World politics shifting since Oct. 7 pogrom

By Roy Landersen
February 5, 2024
Volunteer rescue workers carry survivor from building hit by Russian rocket attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Jan. 2. Invasion of Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin in February 2022 shook imperialist world “order,” accelerating war preparations by capitalist powers worldwide.
AP/Evgeniy MaloletkaVolunteer rescue workers carry survivor from building hit by Russian rocket attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Jan. 2. Invasion of Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin in February 2022 shook imperialist world “order,” accelerating war preparations by capitalist powers worldwide.

Alongside Moscow’s murderous invasion of Ukraine, Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre of Jews in Israel — backed and promoted by the rulers in Iran — marked a watershed in world politics. The subsequent acceleration of military conflicts in the Middle East and mounting tensions between rival capitalist powers globally, ensures the world can never go back to the way it was before the Hamas pogrom.

Today Washington is being drawn more deeply into conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere as it seeks to protect its weakened but still dominant place in an increasingly unstable imperialist world “order,” and advance its own economic and political interests. The U.S. rulers wield unmatched military power and have shown a willingness to use it from Vietnam to Iraq.

The root of Israel’s war to defeat Hamas lies in facing the expansionist course of the bourgeois clerical regime in Iran. Over decades Tehran has backed militias based among Shiite Muslims in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen to advance its interests against all rivals, and to pursue its goal of eliminating Israel and the Jews.

Tehran orchestrated Hamas’ Oct. 7 pogrom, the largest one-day massacre of Jews since the Nazi Holocaust, with the aim of provoking an Israeli response and preventing the government of Saudi Arabia from pursuing talks to normalize diplomatic and trade relations with Israel.

“As threats of a wider war spread — accompanied by rising Jew-hatred — the stakes grow for workers to chart a course that can prevent more deadly conflicts, including the use of nuclear weapons,” Naomi Craine, the Socialist Workers Party’s candidate for U.S. Congress from Illinois, told the Militant Jan. 22. “The only solution is for the workers here and around the world to build parties that can lead tens of millions of working people to take political power into our own hands. Socialist revolution is the only way to disarm all the capitalist warmakers.”

Iranian rulers launch airstrikes

Examples of these developments abound, posing the threat of new conflicts and wider wars. Senior Iranian commanders were among five Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps members killed in a missile strike in Damascus Jan. 20, which Tehran blamed on Israel.

In Lebanon, an Israeli strike hit an Iran-backed Hezbollah militia position. The same day, missiles launched by Iran-backed militants in Iraq targeted U.S. forces at the al-Asad air base there, causing several injuries.

Tehran also launched a missile attack inside Pakistan Jan. 16, targeting the Baluchistan province and killing two people. Baluchis are a mostly Sunni-Muslim oppressed nationality in both Iran and Pakistan. The Pakistani rulers retaliated with a strike two days later at a Baluchi area inside Iran.

In mid-January, Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria fired dozens of rockets at U.S. bases there. Washington responded with a strike that killed a top Iraqi militia commander. Tehran is trying to get U.S. and other foreign troops expelled from Iraq by Baghdad. The Iranian rulers also launched airstrikes into Iraqi Kurdistan, leading hundreds in Erbil, the capital, to protest Tehran’s intervention Jan. 16.

Iranian forces seized an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman Jan. 11 and took it to an Iranian port, saying it was retaliation for Washington’s confiscation of the same vessel and its oil last year.

U.S. and U.K. forces launched airstrikes against eight Tehran-backed Houthi targets in Yemen Jan. 22, in retaliation for Houthi assaults on ships in the Red Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

Since Oct. 7, the Houthis began targeting what they claimed were “Israeli-linked” vessels, seizing one of them. Dozens of Houthi rocket attacks aimed at Israel have been mostly shot down by U.S. warships.

These conflicts in the Middle East are unfolding as the rival governments that make up the BRICS alliance — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — have won new allies to join their bloc, which was set up to challenge Washington’s supremacy. Middle-class radicals who look to the capitalist powers in BRICS as a counterweight to U.S. imperialism are at the forefront of actions around the world denouncing Israel and defending Hamas’ slaughter of Jews.

Military conflicts, shifting alliances

Tensions between rival capitalist powers have been ratcheting up worldwide since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the first major war in Europe since the imperialist slaughter in World War II. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions extend beyond conquering Ukraine to much of Eastern Europe, once under Moscow’s domination under Joseph Stalin.

Today Moscow is deepening ties with the government of North Korea as well as Tehran, acquiring drones and missiles from both for its assaults on Ukraine.

In addition, the U.S. rulers confront Beijing’s economic clout and its accelerating military buildup in the Pacific. Chinese President Xi Jinping is stepping up Beijing’s threats to seize the self-governing island of Taiwan. In his New Year’s address Xi stated that Taiwan’s “reunification” with China “is a historical inevitability.” The administration of President Joseph Biden has repeatedly vowed to respond militarily if Beijing invades.

“Political and military alignments — ‘spheres of influence’ that had shaped the global imperialist order since World War II — are being shaken and new alliances between competing powers put together,” says the 2022 political resolution adopted by the Socialist Workers Party. It’s printed in The Low Point of Labor Resistance Is Behind Us: The Socialist Workers Party Looks Forward by party leaders Jack Barnes, Mary-Alice Waters and Steve Clark.

The resolution explains that the “threat of an expanded conflagration” is posed by Tehran’s “declared aim of eliminating the State of Israel, home to nearly half the world’s Jews.” The most important curb to this danger is Iran’s working people of all nationalities who have been protesting for years “in defiance of the regime and all its wings.”