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Analysis in The Socialist 29 March 2002 

Wars - The Horror Of Capitalism

GEORGE BUSH and Tony Blair's 'war against terrorism' is embroiling the two governments in further military action in Afghanistan and raising the likelihood of a wider conflict against Iraq. 

Committee for a Workers' International (CWI - the socialist international organisation to which the Socialist Party is affiliated) spokesperson, PER OLSSON, examines the vital issues of war and peace in the 21st century.

 

George Bush opened his State of the Union address in January this year by saying "America is at war", and promised the biggest increase in military spending since the early days of the Vietnam War.

With the latest increase ($48 billion dollars a year), the US is spending more militarily than all of the European countries combined. The US alone accounts for 40% of world military spending, which in 2000 reached $804 billion, a world average of around $130 per person.

As John Pilger remarked: "The new military budget in the US is enough to end all primary causes of poverty in the world" [The Mirror, 29 January].

Never in history has one power occupied such a dominant military, diplomatic and economic position. The US controls nearly one-third of world output.

However, the increase in military spending could undermine US imperialism's position as its economy slows down and the budget and current account deficits become unbearable.

The Pentagon hawks are seriously exploring the possibility of using nuclear weapons against seven named states, including Russia and China, and to include "mini nukes" in its warfare.

At the same time the US administration wants to go ahead with building the national missile defence system (NMD), a $100 billion project that will encourage precisely the weapons that the "shield" is supposed to defeat - nuclear weapons.

The NMD may read like a bad sci-fi novel, but a new militarisation thousands of kilometres above the planet will inevitably follow in its wake.

World superpower

The world is on the eve of a new destructive arms race. The European Union is planning to set up its own Rapid Reaction Force of 60,000 soldiers, warships and combat aircraft.

NATO's general secretary, Lord George Robertson, a former New Labour minister, has asked all European countries to increase military spending to bridge the gap between the EU and the US. At the same time, governments in former 'neutral' countries, such as Sweden and Austria, have declared that "neutrality is a thing of the past".

The terror attacks on 11 September changed the world strategic scene, politically and militarily. US imperialism, as the only superpower left in the world, had the pretext to adopt a more aggressive and interventionist policy.

The victory in Afghanistan boosted the confidence and arrogance of the US. For the first time since 1945, US imperialism no longer rules out a pre-emptive nuclear strike against countries with the alleged ability to use weapons of mass destruction against America.

This marks a significant policy change. The New York Times even described the US "as a nuclear rogue state" [13 March].

Events since 11 September have reinforced the mistaken idea that US imperialism can impose its power anywhere on the globe.

It has also given strength to the hawks in the US administration, like Richard Perle, one of Bush's most reactionary advisers, who recently said: "This is a total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there... and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy but just wage a total war, our children will sing great songs about us in years to come".

"Total war", by implication, could also include nuclear attacks. Lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons is a step towards using those deadly arms. And if the US is lowering the threshold, other states could do the same, with horrifying consequences.

The Nuclear Posture Review by the Pentagon last year, orders the military to plan for the use of "smaller nuclear weapons" in specific battlefield situations.

This should not just be regarded as an empty threat, but is part of a deadly effort to blur the distinction between so called conventional and nuclear wars.

"The notion that an accurate, low yield nuclear bomb would cause limited - acceptable - collateral damage is ludicrous. ...a five kilo warhead dropped on London might only destroy Islington. But it would kill thousands of people and make thousands more victims of burns, radiation sickness and blindness", commented The Guardian. [4 April 2001].

Wider agenda

According to US magazine Newsweek, the long war "against terrorism" and the threat against Iraq " is part of a broader agenda, say his [Bush's] closest advisers. And that is nothing less than the reassertion of American power in the world - by a greater willingness to use force, with or without the support of the allies, even at the cost of American casualties. Some of Bush's top advisers believe that after the Vietnam War, the pendulum swung too far in the direction of multilateralism and anti-interventionism, Now they are trying to shove it back".

This policy is bound to give way to a massive increase in anti-imperialist sentiments and feed mass protests, in particular if there is a risk of nuclear arms being used. A nuclear attack by the US or any other state, could spark off the biggest mass movement in history.

It is one thing to proclaim that the Vietnam syndrome is over, but what will the reaction be when US imperialism is dragged into military conflicts costing the lives of American soldiers and the anti-war movement is gaining support?

There is a limit to the extent that the US can play the role of the world's policeman - the 'Robocop' of globalisation.

The US ruling class is still to some extent reluctant, after its defeat in the Vietnam War in the 1970s and the fiasco in Somalia at the beginning of the 1990s, to be involved in military combat that means risking the lives of US soldiers.

"The US reserves the right to itself to wage war, and dumps on others the messy, expensive business of nation-building and peacekeeping", remarked former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt, [The Observer, 10 February].

And in the case of Afghanistan, after seven US soldiers were killed in combat, US imperialism is asking Blair to fight the war on the ground. But, as history has shown, it is easier to get involved in an armed conflict than to get out.

The US's arrogance and unilateral approach will increase tensions and rivalry between imperialist countries. This rift will tend to grow as the present, short-lived moment of economic growth turns into its opposite, and US capitalism is forced to to protect its own interests at the expense of other countries.

Nuclear threat

While global warming is increasing, the climate between the major imperialist powers is becoming frostier. New alliances between the imperialist powers may be formed in the future, but such temporary alliances are doomed as the main imperialist blocs and different capitalist countries fall out with each other because of conflicting interests.

The development of monopoly capitalism - imperialism - in the late 19th century, intensified all the conflicts inherent in capitalism. This together with the defeat and delay of the world socialist revolution, explains why the 20th century became the bloodiest in history.

More than 100 million people perished in the wars of the last century, surpassing the number killed from the beginning of civilisation until 1900.

The final act of hostility of World War II - the dropping of atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 - heralded the beginning of the nuclear age and the biggest military build-up in history.

After this, a new world war would no longer be a 'war to end all wars', as the imperialist governments said at the outbreak of World War One in 1914 and at the start of World War Two in 1939, but a war to end all civilisation.

After 1945, the US and the Soviet Union confronted each other as rival social systems -the former based on private ownership of the means of production and the latter, where the economy was state-owned but undemocratically controlled by a bureaucratic elite.

This did however resulted in an uneasy balance of power internationally, with both preferring to act through client states in the ex-colonial world rather than risk a Third World War ending in nuclear disaster.

The collapse of Stalinism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in 1989-90, meant that all subsequent social, political, and military conflicts have developed in the context of a new, more fluid and increasingly unstable international situation.

What's Socialism Got To Do With It?

The inability of capitalism to overcome its own contradictions and the limits for its expansion set by the market system is the primary cause of violence and wars.

Capitalism is a system based upon production for profit not need. Profit comes out of the surplus value produced by workers. They only receive a portion of the value they produce in the form of wages and cannot buy back all the goods produced. This in turn means that the extension of the market can never keep pace with the expansion of production, causing crises, stagnation and conflict between nation states.

Neo-liberal policies have accelerated economic and social crises and the fragmentation of many nation states in Africa - the weakest link of the capitalist chain.

The US Worldwatch Institute in its State of the World 1999 report commented: "Globalisation carries new conflict potential. Given spectacularly uneven economic benefits heightened vulnerabilities and uncertainties for many communities and individuals and the inherent challenge to local control and democratic accountability economic globalisation tears at the very fabric and cohesion of many societies. These processes may well trigger a backlash."

A massive backlash against globalisation and in particular against the actions of US imperialism, is inevitable in the future. The anti-capitalist movement will merge together with a growing movement for peace, against wars and militarism, while the brutal conditions imposed by an over-confident imperialism will cause social revolts on the scale of Argentina in recent months.

A world in peace and stability is utopian as long as 1.2 billion people "live" on $1 or less a day and when more than half of the world's poorest countries are embroiled in ongoing or incipient crises. War and military escalation is rooted in the exploitative and oppressive nature of capitalism and imperialism.

The fate of the planet's future cannot be left in the hands of the capitalist politicians, generals or diplomats. Hapless international organisations, such as the United Nations, are controlled by the major imperialist powers.

The politicians talk about "peace", "national defence", "collective security", "military interventions in the interests of humanity" at the same time as they spend billions of dollars each day on arms, sell arms to whoever is prepared to pay, and wage a constant war on the working class and poor.

War is a continuation of politics by other means. Military power today exists to support the policy and actions of the capitalist class.

Transforming society

The world's arsenal of nuclear arms is a threat to the very survival of humanity. Only in the fantasy of the ultra-right can a nuclear war be "won". For decades the horrifying results of a nuclear war have prevented the use of such weapons. It is not in the interests of the ruling class to annihilate the goose that lays the golden egg - the working masses.

But this does not exhaust the question. In the longer term, if the working class fails again and again to fundamentally change society and suffers a series of crushing defeats, then the coming to power of brutal, unstable dictatorships, in the US, Europe and other developed countries, could become a reality.

The ruling class would find it difficult to keep such frenzied regimes under control. This would open up the possibility that in order to 'escape' social and economic crises one of these monstrous regimes would be tempted to initiate a 'first strike' against another competing power, and to 'win'a nuclear war.

The Socialist Party supports the demand for nuclear disarmament and an immediate reduction in military spending. The arms industry must be brought into public ownership in order to work out plans for alternative production and to make sure that the resources wasted on military research and arms are used for the benefit of humankind.

The only way to a lasting peace for humanity is to build an international working class movement that can unite oppressed people internationally in a common struggle against capitalism and imperialism, and against the horrors of wars and inequality. The struggle for world socialism is a struggle for peace.

Whether the struggle for socialism will be successful depends on the level of organisation of the working class, and its strength and combativity. A genuine socialist party of workers and young people is needed to prepare and organise the struggle, so that working people can take on the most conscious and complex task posed by history - the socialist transformation of society.

If it is to break the inevitable opposition put up by the capitalist class the movement for socialism will have to gain strength through the active participation and support by the majority of the population.

History is full of examples which illustrate that the capitalist class is prepared to use violence and dictatorial means to defend its profit, income and power.

Nothing less than a determined and conscious movement of the oppressed, under the banner of socialism, can divide and neutralise the armed forces of the capitalist state and secure a peaceful transformation of society.

The struggle for socialism is international or it is nothing. The only protection against attempts by global capitalism to sabotage and undermine every measure taken by a workers' government is to try to spread the socialist revolution across the world.

The establishment of a democratic socialist society is the first step towards a classless society that will end poverty and want and allow every human being to reach their full potential.

Wars and violence would become a thing of the past as people take part in the building of a new society. With the removal of the market economy and capitalist competition, and the introduction of global socialist co-operation that transforms the lives of all, why would one country want to wage war against another?

The struggle for peace is a struggle for international socialism.

 

New World Disorder

There has been little order in the 'New World Order', of "justice, free from the fear of terror and more secure in the quest of peace" proclaimed by George Bush senior after the war against Iraq in 1991.

War and international conflicts in the 1990s forced 50 million people to flee their homes - one out of every 120 people on earth.

In the past decade millions have been killed in the many civil wars and wars fought. There have been 27 major armed conflicts, mostly civil wars, in the period 1990-2000. The bloody collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s and the intervention by Western imperialism (mainly the US), brought wars and civil wars to Europe for the first time since the end of World War II.

 

Socialism or nuclear annihilation

There has been little order in the 'New World Order', of "justice, free from the fear of terror and more secure in the quest of peace" proclaimed by George Bush senior after the war against Iraq in 1991.

War and international conflicts in the 1990s forced 50 million people to flee their homes - one out of every 120 people on earth.

In the past decade millions have been killed in the many civil wars and wars fought. There have been 27 major armed conflicts, mostly civil wars, in the period 1990-2000. The bloody collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s and the intervention by Western imperialism (mainly the US), brought wars and civil wars to Europe for the first time since the end of World War II.

 

 

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    The Socialist 12 October 2001 

    War Against Afghanistan

    Bush And Blair's War: What We Say

    Q. Why does the Socialist Party oppose this war?

    A. AS SOCIALISTS we are totally opposed to the methods of terrorism and the indiscriminate killing of innocent people. We immediately condemned the horrific attacks on the World Trade Centre (WTC) and

    Pentagon which resulted in the deaths of so many.

    But at the same time we do not support Bush and Blair's war. Military action is not a solution. On the contrary it can only exacerbate an already unstable situation worldwide.

    Ordinary, poverty-stricken Afghans will be the innocent victims of attacks on their country. Even before 11 September, as many as five million were dependent on food aid to fend off starvation.

    Millions had already fled to squalid, disease-ridden refugee camps in neighbouring countries. Now thousands more are desperately trying to escape death from famine or US missile attacks. Bush talked about bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age but it is already there. A humanitarian disaster of epic proportions is now facing the Afghan people.

    Workers internationally will also pay the price for Bush and Blair's war through job cuts, attacks on public spending and tax increases. The events of 11 September aren't the cause of the crisis in the US and world economy as some have tried to argue.

    Both were slowing down before 11 September, but the fall-out has had an aggravating effect. Employers in many industries are taking advantage of the situation to push through mass redundancies. Thousands of jobs have been slashed in the airline industry alone and thousands more are threatened in other sectors.

    The ruling class in the US and elsewhere are also using the attacks to justify a serious undermining of democratic rights. Repressive legislation is being passed to supposedly combat terrorism but will be completely ineffective in doing so.

    The Prevention of Terrorism Act was introduced as a knee-jerk reaction to IRA bombings in England in the early 1970s. It did not defeat the IRA, but it was responsible for miscarriages of justice such as the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six.

    Repressive laws will undoubtedly be used against legitimate anti-globalisation/anti-capitalist protesters and workers taking action to defend their interests.

    The attacks have also fuelled racism against Arabs and Muslims around the world. In the US, people have been shot in racist attacks and in Britain an Afghan taxi-driver was paralysed.

    Thousands of other incidents of threats and violence have been reported. The politicians have made speeches preaching tolerance, fearful that the situation could get out of control. But their racist policies, on asylum in particular, have contributed to the backlash which has taken place.

    Asylum seekers will be targeted by Blunkett's new legislation. They could be denied asylum and deported under mere suspicion of being linked to terrorism.

    Attacks on Afghanistan will have a destabilising effect throughout central Asia and the Middle East. The military regime in Pakistan, for example, has given backing to Bush's war aims for its own economic and strategic reasons. But in doing so, it risks a backlash from Islamic fundamentalists within the army and society in general. This in a country which possesses nuclear weapons.

    If there is any attempt to broaden the war beyond Afghanistan, this could provoke mass unrest throughout the Arab and Muslim world and risk further retaliatory strikes.

    Q. Surely something must be done about terrorism ?

    BUSH AND Blair hypocritically wage 'war on terrorism'. But it's the bloody policies of the capitalist system, which they represent, that are responsible for creating the very conditions which allow terrorism to flourish.

    George Bush senior helped arm, train and finance bin Laden and Islamist groups to wage a guerrilla war by proxy against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Now bin Laden is public enemy number one.

    Whenever US imperialism's economic and strategic interests or prestige are threatened, it has readily wreaked its own terror on countries around the world.

    Over a million civilians were killed in the Vietnam War. 100,000 Iraqis died in the Gulf War and the suffering continues.

    6,000 Iraqi children die every month from hunger and disease - the same number as died in the attacks on the WTC and Pentagon.

    Global capitalism is based on obscene inequalities of power and wealth. The assets of the 200 richest people are more than the combined income of the poorest 2.4 billion. More than one fifth of the world's population live on less than one dollar a day.

    And now the World Bank estimates that, as a result of the economic crisis, ten million more people will be pushed below this level worldwide and 40,000 more children will die.

    The major imperialist powers, with the US at their head, use their economic dominance to exploit the poorer countries of the world, subjecting millions to poverty, starvation, disease and war.

    The wealth ratio between the richest and the poorest countries in the world, which was three to one in 1820, was 74 to one in 1997.

    A handful of giant multinational companies control four-fifths of world output and more than two-thirds of world trade.

    Through capitalist institutions such as the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organisation, the imperialist countries impose cuts in social spending, privatisation, job losses etc. on already impoverished neo-colonial countries. The IMF is in fact running at least 75 of the poorest developing countries in the world.

    To further their own interests, the imperialist countries have no qualms about propping up and fostering dictatorial and oppressive regimes worldwide. Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Milosevic in Serbia and Pinochet in Chile were all at one time courted and backed by US imperialism.

    In Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East imperialism rides rough-shod over national, ethnic and religious rights and aspirations. Over 700 have died in the year-long intifada, most of them Palestinians. Yet the US continues to back the Israeli ruling class financially and military.

    US imperialism hopes to take advantage of the 11 September attacks and the 'war against terrorism' to assert itself around the globe in defence of its own interests.

    Blair's belligerent speech to Labour Party conference raised the prospect of intervening in every international 'hot spot', regardless of the wishes of ordinary people in those countries.

    Under capitalism, It is not possible to rid the world of terrorism and conflict. Even if the US succeeds in capturing bin Laden and destroying his bases in Afghanistan, the conditions which give rise to terrorism - poverty, corruption and oppression - will still remain.

    War, poverty, violence and instability are rooted in the very nature of this class-ridden system, which is based on exploitation, inequality and the ruthless pursuit of profit. It's only by eradicating capitalism worldwide that these horrors can be ended.

    Q. How do we stop the war?

    US OPINION polls at first showed overwhelming support for military action. But there is also disquiet about the prospect of innocent Afghans being killed, of casualties amongst US soldiers and of action provoking further attacks, making a volatile situation even more unstable.

    In Britain a majority say they would oppose military strikes if they harm civilians. Bush and Blair say they will do everything possible to avoid "collateral damage". But in the Gulf War, 40% of so-called 'smart' bombs were not so smart after all, missing their targets and killing and maiming civilians.

    Past wars show that the popular mood can shift rapidly especially when the full consequences begin to hit home (see article on Vietnam War page eight). Anti-war movements have sprung up quite quickly in the US, Britain and elsewhere.

    Many of those participating, especially students and young people, were also involved in the anti-globalisation/anti-capitalist protests. They have made the connection; that a system which leads to global poverty and environmental destruction is also responsible for violence, war and conflict internationally.

    Members of the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI), to which the Socialist Party is affiliated, are campaigning in the US, Britain and elsewhere to build democratic, inclusive, broad-based anti-war coalitions. In particular we would look to involve workers organised in the workplaces so that they can add their collective, social strength to the anti-war movement.

    Bush and the US administration have tried to build a broad 'pro-war' coalition to back any action they take against 'terrorism'. But this has proved far from straightforward. There have been divisions within the US administration, between the 'doves' who want to limit action to Afghanistan and the 'hawks' who want to go further and attack any country 'harbouring' or 'supporting' terrorists.

    Top of the list would be Iraq, where they would like to 'finish off' the Gulf War. However any attempt to widen the conflict could inflame Arabs around the world. The reactionary regime in Saudi Arabia, for example, has had to state openly that, unlike in the Gulf War, it won't let its military bases be used to attack Afghanistan. This is because it fears unrest amongst Islamic groups within its own country.

    Despite these divisions, Bush has acted against Afghanistan. However there are clearly worries about what could happen next. Capturing Osama bin Laden and destroying his bases would be virtually impossible without overthrowing the Taliban. But what to put in its place?

    A coalition involving the Northern Alliance would be extremely unstable. Their record on human rights and women's rights is as bad if not worse than the Taliban's.

    Ordinary Afghans have to decide their own future. Only a government of working people and the rural poor, as part of a socialist federation of Middle Eastern states could rebuild war-torn Afghanistan.

    A serious weakness internationally at the moment is the absence of mass workers' parties which could play a role in transforming society.

    There have been recent examples internationally, where mass movements involving the organised working class, removed unpopular regimes. In Serbia, for instance, ordinary people succeeded where imperialist bombs failed in removing Milosevic.

    But because no party existed with a clear idea of how to build an alternative society, merely switching government has solved none of the problems which ordinary Serbs face.

    Because mass parties have not provided an alternative to the poverty, corruption and oppression of capitalism, sections of youth in the Middle East and other regions have turned to the blind alley of terrorism as a way out of the crisis.

    In the 'developed' countries, parties like New Labour have gone completely over to supporting big business and global capitalism. Blair in particular has flown round the world, doing Bush's dirty work, at times sounding even more war-like than Bush himself.

    The Socialist Party and the CWI have been campaigning for the building of new mass parties to represent the interests of workers, young people and oppressed groups in Britain and internationally. Building an effective anti-war movement and building new working class parties are interlinked.

    And mass workers' parties will play an important part in the task of eliminating war in general, which can only be done by ending the unequal, exploitative and oppressive capitalist system internationally.

    Q. What's socialism got to do with it?

    BASED ON production for profit for the privileged few, capitalism is incapable of meeting the needs of the majority of the population worldwide.

    Socialism is about planning production for need not profit. This would eliminate the contradictions of the current system which lead to global economic crisis and conflict. Socialism is about working-class people, the majority of society, owning and controlling the economy and democratically deciding how resources should be produced and allocated for the benefit of all, in an environmentally sustainable way.

    This would be very different from the top-down, undemocratic planning which existed in the bureaucratic, Stalinist regimes of the ex-Soviet Union and Eastern Europe until just over a decade ago. Genuine socialism would mean ordinary people having maximum control over every aspect of their lives.

    Globalisation has meant that capitalism is economically more integrated than at any time in history. This means that the struggle to change society has to be an international one if it is to end poverty, disease and environmental destruction and transform ordinary people's lives.

    Based on co-operation rather than ruthless competition for profit, privilege and prestige, socialism is the only system capable of bringing about an end to violence and war on a global scale.

     

     

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    From the archive: 28 September 2002 mass demonstrations

     

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    Anti-War Protest - A Defining Moment

    THE 28 September 'Don't attack Iraq' demonstration was an immense display of opposition to war. 

    With up to 400,000 protesters marching through London, this was much bigger than anything that took place in Britain against the Vietnam war in the 1960s and bigger than the sizeable CND demos of the early 1980s.

    Involving tens of thousands of people, especially young people, who had never marched on a demonstration before, it was reminiscent of recent huge protests in other European countries such as Italy and France.

    Coming at a time of renewed industrial militancy, with firefighters, tube and rail workers, local authority workers, teachers and lecturers all taking or preparing to take action over pay and a shift to the left at the top of many unions, this marks a new stage of struggle in Britain.

    Opinion polls show that Blair's dossier has had little effect in denting opposition to war against Iraq.

    According to an ICM/Guardian poll, 44% disapprove of a military attack compared to 33% in favour. A 'hardcore' of around 40% would oppose war even with a UN resolution. This is an unprecedented level of opposition to war, especially before military action has even begun.

    There was a pale reflection of this mood even at Blair's sanitised Labour Party conference, where 40% of delegates voted in favour of a resolution opposing war under any circumstances. The NEC, under pressure, withdrew a resolution which would have left open the question of 'go it alone' action without UN authorisation.

    If Blair were to back Bush in unilateral action against Iraq it would create turmoil within the party, leading to a haemorrhaging of party members and even open splits.

    An attack on Iraq could unleash a massive explosion in growth in the anti-war movement, which could potentially coalesce with anger against pay, privatisation and other issues affecting working-class people and could even result ultimately in the end of Blair himself.

    Day of action

    The struggle to provide a political alternative to New Labour's anti working-class, pro-war policies therefore needs to develop alongside a movement against the war.

    The Socialist Party's call for a new mass party to unite workers, young people and all those opposed to this current system could gain increasing support.

    The 28 September demonstration marked an important stage in the development of a mass anti-war movement. The next immediate step is to build for the 'Don't attack Iraq' day of action on 31 October. In the schools, colleges and universities students should be organising for protests and occupations on that day.

    We also need to take the campaign into the workplaces. The rally following the demonstration was addressed by speakers from six national trade unions. The newly elected 'Left' leaders support the anti-war movement and voiced opposition to war at the TUC conference.

    They should use their authority to call for protests and stoppages on 31 October which trade union members can build for in the workplaces, making the link between opposition to low pay and the selling off of public services and opposition to war.

    The 31 October day of action itself should be used as a springboard for organising wider action, including strike action, in the event of a military attack on Iraq.

     


     

     

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    The Biggest Anti-War Demo In Britain - Ever

    A SEA of up to 400,000 protesters flooded into the Embankment, London on 28 September to say 'No' to war against Iraq.

    It was the biggest anti-war demonstration in Britain ever. People came from all over. Trade unionists, socialists, Muslims and others came as part of organised groups and contingents.

    There were those like the protester who said he hadn't been on a demonstration since the miners' strike of 1984/85 but felt so strongly about war in Iraq that he just had to come and demonstrate.

    But tens of thousands had never been on a demonstration before in their lives. School students, college students, university students and young workers who had made their way with friends or even on their own to make their voices heard.

    Sellers of The Socialist reported being surrounded by protesters eager to read our leaflets and buy our paper with the slogan "No war for oil"

    The demonstration was so enormous that many didn't even get to hear the speakers at the rally in Hyde Park. The speakers included representatives from six national trade unions.

    Film director Ken Loach summed up the mood of most of the protesters when he said: "We can't get involved in this war, we can't consider murdering another 100,000 Iraqis simply to pursue America's interest in the oil and their dominance in the region".

    Speakers called for a "Don't Attack Iraq" day of action on 31 October. Labour MP George Galloway received the biggest cheer of the day when he called for protests and occupations of schools and colleges on that day.

    The 28 September demonstration was a massive show of anti-war feeling. But it was just the beginning. Now we have to go back to our workplaces, schools and colleges and make 31 October a day of action that Blair will never forget.

    Voices From The Demo

    I'M AN Iranian. During the Iran/Iraq war Saddam used chemical weapons against us. My family live in Tehran and my sister has had heart and kidney problems because of the gas. I'm here because we need to get rid of Saddam but the ordinary people of Iraq aren't my enemies. Helen

    I FEEL strongly about the war. I think it's all about controlling resources in the Middle East, whilst innocent people are killed. Saddam is a tyrant but the poor people of Iraq have suffered long enough. PCS member from Sheffield

    WHAT ATTRACTED me to your table in the first place was the mention of oil, which is the root cause of all the conflict in the Middle East. If it wasn't for oil then the area wouldn't be fought over so much.

    The epitome of all that is Mr George Bush and his cabinet - the whole executive branch of the government is all for oil. Steven, San Francisco

    I'VE COME down from Derby because I'm opposed to any sort of war but this one is just about what America wants. They have their weapons but they won't let anyone else have any.

    But the main reason I'm here is to support the Palestinians who have been suffering for so long. Being Muslim I feel I should speak out for them. Rabiya

    I THINK it's disgusting that all this money will be spent on war when it could be used to feed the world. Sunara, Coventry

     

     

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    War plans against Iraq:

    Stop Bush & Blair's War

    • Don't let workers pay the price of US war plans.

    • Only socialism can guarantee an end to wars and dictatorships.

    GEORGE BUSH'S war plans against Iraq are now well advanced. US arms manufacturers are working round the clock to build up stocks of deadly cruise missiles; oil reserves are being boosted; merchant shipping is being commissioned to transport troops and equipment.

    Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is hoping that by opening discussions with the United Nations (UN) on readmitting arms inspectors this will delay Bush's war drive by dividing the US president's allies.

    But, US secretary of state Colin Powell has reiterated that the American administration's objective remains "regime change".

    A US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq to effect Saddam's removal could involve as many as 275,000 US and British troops and result in the death of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

    Iraqis already suffer the effects of punitive UN trade sanctions on their country on top of a monstrous dictatorship.

    This war has nothing to do with bringing about a democratic Iraq. It's about US imperialism asserting its economic and military dominance in the oil-rich Middle East by removing the rogue dictator and former Western ally, Saddam Hussein.

    Afghan chaos

    You only have to look at nearby Afghanistan to see what the West has in mind for Iraq. Post-Taliban Afghanistan is headed by a pro-US regime in the capital Kabul which is dependent on Allied troops for its survival.

    Outside Kabul ethnic-based warlords fight for control of the regions. Millions of Afghans remain 'displaced', unemployed and dependent on aid for their daily survival.

    But if George Bush and his 'poodle' Tony Blair think that this war will create a politically stable region compliant to US demands then these Western leaders have badly miscalculated.

    The rotten pro-Western, semi-feudal regimes in the Middle East are already teetering as their impoverished and oppressed masses look to bring about 'regime changes' of their own.

    The masses in these countries see their oil-rich repressive rulers collaborating with imperialism - the system that arms and finances Ariel Sharon's Israeli government which is oppressing the Palestinians.

    A US-led war could ignite a conflagration of social upheaval in the region with massive counter-productive consequences for Western capitalism.

    And it is this system of capitalist exploitation, not only the rotten ruling regimes, that must be changed. That means building mass workers' organisations and parties that can unite the region's impoverished masses to fight for a socialist alternative to the horrors of war, poverty and oppression.

     

     


     

    US Imperialism Gambles On Iraq War

    GEORGE BUSH'S planned attack on Iraq is looking decidedly frayed at the edges as many of his allies distance themselves from the US president's war option.

    Dave Carr

    While many in Bush's administration remain gung-ho about effecting a "regime change" in Iraq, others question the wisdom of US imperialism invading a Middle Eastern country, preferring instead a policy of "containment".

    Even Bush's European lap dog - Tony Blair - has recently cooled his enthusiasm for war, reassuring the worried Jordanian ruler King Abdullah that a UN resolution would be sought before any military attacks.

    Nonetheless, Blair remains adamant that British MPs won't have a vote on pursuing a war against Saddam Hussein. In any event a majority of Labour MPs reportedly support this military option. Yet according to a Daily Mirror poll of 21,884 people, 91% opposed going to war.

    Recently leaked Pentagon plans have envisaged a massive invasion force of 250,000 US troops supported by 25,000 British troops. Civilian casualties have been estimated at 11,000 dead.

    In the White House, while Bush's propaganda machine continues to pump out unfounded horror stories about the Iraqi dictator's "weapons of mass destruction" and his terrorist links, the consequences of removing Saddam and replacing him with a stooge regime remain troubling for US imperialism.

    Political fallout

    If surrounding Arab states allow US and allied forces to launch their attacks from their territories, the political fall-out in the region could be counter-productive for imperialism. Even in Turkey, the only predominately Muslim country in NATO, its ailing prime minister, Bulent Ecevit, is urging the US not to use military action.

    The ruling regimes in countries such as Jordan and several of the Gulf states enjoy little popular support. And by supporting the US - Israel's main backer - while Ariel Sharon continues to oppress the Palestinians they will further enrage the impoverished masses of the region who could in turn force a "regime change" in their own countries.

    Even in Saudi Arabia, whose reactionary and repressive rulers have sought to distance themselves from their US allies, they too could find themselves overthrown by a mass movement of dispossessed Saudis. This could result in a more reactionary, Islamist regime being installed and - ironically for the US - a regime that would be sympathetic to the aims of Osama bin Laden, i.e. the expulsion of Western influences from the region.

    But, assuming that these semi-feudal regimes cling to power, would a post-Saddam Iraqi regime produce the stable democracy that George Bush and Tony Blair hope to see emerge?

    If the post-Taliban regime in nearby Afghanistan is anything to go by, with assassinations of government ministers and rampaging warlords, then this expressed aim of Western governments will remain unfulfilled.

    Indeed, the motley crew of pro-imperialist exiles that make up the Iraqi National Congress and other opposition groups are hopelessly split and remain tainted in the eyes of Iraqis as former members of Saddam's political and military elite.

    And the chances of such a disparate band reaching an accord with the equally split pro-capitalist Kurdish nationalist forces in northern Iraq are also utopian. Any pro-Western regime in Baghdad would, therefore, be dependent upon US army troops to remain in power.

    Behind the US propaganda about its former ally, Saddam Hussein, lies the strategic aims of imperialism - to maintain its hegemony in the region, secure its oil supplies and to have a non-belligerent regime in power in Iraq.

    But if Bush temporarily suspends a military invasion and continues the US policy of "containing" Saddam, this will result in a continuation of the misery and suffering ordinary Iraqis have endured due to the crippling effects of trade sanctions.

    The long-suffering masses of the region cannot look to Bush and Blair for an end to their crushing poverty and the overthrow of their oil-rich reactionary rulers.

    There is no capitalist escape route for the working class and rural poor in the Middle East out of their plight. Only by creating independent workers' organisations with a socialist economic programme of nationalising industry under democratic workers' control and fighting for an internationalist solution to the problems of nationalities, can the enormous oil wealth be redistributed poverty eliminated and wars banished.

     

     

    The Socialist 9 August 2002 |  Home | News | The Socialist 

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