Rally and March organized by the NO WAR AGAINST IRAQ coalition
Leaflet by Seattle members and friends of the CVO.
(from Communist Voice, vol. 8, #3, issue #30, December 15, 2002)
. Behind Bush's war-mongering against Iraq is the drive to monopolize the world's petroleum
resources. Iraq has the world's second largest proven reserves, while neighboring Saudi Arabia is
number one. Thus the U.S. oil magnates have already been discussing how they will privatize the
Iraqi oil industry, divide it among themselves, and profit. But the war has a broader aim as well:
establishment of a larger permanent imperialist military force in the region for use against
unfriendly regimes, to keep allies in line, and to assist allies in suppressing both democratic
revolts of the oppressed people and unfriendly fundamentalist-led movements. And keeping the
Saudi monarchy (and the right faction of it) in power is seen as especially important in this
regard. Moreover, whoever controls the oil lifeblood of the world economy is in a position to
force concessions on global competitors in many fields. Thus not just big oil, but the entire
American monopoly capitalist class sees money down the line from war on Iraq, and from the
resurgence of imperialism which Bush has accelerated since 9/11/01 in general. But for the
workers and poor of the United States and Iraq it's a different story. We will pay for the war with
our money and, especially if we live in Iraq, with our lives. It's in our class interest to oppose it.
But, as we shall see below, the Democrats work to keep a genuine opposition from developing.
This underscores the necessity to build an independent movement to fight this and the future
wars U.S. imperialism has in store.
Pretexts for aggression
. For months Bush, Cheney and Co. fumbled around for a pretext for war. The lies changed almost daily, but the hypocrisy and imperialist arrogance were constant, i. e. , the U.S. government has the "right" to overthrow the head of a state whom it does not like and install a puppet regime. Having nothing else going for it, the administration ended up trying to create a hysteria: Saddam Hussein might have this or that weapon, well, maybe in a year he might, according to Bush's Oct. 7 speech; he might pass these weapons on to terrorists, and "we" (Bush) can't wait for proof "in the form of a mushroom cloud". (Funny how regimes in the Gulf and Middle East which also have sharp contradictions with Saddam Hussein aren't frightened of mushroom clouds, and they live right next door!). Although it's unlikely that the Iraqi regime has nuclear or other unconventional weapons, it could have a few. But Bush's doctrine of pre-emptive strikes itself increases the danger of their use--by Saddam Hussein (if he has a few), by Israel (which has all these weapons and makes no bones about its willingness to use them in the Middle East), or even by the United States itself if its planning starts to fall apart. The danger isn't solely, or even mainly, from Iraq. Moreover, U.S. imperialism's attitude toward the use of weapons of mass slaughter even by temporary allies was exposed in an Aug. 18 article in the New York Times. There it's related how during the Iraq-Iran war the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency did battle planning for Saddam Hussein knowing full well that use of mustard gas, sarin, and VX was being integrated into the plans. Former officers of the program are quoted in the saying "the use of gas on the battlefield by the Iraqis was not a matter of deep strategic concern", and (another officer) "The Pentagon 'wasn't so horrified by Iraq's use of gas . . . It was just another way of killing people'. " This shows the real attitude of U.S. imperialism toward such weapons: "It's O.K. to use them as long as it serves our interests".
. Bush's fear-mongering aside, the reality is that more and more governments seek weapons of
mass slaughter all over the world, and the current U.S. arms build-up may cause a new arms race.
The U.S. imperialists want to monopolize these weapons with their close friends, but that didn't
stop India and Pakistan from narrowly averting nuclear war over Kashmir a few months ago.
Besides increasing the danger of their use, the doctrine of pre-emptive strikes can't possibly end
proliferation of these weapons because their proliferation is rooted in the logic of capitalism
giving rise to monopoly capitalism and imperialism, and with this the necessity to strive for
domination by any means. As long as this system exists there will be militarism, and a struggle
for "equalizers" between rivals. It's only building the movement in every country against the
bourgeoisie and imperialism that provides any pressure against these weapons.
Support the struggle of the Iraqi masses!
. On Oct. 7 Bush had the arrogance to say "America is a friend of the people of Iraq. " Right. The U.S. government killed 250,000 Iraqis outright during the first Gulf War (a Pentagon estimate which includes soldiers). It killed 500,000 more (a conservative U.N. estimate) with its sanctions policy, which Democrat Clinton presided over for eight years. Moreover, in 1990-91 it encouraged rebellion of the Iraqi people only to turn around and exempt Iraqi helicopters from the no-fly zones so that Saddam could crush the rebellions that did break out. This stab in the back shows what kind of "friends" the Iraqi people have in Washington: monsters who sacrifice them in divide and rule strategies.
. But despite all that has been hurled against them the Iraqi workers and peasants have been for years struggling in underground conditions against the brutal dictatorship. Politically, they have to contend with Saddam Hussein's Ba'thist Party, which works to divert their anger away from the regime and toward U.S. imperialism and Israeli zionism. They also have to deal with bourgeois and militarist opponents of the regime who cry for democracy now, but only with the aim of becoming new overlords. Among the Shi'a Muslims, who represent 65% of the population, the toilers have to deal with Islamic fundamentalism, and its brand of oppression. The Kurdish workers and peasants have to deal with bourgeois forces who have, on the one hand, fostered illusions that U.S. imperialism is an ally of the Kurdish struggle for self-determination, but on the other, betrayed them by striking an alliance with Saddam Hussein. They even have to deal with monarchist forces. Nevertheless, this inspiring struggle has gained strength in recent years right in the face of the all the repression and complexities. But meanwhile the trends which would set up a new oppressive system (while maintaining more or less of the old one) have also been gaining strength, often with U.S. or regional help. Thus the tension has been mounting under the surface, and the toppling of the regime by U.S. imperialism will add new complexities to the struggles of the masses. Some things are clear however:
. The Iraqi toilers should today oppose Saddam's war plans while also opposing U.S.
imperialism. Forces on the Iraqi left have been following this line for years, but the prominent
Iraqi "Communist" Party (really a fake communist party) undermines the fight against the twin
evils confronting the masses by holding out illusions that the U. N. is a force which can be relied
on to rein in U.S. imperialism. The workers must reject this. They should take advantage of the
pre-war crisis, chaos of war itself, and the consolidation of a new regime to forge independent
organizations through which to fight for their class demands, and use every opening that comes
up to fight for those demands. Moreover, whether U.S. imperialism installs a butcher general or
an alliance promising parliamentary democracy (some day), the fight for democratic rights for the
masses must continue, and the workers should strive to lead it. This fight includes upholding the
right of the Kurds to self-determination--a touchstone for all forces proclaiming themselves
. More than 20 million Kurds live in a region stretching across Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran (plus small parts of neighboring countries). The bourgeois regimes in the region oppress them, and in just the past few years the Turkish, Iraqi and Iranian militaries have murdered tens of thousands of Kurds in trying to stamp out their struggle for democratic rights.
. The hands of the U.S. imperialists also drip with Kurdish blood, and Bush's pointed remark at the U. N. concerning a "united Iraq" shows they will continue to oppose the right of the Kurds to determine their own future. True, at times the U.S. imperialists have given a limited and pragmatic support to certain bourgeois-led organizations in the Kurdish national movement, i. e. , when they were waging a war to suppress worker and peasant revolutionaries struggling to lead the national movement in a way which best served the masses. But they've always opposed self-determination for the Kurds even in Iraq. That could only inspire the 12 million Kurds struggling against the jackbooted Turkish regime, a very important U.S. ally. Moreover, the U.S. exempted Turkish aircraft from the northern no-fly zone established after Gulf War I. So under Washington's watchful eye the Turkish military has repeatedly entered northern Iraq with jets and tanks to raze entire villages and slaughter thousands of Kurdish people.
. The Kurdish struggle for national self-determination is going to continue, and likely go through
a new upsurge very soon. Workers everywhere should give it every support, with particular
support to the building of a working-class political trend within the national movement. Such
support is needed to develop the kind of international unity the working class so sorely needs.
And in Iraq it is needed to unify the fight against the Saddam tyranny, and what comes after.
Building the anti-war movement
. The planned new war on Iraq is blatant imperialist aggression. It's rooted in the U.S. monopoly capitalists' drive to reap super-profits through domination of the world's oil supplies, and their general "strategic interests" (expansion of empire). But Saddam Hussein's motives are no loftier. Beneath his shouts against the imperialism of the United States lies the drive of Iraqi capitalism to enrich itself relying on oil, and it has proven its own imperialist nature with, among other things, its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. In truth Saddam and Bush share the same class interests, the only real difference between them being that one presides over a weak state with imperialist ambitions whereas the other presides over an unrivaled military superpower. Driven by the laws of modern capitalism, imperialism is our enemy. But today's anti-war movement is in a political crisis. If it is going to target imperialism, be more militant, and draw in new forces, activists must fiercely fight sabotaging ideas coming from several directions, abetted by the dominant leaders of the movement. Unless this in done there will be no anti-war movement worth the name.
. First there are the advocates of unity with the right-wing war-opponents of the moment, Scott Ritter in particular. It may be fine to note that this former U. N. arms inspector argues that Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction, but what else does he say? In his Oct. 5 P. I. interview he agrees with Bush that Iraq has to disarm in order "to ensure the security of the region" (for U.S. monopolization of its oil resources), and he agrees that if "Iraq is a threat then the United States should fight and accept the consequences", including destabilization of the Middle East. He is also a unilateralist. His difference with the administration is that it hasn't provided proof that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, and that it hasn't been respecting "the rule of law". To implement his rule of law he would first lift sanctions and then reimpose them "linked to the Iraqi people turning Saddam Hussein and his leadership over to the International Court of Justice". Hence legal imperialism is just fine. And what are a few hundred-thousand more sanctions-caused Iraqi deaths worth to an imperialist like this as long as it's done legally?
. Secondly, there are the reformist ideas originating in the Democratic Party. This is the party which brought us the horrible imperialist aggression against Vietnam, invasion of the Dominican Republic, secret wars like that in Laos, the NATO war with Serbia over what tactics to use in suppressing Albanian Kosovars' demands for the right of self-determination, and many other imperialist crimes. In recent years it was the Democrat Clinton who made Colombia the third largest recipient of U.S. military aid so that the Colombian government could step up its class war against the masses in alliance with Wall Street. Clinton even waived the previous thread-bare human rights requirements to bring this about. The record of the Democrats in the Gulf and Middle East is no better. It was Roosevelt who first cemented the alliance with the murderous fundamentalist royalty of Saudi Arabia as part of U.S. imperialism's drive to dominate oil. Every subsequent Democrat administration has fully supported the Israeli Zionist theocracy (including with $billions annually) as part of a bipartisan strategy to dominate the region--which also means they have opposed the right of the Arab Palestinians to self-determination, and that their hands drip with Palestinian blood too. And of course it was Clinton who presided over 8 years of sanctions against Iraq punctuated by repeated bombings. Now this party has delivered Bush the necessary votes for a Congressionally approved blood-letting for oil and empire. But the Democrats are also the favorite party the bourgeoisie uses to deceive the masses. Hence many of them were promoted as "opponents" of war against Iraq. So it's important to look closely at what this opposition amounted to.
. The Democratic Party line was to advise Bush that war was "premature"; i. e, first he should round up more allies, go through the U.N. , get Congressional approval, do things legally, etc. Thus rather than exposing and attacking the imperialist motives behind the war we were supposed to fight for Bush to go through the steps which would make it a more unified war, and therefore a worse one. (And Bush has now gone through most of these steps. ) In fact the debate between politicians in Washington in great part centered on unilateralist vs. multilateralist imperialist actions. From the imperialist angle, unilateralist action has the advantage that one does not have to share the spoils of war with allies, while multilateralist action has the advantage that costs are shared, and a more powerful political-economic-military machine thrown into action. (And, according to the arguments of the multilateralists, many of whom are liberal Democrats, Bush the First's Gulf War I was just fine!) But from the working-class angle both are equally bad, and working to tie the anti-war movement to the multilateralists is sabotage. Later Gore and the Washington State Democratic Party publicly worried that Bush was diverting away from the war on "terror" with his campaign for war on Iraq. This alleged "good war" includes the wars of the Colombian and Philippine ruling classes against mass insurgencies (complete with government-supported paramilitaries and death squads), wars which U.S. imperialism gives increasing military assistance to.
. Now the liberal wing of the Democratic Party plays a special role in attempting to contain and tame the anti-war movement, i.e., to turn it into putty in the hands of the imperialist bourgeoisie. It does this through more intimate connections with the movement, speaking at rallies, etc. Yet it had no substantial differences with the mainstream of the party on Bush's war drive: Bush shouldn't act unilaterally, he should do everything legally, he should exhaust diplomacy. Some right-wingers are now attacking McDermott as "a traitor" for going to Iraq, calling him "Jihad Jim", etc. , but what was McDermott's line? "We must explore every single possible diplomatic resolution before we resort to war. " (Beacon Hill News and South District Journal, Oct. 9. ) In other words he operated on the same premise as Bush and the rest of the establishment: that is that war on Iraq is justified! Furthermore, why did McDermott go to Iraq? To deliver the message (in his own words): "If you don't have unfettered inspections, you are going to have war. " (Ibid. ) Different tactics to achieve the same imperialist ends. The bottom line is that the liberals are the main force the establishment relies on to keep the anti-war movement from taking up independent politics. Thus we're told the realistic thing to do is to write letters to politicians, stump for the liberals at election time, and other dead-end crap. But since activists want more than this we're also told that we must be goody-goody: organize "peace vigils", candlelight processions behind liberal preachers, and other tactics the war maniacs lose no sleep over. And if we want to organize militant demonstrations we're told not to target imperialism in our slogans and agitation. If this is done anyway the liberals redefine imperialism as solely the property of the Republican right, or as something caused by anything other than the modern capitalism they support and politically represent.
. Lastly there are the sham anti-imperialists, of which Workers World Party is an example. (WWP is a prime mover in organizing the A.N.S.W.E.R. Oct. 26 demonstrations. ) They denounce the barbarism of U.S. imperialism while working to cover up the barbarism of Saddam Hussein with talk of his "defending the gains of the 1958 revolution", etc. The implication is that the Iraqi regime should be supported. This viewpoint sacrifices the interests of the Iraqi toilers on the altar of supporting a weak national bourgeoisie against a strong one. Working to build the anti-war movement independent of and against all imperialism is not part of the vision.
. Today global capitalism throws the workers of every country into competition with each other.
In every country we are we're told by our national capitalists that we must make concessions,
must sacrifice, so that they can win the war of international competition and thereby fatten their
profits. This results in the notorious "race to the bottom" which we can only overcome through
resistance in our own countries, and international solidarity built around this. This is only
amplified in times of war. Now workers here and in Iraq are told that we must sacrifice so that
"our" capitalists can come out on top in their struggle over oil--and support the killing of
innocent Iraqis to achieve this, including our class brothers and sisters there. Never! Our class
interest is to support the struggles of the Iraqi people to overthrow Saddam Hussein's tyranny,
while recognizing that not every force fighting Saddam is democratic and opposing those that are
not. But we cannot give such support without working to build the anti-war movement here at
home. This means we should do the following: (1) Expose and denounce Bush's lies in our
work-places, schools, and among the masses on the streets while explaining the underlying
causes of this imperialist war and the future wars capitalism has in store--verbally and through
leaflets such as this. (2) Be active in building demonstrations, rallies and meetings, and in
attending those organized by others. (3) Publicly expose and fight against liberal sabotage of the
movement. (4) Seek out and unite with like-minded people to conduct agitation in workplaces,
schools, etc. Link up with like-minded people to organize militant anti-imperialist contingents for
demonstrations. Link up with the Communist Voice Organization.
Seattle members and friends of the Communist Voice Organization
October 19, 2002
Last changed on December 24, 2002