Socialist Worker

How dare he talk of morals?

Issue No. 1839

WITH THE majority of the world's population opposing war, Tony Blair now says that people don't understand the 'moral case' for attacking Iraq. It is another lie born of desperation. Blair said of last Saturday's anti-war demonstration, 'If there are one million, this is still less than the number of people who died in the wars he [Saddam] started.'

He didn't mention that the bulk of the people killed by Saddam Hussein died when the Iraqi leader was backed by the US and Britain. The US and Britain supported Saddam when he launched war on Iran in 1980. That war killed about one million people. The US and Western governments armed Saddam Hussein, including with chemical weapons.

Saddam Hussein, buoyed by US support, used poison gas against the Kurdish minority in the north of Iraq in March 1988. The US and Britain did not protest. They carried on arming him.

And how dare Blair talk of morals when in the last Gulf War the US and Britain killed at least 200,000 Iraqis? The sanctions they have imposed on Iraq since then have killed over half a million Iraqi children.

The war Bush and Blair plan now will be murderous. And it will not bring freedom or democracy to people in Iraq. The US has made clear it will impose a military regime on the country, and has agreed with Turkey a plan for its troops to seize northern Iraq. The reasons for war on Iraq have nothing to do with morals, democracy or humanitarianism.

There are plenty of regimes in the Middle East which are every bit as brutal and undemocratic as the one in Iraq. Yet Bush and Blair have no plans to fight for democracy and human rights in countries like Saudi Arabia or Egypt. The key ally of the US and Britain in the region is Israel, which has defied more United Nations resolutions than any other state, and which is the only Middle Eastern state proven to have nuclear weapons.

Israel's leader, Ariel Sharon, is a war criminal, even condemned by an Israeli tribunal as responsible for the massacre of Palestinian civilians in Lebanon in 1982. Global press baron Rupert Murdoch dictates much of what Blair's government does and says. Last week Murdoch let slip the real reason for war on Iraq. 'The greatest thing to come out of this would be $20 a barrel for oil,' he said. 'Once Iraq is behind us the whole world will benefit from cheaper oil.'

Immoral record

THE US is the world's biggest military power and has the largest amount of nuclear weapons. From 1960 to 1975 the US pounded Vietnam. It used more bombs than all sides put together in the Second World War.

The US killed over two million people. It poured the chemical weapon Agent Orange onto the country. Children are still born today with deformities because of that poison.

From 1981 to 1990 the US sent the CIA in to train, arm and finance a right wing terrorist organisation, the Contras, in the Central American country of Nicaragua.

The Contras bombed, tortured and raped ordinary people. Tens of thousands of people were killed. In 1983 the US invaded the Caribbean island of Grenada to overthrow a government it saw as hostile to its interests.

The US bombed the Libyan capital, Tripoli, with British help in 1986. Hundreds of bombs fell on residential areas and hospitals, killing hundreds of people.

The US invaded Panama, another Central American country, to overthrow its ruler and former US ally General Noriega. Bombs were targeted at residential blocks. In 24 hours the US military killed at least 2,500 people.

Case studies

WE HAVE heard talk of war bringing peace, democracy and freedom from Western governments before. What has been the result?

  • AFGHANISTAN: US and British forces still occupy the country, which is torn between rival factions. Journalist Robert Fisk reported in January, 'A few months ago we would still have been asked to believe the post-war 'success' in Afghanistan augured well for the post-war success in Iraq.' He talks about 'the near collapse of peace'. Fisk describes 'the anarchy in the cities outside Kabul, the warlordism and drug trafficking, and steadily increasing toll of murders'.
  • KUWAIT: The country is run by the al-Sabah family. Most people who live in the country don't even have the right to vote. Human Rights Watch has reported, 'More than 100,000 long term residents of Kuwait faced widespread and systematic discrimination.' The Kuwait regime denies any rights to the Bidun people. Women activists are still struggling for the right to vote.

    Regime plan

    THE US has ditched the pretence of introducing democracy in Iraq, say Kurdish leaders who met White House officials last week. Instead it plans to occupy Iraq and replace Saddam Hussein and a handful of bureaucrats with US military officers while keeping the rest of the repressive state machine intact.

    'Conquerors always call themselves liberators,' says Same Abdul Rahman, an official in the Kurdish administration in northern Iraq. 'It is very disappointing. In every Iraqi ministry they are just going to remove one or two officials and replace them with US military officers.'

    The rival Kurdish factions that run northern Iraq are far from being 'anti-US' forces. But even these corrupt leaders now say the US has done a deal with the government of Turkey to allow it to seize northern Iraq in a war and prevent any moves to set up an independent Kurdish state.

    The US wants to stop any popular uprising that could bring radical change in Iraq and across the Middle East. Its firepower would be combined with the remnants of the Iraqi army to prevent that happening.

    A retired US general is already lined up to take over running Iraq. Lieutenant General Jay Garner was recently appointed to a new Pentagon office already dubbed the 'government in waiting'.

    Where was he?

    BLAIR SAYS that there are 'no marches for the victims of Saddam'. He is either ignorant or a liar. There was, for example, an emotional protest in London in 1988 over the gassing of 5,000 Kurds in the village of Halabja.

    Peace campaigners, trade unionists and left wing supporters of the Kurds were there. Among them was George Galloway, the leading anti-war MP today. Not one member of the present government showed their face.

    Bloody sanctions

    TONY BLAIR says there will be 'blood on the hands' of opponents of the war, as stopping it will simply mean civilian deaths through economic sanctions. It is the US and British governments themselves that are imposing the sanctions. Blair is saying we either let him bomb Iraqi civilians or he will ensure that they starve to death.

    He and fellow warmongers know they are murdering the innocent. The then US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was asked in 1996 about sanctions killing half a million children in Iraq. She said, 'On balance, it's a price worth paying.'

    The guilty men

    THE ROTTEN record of the West in Iraq does not stop today's warmongers saying that at least now we will make good the 'mistakes' of previous governments. But the lunatics now in the White House are precisely the men who 'made the mistakes' in the 1980s.

    Bush's defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, visited Saddam Hussein in Baghdad in 1983 to seal US government arms deals. Working for the same government were today's vice-president, Dick Cheney, and the Dr Strangelove character Richard Perle. Now we are told these people have become a force for morality.

    Last time round

    THE LAST Gulf War was bloody, immoral barbarism. The US air force slaughtered Iraqi conscripts who, defeated, were retreating from Kuwait and were on the road to Basra in Iraq. Pilots called it a 'turkey shoot'.

    In the war the US deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure, such as sewage treatment works, that could not possibly have any military value. The use of cluster bombs and 'fuel air explosives' (which suck the air out of people's lungs) led at least five British army officers to resign in disgust. This time US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other officials have refused to rule out the use of nuclear weapons.

    Famine threat

    THE WAR will bring a humanitarian catastrophe to Iraq, according to a secret United Nations (UN) planning document. The report, drawn up by top UN agencies and bodies such as the World Health Organisation, predicts nearly 1.5 million people will be driven out of the country by an attack.

    One in three children under five 'would be at risk of death from malnutrition'. The document also says that, despite aid agencies' pleas for resources from the US and Britain, 'no funds have been available to any agencies to date'.

    Aggressive move

    TURKEY BEGAN moving large numbers of troops to its border with Iraq within hours of a deal at the NATO summit on Sunday. The Turkish army is the second largest in NATO. The deal at the weekend has nothing to do with 'defending Turkey'. It is about allowing it to go on the offensive when the war starts. It has already stepped up repression of its own Kurdish minority.

  • Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

    Article information

    Sat 22 Feb 2003, 00:00 GMT
    Issue No. 1839
    Share this article


    Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.