Reviews by dfsiopmhy6

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									                 Reviews                                         Marxism Today    January 1983   45




                                                   the Middle East to the Horn of Africa. As
                                                   the title indicates, he builds his analysis
                                                   round an examination of Reagan's extrava-
                                                   gant claim that 'The Soviet Union underlies
                                                   all the unrest that is going on. If they weren't
                                                   engaged in this game of dominoes, there
                                                   wouldn't be any hot spots in the world'.
                                                      I thought Halliday's polemical device of
                                                   'knocking down an aunt sally' cramped his
                                                   analysis considerably. Even though the reds-
                                                   under-the-bed claim is a standard propa-
                                                   ganda line against any attempt, foreign or
                                                   domestic, to change the established order, it
                                                   does not form the substance of serious for-
                                                   eign policy analysis by the US adminis-
                                                   tration, let alone by experienced West
                                                   European governments which are more real-
                                                   istic in their assessments. True to character,
                                                   this aunt sally is not a worthy target for
                                                   sustained attack. Moreover, by assembling
                                                   his arguments to 'knock down' the view that
                                                   the Soviet Union is a threat to Western inter-
                                                   ests, he is diverted from developing a more
                                                    rounded and positive critique of 'the connec-
                                                   tion between regional political devel-
                                                    opments and Soviet policy in the area' which
THREAT FROM THE EAST?                               he claims as his central theme.
Fred Halliday                                          The book is, however, a rich cornucopia of
Pelican, 1982 pbk£1.75                              firsthand information on events and policies
014022448                                           in a part of the world which has become a
                                                    focus of the new 'cold war'. It is, of course, a
                                                    great pity that Halliday was not able to draw
After his valuable studies of social and politi-    on a study of the Palestinians, similar to his
cal change in the Arabian peninsula, Iran,
and Ethiopia,1 Fred Halliday takes up the
                                                   1
question of the impact made by Soviet for-          Arabia without Sultans, 1975; Iran: Dicta-
eign policy on events throughout this Arc of       torship and Development, 1979; Revolution in
Crisis that curves from Afghanistan through        Ethiopia, 1982.
46   January 1983   Marxism Today                                  Reviews

extensively researched studies of the four          military power through the role played by            The expulsion of the Palestinians from
Arc countries 'that are normally singled out        Western governments and multinationals in         Lebanon by Israel with the passive acquies-
as cases of Soviet instigation', in view of         the production, purchase, and sale of oil, the    cence of the Arab states and the negotiation
their crucial role in the area. From his empi-      recycling of oil funds, technology exports,       of at least a temporary solution to the crisis
rical analysis Halliday concludes that,             arms sales, and military bases. Their sup-        by the United States to the total exclusion of
although the Soviet Union acts in its own           port for reactionary regimes has been and         the Soviet Union has marked the end of an
interests as a major world power, it cannot         still is a key factor adversely affecting the     era of postwar hopes — and in too many
be regarded as a threat to Western interests;       domestic balance of class forces. The crea-       cases illusions — that the rising tide of
firstly, because domestic factors have been         tion of Israel in Palestine, as a direct conse-   national liberation would lead to socialism.
the main cause of political upheaval in the         quence of anti-semitism in Europe, and its        To my mind, the persisting strength of
Arc and, secondly, because the Soviet Union         development as an economic and military           imperialism is well demonstrated by Brit-
has largely failed to win reliable allies there.    strongpoint for neo-imperialism has been a        ain's ability both to accommodate aspira-
He further concludes that, on the contrary,         determinant factor impeding the Palestini-        tions within the capitalist world system —
it is the United States which is the chief          ans' right to nationhood, in particular, and      example, Carrington's initiative on recogni-
external catalyst of popular explosions of          Arab national independence, in general.           tion of the PLO — and to mount a show of
'unrest'.                                           Thus, imperialism is still a fundamental          strength — example, the successful Falk-
   Though Halliday views the Soviet                 cause of conflict in the Arc.                     lands exercise in organising a 'rapid deploy-
Union's role in the Arc of Crisis more sym-            To be sure, a new historical element of        ment force' as the modern instrument of
pathetically than that of the United States,        nationalist conflict between nation states        gunboat diplomacy.
he tends to equate the role of the two super-       and within nations has now emerged in this           Perhaps the Arc will cease for a period to
powers both in attempting to extend their           region, as in other parts of the Third World,     be a focus of the new cold war? International
influence in the region and in dangerously          as the Pax Imperialistica has become weaker       tension has only developed when conflict
exaggerating each other's influence. Cer-           in the 1970s. This represents a stage of          within the capitalist world system has also
tainly he does not see the source of conflict       development comparable to that of 19th cen-       involved a clash between imperialism and
as basically a confrontation between impe-          tury Europe but exacerbated by the exist-         socialism in active alliance with forces
 rialism and national liberation within the         ence of the two world systems of                  opposed to imperialism, and has only
 capitalist world system, on the one hand,          imperialism and socialism.                        reached the state of threatening a third
 and between imperialism and socialism, on              In the basic confrontation between impe-      world war when there has been a 'defection'
 the other. Indeed, he is critical of 'vulgar       rialism and national liberation, the Soviet       — or the perceived possibility of one — from
 Marxist explanations of American foreign           Union as a socialist country is a natural ally    capitalism: Korea, Nasser's Egypt, Viet-
 policy in terms of a quest for raw materials       against imperialism and yet Halliday asserts,     nam, Cuba. Quite evidently, there has been
 and markets' and of 'persistent left wing and      correctly, that it has won few permanent          no such state of tension over the Israeli inva-
 Third World exaggeration of the role of the        allies. This, however, misses the fundamen-       sion of Lebanon — nor, indeed, over the
 United States', and he seems uncertain             tal point that the Soviet Union has at times      Falklands. (There is no symmetry between
 whether 'the USSR is a 'socialist' country in      been able to give crucial assistance to those     the systems, it appears, since East-West ten-
 any precise sense of that word'. This lack of      fighting to achieve national liberation, from     sion did not become critical when internal
 theoretical definition weakens his analysis,       Nasser's Egypt to the Palestinians. In this       political developments in Poland in 1981
 in my opinion, though it is understandable         sense, the Soviet Union is a threat — to          could have led to the restoration of capital-
 in view of the paucity of up-to-date Marxist       imperialist interests — from the East! Cer-       ism if martial law had not been imposed.)
 analysis of neo-imperialism and 'actually          tainly some Soviet acts of intervention in        Now that the process of national liberation
 existing' socialism on which political writers     Third World affairs have alienated potential      has largely run its course, with the impor-
 like Halliday can draw.                            allies for socialism, but the main reason why     tant exceptions of Palestine and Namibia,
    While it is true that policy decisions in the    the Soviet Union's alliances have proved         the new stage of political liberation and eco-
  Arc now have a predominantly national               temporary or limited is because the Arc          nomic development will present new chal-
  basis, the context in which they are taken has     countries have in the end opted for contin-       lenges to imperialism and capitalism and to
  been historically shaped by imperialism            ued incorporation in the capitalist world sys-    Soviet foreign policy.
 which still exercises immense economic and         tem rather than for socialism.                                                  Jenny Warren

								
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