[Marxism] Militant: "Bush visit to UK bolsters imperialist 'war on terror': 'Stop Bush' protests, marked by nationalism, aid British rulers"

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Thu Nov 27 22:01:22 MST 2003

The following article appeared in the December 8 Militant, published
by supporters of the US Socialist Workers Party.  The article accuses
British protesters of failing to focus fire on their own government
and of being "anti-American" in their actions demanding immediate
withdrawal of British (and of course US) troops from Iraq.

But on what government is the fire of this attack on antiwar protests
demanding withdrawal of British troops from a US-led war centered?
This is, after all, the lead article on the war in a US newspaper
published by a US socialist group?  Have the recent articles on the
war in this paper centered their fire on the US government, which is
headed by George Bush? What demands have they made on it? Note there
is no indication in this article that the Militant demands withdrawal
of US troops from Iraq NOW (not back in March, April, or during the
California campaign).
Fred Feldman

Bush visit to UK bolsters
imperialist ‘war on terror’
‘Stop Bush’ protests, marked by nationalism, aid British rulers

Top, U.S. president George Bush at London press conference with
British prime minister Anthony Blair November 20, where both vowed to
stay course on occupation of Iraq. Bottom, protest in London on same
day, billed by organizers as action to "Stop Bush," drew 100,000.
Marchers focused their fire on Washington, letting British rulers off

LONDON—The November 19-21 state visit by U.S. president George Bush to
the United Kingdom served to bolster the imperialist foreign policy
aims of Washington and London, carried out under the banner of the
“war on terrorism.” Bush and Labour prime minister Anthony Blair
affirmed this course of strengthening the position of the U.S. and
British ruling classes relative to their imperialist competitors in
the world, including through the use of military force.
In a keynote speech in London on the first day of his trip, Bush
defended what he called the “three pillars” of U.S. foreign policy.
One “pillar,” he said, is “the willingness of free nations
to restrain
aggression and evil by force”—that is, using military means against
governments targeted by Washington, as in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and
Iraq. Another “pillar” is the use of international organizations,
especially the NATO military alliance, to advance the goals of the
U.S. rulers.

The third “pillar” cited by the U.S. president was “the global
expansion of democracy.” He said, “We cannot rely exclusively on
military power to assure our long-term security.”

Bush indicated that Washington’s goal is not to establish
dictatorships but to press for certain benchmarks of bourgeois
democracy in a way that will advance the U.S. rulers’ dominance in the
Mideast politically, not just militarily. These include elections,
religious freedom, freedom of the press, and “new protections for
women.” Clearly referring to Saudi Arabia and other countries, he
added, “We will expect a higher standard from our friends in the
region.” Meeting such standards, of course, makes the job of U.S.
imperialism more complex than simply imposing completely subservient

The success of the U.S. president’s trip was only reinforced by the
anti-American, pro-British tone of the demonstrations in the United
Kingdom, organized by the Stop the War Coalition and other forces
around the theme “Stop Bush.” Focusing their fire on the U.S.
government and portraying Blair as a mere “puppet” of Washington, they
buttressed the nationalist framework of the British rulers’ efforts to
assert their own imperialist interests in the world.

During his visit, Bush gave the streets to the opposition, not
carrying out a major motorcade or many public appearances. The
anti-Bush protests, however, were smaller than earlier peace actions.

In the first full state visit ever by a U.S. president to the United
Kingdom, Bush joined with Blair in highlighting the “special
relationship” between the two governments. Since the post-World War II
period, the phrase “special relationship” has been used to refer to
the long-term strategic military alliance and economic ties between
the wealthy ruling families on either side of the Atlantic. Because of
their declining world role, Britain’s rulers have relied on this
alliance to give them extra clout in their rivalry with other
imperialist powers in Europe.

London currently has 9,000 troops in the imperialist occupation force
in Iraq—the largest contingent after the 130,000 U.S. troops.

After the United Kingdom, the imperialist power that has aligned
itself most closely with Washington is Italy, one of the governments
that have received the short end of the stick as members of the
European Union, which is dominated by German and French imperialism.
With 3,000 soldiers, Rome has the third-largest number of troops in
Iraq, followed by 2,350 from Poland, 1,650 from Ukraine, 1,254 from
Spain, 1,100 from the Netherlands, and 800 from Australia.

Visit fuels big-business debate
Bush’s visit fueled an ongoing debate among capitalist politicians and
in the big-business press here around Britain’s relations with Europe
and the United States. It reflected the divisions in the British
ruling class over how to shore up the place of British imperialism in
the world—between those who favor closer ties to the European Union,
which is dominated by Berlin and Paris, and those who advocate
adhering more strictly to the role of remaining Washington’s junior

The debate intensified when, on the second day of Bush’s visit, two
bombs exploded in Istanbul, Turkey, outside the British consulate and
the offices of the British bank HSBC killing the British consul
general and 26 others. A statement purporting to come from a unit of
al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attacks. The bombings pushed
the Turkish rulers more toward Washington’s camp.

Joined by Bush at a press conference that day, Blair used the bombings
to underline his support for British participation in future U.S.-led
wars waged in the name of fighting “terrorism.” He declared, “There
must be no holding back in the face of this menace, in attacking it
wherever and whenever we can and in defeating it utterly.” Arguing for
the continued deployment of British forces in Iraq and elsewhere,
Blair emphasized, “We stay until the job gets done
done in Iraq, done
elsewhere in the world.”

In hand-wringing editorials, newspapers critical of the Blair
government warned about the perils of this course, but offered no
alternative policy. In a November 21 editorial entitled “Reaping the
whirlwind,” the liberal, pro-Europe Guardian said, “This does not look
like a war that is being won. It looks like a conflict that is in
serious danger of escalating out of control.” The editors called for a
“radical review of policy.” The paper complained in a subsequent
editorial that “our national interests are now worse off.”

The Independent lambasted Blair for getting “nothing” out of his talks
with Bush—“Nothing on the British detainees at Guantánamo Bay. Nothing
on steel tariffs.” The U.S. government imposed protectionist tariffs
on European steel last year, and the European Union has threatened to
retaliate by mid-December on $2.2 billion of U.S. exports if
Washington refuses to repeal them. Bush has said he is considering the

In contrast, the Daily Telegraph said it was important that “Bush was
in London this week, reinforcing our enduring ties with America.” The
Times praised the U.S. president for his “carefully structured” speech
outlining the “three pillars” of U.S. foreign policy in the Mideast.
The right-wing Sun hailed the Bush visit as a “big success.” It added,
“The Bush-Blair partnership is as solid as a rock and is a vital asset
in these dangerous times
. This nation will not be cowed by the
Istanbul bomb outrage.”

‘Stop Bush’ protests
A series of protests were organized by the Stop The War coalition and
other groups around the theme “Stop Bush.” The British nationalist,
anti-American theme of these protests was underlined at the November
20 demonstration of more than 100,000 people that rallied in Trafalgar
Square. A 20-foot effigy of Bush was toppled to the ground in
imitation of the bringing down of a large statue of Saddam Hussein
when invading U.S.-British forces took over Baghdad in April. TV
coverage of the rally also showed demonstrators burning a U.S. flag.

Demonstrators carried signs referring to Blair as Bush’s “poodle” and
reading, “Troops out now—Stop the organ grinder and his monkey,” with
the prime minister of the British imperialist state portrayed as Bush’
s monkey.

Referring to the Istanbul bombings, Lindsay German, convener of the
Stop The War Coalition, said, “I don’t think it can be any coincidence
that these attacks have come against British targets on the day that
George Bush is visiting London.” Her argument repeated a commonly
heard nationalist theme that “Bush’s war” is hurting “our interests”
by making Britain vulnerable to “terrorism.”

A half-page ad in the November 20 issue of The Times entitled “An Open
Letter to President George W. Bush,” sponsored by a campaign called
Our World Our Say, stated, “These protestors are not extremists. They
are managers, builders, artists and stockbrokers.” It said that as a
result of Bush’s policies the United Kingdom had become “one of the
world’s foremost targets of fundamentalist hatred.”

The right-wing Daily Telegraph editorialized sympathetically about the
demonstrators, stating, “Most of the marchers were decent people—even
if we happen to think they are misguided.” John Hayes, a millionaire
with more than 100 employees, told the paper, “I’m here because I
think we are playing into the hands of terrorists with this occupation
of Iraq.”

Current and former figures within the Labour Party were prominent in
the debate. The mayor of London, Kenneth Livingstone, who was expelled
from the Labour Party three years ago but is expected to rejoin in
time for the mayoral elections next year, said in an interview with
The Ecologist magazine that Bush was “the greatest threat to human
life on this planet that we’ve probably ever seen.”

Quoted in the press a few days before Bush’s arrival in London, former
foreign secretary Robin Cook said, “If the state visit takes on the
character of the U.S. boss visiting his wholly owned British
subsidiary, it will do further damage to relations with the Bush
administration.” Another former cabinet minister, Clare Short, who
resigned from the government after the war, urged people to protest
because Bush had “made the world more dangerous.”

More information about the Marxism mailing list