“Your war – our dead”, “Aznar, your delusions of grandeur have led to this” chanted crowds on the streets of Spain last weekend, as the mass outpouring of grief and rage at the Thursday’s horrendous bombings became intertwined with anger at the government. Another common chant was “200 dead, over 1,000 injured and 34.5 million Spanish voters, misinformed, lied to”. In total eleven million people, a quarter of the population, took to the streets of Spain.
One year on.
Text of the leaflett given out on the protest march in London on 20 March 2004 by the Socialist Party, cwi in England and Wales.
pdf version available (new window).
Kick out the Warmongers
No to terrorism!
No to imperialist war!
End the occupation of Iraq
Aznar, then Spanish Prime Minister, led Spain into the Iraq war in the face of opposition from 90% of Spaniards. Last Sunday his party paid the price. But losing the election was a small enough price to pay compared to the 200 people who, almost certainly, paid for Aznar’s policy with their lives.
Aznar gone – could Blair be next?
Everyone in Britain feels horror at the events in Madrid – but Blair’s horror is of a different order. He knows Aznar’s fate could be his own. If the worst happens and we suffer an attack in Britain, millions of people will hold New Labour and the rest of the warmongers responsible. That’s why Jack Straw has ludicrously declared that it is “completely wrong” to think that the war on Iraq has made Spain or Britain more of a target for Al Qaeda, and used the fact that 9/11 happened before the war on Iraq as proof of this!
Terrorism offers no way forward
The Socialist Party condemns the barbaric attacks on the Madrid commuter trains, as we condemned 9/11, and the killing of ordinary civilians in Iraq. These acts of ‘mass terrorism’, which aim to kill ordinary people who bear no responsibility for the policies of their rulers, claim to be in the defence of the victims of imperialism, but they only create more victims of imperialism, and do nothing to further the struggle against it. After all, as the statements of former US Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill have made clear, Bush wanted to go to war on Iraq from the moment he was elected, but it was 9/11 that gave him the possibility of winning public support for his brutal war.
It is true that the Madrid attack has weakened, rather than strengthened, the warmongering politicians, because they are seen as responsible for this atrocity. But it has also led to an increase in racism against North Africans and other minorities, and will undoubtedly lead to further attacks on civil liberties in the same way as 9/11 has been used to justify the locking up and torturing of innocent people in Guantanamo Bay.
Because there is a deep-seated anger at imperialism in the neo-colonial world, and particularly given the lack of a mass alternative; it is inevitable that some will be driven to the desperate methods of terrorism. Of course, anger with imperialism did not begin with the latest war on Iraq – it is a consequence of endless years of economic and political oppression. Even the war on Iraq did not really begin on March 20 last year, for a decade a kind of war took place, as UN sanctions led to 5000 children a month dying from hunger and lack of essential medicines.
Iraq in turmoil
But the war itself has massively increased anger and instability throughout the Middle East, which has in turn increased the likelihood of horrific terrorist attacks. In Iraq itself quality of life has plummeted for the great majority. Young people face a life of grinding poverty and unemployment. And the numbers being killed, either by the ‘state terrorism’ of the US-led occupiers, or by the attacks on Iraqi civilians from various terrorist bands, dwarves the horror of the Madrid tragedy. If Al Qaeda was not able to organise in Iraq before the war, they certainly are able to do so now.
The claims of Bush and co. that democracy will be introduced to Iraq in June are a charade. The recently agreed interim constitution makes no mention of how the proposed transitional government will be elected! In fact the US State Department is currently planning either to expand the membership of the current US-appointed Interim Governing Council or to organise a national gathering of ‘200’ respected elders to nominate a new government. So in reality US imperialism will choose a new government of Iraq, which will be backed by US-led troops. Even if, at some point, those troops switch to wearing the blue helmets of the UN, the situation will remain, in essence, the same. This will not be acceptable to the vast majority of Iraqi’s who will continue to demand an end to the occupation. In the countries that make up the ‘coalition’, as more soldiers are killed to defend the interests of US imperialism, calls for the occupation to end will also grow.
However, with fears of ethnic and religious conflict rising, particularly after the terrible suicide bombings of Shia celebrating their most holy of holy days, Ashoura, some opponents of the war have argued that it is impossible for the US-led troops to leave Iraq at the moment. This is the wrong conclusion to draw. The blame for the current situation lies at the feet of the warmongers. The ‘coalition of the willing’ is not in Iraq to bring peace, but to further the interests of US imperialism. To do so they are balancing between the different religious and ethnic groups. This, as has always been the case with imperialist occupations, tends to massively exacerbate the tensions.
The solution lies with the working people and poor masses of Iraq. The only way to guard against ethnic and religious clashes would be through the formation of multi-ethnic defence forces to protect the security of all, under the democratic control of working people. The Socialist Party stands for such measures to be combined with a mass movement of the working class and the oppressed masses for an end to the occupation of Iraq. Such a movement should call for the convening of an Iraq-wide national assembly of democratically elected delegates to vote on the formation of a workers and poor farmers’ government that would provide the basis to deal with the crushing problems facing Iraq.
Kick out the warmongers!
Worldwide, the movement to end the occupation of Iraq must be stepped up and combined with a campaign to force the warmongers out of office. It is they who are responsible for the deaths of many thousands of Iraqis, and hundreds of US soldiers. And it is also, as millions of Spaniards so rapidly grasped, their ‘war on terror’ that means the inhabitants of every major city in Europe are living in fear of a terrorist attack.
However, it is not enough to drive Blair and co. from office. We have to find something to replace them. New Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Tories are all parties of big business, that stand for protecting the profits of British Petroleum and their ilk, whilst destroying public services and attacking the living conditions of working class people. We need a new mass party that stands up for the interests of working class people. The Socialist Party is fighting for such a party – a party that brings together the anti-war movement, trade unionists, anti-privatisation campaigners and the anti-capitalist movement.
For a socialist alternative
At the same time we are campaigning to popularise socialist ideas. War, terrorism, conflict and instability are all increasingly the norm in a capitalist system that is riven by crisis. To permanently end the threat of war and terror we have to fight for the end of capitalism and for the establishment of a democratic socialist world run in the interests of the billions instead of for the profits of the billionaires.
Which way forward for Iraq? – we demand:
- The right to assembly and freedom of speech. For the right to organise and to strike. Build a mass democratic trade union movement
- A massive programme of public sector job creation, jobs for all on a living wage. Share the work with no loss of pay, end unemployment. For the linking of the unemployed workers’ movement with the trade union struggles.
- Fight privatisation. Fight attacks on jobs.
- Imperialist forces out of Iraq. No to occupation, no to colonialism. For a mass anti-occupation movement in Iraq and the West. Not another drop of blood – Iraqi, British or American – for imperialist power. Let the Iraqi people decide their own future.
- No to the imperialist imposed stooge ‘Iraqi Provisional Authority’ and ‘self rule’. For working people to decide their own future. For the immediate convening of a democratically elected constituent assembly, representing the working class, rural poor, and the genuine organisations of the women and youth.
- The right to self-defence against US and other imperialist forces, thugs and reactionaries. For united, democratic self-defence organisations of the working class. All arms under the control of elected committees of workers in the districts, factories and workplaces.
- For the right to self-determination of Kurdish people
- For a united mass working-class struggle! For democratically accountable armed workers’ and peasants’ self-defence organisations
- For the defeat of imperialism
- No to ethnic, national and sectarian divisions
- Nationalise the dominant sectors and companies of the Iraqi economy, including the oil industry. For democratic workers’ control and management based on the unions, the workers, and the poor communities.
- For a democratic workers’ government, of the urban and rural proletariat, and the poor peasantry.
THE SOCIALIST Party is part of the Committee for a Workers’ International (cwi).
The CWI is organised in 36 countries and works to unite the working class and oppressed peoples against capitalism and to fight for a socialist world.
For more details write to:
CWI, PO Box 3688, London E11 1YE.
A world in crisis – there is an alternative
Challenging capitalism – building a socialist future
Come to Socialism 2004
A weekend of discussion and debate
Saturday 26th June 1- 7.30 pm
Sunday 27th June 10 – 4.30pm
For weekend – £25 waged, £10 unwaged/low waged
For single day – £15 waged, £6 unwaged/low waged
University of London Union (ULU), Malet St. Lon WC1 (nearest tubes: Goodge Street, Euston Square, – minutes from Euston mainline rail station)
Topics will include:
- What kind of Iraq will emerge from the occupation?
- How can we build a party that would represent working class people?
- Fighting the growth of racism and fascism
- How “awkward” are the awkward squad?
- The Miner’s Strike, twenty years on
- Socialism and the politics of Islam
Find out more: 020 8988 8777 firstname.lastname@example.org
Vietnam War – the lessons for today
by Peter Taaffe
A timely analysis of the Vietnam War which draws parallels with the conflict in Iraq today.
Published by Socialist Publications. Distributed by Socialist Books, PO Box 24697, London E11 1YD 020 8988 8789 or buy online at www.socialistbooks.org.uk