Socialist Worker

Britain and the US are losing the war

Issue No. 2023

It caused an earthquake in British politics last week when the head of the army openly contradicted government policy on Iraq and called for a speedy withdrawal.

It was hardly less of a shock in the US when James Baker advised that the way forward was to invite Iran and Syria into Iraq to quell unrest.

Baker was a member of Ronald Reagan’s administration, secretary of state under George Bush Senior and chief legal adviser to George W Bush in the 2000 election crisis. To tell Bush that the “axis of evil” is the solution is as mutinous as General Dannatt’s intervention.

The reason for their sedition is that the US-British coalition is losing in Iraq.

It doesn’t worry Bush and Blair that people are dying in gross numbers. It does worry them that they have lost control. The war has brought down Tony Blair and threatens to shatter Republican fortunes in key US elections on 7 November.

In this situation we are likely to hear more “exit strategies” such as the partition of Iraq - which would produce horrific ethnic cleansing.

The anti-war movement has driven deep divisions into the enemy. We must redouble organisation to get the troops out now.


Immigration

Organise with Poles

This week Socialist Worker highlights the scandal of Polish workers employed on lower wage rates than their fellow British workers.

The good news is that Polish workers are getting organised. Trade unions have held meetings in Glasgow, Bradford, Southampton and elsewhere to discuss housing, healthcare, financial services and employment rights.

East European workers form a core part of the British working class. Some 12,000 are employed in transport and 16,000 in construction. They often do the jobs many British people won’t do.

Merthyr Tydfil council in South Wales estimates 300 Poles work in the borough, mainly as factory operatives, though some are mechanics, electricians and engineers.

A community development worker states that many Polish workers are highly qualified and bring a “large skills influx into the valleys”.

We should help organise Polish workers into unions and also address their wider concerns. In Preston, Respect has produced leaflets in Polish and councillors are organising a public meeting. That needs to be replicated across Britain.


Secret memo

A trial we can’t report

Last week David Blunkett appeared on TV arguing that Arabic TV station Al Jazeera was a justified target for US bombing.

Yet we are being prevented from hearing evidence from defendants in a criminal trial who are accused of exposing how widespread the demand for that bombing was.

David Keogh, a former civil servant, and Leo O’Connor, a former MP’s researcher, are charged under the Official Secrets Act over a memo of a meeting in April 2004 in which Bush is alleged to have suggested the bombing of Al Jazeera’s Qatar headquaters.

Judge Justice Aikens accepted the government’s case that disclosing the contents of the memo would damage “political relations” between Britain and the US. Mark Stephens, who is acting for Al Jazeera, said, “What is being protected from us is evidence of a war crime.”


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Article information

What We Think
Sat 21 Oct 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2023
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