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NO TO IMPERIALIST WAR!
No one can be in any doubt that the Irish government voted for war at the United Nations on the 8th of November. The ‘serious consequences’ to Iraq threatened in the resolution is a threat of war; soon to become reality on the flimsiest pretext. An impoverished and war-devastated country is to be subject to an inhuman and barbaric onslaught that will kill tens of thousands of innocent people. A war with not a shred of moral or political justification has been sanctioned by the Irish State.
The UN resolution presents Iraq with an impossible list of demands to satisfy, while claims to innocence are held up only as evidence of guilt. It allows the United States to commence hostilities without hindrance at a time of its choosing. There can now be no doubt that the UN is not an obstacle to war but the means of justifying it.
This decision of the Irish government flies in the face of the express wishes of the Irish people who, in large majority, have recorded their complete opposition to the war – even if it has UN authorisation. Unlike the war against Serbia or Afghanistan where refugees and terrorism provided an excuse that many were prepared to accept, this war is seen as indefensible.
The arrogant and threatening conduct of the US superpower, personified in the ignorant and inarticulate figure of George Bush, has been too sharp and extreme to persuade any honest person of good intentions. The smug and deceitful hypocrisy of Tony Blair is incapable of altering this, nor is the dissembling waffle of our own Taoiseach whose craven forelock tugging perfectly reflects the pathetic dependence of the Irish State on US power.
Unlike previous campaigns therefore we do not face the uphill task of convincing the majority of Irish people that this war cannot be supported. Many are already convinced that the real object of war is oil and access by the US to the world’s second largest reserves. Our task is to turn this into the possibility and necessity of opposition.
Our task is to convince workers that this war requires not just moral revulsion but political opposition. Our task is to draw out the logic and inevitable consequences of knowing that this is a war of plunder for resources, which pits a superpower in competition with other advanced and militarily powerful states such as Germany and France against a poor and already devastated country. Saying it is a war for oil only begins the argument we must make. Only one description fits what is happening: this is an imperialist war and it requires an anti-imperialist opposition.
Unlike previous wars there can be no pretence that the UN represents any sort of alternative. It has been exposed as merely a means to justify the war. The bribery, corruption and threats that flow through the UN like blood through veins in a body show that there will be no consistent opposition to the war from it or any member state. Only working people from this country and from around the world can oppose it and have nothing to gain from a scramble for oil and territory. For us war will mean increased militarisation, rising arms budgets and cuts in welfare spending. For more and more countries it will mean humiliation and death.
This is not rhetoric. In many ways George Bush has been up-front in his plans. He promises an indefinite war against ‘terrorism’ in which terrorism is defined in any way that suits his purpose. His new security doctrine demands pre-emptive war against anyone who is, or might possibly become, a rival to US power. This means his target is not just the third world but must include Europe. The action against Iraq, and before that Afghanistan, demonstrates that war has now become an immediate and favoured policy of the US and Britain.
It is not possible to believe that a simple demand for peace can be an effective response to this eruption of imperialist war. The drive for US supremacy is not accidental but flows from deep economic problems that have been revealed through falling stock markets and massive frauds such as Enron. A policy of war is always the result of fundamental domestic crises, today arising from the inability of the world capitalist economy to shake off recession despite the strategy of globalisation.
The anti-war movement that is necessary must welcome everyone opposed to this war; but it must not fail to explain why it is threatened; what interests it expresses and whose interests it promotes; who will and how it must be opposed.
The anti–war movement can only explain the reasons for this war and the inevitability of many future wars through an anti-imperialist argument. Simple slogans are not enough. We must have confidence in our ability to explain to Irish workers that this is an imperialist war and that it is their vital interests to oppose it.
An imperialist war demands an anti-imperialist
opposition based on international socialism.