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Stop the fast track to war!

A World to Win statement

The official reason for sending British warplanes to support the US bombing campaign in Iraq is as much of a fraud as the pretexts put forward for the illegal, disastrous Anglo-American 2003 invasion.  

The request by Iraq’s new president Haidar al-Abadi for military action is to provide a legal cover to attack Islamic State (ISIS) forces. Stories of ISIS plots to attack US and European subways are designed to ramp up hysteria. They are all fig-leaves to mask the bankruptcy of Washington and London when it comes to solutions.

The West’s policies in the Middle East have fuelled the rise of ISIS for a whole range of reasons. In the aftermath of the toppling of Saddam Hussein, the US installed the Nuri al-Maliki regime which openly favoured violent Shia militias, stoking up the sectarian Sunni-Shia divide which played into the hands of ISIS.

F15sIf President Obama, who has ridden roughshod over Congress to bomb in Syria without any legal mandate whatsoever, has a policy it is to shore up the reactionary regimes in the Gulf, led by Saudi Arabia.

Military experts are lining up to declare that bombing can’t defeat ISIS. But that has not deterred HM’s Loyal Opposition. Ed Miliband has ordered compulsory support for the ConDems as they launch the third war on Iraq without any thought to where it will lead. Only a handful of Labour MPs like John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn have spoken out against.

The 2003 occupation sponsored by Bush and Blair’s New Labour resulted in a catastrophic break-up of Iraq into warring factions. That hasn’t stopped former PM Blair from adding to his reputation as a warmonger. This week he declared that aerial bombardment will not suffice and that ground troops would be needed to root out ISIS.

This is truly a recipe for war without end which, naturally, is good for business and a handy, patriotic escapade to divert attention from pressing problems at home.

This week, the rest of the world, including Russia, has stood by while the territorial sovereignty of an independent state – Syria – is blatantly infringed. Putin remains silent in return for being allowed to annex Crimea and manipulate pro-Russian forces in east Ukraine.

Obama has warned it could take years to “degrade and destroy” ISIS. Echoing Obama, Cameron maintains that raids are justified on the ground that attacking IS was the only way to prevent “barbarism”. Cameron says that Britain and the West have to learn “lessons of the past”.

But what are the lessons from the past? The truth is that nothing is learned from the old mistakes – which are repeated over and over again – because they are incapable of making peace with the mass of the people in the Middle East.

By continuing to back the murderous Israeli regime with its horrific attacks on Palestinians, supporting despotic feudal regimes and endorsing the military coup that brought General Sisi to power in Egypt, the West has forfeited any claim to democratic credentials.

There is no “clear and present danger” (the same words used by General Colin Powell 2003 about Saddam Hussein’s fabled “weapons of mass destruction”) of ISIS fighters invading Britain or the United States.

Everyone now knows that the documents and reasoning behind the 2003 war were lies and concoctions by the secret state on both sides of the Atlantic. But the Chilcot inquiry into how Britain was led to war is still not published, and is unlikely to see the light of day before the 2015 general election.
 
Western intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere has been an unmitigated disaster, leading only to further break-up of states. The barbarism showed by ISIS is a ruthless copy of what other more “civilised” states have done.

Hundreds of thousands were killed or displaced after the 2003 invasion. Saddam’s regime, like that of Assad, was previously backed by the West, even after he used chemical weapons on the Kurds and launched a bloody war on Iran. Torture was routine in prison camps after the 2003 invasion. Guantanamo is still open for business. And now the random cruelty of the drone is a totally risk-free, long-distance form of barbarism.

The world's ruling élites are selective when it comes down to it – our barbarism, good – their barbarism bad.

The notion that ISIS, which operates in a mobile, hi-tech fashion using all forms of social media and vast monies earned from kidnappings, can be wiped out by bombing campaigns is cloud-cuckoo land. In reality, it is an opportunity for the powerful military-industrial complex in the United States to push Obama ever further into military actions and deploy its latest technological arsenals.

So far, a major effect of the US bombing, for example in the Syrian city of Raqqa, has been civilian casualties and a massive stream of Syrians into neighbouring Turkey, where there is now a huge refugee crisis. These are in addition to the three million Syrian refugees, and 190,000 dead (UN estimates) since the conflict there began in 2011.

In Europe and America, the surveillance state is clamping down in a bid to justify the bombing. Today’s New York Times warns that the “potential for exaggerating the terrorism threat and overreaching with criminal laws that encourage the use of racial profiling to target some citizens, like Muslims, or persecution of adversaries is very real both in democracies and authoritarian regimes.”  

Huge police sweeps around Europe are already being used and abused to attack immigrants, asylum seekers and ordinary citizens. The hysteria is growing and we should stand up against it.

A World to Win editors
26 September 2014

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Your Say


Robbie says:

It is sad to see you supporting the imperialists Terry. I can understand you are sickened by the actions of ISIS but this doesn't make the imperialists a progressive force. If the imperialists wanted to stop executions they could start in their own backyard. Here's Amnesty Internationals Top 5 stats on executions for 2013: China: 1,000+, Iran: 369+, Iraq: 169+, Saudi Arabia: 79+, United States: 39. You might spot the allies against ISIS.

The idea that western imperialism brings some kind of franchisment that includes democratic rights is also off the mark. All the rights you mention were fought for by the working class and have to be continually fought for to preserve. Where they can they try to eliminate these rights. The top global corporations are viciously anti-trade union and I haven't noticed a burgeoning trade union movement in Iraq since the illegal invasion. Just millions of exiles and deaths. You also conveniently forget the extent to which your new-found friends were responsible for the growth of al-Quaeda and ISIS.

I would have liked to see support for the arming of the Kurds in the AWTW statement – they appear to be the only progressive force in the arena.


Loïc Barbarin says:

When the Financial Times publishes the 21 september that it is useless wanting to smash capitalism because climate change could sustain economic growth I wonder if we live in the 21 century or on another planet elsewhere in a different galaxy! Are they so reactionary that they are still applying failed recipes instead of using technology to re-develop democracy?!

War will always remain the cowards's option not of those with convictions.


Daud R Matthews says:

Well said, but why not a campaign to bring Blair to book for Treason in the UK or War Crimes?


Terry Button says:

I absolutely disagree. Your understanding of this war is based on a dogmatic application of past anti-war positions which were correct then but not now.

We must analyse the present, not live in the past. The nature of a war is determined by the regime that fights it. The imperialists will at least attempt to imposed their image of democratic capitalism wherever they conquer, because this is the most productive kind of society so far and from which they can expect to abstract the most profit. Workers will therefore have some rights, a vote, free speech, right to meet, trade unions, limited rights from which they can fight for their imancipation. And they will not be decapitated because they simply disagree!

An Islamic caliphate is also a capitalist system, based on the right of private property in the means of production and therefore wage labour, but absolutely no democracy, no trade unions, no political or human rights. Remember that there were strong trade unions and even a communist party in Iran before the revolution, but they were quickly crushed by the Islamic state.

Comparing the nature of the two sides in this war, we find that the Islamic side is reactionary and the imperialist side is comparatively progressive and we must support the imperialist side, justas Marx and Engels supported the wars which extended the French Revolution but opposed imperialist war.


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