The Israeli aggression against its neighbours in Lebanon and its continuing violence against the Palestinian people in the occupied territories continue to expose the brutality of the Israeli military.

The kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers does not justify what has taken place. This aggression was in the planning for some time and was carried out with the imprimatur of Israel’s supervisor, the United States.

This war would not have started without the say-so of the US government; equally, it will end when US imperialism agrees to end it, either when it is defeated or it secures its interests in the region. To accept that the kidnapping of two soldiers is the reason is like believing that the First World War was caused by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo.

Israel has destroyed aljost the entire infrastructure of Lebanon, from roads and bridges to hospitals, airports, factories, and schools. The lives of hundreds of thousands of people have been torn apart; more than a thousand Lebanese people have been killed, 40 per cent of them children.

This assault on the Lebanese people is in violation of international law. Collective punishment of a whole nation is illegal under the Geneva Conventions. It is illegal to engage in collective punishment for the deeds of a few.

The Zionists have engaged in the collective punishment of Palestinians since 1948. The strategy and tactic of the Israeli military have been tried and tested on the Palestinian people for many decades. They have been bombing towns and villages, have carried out collective punishments daily, clearing Palestinians from whole areas, replacing them with Zionist settlers. They have kidnapped members of the Palestinian government and hold them prisoner, along with thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians held without trial for nearly a decade.

The justification for the massive bombing of villages and towns given by the Israeli government-that Hizbullah is firing rockets from apartment blocks, schools, etc.-is complete nonsense. The rockets that Hizbullah has are on mobile units and can be fired only in open spaces.

The widespread destruction in southern Lebanon is to prevent anyone ever returning to this part of the country and to create a free-fire zone. The Israelis want any UN resolution to give them the right to cross the Lebanese border at any time.

Numerous resolutions have been adopted by the United Nations in relation to the Middle East and in particular in relation to the Palestinians, which have been ignored by consecutive governments of Israel. The enforcement of UN resolutions has not been a priority before, and so Resolution 1559 cannot be taken in isolation.

The objective of imperialism is to impose a solution on the peoples of the Middle East and to destroy all opposition to this strategy. The United States and its puppet, Israel, wish to make the apartheid wall the de facto border of any Palestinian state on the West Bank, which would be controlled economically, politically and militarily by Israel. What the United States and its allies require in the Middle East is weak, divided, dysfunctional and dependent states. They require more compliant states, like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, with Israel playing the role of junior policeman and regional enforcer. Imperialism has tried violence and repression, which has not worked and has only fanned the flames of hate and division. There can be no lasting solution without justice for the Palestinian people, both those in the occupied territories and those living in exile. Bush, Blair and others are attempting to present the world in very black-and-white terms. On the one hand, Western liberal democracy (good); on the other hand, Islamic fundamentalism (bad); and we are all being forced to make a choice, to take one or the other side. The struggle is far more complex than what they are attempting to portray. For decades, American and other colonialist and imperialist forces have used religious fundamentalism to spread division; they have used the mullahs to incite people against progressive forces and to prop up reactionary regimes.

Thousand of progressive people, trade unionists, communists, and socialists, have been tortured, murdered, or driven into exile. The mass of the people have been left without effective progressive leadership, and that vacuum has been filled by the very elements that imperialism has used in the past to defeat progressive forces. An example of this is Hamas, which was a tool of Israel, using it to undermine the PLO from the 1970s.

In times of struggle you cannot always choose your allies. Life is not that clear-cut. To categorise all resistance as "Islamic" is to ignore other progressive forces in Lebanon, including the Communist Party, which has lost many members fighting Israeli aggression over the decades; and they continue today to resist the present occupation.

Resistance against imperialism comes from forces throughout the Middle East that at one time were its allies and no doubt will be again in the future. It is the defeat of imperialism that is primary. Only by being involved in that struggle will progressive forces regain the respect and confidence of the masses and be placed in a stronger position to deal with mediaeval obscurantism down the line.

There is an urgent need to build closer co-operation between progressive forces around the world to take up the leadership in the fight against imperialism and in defence of national democracy and sovereignty. If progressive forces don’t lead, then other forces will.

The struggle is not between liberal democracy and "fundamentalism" but between imperialism and anti-imperialism.