France: “Communist” Party fails to Vote in Parliament against Imperialist War in Iraq!

By Michael Pröbsting, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 15.1.2015, www.thecommunists.net

 

The French parliament voted on 13 January in favor of continuing the country’s military intervention, as part of the US-led imperialist alliance, in Iraq against Islamists. As a result a French aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle is heading now to the Persian Gulf in order to launch more air strikes. In a speech onboard the aircraft carrier on 14 January, French President “Hollande told military personnel that the Charlie Hebdo massacre carried out by Islamic extremists last week ‘justifies the presence of our aircraft carrier.’” [1]

This is a clear escalation of France’s ongoing imperialist war in the Middle East.

The parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of continuing the imperialist war. The first vote in the lower house was approved with 488 votes in favor and only 1 (!) vote against (plus 13 abstentions). The senate rubber stamped the decision with 327 in favor and none (!) against.

The single vote against the war came from Jean-Pierre Gorges of the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP), a conservative party led by the former president Nicolas Sarkozy. Brett Wilkins from the Digital Journal reports: “Gorges also asserted that "emotion should not dictate [French] foreign policy" and that France could not be the "world's little policeman." "While it lacks the means to ensure safety in France, the army is sent into a conflict beyond our borders," he lamented. He added: ‘In a country in protracted crisis, common sense dictates that we devote our energy to our own problems before going to bomb the others.’[2]

However, according to the German News agency Deutsche Wellehis voice was drowned out by other vigorous defenders of the campaign.

As communists we know that this single deputy from Sarkozy’s party was not motivated by proletarian internationalism or solidarity with the Muslim people, but what is remarkable is that this pacifist-minded conservative deputy who voted against the war clearly stands to the left of the so-called Front de Gauche (FdG) and its main force – the Communist Party (PCF)! The FdG is a coalition of two left-reformist parties – the PCF and the Parti de Gauche (PdG) – as well as smaller reformist or centrist forces.

The deputies from the Front de Gauche and the PCF shamefully either abstained in the parliamentary vote on the extension of France’s war in Iraq or didn’t vote at all! [3]

In a statement, the PCF stated that “Communists are determined to stop violence and armed Islamist groups.” To achieve this “we”, i.e. the French imperialist state, “need a comprehensive strategy with political responses, social, economic, diplomatic, and not just the military”. [4]

Characteristically, the cowardly ex-Stalinist PCF leadership didn’t dare to state in their press communiqué that they didn’t vote against the extension of France war adventures in Iraq!

The FdG/PCF capitulation to the imperialist war drive in Iraq isn’t the first nor will it be the last. As “communists” in words and supporters of French imperialism in deeds, they supported as a government party in 2001 France’s participation in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan as they supported France’s military adventures in Africa since 2013.

The vote is also only the logical consequence of the PCF’s support for the call of the social-democratic government of President Hollande for “national unity” in the wake of the jihadist attack against the liberal-racist magazine Charlie Hebdo in which a number of journalist and police men were killed on 7 January.

As we explained in our statement, the RCIT opposed these attacks. [5] At the same time, we sharply condemned the French left which nearly unanimously solidarized with the reactionary magazine Charlie Hebdo which is notorious for publishing racist and sexist cartoons – particularly directed against Muslim people. The FdG/PCF called for support for the pro-imperialist demonstration in Paris on 11 January which was led by – among others – the leaders of the Western imperialist governments plus the war-criminal, Israel’s President Benjamin Netanjahu.

The meaning of the FdG/PCF capitulation to the imperialist war drive in Iraq is not limited to France. It has a European-wide significance since the Front de Gauche and the PCF constitute a key part of the Party of the European Left (PEL). Unsurprisingly, the PEL completely endorses the FdG/PCF course of support for the racist magazine Charlie Hebdo and its praise for the French imperialist state. In its statement from 9 January, PEL condemns the attack as an assault on the “republican values” of France – i.e. those “republican values” which made France one of the leading colonial powers in the 19th and 20th century and one of the G7 powers – the leading Western imperialist states – today. These are the same “republican values” which make France a country where migrants are systematically oppressed and super-exploited!

Instead of denouncing the racism of Charlie Hebdo the PEL leadership characterized the magazine’s editors as “friends of liberty and humour, critical spirits which roles are indispensable in a democracy. (…) In decimating Charlie Hebdo these obscurantists have attack the democracy, the freedom of press, the right to caricature. We have trust in the French society to be able to prevent falling into the trap of hate and division, thanks to the values of the Republic ‘Liberté, galité, Fraternité’[6]

For all these reasons it is hardly surprising that the Austrian sister party of the PEL, the Communist Party of Austria, has repeatedly attacked the Austrian RCIT section in recent months as “anti-Semitic” and “maniacs” because of its support for the Palestinian resistance against Israel and because of its consistent opposition against Obama’s new crusade in the Middle East. [7]

The vote and corresponding statements of the FdG/PCF and the PEL confirms the following lessons:

1) It demonstrates the reactionary character of the jihadist attack against the liberal-racist magazine Charlie Hebdo in which a number of journalist and police men were killed. As we explained in our statement on this attack, it would “rather serve as a pretext for the imperialist government to mobilize the armed-state apparatus, to create a climate of public support for anti-Muslim terrorist attacks and imperialist wars, and to restrict the democratic rights and increase the surveillance of Muslim migrants and all progressive forces.” We now see that the attack makes it easier for the government to justify domestic repression, and imperialist war in the Middle East.

2) The reactionary jihadist attack also makes it easier for the leading parties of the workers movement to justify their capitulation to imperialism and the ruling class.

3) The last few days have once again shown the reactionary character of the FdG/PCF and the PEL. These ex-Stalinist forces like to present themselves as anti-racist and anti-war parties. But when push comes to shove, these reformist forces capitulate to the imperialist ruling class and its wars. Workers and migrants in France can expect nothing from them. These parties are servants of the ruling class inside the workers movement.

In order to fight effectively against these enemies of the working class in France as well as of the oppressed people in the Middle East it is urgent to build new revolutionary parties – in France and world-wide. Only such parties – as part of the Fifth Workers International – can fight for a consistent program of equality for migrants and for the defeat of imperialism in the Middle East. Only a revolutionary party can fight against reactionary Islamists while simultaneously fighting against the imperialists. Only such a revolutionary party can lead the workers and the oppressed towards liberation.

The RCIT call on revolutionaries in France and around the world to rally together in order to fight for a program of socialist revolution.

 



[1] Russia Today: France sends Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier for anti-ISIS op in Iraq, January 14, 2015 http://rt.com/news/222647-hollande-aircraft-carrier-islamic-state/

[2] Brett Wilkins: Jean-Pierre Gorges, French parliament's lone voice for peace,, Digital Journal, 2015-01-14, http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/op-ed-jean-pierre-gorges-french-parliament-s-lone-voice-for-peace/article/423496

[3] See ANF: France extends role in air strikes against ISIS, 14.01.2015, http://en.firatajans.com/news/news/france-extends-role-in-air-strikes-against-isis.htm. Martine Billard, the PdG’s International Secretary, claimed on the day of the vote: “The PdG therefore calls to reject the extension of the current French intervention.” (Martine Billard: Irak: les bombardements ne sont pas la solution, 13.1.2015, https://www.lepartidegauche.fr/actualites/communique/appel-rejeter-la-prolongation-l-intervention-francaise-en-irak-31217) However, given the fact that the PdG doesn’t have a single deputy in parliament – their only member in the FdG parliamentary group, Marc Dolez, deserted them – they didn’t have to fear any practical consequences of their “anti-war” stand.

[4] PCF : Irak : sortir du piège de la guerre sans fin, http://www.pcf.fr/64738

[5] RCIT: France after the Attacks in Paris: Defend the Muslim People against Imperialist Wars, Chauvinist Hatemongering, and State Repression! 9.1.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/statement-paris-attacks/

[6] Party of the European Left: Charlie Hebdo: The French Republic and its values are stronger than the hate , 9.1.2015, http://www.european-left.org/positions/news-archive/charlie-hebdo-french-republic-and-its-values-are-stronger-hate

[7] See on this from the Austrian Communist Party: Roland Steixner: "Revolutionärer" Wahnsinn, KPÖ, 08.10.2014, http://www.kpoe.at/home/anzeige/datum/2014/10/08/revolutionaerer-wahnsinn.html as well as KPÖ Wien: Stoppt das Morden - Gewalt ist keine Lösung, 18. Juli 2014, http://wien.kpoe.at/article.php/stoppt-das-morden---gewalt-ist-keine-los.

Our replies in German language can be read here: Michael Pröbsting: Die KPÖ und Obamas Krieg im Nahen Osten. Antwort auf eine neuerliche KPÖ-Polemik gegen die RKO BEFREIUNG, 25.10.2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/home/deutsch/kpo-naher-osten/ as well as Michael Pröbsting: Gaza-Krieg: Israel-freundliche KPÖ verleumdet erneut die RKO-BEFREIUNG, 25.7.2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/home/deutsch/kpo-und-israel/

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