Socialist Worker

They said bombs would save Kurds

by Sam Ashman
Issue No. 1737

Tony Blair met George Bush last week. Their so called 'special relationship' is sealed in blood. The day before they met US and British planes were again bombing Iraq. They bombed the northern 'no-fly zone' just under a week after bombing Baghdad. Blair and Bush say the bombing raids are carefully targeted.

But the US Pentagon admits over half the 'satellite guided' bombs they dropped a week ago missed their targets. Only 38 to 40 percent hit their targets. The vast majority missed by as much as 100 or 150 feet.

So where did the bombs land? On houses? On people? Bush claimed the bombings were a success because they were designed to let Saddam Hussein know that the Bush administration would remain engaged in the Gulf. 'We got his attention,' said Bush.

Bush also told reporters, 'Britain is our strongest friend and closest ally.' He is right. Blair has bent over backwards to the new right wing Republican president of the US.

This is despite the fact that Bush risks beginning a brand new global arms race with his National Missile Defence (NMD) plan. Blair was the first European leader to visit Bush. He tried to cast himself as the world leader who will negotiate between the US and Europe, whose leaders are not happy about NMD. Blair says the rest of the world needs to 'understand and share' US anxieties about defence.

'I personally believe it is possible to find a way through this that meets American concerns, and also meets the concerns of other members of NATO, and Russia and other countries,' he said. 'I think the way the administration is handling it is the right way.'

Similarly Robin Cook, the foreign secretary, said, 'The most important aspect of this must be making sure that the other players in the international scene are consulted, particularly Russia.'

In return Bush gave his blessing to the establishment of a European defence force within NATO, as long as NATO continues to 'be the primary way to keep the peace in Europe', as long as there is 'joint command', and as long as NATO members bolster their defence budgets. In other words, as long as the US stays boss.

...but refuse entry to these Kurdish refugees

'In the same week as the US and Britain bombed Iraq, home secretary Jack Straw refused to let Iraqi Kurdish refugees into this country-yet they say the bombing is in order to protect Kurds.'

That is how Louise Christian, human rights lawyer and prospective Socialist Alliance candidate for Hornsey and Wood Green in north London, summed up the British government's hypocrisy. Over 900 Iraqi and Turkish Kurds were rescued from a sinking hulk off the French Riviera last week.

They had endured eight days in 'undescribable' and 'deplorable' conditions, packed like animals into the holds, half starved and surrounded by their own excrement. 'They looked like zombies,' said one French aid worker. 'They had not seen the light for a week. It was a scene of total horror.'

Some had paid as much as £2,500 to escape Iraq. The captain and crew then abandoned the ship off the coast of France. Only mild weather stopped an even worse disaster.

The Sun launched a disgusting campaign against these desperate people. The front page of the Sun last Friday said, 'Kurds On Way'. The paper's editorial said, 'Jack Straw said he'd send them back-now's his chance to do it. Look at the families we feature in the paper today. They are quite clearly coming here to get benefits. Straw must act.' The day before the Sun claimed there was 'outrage over refugee mob 1,000 strong'. The Daily Mail said, 'Eurotunnel yesterday begged ministers to send in the Gurkhas to deter the hordes of would-be asylum seekers trying to enter Britain.'

Nearly every Iraqi Kurd who applies for asylum in Britain is refused. If the government really wanted rights for the people of Iraq it would allow Iraqi asylum seekers into Britain, drop the sanctions against Iraq and end the bombing.

Poverty in heart of West

While Blair and Bush were discussing how the world can spend more money on arms, a new report revealed the outrageous levels of child poverty inside their own countries.

Russia is top of the league for child poverty amongst the advanced industrialised nations, with 26.6 percent of children living below the poverty line.

But the US is a close second, with 26.3 percent of its children in poverty. And Britain is third with 21.3 percent in poverty. The report found even more shocking evidence of child poverty in specific US states.

In New York, California, Massachusetts and Arizona the rate of child poverty rivals Russia. Single mothers in the US have the highest levels of poverty in the industrialised world, with nearly 60 percent raising their children in poverty.

Cook's swipe at Swinney

The leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), John Swinney, last week rightly attacked the bombings of Iraq. He said, 'I don't support the bombings. I don't understand how bombings will be part of an effective solution. 'We have been here before and these bombings have not led to an improvement in the situation. It is very clear that there have been civilian casualties, and that gives us enormous concern.'

Foreign secretary Robin Cook issued a disgusting attack on Swinney in reply. He said Swinney would only 'encourage Saddam Hussein', and accused the SNP of being 'motivated by political opportunism, not a political concern for the people of Iraq'. This is from a man who supports the sanctions which kill 4,000 to 5,000 Iraqis every month.

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Sat 3 Mar 2001, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1737
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