In the face of worldwide opposition to a new US war against Iraq, as well as Iraqi willingness to comply with existing UN resolutions on disarming Iraq of the weapons of mass destruction (WMD), US imperialism, hell-bent on waging a war of aggression, continues to intensify its criminal preparations for such a war. Of course, before embarking upon such a hazardous enterprise, it has to create the moral conditions and mobilise public opinion in the US, as well as elsewhere, in favour of its planned aggression against a country which has in no way offended against the US and which presents no security threat to the latter. Since the US administration has no excuse, let alone any justification, for such a war, precisely for this reason it is forever shifting its stance, moving the goal posts for Iraq, and resorting to duplicity, fraud and lies on a scale in comparison with which the lies told by the Nazi propaganda minister, Goebbels, well and truly pale into insignificance.
Bush’s Hitlerian performance at the UN
On 12 September, the chief executive of US imperialism, George W Bush, addressed the UN General Assembly. In his address, having asserted that at stake was nothing less than the post-war international system itself, which was threatened by Iraq not the US, he went on to catalogue Iraq’s defiance of UN Security Council resolutions over the past 12 years, repression of its own people, detention of foreign nationals, support for terrorist groups and its possession of WMD. With stomach-churning insincerity and feigned indignation, he went on to say that Iraq’s contempt for the international community threatened to undermine the UN’s authority and its credibility as an instrument for global stability and peace. To give the reader a specimen of the breathtaking hypocrisy, calculated cynicism and blatant untruths with which Bush’s speech was stuffed to the brim, we cite a few sentences from it. Saying that the Security Council faced “a difficult and defining moment”, he went on to ask: “Are Security Council resolutions to be honoured and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding or will it be irrelevant?”
With all the limited intelligence and memory that Mr Bush is credited with, even he must have known that there is not a country in the world, other than the US and its protégé in the Middle East, Israel, which has flouted more UN resolutions, which has done so much to undermine the UN and the “purpose of its founding”.
In a vain attempt to distract attention from US imperialism’s planned illegal and unjustified unilateral pre-emptive war against Iraq, Bush, with all the perversity of a Hitler, went on to characterise Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi President, as an outlaw who was acting unilaterally. “We want the resolutions of the world’s most important multilateral bodies to be enforced” he said, “and right now those resolutions are being unilaterally subverted by the Iraq regime.”
The truth is that Iraq has complied with all the UN resolutions. It is the US, as we have repeatedly pointed out, which has manipulated the UN and the arms inspectors with the purpose of ensuring the continued maintenance of sanctions against Iraq as a means of toppling the Iraqi regime. During a period of 8 years, the UN arms inspection team (dominated by the US and saturated with US spies) undertook 9,000 inspections, in the process destroying all Iraqi WMD. Their task complete, Iraq, and the world at large, demanded an end to sanctions. It was to frustrate this demand, which was beginning to become irresistible, that the Clinton administration withdrew the inspectors on 12 December 1998, on the pretext that the Iraqi authorities were not ‘fully cooperating’. Soon after this lying assertion, within 48 hours of the withdrawal of the weapons inspectors, US and British imperialism began Operation Desert Fox, involving the massive bombardment of Iraq for four days, during which Iraq was subjected to more than 1,000 missiles and bombs. Only after this unprovoked and barbaric bombing, and the open admission by US officials that many of the inspectors were US spies who supplied the US defence establishment with bombing targets, that Iraq justifiably declared its intention not to cooperate any further with the UN inspection team.
While pretending to uphold the international security system, centred on the UN, Bush went on to reveal his aggressive design of overthrowing the Iraqi regime by military force and installing in Baghdad “a government based on respect for human rights, economic liberty and internationally supervised elections [like those in Florida?!]”.
In fact his insatiable thirst for democracy US imperialism style, in which regimes are overthrown by US military might and replaced by US-friendly puppet governments, went far beyond Iraq. He forecast that a new Iraqi regime would inspire “reforms throughout the Muslim world”. In other words, what he had in mind for Iraq was merely a prelude to a string of aggressive actions against the entire “Muslim world”. In the light of US imperialism’s openly expressed ambition, reminiscent of the Third Reich, is it to be surprised at that Herta Daubler Gemelin, a minister in Chancellor Schröder’s previous administration, should have drawn a parallel between George Bush and Adolf Hitler. Notwithstanding the outcry that her remarks caused in imperialist circles in the US, no one possessed of the least amount of objectivity and honesty can fail to agree with Ms Gemelin and admire her for her candour and courage in stating the obvious truth.
The US used the weapons inspections and the sanctions regime as a means of overthrowing the Iraqi government. It failed in that objective. Now, working towards the same end, it opposes the return of inspectors. For the truth is that WMD are simply a red herring as Iraq has no such weapons. What the US is trying to do is to effect a change of the current Iraqi regime and replace it with a puppet government willing to obey Washington’s baton – and all this with the sole purpose of monopolising Iraq’s fabulous oil wealth, and indeed the vast oil wealth of the Middle East as a whole.
As Iraq has no connection whatever with Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda, as it was in no way implicated in the events of 11 September 2001 and the subsequent anthrax scare in the US, the latter desperately needed an excuse for waging an imperialist war of aggression against Iraq. The question of alleged Iraqi possession of WMD provides precisely the excuse which the US administration needs so badly. Hence Bush’s reference to an ‘axis of evil’ in his State of the Union message; hence US plans for a pre-emptive strike against Iraq.
Iraq wrong-foots Washington
All the same, US imperialism and its junior partner, British imperialism, have a problem on their hands. They have to convince people at home and abroad that Iraq not only is in possession of WMD, but also that, in addition, these weapons pose a real danger to peace and stability in the Middle East and constitute a security threat to the US and Britain. The Iraqi regime exposed the entire hoax for what it was by agreeing to the re-entry of weapons inspectors into Iraq. In the first week of October at a meeting in Vienna, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Naji Sabri, reached an agreement with Hans Blix, the head of the UN Monitoring, Verification & Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), to allow weapons inspectors back into Iraq without any conditions. Even if taken at gunpoint, Iraq’s decision wrong-footed Washington, as this decision convinced the world at large that if the alleged Iraqi WMD were casus belli, this need no longer be the case as Iraq was willing to let the inspectors do their work unhindered. By its decision to allow inspectors into their country, the Iraqis were completely successful in portraying the US for what it truly is – an international bully and a warmongering imperialist power determined unilaterally to pursue the path of gunboat diplomacy and world domination.
Such is the overbearing and insolent stance of US imperialism that even the leaders of smaller imperialist countries felt compelled to dissociate themselves from it. Jean Chrétien, the Canadian Prime Minister, at the risk of antagonising Washington, has said that the US and the West must bear some of the responsibility for last year’s September 11 events. In a broadcast on the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks, Mr Chrétien suggested that global poverty and high-handed American foreign policy were among the root causes of the attacks, and that the rest of the world had been alienated through the increasing economic dominance of the West and the US and by their attempts to impose their values on others. It is noteworthy that Mr Chrétien’s remarks were broadcast on the eve of the US President’s speech to the UN General Assembly. Thus it is clear that for all the demonisation by the US of the target of its victimisation and aggression, Iraq, for all its propaganda barrage, stuffed full of lies, half-truths and concoctions, the US is unable to convince either the populations at large or the leaders of even the imperialist countries (save Tony Blair of Britain and suchlike servile lackeys of Anglo-American imperialism), let alone the masses either in the Middle East or the world at large, who justly ask about the Israeli flouting of UN resolutions with full US and British imperialist support.
Attempts at regime change
Since the Iraqis are willing to let the inspectors in, the US is doing everything in its power to prevent the inspectors from going to Iraq, for their entry into Iraq would spell doom for US imperialism’s plans for a regime change in Baghdad through military aggression. Even before the Iraqi agreement with UNMOVIC, the US Secretary of State, during a stop off in the Philippines in early August, stated that the US would not take an Iraqi ‘yes’ for an answer, adding dismissively: “Inspection is not the issue, disarmament is … we have seen the Iraqis fiddle with the inspection system before.” In other words, only a US army of invasion and aggression can be relied on to disarm Iraq. If Powell was somewhat circumspect in his use of language in expressing the aims of American policy in Iraq, his colleague, John Bolton, US under-secretary for arms control, had little difficulty in spelling out American policy in brutally frank terms. Speaking on Britain’s Radio 4 Today programme on 4 August he said: “Our policy … insists on regime change in Baghdad and that policy will not be altered, whether inspectors go in or not.”
Why is US keen for Security Council resolution?
While this remains the policy of US imperialism, while it is making frantic war preparations, it nevertheless is desperate to secure the backing of a Security Council resolution as a fig leaf for its war of aggression. Such a resolution would, at least in the short term, help enlist the support of the American public for such a ‘UN’ war. In addition, a UN resolution will make it far easier for Britain to join the carnage and for the despicable TUC leadership to back the slaughter in Iraq. It is precisely with this in mind that at its annual Conference this year in early September, the TUC resolved it would support a war against Iraq provided it had UN endorsement, while rejecting by a margin of 1.1 million votes the amendment from the transport union, TSSA, which would have opposed a war against Iraq under any circumstances. Without doubt our labour aristocracy knows which side its bread is buttered on. No imperialist superprofits, no crumbs for these upper bought-off strata of the working class. That being the case, there is not a crime that it will not go along with, there is not a mass slaughter of innocent people that it would not support, there is not a single draconian act of suppression of the poor at home that it would not endorse. This is not a leadership which can be relied on to represent the interests of the poor, the oppressed, the downtrodden and the destitute at home, let alone abroad. It needs to be kicked out, it must be kicked out, if the British working class is to make any progress on the road to its social emancipation. Further, the link between the trade unions and the Labour Party must be broken – irrevocably and irretrievably – for this link is a millstone round the neck of the British working class and the surest guarantee of the subordination of the vital interests of the working class to the interests of British imperialism. Unless and until the trade unions are freed of the suffocating embrace of treacherous social democracy – this servile, faithful and tested servant of imperialism – the working class in Britain will continue to flounder from pillar to post.
As these lines are being written, the US administration is keeping up the pressure on other members of the Security Council, especially its permanent members with the right to veto, to secure a resolution which would declare Iraq to have been in ‘material breach’ of existing union resolution under which ‘false statements and omissions’ in declarations submitted by Iraq coupled with failure to co-operate fully would be considered as ‘further material breach’, and as a consequence she would face ‘serious consequences’ – a code for unleashing a barbarous imperialist war of aggression against Iraq. Whether the US attempts to persuade, coerce, cajole and bribe other permanent members of the Security Council will be successful, we do not know at present. All we can be certain of is that US imperialism is determined to go to war against Iraq – with or without a UN resolution.
Delusions for occupation
On 2 October, Bush secured the agreement of the leaders of the House of Representatives for military action against Iraq. Since then, both the House and the Senate have voted to authorise Bush to go to war against Iraq. The vote in the House was 296 to 133 for the war, including the 81 Democrats, led by the minority leader, Richard Gephardt. The Senate voted by a majority of 77 to 23 for the war. The US administration deludes itself into thinking that not only will it find the war in Iraq a walkover, but also that it will be able to put in place a military occupation along lines similar to those in Japan after her defeat in the Second World War. The New York Times of 11 October revealed a glimpse of this plan in the following words:
“The White House is developing a detailed plan, modelled on the post-war occupation of Japan, to install an American-led military government in Iraq if the United States topples Saddam Hussein, senior administration officials said today.
“The plan also calls for war-crimes trials of Iraqi leaders and a transition to an elected civilian government that could take months or years.
“In the initial phase, Iraq would be governed by an American military commander – perhaps General Tommy Franks, commander of United States forces in the Persian Gulf, or one of his subordinates – who would assume the role that Gen. Douglas MacArthur served in Japan after its surrender in 1945.”
In a craftily worded sentence, calculated to secure the support of other imperialist countries, the New York Times dangled in front of their eyes the following glittering prize if they co-operated with the US: “For as long as the coalition partners administered Iraq, they would essentially control the second largest proven oil reserves in the world, nearly 11 per cent of the total”.
Undoubtedly US imperialism has the military strength to defeat Iraq in a straightforward conventional war. What it has not got, however, is the ability to sustain an occupation of Iraq in the face of the resistance of the proud Iraqi people, who are bound to turn to the tactics of a people’s war (guerrilla war), which over time will wear down and defeat the mightiest army of occupation.
Besides radicalising the Iraqi people, US occupation of Iraq will serve to radicalise the Arab masses throughout the Arab world and act as standing incitement to the latter to rise up against imperialism and its puppets. The signs of such resistance are everywhere, from Palestine to Yemen, from Iran to Pakistan, and from Yemen to Kuwait. The flames of the Palestinian Intifada against the hated occupation regime of Israeli Zionism (the serial violator of UN resolutions with full US backing) continue to spread further afield, notwithstanding the colossal use of force by the Israeli army to crush the uprising. In May, 11 French engineers were killed in an attack in Pakistan, and on Sunday 7 October, the French oil tanker Limburg was disabled after being attacked off the coast of Yemen. A day later, on 8 October, two armed men attacked US marines in Kuwait with small arms, killing one and wounding a second. In this incident, two Kuwaitis drove up to the US marines taking part in war games on the mainly uninhabited Faylakah Island, 12 miles off the coast from Kuwait City. After shooting the two marines, they drove to another group of 50 soldiers, who killed the two cousins. Only the other day, an American diplomat was shot dead in Amman, the Jordanian capital. Last April there was a suicide attack on a synagogue in Tunisia, in which 11 Germans were among the 16 people killed.
The luckless Jack Straw arrived in Teheran on 9 October, just one day after an Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip which claimed 15 Palestinian lives, to lobby Iran’s support for the war on Iraq. All he got was a lecture on the “deep hatred” for the US across the region by Kamal Kharrazi, the Iranian Foreign Minister, who also accused th US and the UK of neglecting the question of Palestine. The previous day, 8 October, during his visit to Cairo, Straw was told by the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Maher, that the US was rewriting the rule book so as to make it difficult for Iraq to comply with UN demands. He also contrasted the US attitude to Israeli violations of UN resolutions with that it adopts towards Iraq.
Rumours of a coup attempt in Qatar
On top of all this, there are strong rumours of a foiled coup in Qatar, which is so important to US plans for its war on Iraq. Since the Saudis have refused the use of Prince Sultan base to the US, the latter has built up facilities at the al-Udaid base in Qatar, to which it has already moved 600 staff members from Florida. According to sources in Cairo and the Gulf States, the Qatari government had arrested scores of high-ranking army officers on the evening of 12 October, after the plotters had been betrayed. The arrests and the crackdown was targeted at Pakistani and Yemeni soldiers in the Qatari army, half of which is comprised of foreigners (be it said in passing that to Qatar’s population of 150,000, there are 450,000 expatriates; its indigenous population has a per capita income of $27,000 (£17,000) a year, and it is the repository of the third largest gas reserves in the world). The plotters are said to include some members of the ruling Al-Thani family, and the goal of the plotters is said to have been changing Qatar’s pro-US foreign policy. If these rumours are true, they cannot fail to take their toll on US imperialism’s war plans.
All in all, it is clear that the whole of the Middle East is seething with anger against US imperialist brigandage, its support for Israeli state terrorism which the US finances to the tune of $15 million a day, its bombing of Iraq and the killing of 1.5 million Iraqis through the inhuman genocidal sanctions, and now its plans to invade and occupy Iraq.
The duty of the proletariat
Whatever the short-term effects of such insane actions by US and British imperialism, its long-term effects will only be the utter rout and defeat of imperialism. We in the imperialist countries have a duty to oppose the coming war against Iraq, whether or not this war has the backing of a UN resolution; a duty to inform the working class that the only danger to peace, stability and security in any region of the world comes from the continued existence of imperialism; that only by putting an end to the bloodthirsty system of monopoly capitalism – imperialism – can the people the world over enjoy peace and prosperity. This is the message that must permeate the working class movement and the wider masses throughout the world, especially in the centres of imperialism. If the war breaks out, as is only too likely, the proletariat in the imperialist countries participating in this war must refuse to co-operate with the war effort. It must take its cue from its forebears, such as Harry Pollitt and his fellow dockers, who, by refusing to load war materials destined for Russia during the imperialist war of intervention against the young Soviet republic, sealed the fate of that counter-revolutionary attempt and forced Lloyd George to call off the entire enterprise. The proletariat has that power today too if only it dares to think as boldly, and act as big, as did its ancestors. May it live up to its proletarian internationalist duties. May it not be led by the social democrats into supporting the slaughter of the Iraqi people.