National Sections of the L5I:

Down with US and British aggression!

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On this page is the Joint Declaration on Iraq by the Fracción Trotskista (Estrategia Internacional); consisting of Partido de los Trabajadores por el Socialismo (Argentina), Liga de los Trabajadores por el Socialismo (Mexico) and Liga Obrera Trotskista (Chile), and the League for a Revolutionary Communist International; including Gruppe ArbeiterInnenstandpunkt (Austria), Gruppe Arbeitermacht (Germany), Arbetarmakt (Sweden), Irish Workers Group, Pouvoir Ouvrier (France), and the Workers Power groups of Australia, Britain and New Zealand-Aotearoa.

We appeal to revolutionary and anti-imperialist organisations around the world to co-sign this declaration and to struggle on its basis against imperialism’s economic blockade and threats of armed assault on the Iraqi people.
This version has been slightly edited for reasons of space. The statement was drafted before the UN deal was finalised with Iraq, but given the continued US military presence in the Gulf it retains all its relevance.

Once again the USA is moving its armed forces to the Gulf to force Saddam Hussein to surrender his country to UN (i.e. US) “inspection”. Its ally, Great Britain, has announced that it will stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the USA.

Bill Clinton and Tony Blair claim their actions are necessary because Saddam Hussein is “an evil dictator” who possesses “weapons of mass destruction”. This is a sheer hypocrisy from powers which themselves have vast stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and have actually used them at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, through Vietnam, to the Gulf War in 1991.

Just as cynical is the argument that Iraq must be bombed because Saddam Hussein is a dictator. What about the absolutist monarchies of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states that hold the oil fields for the Western oil companies? What of Israel, which is widely known to have nuclear, chemical and biological weapons? No one suggests inspecting them or submitting them to economic embargoes, let alone bombing their countries “back into the Middle Ages”.

Already the economic blockade of the last five years has led – according to the UN ‘s own admission – to the deaths of half a million Iraqi children under five as a result of the lack of medicines and basic hospital provision. What was once one of the most advanced semi-colonial countries has been reduced to dire poverty.

The fundamental reason for US aggression is the need for Washington to buttress the world imperialist order. It regards the oil fields of the Middle East as its property. It will only entrust them to proven puppets and gendarmes like the Saudi or Kuwaiti dynasties. On a broader scale it is setting an example to all oppressed semi-colonial peoples, who are being subjected to the dictates of the IMF and World Bank, that they must submit to austerity programmes and open up their economies to the US, European and Japanese multinationals.

In the face of the recent economic and financial crisis which has already laid low many South-East Asian countries, the imperialist powers are trying to prevent the emergence of any resistance to austerity measures. Saddam Hussein is a whipping boy, used to demonstrate the fate that awaits any government thinking of demanding a moratorium on the foreign debt or other measures to resist imperialist domination, however weak they may be.

US isolation
In contrast to the events of 1991 during the Gulf War, the USA is today considerably more isolated. This demonstrates – as did the war in Bosnia – that there are mounting tensions within the imperialist camp. US world domination, which seemed total in 1991 after its Gulf War victory and the collapse of the USSR, is coming under ever greater strain.

US plans to bomb Iraq are being resisted both by the European imperialist powers (with the exception of Britain), by Russia and even by some of the pro-imperialist governments of the Middle East. France, Germany and Russia have their own interests in the Middle East which they do not want to see threatened by a mass upsurge of anti-imperialist protest.

However, even though these powers (along with China) opposed military action by the US, they support the UN embargo and want to use diplomatic measures to force Saddam to accede to the outrageous demands of the US. Arab governments such as Egypt desperately fear an uprising by their own people against the US bombing which would threaten their links with imperialism.

The diplomatic and supposedly “peaceful” solution that all these powers propose obliges Saddam Hussein to accept the UN resolutions. They defend the same measures that are bringing hunger and misery to the Iraqi masses as a result of the blockade that has been going on now for seven years, enforced by US troop presence in the Gulf.

Peace process
At the same time the “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians is at an impasse due to the intransigence of the Netanyahu government. If the USA is obliged to act as the “world policeman” with only the support of Britain it could face a fiasco. It is in the interests of progressive and working class forces world-wide to use this situation to launch a renewed offensive throughout the Middle East against the imperialist powers and their Israeli gendarme.

The Palestinian masses in particular have demonstrated their solidarity with Iraq, not out of love for the dictator Saddam Hussein, but in the firm knowledge that the Iraqi and Palestinian people face the same enemies: US imperialism and the racist Zionist settler state. Mass mobilisations against any war on Iraq must also direct themselves against the maintenance of the Zionist state and its brutal denial of the national rights of the Palestinians, extending mass resistance to imperialism into a new Intifada across the region, opening the perspective of an end to the Balkanisation of the Middle East and the goal of a Socialist Federation.

Faced with an imperialist military attack on Iraq, the working class movement and all consistent democrats must stand unconditionally for the defeat of US and British imperialism and their armed forces. The same people who would attack Iraq are those who oppress the masses of the backward countries. Clinton defends the banks which year after year extract billions of dollars through repayments of foreign debt, interest and other mechanisms of exploitation. He also defends the interests of the great US oil multinationals that make billions by sucking natural resources out of the semi-colonial nations.

Clinton and Blair are no friends of the North American or British workers, despite the fact that their trade unions gave millions to elect them. Both are planning assaults on social welfare provisions for the working class and the urban poor. It is not for one minute in the interests of the workers of the USA or Britain that “their” armies should be victorious in the Gulf.

For these reasons the exploited of the whole world must be unconditionally in the Iraqi camp against the imperialist aggression. This is not because we give the slightest political support to the regime of Saddam Hussein, which has brutally massacred the Kurdish minority, and imposes a fierce repression against the Iraqi people, off loading the costs of the embargo on to them. But the task of overthrowing Saddam is the task of the Iraqi and Kurdish people.

Military reverses for the US and British, the forced withdrawal of the US forces, their manifest failure to bring Iraq to its knees would raise the confidence and fighting spirit of the masses throughout the region. Military victory could also of course strengthen Saddam’s prestige in the short term, although his defeat in 1991 did not prevent imperialism from keeping him in power in the face of internal rebellion.

IMF dictatorship
Far more importantly, it would encourage the masses of the Middle East and the whole semi-colonial world to stand up to the IMF. This would do more than anything else to hasten the overthrow of dictators like Saddam across the Middle East and indeed around the world. The humbling of Clinton and Blair would weaken their attacks at home and strengthen a militant working class fightback.

Bonapartist dictators like Saddam Hussein cannot lead a consistent struggle against imperialism. Saddam himself is merely a gendarme of imperialism turned rogue. He served his former US masters loyally for a decade or more by attacking Iran, in which period he was armed to the teeth and funded by the West. Only the implacable US blockade has closed the way to a compromise. After the seizure of Kuwait the USA does not trust him and seeks another general in power in Baghdad.

But, as they showed at the end of the first Gulf War, the USA fears a revolutionary uprising of the masses and the free exercise of self-determination by the Kurds far more than the continued rule of Saddam. They wish to preserve a military dictatorship in Iraq but one which will act for the USA and the huge oil companies.

The total expulsion of imperialist forces from the Middle East can only be achieved with the mobilisation and independent organisation of the masses, who have shown time and again their willingness to confront the USA and Britain.

The smaller imperialist powers of Europe, which are protesting against a US attack, cannot be relied upon for one minute. Nor can Yeltsin’s Russia, which is only pursuing its own geo-strategic interests, hoping to recover the influence which the Soviet Union once possessed in the area. Nor should the masses of the Middle East place their trust in their own governments–Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Syria or Jordan– which have proven their servility to imperialism time and time again.

Mass action
Today it is essential to put a brake on US aggression and develop the broadest possible anti-imperialist mobilisation. It is necessary to mobilise mass action for the withdrawal of all the imperialist troops stationed in the Gulf and the Middle East, for the withdrawal of the UN “inspectors” and for the total lifting of all the economic sanctions that have strangled the Iraqi people.

In semi-colonial countries like Argentina, which have military forces capable of joining the US war effort, we must demand that neither the country’s troops nor its ships are sent to the Gulf, as happened in the 1991 Gulf War. Once more the Menem government is showing its servility to its US boss, declaring itself ready ,in virtue of its status as an “extra-Nato ally”, to send “logistical support” for the US military adventure.

In countries like Britain, with Labour or Social Democratic governments we must relentlessly expose their imperialist character , fight in the workers’ movement to rouse the rank and file of the reformist parties and the trade unions to denounce their leaders, call them to account and if possible oust them. We should call on the Labour or Social Democratic MPs to speak openly against the war, vote against its approval and all war credits in parliament and raise the call openly for mass resistance on the streets.

We call on all workers’ organisations, student unions, human rights groups, left wing parties and declared opponents of imperialism to push now for a common campaign in defence of the Iraqi people against imperialist aggression. We should aim to mobilise huge demonstrations against the war and imperialism.

• Down with US and UK imperialist aggression against Iraq.
• Halt the war preparations against Iraq now.
• All UN inspectors out of Iraq.
• Down with the UN imposed blockade.
• Lift All Sanctions.
• For the victory of Iraqi forces in the event of imperialist attack.
• Self-determination for the Palestinian and Kurdish peoples.
• Defend Iraq against US and UK attack.
• Imperialist troops out of the Gulf and the Middle East!

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