Since we last wrote about Iraq (see Lalkar Nov/Dec 2002), there have taken place some developments which are worth commenting upon. On 8 November, the UN Security Council (SC) unanimously passed Resolution 1441, which provides for a tough new inspections regime backed by the threat of force. Under the terms of this resolution, failure by Iraq to provide UNMOVIC “immediate, unimpeded, unconditional and unrestricted access” to all suspected sites “will be reported to the Council” in the second stage.
The resolution is characterised by such ambiguity that while it enables Washington to claim that there are no “handcuffs” restraining the use of force by it, it allows France to argue that the text has been thoroughly cleansed of “hair-triggers” entitling the US to go after “regime change” while using the UN as a cloak. While the French insist that there is no automatic right to the use of force under this resolution, the US asserts that there will be “zero tolerance” of Iraqi breaches and threatens serious consequences.
The resolution gave Iraq until 15 November to accept its terms and pledge compliance. Further, by 8 December, Iraq was to have provided the weapons inspectors and the SC with a full declaration of all aspects of its chemical, biological and nuclear programme. The inspectors are charged with reporting to the SC sixty days after the start of their work. Adding insult to injury, the resolution declares that Iraq has been and continues to be in “material breach” of its obligations, adding, however, that it is given a “final opportunity” to show compliance. “False statements and omissions” in declarations submitted by Iraq, as well as its failure to co-operate fully in the implementation of the terms of the resolution, would constitute a “further material breach” on its part and “will be reported to the Council for assessment”. Inspectors are required to report immediately to the SC any “interference by Iraq with inspection activities as well as any failure by Iraq to comply with its disarmament obligations”, following which the Council meets immediately “to consider the situation”.
The US was able to ‘persuade’ the other members of the SC – both permanent and elected – through sustained economic, diplomatic and military pressure to vote for this draconian resolution, stuffed full with demands which undermine Iraqi sovereignty and are, in their unreasonableness and arrogance, an insult to the entire Iraqi people. But, then, the demands of justice and the rules for the conduct of intercourse among civilised nations were not uppermost in the minds of the members of the SC, each one of whom went for its own narrow selfish interests in voting for it. Many countries on the SC are beholden to the US or are reliant on it for their export trade. When voting, the example of Yemen, which, along with Cuba, voted against the US in 1990, only to have its $70 million aid package axed by the US and see the expulsion of thousands of Yemeni workers from Saudi Arabia, with the consequent loss of large remittances to Yemen, cannot have been far from the minds of the SC members. As a US diplomat remarked back then, it was the “most expensive ‘no’ vote Yemen ever cast”. Even Russia, the only country with the military might to confront the US, is thought to have secured it future role in Iraq’s lucrative oil business in backroom discussions with the US.
While Iraq complies, imperialism bombs
Iraq, thus left without a friend on the SC, had to decide its response to resolution 1441. On Tuesday, 12 November, after a passionate debate, in which speaker after speaker condemned this resolution, the Iraqi parliament, by way of expressing the anger, indignation, dignity and honour of the Iraqi people, unanimously rejected the SC’s demands but deferred the final decision to the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), chaired by the Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein.
The following day (13 November) Iraq intimated its acceptance of the SC demand to unconditionally let the weapons inspectors into the country. Now that Iraq has accepted the terms of the most unreasonable and unjust SC resolution, will the US accept the report of the UN inspectors? At the moment it appears not – but of this more later on.
Following the Iraqi acceptance, Hans Blix, Chief UN weapons inspector travelled to Baghdad on 18 November dangling the prospect of lifting the murderous UN sanctions if Iraq provides evidence that it is free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Just in case anyone was in doubt as to the evil intent of US and British imperialism, shortly before the arrival of Hans Blix and his colleague Mohamed El Baradei, the Egyptian head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), US and British aircraft bombed Iraq for a third consecutive day – obviously with the purpose of either intimidating Iraq or provoking it into non-compliance with the SC resolution, for the Iraqi acceptance of this resolution spells the most dangerous consequences for the US, depriving as it does the latter of all excuse or pretext for waging a predatory imperialist war of aggression against the people of Iraq.
As per the resolution, Iraq sent her declaration in time. As soon as the Iraqi declaration arrived at the UN office in New York, it was stolen by the US in a robbery never before seen in the history of the UN. The US officials walked into the UNMOVIC offices and took the document to Washington. The 12,000-page document was then photocopied and supposedly given to the four other permanent members of the SC – thus violating the rights of the ten non-permanent representatives, who were supposed to receive copies at the same time, once stripped by UN experts of any “proliferation-sensitive” material on nuclear weapons. Soon after this, US officials started a propaganda campaign that Iraq’s lengthy declaration was worthless and a complete lie since it did not own up to Iraq’s WMD programme, and as such in itself a material breach. Iraq could hardly own up to a WMD programme which it does not have, and has not had since 1998, when the execrable Richard Butler withdrew weapons inspectors from Iraq to protect them from US and British strikes during the operation Desert Fox, for which his own report had paved, as it was intended to, the way. Before their withdrawal, the inspectors had eliminated 90-95% of Iraq’s capacity in this field. Iraq could not have rebuilt its capacity to manufacture WMD in the four years since the departure of the inspectors when, as Scott Ritter, former weapons inspector says, such attempts on Iraq’s part would be easily detectable by available technology (see elsewhere in this issue). It is thus patently clear that Iraq cannot win, whatever it says or does; Iraq is in “material breach” if it does not admit to having a WMD programme, for the simple reason that it does not have one, and it would doubtless by guilty of “material breach” if it admitted to having such a programme.
In fact, Iraq is being subjected to humiliating punishment precisely because it has no WMD; if it possessed such weapons, US and British imperialism would assuredly treat it with great respect, for they would understand the dire consequences of attacking an Iraq armed with WMD. One has only to contrast their behaviour toward Iraq, which has no such weapons, with that toward the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), which more than likely possesses such devices. Any attempt by US imperialism to attack the DPRK would encounter a fitting response from the latter and threaten, not only the US’s South Korean colony, but also the 37,000-strong US army of occupation in the southern part of the Korean peninsula. Imperialism well understands the language of force; indeed it is the only language that makes any impression on it; all the rest, the talk about humanitarianism, democracy, freedom and the like is nothing but so much guff designed to fool the innocent. The whole world knows that if there is a country in the Middle East which possesses WMD, and in abundance; which practises oppression and torture on people under its jurisdiction, and on a mass scale; which continues to flout innumerable UN resolution; and which lives on stolen land – that country is Israel. People everywhere, especially in the Middle East, quite correctly ask: Why is Iraq being punished for no apparent reason, when the real culprit, Israel, not only is not being punished for its genocidal criminality but is, on the contrary, fully supported by US and British imperialism militarily, diplomatically, commercially and financially? The answer to this question furnishes the key to an understanding of all the burning questions of war and peace in the Middle East as well as elsewhere. Whereas Israel is an instrument of US domination of the Middle East, Iraq by its defiance stands in the way of this domination, therefore, US imperialism is determined to go to war against Iraq, whatever the weapons inspectors say in their report towards the end of January this year (27 January 2003, to be precise). The SC resolution is just a charade, a convenient ploy to enlist public support for a war which has long been in preparation, a war the aim of which is to control Iraqi oil (10% of the global proven reserves), dominate the Middle East (repository of two-thirds of global oil reserves), and issue a warning of the dire consequences to other regimes who might entertain ideas of resisting US demands. More than that. The war against Iraq is merely an opening shot in a long campaign, a series of wars, planned by US imperialism as a part of its mad Hitlerite plan for world domination.
New US security doctrine
That this is so, becomes clear from even a cursory glance at the new US strategic military policy, which was announced to the world in October 2002. Entitled ‘The National Security Strategy of the United States’, it is a declaration of war without end by US imperialism for the purpose of dominating the oppressed nations as well as rival imperialist powers. Under this new doctrine:
(a) nuclear weapons are now to be regarded as weapons of first, not last, resort – and a nuclear war a preferred policy;
(b) pre-emptive strikes against states which supposedly present a threat to the US are to be the order of the day;
(c) the US is to assume the mantle of a self-appointed world gendarme, with the right to monitor, punish and destroy with massive force countries and peoples regarded by it as “enemies of civilisation” and do everything to prevent the emergence of a rival state power – friend or foe;
(d) the US is to strengthen military supremacy for world domination throughout the 21st century and acquire the ability to fight at least on two fronts simultaneously;
(e) the US is to place reliance on unilateralism over multilateralism and indulge in the bulk shredding of international treaties standing in the way of its hegemonic designs.
The above doctrine, which began to emerge in the aftermath of the Gulf War during the presidency of Bush Senior, has now been openly and clearly spelt out by the administration of Bush Junior. What has made US imperialism to so openly display its aggressive designs for global hegemony – and precisely now? First, the collapse and demise of the USSR, thanks to the treachery of Khruschevite revisionism, removed from the international arena the one power that for so long had kept US ambitions in check. Second, the US’ overwhelming military might is such that US imperialism feels emboldened to use it to reorder the world to the advantage of US monopolies. Last, but not least, the crisis of imperialism, with the resultant furious competition between the three rival imperialist blocs for monopolising the finite markets, sources of raw materials and avenues for investment is driving them all to pursue their aims aggressively. In this struggle, the US hopes to use its unprecedented military might to gain its economic aims.
Mad delusions bound to fail
These mad grand delusions entertained by US imperialism will meet no better end than those entertained by German imperialism and its Hitlerite regime. They will most certainly fail, as is being recognised by even some US bourgeois commentators. Here is one such example. Writing in Foreign Affairs (October 2002), G.John Ikenberry, has this to say on US’ new strategy:
“America’s nascent neoimperial strategy threatens to rend the fabric of the international community and political partnerships. It is an approach that is fraught with peril and will likely fail. It is not only politically unsustainable but diplomatically harmful. And if history is a guide, it will trigger antagonism and resistance that will leave America in a more hostile and divided world”.
Undoubtedly, US aggression and bullying are arousing worldwide resistance against US imperialism. The forces ranged against it stretch from the oppressed peoples of the vast continents of Asia, Africa and Latin America, and the proletarian masses in the centres of imperialism, at one end, to the US’ rival imperialist blocs – the EU and Japan – at the other end.
When US imperialism waged the Gulf War in 1991, it had the support of more than two dozen countries, including all the major imperialist powers, as well as many an Arab regime. Today Britain alone among the imperialist powers, and Kuwait alone in the Arab world, supports the US’s planned war against Iraq. Last time round, most of the cost of the war was borne by Germany, Japan and the oil sheikdoms, who together forked out £24 billion, of which the US got £22.6 billion and the UK got £1.36 billion. Of this huge sum, Saudi Arabia paid £8.2 billion and Kuwait £9 billion; Japan doled out £5.3 billion and Germany £4 billion. This time round, there is not a single country prepared to empty its treasury for the greater glory of US and British imperialism. Germany has openly and firmly declared that it will not participate in the war against Iraq, even if it is backed by a second SC resolution. Further, the German finance minister has stated that there is no provision in the German budget allocations for this war. Saudi Arabia, with the best military facilities in the region, including 31 long paved runways, may end up denying their use to the US, forcing the latter to depend on small emirates such as Qatar and Bahrain, whose airfields are far less developed and inadequately stocked.
Resistance in the Middle East
The masses in the Middle East are seething with anger against US imperialism. US personnel and businesses are the target of regular and frequent attacks from Jordan to Lebanon and Kuwait to Saudi Arabia. From the Palestinian refugee camps in Amman to the wealthy neighbourhoods of Riyadh, the US is utterly detested and correctly accused of practising double standards – supporting Israel for flouting UN resolutions while being prepared to go to war against Iraq for the latter’s imaginary breach of SC resolutions.
Elsewhere in the world, from Indonesia to Pakistan, from Colombia to Venezuela, hatred of US imperialism is just as rampant.
Opposition in centres of imperialism
Even in the centres of imperialism, the anti-war protest is growing. On 9 November 2002 over a million people protested in Florence against US’ war plans against Iraq. Earlier, on 28 September, London witnessed a huge demonstration of nearly half a million people demanding justice for Palestine and voicing their opposition to the war against Iraq. Berlin, Paris and many other European capitals have been the venues for huge anti-war demonstrations. Even in the US there have been big anti-war demonstrations. In Australia, where the Howard administration is inclined to support the US’ war in the Middle East, 40,000 protested in Melbourne, while other Australian cities had sizeable numbers showing their determination to oppose the war. What is remarkable about all these protests in Europe, the US, Australia and elsewhere, is that even the most backward people taking part in these mass mobilisations fully understand that the war planned by the US is about securing monopoly over the oil reserves of Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, that it has nothing whatever to do with the alleged possession by Iraq of WMD. This makes US imperialism’s task of mobilising public opinion on its side far harder, for it is difficult to convince masses of workers to shed their blood for the profits of oil and other monopoly corporations.
War in February
All the same, US imperialism is hell-bent upon waging a predatory war against Iraq, whatever the incpectors say in their report. More likely than not, British imperialism will follow suit to protect the interests of its oil and armament monopolies. This is understood by an increasing number of people. Even the bourgeois tabloid, Daily Mirror, with a daily circulation of 3 million, in its editorial of 20 December 2002, had this to say. Entitled ‘Bush’s race to war puts world at risk’, the Mirror goes on to say:
“The day has been marked in President Bush’s diary. January 27, 2003. The date when he will decide on war against Iraq.
“But no one really believes that a big decision will be taken in the White House on that day. The die was cast long ago.
“Mr.Bush and the warmongers in his cabinet want a war against Saddam Hussein. They say they must stop him because he has weapons of mass destruction.
“But only one leader has weapons of mass destruction and plans to use them. His name is George W.Bush and it is he who must be stopped.
“What he plans to do against Iraq will not save lives or make peace. It will destabilise the world and threatens thousands, possibly millions” (Mirror emphasis).
And: “Yesterday the Americans declared that Iraq is in ‘material breach’ – the key words-of United Nations resolutions.
“Not even the British government went that far. Though Jack Straw came close to it and will doubtless take the short step to stand should-to-shoulder with Mr.Bush.
“But they must be stopped. Before this mad, dangerous war is begun.
“It is true that weapons of mass destruction should not be allowed in the wrong hands.
“But they are. They are in President Bush’s. That is the greatest threat facing the world” (Mirror emphasis).
The front page of the same issue of the Mirror, which is reproduced here by us, carries this apt and fetching banner headline portraying George Bush as a “lunatic with weapons of mass destruction ‘ramping up’ for a war”, and who must be stopped.
Without bothering to wait for the inspectors’ report, possessed of a sinking realisation that the inspectors will declare Iraq to be free from WMD, US imperialism has already deployed more than 60,000 troops to the Middle East. British imperialism, too, is in the process of doing the same. Notwithstanding the assertions of the spokesmen of Anglo-American imperialism that war is not inevitable, the odds are in favour of these two imperialist powers beginning their war for the conquest of Iraq some time in February. However, it will be a war in which the US and Britain will face total isolation and condemnation from the overwhelming mass of humanity, in the Middle East and elsewhere-even in the US and Britain.
Moreover, it will be a war fraught with some grave consequences for imperialism and its stooges in the Middle East, for it will not fail to rouse the masses in the Middle East in their tens of millions against imperialist aggression and domination, and against their local puppets. Moreover, the war may not go as smoothly for the imperialist forces as did the Gulf War of 1991. It is unlikely that the Iraqis will repeat their earlier mistake of confronting their enemies in the open, where they are decidedly at a total disadvantage. Iraq is only too likely to forego a battle in the desert, where its troops suffered enormous losses during Desert Storm due to superior US mobility and instead concentrate on a drawn-out battle in and around Baghdad. In urban centres, the US military’s high-tech advantages are nearly completely nullified. Satellites and aircraft are almost ineffective, as demonstrated during Nato’s barbaric war of aggression against Yugoslavia. After nearly three months of Nato’s brutal campaign, which was supposed to have destroyed the Yugoslav military but leave the infrastructure intact, the Yugoslav army, being concentrated in towns and cities, emerged intact with a loss of just 13 tanks, while the infrastructure lay in tatters. The urban battlefield and the AK47 are great levellers of our time. This is the nightmare scenario facing the Anglo-American imperialist aggressors in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. The Iraqi people, unable to match the military hardware of US imperialism, are bound to reorganise themselves to fight a guerrilla campaign of attrition-in the urban centres as well as the countryside-from which the imperialist troops will get no rest until they are forced to quit Iraq in humiliation and ignominy.
Leadership of the anti-war movement
The most important problem facing proletarian parties in the centres of imperialism is to gain influence, and control over, the vast masses mobilised against the war and direct their anger along proper channels which lead to the frustration of the war effort. Apart from the general task of working for the overthrow of imperialism as the only sure precondition for guaranteeing peace and prosperity, there is the immediate task of persuading workers in their work places not to cooperate with the war efforts of their governments. In this context the train drivers from Scotland (see elsewhere in this issue) show the way and their lead must be followed. This task is particularly important in Britain, where the leadership of the anti-war movement is in the hands of people from the very party which is participating in this predatory imperialist war for the plunder and spoliation of the Middle East, namely, the ‘left’ wing of the Labour Party and its hangers-on, the counter-revolutionary Trotskyists, who are doing everything within their power to shield British social democracy against isolation from the masses. Unless the Labour Party is exposed as an imperialist party, unless its influence, through its ‘left’ wing and its Trotskyist and revisionist agents, is eradicated, the large anti-war mobilisations, of the type we have seen recently, will prove helpless in thwarting the war plans of Anglo-American imperialism. It is impossible for those, like our Troto-revisionist fraternity, who maintain that the Labour Party is the party of the British working class, to at the same time galvanise the working class against a war waged by the latter’s allegedly own party.