TONY BLAIR is not only kowtowing to US power in acting as George Bush’s poodle. Britain’s rulers have their own interests in dominating the Middle East and ensuring that ‘rogue states’ do not threaten the profits of multinational corporations. BP – one of the world’s biggest oil companies – is British owned. Half of another, Shell, is British.
British capitalists pioneered the carve-up of the Middle East after the First World War, when Britain was the world’s biggest power. The British Empire has gone and British capitalism is far weaker now than it was then. But Britain’s bosses have major investments across the globe. The legacy of empire means a greater spread of holdings in other countries than bosses in economies like Germany have.
But the British military is in no position to defend and extend those interests. That’s why British governments, Tory and Labour, have been so close to the US state – no matter whether Democrats or Republicans are in power in Washington. This ‘special relationship’ is about the British state acting as a junior partner to the US in a shared enterprise.
The last time Britain’s rulers launched an imperial adventure without US support was in 1956. The ‘Suez Crisis’ ended in humiliation for British and French forces, which had to withdraw from Egypt.
Thatcher’s war over the Falklands in 1982 depended on support from the US, even though the US was also keen to maintain ties to the military regime in Argentina. Blair also sees his closeness to the US as a way of increasing Britain’s bullying power within the European Union.
This is important now as France and Germany look like cooperating more closely to push their interests. It is Blair’s weakness that leads him, as Noam Chomsky put it, to be ‘not Bush’s poodle, but his attack dog’.
‘A wicked and unjust war is now being waged by the ruling and propertied classes of this country, with all the resources of civilisation at their back, against an ill-armed people whose only crime is that they have risen against a foreign oppression.’
Eleanor Marx and William Morris, Denunciation of Britain’s war against Sudan in 1885
‘The burden of war always falls heaviest on the toilers. They are taught that their masters can do no wrong, and go out in vast numbers to be killed. And what is their reward? If they escape death they come back to face heavy taxation and have the burden of their poverty doubled.’
HELEN KELLER, Her fight to overcome being deaf, blind and without speech is famous. What is less well known is that she was a socialist and an internationalist
‘I have been accused of obstructing the war. I admit it. Gentlemen, I abhor war. I would oppose it if I stood alone. I have sympathy with the suffering, struggling people everywhere. It does not make any difference under what flag they were born, or where they live.’
EUGENE DEBS, He was sentenced to ten years in prison in 1918 for opposing the First World War
‘This disgrace to civilisation should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality-how violently I hate all this. How despicable and ignoble war is. I would rather be torn to shreds than be part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.’
ALBERT EINSTEIN, The great physicist also opposed nuclear weapons
Two inspiring strikes show the way forward
We shouldn’t let them hide from the truth