The world's mightiest imperialist power is on the warpath again.
In place of the Cold War 'Truman Doctrine' comes the 'Bush Doctrine'--a declared right to pre-emptively attack in the cause of the amorphous 'war on terror'. US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice has described this strategy as 'imperial but not imperialistic', a qualification which defies experience as much as formal logic. Despite massive global opposition to a course that is aggressively interventionist, the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld axis is determined to invade Iraq and see to the unfinished business of the first Gulf War--'regime change'.
Their motivation is to further secure oil hegemony to reinforce the position of the US as the world's number one power, able to impose its will as and when it wants. While the goal is not in dispute among the US ruling class, the high risk strategy of achieving it has produced tensions even at the top. It has also exposed divisions between the US and other imperialist powers, with the exception of Bush's loyal poodle, Tony Blair.
While being aware of such divisions is important, and while it is crucial to understand that deepening opposition on the ground widens such fissures, there is a danger that we become too focused on the machinations of our rulers. It is right to expose the two-faced attitude of the US to international law, but it would be a mistake to allow the debate to become simply a question of UN authority.
The 100,000-plus deaths of the first Gulf War and the half a million Iraqi children killed by sanctions since, were no more justifiable because they were blessed by the UN. Some have striven to corral the war into an effort that is rubber-stamped by the UN. Whether this attempt is successful or not, we should hold no illusions that the UN is anything more than an arena for the competing interests of world leaders.
With the publication of Tony Blair's long-awaited dossier (co-written by the CIA) it is obvious that the propaganda offensive has begun in earnest. In response Socialist Review has compiled its own dossier which examines the misinformation, myths, hypocrisy and downright lies being peddled to justify war on Iraq. We do not have the teams of researchers, specialists and spin-doctors of a government department, nor the resources of a national newspaper. But by compiling publicly available and reliable information which has been scandalously underexposed, we believe we have contributed to a compelling rebuttal of the warmongers' arguments.
US and Britain supported Iraq
It is indisputable that Saddam is no friend of ordinary Iraqi people. But this was equally true throughout the 1980s, when Britain and the US consistently supported him in the Iran-Iraq war and after. In the face of compelling evidence of his crimes, he was armed and given vital strategic assistance that he used against Iran and the Kurds. It was little wonder that Saddam thought such support would extend to the pillaging of the oil of the Kuwaiti regime. It was only then that the western ruling classes turned against him. Just as US protégés Noriega, Bin Laden and Milosevic suddenly became the devil incarnate when they stopped being useful to their imperial patrons, so it was with Saddam.
In this context the question of weapons inspections is a transparent attempt to engineer a crisis to precipitate military action--not unlike the Rambouillet accords, which was the pretext under which the last Balkan war was launched. The unconditional access of UN weapons inspectors is the ultimatum for Iraq today. The logic was that Saddam would refuse and military action would be his punishment. Their expectation of his refusal was not surprising--as our dossier shows, the post Gulf War inspections were riddled with CIA agents and the information used as military intelligence during Operation Desert Fox. When last month Saddam agreed to the demand of unfettered inspections, the warmongers, suddenly caught on the hop, insisted that they weren't going to negotiate, despite their one key demand having been met. This exposed their use of the issue as a pretext for war.
It is also sobering to compare the requirements placed on Iraq with the treatment of Israel, which has broken more UN resolutions and is known to have illegally developed more than 200 nuclear warheads. It is this hypocrisy and double standards that angers many people who now see through the lies of Bush and Blair.
That 'truth is the first casualty of war' has become such a truism is just one sign of the healthy scepticism that ordinary people have developed for the machinations of our leaders. In the coming weeks fabrications like the ones that have marked every major modern conflict--from the First World War stories of Germans raping nuns to the first Gulf War tales of Iraqis ripping babies from incubators--will have to be challenged and disproved.
In Britain have seen an anti-war movement of a historically impressive scale and diversity. Huge marches against the war have fed into massive local petitions, protests, debates and teach-ins. The Stop the War Coalition has played a vital role in harnessing this energy--and made sure that healthy debate facilitates the unity in action necessary to oppose the war drive. In the aftermath of the 28 September demonstration against the war, the use of mass civil disobedience (with a day of action planned for 31 October) and the mobilisation of trade union strength will be central in developing this resistance. Increasing numbers of ordinary people are realising that war is at the heart of the capitalist system--and that the force to stop it lies in the power of the streets and workplaces. This will become even more urgent over the coming weeks as lies and propaganda are pumped out and the build-up to war accelerates. This dossier is intended to deepen that opposition and help build a movement against war that our leaders will find impossible to ignore.
Intro - War, weapons and Iraq
1 - Arms and the Man
2 - Countdown to War
A number of people helped in compiling this dossier. Thanks to Andrew Stone, David Shonfield, Lindsey German, Glen Rangwala and the Labour Against the War briefing paper, Sandy Nicoll, Colin Wilson and Martin Empson.