The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), the Nigerian affiliate of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), calls on the Nigerian working people and youth to oppose the planned military action by the US and its allies aimed at overthrowing the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq.
The following is a public statement (17 September 2002) by the Democratic Movement for Socialism (DSM), the Nigerian affiliate to the CWI.
Undoubtedly there is widespread opposition to Bush’s war plans throughout the African continent where the masses of poor and working people face terrible hardships daily under the burden of Western imperialism and the local pro-capitalist regimes. They working class of Africa can see through the war hype and lies and recognise that the Bush administration wants to attack another poor country in order to increase the strategic and economic hold of imperialism in the Middle East.
CWI, 20 September
No to Bush’s war against Iraq
For Working Class Action To Remove Saddam Dictatorship
Of course, as socialists, we are opposed to the dictatorial and repressive regime of Saddam Hussein and we call for its removal. But this is the duty of the working class in Iraq, with the support of the international workers’ movement, and not that of Bush and US imperialism.
And contrary to Bush’s propaganda, this war will not bring any greater peace or security to the world. Instead, it will exacerbate tension and conflicts in the Middle East and globally and inflict unprecedented terrible suffering on the Iraqi people.
In 1991, US and allied forces had waged a war against Iraq over its invasion of oil-rich Kuwait and its refusal to allow in UN weapon inspectors to inspect and assess its alleged programme of production of weapons of mass destruction. Subsequent bombings of Iraq together with US inspired UN sanctions have had a devastating consequence on its economy and people. About 6,000 Iraq children die monthly of starvation and illness as a result of lack of drugs caused by UN sanctions. Its GDP per head has dropped from US $3,000 to $715 while at least half of the adult males are unemployed and the middle class is almost wiped off. In essence, the victims of the war and sanctions have been Iraqi people, many of who live from hand to mouth. Despite all this, Saddam, with his repressive state machine, has kept a tight grip on power.
President Bush addressed the United Nations’ General Assembly 57th session on 12th September, 2002, to build a case for military action against Iraq. According to him, the UN must prevail on Saddam to allow in UN weapons inspectors into his country, otherwise military action by the US will become inevitable. Saddam, he said, is a threat to ‘civilisation.’
The US’s real motives
Just like in the 1991 Gulf War, the main reason for US’ planned military action is the protection of its oil and strategic interests in the Middle East. According to Bush administration, Saddam is: "developing weapons of mass destruction which is a strategic threat to its interests in the region, to US allies in the Arab world and to Israel". The Middle East has two-thirds of world oil reserves which is vital and indispensable to world capitalist economy.
It is worth explaining that it was US imperialism, in order to protect its strategic interest in the Gulf region, that actually created Saddam. It armed and backed him in his one-decade war against the Islamic regime that came to power in Iran in 1979 and which the US perceived to be antagonistic to its interest. During that period, the US turned blind eyes to the massacres of ethnic minority Kurds and other heinous atrocities which the Saddam regime committed. It fell out with him and he became a bad lad only when he threatened its oil interest in the Gulf by invading Kuwait in 1990. Thus, the goal of the military action by the present Bush (Junior) regime is to carry through the unfinished matter of the 1991 Gulf War – to overthrow Saddam and replace him with a pliable, pro-western leadership.
In the same manner, Osama bin Laden, who is alleged by US imperialism of masterminding the 11th September, 2001 terrorist attack in the US was actually armed and financed by US imperialism to organise Islamic based guerrilla groups – the Mujahideens – to wage war against the then Soviet Union – backed regime in Afghanistan between 1979 and 1988.
The hypocrisy of US imperialism and Bush could be seen in the fact that all its allies in the Arab Middle East like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and even Egypt are dictatorial regimes where the democratic rights of workers and women to organise or express themselves are suppressed. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are feudal monarchies run by super-rich royal families and sheiks, and overwhelming majority of their populations have no voting right and little or no say in the management of the affairs of society. Yet the US ruling class sees nothing wrong with these tyrannical regimes. In fact, US provides them economic or military support or both.
So, this is not a war for ‘civilisation’. Rather, the goal of Bush and his allies is to establish a pro-western, pro-imperialist regime in Baghdad which can safeguard the interests of US and imperialism in the region.
Also, US imperialism is trying to reassert its prestige which was dented by the 11th September attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagons. It is in this context that Bush’s tirades against the so-called ‘axis of evil’ – Iraq, Iran and North Korea – must be understood.
Consequences of war
The determination of Bush, Blair and company to extend the ‘war on terror’ to Iraq is facing mounting opposition worldwide, including in Europe and the US. This is because of the unpredictable, very risky and horrible consequences which military actions would have not only on Iraq but also the Middle East and the entire world.
Firstly, any military action would further worsen the plight of the Iraqi masses whose lives are already devastated by wars and a decade of UN sanctions. Hunger and diseases will swell, leading to the death of possibly tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis. As usual, the major victims will be innocent working people, unarmed and defenceless children, women and men.
Secondly, unlike Afghanistan where the Taliban had a weak social base and were relatively politically and militarily feeble, a US-led military invasion of Iraq could meet formidable resistance. While it is true that both militarily and in terms of social situation, Iraq is weaker than what it was before 1991-92, should Saddam’s Republican Guard and regular army divisions decide to defend the regime, then a protracted war would ensue. It is estimated that US and its allies will need to deploy between 250,000 and 300,000 personnel to win an armed conflict and occupy Iraq with a minimum of 10,000 Iraqi civilians being killed in such a conflict.
Thirdly, while there is no exact estimation of chemical and biological weapons in the possession of Saddam, if he realises the seriousness of his regime being removed and his being killed, he could decide to use these weapons as a fight back with all the horrific consequences on Iraq, Middle East and the rest of humanity.
The situation in Iraq is further compounded by the absence of any viable or credible opposition with some level of support in society that could be a stable replacement for an overthrown Saddam regime. The pro-western opposition Iraqi National Congress is renown for corruption and comprise of generals who had themselves in the past participated in Saddam’s dastardly suppression of opposition to his regime. The likely implication of this is that the country would be plunged into a bloody civil war, with possible break-up, given the national questions of the minority Kurds and Shiites in northern and southern Iraq respectively.
Therefore, like in Afghanistan, military actions by Bush and imperialism would not resolve the problems facing Iraqi society and masses.
It is true that in Afghanistan, President Bush succeeded in dislodging the Talibans. But the aim of capturing bin Laden "dead or alive" and smashing of al-Qa’ida network are yet to be accomplished. Ethnic and tribal divisions, rule by local warlords and military conflicts still persist. On 5th September, 2002, US-backed President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan narrowly escaped an attempt on his life when gunmen fired into his car in Kandahar. The Karzai regime, like the Taliban, practises sharia law claimed by the US ruling class to be a bit ‘liberal’ than the latter’s. As against the Talibans that used to display hanged people publicly for four days, Karzai regime hangs them for 15 minutes. Death sentence for adultery for both men and women is still in force while poverty and misery continue to be the lot of the Afghan masses.
Furthermore, a military action would further destabilise the Middle East already tension-soaked as a result of the endemic Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A US attack will be met with mass protests in the Middle East and in the Muslim world where there are already mass disenchantment against the US support for the suppression of the aspirations and struggles of Palestinians for an independent state by the Israeli ruling class. Over a million Palestinian masses are compelled to live in refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip under virtual Israeli military occupation and economic blockade. The Palestinian and Arab masses are aware that the US is the strongest political and military ally of the Israeli ruling class, subsidising the Israeli state machine to the tune of billions of dollars annually. In the event of military action against Iraq, support for right-wing Islamic fundamentalist groups, suicide bombings and other terrorist acts will grow amongst Arab and Muslim youth worldwide. Like he did in 1990/91, Saddam could also attack Israel in order to get the support of Arab masses, and any retaliation by Israel could plunge the entire region into an open war.
It is against the above background that we in the DSM call on the working people and youth to oppose the declaration of war by the US government and its allies against Iraq. Even if Bush and company succeed in overthrowing the Saddam regime, this will not create stability or prosperity for the masses of the region or eradicate dictatorship and terrorism which are rooted in the unresolved national and social conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Rather than backing Bush’s warmongering, the working people the world over should give political and material support and solidarity to the Iraqi masses in their struggle to throw off the yoke of Saddam Hussein. While this approach may not yield immediate result, it is the only one that can pave way for the genuine and lasting liberation of the Iraqi masses from Saddam and other potential local and foreign oppressors.
Also, more than any thing, the looming war in Iraq and the Middle East with the possible use of murderous biological, chemical and even nuclear weapons once again reveal the inherent inability of global capitalist system to guarantee stability and peace in the world. The hundreds of billions of dollars annual defence budgets of the US and other world powers are not to ensure global security but to defend their own greedy, profit interests of capitalism and imperialism internationally.
The 11th September terrorist attacks has even been used by the US ruling class to develop a new "nuclear doctrine" of "pre-emptive tactical nuclear strike" against potential ‘terrorist states’. This means that, unlike before, the US is now prepared to develop and use biological and nuclear weapons against so-called "rogue states" like Iraq, Iran and North Korea to deter them from using same against US or its allies. It should also be noted that despite arms agreement between US and Russia to reduce nuclear warheads from between 6,000 – 7,000 to between 1,700 – 2,200, both sides still possess an obscene nuclear arsenal capable of destroying humanity many times over.
Over a decade ago, following the collapse of the planned but bureaucratically mismanaged economies of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the world capitalist leaders proclaimed the victory of their system. The then US president, George Bush (senior) proclaimed the dawn of a "New World Order" in which the capitalist market, and the US as the sole superpower, will guarantee prosperity and peace for the world population.
But instead of the capitalist paradise promised by Bush and other capitalist leaders, the past one decade has witnessed increased poverty, homelessness, diseases, destitution and environmental pollution among the working people across the world. This is as a result of attacks by multinational corporations on workers jobs and wages, deregulation, liberalisation and the privatisation of public assets and commercialisation of social services by capitalist governments in the mad drive to increase the profit and wealth of the super rich minority at the expense of the overwhelming majority, the impoverished masses. The end result is the creation of an unprecedented and widening gap between the rich and the poor in nearly all countries.
It is this gross inequality and injustice being perpetrated by capitalism and imperialism worldwide that has created fertile soil for the resurgence of nationalism, racism, terrorism, religious fundamentalism, dictatorship and political instability in many parts of the world.
Thus, rather than supporting the futile war being waged by the US and its capitalist allies against terrorism, what the working people should struggle for is the overthrow of the unjust and exploitative capitalist system which breeds dictatorship like Saddam’s, terrorism, insecurity, and instability. In its place, the working masses would need to establish a democratic socialist system in which the real needs and aspirations of the larger society and not wealth for a few will form the basis of production, the economy and government.
This means that in US, Nigeria and other countries, the working people should struggle to put in power socialist workers’ governments based on the public ownership of industry, banking, mining and other key sectors of the economy with the democratic control and management of the economy and society by the working people in order to avert the bureaucratisation which led to the failure of the planned economies of the defunct Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. In the particular case of Middle East, the Israeli and Arab masses have to struggle for an end to Israeli and Arab capitalism and the creation of a socialist Israel alongside an independent socialist Palestine and for a socialist confederation of the Middle East as part of a world socialist federation.
Therefore, the most important task for labour and youth activists in the US, Nigeria and other countries at the present period is the building of independent political parties of the working people to defend the working masses from capitalist attacks and to lead the struggle for socialist transformation of society.
It is through this arrangement that world’s resources which are being presently monopolised and pocketed by a rich minority can be made available to provide food, housing, education, health and other basic needs for all. This would provide a lasting basis for the eradication of the root causes of frustration, crimes, ethnic and religious conflicts, terrorism and wars.