Editorial

Editorial: Tortured Logic

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The 30 June 'transfer of sovereignty' to a puppet government in Iraq has rapidly become the source of foreboding for the governments of George Bush and Tony Blair.

Whoever appointees US proconsul Paul Bremer and UN special representative Lakhdar Brahimi appoint as Iraqi prime minister - and whoever he in turn appoints to a provisional administration - it is a process that has been stripped of the last vestiges of credibility by the experience of a year of occupation. As the US army's War College concedes in a report titled 'Iraq and Vietnam: Differences, Similarities and Insights', 'In Vietnam, we were trying to prop up a government that had little legitimacy.

Into the Mainstream

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The decision by Lindsey German to stand as the Respect candidate for mayor of London and the Greater London Assembly (GLA) list will bring a breath of fresh air to the campaign.

Along with George Galloway, who heads Respect's list for the European election in London, her involvement ensures that socialist politics will be at the forefront of the election over the coming weeks.

The Smoking Gun

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One year on from the start of the war on Iraq and the line still cannot be drawn.

The withdrawal of the case against Katharine Gun has fuelled the angry fire of opposition, and Clare Short‘s revelations have increased its intensity. Since Short claimed that British spies were bugging Kofi Annan at the UN, New Labour ministers and much of the press have lined up to attack her for being ’irresponsible‘, while UN spokespeople along with Hans Blix and others have exhibited little surprise.

Saved by the 'Rebels'

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Tony Blair remains prime minister not on the basis of the popular will, but through the support of the chancellor, Gordon Brown, and the reactionary law lord Brian Hutton.

With a vote on the hugely unpopular plans for top-up fees and a report into the death of David Kelly, the last week in January should have sealed Blair's fate. That 'rebel' Labour MPs took fright over the first issue and the establishment closed ranks over the second displays all that is rotten about the shallow form of democracy on display in parliament.

Corporate Capture

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The seizure of Saddam Hussein last month was heralded as a great victory for Bush and his 'coalition of the willing'. George Bush said in his post-capture speech that 'a dark and painful era is over' for the people of Iraq. Yet the weeks following the arrest have seen no let-up in the death toll.

As Iraqi deaths at the hands of coalition forces have continued, so has the resistance to the occupation.

The prospect of a show trial for Saddam is an irresistible one for Bush in the year of his presidential campaign, but what might Saddam's defence reveal? The reams of evidence of US (and British) support during the most violent period of his rule would have to come out if the trial is to be a fair one.

Hypocrites' Humbug

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The hypocrisy of George Bush and Tony Blair's denunciations of terrorism is stunning.

They condemn the 'utter contempt for human life' shown by the Istanbul bombers, even as they command their armies to drop 500-pound bombs onto cities, bulldoze houses and shoot unarmed civilians at checkpoints. This is the reality of Operation Iron Hammer, the 'reconstruction' of occupied Iraq.

Forging Ahead

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George Galloway's expulsion from the Labour Party shows how hollow are Blair's platitudes about encouraging debate and democracy.

A kangaroo court convicted Galloway of bringing the party into disrepute. And what were his crimes? Encouraging British troops not to participate in a criminal invasion justified by fabricated intelligence. Defending the right of Iraqis to resist such an imperial mission. Congratulating Socialist Alliance candidate Michael Lavalette for being elected as a councillor on an anti-war platform. And admitting that if he was forced out of Labour he would fight back.

Learning Lessons

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Tony Blair said he was willing to pay the ’blood price‘ of war in Iraq. He is unlikely to have to do so personally. He is already paying a political price - but as yet he is only on the first instalment.

He faces a ruling class in deep disarray over the decision to go to war - this, above all, is what the Hutton inquiry demonstrates. He presides over a party bitterly opposed to the war and desperate for a sign that he will make some concession to ’Old Labour‘ values. He is prime minister of a country in which the war is threatening to destabilise everything else the government tries to do.

Keep on Keepin' On

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'It was grim, it was grim for me, grim for TB [Tony Blair] and there is this huge stuff about trust.' So lamented New Labour's chief spin-doctor in his diary on 1 June.

The glimpse into Alastair Campbell's embattled psyche as the David Kelly affair unfolded is just one of many such insights revealed by the Hutton inquiry. Campbell was right to worry about the 'stuff about trust'. An ICM poll recorded that only 6 percent of respondents trusted the government more than the BBC to tell the truth. Revealingly, given that research has shown BBC war coverage to be the most gung-ho of the major broadcasters, over half those polled trusted neither.

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