As we go to press, US and British imperialism are poised to unleash a murderous, predatory and imperialist war of aggression against Iraq on the pretext of Iraq’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), but actually to monopolise the oil resources of Iraq and other countries in the Middle East, which account for two-thirds of the world’s proven reserves, and 30% of the production, of this precious raw material. To this end, they have already assembled a quarter of a million military personnel (of which 42,000 are British soldiers – representing one-third of the British armed forces) in the Gulf region, backed by hundreds of tanks, fighter aircraft, ships and other instruments of mass slaughter. The Pentagon’s war planners are proposing to shatter Iraq “physically, emotionally and psychologically” by showering its people with 800 cruise missiles in the first two days of the war. This will be tantamount to double the number of missiles unleashed during the Gulf War of 1991, which lasted 40 days. Christened as “shock and awe”, this strategy is designed to produce the “Hiroshima effect” within a matter of minutes on the Iraqi population, nearly half of whom are children below the age of fourteen.
While accusing Iraq of the possession of WMD, which allegedly pose a danger to the stability and security of the Middle East and beyond, US President Bush has blatantly declared that the US will use nuclear weapons “if necessary”. Geoff Hoon, the British defence secretary, stated on 26 March 2002, that other countries “can be absolutely confident that in the right conditions we would be willing to use our nuclear weapons”.
Although US and British imperialism have all along been bent upon unleashing a war of aggression against Iraq, and they had the forces and materials ready for such a war, two major hurdles served to delay the onset of this war – massive public opposition to the war on a global scale and a dissension within the imperialist camp. Bush and Blair administrations have done all they could to spin the big lies in an effort to convince the public of the case for war on Iraq, but to no effect. Their utter disregard of the dictates of humanitarianism, total contempt for the rules of international law, and their Goebbelsian lies, have only served to alienate ever wider sections of the population.
Massive anti-war demonstrations
On the weekend of 15-16 February tens of millions of people took to the streets in 600 cities worldwide to protest and demonstrate their anger against the war plans of Anglo-American imperialism. From London to Los Angeles and New York, Damascus to Dublin, Sydney to Stockholm, Buenos Aires to Berlin and Barcelona, and from Rome to Rio de Janeiro, people vented their anger against the intended bloody imperialist carnage. The countries which saw the largest anti-war turnouts are the ones whose governments support this US imperialist-led unjust war, namely, Britain, Italy, Spain and Australia. More than two million Spanish people, 5% of the population, turned out in 55 towns and cities nationwide to record their opposition to the pro-US policy of the government of prime minister Jose Maria Azner. Barcelona, with a turnout of 1.3 million, and Madrid with 600,000, together accounted for 95% of all the Spanish protestors. The centre of Rome came to a grinding halt as 3 million Italians came out to express their opposition to the stance taken by prime minister Silvio Berlusconi in support of the US administration’s war plans. Half a million demonstrated in Berlin and an equal number in Paris. Several members of Chancellor Schröder’s government were among 500,000 people in what was the largest ever demonstration since the founding of West Germany more than 50 years ago. In Australia, half a million people joined the biggest marches since the Vietnam war (of which, 250,000 were in Sidney and 160,000 in Melbourne) to let John Howard, the Australian prime minister, know that his government’s support for the war had no backing from the Australian people.
London was home to the biggest ever protest on February 15, when 2 million people converged on the metropolis of the old imperialist country. Such is the anti-war feeling in Britain that even some well-known politicians from the bourgeois parties such as Labour and the Liberal Democrats joined the demonstration. Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London and an enthusiastic supporter of the imperialist carnage in Yugoslavia, felt it opportune this time round to side with the opposition to the war, as did the Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy. Another 80,000 converged on the Conference Centre in Glasgow where the Labour Party was holding its spring conference, with Tony Blair as speaker (of this more later). People from all walks of life, professions, ethnic groups, and all age groups from the very young to the very old, took part in the British protests.
Even in New York, 400,000 demonstrators held a rally within sight of the United Nations, where they were addressed, among others, by the South African archbishop Desmond Tutu and actors Susan Sarandon and Danny Glover. Elsewhere in the US, protesters marched in more than 100 towns and cities, including Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, Miami and Los Angeles.
Labour’s failed attempt to ban the rally
Having a fairly good idea of the massive numbers likely to descend on London on 15 February, and thus embarrass the government, Blair’s administration banned the rally in Hyde Part on the stupid excuse that it wanted to protect the grass from being damaged and people from twisting their ankles. The anger aroused by the ban forced even sections of the British press to protest against the government’s attempt to ban a political event of the utmost importance. Had vast crowds been intending to throng Hyde Park in support of “Blair’s war dance”, wrote Simon Jenkins in the Evening Standard of 30 January, “a crisp call from Downing Street to the Parks minister, Tessa Jowell, would demand that ‘the people’s voice be heard'”.
From a government, which has turned Hyde Park and Regent’s Park into private finance initiatives under a company called Royal Parks Enterprises, leased a considerable portion of Hyde Park to a squalid commercial outfit to promote Star Trek products and generally industrialised the park area close to Marble Arch, which has covered Hyde Park with “sheds, hoardings, fencings and general tat”, the attempted violation of the right of assembly out of alleged concern for grass and the demonstrators’ safety was nothing short of squalid humbug. The government might as well slap a blanket ban on football crowds or shoppers in Oxford Street for fear of injury. The wave of anger sparked by the government’s outrageous attempt to ban the rally forced it to reverse its decision and the rally went ahead as planned.
WMD and Iraq
The massive anti-war sentiment is a reflection of the failure of US and British imperialism to convince the world of the case for war against Iraq. People around the world correctly perceive the impending war to be an imperialist and predatory war for spoliation of Iraq and the rest of the oil-rich Middle East, a war to be waged by US imperialism as part of its plans for full-spectrum domination of the world. George W.Bush and Tony Blair have told one lie after another and shifted their ground in an effort to justify the unjustifiable – but to no avail.
To begin with the US-UK “axis of bullying”, as the Daily Mirror of 21 January aptly put it, asserted that Iraq possessed a vast quantity of the deadly WMD, which posed a threat to the security of the Middle East and the wider world. Apart from the breathtaking hypocrisy of this assertion, since the US and UK together account for 3/4 of the global WMD, Iraq responded by allowing the inspectors, who had been withdrawn in 1998 by the despicable Butler to make way for Anglo-American barbaric bombardment of Iraq, back into Iraq. Iraq’s decision pulled the rug from under the feet of US and UK lies. The lying assertions of these two imperialist predators have been further undermined by the successive reports of UNMOVIC, headed by Hans Blix and Mohamed El Baradei, who have found nothing and have therefore not been able to report on a “smoking gun”, which could provide the pretext for the planned imperialist war.
UNMOVIC’s 60-day progress report
In their first report to the Security Council (SC) on 27 January, while Blix reported that Iraq had on the whole “co-operated rather well” and provided prompt access “to all sites we have wanted to inspect”, his colleague El Baradei said “we have found no evidence that Iraq has revived its nuclear weapons programme since the elimination of the programme in the 1990s”. They concluded that, given a few more months, they will be able to complete their task and provide “credible assurance that Iraq has no nuclear weapons programme”, adding that these few months, helping to avoid a war “would be a valuable investment in peace”. These words were anathema to the imperialist war-mongers.
If WMD was truly the only reason agitating them, the spokesmen of US and British imperialism ought to have welcomed the inspectors’ report with sheer delight. Instead, it had a deadly depressing effect on them, frustrating as it did their war plans.
The inspectors also emphasised that the 1991-98 inspectorate (UNSCOM) achieved real results, saying that the latter had far greater success in destroying Iraqi weapons than did the bombing during the Gulf war and that Iraq’s nuclear weapons programme had been destroyed well before the withdrawal of the inspectors in 1998.
Not only did the inspectors feel unable to confirm some of the specific claims made by the governments of Bush and Blair, they in fact demanded that if the US and the UK really have the evidence they claim on WMD, it is high time they supplied, in the words of Mr.El Baradei, “actionable information”.
Iraq, said the inspectors, had been unable to account for “every gap” in its arms inventories, with Mr.Blix adding that “Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament that was demanded of it”. It was this single sentence in their report which was to be clutched at by the likes of Bush and Blair in the fashion of a drowning person clutching at the proverbial straw.
The following day (28 January), in his State of the Union Address, Bush responded to the inspectors’ report by making it clear that come what may US imperialism was on course for war on Iraq. Accusing Iraq of (don’t laugh for it isn’t a joke!) “ongoing defiance of the world”, this usurper of the position of the chief executive of the present-day Third Reich, as a prelude to waging an unjust imperialist war for the plunder of Iraq, went on to assert that “sometimes peace must be defended … if war is forced upon us, we will fight in a just war by just means”.
In an attempt to win over a sceptical population at home and abroad, Bush worked himself into an hysteria painting an alarming, not to say patently untrue, picture of the Iraqi regime linked to “the terrorist networks of Osama bin Laden”. “Imagine”, he shrieked, “those 19 hijackers with other weapons, and other plans – this time armed by Saddam Hussein”. Hinting at the alleged evidence of Iraq’s non-existent chemical, biological and nuclear programmes, he went on “It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known”.
The above lies were told by the leader of the country which dropped 300 tons of depleted uranium – a weapon of mass destruction – on Iraq during the Gulf war. Some of the rounds fired were solid uranium. The use by the US of these WMD has been the cause of the spread of cancer, especially among children, in Iraq on an extensive scale. According to reliable estimates, half the population in the south of Iraq is affected by cancer as a direct result of the use of WMD by the US during the Gulf war. In further perpetration of sadistic cruelty, US imperialism, with the support of the British government, has denied Iraq the specialist equipment needed by her to decontaminate the affected parts of the country as well as the medical equipment and drugs needed to diagnose and treat cancer and other diseases wrought upon the Iraqi people by the US and British WMD.
During his speech, Bush said that he would send Colin Powell, his secretary of state, to the UN Security Council on 5 February to present “intelligence about Iraq’s illegal weapons programmes, its attempts to hide those weapons from inspectors and its links to terrorist groups”.
Colin Powell duly appeared before the SC on 5 February. His much-touted “intelligence” about Iraqi weapons was a mixture of assertions, fabrication and plain lies, relying on such impeccable sources as two “Iraqi defectors” and telephone and radio “intercepts” allegedly between Iraqi Republican Guard officers, containing instructions to ensure that no trace of “forbidden ammunition” must be left for the inspectors to uncover and orders not to mention the words “nerve agents” over the wireless. Powell’s presentation was so lacking in substance that it failed to convince anyone. In its editorial the following day, the Financial Times was compelled to observe that Mr.Powell’s evidence required “a high degree of trust”, adding that it was “a moot point, … whether sceptical Council members will be more persuaded after yesterday” (6 February).
The few remaining shreds of credibility in Powell’s presentation to the SC were finally destroyed by the second UNMOVIC report on 14 February. Insisting that Powell’s presentation was not what it purported to be, Blix told the SC that, whatever the claims made by the US secretary of state, in the 400 inspections made at 300 sites, the inspectors had “in no case … seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew in advance that the inspectors were coming”.
Further, alluding specifically to one set of satellite pictures displayed by Powell, and which formed the thrust of his assertion that Iraqi officials were guilty of cleaning up sites just in time for the inspectors’ arrival, Mr.Blix observed that they merely depicted the self-declared Taji weapons site which the Iraqis knew would be inspected, thus making any surreptitious activity as unlikely as futile. To the noticeable scowl on Powell’s face, Blix declared “The reported movement of munitions at the site could just as easily have been a routine activity as a movement of proscribed munitions in anticipation of imminent inspection”.
With this report, Bush and Blair’s hopes for a report which might defuse international protests and opposition to war collapsed ignominiously. Despite the attempts to hide their disappointment and put on a brave face, it was clear following Blix and El Baradei’s report that the Anglo-American strategy of having their imperialist war legitimised through a SC resolution was beginning to fall apart.
In their latest report on 7 March, the inspectors told the SC that Iraq had “accelerated” her cooperation, that she was “active, or even pro-active” in complying with disarmament demands. Still, said the inspectors, there was no sign of WMD. Calling the Iraqi destruction of al-Samoud 2 missiles as “substantial”, Dr.Blix said “we’re not watching the destruction of toothpicks. Lethal weapons are being destroyed”.
Asking for more time, he stated: “While cooperation can be immediate, disarmament cannot be instant. It will take not years not weeks, but months”.
He stressed that his teams had been able to perform “professional, no-notice” inspections all over Iraq, adding that Iraq was making a serious effort to quantify biological and chemical weapons destroyed unilaterally by her.
For his part El Baradei, the nuclear inspector, took a swipe at US intelligence, saying that according to analysis the suspect aluminium tubes were not, contrary to US assertions, destined for equipment that could be used to refine uranium for the production of nuclear weapons. In a further blow to the US, he said: “Documents which formed the basis for the report of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger are not in fact authentic … these specific allegations are unfounded”. Rubbishing Anglo-American public allegations that Iraq had revived its nuclear weapons programme after 1998, Mr.El Baradei said: “After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons programme in Iraq”.
US and UK response – 10 days to war
While the other three permanent members of the SC greeted the inspectors’ report with a demand for more time for UNMOVIC to complete its disarmament mission, the response of the US and UK was to accelerate their preparations for war. Colin Powell dismissed Dr.Blix’s report as “a catalogue of non-compliance”.
Immediately after the presentation of the report by the inspectors, US and Britain tabled a resolution giving Iraq until 17 March to disarm or face war.
We have always insisted that the Gulf war waged by the US-led coalition in 1991 was imperialist, predatory and unjust; that every outrage committed against Iraq since then, even if anointed with the holy water of UN resolutions, has been equally unjust and predatory including the cruel sanctions which have claimed the lives of 1.5 million Iraqis; that resolution 1441 too is unjust. All the same, with superhuman patience the Iraqi authorities have complied with the unjust demands made of them – from allowing inspectors in to inspections without restriction. They have allowed the destruction of Iraqi missiles, permitted its scientists to be interviewed, sanctioned U-2 aircraft surveillance overflights, surrendered documents and supplied proof of the destruction of its stocks of nerve agent VX, anthrax and chemical weapons. In addition, the Iraqi president issued, on 15 February, a decree banning the import or production of WMD. All this to no effect. Each time Iraq complies, the goalpost is moved. Iraq cannot win; it is guilty if WMD are discovered by the inspectors, and it is guilty if the inspectors fail to discover such weapons.
While hypocritically asserting that what is at stake is the authority of the UN, while pretending to “uphold” its authority, Anglo-American imperialism is bent upon using the UN as a cover for its brigandage. While cynically chanting the mantra that war is not inevitable, US and Britain have throughout continued their frantic preparations for launching their aggression. Everyone is able to see through their lies. Their attempts to use the UN as a figleaf for their aggression have been scuppered. And this for the following reason.
For a brief period of time, when the USSR was fast disintegrating and following its collapse, the combined forces of imperialism managed to turn the UN into its colonial office. They could manipulate the SC into passing whatever resolutions they cared to submit to it. Thus it was that the US, following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, was able to get SC authorisation for war against Iraq and lead a coalition of several countries, including 13 Arab and Islamic nations, in its war against Iraq – a war which was paid for by the US’s imperialist allies – Germany and Japan – and the puppet oil sheikhdoms of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the tiny statelets comprising the UAE. Now, however, with the Soviet threat gone, the cohesiveness of the imperialist camp has disintegrated and given way to rivalry between them. Their interests no longer coincide. As a result the imperialist camp is split right down the middle. Anglo-American imperialism’s war plans encounter stiff opposition, not only from the broad masses of people in all parts of the world, but also from German and French imperialism, who in turn have the support of Russia and China. Never have the US and UK found themselves in such splendid isolation in recent memory..
Dissension in the imperialist camp
Even before this war has begun, the imperialist camp is in disarray. NATO is splitting at the seams as is the EU and the UN. The once serene, consensus-driven NATO headquarters in Brussels have erupted into an arena where ambassadors shriek at each other and diplomats trade insults. All this because the US asked NATO to prepare military planning for Turkey’s defence. To the fury of the US, on 10 February, France, Germany and Belgium blocked the move as they correctly believed that it undermined weapons inspections and implies that war was inevitable. In other words, they perceived the US move as an attempt to secure NATO backing for military action through the back door. This French-German-Belgian action, which happened at a meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) where each NATO member has a veto, shattered NATO’s founding principle of mutual defence and threatens to destroy its very existence. Rumsfeld, US defence secretary, denounced the French-German move as “shameful, truly shameful”, adding that: “What will be hurt will be NATO, not Turkey”. France and Germany were accused of being anti-Turk racists who wanted to exclude Turkey from the EU; French president Chiraq was characterised by the pro-US media as “pompous” and “dishonest”, and the French as “cowardly”.
Eventually, on 16 February, the deadlock was only broken by the combination of a compromise resolution and locking the French out of NATO’s Defence Planning Committee (DPC), the main decision-making arm of NATO on matters concerning its integrated military structure. The excuse for the exclusion of France was that, having quit NATO’s integrated structures in 1966, it did not belong to the DPC.
Smarting from the above deadly quarrel, the EU leaders met for their brief summit on 17 February. At French insistence, the candidate countries, which are due to join the EU in 2004, were not invited on the first day for their temerity in co-signing an open letter in support of the war plans of Anglo-American imperialism. In an effort to avoid falling into the abyss of a transatlantic rift, the EU leaders decided to regroup around a common position of upholding the authority and integrity of the SC and issuing a tough warning to Iraq that it must seize the “last chance” to disarm or face war, stating that “the Iraqi regime alone will be responsible for the consequences if it continued to flout the will of the international community and does not take the last chance”. Although saying that inspections “cannot continue indefinitely in the absence of full Iraqi co-operation”, the EU agreed that inspectors be given more time and resources. The balance of the EU’s common position was in favour of inspections since France had threatened to veto any attempt by the US and Britain to push through a new UN resolution in the near future.
The above unity lasted a mere 12 hours, being overshadowed by a blazing row between “old” and “new” Europe. Jacque Chiraq infuriated the EU candidate countries by accusing them of ingratitude and calling them ill-behaved and reckless in siding with the US over Iraq. Tony Blair was quick to join the fray through a letter to candidate countries, presenting himself as their closest ally. The French president made it perfectly clear to the accession countries that EU membership was not synonymous with NATO and their according precedence to NATO over their EU obligations would not be tolerated.
The inter-imperialist rivalries have burst into the EU and are threatening to put paid to their plans for a Common European Defence and Security policy.
Turkey and the war against Iraq
Turkey is exceptionally important in US plans to invade Iraq. In order to allow the US to open a northern front against Iraq, it needs to put its fourth infantry division, normally based in Fort Hood, Texas, on Turkish soil. This division is the most technically sophisticated fighting force in the US army, for which reason it is know as the digital division. To add to US difficulties, the Turkish parliament voted on Saturday, 1 March, against allowing 60,000 US troops, belonging to this division, to use Turkey as a base to launch an attack on Iraq. This notwithstanding the fact that the vote in favour of allowing the US forces to use Turkish soil would have secured for Turkey a financial package (bribery, to be correct) worth $24 billion in grants and soft loan guarantees to bolster Turkey’s crumbling economy, in addition to US support for the deployment of up to 40,000 Turkish troops in northern Iraq, allegedly for the purpose of setting up a dozen refugee camps and prevent the Iraqi Kurds from fleeing into Turkey. The real reason for such a deployment, of course, would be to prevent the Kurds of northern Iraq and south eastern Turkey from joining forces to fight for an independent Kurdistan, or at the very least to prevent the Iraqi Kurds from seizing the oil wells in northern Iraq and thus acquiring the financial muscle to support a movement for an independent Kurdistan. In view of the solid opposition to war in Turkey, the vote in the Turkish parliament is hardly a surprise. During the last Gulf war, Turkey suffered losses to the tune of $30 billion. There is every chance that a new war against Iraq would inflict huge financial and commercial damage on Turkey. Thus, as we go to press, the US troops, along with their heavy armour, denied permission to unload at the southern Turkish port of Iskenderon, are biding their time in ships off the Turkish coast, although there are reports that the Turkish military, which is the real power in the land, has over-ruled the parliamentary decision and is allowing US troop deployment on some pretext or the other.
Blair in trouble
Blair, with his future in the hands of others – Blix, the US and France – is in real trouble. As one bourgeois journalist put it, the man facing his moment of truth is not Saddam Hussein but Tony Blair. After one of the UNMOVIC reports, the Daily Mail carried a headline which simply said: Blixed. Blair had been so keen to straddle America and Europe – a bridge between the two. The reality, however, is that his chances of sinking in the mid-Atlantic have increased dramatically. While the leaders of the EU were at each other’s throats, Iraq’s Tariq Aziz was busy enjoying a private audience with the Pope. “The outlaw here is America, not Iraq”, he told his audience.
Surrounded by the empty shells of a defeated polemic, facing unprecedented popular opposition, at odds with his European counterparts, outnumbered and facing defeat in the SC, the Pentagon’s clock relentlessly ticking, knowing that Bush will in the final analysis bypass the UN, Blair has had to resort to ‘morality’ to sustain his position for war on Iraq. With demonstrators converging on Labour’s spring conference in Glasgow on 15 February, he told his audience that “Ridding the world of Saddam would be an act of humanity. It is leaving him there that is in truth inhumane”, adding that the “moral case against war has a moral answer. It is the moral case for removing Saddam Hussein”. Remembering that the pretext for an attack on Iraq had always been the latter’s alleged possession of WMD, Blair added as an after-thought that it is “not the reason we act. That must be according to the UN mandate of weapons of mass destruction”. “But”, he went on “… it is the reason, frankly, why if we do have to act, we should do so with a clear conscience”. Fully aware that the inspectors’ reports were bound to disappoint him on the question of the alleged Iraqi WMD, Blair, this Christian thug, to use the apt description of him by Harold Pinter, the famous English playwrite, with characteristic sickening scoundrelly hypocrisy, has shifted the ground from WMD to that of regime change, allegedly on moral grounds.
Bush and Blair’s Christian thuggery
Blair’s Christian thuggery is only matched by the Christian fundamentalism of George W.Bush. In his State of the Union Address to the Congress on 28 January 2003, this ignoramus declared: “The course of this nation does not depend on the decisions of others. The prize of liberty is not America’s gift to the world, it is God’s gift to humanity” – an assertion of moral certitude and strategic power as it is immoral.
Last year, in his speech to the West Point military academy, he asserted: “Moral truth is the same in every culture, in every time, in every place”.
A bourgeois journalist correctly observed after reading the above remarks of Bush that suchlike Christian fundamentalism was more likely to spark a Mid-East wide intifada against the new warlords than impose an American imperium.
The truth is that there is nothing moral about the stance of Messrs Bush and Blair. There is nothing moral about their attempts to effect regime change in Baghdad, their plans to conquer and occupy Iraq, their attempts to buy SC votes with financial largesse, and their total disregard for the plight of the Palestinian people who suffer at the hands of the settler Zionist regime, which is in serial breach of UN resolutions, while insisting that Iraq comply with every dictate of the UN. There is nothing moral about the British government producing a dodgy dossier, plagiarised from a PhD thesis, on Iraq’s alleged WMD. There is nothing moral about the British and the US governments making deliberately false allegations that the Iraqi regime employed a “professional rapist” with the purpose of “violating women’s honour”, when as a matter of fact this individual, far from being employed as a “professional rapist” was actually suspected of illegal activity. This was confirmed by Human Rights Watch, a New York-based watchdog, as well as by Amnesty International. There is nothing moral about occupying Iraq allegedly in order to “free it”.
Such are the despicable lies told by Tony Blair, his foreign secretary, Jack Straw and Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary, that even a large number of the equally despicable Labour members of parliament are not prepared to believe a word of them. Thus it is that more than 100 Labour MPs voted against the government insisting that the case for war was not proven.
Second UN resolution
Hitherto the British government had maintained that it would join the US in a war on Iraq only with the backing of a second UN resolution or if there was an “unreasonable” veto against the second resolution in the SC. Now, however, with Russia and France threatening a veto, Blair says that he might simply disregard both even though, according to the latest opinion polls, fewer than a quarter of the British people would support a war against Iraq without a second SC resolution.
A second UN resolution has always been the cover needed by the ‘left’ wing of the Labour Party and the higher echelons of the labour aristocracy to support the slaughter in Iraq. A war waged by the government without such a resolution may end up straining the imperialist Labour Party to the point of a split. If this were to happen, it would be the best thing for the development of truly proletarian politics in Britain, for the influence of this party among the working class is the most important source of purveying opportunism and corruption into the ranks of the proletariat. Without doubt the Labour Party is the most important agent of the bourgeoisie in the working-class movement. Without doubt the disintegration of Labour would aid the process of mobilising the British proletariat around a programme which seeks to overthrow capitalism. In saying what we have just said we do not for as single moment forget that the ‘left’ wing of social democracy has a pretty elastic conscience, that it will go to the utmost limits to justify its support for Labour as the only means of defending its own privileged position. Nor are we saying that a split in Labour would mean an automatic accretion to the forces working for a revolutionary overthrow of capitalism. What such a split will do is that, through the discrediting and disintegration of social democracy, it will free the working class from the latter’s suffocating embrace and pernicious influence, and thus render it much more receptive to the ideas of socialism and communism. One thing is certain, the crisis of imperialism and the coming war are acting as a catalyst for the all round disintegration of the camp of imperialism, the disintegration within each of the imperialist blocs, and within each imperialist country. Powerful events are overwhelming the hitherto existing cohesion and opening up opportunities for the working class to take advantage of them.
An unjust imperialist war
For our part, we must make it clear that war against Iraq, with or without a second UN resolution, would be an unjust, predatory and imperialist war of spoliation, just as was the Gulf war of 1991. The proletariat and the oppressed people all over the world have a duty to oppose this war by all means – through protest demonstrations, work stoppages and, above all, through the refusal to cooperate with the war effort in the belligerent imperialist countries. While bringing fabulous profits to monopoly capitalism, this war, like all other wars, will bring death, destruction and devastation to ordinary people. In Iraq, which has already undergone the suffering of 12 years of war and sanctions, which have claimed the lives of 1.5 million Iraqis, it will cause a humanitarian catastrophe of unprecedented proportions through death, disease, hunger and displacement.
We must make it clear that this war has nothing to do with WMD, which are mostly in the hands of the very imperialist powers poised to launch this war, that it has nothing to do with humanitarianism. On the contrary, it is war for the seizure and monopolisation of the oil and gas resources of Iraq and other countries of the Middle East, for such a seizure is a condition precedent for the maintenance of US hegemony in the world capitalist economic system This incidentally is the reason why the leading imperialist powers in the EU – France and Germany – are opposed to this war, while Britain, whose oil, armament and investment interests are closely tied with that of the US, is supporting this war. There is not a trace of humanitarianism here. Cool commercial calculations are the driving force behind the conduct of each of the imperialist powers – calculations which are causing deep splits among the powers, of which the working class and the oppressed people can, and should take full advantage.
The deep divisions among the imperialist powers are caused by the desire of each one of them to grab the largest portion of the world’s markets, sources of raw materials and avenues for investment. None of them has any objection in principle to imperialist plunder – only to the rival imperialists getting their snout in the trough.
In his epoch-making work on imperialism, this is how Lenin explained the subject under consideration:
“The principal feature of modern capitalism is the domination of monopolist combines of the big capitalists. These monopolies are most firmly established when ALL the sources of raw materials are controlled by one group. And we have seen with what zeal the international capitalist combines exert every effort to make it impossible for their rivals to compete with them; for example, by buying up mineral land, oil fields, etc. Colonial possession [or neo-colonial control – Lalkar] alone gives complete guarantee of success to the monopolies against all the risks of the struggle with competitors. … The more capitalism is developed, the more the need for raw materials is felt, the more bitter competition becomes, and the more feverishly the hunt for raw materials proceeds throughout the whole world, the more desperate becomes the struggle for the acquisition of colonies [or spheres of influence- Lalkar]” (Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, our emphasis).
Lenin, went on to say that monopolies in economics are incompatible with non-monopolistic, non-violent and non-annexationist methods in politics. Those who assert otherwise, those who say that imperialism could be peaceful and non-predatory are simply engaged in the business of presenting imperialism in beautiful colours. One cannot, in the final analysis, be against war without opposing imperialism, for without striking at “the economic basis of the trusts and banks, the ‘struggle’ against the policy of the trusts and banks reduces itself to bourgeois reformism and pacifism” (ibid).
This is the major weakness of the present-day peace movement. While opposed to war, by no means is it opposed to imperialism. Nor could one expect otherwise, for the leadership of the peace movement is firmly, at least at the moment, in the hands of social democracy and its hangers-on. To wrest the peace movement from the clutches of the ‘left’ wing of social democracy, and to bring it under the wings of those who espouse and uphold the struggle against imperialism, is one of the most urgent tasks facing the working-class movement.
US and British imperialism expects an easy victory and entertain the illusion that the Iraqi masses will greet their aggressor troops as liberators. The opposite is more likely to be the case. This war of aggression is only too likely to become a recruiting sergeant for the forces of resistance to imperialist banditry in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. The imperialist armies may, soon after the first flush of their victory in conventional warfare, find themselves digging a bigger and bigger hole in the sand, facing an armed population waging guerrilla warfare against the forces of occupation, unable to extricate themselves except through a humiliating retreat in the fashion of the US from Vietnam and Israel from Lebanon.
Those beating the war drum – Messrs Bush and Blair, Rumsfeld and Hoon, Colin Powell and Jack Straw – far from being the liberators of the Iraqi people are nothing short of war criminals who should face a Nuremberg type tribunal, as did the Nazi war criminals at the end of the Second World War, for “waging an unprovoked war of aggression”.
To conclude, in this war the proletariat must side with the oppressed Iraqi people and support in every possible way their resistance against imperialist armies of aggression. It must intensify its opposition to its own imperialist bourgeoisie.
Our enemy is at home; we must leave the Iraqi people to choose a regime of their own liking. Our duty is here – to get rid of this filthy system – monopoly capitalism – not just the regime.
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