about his political pedigree.

The same phrase favored by Wolfowitz found its way into a November 4, 1956 radio address by Janos Kadar, the Soviet stooge installed in Budapest following Hungary's abortive anti-Communist uprising. Kadar announced that his puppet regime had "requested... the Soviet Army Command to help our nation in smashing the sinister forces of reaction and [o restore order and calm."

The expression figured prominently in an editorial published on the same day in the Soviet newspaper Pravda. For page after tedious page, Pravda's propaganda hacks wove an elaborate narrative of the evil acts carded out by the "forces of reaction," accused of "trying to destroy the socialist conquests of the workers and to restore capitalism in the country.... The anti-popular elements, hiding behind the false mask of 'freedom fighters,' are trying to deceive the working classes and gain their support...."

Shortly after the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, The Worker--the daily newspaper of the American Communist Party--laid that crime at the feet of "the forces of reaction within our country who constitute the extreme right band of the political spectrum," who were "the enemies of the people's progress...."

The Kremlin and its agents of influence used similar language to describe any setback experienced by the "forces of progress"--that is, the worldwide Communist movement. Accordingly, the September 1973 Chilean coup that overthrew Salvador Allende's Marxist regime was supposedly the sinister work of "the forces of reaction and imperialism." When, in the mid-1980s, Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe confiscated farms and consolidated power, he announced his determination to destroy "all the forces of reaction bent on destruction and division of the Zimbabwean people for parochial and other personal gains."

Obviously, the Iraqi guerrillas killing our men have little if anything in common with the heroic Hungarian freedom fighters of 1956, or others who bravely resisted Communism. But Wolfowitz has more than a little in common with the Communists who applied that label to their adversaries. He is the most prominent representative of the neoconservative faction within the Bush administration.

The neocons trace their political lineage back to Leon Trotsky, a founder of the Soviet Union and chief architect of the Soviet Red Army. Before dying in Mexico City in 1940 at the hand of an assassin dispatched by Stalin, Trotsky had assembled a movement called the Fourth International promoting a "permanent revolution" around the globe.

In a June 7th essay published in Canada's National Post entitled "Trotsky's Ghost Wandering the White House," reporter Jeer Heer observes that "thinkers shaped by the tradition of the Fourth International" were very influential in shaping the Bush administration's policy toward Iraq. Heer points out that Wolfowitz's political mentors included American Trotskyites Max Shachtman and Albert Wohlstetter. In preparing for the Iraqi invasion, Heer continues, Wolfowitz frequently consulted Fourth International academic Kanan Makiya when "seeking advice about Iraqi society...."

Trotskyite writer Stephen Schwartz of National Review, supposedly the flagship journal of respectable conservatism, "observes that in certain Washington circles, the ghost of Trotsky still hovers around," writes Heer. Schwartz, who speaks affectionately of Trotsky as "the old man" and "L.D." (initials for Lev Davidovich Bronstein, Trotsky's birth name), told Heer of "exchang[ing] banter with Wolfowitz about Trotsky, the Moscow Trials and Max Shachtman" during a Washington party last February.

Interestingly, Heer notes that Schwartz "finds support for the idea of pre-emptive war in the old Bolshevik [that is, Trotsky's] writings." It's also of more than passing interest that L. Paul Bremer, the Bush administration's colonial overseer in Iraq, appointed Communist Party official Hamid Majid Mussa to occupy a seat on Iraq's Governing Council. An adviser to Bremer told the press that this appointment was intended to "provide a counterweight to the imams"--that is, the Muslim religious leaders who also have places on the council. But the same would be true of members of Saddam Hussein's secular Ba'athist party.

Granted, Saddam's party was a bloody-handed criminal syndicate responsible for unspeakably hideous acts of terror against its subject population. But the same is true of the Communist Party anywhere it has come to power. Why, then, is it acceptable to have a Communist, but not a Ba'athist, sitting on Iraq's Governing Council? As Commissar Wolfowitz might say, it's because the Communists represent the "forces of progress," while the Ba'athists embody the "forces of reaction."
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Title Annotation:The Last Word
Author:Grigg, William Norman
Publication:The New American
Date:Aug 25, 2003
Words:798
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