Iraq: Stop the war in Iraq – Powels speech deepens capitalist splits

US IMPERIALISM is paying for this war, unlike in the 1990-91 Gulf War when other countries financially under-wrote US war plans and paid for nine-tenths of it. So the US ruling class are determined that nobody, especially the United Nations, gets in the way of their controlling Iraq.

Stop the war in Iraq.

Powell’s speech deepens capitalist splits

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said on 26 March "We didn’t take on this huge burden with our coalition partners not to be able to have a significant dominating control over how it unfolds in the future. We wouldn’t support… handing everything over to the UN or to someone designated by the UN to suddenly become in charge."

Powell says after they "liberate" Iraq they’ll run it firstly under US military occupation then as a US protectorate. The US authorities have already said that Jay Garner – a retired US general and arms trader – will be in charge of reconstruction and humanitarian relief in post-war Iraq. They insist that the UN plays no part in reconstruction.

Blair was on his way to Camp David at the time Powell spoke, supposedly to try to persuade George W Bush that the UN should play a role in post-war Iraq. Bush however wants to limit the UN role to distributing aid so poodle Blair just kept quiet.

Bush’s attitude is causing ructions among other capitalist states. Germany’s Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, said that the US government should pay for post-war reconstruction: "Those that do the damage carry the main financial burden for reconstruction." But, she said, Iraq’s redevelopment should be controlled by the UN, not just by the USA.

Germany was one of the main countries that paid for the 1990-91 Gulf War. This time the major European powers – France, Germany and Russia, worried about what this ’war/invasion’ would mean – stopped Bush getting UN support for his war. They’re still concerned.

France insists that "the UN must be at the heart of the reconstruction and administration of Iraq." French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin warns that pre-emptive strikes by individual forces against countries deemed to be rogue states will lead to more terrorism and global instability.

We would reject US rule and its "dominating control" but France and Germany’s idea of UN control is hardly any better. The United Nations talking shop is a collection of capitalist states and no more trustworthy collectively than the member states are separately. The UN not only brought sanctions to Iraq, it also failed miserably to stop this war.

The UN’s role in Bosnia and other countries reflects the interests of its stronger capitalist members. A recent Financial Times editorial let the cat out of this diplomatic bag.

It says the UN should take over post-war Iraq to give "post-facto vindication" of the invasion and prevent regional anger at "what would be widely seen as imperialism".

In other words these representatives of capitalism support UN involvement, not as a peaceful way to resolve conflict or maximise the help for the peoples of a devastated Iraq, but as a cover for the recolonisation of Iraq.

So, basically do the governments of France and Germany with the added hope that their capitalist class will get some of the economic benefits which the USA plans to monopolise.

Who will pay the costs of war?

THE FINANCIAL costs of this war are rising fast. George W Bush has asked the US Congress for a total war budget of $74.7 billion. Amazingly this sum is seven times the gross domestic product of Iraq, the country they are trying to destroy at present!

This grossly swollen expenditure includes $60 billion for the military campaign in Iraq, based on an "optimistic" US assumption that the war lasts 30 days. At present $500 million of bombs is dropped on Iraq daily.

It includes $1.7 billion to help rebuild Iraq after the conflict and a pitiful sum of $750 million for humanitarian aid. After spending a fortune dropping bombs on Iraq, the US government are spending one-eightieth as much on caring for the wounded, the sick and the homeless.

America’s working class will probably pick up most of the bill for this spending through cuts in US public services expenditure.

In Britain, US imperialism’s very junior partner, chancellor Gordon Brown announced a mini-version of Bush’s plea. He announced to the House of Commons an extra £1.25 billion of funding to cover the war in Iraq, taking the total of the Ministry of Defence’s special reserves to £3 billion.

This is a definite underestimate. Brown said before the war started that he would "pay whatever it takes" to get rid of Saddam Hussein. Already it seems likely that £10 billion has been allocated for this war.

If the war continues for any length of time, Brown’s assumptions about the economy will be made even more doubtful. Accountants Deloitte and Touche predict that next week’s budget will be plunged even further into deficit.

The cost of military action, together with the slump in company tax receipts and stamp duty due to war and economic recession, could blow a £12 billion hole in the budget. That may well mean tax rises, public spending cuts or even both.

Arms firms profit from war

US FIRMS are set to make a lot of money from contracts for Iraq’s ’reconstruction’ after this war is over. At least $1 billion worth of contracts are up for grabs to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure.

The most controversial tendering group is Halliburton where Dick Cheney, the current US Vice-President, spent five very profitable years as chief executive officer until Bush’s election ’victory’.

Halliburton’s subsidiary, Kellogg Brown and Root, have won a contract to put out oil-well fires in Iraq as well as getting the country’s oil infrastructure back to normal after years of sanctions – and bombs sent by Cheney’s commander in chief Bush!

Four other companies, Bechtel (which also has strong links to right-wing Republican politicians) Fluor, Louis Berger and Parsons also stand to reconstruct their profits post-war.

Such favouring of US firms, not to say cronyism, has got up the noses of foreign companies and governments, including Blair’s whose trade and industry spokesperson Patricia Hewitt has been demanding a ’level playing field’ for companies bidding for contracts.

An unseemly spat between America and other companies has grown – it’s not that these firms have any moral objection to making money out of Iraq’s misery but non-American companies feel themselves shut out of profitable markets.

Garner’s appointment (see article below) will increase the potential for splits. Everyone will suspect that this war is payback time for the ’big oil’ firms which paid for the election campaigns of the axis of oil – Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld etc.

Destroyer becomes reconstructor

RETIRED US General Jay Garner is president of an arms company SY Coleman – a subsidiary of defence electronics group L-3 – which provides technical services and advice on how to run the Patriot missile system.

The Patriot has been used to try to blow the people of Iraq back into the Stone Age. SY Coleman also won a Star Wars contract in 1999 worth hundreds of millions of dollars. SY’s new boss company L-3 is the ninth largest contributor to US political parties in the defence electronics sector.

US military planners expect this ex-general, arms trader and political co-thinker of Bush, Rumsfeld etc to take over as the US ’viceroy’ in Iraq after this new colonial war.

Garner will work alongside the military governor, present-day General Tommy Franks. This arms expert’s job will be heading the Office for Reconstruction, ostensibly to help Iraq recover from his government’s – and his company’s -huge destruction!

From The Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party, CWI in England and Wales

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April 2003