With 220 000 US and British troops (including a quarter of the British army) surrounding Iraq, 300 US warplanes on airfields to its north and south, and a stockpile of 6 700 satellite-guided and 3 000 laser-guided bombs, Bush and Blair are set on war with or without a UN resolution.
No to war in Iraq. Anti-war movement in South Africa.
The following leaflet was produced by the Democratic Socialist Movement, the CWI’s South African affiliate in preparation for the anti-war demonstrations there on February 15.
No to US imperialism’s war against Iraq
A US military strategist declared that the aim of their battle plan, called "Rapid Dominance" which will entail firing 800 cruise missiles a day – one every four minutes — is to reduce the Iraqi population to a state of "psychological, emotional and physical exhaustion" within a week. He compared its effect to that of the 1945 Hiroshima atom bomb on the Japanese. In the first 48 hours 500 air force, radar jamming and support planes would unleash on the Iraqi people 10 times the number of precision-guided bombs fired in the first 2 days of the 1991 Gulf War.
"Total annihilation" and nuclear weapons
Between 100 000 and 200 000 people were slaughtered in the 1991 Gulf War. 300 tons of depleted uranium rained on the Iraqi people. A confidential UN "contingency planning report" expects: 500 000 injuries; 5.4m in the south to need humanitarian aid; a further 2m "internally displaced persons" and refugees marching south away from the main fighting in the centre and north. The destruction of the health care system would leave 5.2m vulnerable including an estimated 4.2m under 5-years and Im pregnant and breast-feeding women.
It expects an attack to mean the total devastation of all major infrastructure facilities such as bridges, railroads, electricity supplies and provisions for clean potable water. This could destroy the sewage system leaving 4m vulnerable to pandemic of diseases like cholera and dysentery in Baghdad alone.
Dennis Haliday (head of the UN "food-for-oil" programme in Iraq from 1997-1998, now against war) accuses the US and Britain of planning to "annihilate Iraqi society". For this the US’s conventional weapons of mass destruction would suffice. But the Washington Post (January 31st 2003) has revealed that Bush has signed a classified document, "National Security Presidential Directive 1" (also known as "Homeland Security Presidential Directive 4"), (14/09/02), declaring "the United States will make it clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force – including potentially nuclear weapons – ". In Britain – which has always had a nuclear first strike policy — Defence Minister Geoff Hoon said that Saddam "can be absolutely certain that in the right conditions we would be willing to use our nuclear weapons."
A war for oil, subjugation and domination
US war aims have nothing to do with dismantling weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and enforcing UN resolutions. The US with its massive arsenal remains the only country in the world to have used a nuclear bomb. Israel possesses more WMD than all of the Middle East combined, continues its brutal occupation and oppression of Palestine, and habitually treats UN resolutions with contempt with full US support. Iraq handed over a 12 000-page account of its WMD. 230 inspectors’ raids "found not a jam jar of dangerous chemicals" (Robert Fisk London Independent). Yet Bush threatens invasion. In contrast, Bush react s to the Stalinist North Korean regime’s resumption of nuclear weapons production with calls for a diplomatic solution.
This war is about oil, the re-assertion of US imperialist power, prestige and world economic domination. After the explosion of the hi-tech bubble, the eruption of the worst corruption scandals and largest bankruptcies in US history, the Bush regime is using the tragic events of September 11 for these purposes. The US may be headed for possibly its worst economic crisis just as its dependency on oil imports has risen from one third in 1985 to more than half today and is set to climb to two-thirds by 2020. Iraq possesses the world’s second largest known oil reserves. The fact that 19 of the 22 involved in the Twin Towers atrocity were Saudi nationals demonstrates the instability and unreliability of the US-backed Saudi regime. With 50% unemployment and widespread poverty, the corrupt Saudi oligarchy is sitting on a powder keg of discontent. This explains the US’s frantic race to diversify its energy sources to Africa, Central Asia and drilling in Alaska. The logic of "regime change" is to install its own puppets and exercise more direct control.
Regime change or a warning to the masses?
If the US’s aim is only "regime change" why deploy such awesome firepower? The Iraqi regime is not popular. Saddam’s repressive state apparatus has affected every third Iraqi family. The Kurds in the north lost 5 000 to Saddam’s chemical bombs in 1985 and are struggling for national self-determination. Nor do the Sunnis in the south support him. Militarily Saddam is far weaker than even in the Gulf war. Though expected to put up stiffer resistance than the Taliban, the US army will prevail. The US is fully conscious of the intense hatred for it because it supports dictatorships in the Middle East and especially for backing Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. Far from the liberation of the Iraqi people from a brutal dictator, it seeks to replace a dictator that has turned on the powers that armed and financed it, with a more pliant one.
The planned annihilation of Iraqi society is aimed at terrorising the masses in Iraq, the Arab world and elsewhere into submission before US military might. Imperialism is alarmed at the growing anti-capitalist character of the anti-globalisation movement. In Latin America, mass uprisings have led to the election of a number of radical nationalist populist governments. This is why the US supports toppling the Chavez government in Venezuela – its third biggest oil supplier.
No Trust in the UN
The Democratic Socialist Movement does not support the SA government’s call for the UN to decide Saddam’s fate. That is the task of the Iraqi people. Genuine opposition to war and WMD would mean banning US and British warships from SA ports. Yet they were serviced en route to the Gulf. It means no collaboration between Denel and the US arms industry and scrapping the arms deal. While publicly opposing the war the SA government’s position actually aids and abets the US’s war aims. This is because there is fundamental agreement between the US and SA’s capitalist policies – the consolidation of which is the main aim of US war policy.
The UN is a discredited undemocratic institution created not for world peace but to order the world according to the competing interests of the imperialist powers. The US either uses it or ignores it. UN members consist of a gallery of varying types of regimes — bourgeois democratic or naked dictatorships, they all serve the interests of the rich and powerful. Developing counties arms spend went up by 18% while people starve.
The weapons inspections programme operated on the basis that Iraq is guilty with or without evidence. The humiliating terms of Resolution 1441 – an ultimatum to surrender or be attacked — provide a cover of legitimacy to US war aims. A US spokesperson stated with breathtaking arrogance, "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." By blocking imports of life-saving equipment and medication, UN imposed sanctions have already claimed up to 1.2 million lives including those of 500 000 children.
Why then did the US bother to go to the UN? Because mass opposition across the world has temporarily produced a split within imperialism. The US’s rivals fear the wrath of their own citizens. They have distanced themselves from the US’s blatant display of arrogance to protect their own interests in post-war Iraq from where US oil companies are currently banned. The painstaking negotiations over resolution 1441 were for guarantees that US oil companies would share the spoils of war. None of the permanent Security Council members can be trusted to use their veto — neither the right wing French government, the gangster capitalist regime in Russia nor their oppressive Chinese counterparts. Nor would a veto deter them. The US and UK may go it alone anyway and settle this gangsters’ quarrel later.
Socialism – the only way forward
The inevitable US victory will be very costly. A US backed regime would be hated everywhere in the Arab world and beyond, stoke the furnace of anti-US hatred, destabilise a number of Middle Eastern regimes and also fan the flames of fundamentalism, increased terrorism and pogroms and bring nearer the danger of nuclear an Indo-Pakisatani nuclear conflict. A war would also plunge the world into a deep recession. Social upheaval will affect the advanced capitalist countries. The working class is the only force that can lead society out of capitalist hell -privatisation joblessness, poverty. Only the socialist transformation of society can permanently end the threat of war and mass poverty and create lasting peace, solidarity, prosperity and equality amongst peoples.