This Material was FIRST PUBLISHED by:
COMPASS - Journal of The
COMMUNIST LEAGUE (UK) No. 83, February 1991.



Then was re-printed by ALLIANCE MARXIST-LENINIST as a part of:
ALLIANCE ISSUE Number 2; "The Gulf War - The USA Imperialists Bid To Recapture World Supremacy";
April 1992; First placed on web October 2001.



Continuation of Alliance Issue Number 2 (For Table of Contents and First Part got : Alliance 2)

 IMPERIALISM LAUNCHES ITS WAR CompassNo. 83; February 1991

IT IS BARELY A YEAR SINCE WE WERE TOLD BY OFFICIAL PROPAGANDISTS THAT THE LIQUIDATION OF SOCIALISM IN EASTERN EUROPE HAD OPENED A NEW ERA OF WORLD PEACE AND HARMONY.

Marxist-Leninists replied that thi's was a false picture, THAT IT WAS NOT SOCIALISM, BUT IMPERIALISM - MONOPOLY CAPITALISM -- WHICH WAS THE CAUSE OF WAR IN THE PRESENT ERA AND THAT WAR WAS INEVITABLE AS LONG AS IMPERIALISM WAS PERMITTED TO EXIST.

    And indeed the 'New World Order' promised by US President George Bush,
with its recession, racism, unemployment and war, looks much like the old world order of capitalism in decay.

ON 16 JANUARY 1991, THE ANGLO-AMERICAN IMPERIALISTS, BACKED BY THE IMPERIALISTS OF THE REST OF THE WORLD AND THEIR PUPPETS, LAUNCHED THEIR LONG THREATENED WAR AGAINST IRAQ.

The Character of the War

Marxist-Leninists understand that the character of a war is not determined by who fires the first shot, as Lenin pointed out:

"Persia against Russia, etc.' These would be just and defensive wars, irrespective of who would be the first to attack".
(V. I. Lenin: 'A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism', in: 'Collective Works', Volume 23; Moscow; 1964; p. 31).

    What determines the character of a war is whether it tends to help forward or hold back the development of society; some wars, despite the horrors necessarily associated with them, have a progressive character and so are characterised as just wars:

"We Marxists differ from both pacifists and anarchists in that we recognise the necessity of a historical study of each war individually, from the point of view of Marx's dialdttical materialism. There have been many wars in history which, notwithstanding all the horrors, cruelties, miseries and tortures inevitably connected with every war, had a progressive character, i.e., served the development of mankind, aiding in the destruction of extremely pernicious and reactionary institutions".
(V. I. Lenin: 'Socialism and War'; London; 1942; p. 9).

"For a Marxist clarifying the nature of the war is a necessary preliminary for deciding the question of his attitude to it. But for such a clarification it is essential, first and foremost, to establish the objective conditions and concrete circumstances of the war in question. It is necessary to consider the war in the historical environment in which it is taking place; only then can one determine one's attitude to it. . . .
Only by examining this war in its distinctive historical environment, as a Marxist must do, only then can we clarify our attitude to it".
(V. I. Lenin: 'The Proletariat and the War', in 'Collected Works', Volume 30; Moscow; 1966; p. 297,299).

    The present era is one where the world is dominated by imperialism, that is, monopoly capitalism. Consequently, when a non-imperialist state is involved in war with an imperialist state that war is a just war on the part of the non-imperialist state because its war effort tends to weaken world imperialism, and an unjust war on the part of the imperialist state because its war effort tends to strengthen world imperialism::

"Persia against Russia, 'etc.' . . . These would be just and defensive wars, irrespective of who would be the first to attack; any socialist would wish the oppressed, dependent and unequal states victory over the oppressor, slaveholding and predatory 'Great' Powers".
(V. I. Lenin: 'A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism', in: 'Collected Works', Volume 23; Moscow; 1964; p. 31).

"The struggle that the Emir of Afghanistan is waging for the independence of Afghanistan is objectively a revolutionary struggle, despite the monarchist views of the Emir and his associates, for it weakens, disintegrates and undermines imperialism. . . . For the same reasons, the struggle that the Egyptian merchants and bourgeois intellectuals are waging for the independence of Egypt is objectively a revolutionary struggle, despite the bourgeois origin and bourgeois title of the leaders of the Egyptian national movement, despite the fact that they are opposed to socialism. . . . There is no need to mention the national movement in other, larger colonial and dependent countries, such as India and China, every step of which along the road to liberation, even if it runs counter to the demands of formal democracy, is a steamhammer blow at imperialism, i.e., is undoubtedly a revolutionary step.
Lenin was right in saying that the national movement of the oppressed countries should be appraised not from the point of view of formal democracy, but from the point of view of the actual results, as shown by the general balance sheet of the struggle against imperialism, that is to say, not in isolation, but on a world scale".
(J. V. Stalin: 'The Foundations of Leninism', in: 'Works', Volume 6; Moscow; 1953; p. 148-49).

    Thus, despite the fact that Iraq is a capitalist state, despite its barbarous record in the treatment its working people, especially those of Kurdish extraction, since Iraq is a non-imperialist state at war with imperialist states, it is waging a just war because its war effort has the effect of weakening world imperialism.

The Changing Aims

    Following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the initial aims of Anglo-American action were stated to be:

1) the defence of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States from similar invasion;
2) the imposition of sanctions -- 'useless' and so 'inapplicable' in the case of South Africa - with the aim of forcing Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait.

    Several, weeks before the outbreak of war the director of the Central Intelligence Agency testified before the US Congress that sanctions had then reduced Iraqi exports by 97% and imports by 90%.

    But in November the aims of the Anglo-American action were changed.

    Sanctions were working "too slowly", since they had not yet brought about an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. So the Iraqi forces were given an ultimatum: either withdraw from Kuwait by 15 January 1991 or face being driven out of Kuwait by 'overwhelming force'.

    Now, in the last few days, the aims are being changed again. It will not be sufficient to drive the Iraqi forces from Kuwait; they must be destroyed:

"The widening war aims of the US were made clear in the first hours of the conflict, when President Bush told the nation that Iraq's chemical and nuclear warfare potential would-be destroyed. This targeting of Iraq's strategic potential emerged as a crucial American objective. But last Sunday, the US Defence Secretary, Dick Cheney, gave an interview on NBC which went still further to include Iraq's huge conventional military forces".
('Guardian', 23 January 1991' p. 3).

The Cost

    The cost of this unjust war in human lives is incalculable, and had brought about an environmental disaster in the Gulf even before any ground war had commenced:
    But even the cost in money in the first week of the war was prodigious. 'The Guardian' points out that the 216 Tomahawk missiles fired up to 19 January (cost Pounds Sterling PS 280 million) would meet the entire overseas budget of 'Save the Children' for the current year, and the five Tornadoes lost to 23 January (cost PS 105 million) would be enough to feed all the 20 million people likely to starve in Africa this year for one month.

A Blitzkrieg from the Air?

    When 'Operation Desert Storm' was launched, we were told by Anglo-American 'military experts' that intensive aerial bombardment alone could destroy the Iraqi war machine with the need for little or no ground fighting.

    But on the fifth day of the operation

"military sources in London said that after more than 8,000 sorties by allied aircraft, only 39 Iraqi aircraft had been officially described as 'destroyed"'.
('Times', 22 January 1991; p. 1).

    As Michael Evans, the Defence Correspondent of 'The Times', writes:

"The real war has not yet started. The land battle to come will be a much bloodier and more intimate form of war".
('Times', 22 January 1991; p. 2).

A War against Aggression?

    We are told that the Anglo-American war is a war "against Iraq's aggression against Kuwait".

    It is true that the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was technically an act of aggression. But it must be remembered, as we have pointed out in a previous issue of COMbat, that the Iraqi government was assured by the American Ambassador in Baghdad - April Glaspie - that America had "no interest" in the frontier dispute between Iraq and Kuwait; in other words, Iraq was 'set up' by the US imperialists to provide a pretext for war against it. It must also be remembered that the frontier between Iraq and Kuwait was not a border between nations, but an artificial line drawn by the British imperialists in order to foster divisions between the Arab peoples of the region and facilitate their foreign domination.

    David Omissi, of Nuffield College, Oxford, recounts how the British imperialists created Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia:

"When the tribesmen of the Euphrates rose in rebellion against British rule in the summer of 1920, the British army used gas shells 'with excellent moral effect' -- in the fighting which followed. . .
The British then created a client kingdom under Faisal ibn Hussain, the son of the Sharif of Mecca".
('Guardian', 19 January 1991; p. 27).

    So, the border between Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia was arbitarily drawn by Sir Percy Cox, the British High Commissioner in Baghdad. Harold Dickson, the British military attache in the region, relates how it was done:

"It was astonishing to see the Sultan of Najd (Ibn Saud -- Ed.) being reprimanded like a naughty schoolboy and being told sharply that he, Sir Percy Cox, would himself decide on the type and general line of the frontier. This ended the impasse. Ibn Saud almost broke down and pathetically remarked that Sir Percy was his father and mother who made him and raised him from nothing to the position he held and that he would surrender half his kingdom, nay the whole, if Sir Percy ordered".
(H. R. P. Dickson: 'Kuwait ands her Neighbours'; London; 1956; p. 274).

    The invasions of Grenada and Panama were much more blatant acts of aggression than the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, but they were carried out by the US imperialists and so were "morally acceptable".

    Clearly, the claim that the war in the Gulf is a war "against aggression" is sheer hypocrisy.

A War for Democracy?

    We are told that the Anglo-American war is a war 'for democracy'!

    But one of its declared aims is to restore the "legitimate" rulers of Kuwait, the corrupt dictatorial puppet regime of the al-Sabbahs. Under this regime political parties were banned, as were public meetings of more than 20 people. Only 60,000 of Kuwait's 1.9 million people -- and not one woman -were allowed to vote. Three-fifths of its adult population were not Kuwaiti citizens, but "guest workers", prohibited from owning a home and from joining a union. The Emir could -- and often did -- dissolve the National Assembly at will as he did in 1986 after its members complained that his family had not paid any electricity or telephone bill for years.

    Clearly, the claim that the war in the Gulf is a war "for democracy" is sheer hypocrisy.

A War to Destroy a New Hitler?

    We are told that the Anglo-American war is "to destroy a new Hitler".

    Certainly the Iraqi government has used torture and murder against its people -- with particular barbarity against the Kurds. But so have many of the British-backed regimes in the Arabian peninsula, not to mention US-backed regimes in Latin America and French-backed regimes in Central Africa.

    But Iraq, unlike Hitlerite Germany, is a minor power, incapable of dominating the world or even a considerable part of it. It offers at most a challenge to the oil sheiks and the Western oil companies of the Middle East.

    Clearly, the claim that the war in the Gulf is a war "to destroy a new Hitler" is sheer hypocrisy.

A United Nations War?

    We are told that the "Anglo-American war is a "United Nations police action", and it is true that, as a result of intensive arm-twisting and bribery on the part of the US imperialists, the majority of member states of the UN were persuaded to give a vague endorsement to the use of "any means" to enforce an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait.

    Nevertheless, interviewed on the BBC World Service a few days after the outbreak of war, Secretary-General of the United Nations Perez de Cuellar admitted that the war was not a United Nations operation since it was not being conducted under the direction of the UN Security Council.

    Article 42 of the UN Charter certainly authorises the Security Council to apply military sanctions, but it must be read in conjunction with Article 46 which states that:

"Plans for the application of military force shall be made by the Security Council with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee".
(UN Charter, Article 46, in: 'Yearbook of the United Nations, 1985', Volume 39; Dordrecht; 1989; p. 1,383).

    The US government refused to hand over the direction of its war to an outside body, so that the UN merely functions as a cloak to give the imperialists' war a fig-leaf of respectability. It has to be noted that when UN resolutions are adopted which conflict with US interests -- as those
denouncing Israeli aggression, as those denouncing US intervention in Nicaragua and Panama - they are ignored.

    Clearly, the claim that the war is a "United Nations" war is sheer hypocrisy.

The Outcome

    It not physically possible for the Iraqis to inflict a military defeat upon the United States.

    But - short of a military coup within Iraq -- it will be a very difficult for the Anglo-American forces to inflict a military defeat upon Iraq.

    Victory for Iraq depends on popular forces throughout the world stopping the Anglo-American war.
 
    Already, before any ground war with its enormous casualties has really begun, a world movement of opposition to against the Anglo-American war has begun to build up.

    Among the Palestinians, in particular,

"The Iraqi leader has become a hero in towns such as Ramallah when he invaded Kuwait and challenged the West, cynically but loudly, to apply to Palestine the same standard it demanded to be observed over the wealthy Gulf emirate.
Even those who knew his appalling record on human rights applauded him. Slogans praising him scar the walls and every Arabic newspaper has poems extolling his might".
('Guardian', 23 January 1991; p. 3).

    Listeners to the BBC World Service:

"to the great embarrassment of the corporation, have voted him (Saddam Hussein -- Ed,) 'Man of the Year"'.
('Observer', 6 January 1991; p. 1).

    The movement against the Anglo-American war in the Gulf is growing deeper and wider day by day.

    For example, on 23 January, at an Angelus in St. Peter's Square in Rome, the Pope expressed outspoken opposition to the Gulf War.

    On 29 January the French Minister of Defence, Jean-Pierre Chevenement, resigned, after saying that the Anglo-American war effort was going beyond the sphere of the UN resolutions:

"Mr. Chevenement is expected to join the peace movement".
('Guardian', 30 January 1991; p. 3).

    On 30 January Rear-Admiral Mario Buracchia, head of Italy's naval forces in the Gulf, resigned after being quoted in a magazine interview as saying that war with Iraq could have been avoided.

    The movement against the Vietnam War began as a very small movement. Yet in the end it played a decisive role in forcing the US to pull out of Vietnam.

IT IS THE TASK OF PROGRESSIVE PEOPLE IN BRITAIN TO BUILD THE MOVEMENT AGAINST THE UNJUST WAR IN THE GULF,
A MOVEMENT TO "SUPPORT OUR TROOPS" IN THE ONLY EFFECTIVE WAY -- BY BRINGING THEM HOME!

STOP THE WAR IN THE GULF!



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