The blind alley of crude anti-Americanism
It is proving far easier for the United States and Britain to overthrow the Saddam Hussein regime than to impose their political will on the Iraqi people. The invasion and subsequent destruction of the Ba'ath regime has created a revolutionary fervour that the US-led occupation forces cannot hope to control.
Massive demonstrations in Baghdad, Nasiriya and Najaf have demanded that the US and British troops leave without delay and allow the Iraqi people to determine their own future. Some are demanding the creation of an Islamic Republic. Meanwhile, in the Kurdish-dominated north, the demand for autonomy within a federated Iraq by existing political forces makes it even more difficult for Washington and London to have their way.
This is not the agenda of Bush and Blair, whose illegal invasion and regime change was supposed to lead to a Western-style "democracy". The Anglo-US plan for "democracy" delivered at the point of a gun consists of this: US and British corporations are given large contracts to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure. The money for this will come from the sale of Iraq's oil.
Then the giant oil corporations will move in and start to exploit Iraq's reserves, which are to be privatised by an "interim government" made up of compliant stooges. The country will then become part of the world market and forced by the International Monetary Fund to abandon such things as free state education and food subsidies.
That is why the US forces protected the oil ministry and ignored the looting of the antiquities museum in Baghdad and the burning of Iraq's national library with their historic and irreplaceable collections. Traditions and culture mean little to men like Rumsfeld and Hoon or to their partner corporations bent on exploitation of resources and markets.
These are the main objectives of the invasion. All other reasons given have fallen by the wayside and were obviously lies from the beginning. For example, Iraq was said to be a military threat to its neighbours. The demoralised state of the Iraqi army, not to mention its outdated equipment, shows that Saddam's forces were not a danger to the region.
As to the so-called weapons of mass destruction, the only ones seen so far were made in the US and Britain and dropped on Iraqi soldiers and civilians as cluster bombs and cruise missiles. No wonder that Hans Blix, the UN chief weapons inspector, has described the evidence for attacking Iraq as "very, very shaky". Blix's team is not being allowed back into Iraq to verify any weapons finds.
What the attack on Iraq has demonstrated more clearly than ever is that the institutions of political rule in the major capitalist countries, but especially in London and Washington, are unrepresentative and undemocratic. They openly express the will of the economic elites and cynically disregard the aspirations and wishes of ordinary working people.
Parliament is lied to on a consistent basis, while those like George Galloway who criticise too strongly are witch-hunted and pilloried. New Labour is seen as a regime favouring the rich and powerful. Friends of Downing Street win contracts and favours, while asylum seekers are demonised and deprived of their human rights, teachers are made redundant and firefighters denied a living wage.
Bush and Blair are equally prepared to see the United Nations sidelined and undermined as part of their project of extending free market capitalism to new regions. The UN no longer correspond to the dictates and demands of corporate-led globalisation, which has now entered an indefinite period of war. So it is shunted aside, in the same way as Parliament and Congress are.
It is a mistake to view the occupation of Iraq as some exercise of "American power" pure and simple, ignoring the corporations that are at the heart of this project. Yet the swift defeat of Saddam's demoralised, ill-equipped and poorly-led forces has driven some critics of global capitalism into despair and a crude anti-Americanism.
This is the error that George Monbiot, the anti-capitalist campaigner and writer has made. Writing in The Guardian, he says: "The problem is that one nation, effectively unchecked by any other, can, if it chooses, now determine how the rest of the world will live. Eventually, unless we stop it, it will use this power. So far, it has merely tested its new muscles.
"The presidential elections next year might prevent an immediate entanglement with another nation, but there is little doubt about the scope of the US government's ambitions. Already, it has begun to execute a slow but comprehensive coup against the international order, destroying or undermining the institutions that might have sought to restrain it."
He adds: "America's threat to the peace and stability of the rest of the world is likely to persist, whether George Bush wins the next election or not. The critical question is how we stop it." Ruling out military force or economic boycotts, Monbiot rapidly descends into the land of economic and political fantasy. He points out that the US economy is dependent on other countries holding and buying dollars. This enables the American government to fund a massive budget deficit.
Monbiot's cunning strategy is to undermine the dollar as a reserve currency. When this happens, "the US economy, followed rapidly by US power, could then be expected to falter or collapse". And how is it going to happen? By backing the euro as an alternative! Seriously, Monbiot argues that if all the members of the European Union support the euro, it will begin to "look like a more stable and more attractive investment than the dollar". And if oil producers adopted the euro, the end would be in sight for the dollar.
Monbiot acknowledges that his co-thinkers have argued that the euro, "accelerates the concentration of economic and political power, reduces people's ability to influence monetary policy and threatens employment in the poorest nations and regions". Now is the time to abandon this point of view, says Monbiot. "To defend our sovereignty - and that of the rest of the world - from the US, we must yield some of our sovereignty to Europe… Those of us who are concerned about American power must abandon our opposition to the euro."
This is desperate stuff. We are asked to oppose "American power" by joining a campaign to bolster European capitalism at the expense of American capitalism by way of everyone signing up to the euro. Supporting one capitalist set-up against another is reactionary and nothing less than chauvinism. It ignores the fact that Bush stole the White House and is opposed by millions of Americans.
In reality, global capitalism as a system is in crisis for a variety of reasons. Both Europe and America have failing economies. That is why we have entered a period of capitalist - not American - war. The United States is the only country with the military power to lead the campaign to drag countries like Iraq into the world market and open up new areas for capital investment by the corporations.
Countless millions around the world opposed the invasion of Iraq. The Iraqi people themselves clearly want the swift end of the military occupation. Our common enemy is not "America" but the corporations that the Bush and Blair governments speak for alongside the corrupt political institutions that pass for democracy. We should reject nationalist, anti-Americanism and campaign instead for a new political and economic democracy based on the power of the majority.
for a Socialist Future