Paul Foot on the Left Warmongers' League

Michael Keaney michael.keaney at
Wed Feb 5 04:13:06 MST 2003

With friends like these ...

Paul Foot
Wednesday February 5, 2003
The Guardian

Every day the yawning gaps in the arguments for war in Iraq grow wider still
and wider. Into the intellectual breach rushes a new organisation, the LWL,
the Leftist Warmongers League. The principles of the LWL are quite simple.

The regime of Saddam Hussein is a monstrous tyranny, and should be toppled.
The only way to topple it is by armed invasion by the US, Britain and anyone
else who will join in. Anyone who opposes such an invasion is a friend of
Saddam Hussein and an enemy of the Iraqi people.

No one in the anti-war movement opposes the first proposition. Indeed, many
of us who were active in the 1980s were constantly shouting and
demonstrating against the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, and denouncing the
governments, chiefly in the US and Britain, who were propping him up and
arming him.

But what of proposition two? What about the cost and the unspeakable loss of
life and limb in Iraq that will result from even the shortest war?
Intelligence agencies in Britain and America estimate a minimum of 100,000
Iraqi deaths, and a minimum cost to Britain alone of £3.5bn. This shocking
price appears to be acceptable to the LWL.

But what will the Iraqi people get for it? What evidence is there anywhere
in the world that a regime imposed by the armed forces of the US will be
democratic or even progressive? In 1953, for instance, in Iran, in the same
region, the US engineered a coup that dispensed with the elected prime
minister and eventually imposed a monarchical dictatorship every bit as
monstrous and cruel as that of Saddam Hussein. In every corner of the globe,
US coups, assassinations or invasions or a combination of these have led to,
or succoured, dictators - Duvalier, Trujillo, Pinochet, Suharto, Mobutu. All
these and many others have unleashed the most frightful oppression
especially on the workers and the poor.

What flight of the most grotesque fantasy can dream up the notion that a
government led by the fanatical religious right in the US - Bush, Cheney,
Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz - is eager to establish a democratic government
in Iraq, or anywhere else for that matter? Have they shown the slightest
interest in imposing democracy in Burma, for example, or any of the feudal
tyrannies of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain or Kuwait, or any of the
so-called "republics" in Africa or central Asia? Have they even mentioned
the recent abrupt ending of democracy in Pakistan, and its replacement by a
dictator there who has at his disposal weapons of mass destruction? Is he
regarded in the White House as a dictator or as an ally in the war against
terrorism? And what of successive governments of Israel, which have been in
breach of even more UN resolutions than Saddam Hussein has been, and have
constantly invaded, threatened, and pulverised other people's territory,
homes and livelihoods?

Is not the truth that these US warmongers, most of them oil millionaires,
are hell-bent on extending their capitalist empire - and their control of
oil supplies -everywhere on earth, and that the invasion of Iraq is a
further step down that road? And is not the British prime minister now
fanatically committed to the same process? When the SNP MP Alex Salmond
shouted at him last week "when do we stop?" Blair rounded on him, eyes
gleaming like those of Arturo Ui in Brecht's play: "We stop when the threat
to our security is properly and fully dealt with." In other words, we go on
like Ui, until we conquer the world.

So, as for proposition three, we reply to the LWL that it is risking
unimaginable horrors, death and destruction for an idea that, deep down,
they know to be a fantasy. The toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime and its
replacement by a democracy can only be achieved by the people who suffer
from the tyranny and will benefit from the democracy. There isn't the
slightest sign that anyone in Iraq is clamouring for liberation by armies
from America or from Britain, Iraq's former colonial conqueror.

This is the socialist approach to these matters, and the appeals of the LWL
to the left have no credibility whatsoever. Indeed, their slender ranks are
no more than a fifth column for the deeply reactionary Republican
administration in Washington.

Brecht's play was called The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. The war on Iraq
is resistible too. If all the people shocked and disgusted by the American
preparations for war and the abject compliance of Blair, Straw and Hoon turn
up for the demonstration on Saturday week, then February 15 2003 could turn
out to be not only an historic day but a victorious one.

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