Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The guilty , the SPGB accuse

"Foreign Secretary David Miliband Foreign Secretary David Miliband has conceded that the Iraq war inquiry would be able to apportion blame for what happened "

How very generous of him , indeed !!

But regardless of the findings of this inquiry , the Socialist Party know full well where the blame for the war should be directed - the capitalist system itself and its inherent and vicious competition for profits . Capitalism is a war-prone society in that built into it is perpetual conflict between rival states over markets, raw material sources, trade routes and investment outlets, for the profit-seeking capitalist corporations they exist to protect. You can't have capitalism without wars, the threat of war and preparations for war. Capitalism means war and that therefore to get rid of wars and the threat of wars you have got to get rid of capitalism. War is not a freak of history, nor an accident of policy. Rather it is the continuation of business competition by other means. It is plain that the invasion of Iraq was essentially caused by Western capitalism's desire to control that country's oil supplies.

Under the UN Charter, states have to find a legal pretext before going to war. The pretext that the governments of America and Britain, acting on behalf of their capitalist class, found for going to war against Iraq last year was that the Iraqi state possessed “weapons of mass destruction” that were an immediate threat to America and Britain’s allies and military bases in the Middle East.It has now turned out that this was a bad choice of pretext as recent official reports in both countries are admitting that the intelligence reports about this were wrong: Iraq did not possess such weapons. We hold no brief for the “intelligence” services but it does seem a little unfair to blame them for telling their political masters what they wanted to hear.

Bush and Blair could be charged with war crimes for going to war without a proper legal basis as well as for murdering and torturing Iraqi prisoners of war. But that’s not going to happen, of course. The various enquiries into the events leading up to the Iraq war keep showing up more of the dubious ways the government tried to get voters' support for a war which was launched in defiance of their own international law and the United Nations. But however much Blair's back is to the wall, he can (and does) always make the excuse that even if the actions of Britain and America are not justified in any other way, the regime of Saddam Hussein was so terrible that no one can be sorry that Bush and Blair sent their armies in and threw him out. Almost all wars can be justified by pointing out how bad the other side is. All capitalist governments do unpleasant things: that is the inescapable nature of capitalism. So whenever two capitalist powers go to war, each can make a strong case against the other, by alleging how shocked they are about all the repulsive things the enemy has done.

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 swallows 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 capitalist 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.

Blair let the British media put it about that Iraq had missiles that could be filled with lethal germs and sent to rain down on British troops in Cyprus . It turned out that this claim about missiles was untrue yet whether or not Blair and his ministers knew it was untrue , or whether or not Blair “took Britain into war” on the basis of false or falsified information , is all a side-show. It was not missiles of mass destruction that was at issue in the war, but oil. In fact, all the fuss about the (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction was a diversion from the real reason why America and Britain attacked Iraq. Lord Hutton never even mentioned the word “oil” once.
In this sense it is irrelevant whether the information supplied and given out about weapons of mass destruction was accurate or not. This was just the reason invoked to be seen to be complying with the UN Charter. It was not the real reason for the war. Of course when you don’t tell the truth there’s always a strong risk that you’ll be found out. Blair has been caught out .

The lesson of all this is that wars are fought today over economic matters such as sources of raw materials, trade routes, markets and investment outlets, and strategic points to protect these. Since competition over these is built into capitalism, so is war. But, in order to get popular support for a war, governments have to come up, these days, with plausible “humanitarian” and “democratic” reasons. Socialists say: don’t be taken in by such propaganda. As long as capitalism lasts there will be wars, threats of war and preparations for war as well as government lies about the reasons for going to war. The fact is that the foreign policy of capitalist States isn’t, and can’t be, based on “ethical” considerations. It is based on what the old 19th imperialist Lord Palmerston called “interests” and what his counterparts on the Continent, Metternich and Bismarck, called “Realpolitik”. The UN Charter is just a scrap of paper. All it has done is forced governments to be even more dishonest about the reasons they go to war.

Wars and preparations for war mean destruction and waste in a world that is capable of providing enough to provide every man, woman and child on the planet with decent food, clothing, housing, health care, education and all the other amenities of life. But this is not going to happen within the framework of capitalism, with its class ownership and production for profit. It is only going to be possible within the framework of world socialism, where the Earth’s resources will have become the common heritage of all humanity, to be used, under democratic control, to provide for the needs of all.

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