The Whole World is Watching

Issue section: 

George Bush's re-election ensures that the mass murder in Iraq will continue.

The blood of civilians will continue to flow for the sake of corporate profits and imperial power. The Iraqis who fight for their freedom will continue to be denounced as 'terrorists'. And Tony Blair will continue to be the butcher's chief accomplice.

The source of the real terror in Iraq is the occupation. The extent of US/British imperial brutality has been exposed by the Lancet investigation that estimates that 100,000 people have died as a result of the invasion. The majority of these deaths have been violent; the majority of violent deaths the result of coalition air raids.

These figures exclude Fallujah where, since massacring unarmed demonstrators last April, the US has faced fierce resistance. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has denigrated the report, citing for the first time (which estimates a lower figure) as an alternative source. As the site itself admits, it is dependent on the analysis of media reports - which have become all but impossible in the chaos of occupied Iraq. Reporters who refuse to be 'embedded' have been killed; hospitals have been banned from disclosing casualty figures. They hope we won't see their crimes, and so will stop looking. But the whole world is watching.

We live in a world divided between a tiny minority of the unimaginably wealthy and the vast majority of us who make them that way. A world where the richest 497 people have a combined wealth of $1.54 trillion - greater than that of the poorest half of humanity. A world where the poor are conscripted in job centres to kill and die in wars for the rich.

Neither pro-war millionaire presidential candidate was keen to highlight such divisions, which are especially extreme in the US: In the 1990s, executive pay at the top US corporations increased by 571 percent. Top US bosses average $8.1 million per year, 301 times greater than their workers. Thirty-five million Americans live below the poverty line. Forty-five million cannot afford health insurance. It is overwhelmingly these people who couldn't - or wouldn't - vote. Meanwhile the military budget far exceeds $400 billion per year.

These are just some of the consequences of a neoliberal project advocated by Republicans and Democrats - and their mutual lickspittle in Downing Street - alike. Regardless of who takes the keys to the White House, their attacks will continue at home and abroad.

Every year 2.2 million people, mainly children, die because they are denied clean water and sanitation. HIV/Aids is ravaging the poorest countries of the world - some 25 million people are living with HIV/Aids in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. Meanwhile the major pharmaceutical companies - with the full support of both US parties - withhold lifesaving drugs for the sake of their profits.

Such facts can numb. They can cause us to throw up our hands in despair at the scale of the problem. Or they can strengthen our resolve to fight back.

The US election has once again exposed the hypocrisy of a US ruling class that claims to export democracy but whose own system is riven with corruption and greed. It is a system where it costs about $1 million to run for the House of Representatives and $5 million for the Senate; where most corporations fund Republicans and Democrats equally. Whoever wins, they win.

Of course there is no shortage of personal ambition dividing the candidates. And they will go to extreme lengths to make their money count. If this means disenfranchising over 5 million former felons, including 25 percent of the black population of Ohio; or if it means sending flyers to poor neighbourhoods in Baltimore and Georgia threatening arrest at polling stations for rent arrears, then so be it.

This year millions more Americans defied the threats and intimidation in order to vote. Such determination will be vital in getting our movement back onto the streets. The real tragedy would be if the movement to scupper the occupation was to be disheartened by the results.

In Britain 71 percent of people want an early date set for the withdrawal of British troops. There was outrage when Tony Blair deployed Black Watch troops north to back up Bush's assault on Fallujah. Twenty-five thousand people attended the European Social Forum in London, an unprecedented radical political gathering that ended with 100,000 demonstrating to pull the troops home.

The ESF issued a call to build a global day of action against the war on 19/20 March. This mirrors the call of the Florence ESF that built the biggest ever global protest on 15 February 2003. We must now strain every sinew to make the world demonstrate next March. This means reinvigorating every network of anti-war and anti-capitalist activists and creating more. It means understanding the strength we have at the centre of the system, and mobilising collectively to make that strength felt. Only through such a movement - a global movement of solidarity and resistance - can we defeat the warmongers.