Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2424

If we’re against bombing Iraq, then what is the alternative?

Another war by the West isn’t going to stop the rise of Islamic State. The warmongers claim to be humanitarians, but it’s clear that their real motivations are imperialist.

What’s often less clear is whether there’s an alternative. As socialists we need to argue that it can only come from united movements from below, against both the warmongers and the sectarians.

Right now the Middle East seems so divided that this looks almost impossible.

But let’s not forget how Muslims defended Coptic Christians at prayer in Tahrir Square, and vice versa, during the Egyptian Revolution only a few years ago.

In Iraq the resistance to the West’s occupation initially united Sunni and Shia Muslims.

And in Lebanon socialists have organised against sectarianism under very difficult circumstances.

That’s never easy, and in the Middle East today it must be particularly hard.

But military intervention by the West—whether dropping bombs or  supplying arms—will only entrench divisions and make it even more difficult.

Jenny LeowSouth East London


Your arguments against the US and its client states going to war in Iraq and Syria are flawed (Socialist Worker, 4 October)

The main cause of the rise of the sectarian killers of Islamic State is not the US and Britain’s previous grab for Iraqi oil, nor the narrow sectarianism of the Malaki regime. 

It is the Syrian civil war. This war has killed and displaced more Arabs than the combined efforts of Israel’s massacres in Gaza and the US atrocities in Iraq.

The main blame falls squarely with the dictator Bashar al-Assad and with Hizbollah.

This “resistance movement” backed the dictator to the hilt, and turned a mass movement for democracy into a sectarian bloodbath.

Many desperate ordinary people in Syria are in favour of seeing the sectarian killers attacked. They are in no position to resist either Assad, the sectarian killers or US imperialism as they all displaced.

Even if the US invaded Syria, in these circumstances it’s hard to see how they could make the situation worse than it already is. 

Farid AbdiChesterfield


Military action is wrong. It will result in innocent people being maimed and killed. 

This will, in turn, make more people join the extremist movement against the West.

Even more people will join up when they see the West doing nothing against Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine yet happily bombing Arab countries.

Mark RichardsBrighton


There’s one aspect of the rush to war that the capitalist press has been careful not to focus on.

That’s how unconcerned the US has been about whether Britain takes part or not.

Ensuring British involvement would once have been a US priority, but not any more. 

One reason is without doubt the poor performance of the British military in Basra and Helmand. 

This undermined US confidence in Britain as a key ally, and reduced it to the same level as the rest of their followers.

This British failure has been hidden from the public.

So the people arguing for “boots on the ground” don’t realise that British troops were driven out of Basra in Iraq and had to be rescued by the US in Helmand in Afghanistan.

And since these defeats, the military has been seriously run down. The posturing in the British press would be laughable if it wasn’t going to cost lives.

John NewsingerBrighton

Ian Paisley changed

Simon Basketter’s obituary about Ian Paisley (Socialist Worker, 20 September) was in very poor taste.

I was born in the mid-1950s into a Catholic family. Paisley was a bully, a figure to hate and fear. 

But to his credit he changed, and became an asset to the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Paisley was not the best person who ever walked this earth, but the terms “vile” and “good riddance” are wholly inappropriate.

I can only assume Simon is young and naive. This is frankly a betrayal of the socialist philosophy.

SA PattisonLeeds

Workers for the climate 

I enjoyed your excellent coverage of recent climate change protests (Socialist Worker, 27 September).

The demonstrations were large and young—in Bristol some 2,000 marched. Many now see the link between big business and the destruction of the planet.

But I question the idea that protests organised by charities or lobby groups can mobilise “beyond the reach of the left and the workers’ movement”.

The lack of trade union banners on the march is perhaps a sign that we missed an opportunity to make our presence felt.

Huw WilliamsBristol

DWP takes liberties

Recently I received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions. But it was for someone else.

It contained personal data, a detailed description of their disability, and the decision that their benefit would be terminated.

We have to jump through hoops to prove that we’re entitled to help—and now we must also endure the potential humiliation of strangers knowing the details of our personal lives.

It’s depressing enough to see the envelopes dropping through our doors without fearing they’re dropping through someone else’s.

Rachel BroadyManchester 

Westminster is a monster

The No result in the Scottish referendum was a vicious disappointment. 

The No campaign was predictably depressing. 

It had leftovers from New Labour, banks with no morality and less competence, and a Tory regime that hates the poor but loves the Union.

Then there was the monarchy, addicted to ancient inequality, and the sectarian thug.

Westminster is the problem—the poison—in Scottish society today.

Zekria IbrahimEdinburgh

Labour is the lesser of evils

I read your critical report of Ed Miliband’s speech (Socialist Worker, 27 September).

The problem is, if you don’t vote the Tories will get in again. If you vote anyone but Labour, the Tories will get in again.

And however bad Labour is, the Tories will be ten times worse

Frank Mcdonnellon Facebook

One highlight of the Labour Party conference was the moving speech by Harry Leslie Smith.

So why did Labour edit out his reference to “austerity and welfare cuts” in the version it sent out to members?

Maybe it’s because Ed Balls supports austerity and welfare cuts.

Michelle GottliebTorquay

Policies that hit the poor?

I don’t support UKIP, but I disagree with your examples of policies that target the poor (Socialist Worker, 4 October).

How does a limitation on child benefit only affect the poor? And inheritance tax certainly doesn’t only hit the rich.

Robert Venuson Facebook

Griffin’s loss is our victory

I was delighted to hear the Nazi BNP kicked out its ex-fuhrer Nick Griffin.

Nazis are never short of things to scrap with each other over. But Unite Against Fascism’s work to isolate the BNP may have had something to do with it too.

Sam SidebottomNewcastle

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Article information

Tue 7 Oct 2014, 17:06 BST
Issue No. 2424
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