Hooray for Paul Foot!

Michael Keaney michael.keaney at mbs.fi
Wed Feb 12 07:31:52 MST 2003

In response to DMS:

> Michael Keaney wrote:

Actually it was Paul Foot who wrote:

> They pointed out that the UN had passed a resolution in favour of
> Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass destruction, and that no one in their
> right minds would be opposed to such a project.

The wording of the above omits the various conditions surrounding the
resolution, but in principle who could disagree? Allow me a little latitude,
your honour, but the legalistically-minded wonks in the policy apparatus of
the US are always recommending US disengagement from international treaties
and the like on the grounds that they may open the door to dangerous
precedents, such as US soldiers being tried for war crimes by an
International Criminal Court. Imagine, therefore, that the UN actually
succeeded in disarming any regime of WMD. What a precedent! Russia, France,
Germany and China and, gosh, even Britain, could all team up to forward a
resolution committing the UN to disarming the USA of all its WMD! The

What a load of nonsense, yet I bet you that is one of the reasons that the
US opposes the Franco-German initiative. Meanwhile the more basic problem
facing us all here is that the alternative to this plan is capitulation by
the respective national bourgeoisies to the hegemony of the US, which is
yanking the imperialist chain with such violence that it has provoked this
crisis in the first place, a crisis that others on this list argue,
convincingly, should undoubtedly be exploited by the left. People like
Richard Perle are performing a wonderful service because, with their
incontinent intemperance, they make it much harder for people like Schröder
and Chirac to renege on their commitment to the due process of the UN. Perle
also spells out very clearly just what it means to be a US ally these
days -- no longer any pretence of a partnership of equals, or even simply a
partnership, but rather the same semicolonial status that has afflicted the
likes of Argentina for long enough. Chirac is better insulated against that,
for now at least, but Schröder is fighting for his political life atop a
political system that is itself shaky owing to deep structural
contradictions within German capitalism -- something we would all benefit
from studying more deeply -- while Blair is being blackmailed in the usual
way courtesy of threats to create a run on sterling via divestment and other
fancy financial tricks, with the additional trump card of the revelation of
the identity of the ex-Cabinet minister suspect on the FBI's list of credit
card holders who subscribed to the Texas (!) child porn operation busted
thanks to John Ashcroft's diversion of Justice Dept resources away from
terrorism to pornography prior to the twin towers attack. That, according to
informed sources desperate to reveal as much as possible without falling
foul of the English libel laws and/or statutory "D Notice" issued to the
British news media, has "potentially ruinous" consequences for Blair
personally and his government, which has established "rolling cabinet-level
committees" to prepare damage limitation. No wonder he looks desperate.

This is what it is like to live under semicolonial status and this is why it
is so important for everyone that the imperialist chain is weakened if not
utterly broken, even if that weakening/breaking is the result of
inter-imperialist rivalry rather than full frontal ideologically pure

Regarding principled Marxist opposition to the Franco-German proposal, you

1.It essentially legitimizes the subjugation of Iraq to a more global
occupation, with perhaps less material destruction, while maintaining the
privation of the population.  I do not believe anywhere in the proposal is
the provision for the end to sanctions and the limitations on Iraq's
production and exchange of oil.


Be realistic. You are dealing with pragmatists. They are playing a
sophisticated game from a position of some weakness, and so far have proved
quite adept at riling the hegemon, which, of course, is convinced that
should it ever capitulate to the Franco-German proposals, a slippery slope
to precisely the conditions you prefer would ensue. Delusional, yes, but
nevertheless a contributory factor to the rage informing US treatment of its

2. Enforcement depends on continuing the threat of military retaliation.


See above.

3. It will not derail the US drive to war for more than a brief period.


Therefore let's drop the pretence and simply have our own bourgeois leaders
capitulate to US hegemony, and may the war commence??? Surely not. There is,
in fact, a lot to be said for delaying for as long as possible the US drive
to war. There is the all-important weather window during which conditions
would be "optimal" for the use of ground troops. Beyond that, however, it
gets very hot. And who knows what technical flaws have yet to be discovered
in the Stealth bombers that we know cannot be flown in the rain.

Let's not get too hung up about motives. Humanitarian concern is hardly
likely to be driving the reasoning of the likes of Putin and Chirac, who are
concerned to protect their oil investments in Iraq and elsewhere. In that
they are no different from the Bush administration, all citations of "they
gassed their own people" aside. The central issue is opposition to US
imperialism and its global hegemony within the imperialist chain. Now that
the opportunistic Chirac and Putin have put their heads above the parapet we
should be involved in efforts to hold them to their word, lest they
capitulate and roll over like good allies should.

Michael Keaney

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