The economic, financial, political, social and moral costs incurred by US imperialism in the “global war on terror” should provide important lessons to the American people. They should be aware that these costs have accelerated the strategic decline of US imperialism, have aggravated the crisis of the US ruling system of the monopoly bourgeoisie and have escalated the conditions of exploitation and oppression, especially at this time of the Covid-19 pandemic.

They should hasten the development of the revolutionary party of the proletariat and mass formations, wage mass struggles to oppose imperialism, neoliberalism, state terrorism and fascism and wars of aggression and move in the direction of socialism. What they must do in the US, the peoples of other imperialist countries must likewise do because their governments are complicit with the US government in carrying out the “war on terror” and suffer from the same basic problems inflicted by monopoly capitalism. The people in all the imperialist countries must fight imperialism and all reaction in solidarity with the people in the global South.

There are plenty of lessons that can be learned by the peoples and movements for national and social liberation in the global South from the victorious struggles of the peoples who have prevailed over the global war on terror unleashed by US imperialism and its allies in Afghanistan and Iraq, the two main war zones in the so-called global war on terror. Such lessons can be major and minor or strategic and tactical. I will try to cite the major and strategic lessons.

To prevail over a war of aggression and occupation by US imperialism, such as in Afghanistan and Iraq, there must be a resolute national leadership of the people’s resistance. Such a leadership arose first in Afghanistan through the mujahedin in the period of struggle against the Soviet social imperialist aggression and invasion and against the puppet Afghan government and subsequently through the Taliban in the period of struggle against the US-NATO aggression and occupation and the puppet government.

There was a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist formation in Afghanistan that had come from the Progressive Youth Organization that arose in 1965. It was good at opposing Soviet modern revisionism and social imperialism and its puppet party, the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan. But it did not do well in developing a united front with other secular progressive and patriotic forces. It was also good at opposing the ultra-reactionary anti-communist groups. But it did not do well in developing a united front with modernist Islamic groups that were truly patriotic and progressive.

It is not enough to adhere to the ideology of Marxist-Leninist-Maoism. It has to be applied in the concrete analysis of concrete conditions in a particular country and must be translated into a political program of action that targets the basic problems of the people and that can guide the arousal, organization and mobilization of the masses. A dogmatic party that knows only to spout anti-revisionist and anti-religious slogans cannot arrive at the correct mass line in the sphere of revolutionary politics.

The Maoists were burdened principally by the lack of correct mass line to overcome the mujahedin’s Islamist line of anti-communism and anti-atheism and only secondarily by the lack or paucity of means, such as the weapons and funds more readily available to the mujahedin from US sources and were sidelined by the mujahedin’s Islamist line of anticommunism and anti-atheism. Resources are gained by advances in the people’s war and in the building of a people’s government in the countryside.

The Taliban was an offshoot of the mujahedin and was able to assume leadership of the Afghan government from 1996 to 2001. It was able to retreat from Kabul to preserve its forces and regroup itself for guerrilla warfare and maintain a government parallel to the US-NATO occupation and the Afghan puppet government. It persevered in national resistance for 20 years and frustrated the attempts of the US to destroy it and to profit from the colonial domination of Afghanistan.

In the case of Iraq, when the US and NATO forces carried out their invasion in 2002, there was no revolutionary party of the proletariat but the pro-Soviet communist party which was docile to the Saddam regime. The foreign aggressors used their military superiority to succeed in their aggression and then proceeded to augment their strength by turning the Shiites and Kurds against the Sunni-dominated Saddam regime. Eventually, the Baath Party of the fallen Saddam struggled fiercely in Fallujah against the US and the Shiite dominated government and made it costly for the US to continue fighting on the ground.

The US continued to use the Shiite-dominated government against the Sunni resistance. But eventually the Iraqi government became more assertive, became friendly to the similarly Shiite-dominated government of Iran and did not let the US to take over the oil wells of Iraq and to maintain 15 military bases as the US had earlier wished. It became clear to the US after a few years that its aggression against Iraq was unprofitable despite the massive destruction of lives and social infrastructure wrought by US weapons of mass destruction.

The resolute leadership in the national resistance must have a general political line to unite the broad masses of the people against the foreign aggressors and their puppets and must have the correct strategy and tactics to make the enemy bleed from a thousand wounds. Extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare for as long as necessary is the way to fight the enemy that has the large military formations and the high-tech weaponry.

It is also the way to build a resistance government parallel to the puppet government of the aggressors and lay the basis for the larger units for mobile guerrilla warfare, which will in turn develop into the strategic offensive to clinch total victory. The enemy has expensive high-tech weaponry but his best weapons in the sky can be brought down by far cheaper means, like the Vietnamese bringing down 10,000 US helicopters and other aircraft in 1969 and the Afghan mujahedin bringing down the Soviet planes with the US-made Stinger.

Most decisive in the resistance against the militarily superior but unjust enemy is to have the participation and support of the broad masses of the people. To obtain this, the leadership of the resistance must have the correct political line to arouse, organize and mobilize the people and to build alliances of definite patriotic parties, mass formations and communities. Marxist-Leninists are renowned for having a revolutionary class line in building the united front. But if there is no competent Marxist-Leninist party to take the initiative, the available patriotic party and movement will certainly develop the ways of uniting the people against the enemy.

If in a given period in the history of a country like Afghanistan or Iraq the revolutionary party of the proletariat cannot yet assume the leadership, the basic problems, the class contradictions and crisis of the domestic ruling system will persist and will generate the conditions and opportunities for the Marxist-Leninist party to arise and develop. The people in the global South who have not yet achieved full national and social liberation and continue to suffer oppression and exploitation will be impelled by their own needs to wage revolutionary struggle and to respond to the call for revolution as the crisis of the domestic ruling system and the world capitalist system worsens.


By Prof. Jose Maria Sison

ILPS Chairperson Emeritus