A 'regime change' in Britain is the answer to war on Iraq
The preparations for the invasion and long-term occupation of Iraq are now well advanced in Washington and London. All that is required is a suitable trigger for Bush and Blair to activate their plans for the illegal overthrow of a foreign government, otherwise known as "regime change". By Paul Feldman, Socialist Future Editor
A pretext was created some time ago in the shape of "weapons of mass destruction". Any serious investigation shows that Iraq neither possesses such weapons nor poses a military threat to its neighbours. Experts have ridiculed claims that Iraq can build a nuclear device let alone deliver one to its target. It requires imagination of the wildest kind to believe that Iraq is a direct military threat to either the USA or Britain.
So we must conclude that the US-British invasion can proceed precisely because Iraq does not have the capacity to beat off any attack with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.
Far from providing a stumbling block to war as many had despairingly hoped, the United Nations is facilitating the Anglo-American plan by agreeing to a resolution which opens the door to a military attack if weapons inspectors find something to complain about. In exchange, Security Council members like Russia and France greedily anticipate a share of the spoils once a new regime is in place in Baghdad.
As the reasons given for a unilateral declaration of war and invasion do not hold water, we must investigate for ourselves the true objectives of the forthcoming Anglo-American military adventure in the Middle East. They are certainly not humanitarian concern for the plight of the Iraqi people, countless thousands of whom have died as a result of punitive UN sanctions.
The US and Britain have happily worked with Saddam in the past, supplying his regime weapons to fight Iran and saying nothing about the brutal repression of opponents and minorities within Iraq. So the character of the Iraqi regime is hardly the real motive for war.
What is apparent is that powerful economic and political forces are behind the drive to war. A growing energy crisis combined with the emergence of international economic slump makes war on Iraq a necessity rather than an option for Bush and Blair.
Britain's oil production is in decline, and has been since 1999. The nuclear energy industry is bankrupt and the European Union has ruled that New Labour cannot subsidise it. The world's oil reserves will, by some accounts, peak within five to 10 years.
In a report sponsored by the US Council on Foreign Relations and the Baker Institute for Public Policy, it is noted that "the world is currently precariously close to utilising all of its available global oil production capacity". The report warns that the shortages could reduce the US to that of "a poor developing country". It called on the White House to assume a "leadership role in the formation of new rules of the game".
Over the last two years the US government has indeed started to rewrite the rules. In particular, it has grabbed a large share of the Caspian Sea oil reserves and cut out Russia and Iran by piping it through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Afghanistan. There are similar strategic plans affecting the Middle East, West Africa as well as Central and South America. Iraq has the world's second largest oil reserves and is prone to turn the tap off and on when it wants. Gaining control of this vital resource through a pro-Western government is, therefore, a key objective in any invasion of Iraq.
Both New Labour and the Republican Party in America are united in one crucial mission. They believe that the main function of the modern state is to create the best possible conditions for the transnational corporations to operate in. This change in the role of the modern capitalist state from mediator between classes to facilitator for capitalism began in the Thatcher/Reagan era and finds its completed expression in the Bush and Blair governments.
They therefore are obliged to blaze the free market trail into regions and countries which as yet do not subscribe to the apparent virtues of global capitalism. This is made more urgent by the emerging economic slump and financial crisis. Market saturation is another incentive to incorporate Iraq forcibily in the world market on behalf of Nike, Exxon, Monsanto, Shell, Microsoft and the rest.
Add in the obvious inability of the White House to deal with the consequences of non-state based terrorist attacks like September 11 and it is not difficult to see why Iraq is the next in what is a long list of targets.
As the futile "war on terror" is submerged into a war for profit, with all the turmoil and upheaval that will bring at home and abroad, the burning issue is: how do we stop the Bush-Blair axis of evil in its tracks?
Hundreds of thousands have marched in protest against the war plans in Britain and around the world. Their hope was that governments would sit up and take notice and deal with Iraq in a more "rational" way through the UN. This, unfortunately, has made no impression on New Labour or Bush.
New Labour is not in any sense a traditional, reform-minded political party which has adopted right-wing policies. It is not even a party in the traditional sense but more like a managing agency that co-ordinates and facilitates the interests and values of capitalism. With the Tories in their death throes, New Labour now represents the ruling class and the global corporations that operate in Britain.
There is a marked reluctance on the "left" and the trade unions who founded the original Labour Party to accept this transformation, as Phil Sharpe explains in his article. The evidence piles up each day: private financing of public services, opting-out of NHS hospitals from state control, racist asylum policies, the jailing of MI5 whistle-blowers, the attacks on firefighters and other low-paid workers etc., etc., etc.
Yet still there are those who believe that pressure exerted through the unions can bring Old Labour back to life. This is the politics of the séance. Others, like the Socialist Workers Party, even think New Labour has deceived itself with the merits of global capitalism and would do better if it had the courage to break with the "American" way.
This one-sided superficial approach is typical of the political junk food that is in fact handed down to us by capitalism itself. Thus things are separated from the social and historical forces that gave rise to them in the first place. Reality is viewed as static rather than as a process, in which things actually stop being what they were and become their opposite. From Old Labour to New Labour and life to death are suitable examples.
The "enemy" is not Iraq, whose people have the right to determine their own future and be rid of Saddam. No, the threat to humanity comes from Bush and Blair and the regimes they govern. That is why the Movement for a Socialist Future believes it is time to go beyond protest and pressure and work for a "regime change" in Britain and America.
There are those who say this will let the Tories in (as if they were capable of governing anything). This restricts the struggle to the narrow confines of a parliamentary system that is increasingly discredited, judging by the falling turnouts.
Opposition to war is growing in every section of society. There are opportunities to demonstrate that the attack on Iraq is the action of an unsustainable economic and political system.
"Regime change" is not simply about a change of parliamentary scenery. It is more than about ridding ourselves of capitalist New Labour. The strategic objective has to become social control of economic and financial resources and the creation of new, truly democratic bodies for a new society. The trade unions opposed to Blair can play a key role by preparing to break with New Labour and launching a discussion about the shape of a new party. Bush and Blair have left us with no other choice.
This article first appeared in Socialist Future magazine Winter 2002