November 7, 2007
Jihad and the American LeftBy J.R. Dunn
A few weeks ago a meeting occurred between Iranian mullahs and assorted international left-wing figures in hopes of generating some sort of "revolutionary solidarity". The guests of honor were the children of Che Guevera, Aleida and Camilo. The attempt ended in unintentional comedy when one of the mullahs present began to praise Che for his hatred for the Soviet Union, his loathing of socialism and communism, and his "godliness".
When Aleida Guevara protested, the Iranians threw both her and her brother out, and the affair fell apart.
This isn't the first time the Iranians have attempted a hookup with the international left. Ahmadenijad has been visited recently by both Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega. The results were not all that more impressive than those of the conference, Chavez being a clown and Danny Ortega's glory days long behind him, despite his recent presidential victory. But it does clearly show how seriously the Iranians take the Western left, and how much they would value a relationship.
No Americans were present at the conference, no doubt due to ingrained Iranian hostility. But the question naturally arises: how open would the American left be to an alliance with the Iranian mullahs, and beyond them, the movement in which they play such a large role, Islamofascism?
At first glance, it might appear unlikely, the Jihadis being noted for such non-progressive activities as oppression of women, persecution of minorities, and the execution of homosexuals. But that kind of thing has never stopped the left before - their sole criterion has always been whether or not the other party is useful. It can safely be assumed that the mullahs feel the same way.
Up until now, the left has satisfied itself in responding to the War on Terror by attacking government actions, employing the Vietnam myth, and inciting as much domestic paranoia as humanly possible. But they're getting more frantic. Time has passed, and they have failed to generate anything like a mass movement, while recent successes in guarantee they never will. There's plenty of precedent for left-wing support of Islamic radicals, scattered and sporadic, but undeniable all the same. Recall Michael Moore's characterization of Al-Queda in Iraq as "Minutemen." Consider the left's defense of John Walker Lindh. Consider the self-styled "human shields" who raced to protect Saddam Hussein. Or the effort that has been put into undermining U.S. programs to combat the terrorist threat, such as rendition, wiretapping, and profiling.
How large a step does it take to get from where the left is now to where the Jihadis would like them to be? And would they dare take that step?
The Ugly History of Leftist Betrayal
They've certainly shown no hesitation in the past. Left-wing collaboration with movements hostile to the U.S. goes back to the early days of the Communist Party. In the 1930s, party members and sympathizers were often recruited by either the NKVD (ancestor to the KGB) or the GRU, Soviet military intelligence, who encouraged them to break overt ties with the party and establish themselves in positions of intelligence value. Alger Hiss joined the State Department, Harry Dexter White and Lauchlin Currie joined the Treasury Department, Owen Lattimore served in a number of positions where his Far Eastern expertise proved useful.
Hundreds of others joined them at all levels of the government, searching out valuable intelligence and influencing government policy vis-a-vis the Soviet Union. They were at length exposed by Walter Krivitsky (assassinated by Soviet agents in a Washington hotel in 1940), Igor Gouzenko, and Whittaker Chambers, among others. Those revelations were confirmed by the Venona decrypts, in which the U.S. Army obtained a Soviet code book and used it to decrypt thousands of coded messages going back to the 30s. Though American leftists succeeded in obscuring the issue for generations, release of the decrypts in the early 90s demonstrated that cooperation between American communists and the Soviets was both broad and deep.
Most disturbing was the period of the pact. In late August 1939, Hitler and Stalin signed a Nonaggression Pact, clearing the way for Hitler to move into Poland. Stalin, for his part, got eastern Poland and the Baltic states. International communism, for years oriented toward resistance to fascism, made an instantaneous 180-degree turn. For two years, while Hitler chewed up Europe, threatened Britain, and made preparations for the Holocaust, communists across the world, including the U.S., offered direct support to the Third Reich. Not until Hitler turned against his late partner on June 22, 1941 did the left resume its anti-Nazi stance. It would be interesting to hear an explanation for these events in terms of the left's much-vaunted decency, humanity, and moral superiority, but echo answereth not.
The "New Left"
The New Left, born at Port Huron, Michigan in 1962, was supposed to be something totally different from the old communists. An American left, addressing American concerns, in no way beholden to foreign influences. While that may have been the plan, the record shows otherwise. During the Vietnam War the New Left acted in direct support of North Vietnam, a nation engaged in open hostilities with the United States. Tom Hayden, Mary McGrory, Joan Baez, and, most notoriously, Jane Fonda, traveled to North Vietnam to offer assistance to the communists while lacerating their own country. But it went deeper than that. Evidence exists that the New Leftists coordinated their activities -- demonstrations, speeches, student strikes -- with the North Vietnamese communists through contacts in Hanoi, Moscow, and, during the peace talks, in Paris. They may have even stooped lower. POWs from the infamous Hanoi Hilton tell of hearing American voices discussing their answers during interrogations. Men may well have died under communist boots and truncheons because of the actions of these people. As it stands today, we are unlikely ever to know for sure.
During the early 80s (for some unfathomable reason, events of this type seem to recur at two-decade intervals) the last major Cold War crisis centered on Europe. The Soviets had emplaced a new generation of nuclear missiles, the SS-20. The U.S. needed to replace its own weapons, designs twenty years old or more. The Pershing II and a new class of terrain-hugging cruise missile the Soviets could not match were due to be deployed by the mid-80s.
As these plans were being completed, a large-scale public movement arose "spontaneously" in both Europe and the U.S. -- the Nuclear Freeze, demanding that the number of weapons on all sides and in all regions be frozen at the current level as a first step toward disarmament. This was, needless to say, no coincidence.
The entire campaign was a KGB operation, directed from the Washington embassy, the New York consulate, and their equivalents across Europe. This was understood by many at the time, and widely published, including a major story in no less than the pre-Pinch New York Times. It made no difference; literally hundred s of thousands marched and protested, chanting slogans carefully drawn up by KGB propagandists.
But the protestors ran smack into an immoveable object -- more than one, as a matter of fact. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher refused to back down. They persuaded the NATO allies to hold true to their commitments. The missiles went in. The Soviets were caught in their own trap, confronting a NATO even stronger than before they began their machinations. (Along with the Strategic Defense Initiative, a missile-defense proposal artfully designed to undercut not only the USSR, but the protestors themselves.) They never did work their way out. By the end of the decade, the Soviet Union was one with the Romanovs.
There' s no lack of other examples. The Venceremos Brigade was made up of Americans who annually traveled to Castro's Cuba to assist in the sugar cane harvest and other revolutionary chores. None ever ventured to the Isle of Pines, the largest concentration camp in the Western hemisphere, holding over 10,000 "enemies of the people". The "Sandalistas" went to communist Nicaragua "to assist the revolution". Some of them fulfilled this promise by carrying Kalashnikovs with Sandinista patrols. Whether they assisted their hosts with various massacres against villages sympathetic to the Contras or the English-speaking Miskito Indians is unknown.
The record is clear, and can be read only one way. At almost every opportunity, the American hard left has sided with the men of blood. It's as if that was the only criteria, as if everything else, aims, beliefs, methods, or principles, was utterly beside the point. Dig up a mass ideological killer, and the Yankee rojo will be there to sign on that dotted line.
Can Leftists Cozy Up with Jihadis?
It will happen again. They will find their way. Hatred of women, the tormenting of homosexuals, the violation of all known human rights and everyday degradation of the human spirit -- none of that matters. It has never mattered before.
(Leftist persecution of homosexuals -- offered such wide-ranging leftist support in this country -- deserves a chapter of its own. In the mid-1930s Andre Gide, Nobel-winning novelist and one of the first homosexuals to live completely "out", was invited to the USSR, assured by his hosts that homosexuality was perfectly acceptable in the worker's paradise. A few conversations with others of his inclination revealed the horrifying truth, which included brutality, arrests, and disappearances into the Gulag. Gide returned to France and wrote a scathing polemic Le Retour de l' URSS, condemning the entire Soviet experiment.
In China, the Red Guards amused themselves by hunting down homosexuals and beating them to death. Romania attempted to annihilate its homosexual population through death by forced labor. On the Isle of Pines, Castro constructed special facilities in which homosexuals were subject to biological experimentation. The noted Cuban cinematographer, Nestor Almendros, filmed a documentary, Improper Conduct, which dealt in detail with these abuses. Though widely shown in the 80s, it is today utterly forgotten. If any left-wing protest against these crimes was ever made, no record of it exists. So much for leftist sympathy for gays.)
The sole possible drawback to a left-jihadi alliance would be, as occurred at the Tehran conference, friction between ideology and religion. Jihadis are religious fanatics. By definition, their ideology is bound up in their distorted interpretation of Islam. But leftist ideology is infinitely malleable. It can adapt to just about anything, as it adapted, for a short time, to the dogma it has always insisted was its polar opposite, German Nazism. As Arkady Schevchenko wrote in his memoirs Breaking With Moscow, "The dialectic can be used to justify any evil."
What form would such support take? The mind shies away from the possibility that leftists may adapt an active role, that they may choose to aid the Jihadis in carrying out actual terrorist actions. But we need only consider Lindh, or the "American Al-Queda", Adam Gadahn, to realize that the possibility exists. The left has always preyed on the disaffected, the alienated, and the disturbed. It takes little effort to turn such people against their own neighbors, as the record of the Communist Party, the new Left, and the Sandalistas clearly reveals.
Eventually, the Jihadis will realize -- if they haven't already -- that this reservoir exists and is ready for exploitation. When this occurs, we will have to deal with it. We'll have to do a more effective job than previously. The red scare scraped up far more in the way of dilettantes and damaged personalities than it did acting communists. (Most of them had been bagged already.) During the New Left period, next to nothing was done and the Yippies ran riot. Serious social damage resulted in both cases. We need a method of isolating the threat without dragging in bystanders and plain fools. This is more sophisticated epoch than even forty years ago. We can do better.
One thing we can be sure of. If the left does line up with the Jihadis, as they did with Castro and the Viet Cong, it will be the end. Leftism survived the purges, the Hitler-Stalin pact, the Freeze, it even survived the final collapse of the Soviet Union. It won't survive this.
Victory in the War on Terror may not only bring the end of Islamic medievalism, but the last of ideological leftism. That'll be something worth seeing.
Note: A curious historical precedent exists for a left/Jiahdi axis: the Anglo-Arabs, Britons of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who were so enamored of the Arabs and their way of life that they abandoned Britain to live among them. These include of course, Lawrence of Arabia, Gertrude Bell, who acted as trusted diplomat to the Arab sheiks, and John Glubb Pasha, father of the Jordanian Army, but also St. John Philby, the leading Arabist of his day and the father of Kim Philby, probably the most effective traitor ever employed by the KGB.
J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker.