Socialist Worker

US still loves the smell of napalm

Issue No. 1864

US MARINE Corps fighter pilots and commanders who have returned from Iraq have confirmed the use of firebombs similar to napalm during the fighting. They were dropped near bridges over the Saddam canal and the River Tigris on the approaches to Baghdad.

'We napalmed both those bridge approaches,' said Colonel Randolph Alles in a recent interview. 'The generals love napalm, it has a big psychological effect. 'Unfortunately there were people there because you could see them in the cockpit video. It's no great way to die.'

During the war US spokespeople denied that napalm was being used. Apparently they now say there was a difference between the precise bombs used and napalm. The weapons used were Mark 77 firebombs. The military admit these are 'incendiary devices with a function remarkably similar to napalm'.

Rather than using petrol and benzene as the fuel, these bombs use paraffin-based jet fuel. 'You can call it something other than napalm, but it's napalm,' said defence analyst John Pike.

US and South Vietnamese aircraft dropped millions of pounds of napalm during the Vietnam War. Its effects were shown in an award-winning photograph of Vietnamese children running from their burned village. Today's generals say the Mark 77 is better than napalm because 'it has less effect on the environment'.


In the Frame - No. 22 LEE RAYMOND

THE chief executive of the world's biggest oil company, Exxon Mobil, denies global warming takes place. In the three months leading up to this heatwave his company pocketed over $4 billion in profits. US company Exxon donated money to George W Bush's presidential campaign.


Rent-a-cop on the buses

BRITAIN'S first privately funded policeman has started on the beat in Edinburgh. He is 'sponsored' by First Edinburgh and Lothian Buses and will work on their transport network.

The move seems to indicate that firms can buy more security for themselves and areas that don't pay up will not get policing. Of course, if there is a strike on the buses we can rely on the boss-funded cop to be impartial-just like the ordinary ones then.


Not a very caring move

NEW Zealand's Labour government is planning to introduce no-go areas for the unemployed. Benefits will be withdrawn if the unemployed dare to live in areas where job prospects are thought to be low.

The move is aimed at people who have moved to rural areas to lower their cost of living. The 'social development ministry' hopes to get a fifth of the country's claimants off the register. If claimants are unable to travel to find work they will be forced to move.


A warning from the US

THE average US worker takes a total holiday of two weeks and one day a year according to new research. People who are entitled to more don't take it because they think they must keep in with the boss or because they don't get the overtime pay when they are on holiday they need to get by.


Man behind MPs' war vote

PETER STOTHARD'S book 30 Days: A Month at the Heart of Blair's War is mostly a hymn of praise to the pro-war camp. But it does have some interesting insights, including who was crucial in the key Commons vote on the war in March.

Stothard, who was at Blair's side for the month before war began, writes of the run-up to the vote: 'It is recognised, if little spoken of, that Brown will be the key to any success today. If last Monday he had encouraged opponents of the war with his support, however tacit, it would have been a genuine Number Ten crisis. Instead the man who has Labour's votes lined up for his succession at the right time has decided that this is not the right time. This chancellor is more intellectually committed to the American way than anyone else in the cabinet. His loyalist MPs, better drilled than any faction in the House, are seeking Blair votes tonight.'


Delivering a disaster

SCHOOLS IN Brighton have found out the hard way what it means to be on the receiving end of New Labour's privatisation schemes. Inside the System revealed recently the disaster that had hit schools in Southwark, south London, after the private company Atkins took over.

Now a leaked end of year report in Brighton has revealed a catalogue of complaints from school governors about Jarvis. The company won a £105 million Private Finance Initiative to run four Brighton schools last year. They are contracted to run the schools for 25 years.

Schools were forced to stay closed for days because repair work was not completed. School toilets were left unfinished, increased bureaucracy meant it was harder to get broken windows fixed and classrooms were turned into building sites for months.

The governors slam Jarvis, saying in the report that Jarvis 'promises the earth and fails to deliver, either on time or to an adequate standard'. Jarvis was the track maintenance company responsible for the line involved in Potters Bar rail crash where seven people died.
Thanks to Andy Player.


Figure it out 150-300

The latest estimate of the number of billions of dollars the war in Iraq cost the US government. The analysis comes from Lael Brainard and Michael O'Hanlon, senior fellows at the Brookings Institution.


Who says?

'We became an occupation force. We don't feel like heroes any more. We are outnumbered. We are exhausted. We are in over our heads. The president says, 'Bring 'em on.' The generals say we don't need more troops. Well, they're not over here.'
ISAAC KINDBLADE American GI serving in Iraq

'I want them to bring our troops home. I am appalled at Bush's policies. He has got us into a terrible mess. It is a quagmire. That's where the parallel with Vietnam is.'
SUSAN SHUMAN mother of an American GI serving in Iraq

'Nobody's Friends has had close ties with America, creating a kind of reciprocal relationship with like-minded senior figures in the States. I think he would find it relaxing and helpful.'
MEMBER of the exclusive Nobody's Friends club on Tony Blair's application for membership

'It is a strange policy reversal when Labour is trying to open up a market with universities and we want to renationalise them in an attempt to be populist.'
LORD BAKER OF DORKING former Tory education secretary on New Labour's attempt to sell off the education system


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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 16 Aug 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1864
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