Genocidal War against the Iraqi People
For over a year US imperialism has been seeking the flimsiest of pretexts for attacking Iraq. In February 1998, it had assembled the largest air and naval force since the 1991 Gulf War and was poised to strike. The deal brokered by the UN General Secretary, Kofi Annan, with the Iraqi leadership frustrated US designs. In October, the US made it manifestly clear that it would not allow UN sanctions, imposed in the aftermath of the Gulf War, to be lifted even if Iraq complied fully with the requirements on Unscom – the UN Special Commission on disarming Iraq. In response to this Iraq, not unreasonably, banned all weapons inspections, whereupon the US, backed by its most servile lackey, Britain, threatened to go to war against Iraq. On 14 November, barely a few minutes before the Anglo-American imperialist forces reached their Iraqi targets, Kofi Annan received a fax from the Iraqi government in which it agreed to the resumption of inspections. In the same fax, the Iraqi government also demanded an end to the crippling sanctions, which have been in place for eight years. Deprived of their only pretext, the imperialist attack force, obliged to return to base, provoked a howl of outrage among the representative spokesmen of the two imperialist powers. Speaking from the steps of 10 Downing Street, his official residence, this is how Tony Blair, the British prime minister, gave vent to his arrogance, full of the nauseating logic of imperialist banditry:
“The Iraqi resumption of compliance must be immediate and unconditional, there can be no negotiations, no further deals, no more amendments Our forces remain on alert to possible military action at any time without further warning.”
Having felt cheated out of the opportunity to launch a wanton strike against Iraq, US and British imperialism, with their appetite for a war of aggression against Iraq stimulated beyond endurance, prepared themselves for an opportunity on any pretext.
Unscom’s despicable role
This pretext was provided to them courtesy of Mr Butler, chairman of Unscom, who quite flagrantly functions as an arm of the US state department and the Pentagon. Far from being a UN weapons inspector, he is in truth a politically-motivated stooge of the United States. Even Russia and France have expressed the conviction that Unscom’s activities are choreographed by Washington as a means of justifying continued sanctions interspersed with periodic military attacks. Scott Ritter, former Chief Inspector of Unscom, has admitted close cooperation with Israeli intelligence and has spied for Israel, and is now under investigation by the FBI. Even the Pentagon – the US defence department – admits that information supplied by Unscom is used by the US armed forces for pinpointing Iraqi targets:
“Unscom’s connivance with Israel,” says the leading article in the
of 20 December 1998,
“close working with the Americans and political obduracy undermined its legitimacy.”
Unscom has made such insolent demands on Iraq that no sovereign country could be expected to comply with them. For instance, it demanded lists of the 14,000 people associated with Iraq’s nuclear programme; that it be allowed to enter and search the Iraqi Foreign Ministry building; that it be allowed to question university students in Baghdad; that it be given the right to enter the offices of the Ba’ath Party. What have these demands, one may ask, to do with searching for and destroying weapons of mass destruction, allegedly in the possession of Iraq? Since Butler’s inspectors returned to Iraq, there have been 500 inspections, only 5 of which were contested – and these were of a very minor nature, none providing the least justification for the subsequent 70 hours of brutal bombing to which Iraq was subjected by the combined forces of US and British imperialism from the evening of Wednesday 16 December. The
of 17 December reports a senior western diplomat in Baghdad as saying:
“The whole diplomatic community, which has been closely monitoring these inspections, was surprised by the report. We did not consider that the problems reported during one month of inspections were major incidents.”
The diplomat went on:
“Unscom’s mandate says it should have full access but take into account Iraq’s sovereignty, dignity and national security concerns.”
This is precisely what Richard Butler, this despicable lapdog of US imperialism, was not prepared to do. Instead, he was bent upon making the most outrageous demands, designed to provoke a confrontation between Unscom and the Iraqi authorities, and thus provide a justification for his masters in Washington and London to launch military strikes against Iraq. This is just what Butler did. In his latest report to the Security Council he told the barefaced lie that Iraq had refused to comply with the UN mandate. This was manna from heaven for the US president, Bill Clinton, and his marionette in Downing Street, Tony Blair.
No sooner had Butler’s report given the green light which they had so eagerly awaited, Clinton and Blair ordered the American and British forces, already in the area, to make the final preparations for the attack. Knowing that they could not get the Security Council to endorse their impending attack, the US and Britain, with characteristic arrogant disdain, simply by-passed it, alleging that previous Security Council resolutions gave sufficient authority for their planned act of unadulterated brigandage. This attack is as illegal as it is utterly immoral.
Deadly strike force
The strike force gathered in the Gulf for the latest attack on Iraq is five times deadlier than that in 1991. It includes 24,000 US troops, aircraft carriers and cruisers, Pathway III `bunker buster’ bombs, the American AUPs (Advanced Unitary Penetrators), and Tomahawk Block III Cruise missiles, which carry a 700 lb charge further than a thousand miles away (200 of these were launched in Wednesday night’s opening wave of attacks on Iraq). It further includes the world’s most sophisticated jets – Night Hawk, the F117 Stealth fighter, the £1,5 billion B2 Stealth bomber, which is capable of delivering its bunker busters to Iraq in one continuous flight from its base in Missouri, the B52 Super Fortresses, having a range of 10,000 miles, 15 of which are based in Diego Garcia, each carrying 8 Tomahawks, the B1B strategic bomber, the heavily armed F15E Eagle, the carrier-based F18 Hornet and F16 Fighting Falcon. And they are backed by aircraft fitted with the latest in electronic warfare technology, such as, for instance, the US Navy’s EAGB Prowler, which can jam enemy radar and defence systems, and the supersonic EF111A Raven, which carries a satellite navigation system for pinpointing targets – it is fitted with terrain contour radars which `draw’ maps on the ground for missiles. Add to this the token contribution made by Britain in the form of 18 Tornadoes and 1,000 military personnel.
This gives a picture of the awesome force gathered against Iraq, of
“the terribly one-sided button-pushing exercise – hardly a conflict”,
as Edward Said, the famous Palestinian/American academic, writing in the
of 20 December justly put it. He goes on to ask if it is mere coincidence that this operation – called Desert Fox by the Americans – is named after Hitler’s Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, Commander of the Afrika Corps. There is certainly something quite fascistic about this callous display and use of force by 24,000 unseen troops on aircraft carriers, cruisers, high-flying B1 bombers and Tornadoes. In fact it is worse, for when the Nazis waged war against Britain and the Soviet Union, they risked being hit back and smashed, as indeed they were. The Anglo-American forces take no such risk. There is not the least amount of gallantry, not an iota of courage, not a shred of valour, involved on their part. As such no glory is due to them or their commanders, both political and military, they are part of a cynical, arrogant and sadistic imperialist killing machine, motivated solely by the desire to extract the maximum of profit even if that involves killing millions of defenceless people around the world – from Korea and Vietnam to the Balkans and the Middle East. By their participation in such an unequal and unjust conflict, the Anglo-American forces and their commanders cover themselves with eternal shame and ignominy. That is how humanity at large judges them today. That is how history will judge them.
Mercenary killers – not heroes
In view of the foregoing, we may judge the hollowness, the utter immorality and the shamelessness of the claims made by the jingoistic British imperialist media, as well as by the political representatives of British imperialism. The December 18 issue of the
carried on its front page the headline:
“TRUE BRIT – RAF hero gives thumbs up – then roars into action.”
This jingoism, accompanied by false claims to bravery, was continued on the inside pages with headlines reading:
“We’re so proud of you – Blair’s salute to the brave RAF Top Gems” and “Off they go to face Iraqi guns.”
Robin Cook, our `ethical’ Foreign Secretary, who marched against Cruise missiles in 1984, now properly tamed and domesticated by the responsibility and burden of having to direct the foreign policy of blood-thirsty British imperialism, writing in the same issue of the
from which the headlines quoted immediately above are reproduced, pontificates along these stomach-churning lines:
“Our pilots are flying dangerous[dangerous indeed!]
sorties over hostile territory. We know they will carry out the job with the highest skill and utmost professionalism.
“I know all Sun readers will share our hopes and prayers for their safe return.
“And I know you will also share our immense pride, and our gratitude, for their courage [!]
Only people who have lost all remnants of shame, or are inveterate liars, or whose hearts are in their wallets, or who have been corrupted beyond redemption by imperialist bribery and corruption, could have given utterance to such nauseatingly bare-faced lies as those by the
and Britain’s disgracefully `ethical’ Foreign Secretary.
The pretext for the latest massive aggression against Iraq was that Unscom had been denied unimpeded and unlimited access to sites for the storing or the manufacture of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons (such as the Ba’ath Party headquarters in Baghdad!!); therefore, argued the spokesman of Anglo-American imperialism, it was necessary to destroy them by military force. In pursuit of this apparent aim, more than 300 Tomahawk Cruise missiles and about 100 air-launched Cruise missiles were unleashed on Iraq from warships and B52 bombers during 70 hours of the most brutal bombing. RAF Tornadoes carried out three separate raids. US and British aircraft flew several hundred manned sorties, including more than 100 bombing raids.
It is the claim of the Anglo-American lying defence establishment that the bombing has been so precise that, of the 100 targets hit, 80% have been destroyed and that Iraqi capability in the field of weapons of mass destruction has been
Did we not hear of precisely such claims of precision bombing during the Gulf War of 1991. Nick Cohen, writing in the
of 20 December, justly pokes fun at such claims. Alluding to the 1991 Gulf War, he says:
“Corralled journalists gawped as the Americans showed videos of their `smart’ weapons arriving in Baghdad, going around the one-way system, taking the second left after the tobacconist and smashing into the target with, to use the cliché of that time and now, `pin-point accuracy’ “. (`It’s the Bill and bomb show’).
Mr Cohen goes on to say that the following year the Pentagon admitted that only 6,520 of the 88,500 tons of bombs dropped on Iraq and Kuwait were in the precision category, and of the latter only 70% hit their target. Continues Mr Cohen:
“Once again, we are assured that bombs even smarter than those of 1991 are hitting targets identified by brilliant intelligence, even though the Ministry of Defence repeatedly failed, despite promises, to produce damage-assessment reports on the accuracy of the attacks last week (one bomb which was too clever by half fell on Iran). Appropriately, the word of the moment for official spokespersons on both sides of the Atlantic is `degraded’ – a verb which meant dishonourable before it became a weasel euphemism for kill.” (Ibid).
Time will tell that, as during the Gulf War, it is Iraqi civilians and the infrastructure – water supply, electricity, oil refineries – that have suffered the most damage during this latest instalment of the continuing slaughter of the people of Iraq by the two most insatiable bloodsuckers known to human history, namely, US and British imperialism. It is absurd to ask anyone to believe that what Unscom, during its 8-year presence in Iraq, could not discover and destroy, can now be winkled out by `smart’ bombs. No wonder, then, that the bombs have been falling on such centres for the production of `weapons of mass destruction’ as the Republican Guard headquarters, the headquarters of military intelligence and the security police (both of which were inspected by Unscom), the regular army barracks, the Ba’ath Party offices, Presidential offices and palaces and the Basra refinery.
George Robertson, daily sounding more like a defence official of the Third Reich, has stated that it was legitimate to target the Basra refinery because
“funds from smuggling oil processed by the refinery helped to pay elite troops”.
By this bandit’s logic, the entire population and its entire economy are a legitimate target. In fact, Robertson went on to confirm this by revealing that all sites related to Iraq’s oil exports were included as legitimate targets on the list of the Anglo-American forces attacking Iraq. One must not forget that even under the draconian UN sanctions, Iraq is allowed to export $5 billion worth of oil every six months under the food-for-oil deal. How is Iraq to do this if sites related to Iraq’s oil exports are bombed into obliteration? It is clear that the Anglo-American imperialist hyenas, who feign to act in the name of the UN, care not a whit about, and violate with contempt, the resolutions of the same body.
After this carnage, it is legitimate to look for the reasons behind this latest act of barbarism. Before coming to the real reason, which US and British imperialism dare not speak about openly, let us look briefly at the forever shifting `reasons’ in the name of which they self-appointed enforcers of the New World Order are purporting to act.
Weapons of mass destruction
First, it is claimed that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and consequently it is a threat to the stability of the Middle East and the world at large. If there is any country in the Middle East which truly has a large stockpile of weapons of mass destruction – chemical, biological and nuclear – it is none other than Israel. This racist Zionist state has a stockpile of 200 nuclear warheads targeted on every single Arab capital, with the unhinged Zionists having their fingers on the trigger. But, aware of all this, says the US President Bill Clinton:
“other countries possess weapons of destruction and ballistic missiles. With Saddam Hussein there is one big difference – he has used them.”
People who do not suffer from selective amnesia know only too well the truth. And the truth is that the US is the only country ever to have used nuclear weapons. In August 1945 it dropped these terrifyingly awesome weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki knowing full well that their use was unnecessary for securing Japanese surrender, for Japan was on the verge of surrender anyway.
The truth is that US imperialism is drenched from head to foot in the bloody of its innocent victims all over the globe. Taking just the five decades since the end of the Second World War, in addition to bombing Japan with nuclear weapons, it forcibly partitioned Korea and waged a genocidal war against it, killing 4 million civilians in the process by the liberal use of, inter alia, napalm. In 1954 it was instrumental in the overthrow of the Guatemalan regime and replacing it with a brutal military dictatorship, which went on to kill tens of thousands of civilians – in order to safeguard the interests of the United Fruit Company, which owned more than half a million of acres of land in that country. In its barbaric war against the people of Vietnam during the 1960s and 1970s, the US killed more than 2 million Vietnamese, and sprayed vast areas of the whole of Indo-China with chemical weapons – napalm and agent orange – which devastated the environment and caused horrific injuries to millions of people, the effects of which Vietnamese and other Indo-Chinese people are still attempting to cope with. In 1973 its intelligence service, the CIA, engineered the overthrow of the elected Chilean regime of Salvador Allende, leaving the brutal General Pinochet, presently the subject of extradition proceedings in Britain, to get on with the job, so characteristic of imperialist concern for human rights, of physically eliminating thousands of communists, socialists and trade unionists:
“We have to do whatever it takes to crush that son of a bitch as quickly as possible”,
said the then US President, Nixon. Successive American governments have inspired civil strife against progressive regimes from Mozambique and Angola to Afghanistan, arming counter-revolutionary murderous bandits like the RENAMO in Mozambique, UNITA in Angola and God’s holy warriors in Afghanistan – in the process killing millions of innocent people. It gave full backing to the counter-revolutionary Contras in Nicaragua, funding them through the secret sale of arms to Iran; it bombed the Libyan capital, Tripoli, in an effort to kill the Libyan leader, Colonel Gadaffi, hitting a hospital and a residential area, killing women and children. In 1989 it invaded Panama with 26,000 troops, bombed the working-class quarters of Panama City, resulting in the deaths of 10,000 people, and illegally abducted Panama’s head of state. From bases in Kenya it invaded Somalia, again killing, almost as a matter of routine, 10,000 people. In 1998 it unleashed over Afghanistan more than 100 missiles, at the same time as it reduced to rubble the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, which supplied half of her badly-needed medicines. During the Gulf War in 1991, it dropped on Iraq the equivalent of 7.5 Hiroshima bombs. And now, during the Christmas season of Goodwill to all men, and during the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan, US imperialism, with British imperialism hanging on to its coat tails, has made a present to the Iraqi people of bombing tonnage even greater than that used during the Gulf War. Such a record of war, genocide, wanton murder, pillage and destruction, poor Saddam Hussein could not match even if he wanted to. This is the truth, which no amount of lying propaganda in the imperialist electronic and print media can wish or wash away.
If the possession of weapons of mass destruction is such a crime, then the US is the biggest criminal, with thousands of nuclear warheads and the ability to detonate them anywhere in the world. It refuses to give an undertaking not to use them first, let alone agree to any proposals for complete and comprehensive nuclear disarmament. Further, it has a stockpile of 30,000 tons of chemical weapons and has refused to ratify the Treaty banning them.
Democracy and Human Rights
Second, it is claimed by the imperialists that the Iraqi regime is a brutal dictatorship which denies democracy and human rights, ignores UN resolutions and is a threat to its neighbours’ sovereignty. God alone knows how human rights in Iraq are improved by 70 hours of devastating bombing, involving hundreds of civilian casualties and the denial of a decent living to the rest of the population through the destruction of the country’s infrastructure – with the promise of more to come.
as Neal Ascherson, writing in the
of 20 December correctly pointed out,
“on the matter of universality and impartiality, a few more Anglo-American references to Israel would have been in order. Israel, too, possesses weapons of mass destruction, and ignores UN resolutions about South Lebanon or the West Bank settlements. What pressure to conform will be applied there?”
(`Never in the history of human conflict were so many bombs dropped for so few good reasons’).
From its very inception the Zionist state of Israel has practised systematic murder, persecution and torture on the entire Palestinian population. Its birth was accompanied by the forcible expulsion of 75,000 Palestinians and the murder of thousands of others. In the half century of its existence, it has contemptuously, with the full backing of US and British imperialism, defied over two dozen UN resolutions, condemning it for the illegal seizure of Palestinian, Egyptian, Syrian and Lebanese land. Only a few months ago, Israel’s Supreme Court legitimised the barbaric and systematic torture of thousands of Palestinian prisoners rotting in Israeli concentration camps.
During its invasion of Lebanon in 1982, Israeli armed forces and its Lebanese `Christian’ stooges butchered tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinian people, including the inhabitants of Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.
In their fascistic rage, the Israelis intentionally targeted hospitals, spraying them with phosphorous and cluster bombs. To this day Israel continues illegally and in defiance of UN resolutions to occupy a third of Lebanon, which constitutes its so-called security belt. It refuses to honour its commitments under the Oslo and the Wye Plantation accords. It continues with its illegal settlement programme and expropriation of Palestinian land. It refuses to release over a thousand Palestinian prisoners despite having agreed to do so under these two agreements.
As to the Arab autocracies – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Emirates – which are backed to hilt by Anglo-American imperialism, they are hardly havens of democracy. They are personal fiefdoms ruled by vile and unaccountable medieval monarchies – the Sauds, Emirs, the Al Sabahs, the Khalifas – who properly belong to a museum of antiquities and who suppress all dissent by any means available, including torture and murder, being helped in this suppression by the equally vile and monstrous Anglo-American imperialism.
If there is any threat to the peace and stability of the Middle East, it comes from US imperialism, its junior partner, to wit British imperialism, and its chief client state in the area, namely, the Zionist state of Israel. In addition to arming Israel to the teeth with the most sophisticated armaments, the US maintains 24,000 troops, 200 ships and 300 warplanes in the Persian/Arabian Gulf area alone – a presence which costs the US taxpayers $50 billion a year, while helping the US oil companies and armaments manufacturers to reap fabulous profits. These forces in the Middle East are instruments of aggression directed against those regimes which might wish to use their oil resources for the development of their own countries rather than allowing this constantly diminishing wealth to be looted by the US and other oil and energy giants. The only way to lessen tension in this region is through the removal of these foreign forces, which have no business to be there. This brings us to the real reason for the continued imperialist slaughter of the Iraqi people.
Oil, the real reason
The Middle East is the repository of 60% of the world’s proven oil reserves. Iraq alone contains 10% of these global reserves. Ever since the discovery of oil, the Middle East has been the cockpit of imperialist rivalry, intrigue and skulduggery, accompanied by ceaseless efforts by all the imperialist powers to suppress the rising movements for national liberation and social advance throughout the region, which threaten imperialism’s loot of the Arab people’s wealth. In these counter-revolutionary wars of imperialism against the revolutionary tide of the Arab peoples, the racist, theocratic, Zionist state of Israel – this little Ulster planted in, and pointed at, the heart of the Arab world, plays a pivotal role, as we have explained many times before. Being a counter-revolutionary agent par excellence, the state of Israel is armed to the teeth by imperialism, principally US imperialism, and let loose on the Arab people. That is why there is not a crime committed by Israel which US imperialism will not endorse, and against the consequences of which the US will not protect it by all means – diplomatic, financial and military.
Further, the map of the Middle East was arbitrarily drawn by the imperialist powers, without taking into account the wishes of the people, or the historical development, of the various territories, in such a way that the people have been separated from their mineral wealth. Countries with huge populations have hardly any oil deposits, while, on the other hand, the countries that have most oil are very sparsely populated: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Emirates come into this category. Most of the latter are no more than oil wells with a flag and constitution written by imperialism. They are protected by imperialism against the wrath of their own people and, in return, the ruling autocratic cliques give imperialism a free hand to loot the mineral wealth of their respective territories. Kuwait, which was once a province of Iraq, was, first for strategic purposes and subsequently for reasons of her oil deposits, which are nearly as large as those of present-day Iraq, detached by Britain. When Iraq, brought to the end of its patience by a string of imperialist-inspired Kuwaiti provocations, attempted to reincorporate Kuwait into its own territory, it fell foul of imperialism. Together these territories would have accounted for a huge one-fifth of proven global reserves of oil. Iraq also has a sizeable population and a long history of struggle against imperialism. The latter, therefore, could never tolerate a regime even mildly independent presiding over such vast oil resources, and with a sizeable population at its command. This is why US imperialism, having gathered three-quarters of a million military personnel and assembled the most up-to-date in killing technology, waged a brutal war against Iraq in 1991 – all in the name of restoring Kuwaiti democracy and sovereignty.
Kuwait is neither democratic nor sovereign. It suppresses and tortures all opponents of the ruling family. Its foreign and internal policy is decided in Washington and London. Imperialism does not incline towards democracy and sovereignty. Everywhere it strives for the denial of democracy and sovereignty. Though of course in a moment a rare candour, Lawrence Korb, the former US assistant defence secretary, admitted in 1991:
“If Kuwait grew carrots we wouldn’t give a damn.”
Following the collapse of the USSR, as the Caspian Sea reserves are once again within the reach of the imperialist oil giants, the significance of the Middle East has increased. The US, perhaps with Britain as a junior partner, is determined to establish a monopoly over the oil resources stretching from the Middle East to the Caspian basin. The current oil prices, which have plunged to a third of the level they were at during the Gulf War in 1991, owing to reduced demand and increased supply, have added an element of urgency to this US drive for monopolisation of the world’s energy resources.
“The region”, says Martin Walker in the
of 16 November 1998,
“from the US airbase at Incirlik in Turkey, through the Middle East to the Caspian and the Gulf is becoming an American protectorate.”
Also in November 1998, US energy secretary, Bill Richardson, quite openly outlined the aims of US policy in this region:
“The fate of the Caspian region is about America’s energy security. It is also about preventing strategic inroads by those who do not share our values.
“We are trying to move these newly independent countries towards the West. We would like to see them reliant on Western commercial and political interests rather than going another way.
“We have made a substantial political investment in the Caspian and it is very important to us that both the pipeline map and the politics come out right.”
It goes without saying that German, French and Japanese imperialism don’t much like the spectacle of the US gaining such a monopoly and thus threatening their energy supplies. They have their own plans, and these certainly do not include US imperialism having its hand on all the oil taps in the Middle East and the Caspian basin states, which is why France has been willing to incur the wrath of the United States over her oil deals with Iran, which is why there is such a struggle over the route for the transport of oil from the Caspian basin. Fearing that it is losing the battle over the pipeline route, US imperialism is bending every effort to strengthen its position in the Middle East and regain control over the Caspian oil wealth.
Thus it is clear that the war being waged by Anglo-American imperialism against the people of Iraq has nothing whatever to do with the protection of sovereignty, the safeguarding of democracy, or the defence of human rights. Nor has it anything to do with destroying weapons of mass destruction. On the contrary, it has everything to do with the oil wealth of Iraq. The point at issue, the bone of contention, is whether the Middle East’s oil wealth belongs to the Middle East or to the imperialist energy multinationals. To secure monopoly over the oil of the region is the war aim of the imperialist coalition now attacking Iraq. If this aim can be achieved only by eliminating the Iraqi regime, by destroying Iraq’s economy, shattering the lives of its 20 million people, and killing millions of them into the bargain, then, as far as imperialism is concerned, so be it. It is prepared to continue with the crippling sanctions, station huge forces in the area, and strike at Iraq periodically – unless and until the Iraqi regime is toppled. War is business for imperialism.
`Ethical’ hypocrisy of Robin Cook
When Robin Cook, who only a few months ago was seen warmly shaking the hand of the Indonesian butcher, Suharto, who came to power over the dead bodies of a million Indonesian people, says that
“Saddam represents an extraordinary evil of horror, genocide and torture,”
he is not merely being selective in his denunciations, but also attempting to throw dust in the eyes of innocent people for the sole purpose of distracting their attention from the dirty aims pursued by Anglo-American imperialism in this filthy imperialist carnage. Britain’s record, Robin Cook should know, as a colonialist and imperialist country, is second to none in the field of horror, torture and genocide. Space will not allow us to detail this record here. And the British statesmen who supervised this torture were not uniformed army officers but `democratically’ elected members of the `mother of parliaments’ – just like Mr Cook – with honey on their lips and murder in their hearts.
At a time when the Anglo-American armada, this most sophisticated and technologically- perfected machine for mass slaughter, is busy attacking and terrorising an entire country 3,000 miles away from Britain and 7,000 miles from the US, our `ethical’ – to wit, totally immoral and shameless – Foreign Secretary makes himself sound ridiculous when he works himself into a lather, saying:
“Saddam reaches beyond Iraq to murder his opponents in foreign lands.”
Mr Cook, working himself into hysteria, says:
“For eight years Saddam has cheated, obstructed and deceived the UN inspectors about his plans to amass weapons of terror. Time and again he has lied about his arsenal We simply could not allow this to continue.”
Robin Cook is not stupid, except in the sense in which all reactionaries are fools. In fact, he is one of the rather more intelligent members of the present administration. Being that, he ought to have no difficulty in knowing that Saddam Hussein could learn a great deal from the spokesmen of British imperialism – including Cook himself – as far as lying, cheating and deception are concerned. As to weapons of mass destruction, Iraq never was, and probably never will be, able to possess weapons of the type possessed by Anglo-American imperialism, or even their Zionist surrogates. He ought also to have no difficulty in remembering that not so long ago the British government happily sold weapons to the Iraqi regime, or that as late as 1988 the US was supplying anthrax to Iraq.
In order to achieve their aims, Anglo-American imperialism is prepared to use state terrorism (against which it so hypocritically rails on other occasions) against entire populations and the heads of state of other countries. In a barely disguised manner, Tony Blair, one of the shallowest of prime ministers Britain has ever had, stated the other day:
“It is without any doubt at all our desire to see the end of Saddam Hussein, and if that can be assisted in any way by the campaign we have fought over the past few days, then we would welcome that”. Then he added hypocritically:
“But I distinguish that from saying it is an objective and a test of our campaign.”
The US President (now here is someone who could easily give lessons to Saddam Hussein or anyone else in the art of lying, cheating and deception) has expressed himself in similar terms. On the night that US forces began their massive bombardment of Iraq, he said:
“The hard fact is that so long as Saddam remains in power, he threatens the well-being of his people, the peace of his region and the security of the world. The best way to end that threat once and for all is with a new Iraqi government – a government ready to live in peace with its neighbours, a government that respects the rights of its people.”
Two days later he intoned:
“We look forward to the day Iraq has the government it deserves,
[i.e., one acceptable to imperialism]”.
Andrew Rawnsley, writing in the
of 20 December justly pokes fun at the wishful day-dreaming indulged in by the likes of Blair, Clinton and Cook, in the following scathing terms:
“The death of Saddam would be a `welcome bonus’ says Robin Cook, like a lottery punter hoping his number will come up. The Foreign Secretary is dreaming, according to the chief of the defence staff. General Sir Charles Guthrie says Desert Fox cannot take out Saddam. `Iraq is an enormous country and it would take many thousands of troops in a land campaign to have any chance of doing that.’
“Marching on Baghdad is what the Anglo-Americans were not prepared to do seven years ago at the end of Desert Storm. This is the fight for which America and Britain have never had the stomach. In so much as there is a strategy, it is crossed fingers and pray that one of the missiles gets lucky and eradicates Saddam. This has been A Just Hope War.”
Far from achieving the war aims of Anglo-American imperialism, the latest strikes against Iraq have only served to make their position worse than before. First, the Iraqi regime has not only survived this brutal assault but come out of it strengthened, as it did after each previous strike, i.e., in 1993 and 1996. Second there are wide cracks in the Security Council, with France, Russia and China condemning the Anglo-American action against Iraq. China has declared the action illegal and in
“violation of the UN Charter”.
Russian Prime Minister, Primakov, called the action `outrageous’ and, to express its disapproval, the Russian government took the unusual step of recalling its ambassadors from London and Washington `for consultations’.
In any case, European countries have been irritated for some time by the US insistence on `dual containment’ of Iran and Iraq – thus obliterating the distinction between UN sanctions against Iraq and the US sanctions against Iran, which Washington insists on extending to its allies doing business with Teheran. A whole year ago, in November 1997, after stand off with Iraq, Zbigniev Brzezinski, national security adviser under Jimmy Carter, correctly summed up the situation by stating:
“Our policy of dual containment to isolate two countries has been a smashing success. The only problem is that the two countries are the United States and Israel.”
No Arab government, not even those closely allied with US imperialism, dares openly support this action, for it
“unnerves Iraq’s neighbours and US allies in the region such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which fear that what many see as Washington’s vendetta against Iraq could ignite a popular backlash against the west – and in turn could threaten their own positions” (Financial Times,
18 December 1998, David Gardner, `Attempting to topple the regime’).
The most reactionary of Arab regimes, those closely allied with the US, are shaking in their boots, fearfully anticipating popular reaction. There have been huge anti-American demonstrations in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Yemen, Libya and Morocco. In the last-mentioned country, whose regime normally bans such public expressions, 100,000 marched to protest against American aggression. In Syria,
“the beating heart of the Arab world”,
demonstrators attacked the home of the American ambassador as well as the British embassy. David Gardner, writing in the
of 21 December 1998, described the shambles in which the US had landed itself in these vivid terms:
“Yet the 70 hours of bombing has been more than enough to wipe out any credit Mr Clinton devoted to brokering October’s Wye Plantation accord between Israel and the Palestinians. That was suspended by Israel yesterday anyway. The American flags distributed 10 days ago to welcome the US president on his historic visit to Gaza were by the end of last week burning, while Palestinians were disinfecting the tiles in Manger Square in Bethlehem where Mr Clinton had attended a carol service.” (`Changing tack on Saddam’).
The insensate continuation of the attacks into the beginning of the month of Ramadan incensed religious feelings to such an extent as to panic Messrs Clinton and Blair into sending broadcast messages to the Middle East insisting that they (don’t laugh) respected the sensitivity of Ramadan. Said Clinton in his message:
“We have the most profound admiration for Islam. Our dispute is with a Muslim leader who threatens Muslims and non-Muslims alike.”
Already in February 1998, when the US was threatening Iraq with dire military action over Unscom inspections, David Gardner, in a very perceptive article, pointed out that the US hostility towards Iraq was leading to confrontation with the whole Arab world. Stating that Russia, France and China had distanced themselves from the US, he went on to say that the divisions over Iraq were
“nowhere more marked than among Arab leaders fearful of a popular backlash if bombing goes ahead.”
Continuing he said that the Iraqi regime was
“not as isolated as one would imagine,”
“Rather, it is the US that stands almost alone, with only the UK prepared to provide substantial military backing for a renewed assault on Iraq. The difference between Arab opinion now and in the early 1990s reveals an alarming loss of confidence in US policy throughout the Middle East”
(`Living with the wolf’,
17 February 1998).
Mr Gardner concluded his article with the following story, illustrating the isolation of US imperialism, the loathing with which it is regarded by the Arab peoples, and the burden it imposes even on its most reactionary allies/stooges in that part of the world:
“All the same, the US would be unwise to ignore the ugly mood in the region. Eloquent of this is a bedouin tale that Crown Prince Abdullah, heir to the throne and de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, is said to have told Madeleine Albright, the US secretary of state, when she was touring the Middle East trying to drum up support against Iraq.
“A livestock owner, he related, whose flock was losing a lamb every three or four days to a wolf, was persuaded to buy 20 fierce guard-dogs to keep the predator at bay. But then he found he had to slaughter three or four lambs every day to feed the guard-dogs. Pausing for effect the Crown Prince is then supposed to have gone on: `At that point the owner of the flock decided to get rid of the guard-dogs and co-exist with the wolf, as that was the least costly, and perhaps the less dangerous course.”
In November 1997, even those regimes in the Middle East which are no more than stooges of the US boycotted the US-sponsored Arab-Israeli summit designed to underpin the `peace process’. Instead they turned up a month later at the Islamic summit in Teheran – their dislike and fear of the Teheran regime notwithstanding. Among those welcomed at the Teheran summit was the deputy to the Iraqi president.
The latest raids have served to make US and British imperialism’s isolation in the Middle East almost total. The leading article in the
of 20 December underlined the universal hostility to this genocidal attack thus:
“The savage bombing of Iraq has provoked spontaneous outrage and condemnation almost everywhere.
“These concerns are mirrored everywhere in Britain, even if suffocated in a House of Commons genuflecting before the twin conservatism of Mr Blair and Mr Hague.”
“This is machismo military intervention at its worst, and the first reaction – a gruesome Dutch auction in jingoism – has given way to deep worry as the full stupidity of our conduct becomes clear. We have exposed our cities and civilian planes to the risk of terrorist counter-attack; we are earning the hatred of the Arab world; we have undermined the legitimacy of the United Nations; we compromise ourselves in Europe; and we have set in train possible revenge attacks against Israel and the consequent escalation in its response. And for what?
“No Arab country will consider [the]
action as anything but partisan which punishes one of their own for flouting UN Resolutions, while turning a blind eye to Israel for the same flouting of the UN.”
(`This colossal misjudgment’).
Fourth, by this savage action, the US and Britain have ensured that Iraq will never allow back the group of spies and agents of the Pentagon and the state department that went under the name of Unscom. Justice-loving people the world over will be glad to see the back of them.
This brutal action is bound to destroy the argument for continued sanctions against Iraq. During the Gulf War, US imperialism slaughtered a quarter of a million Iraqi soldiers and civilians, a huge number of them retreating on the Kuwait to Basra road, calling this mass murder a `turkey shoot’. According to the World Health Organisation, 1.2 million Iraqi children have died between August 1990 and August 1997 from causes related to the UN embargo – malnutrition, lack of medicines, unavailability of safe drinking water, etc. Unimpeachable human rights agencies estimate that nearly 6,000 Iraqi children die each month and one million Iraqi children are victims of stunted growth caused by malnutrition and disease – thanks to the UN embargo. Sanctions have cost Iraq $120bn in lost oil revenues over the past eight years, consequent upon which Iraqi per capita income has plunged from $4,000 to $330. As per the 1996 UN oil for food programme, Iraq is allowed to sell $5 bn worth of oil every six months and buy a limited amount of food and other goods. Therefore, claims Robin Cook, Iraq can solve its humanitarian crisis.
“But since more than 30 per cent of these oil revenues are diverted to the UN compensation fund and expenses in Iraq, his statement is totally untrue”
18 December 1998).
Iraqi hospitals are bereft of the most basic medicines, without anaesthetics and spare parts for medical equipment. The UN Sanctions Committee’s list of items banned from entry into Iraq includes light bulbs, socks, wrist watches, ovens, sewing machines, needles, nails, textiles, grain mills and refrigerators. Other items vetoed by the Committee include baby food, rice, shirts, children’s clothes, sanitary towels and blankets.
Denis Halliday, former UN Humanitarian Aid Co-ordinator for Iraq, being no longer able to put up with what Edward Said justly characterises as
“procedures in sadistic cruelty,”
resigned earlier in 1998.
he said in a statement on 30 September 1998,
“in the process of destroying an entire society. It is as simple and terrifying as that. It is illegal and immoral.”
The new bombing is killing and damaging the already precarious civilian infrastructure
“which is the cause of the humanitarian crisis we have right now”
(Denis Halliday, Channel 4 News, 16 December 1998). In view of these stark facts, which this latest war has served to bring into the glaring daylight, it will be impossible for the US and Britain to get the necessary support at the international level for the further continuance of these dreadful sanctions, which are destroying Iraqi society.
US Presidency discredited
Sixth, the strikes against Iraq have thoroughly discredited not just Clinton but the office of the American Presidency itself. People knew that the incumbent of the White House when in difficulty would do anything. Decent people everywhere are disgusted that, faced with personal difficulties, Clinton was prepared to unleash missiles first on Sudan and Afghanistan and now on Iraq. Precisely for this reason these strikes have come to be dubbed the Lewinsky strikes – sex and violence just like the American movies. Such is the disgusting nature of the politics of imperialism, rotten to the core. Notwithstanding these strikes, Clinton has been impeached and is due to stand trial before the Senate shortly. The sickening aspect of it, however, is that Clinton’s lies over a trivial sexual affair are to be the grounds for impeachment, while his truly criminal lies concerning Iraq, and the subsequent brutal aggression against it, are a matter of bi-partisan pride in the US Congress, representing as it does the decadent, parasitic and moribund capitalist system. In the words of Edward Said:
“Who cares about his sordid oral sex and pizza in a White House corridor with Monica: it’s his unauthorised homicidal forays against Sudan, Afghanistan and now Iraq that are the truly impeachable crimes” (op. cit.)
US plans in ruins
If since the Gulf War, the policy pursued by Anglo-American imperialism was based on sanctions, Unscom and periodic use of force to compel the Iraqi regime’s compliance with the dictates of Uncle Sam and John Bull, after the latest strikes it appears to be based on reinforced sanctions, encouraging Iraqi opposition and periodic use of force. In fact it is foredoomed to utter and scandalous failure. Neither the Iraqis nor the Arab people, nor the Security Council, will stomach any sanctions, let alone reinforced sanctions. As for the Iraqi opposition, it is a conglomerate of 73 fractious Iraqi groups, known for being most of the time at each other’s throats, rather than their ability to organise an opposition in Iraq. Moreover, this opposition – called the Iraqi National Congress (INC) – organised and funded as it is by the State Department of the US and the British Foreign Office, is hardly an Iraqi opposition. It simply provides an Iraqi mask for US and British imperialist schemes against Iraq. In the eyes of the Iraqi people it is rightly stigmatized as the stooge and tool of Anglo-American imperialism.
This leaves the Americans and the British with only one option – the regular massive use of air strikes. They dare not land ground troops to invade and occupy Iraq, topple the present regime and install a compliant one to their liking. Such a course would be fraught with enormous danger and incalculable consequences. The Iraqi people are bound, in such an eventuality, to turn to guerrilla warfare and turn the entire territory of Iraq into a graveyard for the invaders. As for air strikes, far from achieving their intended aim, they will only serve to stiffen the resolve of the Iraqi people and inflame the hatred of, and opposition to, US imperialist brigandage throughout the Middle East.
In fact, the Middle East today is already such a seething cauldron of boundless anger and hatred against the imperialist aggressors, their Zionist hangmen and Arab stooge regimes that it is ready to explode at any moment.
Colonial style punitive expeditions
Imperialism has run out of policy options and choices other than that of `punitive expeditions’ of the old colonialist type.
“It is as if,”
writes Neal Ascherson,
“a company of the fifth Loamshires, in topees, had marched inland to burn Chief Saddam’s kraal and smash his stool of office before marching back to the coast again. It is as if Lord Salisbury, incensed by the debagging of a British consul, had sent an ironclad to bombard some palm-fringed port until its minarets fell over.”
Continues Mr Ascherson:
“Thumping an adversary to punish or to demand compliance with something, is not so much war as symbolic violence. It belongs to an age when world order was thought to depend on lesser breeds knowing their place. But it gives notice that if no apology or compliance is forthcoming, something far worse will ensure
“It is a yell of rage. The US and British are not bombing Iraq to achieve `aims’, but because there is nothing left for them to do. That is the ignominious bottom line.
“But if you play chess and you see that there is only one move which your queen can make, you become aware of something: your opponent is a better player. And the only player here who has a rational, realisable aim is Saddam.
“The initiative has been his for some time now. Each confrontation with the Americans, whether it leads to the use of force or not, has the effect of wrenching the cracks in the `international community’ further open” (op. cit.).
Let it be said in passing for the benefit of Trotskyist counter-revolutionaries so used to denigrating the former USSR that, had the USSR been still in existence, US imperialism would not have dared to behave in the Middle East or elsewhere with the swaggering contempt it has displayed since her collapse. Now, unchecked by an adversary of equal strength, US imperialism displays its true colours and stands exposed in its naked barbarity before the eyes of the whole of humanity, which has seen through the hoax of imperialism’s claims concerning democracy, human rights, civilisation, rule of law, and law and order. And, in this lies its downfall.
Expose and oppose Labour imperialism
At 10 p.m. on the evening of Thursday 17 December, just as the missiles were falling on the people of Iraq, Tony Blair, donning a Dead Diana suit, a sombre tie, and putting on a feigned grave appearance, stepped out of number 10 Downing Street to the glare of ITN cameras, who had been tipped off in advance, so as to catch the peak hour News, and said:
“We act as we must.”
Trevor Kavanagh of the scandalous
newspaper had this to say of Blair’s contorted performance:
“It was an impressive performance, marking another step in the young prime minister’s maturity as a world statesman” (18 December, 1998).
Denuded of all the euphemism adorning this sentence, it simply means that Tony Blair has given final proof, if such proof were ever needed, that he, and the Party he leads, are unflinching, faithful and enthusiastic servants of British imperialism, in the pursuit of whose interests there is not a crime they will not commit. Tony Blair has graduated with flying colours to the `maturity’ that the British bourgeoisie demands of its heads of government. And the Party he leads, the Labour Party, has given new proof of its continued commitment to the defence of the interests of British imperialism, even if that defence involves the deaths of countless innocent people. There, in all its lurid and naked savagery, stands the warmongering imperialist Labour Party, which no amount of hypocritical and unctuous cant from the so-called `left’ – the Benns, Kens and Corbyns of this world – can serve to hide. Its `communist’ apologists, ranging from the revisionist renegades of the CPB and NCP to the myriads of counter-revolutionary Trotskyist outfits, especially the SWP, would be stretched to straining point in justifying their support for this `party of the British working class’, with its `links to the trade-union movement,’ which, argue these traitors to the cause of the proletariat, makes it susceptible to the `carrying out of socialist policies under pressure from the working class’. It would be interesting to witness their mental gymnastics – the twists and turns, the wriggling and writhing, which they will perforce have to undergo in this shameful business. In this regard it is noteworthy that the
organ of the NCP, while reporting on the front page the war against Iraq, devotes its leading article to pensions (!), avoiding the issue of war as a thief avoids the place of his crime. The `communists’ of the NCP and the
avoided this issue for the simple reason that the war now being waged on Britain’s side against the people of Iraq is being conducted by their beloved Labour Party, which these despicable `communists’ cannot bear to break with. As Lenin rightly said: those who say A must also say B. Those who drool over the Labour Party – this blood-drenched imperialist party – as `the party of the British proletariat,” must not be surprised if they find themselves in the ranks of those blessing `our’ forces attacking innocent men, women and children in places far away or nearer home.
At the end of its front-page report of the Anglo-American imperialist attack on Iraq, the
has a short report on anti-war protests. It concludes that report with the words:
“In Britain peace activists are organising against the war. They have the full support of the labour movement.”
Which `labour movement’ and which `full support’, is the
referring to? If by the `labour movement’, the
means to allude to the Labour Party, or the TUC, or individual trade unions and their leaders, then the truth must be admitted that with the sole honourable exception of Arthur Scargill, President of the NUM and General Secretary of the SLP (whose statement we reproduce elsewhere in this issue), not a single individual, trade union or political party has disassociated itself from, let alone denounced, this downright imperialist thuggery. When the need of the moment is to denounce these Labour Party and trade-union bigwigs for the social imperialists (socialists in words and imperialists in deeds) that they are, the
seeks to embellish them by covering up their treachery. When the situation is crying out loud for exposing this repulsive coterie as the representatives and defenders of the interests of the privileged sections of the working class, namely, the labour aristocracy, which privileges they cannot defend without defending the interests of British imperialism (for without imperialist superprofits there can be no crumbs for the labour aristocracy from the imperialist banqueting table), the
is engaged in deceiving the broad masses of the proletariat and lulling them to sleep by presenting a picture of a united homogeneous labour movement, whose full support, the New Worker assures us, “the peace activists organising against the war can be certain of. No, dear mummified leaders of the NCP, there is no unified labour movement! British imperialism long ago engendered a split in the working class; it tore away the privileged sections of the working class from the broad masses of the proletariat through bribery and corruption. It keeps them in privileged conditions through the selfsame bribery and corruption. This
“economic desertion of a stratum of the labour aristocracy to the side of the bourgeoisie”
matured and became a fact long ago. And this economic fact found political expression in the form of opportunism and social chauvinism – also long ago. Therefore, it is the duty of socialists, of Marxist-Leninists, to emphasise the irrevocability of this split, to stress that the
“social chauvinist or (what is the same thing) opportunist tendency can neither disappear nor `return’ to the revolutionary proletariat”
Imperialism and the split in the socialist movement, October 1916).
The only correct line in the proletarian movement is patiently to
“explain to the masses the inevitability and necessity of breaking with opportunism, to educate them for revolution by waging a relentless struggle against opportunism,”
by exposing the opportunists as
“the servants, the agents of the bourgeoisie and the vehicles of its influence,”
by teaching the workers that the
“most dangerous are those people who do not wish to understand that the fight against imperialism is a sham and a fraud unless it is inseparably bound up with the fight against opportunism”
This is part and parcel of our job of mobilising the masses against imperialism, an integral part of preparing them for revolution, socialism and communism.
Death to the Anglo-American forces invading Iraq!
Victory to the Iraqi people!
Victory to the peoples of the Middle East!
Workers and oppressed peoples of the world, unite!!!
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