Syria - on the wrong side of history

"What I said to him [President Bashar al-Assad of Syria] very clearly is that there are things we believe he should do if he wants a better relationship with the United States, if he wants to play a helpful role in solving the crisis in the region. So if President Assad chooses not to respond, if he chooses to dissemble, if he chooses to find excuses, then he will find that he is on the wrong side of history." (US Sec. of State Colin Powell, following a visit to Syria, May 11)

"I made it very clear to the prime minister [Ariel Sharon], like I have consistently done, that Israel's got a right to defend herself, that Israel must not feel constrained in defending the homeland." (President Bush, summarizing his conversation with Ariel Sharon after the Israeli attack on Syria, Oct. 6)

"I am happy to see the message was delivered to Syria by the Israeli air force, and I hope it is the first of many such messages." (Defence Policy Board member Richard Perle, in Israel, Oct. 14)

"We tolerate nuclear weapons in Israel for the same reason we tolerate them in Britain and France. We don't regard Israel as a threat." (A high-ranking administration official, identified by the Guardian as leading US neocon John Bolton)

On October 5th, Five months after Powell laid down the law to Bashar al-Assad, two weeks after Bolton's report and, as the press were reporting that Congress would adopt sanctions against Syria, Israel bombed what it claimed to be a "terrorist training camp" in Syria, ten miles north of Damascus.

Damascus insisted the camp had been discarded seven years ago and seemingly there were no casualties. Syrians, however, have expressed bewilderment at the attack, ostensibly in retaliation for a suicide bomb attack in Haifa which killed 21 people, and for which the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad had since claimed their part in.

Syria, of course, had to be attacked. It was after all a Jenin woman lawyer (Jenin is in Israel, incidentally), who most likely had never travelled to Damascus in her life, who blew up herself and 21 innocent Israelis – a suicide bombing which needed no terrorist camp training. Israel, though, is simply following in the footsteps of the US. Was not Afghanistan the first to bear the brunt of the US retaliation for 9-11, in spite of the fact that 15 of the 16 terrorists known to have hijacked the planes that day were from Saudi Arabia? And was not every attempt made to link Iraq with al-Qaeda, actually hours after the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, despite the fact that Iraq is a secular state and al-Qaeda a militant Islamic fundamentalist organisation.

Typical of the vociferous US neocons is Richard Perle. His quote, above, is from his talk to reporters and delegates at the inaugural "Jerusalem Summit,” on October 21, a gathering of Israelis and mainly American Jewish and Christian analysts and politicians opposed to conceding a Palestinian state. Perle, who was honoured at the event, praised Israel highly for the air attack on the alleged terrorist camp in response to the suicide bombing in Haifa. The Jerusalem Post the following day quoted Perle as saying: "President Bush transformed the American approach to terrorism on September 11th, 2001, when he said he will not distinguish between terrorists and the states who harbour them. I was happy to see that Israel has now taken a similar step in responding to acts of terror that originate in Lebanese territory by going to the rulers of Lebanon in Damascus."

Perle’s sentiments at once reveal, of course, that the Israeli Attack upon Syria could not have happened without the support, or the expected support, of the USA and which came in the shape of the ‘Syria Accountability Act’, and which was finally passed, 398-5, by the House of Representatives on October 16.

The Voice of America reported House Majority Leader Tom DeLay as saying: “We will send a very clear message to President Assad and his fellow travellers along the 'axis of evil.' The United States will not tolerate terrorism, its perpetrators or its sponsors, and our warnings are not to be ignored."

In the weeks prior to the vote, speaker after speaker warned that Syria is the new threat previously posed by Iraq: that it has weapons of mass destruction, some with biological warheads, that it took delivery of Saddam’s elusive arsenal just before the invasion of Iraq in March.

Not so long ago Richard Perle and fellow neo-conservatives, stated in a report exclusively prepared for Benjamin Netanyahu and other radical Israeli Zionists (Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000) that "Israel can shape its strategic environment... by weakening, containing and even rolling back Syria... Syria challenges Israel on Lebanese soil. An effective approach, and one with which America can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran." In other words, Sharon's script was written by those US neocons more interested in a Greater Israel than the blowback such Israeli military actions against its neighbours would create for the US at home and aboard..

What is apparent is that there are two layers to the Bush administration – the oil baron faction, made up of the likes of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice, and a second layer of neoconservatives (Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton etc) who unite a traditionalist domestic agenda with an futuristic, imperialist foreign policy that seeks to benefit from the U.S.'s post Cold War rise as the sole superpower. The neocons promote the "New American Century” philosophy, in which the US pursues its goal of "full spectrum dominance", making use of "pre-emptive" strikes against prospective challengers. A great part of their game plan is to reshape the Middle East, not only to guarantee the security of Israel as a US satellite but to secure future US supplies, and profits from, the region’s oil reserves. Despite the present nightmare their ongoing efforts have created in the region – particularly the Iraqi quagmire – their power goes unchallenged and they continue to promote the idea of regional regime change in US interests. Though highly influential, the neocons do not control the White house as yet and neither is the Bush administration motivated wholly by Sharon’s right wing designs. The simple fact is that Israel is an important regional ally of the US, chiefly in regard to the corporate, military and geopolitical aspirations of the US capitalist elite. Total US domination of Southwest Asia - a politically volatile but oil rich region - would give Washington enormous influence over time-honoured allies it now wants to "contain," and over any potential rivals. To date, Israel has played but a minor part in Bush's “War on Terror” and one would expect the Bush camp to insist it keeps to its occasional walk on role and not impede US designs on the region by escalating anti-US feeling in the Middle East. But globopolitics knows no set rules where profits are involved and you could beforgiven for thinking that any retaliation against Israel would give the US the pretext it needs to escalate its domination of the region viz-a-viz its continuing “War on Terror”.

As for Colin Powell and Co, it is our contention that it is they, the defenders of capitalism, the enemy of the working class who are on the “wrong side of history” – a history characterised by an archaic system of class rule in defence of the interests of a small, privileged minority. Their history is one of murder, exploitation and robbery. Real history, our history, begins when we put an end to their system and with it the wars and misery it spurns; when the resources of the world - that the Bush administration seem to think are theirs by divine design - are the common property of all.


The Jarrow March Remembered

On September 14th, 93 year-old Con Whalen of Hadrian Rd in Jarrow, South Tyneside, the last of the original Jarrow Marchers, died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead.

For 60 plus years, Con treasured the memories of the now famous march and of the solidarity he and his comrades encountered along their 291 mile route to London, even if he could dismiss the event as having achieved nothing.

Con, who last year had a beer named after him by a Jarrow Brewery – the Old Cornelius – was proud to have taken part in an event that had been the subject of numerous books and which would even feature in the National Curriculum.

Indeed, so significant is the march now that it is a poor 1930s documentary that does not show footage of the 200 strong band of thin-faced Geordies making their way to the capital to protest to Stanley Baldwin’s government the plight of the town.

The economic slump that plunged Britain and many other countries into depression was felt in fewer places harder than in Jarrow, where unemployment soared above 80 percent, where people lived in overcrowded and vermin-infested houses and where poverty was unimaginable.

In 1933, JB Priestly, having visited Jarrow, wrote about the town in his book English Journey:

“Wherever we went men were hanging about, not scores of them but hundreds and thousands of them. The whole town looked as if it had entered a perpetual penniless bleak Sabbath. The men wore the masks of prisoners of war. A stranger from a distant civilisation, observing the condition of the place and its people would have arrived at once at the conclusion that Jarrow had deeply offended some celestial emperor of the island and was now being punished.” (Penguin edition, 1977, page 296).

Not long after the publication of the English Journey, in January 1934, a delegation of 300 people from Jarrow, Hebburn and Felling travelled to Seaham to argue their case with the town’s MP and leader of the largely Conservative National Government, Ramsay McDonald.

Leading the delegation was “Red” Ellen Wilkinson, MP for Jarrow, hoping to impress upon the PM the plight of the people along the Tyne and their desperation for work.

No doubt McDonald was all too aware of the pathos of the situation and the reality of the present situation and capitalism’s inability top solve the crisis. The advice he gave the member from, Jarrow was later described by her as “sham sympathy”:

“Ellen, why don’t you go and preach socialism, which is the only remedy for this?”

The reply was cold and smacked of the same indifference a similar delegation received when they visited Walter Runciman, President of the Board of Trade, regarding the opening of a steelworks in Jarrow. Said Runciman, “Jarrow must work out its own problems.”

Jarrow, it seemed, was indeed left to sort out its own problems. To a town whose ship industry had closed down and whose much anticipated steelworks had failed to materialise, Runciman’s words were received as icily as they had been uttered and sent a shiver down the collective spine of the borough.

At a time when the entire country seemed to be taking part in hunger marches and protest rallies, Councillor David Riley’s suggestion in July 1936 that the unemployed of Jarrow should march to London hardly seemed original or serious in light of the fact that many marches had been dismissed as “communist demonstrations.”

However, the idea was discussed at length with the town’s MP and the Jarrow Labour Party executive. Eventually it was decided that any march should be a town’s march and only to go ahead with the full support of the citizens. The town council went on to sanction the march and above the signature of the mayor went appeals for support, and this was followed by the sending out of letters requesting the use of services and halls to towns along the proposed route to London. As the pace of events hotted up, the organisation of the march was done from the town hall and under the supervision of the town clerk.

At the same time, though denied the oxygen of publicity the Jarrow march was attracting, men were marching from South Wales, Cumberland, Durham and Yorkshire, all bent on expressing their grievances against the means test and the UAB regulations, which was for the Jarrow men “a welcome sign that other men felt the same as they did and were kicking, too.” (Wilkinson, The Town that was Murdered, 1939.)

So on a cold morning, October 5th, 1936, 200 marchers set out; ahead of them representatives from the Labour and Conservative parties to arrange meetings en-route to London. Even the Inter-Hospital Socialist Society came to their assistance, sending out relays of helpers performing dentistry and medical necessities.

The marchers had hardly time to get blistered feet when their organisers were condemned by a labour party meeting in Edinburgh for “sending hungry and ill-clad men across the country on a march to London.”

Incensed, Ellen Wilkinson left the marchers and travelled to the Conference in Edinburgh in an attempt to rally support. Her efforts were in vain for the conference had more important matters to discuss, such as their attitude to the Spanish question and the rearmament issue – a time-honoured and typical response from the Labour Party to requests for help from the working class.

Neither was support to be found with the TUC, who similarly blacked the march and advised trade councils against giving help.

Wilkinson had this to say: “I went from the warm comradeship of the road to an atmosphere of official disapproval;…had the Labour Party put its powers behind the marches, sent out the call for solidarity with them, then by the time these men reached London, not only from Jarrow, but from all parts of the country, the support that would have been aroused…would have been enough to shake the complacency of the Baldwin government.” (ibid. p.204-5).

There was, however, no shortage of support and working class approval of the march. After all, 47 per cent of the industrial population of the country at that time resided in areas scheduled as “distressed” or in need of being so scheduled.

The brainwashed Trades and Labour Council at Chesterfield might have obeyed the TUC circular denouncing the march, but this did not stop the local Conservative Party from rallying to the aid of the marchers, providing hot meals and a place to sleep. The Labour Party rationalised their apathy by asserting that if they gave support to one march, then support would have been demanded by them all. This from an allegedly working class party!

Along the route to London, members of the working class and, indeed, capitalist class, were all too ready to support the march

By the time the marchers reached Leicester their boots were falling apart. In response, the Co-operative Society’s own cobblers took it upon themselves to work all through the night without pay to repair the boots of the Jarrow men, the Co-op donating the necessary material free.

One cobbler almost anticipated Socialism, saying: “Its seems sort of queer, doing your own job just because you want tot do it, and for something you want to help, instead of doing it because you’d starve if you didn’t.” (ibid. p. 297).

Elsewhere, at Leeds, a newspaper proprietor laid on free food and beer (no doubt providing his own paper with a story) and at Barnsley, Joe Jones, a miners’ leader, had the municipal baths specially opened and heated in time for the arrival of the marchers. A group of journalists, following he march, even clubbed together and purchased a dozen mouth organs in an attempt top boost the morale of the marchers.

The march continued and gained support and sympathy the entire 291 miles of its journey. The men marched between 10 and 21 miles every day and held meetings every night. After three and a half weeks on the road, they reached Marble Arch tired and rain soaked, perturbed that only a small crowd had braved the October weather to greet them.

The following day they were given permission to hold a meeting at Hyde Park. The Communist Party was already there, holding a mass demonstration to protest unemployment. Realising the Jarrow men were in the area, they suspended their rally for an hour and asked their audience to swell the Jarrow Crusade meeting.

When Parliament reassembled two days later, the men marched to the Houses of Parliament and handed in 2 petitions, one containing 68,500 signatures from towns along the Tyne. The petition presented the case for Jarrow in simple language, pointing out how Jarrow was experiencing a stage of industrial depression unprecedented in the town’s history. Shipyards had closed and the steelworks had been denied a lifeline. Once, 8,000 workers were in employment. Now the figure stood at 100, with others on temporary schemes. The petition continued:

“The town cannot be left derelict, and therefore your petitioners humbly pray that His Majesty’s Government and this honourable house will realise the urgent need that work should be provided without delay.”

As many of the marchers as possible had been crammed into to public galleries anticipating a lengthy debate, aware that many an MP had been bombarded with letters regarding the march from their constituents. But there was no debate! As Wilkinson points out:

“A few questions were asked…and the house moved on to consideration of other things.” (ibid. p.209).

The marchers took it all in their stride. Wilkinson describes them as being “rather sporting about it” and how they were afterwards entertained to tea in the house. Demoralised to the point they had given up hope would have been a more fitting description of the marchers’ sentiments – men pushed and crushed until they could only accept their fate.

When the marchers arrived home, they did so to a hero’s welcome. Tens of thousands turned out to greet them and bonfires burnt long into the night. For many they had achieved something – even if it meant no change to their meagre existence.

Wilkinson writes of the marchers:

“Many were politically educated men, who through the long, bitter struggle, knew who and what was the real enemy.”

To be honest, and not to disparage an important event in labour history, where they? Where they so educated as to think marching could better their lot and did they really think it possible that capitalism could be bargained with? Did they realise that, in truth, they were marching for the right to be exploited by a system that cared not a jot had the marchers perished to a man en-route to London?

Three years later, work did come to Jarrow in the form of a new rolling mill, and much more would follow as World War Two kicked in and the capitalist war machine revved up.

Walking through the site when the men were laying the concrete foundations of the rolling mill, Wilkinson was greeted with: “This is what we marched to get.”

Red Ellen could only find a strange pathos in the statement. She commented:

“The grim reality is that the workers have no share in these mills. When the works are built they will still be subject to the toll of profit, the exigencies of a system where they can be closed at the will of people far away to suit a financial policy.” (ibid. P.213).

Perhaps like the cobbler at Leicester, the stark reality of the madness, the insanity of capitalism, had finally become apparent to the member for Jarrow, and perhaps she at last realised that the internal mechanisms of capitalism run on with a will of their own, oblivious of logic and their own foul contradictions and men with Geordie accents and sweaty feet.


Iraq - Liberation or Occupation

From a leaflet that was handed out at the "Stop the War" demonstrations in London on 27 September 2003.

The million anti-war demonstrators who poured into London at the beginning of the year have since been proved right on a number of issues. The people in Iraq did not roll out the red carpet for the “liberating” US and British troops as they overran the country. The war did provoke more anti-Western resentment. There was never any threat to the USA. Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were never the issue and so far have proven not to exist, except in the warped mind of US neo-cons and the Blair junta in Britain. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11¾at last admitted by George Bush on 17 September¾and neither was there any link to Al Qaeda. The US war machine is up to its neck in a mess of its own making, which worsens daily, while Bush’s corporate buddies are now raking in huge profits from contracts awarded for the reconstruction of Iraq.

The killing continues

It is now six months since Bush informed us that Iraq had been liberated. If this is liberation, then what is oppression? Iraqi infrastructure is virtually non-existent, crime is out of control, and the “liberation” has turned into guerrilla war in which daily Iraqi deaths from gunfire outnumber those of the occupying forces by 20-1. Widespread resentment against US occupation is the norm. The common consensus worldwide is that the US has failed miserably in Iraq, creating only greater regional problems. Millions of Iraqis now accept that whilst

Saddam might have been a tyrannical dictator, his regime did ensure relative stability.
The recent US “liberation” of Afghanistan is perhaps analogous. Since the ousting of the Taliban, unaccountable American-paid warlords have been free to rape and murder at will. People are being murdered at the rate of 100 a week. Women are still fearful to walk out without burqas. Opium production is now back to normal and every organisation reporting from Afghanistan makes the same claim – human rights abuses are greater than under the rule of the Taliban

Indeed, the only significant US achievement in Iraq lies in the fact that the US has turned the only Arab country with no Al Qaeda base into a recruiting ground for Islamic terrorism. You could be forgiven for thinking this was part of the US game plan insofar as it provides the US with a further pretext for its “war on terror” as it currently calls its imperialist foreign policy. What an amazing feat Washington has performed. What a mess Bush now realises he has created.

A recent Washington proposal now under consideration is for the establishment of a UN multilateral military force to join U.S. occupation troops in Iraq. It would operate as a separate, parallel force with a separate command composition, but under the overall command of the US and accountable to the Pentagon. Furthermore, the arrangement would not include the US sharing authority and information with the UN or the countries providing assistance. This was in fact US practice during the Clinton administration in Somalia and Haiti, for instance.

Interestingly, when the UN Security Council opposed the US invasion of Iraq, arguing there was no reason to resort to violence, it was Bush who dismissed the UN as a mere “talking shop”. Now after starting an “illicit” war¾if a war can ever be called licit¾which marginalised the UN Security Council, a war that has not gone Bush’s way, the US seeks the help of the Security Council to internationalise the economic and human costs of their occupation of Iraq. Perhaps Bush thinks Indian, Pakistani or Nigerian mercenaries of the United States will receive a more amicable reception in Iraq than US forces.

US,UN, same difference

One wonders whether Washington is oblivious to the recent attack on the UN base in Baghdad with the loss of 21 lives. For many Middle Eastern militants, the UN is seen as simply another branch of US imperialist foreign policy and thus a legitimate target. Back in the early 1990s, it was the UN which put in place the US-sponsored sanctions regime which wrought havoc on Iraqi society – a society recovering from a 10-year war with Iran and a murderous war with the US, Britain, France (yes) and others. Such sanctions left 500,000 Iraqi children dead from disease and malnutrition and crippled Iraq’s infrastructure. More recently, it was the UN Security Council which approved the US-installed puppet government and in effect approved the occupation by opening a UN mission office to help make it successful. So any idea that the UN could carry through something the US could not is wishful thinking. UN forces would fare no better than US troops.

Clearly the Washington warmongers did not count on the post-invasion expenses they would encounter, or the number of troops they would need for the job. The US war-for-profit machine has clearly bitten off more than it can chew. Following on from the $79 billion that was released in April 2003 for the cost of the occupation of Iraq, Bush has since allocated an extra $87 billion and Vice-President, Dick Cheney, has indicated even that will not suffice. Meanwhile, in Britain, chancellor Gordon Brown is to announce a further £1 billion for the British part in the occupation next month.

Sixteen of Americas's 33 combat brigades are now in the quagmire of Iraq, which means that Bush's pre-emptive wars have placed 160,000 American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Still, Bush wants to send more troops and Blair has also indicated that he is prepared to send thousands more young men and women into the cauldron of hate.

And the beneficiaries? The Iraqi people? No. So far the only ones smiling are the corporate elite close to the White House, the likes of Halliburton and Bechtel, Parsons Group and Stevedoring Services of America, which are earning billions of dollars out of the reconstruction of Iraqi society.

There was always the risk that once Saddam was removed from power extremist groups would come to the fore and make Iraq far more unstable than under Baathist rule. This much had been acknowledged by President Bush senior during the first Gulf War and lay behind Washington’s decision not to support US-inspired revolts of the Iraqi Kurds and the Marsh Arabs. It made sound US sense to have Saddam crush these revolts mercilessly rather than have him removed and the country fragment and the region destabilise. The very forces the US feared would be unleashed following the toppling of Saddam are now on the rampage – they might have loathed Saddam, but they hate the US more. As the guerrilla war spirals, tens of millions across the world look on in despair, their worst fears confirmed.

Protests without end?

Today, well-meaning people from across Britain have again travelled to London to protest their outrage at the policies of Bush and his sidekick Blair in the pursuit of US global hegemony and the destruction created en route, particularly in Iraq. Most will believe the malaise can be sorted out within the usual channels capitalism offers – either a UN force moves in or the US and British troops come home. The former, though more likely, will only compound the problem and the latter can only leave the region further unstable, with war lords and the varying shades of the region’s religions vying for political power. Whilst Bush would welcome a UN effort, a US retreat would be unthinkable.

As on previous demonstrations, placards and banners will carry myriad messages, some demanding “Bush Must Go” and “Bring the Troops Home”, with others screaming in assorted bright inks “No War for Oil” and “End the Occupation.”

Few, if any, will address the root of the problem¾the capitalist system itself and its inherent and vicious competition for profits¾and how the problems of capitalism can only be solved when we abolish the system itself. On previous occasions we have advised demonstrators who protest against war, without setting it in its true context, to invest in a sturdy banner. If you are opposed to war and its effects, yet are prepared to support capitalism – and many left wing groups actually are despite what they say, usually in the form of a state-run capitalism – then settle down to a life of campaigning.

While it is important that workers oppose war, it is just as important that we recognise just why armed conflicts between states break out and in whose interests wars are waged. If you think about it you’ll be hard-pressed to think of a single war that did not have its roots in the desire of small elites to make profits. All wars, even small-scale conflicts¾and the ongoing conflict in Iraq is no exception¾tend to be fought over mineral wealth, foreign markets and areas of influence, trade routes or the strategic points from which the same can be defended.

To end war¾and the need to demonstrate against each war as one war succeeds another (were you on the demos against the war in Afghanistan and before that against the war in Kosovo?)¾capitalism has to be ended and replaced by a global system where the resources of the Earth have become the common heritage of all Earthpeople. That way, competition and conflict between elites over resources can give way to co-operation between peoples in different parts of the globe to use the world’s resources for the benefit of all its inhabitants.

If you lend your support to a political party or organisation that fails to question the real nature of capitalist society, how our world is organised for production and how power is distributed, then you are in effect supporting a system that bred this war¾and will breed future wars. We urge you to think seriously and reconsider your position. Capitalism and the war and uncertainty that comes with it, or world socialism and global peace and security? Protest endlessly against each new war as it arises or campaigning for a new world of common ownership, democratic control, peace and human welfare.


The worst day in the UN's history"

"My answer is bring them on."— George W. Bush, referring to attacks by Iraqi militants. Washington, D.C., July 3, 2003

“The worst day in UN history” was how many news reports described the recent attack on the UN offices in Baghdad which left twenty-three civilians dead. Whilst many in the west have been shocked and appalled at this attack, wondering how such a ‘non-partisan’ humanitarian organisation such as the UN could be the target of Iraqi extremists, it must be remembered that for many Middle Eastern militants the UN is seen as simply another branch of US imperialist foreign policy.

To many Iraqis, the thousands of US and British soldiers in Iraq constitute an army of occupation, and with the UN endeavouring to help stabilise Iraqi society and promote "democracy" they are in actual fact perceived as an accessory to the occupation, creating the stable conditions that will facilitate a smother expropriation of Iraqi oil assets. In short, the UN is viewed as just another US ally and thus a legitimate target.

Back in the early 1990s, it was the UN which put in place the US-sponsored sanctions regime (most notably resulting from resolutions 661 and 687) which wrought havoc on Iraqi society – a society recovering from a 10 year war with Iran and a murderous war with the US and Great Britain. Such sanctions left 500,000 Iraqi children dead from disease and malnutrition and crippled Iraq’s infrastructure. More recently, it was the UN Security Council which approved the US-installed puppet government and in effect approved the occupation by opening a UN mission office to help make it successful. In the interim, the Bush administration has refused any significant contribution by other world powers (with the exception of its British hangers-on) in the reconstruction of Iraq.

Little known is the fact that the UN building in Baghdad also housed the World Bank. Back in May, the World Bank sent a senior bank diplomat along with Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN Special Representative in Iraq (killed in the blast )"to assess reconstruction and development needs on the ground," according to the WB's website. Back in April the World Bank and the IMF issued a joint press statement on how they "stand ready to play their normal role in Iraq's re-development at the appropriate time." And based on their past track record, what is the "normal role" played by the World Bank and IMF? Answer: Structural Adjustments Programmes which result in slower economic growth, austerity measures, poverty and unemployment. So again, the United Nations is viewed in the same light as is the IMF and World Bank, and to many grudge-bearing Iraqis is a suitable target.

Neither is the fact that the US invaded Iraq whilst the world protested, killing 8,000 civilians in the process, ostensibly because Saddam refused to reveal his non-existent chemical weapons, lost on Iraqi people. Iraq clearly posed no threat to the US and neither did it invade the United States or Britain or any other country destined to send forces there to police the country. Iraq no more rolled the red carpet out for US forces than it welcomed with open arms the World Bank, the IMF, Halliburton, Parsons Group, Stevedoring Services of America, and a myriad other companies set to make vast profits from the country’s oil and the rebuilding and reconstruction of Iraq.

Moreover, there was always the risk that once Saddam was removed from power extremist groups would come to the fore and make Iraq far more unstable than under Ba’athist rule. This much had been acknowledged by President Bush senior (the one with more functioning brain cells) during the first Gulf War and lay behind Washington’s decision not to support US-inspired revolts of the Iraqi Kurds and the Marsh Arabs. It made sound US sense to have Saddam crush these revolts mercilessly rather than have him removed and the country fragment. The very forces the US feared would be unleashed following the toppling of Saddam are now on the rampage – they might have loathed Saddam, but hate the US more.

As Bush’s badly designed occupation struggles on, it continues to inflict more misery upon an Iraq fed up with decades of repression, war and uncertainty. Their long-crippled infrastructure, and the arbitrary and unruly search and arrest-without-charge procedures by US soldiers, provoke bitterness and anger among Iraqis. All of this considered, are attacks, such as that on the UN base in Baghdad surprising? We could well be forgiven for asking why such attacks are not in fact more ferocious.

We might ask where was the UN mission in Rwanda when 1 million were being hacked to death during the Tutsi-Hutu conflict? Where the US attempts to try to install democracy in Rwanda? Indeed, it would be difficult to conceive of a situation the UN has been involved in that has not had some strategic interest to the US. Would the UN have a mission in Iraq if the country’s sole export was dates?

This is not to condone the attack. It was terrible loss of life – those killed being warm-hearted, well intentioned workers, joining the UN because of a desire to help others. The sad fact is that they were killed trying to sort out a mess of US making. Moreover their deaths are shrouded in a veil of lies. They might have believed they were in Baghdad to help bring stability to a long-suffering people, but the real reason is that the US needs a stable Iraq to help with the theft of its oil. Furthermore, the US would have us believe they were killed by outsiders – they need our support for their “War on Terror”! But what is apparent now is that the US and Britain are seen as the real “outsiders” and are now neck deep in a guerrilla war, a war of struggle and self-determination, and the kind waged against outside aggressors and colonial masters for centuries.


Bush or Prescott - which one the gloopiest?

(From issue 17 of Socialist View)

Last month we contacted George W Bush to inform him we had found a contender for his “Gloopiest Politician” title. In true Texan fashion, Mr Bush replied: “You got someone gloopier? Bring him on.” We here compare the wisdom of President George W. Bush with the acumen of Britain’s deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in order for you to judge for yourself.


"We had a good Cabinet meeting, talked about a lot of issues. Secretary of State and Defense brought us up to date about our desires to spread freedom and peace around the world." Washington, D.C., Aug. 1, 2003

"Security is the essential roadblock to achieving the road map to peace." Washington, D.C., July 25, 2003

"Our country puts $1 billion a year up to help feed the hungry. And we're by far the most generous nation in the world when it comes to that, and I'm proud to report that. This isn't a contest of who's the most generous. I'm just telling you as an aside. We're generous. We shouldn't be bragging about it. But we are. We're very generous." Washington, D.C., July 16, 2003

"It's very interesting when you think about it, the slaves who left here to go to America, because of their steadfast and their religion and their belief in freedom, helped change America." Dakar, Senegal, July 8, 2003

"You've also got to measure in order to begin to effect change that's just more — when there's more than talk, there's just actual—a paradigm shift." Washington, D.C., July 1, 2003

"Now, there are some who would like to rewrite history—revisionist historians is what I like to call them." Elizabeth, N.J., June 16, 2003

"Natural gas is hemispheric. I like to call it hemispheric in nature because it is a product that we can find in our neighborhoods." Dec. 20, 2000

"Anyway, I'm so thankful and so gracious — I'm gracious that my brother Jeb is concerned about the hemisphere as well." June 4, 2001

"It's important for [the United Nations'] words to mean what they say, and as we head into the 21st century, mark, when it comes to our security, we really don't need anybody's permission."—Bush, during a press conference in 2003


"Well I've got to be careful what you say about this, to this extent, you remember I sat in the, I was in the Callaghan government, not in the government but in Parliament and we did an agreement with the Liberals because we thought that was in our interest to do so. Liberals want to do one that's in their interests but it's not in ours, you shouldn't do anything like that and I don't believe in it anyway." Breakfast with Frost, 22/10/00

"It's not the sanity of the picket lines that bothers me, it's the sanity of human life!"Quoted in The Guardian 15/11/02
”So yes, concern, uncertainties inevitable in this, we don't know the full implications that can flow from this, but what we have at least is a consensus that we've never had before, of nations who have never come together to unite in a case against globalism and talking about the proper rational response and not only about justice but about social justice, the refugees as well as the terrorists.” BBC One, On the Record, 30/9/01

"The Prime Minister has shown importance of the sustaining conference, Rio 10. I think Kyoto rather dominated Rio 10 and we tried to put our views and the importance of the sustainable conference, about which we discussed from Doha to Monterey and on to Johannesburg, and that is a global framework, we need to bring it back together in a complete frame as indeed it was in Rio." The Guardian, 5/3/02 "I've only said what the Prime Minister has already said. You don't have to talk to me. I'm only acting at the moment while he is on holiday." Today programme, 15/8/02
“On housing and charities you have difficulties about the financing of long-term finances affecting those housing, very real problems and I'm sure that we agree with them." Guardian, 9/1/03

“Some of these decisions may be difficult but it's never meant that this government will not carry out difficult decisions to achieve and do what it said it will do.”BBC One, One the Record, 30/9/01

"You can say the decision was wrong, but I suspect if I'd have been making the same decision then I would have probably made the same decision." Today programme, 31/5/02

"The agreement is taking place. I tell him properly that if his judgement to make a judgement on the public interest and the safety of the community. That is not my judgement, it is the judgement given to the Attorney General." The Guardian, 9/1/2003

"That's the language, we're talk, not walk. That is the kind of language that needs to walk." Breakfast with Frost, 17/11/02


Lies, Half-Truths and WMD

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction." Dick Cheney, August 26, 2002

"Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons." George W. Bush, September 12, 2002

“Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.” George W. Bush, January 28, 2003

“We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction and is determined to make more.” Colin Powell, February 5, 2003

“We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons - the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have.” George Bush, February 8, 2003

“Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.” George Bush, March 18, 2003

“I have no doubt we're going to find big stores of weapons of mass destruction.” Kenneth Adelman, US Defense Policy Board , March 23, 2003

“We know where they are. They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad.” Donald Rumsfeld March 30, 2003

“We are learning more as we interrogate or have discussions with Iraqi scientists and people within the Iraqi structure, that perhaps he destroyed some, perhaps he dispersed some. And so we will find them.” George Bush April 24, 2003

“Before people crow about the absence of weapons of mass destruction, I suggest they wait a bit.” Tony Blair, 28 April, 2003

“I never believed that we'd just tumble over weapons of mass destruction in that country.” Donald Rumsfeld May 4, 2003

“I just don't know whether it was all destroyed years ago - I mean, there's no question that there were chemical weapons years ago - whether they were destroyed right before the war, (or) whether they're still hidden.” Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, Commander 101st Airborne May 13, 2003

“Given time, given the number of prisoners now that we're interrogating, I'm confident that we're going to find weapons of mass destruction.” Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, May 26, 2003

“For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction (as justification for invading Iraq) because it was the one reason everyone could agree on.” Paul Wolfowitz, May 28, 2003

"I don't believe anyone that I know in the administration ever said that Iraq had nuclear weapons." Donald Rumsfeld, May 14, 2003

"We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." Dick Cheney, March 16, 2003

In the months leading up to the US-led invasion of Iraq, the Bush-Blair regimes produced reams of documents to prove Iraq was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction and how Saddam could realistically fire them within 45 minutes. As they geared up for ‘war’ they reiterated time and again that their intention was solely to rid Iraq of its WMD and make the world a more stable place for decent and god-fearing people to live in. They campaigned long and hard for their war – for the support of their peers in governments and for the backing of the US and British electorates and, convinced they had the mandate for war, invaded Iraq in March. Three months after the end of the fighting no ‘illegal’ weapons have been found and the odds of finding any diminish greatly as the days go by.

The recent admission from a British security chief that the 50 page "intelligence" report on Iraq's WMD presented by Tony Blair to Parliament on 24 September last year - and used as the Labour government’s evidence for Iraq’s illicit weapons inventory - was spiced up on the government’s instructions came as no real surprise for those who have scrutinised the unfolding of the US-UK war with Iraq and the Labour government’s desperation to be part of it. Since the transatlantic plan to invade Iraq was hatched it was apparent that Truth would again be the first casualty of war.

For their part, the CIA and their British counterparts have tried to distance themselves from their respective governments these past few weeks, with unprecedented briefings and leaks to the press, desperate to avoid the backlash that has lead to some serious questioning in London and Washington.

On a visit to Poland on 30th May, Tony Blair told a press conference that finding the weapons in Iraq was "not the most urgent priority". And yet, according to the claims of the dossier that he defends, Saddam Hussein "has a useable chemical and biological weapons capability" and that his "current military planning specifically envisages the use" of these weapons. For months we had the Blair government ramming the WMD issue down our throats, pleading for our support for his war with Saddam, who threatened the civilisation we cherished Yet as Saddam and his military top brass, who presumably know about these WMD, which are yet to be found, are still on the run, we are told that finding the weapons is not is not an urgent priority?

Also now discredited by the CIA is the evidence US Sec of State Colin Powell eagerly displayed to the UN Security Council at the beginning of February. Powell provided explicit particulars of the key players in Iraq’s WMD programme as well as the sites that are now under US military control. Nevertheless, the biologically-armed "missile brigade", which he claimed was situated outside Baghdad has proved to be a figment of his imagination and the weapons scientists he informed the world were afraid of talking because of Saddam’s reach have not yet disclosed any secrets. As with the alleged "poison camp" near Khurmal, its labyrinth of tunnels and complex chemical communication network, so too with the photos of twenty or so Baghdad-based al-Qaeda members the UN was presented with. No evidence whatsoever.

In spite of every quality newspaper demanding answers from Blair in the wake of the secret services admission, Blair, it seemed, was learning nothing. Rather than running for cover he began blurting more lies, claiming that Iraq tried to purchase uranium from the African state of Niger. The documentary evidence this fresh allegation was based on has since been confirmed a forgery by the International Atomic Energy Authority. Indeed, the Bush administration was aware that this evidence was bogus a year earlier – something Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice have since admitted. Moreover, early last year Vice President Dick Cheney sent a former US ambassador in Africa to Niger to look into the story. Although the latter brought back word that the documents were not genuine, this was not sufficient to prevent the use of these documents as part of Bush’s rationale for the invasion of Iraq.

The sorry situation becomes more pathetic. US Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld has lately offered that the reason Saddam’s WMD can’t be found is because they were destroyed before the war started. In other words the US-Britain invaded Iraq to rid the region of weapons Saddam never had and indeed that Saddam claimed he never had and which the UN weapons inspectors suggested he never had. If this was the case, then Saddam could never have been in breach of the famous resolution 1441, which was the justification for war.
Critics might consider that in light of recent revelations Blair should resign and that Bush should be impeached. Surely politicians should not be allowed to lie like this! But hold on. Lying is the trade of politicians under capitalism.

Back in 1925, Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf: “This broad mass of a nation…will more easily fall victim to a big lie than a small one. ” Blair and Bush are fully aware of the power of the big lie, so little wonder they thought they could get away with it. Moreover, they are fully aware their support base swallow lies every living moment of the day. For the workers’ part they are lied to from the cradle to the grave: at school with distortions of history and the myth about a God up above; in the workplace, as producers, lied to by their bosses and at home as consumers bombarded with the myths perpetuated by the advertising industry.

To be sure, the entire capitals edifice depends for its continued survival on the promotion of lies, half truths and the distortion of facts. So powerful is the capitalist distortion machine that it takes all our powers of concentration, memory recall and skills of research just to separate the simplest of lies from fantasy. This constant digest of misinformation perhaps explains the amnesia the majority of workers appear to suffer from. And what is exasperating is that in spite of all the evidence revealing the architects of war to be the conniving and scheming rapscallions we always knew them to be, it is a fair bet that workers will again be ready to believe their lies when Iran is found to be stockpiling WMD, to be aiming for a nuclear capacity and harbouring al-Qaeda terrorists.

It’s a fair bet now that WMD will be found in Iraq – planted there by corrupt western regimes desperate to justify their invasion of Iraq. And this evidence will likely be used not only to prop up the discredited Messrs Bush and Blair but also to malign the anti-war movement - which claimed this was a war for oil - and to further strengthen their case for a continuation of the “war on terror”.

In the months ahead be careful what you swallow


Curbing China's Designs on Oil

Make no mistake about it – the hell about to be unleashed in the Middle East has far less to do with transatlantic designs to curb Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction and everything to do with US control of the region’s oil supplies.

The US has long been aware that its own oil supplies were not going to last forever. Indeed, it is now estimated that existing US oil deposits will be exhausted within 25-30 years, which is about the time that China will have the same oil demands as the US. With this realisation the US is now securing its future control of the world’s oil supplies – hence its operation since 9/11 to surround Asian oil supplies with US military bases, a move that also puts US bases within striking distance of China.

Having already installed its military throughout Central Asia, the US is now in the process of doing the same in Western Asia. As China endeavours to arrange its future supplies of oil and gas, it finds itself everywhere blocked by the US. This much was hinted at in the recent US National Security Strategy with Bush announcing America’s right of defence (with military action) to any threats to its interests.

How does China enter the equation you may ask? Aside from the fact that China will become a leading oil importer within the next decade, the US has long since recognised China as a likely threat to its plan to dominate the markets of East and South-East Asia. But for the moment, curbing China’s designs on oil is a chief concern of the US. It can sort out the problem of China as a commercial rival in time.

China has been yearning for a gas pipeline from the Caspian region to China since around 1995. Intent on creating a security-cum-economic organisation for the planned pipeline, China took steps to initiate a group called the “Shanghai Five” (later six) consisting of China, Russia, and the significant Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and later Uzbekistan). Ostensibly, the idea for the group was to control fundamentalism and terrorism in the region (stretching to China’s westernmost Xinjiang province). Conversely, with the US’s invasion of Afghanistan, and the setting up of its military bases in the very countries who were to be in the Shanghai grouping, China’s plan was sabotaged. Later, during a trip to Iran, Chinese president Jiang Zemin stated that “‘Beijing’s policy is against strategies of force and the U.S. military presence in Central Asia and the Middle East region’.... Beijing would work together with developing nations to counter American ‘hegemonism.’”

Last year, Chinese firms purchased two Indonesian fields for $585 million and $262 million, respectively. Moreover, Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri has visited China twice since 2001, hoping to bag a $9 billion contract to supply liquid natural gas to power industries in southern China. In time with this the US increased its activities in the Indonesian neighbourhood, coercing the Philippines into accepting US “help” in rooting out fundamentalists, patrolling the Malacca straits with the Indian navy, and forcing Indonesia to accept US ‘cooperation’ in containing Al Qaeda elements in Indonesia itself. Back in December of 2001, a RAND Corporation presentation to a US Congress committee on “threats to the security and stability of Southeast Asia and to US security interests in the region,” outlined a chief area of concern as being “China’s emergence as a major regional power.” It argued that “China’s assertiveness will increase as its power grows.” It conjectured that “conflict could be triggered by energy exploration or exploitation activities”, and suggested the formation of a “comprehensive security network in the Asia-Pacific region.” Departing from the line that it was hunting for a handful of Abu Sayyaf guerrillas in the Philippines, the RAND Corporation says that “the US should provide urgently needed air defence and naval patrol assets to the Philippines to help Manila re-establish deterrence vis-a-vis China and give a further impetus to the revitalization of the United States-Philippine defence relationship.... the US should expand and diversify its access and support arrangements in Southeast Asia to be able to effectively respond in a timely way to unexpected contingencies. After all, six months ago, who would have thought that US armed forces would be confronted with the need to plan and execute a military campaign in Afghanistan?” Like the US, China simply cannot ignore its reliance on west Asian oil. China has oil field development contracts with those very countries in west Asia targeted by US sanctions—Iraq, Iran, Libya and Sudan. With this entire region now to be besieged with the invasion of Iraq, China’s deals are destined to be dealt the same severe blow as its plan for a central Asian pipeline. Scarcely startling, then, that “Chinese leaders believe that the US seeks to contain China and [the US] is therefore a major threat to its [China’s] energy security”, as the US-China Security Review Commission’s report points out. (“China digs for Middle East oil, US gets fired up”, Reuters, 24/9/02).


A Northern Assembly

On the 8th May this year the government’s Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill received Royal Assent – reportedly the next step to the establishment of elected regional assemblies inclusive of the Northern Assembly.

In welcoming the latest step towards devolution, Local Government Minister Nick Raynsford announced:

“With this Bill the Government has sought to give power and responsibility back to the people. To make our politics more open, more accountable and more inclusive…The regions now have a real choice about their future. Choice is at the very heart of this Act, in keeping with our wider policy of devolution to the English regions. We believe local people are best placed to make the decisions that directly affect them.”

Since then, a lot has been spoken about a Northern Assembly and how it would further democratise politics, empower us and enrich all our lives no end. And pretty soon, it appears, steps will be taken to hold a referendum in order that we northerners can vote for or against this most wonderful of New Labour reforms to the political landscape.

We should be flattered, but don't be fooled. These proposals are part of a smokescreen to disguise the fact that the Labour Party cannot deliver, and no longer wants to deliver, social reforms aimed at shifting wealth and power from the privileged few to working people.

Labour has always accepted the profit system. They used to believe they could humanise it by social reform legislation. Not any longer. Bitter experience has taught them that where reforms and profits come into conflict, it is reforms that have to give way. The last Labour government under Callahan ended up applying this and Blair had promised to do the same even before he became Prime Minister.

The Labour Party fully accepts now that priority has to be given to profits and no longer promises more spending on social reforms. But to distinguish itself from the Tories, Labour still wants to retain a reforming. But how? By finding reforms which do not come into conflict with profits. Constitutional reforms fit the bill perfectly. They don’t interfere with profit making and thus new Labour does not upset its backers in big business. Moreover, Blair’s plans give rise to the illusion of change – as if the government is really doing something. It is in this light – as with the establishment of a Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly – that the government’s proposals should be seen.

Constitutional reform is of no benefit or relevance to us. It leaves our lives and the problems the profit system causes completely unchanged. Exploitation through the wages system continues. Unemployment continues. A crumbling health service, a chaotic transport system, a polluted environment, failing and closing schools, rising crime and drug addiction and the general breakdown of society all continue. As far as solving these problems are concerned, constitutional reform is just a useless irrelevancy.

Deficient Democrats
Naturally, Labour wraps its irrelevant, constitutional reforms up in democratic rhetoric. An elected Northern Assembly, we are told, would be an extension of democracy, bringing power nearer to the people, so how can Socialists not be in favour of this?

Yes. Socialists are in favour of democracy, and socialism will be a fully democratic society, but full democracy is not possible under capitalism. Supporters of capitalism who talk about "democracy" always mean only political democracy since economic democracy - where people would democratically run the places where they work - is out of the question under capitalism, based as it is on these workplaces being owned and controlled by and for the benefit of a privileged minority.

You can have the most democratic constitution imaginable but this won't make any difference to the fact that profits have to come before meeting needs under capitalism. The people's will to have their needs met properly is frustrated all the time by the operation of the economic laws of the capitalist system which no political structure, however democratic, can control.

It is not imperfections in the political decision-making process that are the problem but the profit system and its economic laws. And the answer is not democratic reform of capitalism's political structure but the replacement of capitalism by socialism.

As a society based on common instead of class ownership of the means of production, socialism will fulfil the first condition for a genuine democracy. Because it will be a classless society without a privileged wealthy class, everyone can have a genuinely equal say in the way things are run. Some will not be more equal than others, as they are under capitalism, because they own more wealth. Socialism will be a society where the laws of profit no longer operate since common ownership and democratic control will allow people to produce to meet their needs instead of for the profit of a few as today.

The argument about elected regional assemblies bringing power nearer to the people might have something in it if, even within the limited context of mere political democracy, the proposed assemblies were going to have some real powers. But, quite simply, they are not.
All their money is to come from the central government, and the only "power" they will have will be to rearrange slightly how the limited amount of funds they will be given is to be spent. In other words, they will have no more power than existing borough and county councils.

They will be part of the administrative arm of central government and their members will be no more than elected civil servants spending central government money. All that would happen would be the introduction of another layer of elected bureaucrats. Another trough for the professional politicians to get their snouts into perhaps, but of no significance to ordinary people.

If our rulers want to reform the machinery of capitalist government in this way, that's up to them. But spare us the charade that it's some great extension of democracy. Has the lot of the average Welsh or Scottish worker improved since the establishment of the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament? No. Has there been a marked drop in poverty, crime and a lessening of all the other social ills we equate with capitalism? Hadaway! Nick Raynsford, quoted earlier, may well declare that having a Northern Assembly means we have more choice – it is the government line he is paid handsomely to spin – but what choice have you when you are unemployed or low waged? Every aspect of your life is subordinated to the worst exigencies of the drive to make profit. If the time comes for a vote on a Northern Assembly, socialists shall indeed be voting, but not by placing an ‘X’ in the yes or no boxes, but by writing “Socialism” across our ballot paper. If you want socialism, we suggest you do the same, as a way of registering your support for world socialism


Who's Looting Who? The further destruction of Iraq

As riotous mobs pillaged Baghdad's Archaeological Museum and put to the torch the National Library, buildings housing the relics thousands of years of Mesopotamian culture, US troops sat back and did nothing, as if urging Iraqis to destroy their own past, in order for Washington to control their present and future, in true Orwellian fashion. The forces of globocop also held back while these same liberty-seeking Iraqis dealt the same destructive blow to the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Irrigation, the Ministry of Trade, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Information, indeed the entire remnants of a state structure crippled since the last Gulf War. Significantly, US troops could be found protecting the HQ of Iraq’s secret police, the Oil Ministry as well as the North Oil Company, a state owned enterprise responsible for the country’s northern oil fields.

Colonel William Mayville, informed the assembled international press that the US wanted to impart an even simpler message: "Hey, don't screw with the oil."

The verbose Donald Rumsfeld, US Sec for Defence explained away the carnage in simple terms: “It’s untidy…And Freedom’s untidy and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes.” Rumsfeld should certainly know, representing one of the biggest criminal gangs in political history.

The west may despair at the looting of museums and libraries in Baghdad, but is it not the case that this is just what the Bush-Cheney regime have been doing back home since they hijacked the White House? While the law has been distracted, they have raided the treasury, ransacked the environment and demolished civil liberties. And what were Enron, WorldCom and Xerox doing if they were not looting? In the biggest heist in the annals of corporate robbery, CEOs and finance officers borrowed many millions from cooperative banks, using the money to force up company stock prices, and in so doing increasing the value of their options. Between 1994 and 1999, inclusive, $1.22 trillion was borrowed by non-financial corporations. Of that figure, corporations used just 15.3 per cent for capital expenditures. They used 57 per cent of it, $697.4 billion, to buy back stock and thus enrich themselves. Corporate USA could surely show the looting hoards of Baghdad a thing or two. And who do we find heading the Iraqi National Congress? A US puppet, now back in Iraq and set to wheel and deal on behalf of Uncle Sam. None other than Ahmad Chalabi who, in 1992, was tried by a Jordanian court in his absence, on 31 charges of embezzlement, theft, misuse of depositor funds and currency speculation and sentenced to 22 years' imprisonment. Just the man for the job.

Like a faint voice crying beneath the rubble, the International Committee of the Red Cross could be found remonstrating about the violence and unconstrained looting which has prohibited it distributing desperately needed humanitarian aid. It pointed out how US unwillingness to attempt to bring the chaos and destruction to a halt was in breach of the Geneva Convention. However, if you can dismiss other international treaties with a wave of the hand, invade countries without UN support, refuse to acknowledge various international principles and agreements then why give a fuck for the Geneva Convention? The US had already announced its intention to rubbish the GC when it began imprisoning Moslems on spurious 9/11-related charges in Guantanamo Bay, depriving them of legal advice, even using sensory deprivation and beatings. And isn’t there something in the GC about cluster bombs and similar weaponry, the beating of Iraqi prisoners and the parading of the same unfortunates naked through the streets of Baghdad?

No sooner is Baghdad ‘secure’ than the US awards a huge reconstruction contract to Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, and a company headed, three years ago, by vice president Dick Cheney. Haliburton, incidentally, still pays Cheney a $1 million retainer per year and he’s worth every dime.

Two years ago, the Pentagon awarded Kellogg, Brown and Root a 10-year contract known as the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) - a "cost-plus-award-fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity service" or, in other words, a situation now exists whereby the federal government has unrestricted directive and resources to send Kellogg, Brown and Root anywhere in the world to run military operations for a profit.

Prior to the invasion of Iraq Halliburton (or rather 1,800 Kellogg, Brown and Root employees) could be found working beside US troops in Kuwait and Turkey under a deal worth close to a billion dollars. US Army sources claimed they were constructing tent cities and providing logistical support for the invasion as well as to other hot spots in the "war on terrorism.”

The Cheney-Halliburton-US war machine saga is the typical military-industrial-political menage-a-trois . As Secretary of Defence under Bush Snr. (that’s the Bush with a few more brain cells), Cheney paid Brown and Root services (now Kellogg, Brown and Root) $3.9 million to detail how private corporations could assist the U.S. Army as Cheney eradicated thousands of Army jobs. Then Brown and Root were awarded a five-year contract to provide logistics for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers all over the globe. When, in 1995, Cheney became CEO, Halliburton jumped from 73rd to 18th on the Pentagon's directory of top contractors, benefiting - according to the Centre for Public Integrity - from at least $3.8 billion in federal contracts and taxpayer-insured loans.

Fundamentalist resistance
The US State Department, acknowledges the level the anti-American feeling across the Middle East and the resistance its corporations will meet as they enter Iraq and further foresees that it will have to maintain a presence in Iraq for quite some time – already 4 military bases are being planned in the country. On Newsnight recently, Rumsfeld crony Ken Aldeman stated that the US wanted democracy right across the Middle East. One Arab commentator countered the assertion, stating that if the oppressive regimes of the Middle East were ever to undergo regime change and hold democratic elections, then this would surely mean increased opposition to US presence and the designs of its corporations. Rather than have Arab leaders silence US opposition, the US presence would instead fan the flames of Arab fanaticism. Already there is a growing radicalism, with mass meetings of the Shia community in the country’s mosques.

Back in 1991, and the defeat of Saddam following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the US purposely held back from going the full hog and overthrowing the Ba’athist regime, even withdrawing their support for the Northern Kurds and the Marsh Arabs once they had promised to back any rebellion against Baghdad. The reason was simple, Saddam’s ruling shia clan held the country together. Were he to be toppled the country would fragment into warring factions, leaving the shia (who make up the bulk of the Iraqi population) in control. It is this threat of an anti-American shia backlash that necessitates a continued US presence in defence of its regional oil and gas interests. The US control over Iraq will become so intense the country will mirror a US state.

Bush and his architects will undoubtedly strive to build a new Iraq now that the museums and national archives can no longer remind them of their culture and heritage. In the proverbial wings a new US-style culture awaits the Iraqi working class - a McDonaldised Iraq ruled by westernised marionettes and serviced by US corporations. In years to come expect to glance down into your trainers to find a label saying “Made in Iraq” and to watch TV crews filming in Iraq setting interviewers against the backdrop of a Starbucks coffee house.

Lets get one thing straight. This invasion had nothing to do with ridding the world of weapons of mass destruction or liberating an oppressed people from a tyrannical regime. After all Saddam not only came to power in a CIA backed coup; he was then provided with his chemical weapons by the US, keen he should serve as a buffer to the spread of Iranian-style militant Islam which threatened the regions oil supplies and trade routes.

The US did not wage war with Saddam simply to leave once he was toppled. They mean to stay put for a long time, even if they succeed in setting up a stooge, US-friendly regime. Globocop is in Iraq to strengthen their control over the region’s oils reserves and to further use the region as a base from which the Arab world can be policed. Indeed, logic dictates the US cannot leave. Devoid of an American military presence, Iraq would fragment. The old religious, ethnic, regional and tribal divisions would only intensify if an American-appointed puppet government were to establish "democracy".

It is just this threat of instability the US thrives on – the never ending pretexts for the overt use of US force in pursuit of the interests of its corporate elite. The world is being looted like never before by a criminal gang who rationalise their crimes with a newspeak the gullible are all to keen to digest– “the war on terror”, “bringing democracy to the world”. In truth this is the US saying “the world is ours. Interfere and we’re coming for you.” In this new AMERICAN CENTURY there are certainly looters and looters. Be afraid.


Manifest Destiny

At the end of his State of the Union address, a speech hypocritically punctuated with references to the US as the champion of liberty and democracy, the saviour of oppressed people everywhere, President Bush declared that “the liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world, but God’s gift to humanity.”

The message is simple. The US is enacting God’s will with its constant invasions of far away countries. It’s right to intervene anywhere it sees fit is conferred by divine right. This is hardly a new idea. Defending the US annexation of Texas in 1845, John O’Sullivan asserted that the US was simply fulfilling its ‘manifest destiny’ with ”the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government.”

References to God and the US’s divine mission now fuse every speech Bush makes with reference to Iraq. His unique brand of divine right imperialism - his promise to bring democracy and freedom to the people of Iraq - now accompanies the usual rhetoric about ridding the world of a mad man.

We can only assume the writers of Bush speeches suffer massive bouts of historical amnesia, for this journal has several times in the past had cause to quote comments by senior US officials in relation to Iraq.

We need only observe Madeline Albright’s (former UN Ambassador) comment, when asked her opinion of the 500,000 Iraqis who had died since sanctions were imposed. She replied it was a “price worth paying.”

Colin Powell, now seated on the right hand of Bush, was once asked his opinion of the number of Iraqi civilians killed during the Gulf War. He replied: “Frankly, that’s not a figure that bothers me.” Indeed, the number of civilians killed overseas never bothers US policy makers. When Vietnam invaded Cambodia to put an end to Pol Pot's bloody massacre of 2 million civilians, it was the US who supported a Chinese invasion and the US who sided with the Khmer Rouge. And where was the US when 1 million civilians were being butchered in Rwanda? Again it was the US who propped up other murderers who massacred their own people in their tens of thousands - Noriega, Pinochet Mobuto, Sukarto, Sukarno, Amin, Trujillo, Marcos, Papa Doc and Savimbi. On top of this the US has helped topple 40 governments since 1945 and subverted elections in another 23 countries. Always to further the interests of their corporate elite and always to the detriment of human rights and civilians who desire only peace. Whilst Bush is keen to find a link between Saddam and Islamic terrorism it is to be remembered that during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the US funded islamic zealots to the tune of $6 billion; training the terrorists of the future - some now prisoners of the US in Cuba - in US military bases such as Camp Peary, Camp Picket, Harvey Point and Fort Bragg. When it comes to human rights abuses and terrorism, the USA is top of the premiere league of rogues states. Bush's grievance with Saddam has nothing to do with saving lives and everything to do with securing US access to the region's oil and gas supplies


Madmen and Specialists

Remember the 11,000 page report that Iraq handed to the UN and which pertains to its weapons of mass destruction? As we have previously reported it was immediately seized by the United States and vetted before being distributed to the other 4 permanent members of the security council, with an edited version being given to the remaining members of the UN Security Council two weeks later.

Not much has been heard of the report and little wonder, for it names names. It lists the 150 plus western companies that assisted with Iraq’s WMD programme, including some who were still helping build up Iraq’s conventional arsenal a year ago. Some eighty German and twenty-four US companies are reported to have provided Saddam with the equipment and know-how to build his weapons arsenal from 1975 onwards.

It is not certain who leaked the document to Germany’s Die Tageszeitung newspaper, but it’s a fair bet it came from Baghdad which is keen to humiliate the alliance massing against it. Perhaps Saddam is all too aware of the hypocrisy and fork tongued cant of the Bush-Blair coalition. Certainly he is aware that the west armed Iraq to the teeth during its war with Iran, when Iraq was seen as a buffer to the spread of militant Islam from Iran and a threat to western oil interests in the region.

Die Tageszeitung reports: “From about 1975 onwards, these companies are shown to have supplied entire complexes, building elements, basic materials and technical know-how for Saddam Hussein’s programme to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction…They also supplied rockets and complete conventional weapons systems.”

And who are these US companies? I provide a list below and the category of military know-how they assisted with (A-nuclear, K-Chemical, B-biological and R-Rockets):

1. Honeywell (R,K). 2. Spektra Physics (K), 3. Semetex (R). 4. TI Coating(A,K).
5. UNISYS (A,K). 6. Sperry Corp (R,K). 7. Tektronix (R,A). 8. Rockwell (K).
9. Leybold Vacuum Systems (A). 10. Finnigan-MAT-US (A). 11. Hewlett Packard (A,R,K). 12. Dupont (A). 13. Eastman Kodak (R). American Type Culture Collection (B). 15. Alcolac International (C). 16. Consarc (A). 17. Carl Zeis-U.Ss (K). 18. Cerberus Ltd (A). 19. Elkectronic Associates (R) 20. International Computer Systems. 21. Bechtel (K). 22. EZ Logic Data Systems Inc. (R). 23. Canberra Industries Inc. (A). 24. Axel Electronics Inc. (A).

With Bush now fully intent on spreading his war on terror around the world and seeking to forge ahead with his Star Wars programme we can expect none of the above will be called upon to account for their relationship with a tyrannical regime. For one thing they will be busy supplying their own. Bush has already increased US military spending to unprecedented limits - $380 billion this year. Within 5 year it is set to increase to $500 billion per annum. Indeed, the US military industrial think tanks have been highly instrumental in providing the rationale for a ‘war’ with Iraq and developing concepts such as a ‘pre-emptive war’. And, as you have guessed, many a former defence company executive and consultant are well represented in the Bush administration, wielding immense influence on behalf od weapons manufacturers. And why not? War and hyped threats to the national security means bigger expenditure on weapons and massive profits.