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The World Steps Closer To War Against Iraq
BUSH HAS interpreted the mid-term election results in the US as a support for war. In fact only 37% of the population voted and opposition to war is increasing.
Nonetheless the next phase of the US administration's drive towards war on Iraq has begun. After almost two months of wrangling, the UN Security Council has unanimously agreed a resolution on Iraq.
Those on the Security Council who oppose war are claiming that the resolution is their victory. The Syrian foreign minister said that the resolution "has pushed the phantom of war into the background for several weeks or months. Our goal is to spare Iraq and the region from a military strike".
This is an attempt to hide reality from the Arab masses. This is a war for the prestige and profit of US imperialism. The UN Security Council resolution is little more than an inadequate disguise for the brute interests of US imperialism.
Bribery and threats
Powell and company used a combination of bribery and threats to get other countries on board. Russia and France were undoubtedly promised a cut of the oil bonanza that the US expects if they take Iraq.
Smaller countries like Syria were reminded of what happened to Yemen when they voted against the last Gulf War (they were then on the UN Security Council). The US declared Yemen's vote as the most expensive 'no' in history, and promptly cut off its aid.
In order to get UN backing, the US administration has made some concessions. This reflects the recognition by the most serious elements of the US ruling class that, vast as their military might is, it is more politically expedient to be seen to be acting multilaterally.
But as Rice, Powell and their British echoes, Blair and Hoon, have made clear, in essence this resolution gives the US what they want. The resolution leaves room for the US to go to war unilaterally if they consider Iraq to have failed to comply with the inspectors, and the US government has made it absolutely clear that they intend to do so.
As the resolution was passed the US military build up in the region was continuing apace. It is estimated that there are already up to 50,000 US service personnel in the region. By January there could be enough for a full-scale invasion, with sufficient troops for a smaller scale operation within a month.
And Bush and his advisors expected that Saddam Hussein will fail to comply. No wonder - the resolution is designed to be impossible to comply with. Rice has talked about 'zero tolerance', meaning that the smallest 'breach' by the Iraqi regime will result in war.
If the Iraqi regime does meet all the conditions, the purpose is to so weaken it that it falls through an uprising or a coup.
Within 30 days Iraq has to produce a full list of every single piece of weaponry, or equipment that could be used to produce it. If the list is not long enough to satisfy Bush and Blair they are likely to claim that Saddam must have more weapons hidden away.
Even if the weapons inspectors find no hidden weaponry, the US government are already preparing to show how this proves that Saddam is in breach of the agreement by asserting that it is impossible for Blix's team to find weapons that have been hidden.
The inspectors will have the right to declare exclusion zones, in which Iraq will have to suspend ground and aerial movements; in other words they will have the right to take control of parts of Iraq! They will also have the right to take any scientist they want out of Iraq to interview them.
Powell has said that the Iraqi regime must comply with all of this or 'be destroyed'. In reality the only compliance that the US government will accept is the destruction of the regime.
Edging to war
This resolution has taken the world several steps closer to war. Such a war would not bring democracy to the peoples of Iraq. The US and British governments are not concerned about how Saddam treats the Iraqi people.
On the contrary, after Saddam dropped chemical weapons on the Iraqi Kurds, George Bush Senior rewarded him by doubling Iraq's agricultural subsidies and selling him anthrax.
The aim of US imperialism is not democracy but the installation of a 'US-friendly' regime. However, as one British civil servant said, a war on Iraq is unlikely to be the 'cakewalk' Bush imagines.
Even with UN backing, it will "open the gates of hell in the Middle East", as the secretary general of the Arab League put it.
Bush still faces obstacles on the path to war, opposition in the US is growing. Up to a million marched against the war in Italy last weekend (see page 3), following on from a demo of 200,000 in Washington and the 400,000 who demonstrated in London.
This is a vast movement of opposition to Bush's war for oil, which has the potential to develop into an even bigger movement as the war drums get louder.
In The Socialist 15 November 2002: