12 February 2003: statement from the
Committee for a Workers International
US Empire's War for Oil
The new world disorder
Tony Benn, the veteran British socialist, described the British
Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in its coverage of Iraq as a "weapon of mass
15 Feb 2003 Demonstration in London
This could be applied with equal if not greater force to Colin Powell’s
80-minute ‘report’ on Iraq to the United Nations Security Council on 5
It has not succeeded in its intended aim to roll back the worldwide
mass wave of opposition to the Bush junta’s plans for a bloody invasion of
The significance of Powell’s speech lay in that it clearly marked the
transformation of "doves" into "hawks" within the US
administration. Few doubters or sceptics would have been won over by the barrage
of ‘facts’, the "smudgy old photos and blurred taped
conversations" (Daily Mirror, London) as a justification for going to war.
This was certainly not the ‘smoking gun’, irrefutable proof of Iraq’s
secret arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), nor was it the ‘Adlai
Stevenson moment’ (during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 the then US
ambassador to the UN dramatically utilised photographs of the deployment of
Russian missiles in Cuba to win support).
It is true that Joseph Biden, the senior Democrat on the US Senate Foreign
Relations Committee is now a ‘believer’. Previously complaining that the US
administration had failed to make the case for war, he has now declared,
"If I had this evidence before an unbiased jury, I’d get a
conviction." He is a lawyer by profession, as are many US ‘legislators’
(75% of the world’s lawyers are in the US).
But Powell, now a paid up member
of the ‘hawk’ wing of the Bush regime, has not succeeded in proving the case
for war before the court of world public opinion and particularly in the eyes of
working-class people internationally, who will be called upon to pay the
ultimate price for Bush and Blair’s onslaught against Iraq.
The USA, Britain and other major capitalist powers have no right to intervene
in Iraq or other countries. They are planning this military onslaught, not out
of concern for the plight of the Iraqi people but to secure control of the oil
fields and not because of weapons of mass destruction allegedly held by Iraq.
is the task of the Iraqi people, with the support and assistance of the
international working class, to overthrow the brutal dictatorship of Saddam
Hussein and not that of US imperialism and its allies. However, even by the
‘criteria’ of the ruling class, the case presented by Powell to the UN
Security Council was flawed on each substantial charge.
In judging the veracity of Powell’s speech we should not forget that both
Bush and Blair produced dossiers last September which were supposed to be
crushing indictments of the Iraqi regime’s ‘non-compliance’. These have
now been shelved because they were totally discredited by the weapons
inspectors’ findings, which did not bear out their accusations. Former UN
weapons inspector, Count Hans von Sponeck, has now stated:
have found nothing that was in the Bush/Blair dossiers of last September. What
happened to them? They are totally embarrassed by them. But I have seen
facilities in pieces in Iraq which US intelligence reports say are dangerous.
The Institute of Strategic Studies referred to the Al Faluja’s three castor
oil production units and the Al Dora foot and mouth centre as ‘facilities for
concern’. In 2002 I saw them and they were destroyed, there was nothing. All
that was left was shells of buildings."
Despite its length, Powell’s speech was thin on conclusive evidence to back
up the main claims to justify a war. Robert Fisk, the trenchant critic of the
US’s international role and exposer of the hypocrisy of the Bush regime in
particular, described Powell’s performance as worthy of the Irish playwright
He described Powell’s presentation as a
awesomely funny recordings of Iraqi Republican Guard telephone intercepts, à la
Samuel Beckett, that just might have been some terrifying little proof that
Saddam is really conning the UN inspectors again, and some ancient material on
the monster of Baghdad’s all too well known record of beastliness. I’m still
waiting to hear the Arabic for the state department’s translation of ‘OK
buddy’ – ‘consider it done, sir’ – this from the Republican Guard’s
‘Captain Ibrahim’, for heaven’s sake."
He goes on to describe,
"Some dinky illustrations of mobile bio-labs whose lorries and railway
tracks were in such perfect condition that they suggest that the Pentagon did
not have much idea of the dilapidated state of Saddam’s army… We were forced
to listen to Iraq’s officer corps communicating by phone – ‘yeah,’
‘yeah?’ ‘yeah’ – it was impossible not to ask oneself if Colin Powell
had really considered the effect that this would have on the outside
world." (The Independent, London, 6 February)
On the main charges against Saddam, Powell’s case is ‘not enough’ and
remains ‘unproven’. On the issues of chemical and biological weapons, Iraq
is accused of having 100-500 tonnes of chemical weapons agents and 16,000
battlefield rockets, with 65 factories producing a range of munitions. Moreover,
four different sources have confirmed, in the view of Powell, that Saddam had
seven sophisticated mobile biological weapons labs loaded on 18 lorries that
could be used to make anthrax, smallpox or ricin.
It is possible, even probable, that Saddam, despite the claims to the
contrary, does possess chemical and biological weapons. These are probably being
kept in reserve for possible use in the event of an invasion. He has used
chemical and biological weapons against the Kurdish people in the north of Iraq
and in the Iran/Iraq war, as mentioned by Powell in his speech. Conveniently
forgotten, however, is that these weapons were initially supplied by US
imperialism and that Saddam was personally endorsed by Rumsfeld when he visited
Iraq in December 1983 on behalf of Reagan. The ‘monster of Baghdad’ is the
Frankenstein monster created by US imperialism.
Powell’s recycled material
Most of the evidence produced by Powell and by the US administration is
recycled material and no case has been made that, in their terms, these weapons,
as with nuclear weapons, pose a ‘clear and present danger’ either to the
neighbouring countries around Iraq or to the US. Holding up a phial of
‘anthrax’ to indicate the danger of biological weapons and linking this via
Iraq to the deaths of US workers in the aftermath of 11 September 2001 was
totally dishonest of Powell. Is there little wonder that half the American
population now believe that it was Iraqis who were behind the 11 September
attacks, when it was clearly perpetrated by non Iraqi’s?
On the issue of nuclear weapons, Powell once more rehashed previous arguments
of Saddam’s acquisition of high-resolution aluminium tubes which can be
modified into centrifuges to produce enriched uranium for a nuclear device. This
is despite the fact that the weapons inspectors themselves have suggested that
these tubes are for the making of conventional artillery rockets. Conscious of
the weakness of his argument, Powell did acknowledge "different views"
on this issue. But as an ‘old soldier’, he was right and others were wrong.
Dan Plesch, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute
(London), said that what was missing was any evidence of a bomb factory or
bomb-making equipment. He also added: "All Powell could come up with was
one possible component. Scarcely proof of an effective bomb programme. Powell
has also alleged materials were being moved after leaks from UN inspectors. Hans
Blix, head of the inspectors, has flatly denied this and said they saw no fresh
tyre tracks at bases visited or any evidence of banned toxic materials in soil
But as the radical Campaign Against the Arms Trade pointedly commented:
"It is all very well demanding war on Iraq for allegedly failing to open up
to weapons inspectors. America is the world’s biggest developer of weapons of
mass destruction and of exploiting loopholes to keep research secret."
Moreover, many countries now possess the capability of producing nuclear
bombs but they are not threatened with invasion by US imperialism. For instance,
the Financial Times reported on 29 January: "Japan yesterday admitted that
206 kilograms of plutonium – enough to make about 25 nuclear bombs – is
unaccounted for at a nuclear reprocessing facility."
The disintegration of the former Soviet Union, a consequence of the collapse
of Stalinism, has left a completely ‘degraded’ nuclear industry which allows
potential terrorists to acquire the knowledge to assemble a nuclear device.
There is an abundance of caesium in this region, as in the US itself, that would
allow the construction of ‘dirty bombs’ which could have the same effect
through radioactive fallout as the deployment of nuclear weapons themselves.
most horrifying threat is posed by the North Korean Stalinist regime of Kim
Jong-il, which is partly or mainly the consequence of the lunatic policy of the
Bush regime towards North Korea (see Socialism Today 72, February 2003). In the
past few days, it has been reported that the North Korean regime is moving
fissile material out of its nuclear facilities, which it has been suggested can
be sold by the regime, as they have done in the past, to nuclear or potential
nuclear states and terrorist organisations. This was linked to the deployment of
24 B-52 and B-1 bombers to strengthen the USA forces in South Korea. According
to Pyongyang the USS Kitty Hawk has also taken up strike position.
The US has opted to confront the danger by ‘diplomacy’. This turns the
argument of Bush on its head. His regime argues that Iraq must be attacked to
prevent it developing nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
However, when a regime such as North Korea has a nuclear weapon then the US is
prepared to negotiate with it.
Such regimes could conclude that the acquiring of
nuclear weapons is the only way to prevent attacks from US imperialism. However,
it has leaked into the press that some sections of the US administration have
even contemplated a ‘pre-emptive’ strike against North Korea which, in these
circumstances, would involve the use of nuclear weapons by the US with the
danger of retaliation from North Korea and all the calamitous consequences that
flow from that.
US imperialism has now embraced the doctrine of the pre-emptive strike which
will increase instability and conflict in international relations. It will open
the prospect of other regimes attempting to launch a pre-emptive strike to
advance their own interests.
Michael R Gordan wrote in the New York Times that
following September 11 the ‘Bush administration has turned pre-emption from an
option into a cardinal principle of its foreign policy’. He rightly warned
that ‘The doctrine tends to leave the door open to others who want to claim
the same right’. (International Herald Tribune 27/1/03 ). Within two weeks of
this warning the North Korean regime threatened that pre-emptive strikes were
not the preserve of the Bush administration.
Osama bin Laden
As to the link which Powell has allegedly established between al-Qa’ida,
and Osama bin Laden personally, and the Iraqi regime, it has been dismissed as
not serious even by capitalist commentators and ‘terrorism experts’. On
matters of detail Powell was completely wrong. He referred to ‘decades’ of
contact between Saddam and al-Qa’ida and yet the latter only came into
existence five years ago. As Robert Fisk acidly comments: "Bin Laden –
decades ago – was working against the Russians for the CIA, whose present-day
director was sitting grey-faced behind General Powell."
Even the International Herald Tribune, which has now become largely an
apologist for Bush, commented that Powell "did not succeed in drawing a
direct line" between Saddam and bin Laden. Bin Laden in his recent warning
said the Iraqi regime was "socialist" and "infidel" but
argued that "It does not harm in these circumstances that the interests of
Muslims and socialists intersect". The CWI rejects the idea that the Iraqi
regime has anything in common with genuine socialism - socialists have no common
interests with Bin Laden or al-Qaida.
The charge that al-Qa’ida operatives worked out of north-eastern Iraq –
in the Kurdish region – with some of them domiciled in Baghdad was not proof
of connivance with al-Qa’ida terrorists. There was no mention of course of US
support for Israel and its occupation of Palestinian land. Powell invoked
Iraq’s support for the Palestinian organisation, Hamas, without mentioning
that the same organisation has offices in Beirut, Damascus and Iran.
In bolstering his case for an Iraq/al-Qa’ida link, Powell, even according
to British ‘security sources’, was "jumping to conclusions" (The
Guardian, London). "A plot" hatched by Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq to set
up a network of terrorists to carry out "poison and explosive attacks"
allegedly resulted in an attack in Britain where "one British police
officer was murdered" (The Guardian, London). But British "security
sources" said there was "no solid evidence to support Powell’s
allegations. He was "jumping to conclusions".
The reality, however, is that al-Qa’ida, more of a broad ‘holding
company’ for like-minded terrorists than a centralised organisation, is now
present in most of the countries of Western Europe. This, however, has not
elicited a threat to bomb these countries or wage war on them as faces Iraq.
Powell’s testimony before the UN was not, however, tailored to persuade and
convince but to bully and intimidate the rest of the capitalist world to fall
into line behind US imperialism’s war plans.
The fact that Powell is now firmly in the camp of the ‘hawks’ is proof of
the determination of the wing of the US ruling class, which is behind the Bush
administration, to go to the end in a war to topple Saddam. Powell spoke in the
same language and with the same threats as Bush did when he spoke to the UN in
September. He warned that unless the Security Council backed the US it would
become an "irrelevancy", a latter-day League of Nations.
A decision by the United Nations to support a military assault may
temporarily partially increase support for the war – especially in the USA and
Britain. However, such a decision would also eventually lead to the undermining
and discrediting of the UN. At the same time if it fails to support a war it
will be increasingly seen as an irrelevance when faced with the might of US
Powell’s speech was couched in the implicitly brutal terms used by Bush
after 11 September: "Either you are with us or you’re against us."
This means that the ‘train of war’ has left the station and will not be
stopped or derailed by any obstacles on the track. Bush in his State of the
Union speech made it absolutely clear that Saddam will be overthrown, with or
without UN approval, and in a ‘time-line’ determined by US imperialism.
Powell’s speech is cast in the same mould as his master.
He was perceived, wrongly, as a ‘dove’, a ‘voice of reason’ in an
otherwise bellicose US administration by sections even of the anti-war movement
in Western Europe and elsewhere. In previous conflicts was anything but
"dovelike" and headed the troops which invaded Grenada and Kuwait.
is a multi-millionaire, as is his son, and an integral part of the US ruling
class. His differences with the ‘hawks’ are those of procedure, of posture,
and of seeking a ‘coalition’ behind an invasion of Iraq. But it seems that
the Europeans were asking for ‘more time’ for the inspectors to do their job
and this has tipped Powell into the camp of the hawks. His speech illustrated
his transformation from "dove" to "hawk". I
n so doing he is
showing the steely and brutal determination of the Bush regime, with the oil and
gas capitalists celebrating in their rear, to overthrow Saddam and grab the
second-largest oil reserves in the world. They expect that this re-colonisation
of Iraq, to give it its right name, will enormously enhance the US ‘empire’
and force the peoples of the world, particularly in the neo-colonial world, to
recognise their ‘impotence’ in the face of such awesome power. The
consequences of this will represent a social and political earthquake in the
Middle east and internationally. It could provoke an international Islamic
"Intifada" and a wave of terrorism with horrific consequences.
The conflict has opened up unprecedented splits amongst the ruling class
within and between all of the main imperialist powers and particularly between
the USA and Europe. It has unleashed considerable nationalist sentiments in some
countries. The recent divisions between France, Germany and Belgium on the one
hand and the USA and Britain on the other in NATO have provoked vicious
anti-French ravings in the US press.
US commentators referred to an unholy
alliance of "whimps" and "ingrates" which include one
country that is little more than a "mini-me-minion (Belgium) and another
that is in league with Cuba and Libya, with a bunch of cheese-eating surrender
monkeys" at the helm. The front page of Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post
showed the graves in Normandy with the headline: "They died for France but
France has forgotten." The Wall Street Journal described Chirac as: "a
positive monster of conceit …the abject procurer for Saddam ... the rat that
tried to roar."
Behind the abuse and insults is a major crisis in inter-imperialist
relations. This is especially between the US and Europe but also between the
capitalist powers of Europe reminiscent of the pre- 1914 and inter-war years.
The re-emergence of such conflicts has followed the collapse of the former
Stalinist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
The existence of these
regimes acted as "a glue" which cemented over the different interests
of the capitalist and imperialist powers and bound them together in opposition
to the Stalinist regimes. The removal of this glue has now given rise to an open
conflict of interests between the major capitalist powers of the US, Britain and
The conflict became extremely bitter as the US and its allies supported the
invoking of clause 4 of the NATO treaty which provides for military support to
be given to a NATO member which is threatened. An unprecedented split and
paralysis has opened up in NATO.
Turkey it is argued is threatened because it is on ‘the front line’ of a
war on Iraq. Belgium, France and Germany blocked this on the basis that this
would mean acceptance of the US war plans. The Secretary General of NATO gave an
ultimatum to these countries to decide on the question.
They in effect called
his bluff. Without consulting the US, France and Germany, then crucially with
the support of Russia, have now presented their own alternative to a US-led
military assault on Iraq. This alternative plan included the deployment of
thousands of UN inspectors, a non-US-led UN ‘blue helmet’ occupation force
backed up by US forces based in surrounding countries.
This proposal, although presented as an alternative to war, in effect
amounted to a military occupation of Iraq but without a war to achieve it – a
‘soft war’! If carried out this plan would also lead to further upheavals
and deeper conflicts in Iraq and the Arab world. However, it has been dismissed
by US imperialism as ‘irrelevant’ which it seems is now determined to
proceed with its military offensive.
Philip Stephens commented in the Financial Times: "There is still too
little appreciation of the scale of the coming geopolitical earthquake. American
occupation of Iraq – and let us not delude ourselves, this will be a long term
commitment – will do more than redraw the region’s strategic map. It will
mark the moment when the US takes upon itself a role that it has disavowed since
the annexation of the Philippines more than a century ago – the role of the
imperial power. For the past 50 years America has ruled a virtual empire"
Doomed to failure
In the medium and long term, they are doomed to failure. In the Middle East,
where the Palestinians should already be cowed and intimidated according to the
schema of the Bush strategists, the limits of US power have been glimpsed. This
will be further underlined in the tumultuous events in the future.
In the short term, however, given the overwhelming military superiority of US
imperialism, the US is likely to prevail in any war. How is it possible, given
the massive opposition to war, unprecedented in its scale and depth to anything
we have seen before, that the US ruling class can proceed with war?
In a sense,
as the political journalist John Pilger has commented, the proponents of war,
particularly Bush and Blair, are ‘isolated’, Blair in his own backyard and
Bush from a world point of view. Thomas L Friedman, the American columnist, and
an erratic commentator recently on the prospects of war, has given a stark
warning to the Bush regime one day after Powell’s speech.
talking with Bush administration officials of late I am struck by an incredible
contrast. It is the contrast between the breathtaking audacity of what they
intend to do in Iraq – an audacity that, I must say, has an appeal to me –
and the incredibly narrow basis of support that exists in America today for this
He professes that he is not worried about the reaction
of the Arabs and Turks, of the volatile ‘Arab street’, or even of opinion in
Iraq. What worries him is the mood of the US population on the issue of war:
"I have had a chance to travel all across the United States since
September, and I can say without hesitation there was not a single audience I
spoke to where I felt there was a majority in favour of war… I don’t care
what the polls say, this is the real mood."
This conflict has revealed an enormous gulf in the opinion between the
governments and the ‘governed’. The opposition is massive and overwhelming.
In Britain Blair is isolated from the mass of opinion. According to the latest
poll by the BBC only 9% support a war without UN support. Even with UN support
45% still oppose a conflict.
In Aznar’s Spain 91% oppose a war without UN
support. Even with UN support 65% are opposed to a war. In Italy 79% are opposed
to war. Throughout eastern Europe it is the same story with only 38% supporting
a war in Romania, 28% in Bulgaria and 20% in Estonia. In Russia it is a mere
23%!. Never has such opposition to a war been expressed by the mass of the
population at the beginning of a military conflict.
In Australia the anti-war
mood has not only resulted in mass protests. In an example to be followed in
other countries, nine trade unions in Western Australia, in Fremantle Harbour,
have declared a work ban and five unions in Victoria have announced a lunchtime
strike the day following the outbreak of war.
In the US it is true that after Bush’s State of the Union speech, support
for a war began to increase in the US, as it probably will after Powell’s
speech. According to the latest poll 57% now support a conflict if it is
undertaken with the support of some US allies. However, 40% still would oppose
it. If the US decides to proceed unilaterally it is likely that initially
support will increase and will grow in the event of a relatively quick victory
by US imperialism.
The CWI stands implacably opposed to US imperialism and the
Bush regime. At the same time it is essential to build solidarity and support
for those in the USA fighting against the war, especially the youth and workers
who are struggling against the Bush regime and big business interests. As the
experience of Vietnam demonstrated, it is a revolt by the US working class and
young people that will challenge the power of US imperialism and the Bush
In Britain, Blair is not guaranteed to garner political credit from a
military victory. The fate of Blair is likely to be determined by this conflict.
It will partly depend upon the character of any victory, the degree of suffering
of the Iraqis, etc. The war has already provoked bitter mass opposition to Blair
who could be toppled as a consequence of his pro-war policy. There is now mass
opposition to Blair’s war policy.
One worker on a British TV panel addressed
Blair in a debate as the Right Honourable Member (Member of Parliament) for
Texas North! The determined opposition to Blair reflected on this programme was
then followed by the ‘acute international embarrassment’ of the British
government following the revelation that its latest dossier on Iraq of
"intelligence material" included material copied from thesis prepared
by academic and students – some of them several years old. The document was
then cobbled together – a cut and paste job – not by Middle East
‘experts’ but by Alastair Campbell, the Government’s chief splin doctor.
This same document was used by Powell in his speech to the UN Security Council.
The mass opposition to the war in these countries has been decisive in
pushing Chirac and Schröder to oppose US policy. The disastrous election
results for the SPD in recent elections in Lower Saxony and Hessen (in which the
SPD got its lowest level of support ever) reflect the mass opposition which
exists to the neo-liberal policies of the German government despite Schröder’s
opposition to the war. This underlines that an anti-war policy is not enough and
it must also be linked to a socialist alternative to capitalism. The attacks of
the Bush administration on Schröder and his anti-war stance has probably
strengthened his position domestically following the election defeats in Lower
Saxony and Hessen.
It is possible that Chirac, despite mass opposition to the war in France will
capitulate at the Security Council. However, if he does this, the anti-war mood
could be galvanised into mass action in France.
Can war be stopped?
The question has to be answered by socialists and Marxists who have pointed
towards the unprecedented pressure which is being exerted on Blair and Bush to
desist from war: why then are they able to proceed in the teeth of this
opposition – that could reach or exceed ten million people on worldwide
demonstrations on 15 February – along the bloody path of mayhem and
destruction in Iraq?
This demonstrates that when vital strategic interests of the ruling class are
at stake, or a faction of the ruling class perceives that this is the case, then
despite any unpopularity they will go to war. In this situation, mass
demonstrations alone, overwhelming opposition to a war, are not sufficient in
and of themselves to stay the hand of capitalism. Such mass movements can act as
a check on the ruling class, to delay and complicate its war plans.
John Howard has become the first Australian prime minister in a century to lose
the support of the Senate when it passed a motion of no confidence in his pro-US
policy on Iraq. But only if these movements are allied to clear mass action, a
general strike and the overthrow of the government and of the system that it
represents, can we guarantee that war can be prevented.
Bush and Blair undoubtedly calculate that with a quick victory over Saddam,
as with the Gulf war, Kosova and Afghanistan, the opposition will quickly
subside and they will be able to bask in the glory. However, to paraphrase the
19th century British prime minister and general, the Duke of Wellington, a
victory sometimes brings with it as many if not more problems than a defeat.
Friedman comments that the Bush administration is
"gearing up for the
rebuilding of Iraq, along the lines of the rebuilding of Germany and Japan after
World War Two, and Americans are geared up, at best, for the quick and dirty
invasion of Grenada."
He then goes on to demand that it is
president levelled with the country – not just about the dangers posed by
Saddam, but about the long-term costs involved in ousting him and rebuilding
Iraq. This is not going to be Grenada."
He warns that it will "take
years" to achieve the aims of Bush and the circle of so-called
‘democratic’ imperialists in Iraq. The purpose is not just to overthrow
Saddam but to reconstitute Iraq as a ‘democracy’.
On the basis of rotted capitalism and landlordism throughout the Middle East,
this schema is just that, a pipe dream. On the contrary, the world crisis of
capitalism – exemplified in particular by the deepening recession in the US
with the loss of two million jobs since 2001 and one million completely dropping
out of the labour force – means that US imperialism will not be able to
economically underwrite, even if it controls Iraqi oil, its grand vision for the
region. Its occupation of Iraq, because it will be more long term than its
previous short, police-type interventions, will pull it into the quagmire which
Iraq has always historically meant for invading armies.
Afghanistan is a warning to US imperialism of what lies in store for it in
Iraq. All the promises that al-Qa’ida and the Taliban were decisively beaten,
that an endless flow of billions of dollars would stream into Afghanistan to
transform the economic, social and political landscape, and that US and British
forces were there ‘for the duration’ have turned to ashes.
A veil of
silence, particularly as far as the US population is concerned, has been drawn
over the present situation in Afghanistan. No mention was made by Powell at the
UN of the catastrophic situation left in the wake of the US and British
invasion, which was foreshadowed by the Marxists at the time. Peace remains an
illusion as a process of steady erosion of the forces of US imperialism is under
Nightly attacks on US and other troops take place, there is anarchy in the
cities outside Kabul and warlordism and drug trafficking are as entrenched as
ever. Al-Qa’ida has a radio station operating in Afghanistan with an estimated
25% of all weapons brought into Afghanistan after an alleged ‘successful’
war against al-Qa’ida and the Taliban.
US forces have retreated from positions
on the Afghan/Pakistan border. For instance, in December, US troops abandoned a
military outpost at Lwara after nightly rocket attacks. The Afghan allies of the
US were driven out days later by al-Qa’ida fighters who took over this former
US compound and burned it to the ground. Once more, al-Qa’ida and the Taliban
have set up training camps, with battles between the US and Taliban forces in
and around Kandahar. A US citizen has been killed in Khost and 15 civilians were
blown up by a landmine outside Kandahar.
The ugly reality of Afghanistan is not, however, allowed to blur the rosy
future sketched out for Iraq in its post-Saddam phase. In reality, the US could
be drawn into an economic, national and ethnic abyss. The Kurds will utilise any
war to either move towards their own separate state or at the least demand
autonomy within a federal Iraq.
Such is the hatred of the Ba’ath party, the
foundation of the Saddam regime, that the Iraqi masses could take revenge on the
most hated figures, with US forces forced to come to their defence to prevent a
bloodbath. The Shias could decide to settle accounts with the Sunnis with civil
war looming as a real prospect and the US attempting to hold the ‘ring’.
Moreover, unlike 1992, the US will not be able to take the begging bowl to
Japan, Germany or Saudi Arabia to pay for its occupation and the ‘economic
flourishing’ of Iraq.
The legacy of an attack on Iraq will be a colossal spiralling of threats from
Islamic terrorists bent on revenge against the war which appears to them to be
‘against Islam’. One of the factors in the long-term plans of the Bush
junta’s desire to occupy Iraq is to construct a ‘safety net’ against the
doomsday scenario of Saudi Arabia falling into the hands of bin Laden-type
Islamic terrorism is one thing; a state which pursues such a
policy is an absolute nightmare for the peoples of the world, not least in the
Middle East. The ‘Islamic experts’ who surround Bush perceive that control
of Iraq’s oil would give them an ace card in confronting and
‘blackmailing’ a hostile Saudi Arabian regime and could ultimately allow it
to break the power of Opec in determining oil prices. This, in turn, by driving
down the price of oil, could be the fillip, they believe, that could provide an
economic springboard for the development of world capitalism.
They will be proved wrong. Their measures will enormously compound the
problems of the Middle East and of the world. An era of war, the first stages of
which will be the Iraqi war, accompanied by a worsening and stagnating world
capitalist economy, could be the main features of this period. Unemployment
worldwide has reached 180 million, 20 million more than two years ago.
the most disturbed periods in history could ensue. It will not quieten the
movement of the working class, the youth and the poor. Alongside of devastating
war in Iraq we witness the hundreds of thousands who demonstrated in Porto
Alegre in Brazil and the very significant victory, temporary though it might be,
in the left forces’ defeat of the forces of counter-revolution which sought to
overthrow the Chávez government in Venezuela.
The mass anti-capitalist movement
is dovetailing with an anti-war mood which in the next period can turn into an
overtly socialist movement in which the forces of socialism and Marxism will
No war for oil!
No to new Colonialism!
Resources for schools, hospitals and welfare!
No tax increases to pay for the war!
For mass protests and strikes against the war!
Support the mass demonstrations on 15 February!
Fight capitalism and imperialism!
Fight for a socialist world!
International Secretariat of the CWI 12 February 2003.