Solidarity 3/12, 12 September 2002
US strategists evidently believe that they are "on a roll", and should seize the chance to tidy up another problem. With enough "smart bombs", they can crush Saddam's regime quickly, set up an alternative, and then withdraw. Rhodri Evans surveys the background.
The US administration wants to go to war against Iraq. Not only socialists and radicals in the USA and worldwide, but also large sections of the US ruling class and of the USA's usual bourgeois allies worldwide, think this is folly.
At small cost the US strategists will have secured the end of the malodorous and ineffective UN sanctions against Iraq, established a reliable government over one of the world's major oil powers, and stabilised a crucial region.
Even if we thought that the gung-ho US strategists were calculating correctly, socialists could not support such plans. The overthrow of Saddam is for the people of Iraq to do, not for the US to impose on Iraq at inescapably large cost of Iraqi civilian and conscript life.
On the Iraqi side the record makes it impossible to see the "policy" which Iraq's course towards war "continues" as essentially one of defence of its political independence and rights.
Since the 1970s, at least, Iraq's state policy has been essentially about trying to establish itself as a regional big power - a "sub-imperialist" centre. To do so it has repeatedly repressed smaller peoples - the Kurds, the population of Kuwait - and made war against its neighbours.
Its policy towards Israel represents the worst Arab chauvinism, mitigated only by distance. The state's rule of fear against its own people goes hand in hand with its reactionary external policy.
When we campaign against the threat of US war on Iraq, therefore, we should not do so in any way that implies credence to or support for Saddam Hussein's "anti-imperialist" claims. Cheap agitation such as that which declares Bush and Sharon to be "the real axis of evil" and the "real terrorists" should be rejected. Whatever about Bush's hypocrisy, Saddam's regime is "really" as evil and as terrorist as any on earth. We oppose the US war plans, not in the name of support for the Iraqi regime, but in the name of international democracy and working-class solidarity.
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