Another War for Oil

This is the text for a leaflet I wrote for an anti-war demo (it incorporates a previous article on the subject)
Once again, in a further attempt to tighten US control over Middle Eastern oil supplies, and no doubt to distract attention from mega-domestic corporate wrongdoings, George W Bush has presented before the world the vision of time- honoured bogey-man Saddam Hussein lobbing weapons of mass destruction around as if they were going out of fashion.

With Osama bin Laden now clearly relegated to second place in the league of global spooks, Saddam has been dusted down and once more presented to us as the greatest existing threat to world peace. The news from Washington is that he still has stockpiles of chemical weapons and is close to building an atomic weapon. That neither George Bush nor Tony Blair has yet been able to authenticate the Iraqi threat with real evidence distracts transatlantic warmongers no more than the fact that Saddam is clearly aware that were he to use any such WMD his country would be instantly obliterated. And that US ally, Israel, is in breach of as many UN resolutions as the errant Iraq, which Bush cites as evidence of Saddam’s contempt for the world, is no more considered than continuous US flouting of UN resolutions.

Hypocrisy and Double Standards

Not so long ago, the US opposed, with one other country, a UN resolution condemning international terrorism and remains the only country to veto a Security Council resolution calling on all states to observe international law - clearly a response to the censure it received from the International Court of Justice for "unlawful use of force" during its terrorist war against Nicaragua, and to which it was also ordered to pay substantial reparations. Dismissing that particular ruling, the US went on to intensify that assault.

When it comes to international treaties, you could be forgiven for thinking George W loathes humanity. His administration has refused to accept the Kyoto agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions, which threaten environmental disaster. It has torn up the Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty - a move that threatens a new arms race with the US gearing up for "Star Wars" or the properly named National Missile Defence system. It has, as already stated, de-recognised a treaty setting up an International Criminal Court, maintaining that its politicians and troops should never be held to account for crimes they commit (see quote from the 2002 National security Strategy below).

On July 25th 2001, the US scuppered a decade of international negotiations by announcing, in Geneva, its intention not to back a draft protocol to reinforce the biological weapons and toxin convention which was initially signed in 1972. The reason for this decision was that it threatened US commercial interests. The protocol would have incorporated verification measures which would have given an international inspectorate admittance to laboratories in the signatory countries. We may well wonder just what the US is afraid the inspectorate would uncover at its thousands of biotech sites and defence plants. Just what are its commercial interests and secrets that it could even consider scuttling a treaty drawn up in the interests of humanity? Yet this same administration has been so vociferous in calling for a UN inspectorate to rummage about in Iraq.

Aware that world opinion was against him, Bush looked set to pursue his campaign via the UN, clearly hoping that Iraq’s failure to comply with requests from UN weapons inspectors would be the green light he needed to justify an attack upon Iraq. When Iraq offered to allow inspectors in to search for the weapons the US claimed Saddam had stockpiled, Bush declined the offer.

We may well wonder why the US pretends to be oblivious as to the chemical facilities Iraq might have. Certainly Saddam has the technological know-how. It came courtesy of the US when they sponsored Saddam in his war with Iran. Back in 1994, the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs produced a report entitled U.S. Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual Use Exports to Iraq and their Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the Persian Gulf War. It concluded:

"The United States provided the Government of Iraq with ‘dual use’ licensed materials which assisted in the development of Iraqi chemical, biological, and missile-system programs, including: chemical warfare agent precursors; chemical warfare agent production facility plans and technical drawings…chemical warhead filling equipment; biological warfare related materials; missile fabrication equipment; and, missile-system guidance equipment

We can further observe that the country with the biggest nuclear arsenal on earth and the biggest stockpile of chemical weapons, and which has a proven track record of having used them, is the United States.

The United States has in fact 9,000 nuclear warheads, as does Russia. Britain, France and China have another 950 between them. On the other hand, Saddam doesn't even have one, as is widely acknowledged. Instead, they charge him with hoarding chemical and biological weapons, but then so do the countries just mentioned.

Furthermore, Dr Kathleen Sullivan of the Nuclear Weapons Education Project in New York observes: "The Bush administration is not only funding the further modernisation of nuclear weapons, but it is also proposing two new facilities in the US dedicated to the manufacture of chemical and biological weapons." She asserts that "the current doctrine on nuclear weapons use" in the US leaves little doubt that Bush is prepared to use them first.

Washington is certainly planning on some serious battles in the near future. Next year, the Bush administration will spend $396 billion on a war machine costing 26 times the combined military spending of the seven countries it recently announced it would not hesitate to hit with nuclear weapons - Iraq, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, Syria and Cuba – and a figure almost 300 times that of errant Iraq. Bush now intends to develop thr US war wagon, with a plan to raise this figure to an annual $451 billion by 2007.

We can wonder whether Israel’s nuclear arsenal is ever inspected – after all, it is an aggressive and unpredictable Middle Eastern country, just like Iraq, and with little regard for human rights, its neighbours or UN resolutions. The answer is no. And why? Because, like India and Pakistan, which are widely believed to have a couple of dozen nuclear warheads a piece, Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It’s nuclear arsenal, therefore, exists outside international law and beyond the reach of international weapons inspectors. As Iraq has signed the treaty, it is therefore required to submit to such inspections.

And let’s not forget the key U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 of 1991 – aimed at prohibiting Iraq from developing WMDs; its preamble proclaims that all states must do everything possible to "establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East." Though well cited by transatlantic warmongers, seeking justification for an attack on Iraq, it is not solely concerned with Iraq, as it calls for eradicating weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems right across the Middle East, including Israel, and the working towards a global ban on chemical weapons.

But to go back, for the moment, to Washington’s alleged concern for Iraq’s supposed chemical weapons, recent evidence reveals the US is guilty of playing a heinous game of double standards. Edward Hammond, in an article that appeared on the Counterpunch website (www.counterpunch.org/) on 25th September and entitled US Violates International Law - The Pentagon's Secret Chemical Weapons Program, highlights a report published a day earlier by the Sunshine Project (the text can be found at www.sunshine-project.org/) accusing the US military of conducting a chemical weapons research and development program in contravention of international arms control law. The charges follow an 18 month investigation of the Department of Defence’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD).

The enquiry made wide-ranging use of the US Freedom of Information Act to obtain Pentagon records that form the prime basis of the allegations. An arrangement of documents, many of which are to be found on the Sunshine Project website, make obvious that JNLWD is operating an illegal and classified chemical weapons program. In particular, the Sunshine project accuses the JNLWD of:

1. Conducting a research and development program on toxic chemical agents for use as weapons, including anaesthetics and psychoactive substances, in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention;

2. Developing long-range military delivery devices for these chemicals, including an 81mm chemical mortar round, that violate the Chemical Weapons Convention.

3. Pursuing a chemical weapons program while fully cognizant that it violates the Chemical Weapons Convention and US Department of Defence regulations;

4. Attempting to cover up the illicit program by classifying as secret even its own legal interpretations of the Chemical Weapons Convention and attempting to block access to documents requested under US information freedom law.

Reports and Dossiers

On September 17th the Bush administration presented to the world it’s National Security Strategy of the United States. Though heavily influenced by the events of September 11th, the report is informed with the same belligerent, imperialist jargon that has fused many similar reports. In highlighting areas where the US feels its interests face the biggest challenge, it becomes simplistically clear that this is but a blue print for US domination of the globe. Control of Iraq’s oil reserves can perhaps best be seen as but the first stage of the battle for US global supremacy.

Section 8 states: “We are attentive to the possible renewal of old patterns of great power competition… Russia, India, and China…In pursuing advanced military capabilities that can threaten its neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region, China is following an outdated path that, in the end, will hamper its own pursuit of national greatness.”

Section 9 informs us: “the United States will require bases and stations within and beyond Western Europe and Northeast Asia, as well as temporary access arrangements for the long-distance deployment of U.S. forces.” It continues: “We must prepare …by developing assets such as advanced remote sensing, long-range precision strike capabilities, and transformed manoeuvre and expeditionary forces. This broad portfolio of military capabilities must also include the ability to defend the homeland, conduct information operations, ensure U.S. access to distant theatres, and protect critical U.S. infrastructure and assets in outer space.”

That same section tells us that US “forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equalling, the power of the United States…We will take the actions necessary to ensure that our efforts to meet our global security commitments and protect Americans are not impaired by the potential for investigations, inquiry, or prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC), whose jurisdiction does not extend to Americans and which we do not accept.”

Although now five years old, the US Space Command document ‘Vision 2020’ had similarly telegraphed US designs for the 21st Century and set in context the logic behind NMD: “Although unlikely to be challenged by a global peer competitor, the United States will continue to be challenged regionally. The globalisation of the world economy will also continue, with a widening between the haves and have nots. Accelerating rates of technological development will be increasingly driven by commercial interests not the military. Increased weapons lethality and precision will lead to new operational doctrines…..only military dominance will protect US interests and investments. “

Indeed such ideas were then hadly new. They were formulated by Paul Walfowitz (now Deputy Secretary of Defence) and Lew Libby (a National Security Adviser) and presented as a confidential Pentagon document in 1992 by none other than vice-president Dick Cheney. It argued that the US should take the necessary steps to stop any “…hostile power from dominating regions” whose resources would allow it to attain superpower stature; that it should discourage attempts by other advanced industrialised states to challenge US hegemony or upset the extant political and economic global set up and act to halt the ambitions of any prospective global competitor.

It is in the above context that we can perhaps set Tony Blair’s 50 page dossier Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction – the assessment of the British Government, which was coincidentally presented to the British public within days of the publication of the National Security Strategy of the United States.

Blair’s dossier – an attempt to whip up British support for the US venture against Iraq - was largely penned in Washington by the same discredited intelligence agencies that offered no forewarning of the attacks of September 11th. The Foreign Office here neglected even to edit the dossier’s American jargon. Its 50 pages begin with pure distortion, claiming that a report by the International Institute of Strategic Studies suggested Iraq could assemble nuclear weapons within months. In actual fact, the Institute's report concluded that Iraq was years from even developing, let alone perfecting and making, nuclear weapons – a fact that is eventually admitted to towards the end.

Writing for the Znet website (www,Zmag.org/) on 25th September, Robert Fisk observes of the dossier: “Reading it can only fill a decent human being with shame and outrage. Its pages are final proof – if the contents are true – that a massive crime against humanity has been committed in Iraq. For if the details of Saddam's building of weapons of mass destruction are correct…it means that our massive, obstructive, brutal policy of UN sanctions has totally failed. In other words, half a million Iraqi children were killed by us – for nothing.”

Of course there is little testimony in Blair’s dossier that was not already widely available. What there is plenty of in the dossier is conjecture . Instead of the cast-iron definites you would assume would lend the report credence, we come across terms like “there is no definite intelligence”, “it appears”, “is almost certainly”, “difficult to judge”, “secret intelligence sources”, “I believe” and a fair few “ifs”.

With this chunky bit of evidence presented to the British people, Blair expected a popular mandate to go to war. Not that this would be a last resort to stop Saddam developing WMD, as Iraq had in fact agreed to submit to the weapons inspections initially suggested by Washington and London. Bush however was having none of it – as far as he was concerned Saddam could not be trusted. He demands war and Saddam is not going to get out of one that easy. Indeed, US Secretary of State Colin Powell openly announced that America might block the return of United Nations’ weapons inspectors to Iraq. The US is understandably afraid that Iraq's unrestricted offer to the inspectors will "damage the coalition," that he will take from under their noses their excuse for a full scale attack and the theft of Iraqi oil.

The Coming War for Iraqi Oil

There can be no other reason for the US obsession with Iraq than the promise of securing future oils supplies and the profits they bring. What remains imprecise is the US game plan in the region: to use Iraq as a springboard to capture Iran and thus secure a shorter and cheaper route to Gulf ports for Caspian oil, or maybe to get a tighter grip on Saudi oil less there be Islamic fundamentalist blowback resulting from the ‘war on terror’? Or maybe, with China estimated to equal US demands for oil within 20 years, a China the US sess as a real threat to its commercial interests, the foray into Iraq is part of a larger a plan to head off future problems now. NO? Would there be so much US concern if Iraq exported dates only.

Clearly seeing through the current charade, Mo Mowlam, once a member of Blair’s cabinet, wrote in The Guardian (5th September): "This whole affair has nothing to do with a threat from Iraq - there isn't one. It has nothing to do with the war against terrorism or with morality. Saddam Hussein is obviously an evil man, but when we were selling arms to him to keep the Iranians in check he was the same evil man he is today. He was a pawn then and he is a pawn now. In the same way he served Western interests then, he is now the distraction for the sleight of hand to protect the West's supply of oil.”

As the Bush administration continues to beat the war drums, mustering support for its attack upon Iraq, there are those who still steadfastly maintain that the US-UK position on Iraq has nothing at all do with oil and that Bush and Blair are quite sincerely concerned about peace and democracy and ridding the world of a regime that threatens global harmony with its weapons of mass destruction. The evidence, however, suggests that Western concerns with Iraq are far less to do with its alleged threat to world peace and everything to do with control of the region’s oil supplies.

In a leading article in the Washington Post on 15th September, staff writers Dan Morgan and David Ottaway, wrote extensively about Western oil interests in Iraq, observing that whilst senior Bush administration officials say they have not begun to focus on the issues involving oil and Iraq, “American and foreign oil companies have already begun manoeuvring for a stake in the country's huge proven reserves of 112 billion barrels of crude oil, the largest in the world outside Saudi Arabia.”

An Observer investigation, published on 6th October, began: “Oil is emerging as the key factor in US attempts to secure the support of Russia and France for military action against Iraq…The Bush administration, intimately entwined with the global oil industry, is keen to pounce on Iraq’s massive untapped reserves, the second biggest in the world after Saudi Arabia’s”

However revealing this may appear, more damning evidence of US intentions in the Middle East actually emerged some time ago. In April 2001, some five months before ‘September 11th’, a little heard of report was submitted to vice-president Dick Cheney, originally commissioned by James Baker who had been the US Secretary of State under George Bush Senior. It is entitled Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century and describes how the US is confronting the biggest energy crisis in its history. The report specifically targets Saddam as an obstacle to US interests because of his control of Iraqi oilfields and suggests the use of 'military intervention' as a way to access and control Iraqi oilfields and help the US out of its energy crisis.

One passage reads: 'Iraq remains a destabilising influence to...the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East. Saddam Hussein has also demonstrated a willingness to threaten to use the oil weapon and to use his own export programme to manipulate oil markets…. This would display his personal power, enhance his image as a pan-Arab leader ... and pressure others for a lifting of economic sanctions against his regime. The United States should conduct an immediate policy review toward Iraq including military, energy, economic and political/diplomatic assessments. The United States should then develop an integrated strategy with key allies in Europe and Asia, and with key countries in the Middle East, to restate goals with respect to Iraqi policy and to restore a cohesive coalition of key allies.”

According to the report’s compilers, the main cause of any coming crisis will be 'Middle East tension', which means the 'chances are greater than at any point in the last two decades of an oil supply disruption'. It admits that the US will never be 'energy independent' and is becoming too dependent on foreign powers supplying it with oil and gas. The answer is to put oil at the centre of the administration - 'a reassessment of the role of energy in American foreign policy'.

The report initially contemplates an arms-control programme in Iraq and suggests this may lead to a relaxation of oil sanctions which might make for better trading on world oil markets. However, it then acknowledges that such an arms-control policy would prove over-costly as it would “encourage Saddam Hussein to boast of his 'victory' against the United States, fuel his ambition and potentially strengthen his regime”. It continues: “Once so encouraged, and if his access to oil revenues was to be increased by adjustments in oil sanctions, Saddam Hussein could be a greater security threat to US allies in the region…”

With US oil reserves estimated to last no more than 20 years and the with the US the biggest consumer and the biggest net importer of oil (11 million barrels a day, which is a seventh of global production), there is a growing reliance on Middle Eastern oil. Twenty years ago the US imported just over 30% of its oil from the Middle East. That figure now stands at 52%. And in a world where the US has economic rivals, with their own growing demand for oil (i.e. China’s demands are increasing by 3.5% per year), a war to secure control of the ‘greatest prize’ makes sound sense to the Bush administration.

Additionally, in the post 9/11 world, where anti-American feeling runs high in traditional militant Islamic societies, the US also realises it can no longer remain dependent on Saudi oil supplies. As the US needs an oil supply totalling 20 million barrels of crude oil a day, it now seeks a supplier that can perhaps meet half of these needs – Iraq! With the present high global prices of oil sucking the US into a recession it is important also that the US breaks the Saudi stranglehold on the oil cartel Opec.

And what of the Bush administration and its own personal oil interests? Well make no mistake about it, the president, the vice-president, the defence secretary and the deputy defence secretary, the chairman of the NSC and the head of the CIA all have oil connections. The most hawkish US regime ever assembled has its own private reason for a ‘war’ with Iraq.

Four years ago, Halliburton, the US oil equipment company of which Dick Cheney was chief executive, sold parts to Iraq to help with the rebuilding of an infrastructure that had been devastated during the 1991 Gulf war. Halliburton did £15 million of business with Saddam - a man Cheney now compares to Adolf Hitler. Moreover, Halliburton is one of the US companies thought by experts to be queuing up for the profits resulting from any clean-up operation in the wake of another US-led attack on Iraq.

In the past few years, and increasingly since Bush came to power and most evidently since 9/11, the US has spread its military tentacles - establishing bases in twelve new countries in the past year alone. US forces now surround over 80% of the world’s oil reserves. They have encompassed the Caspian region which has an estimated 70-200 billion barrels of oil and 11 trillion cubic feet of known gas deposits. And still with gas, Iran, neighbouring Iraq, and part of Bush’s dreaded ‘Axis of Evil’ controls 80% of the world’s gas reserves. And with gas estimated to account for 30% of world energy production by 2020, the US game plan becomes increasingly difficult to dismiss as nonsense.

Moreover, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the US, Britain, France, Russia and China - have international oil companies with major stakes in a ‘regime change’ in Baghdad. And since the Gulf War of 1991, companies from more than a dozen nations, inclusive of France, Russia, China, India, Italy, Vietnam and Algeria, have either negotiated contracts or sought to reach agreements in principle to develop Iraqi oil fields, to revamp extant facilities there or explore undeveloped fields. Most of the deals, however, are in abeyance until the lifting of U.N. sanctions.

Sources in Russia have expressed serious concerns about a US attack on Iraq and any ‘regime change’ this may result in, fearing that a post-Saddam, pro-US, government might just not honour the extraction contracts that Baghdad has already signed with Moscow and that all such contracts would be declared null and void. Many in Russia now fear that the US has already brokered deals with the Iraq opposition and despite recent dialogue between Moscow and Washington remain unconvinced of Washington’s claim that Russian contracts would be legitimate.

One Russian UN Official reportedly told The Observer (6th October: “The concern of my government is that concessions agreed between Baghdad and numerous enterprises will be reneged upon, and that US companies will enter to take the greatest share of those existing contracts.”

Such fears are perhaps not unfounded. Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress (an umbrella organisation of Iraqi opposition groups backed by the US), recently announced that he preferred the creation of a US-led consortium to develop Iraq's oil fields, which have deteriorated in the ten years of UN sanctions, saying "American companies will have a big shot at Iraqi oil." (Washington Post)

Back in 1997, Russia’s biggest oil company, Lukoil, signed a $20 bn contract to tap into the West Qurna oilfield. In October of last year, the Russian oil services company Slavneft purportedly signed a $52 million service contract to drill at the Tuba field, also in southern Iraq. A proposed $40bn Iraqi-Russian economic agreement also reportedly includes opportunities for Russian companies to explore for oil in Iraq's western desert.

French company Total Fina Elf had negotiated for rights to develop the huge Majnoon field, near the Iranian border, which could contain up to 30 billion barrels of oil. But in July 2001, Iraq announced it would cease giving French firms preference in the award of such contracts because of its decision to abide by UN sanctions, and then gave a $90 bn contract to Russian oil company Zarubezhneft to drill the bin Umar oilfield.

During the first two days of October, at the first US-Russia Commercial Energy Summit in Houston, Texas, emphasis was placed on Russia increasing its oil exports to the US, which is desperate to reduce its reliance on the Middle East. Off stage, talks were in progress about a series of contracts held by Russian oil companies. According to Vaget Alekperov, Lukoil chairman, in an interview with the Financial Times on October 3rd, the Russian government secured an agreement that if, or when, the Baghdad regime is toppled, "the [Iraqi] law is the law, the state is still there.”

Mikhail Margelov, of the international affairs committee of the Russian federation council (the upper house of parliament), afterwards told Reuters that Moscow expected "equal, fruitful, cooperation" with the US "especially in the privatisation of the Iraqi oil sector".

Following the Houston summit, Russian energy minister Igor Yusufov and economy minister German Greg travelled with US commerce secretary Donald Evans and energy secretary Spenser Abraham for talks with Bush's vice-president Dick Cheney and national security advisor Condoleeza Rice, undoubtedly in order for the latter to reassure the former that a Russia supportive of an attack upon Iraq would indeed get its share of the spoils once Saddam is ousted.

Apparently, plans to safeguard Russia's interests in Iraq have been under discussion for months in Washington. Prior to the Bush-Putin summit in May, Ariel Cohen, an analyst with the Heritage Foundation suggested an offer to "support the Russian companies' contractual rights", arguing that Lukoil could sway Russian foreign policy, and that a deal could be brokered to Washington's and Moscow's mutual advantage.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, chief of Russia’s second biggest oil company, Yukos, later said in a Washington Post interview that "if there were sufficient political will", one possibility was to create a Russian-American oil consortia to exploit Iraqi

Clearly, like the capitalists state it has always been, Russia wants to make sure that, whatsoever deals the US agrees upon with anti-Saddam Iraqi politicians or Kurdish nationalists, their existing contracts remain valid. And this, more than the repayment of Iraq's $7bn Soviet-era debt, is the decisive factor in deciding how Russia casts its vote on the UN Security Council.

R. James Woolsey, former CIA director and a leading protagonist in the US anti-Iraq campaign, is one of many all too aware of Russian and French qualms regarding the whole affair. Cognizant of the need to secure French and Russian support he commented: "It's pretty straightforward, France and Russia have oil companies and interests in Iraq. They should be told that if they are of assistance in moving Iraq toward decent government, we'll do the best we can to ensure that the new government and American companies work closely with them." In other words, ‘scratch our backs and we’ll scratch yours.’

France is listening and, like Russia, is wondering whether once Saddam is ousted, its companies will lose out to US oil interests. Not only is it now thought to be negotiating a slice of the coming action – a bigger role than the US afforded it in the 1991 Gulf War – but the state-owned Total Fina Elf oil company has also been in talks in the US about the distribution of the spoils of war.

As Washington’s crusade against Iraq offers huge opportunities for international oil corporations, it also exposes serious risks and worries for the global oil market should there indeed be ‘regime change’ in Iraq. As the Washington Post reported: “Access to Iraqi oil and profits will depend on the nature and intentions of a new government. Whether Iraq remains a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, for example, or seeks an independent role, free of the OPEC cartel's quotas, will have an impact on oil prices and the flow of investments to competitors such as Russia, Venezuela and Angola.” (15th September).

Consider the case of Russia. Oil companies such as Lukoil have an important financial concern in developing Iraqi fields; however, a general lowering of oil prices that may result from a flood of Iraqi oil into world markets could jeopardise Russian government attempts to attract foreign investment in its untapped domestic fields, because a drop in world oil prices could make costly ventures to unlock Siberian oil reserves far less attractive.

Conversely, the knife cuts both ways. In the short term, Russia is poised to make a tidy profit if a US invasion of Iraq sparks an immediate hike in oil prices, with its oil companies already negotiating to sell the US oil at two-thirds of the existing market price.

Though having initially urged caution on the Iraq affair, it now looks likely that both Russia and France will give their blessing for a US-led assault on Iraq. And who could blame them? Their governments are little more than the executives of their respective master classes and in the cut- throat world of capitalist competition they must be seen to be promoting their profit-oriented interests, and to hell with the cost of life. In Moscow, Paris, and in state capitals the world over, governments will always maintain that oil takes priority over blood.

Months ago, defending the belligerent stance of the US in its ‘war on terror’ Bush said that ‘inaction is not an option.’ Blair now reiterates this platitude, mantra-fashion. We agree. For the class conscious, inaction is definitely ‘not an option’. As we see it, it is the inaction and complacency of the working class that has enabled the horrors we associate with capitalism, including war, to continue. For almost a century we have warned of the dangers of political apathy, of trusting in leaders, of accepting all that governments say without question and of striving to reform a system that can endure no end of reforms. It is our silence, our inaction, more than anything, that Bush and Blair will depend on in coming months when they seek to legitimise an attack upon Iraq - that same silence the master class toasts each day. Our inaction remains as an important element in our continuing exploitation, for the master class see in it our consent for their excesses.

If you’re into demonstrating against war, then take our advice and invest in a sturdy anti-war banner, for if you are prepared to oppose war without opposing the very system that gives rise to it, then you’ll be demonstrating for quite some time to come. Alternatively you can join the movement which believes that to end wars you must first put an end capitalism. An uphill struggle? No more so than the campaign to end war against the backdrop of the profit system.

No comments: