Regime Change: "But Doesn't Something Have To Be Done About Saddam?"

Socialist Voice October 2002

SADDAM HUSSEIN'S regime is undoubtedly a repressive police state. He has imprisoned, tortured and murdered thousands of opponents.

The regime, based on the Sunnis, oppresses both the Kurdish minority and the Shia majority (60%). Saddam has squandered the country's enormous oil wealth on a monstrous military machine (now mostly defunct) and lavish luxury palaces for his cronies. War with Iran and the invasion of Kuwait have brought untold suffering for most Iraqis.

Getting rid of Saddam's regime, however, is job for the Iraqi people. US intervention and occupation would be strictly to further the interests of US imperialism; regional power and economic domination.

When Saddam used dreadful poison gas against Iranian troops and Kurds he had the full support of the US as an ally against Iran, then the US's number one enemy. US military advisers provided Saddam with intelligence, dismissing poison gas as "just another way of killing people".

Stooge Regime

As always, Bush preaches about restoring democracy in Iraq. In reality, the US wants to install a puppet regime, composed of generals deserting Saddam and politicians like Ahmad Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress (INC). The INC is a pure CIA creation. Chalabi is a wealthy banker, convicted in Jordan in his absence to 20 years in jail for a $60 million currency fraud. He has no record of opposition inside Iraq.

Immediately after the Gulf War in 1991, there were uprisings of the Kurds in the North and the Shia in the South. President Bush senior made radio appeals for the overthrow of Saddam. But the US forces stood back and watched as Saddam massacred these rebellions.

Fearing the break-up of Iraq, a senior US official explained, "Our policy is to get rid of Saddam Hussein himself, not his regime". The last thing the US wants is a revolutionary change involving workers and peasants.

If the US occupies Iraq, the result will be a stooge regime, perhaps with cosmetic elections. The country would be run from Washington DC, its oil wealth sucked dry the big US oil companies, and its people will continue to suffer exploitation and oppression, but at the hands of a new set of bosses and rulers.

Bush Continues Along the War Path

Socialist Voice October 2002

by Lynn Walsh, member of the International Secretariat of the Committee for a Workers International (CWI), explains why working people internationally must oppose this imperialist war.

UNDER PRESSURE at home and abroad, President Bush went to the UN on 12 September to call for action against Iraq. The lone ranger, however, had not been converted to "multilateralism". Bush's diplomacy was a charade. The President of the world's unrivalled hyper-power effectively delivered an ultimatum: take decisive action to get rid of Saddam Hussein, and the US will be happy to accept UN support. If not, the US will go it alone, launching a pre-emptive military strike against Iraq.

Going to the UN in an attempt to legitimise its aggressive policies, however, does complicate the situation for the US. It may delay military action. But there is no guarantee at all that UN involvement will avert war.

Other permanent Security Council members like Russia, China and France fear the upheavals that would follow a US attack on Iraq. Russia and France both have oil and other big business interests at stake in Iraq. But even if they use their vetoes against military action, the US is still likely to go ahead at a time of its choosing.

Apart from Blair, Bush's little drummer boy, the leaders of the major powers still hope to find a way out through weapons inspection and disarmament of Saddam's regime.

Unlike the White House hawks, they fear the explosive effects of another war in the Middle East. But when the Iraqi regime quickly announced that it would accept unconditional weapons inspection, Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice and other hawks immediately dismissed this as a "ploy".

Weapons inspection

US leaders have repeatedly claimed that Saddam has an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), chemical, biological and nuclear, which threaten the region and even the US itself.

This, they claim, is the justification for a pre-emptive strike against Iraq. In his United Nations speech, however, Bush presented no new evidence, let alone proof, that Iraq currently has such weapons, or missiles and aircraft capable of deploying them.

Scott Ritter, who led Unscom, the UN special weapons inspection commission, between 1991-97, says: "As of December 1998, we had accounted for 90 to 95% of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capability. We destroyed all the factories, all of the means of production. We couldn't account for some of the weaponry, but chemical weapons have a shelf life of five years. Biological weapons have a shelf life of three. To have weapons today, they would have had to rebuild the factories and start producing those weapons since December 1998."

According to Ritter, this is unlikely given the dire state of Iraq's economy after 12 years of sanctions. Any attempt by Iraq to acquire materials for WMDs or to test such weapons, Ritter says, would be detected by US surveillance methods.

Significantly, Bush did not even call for renewed weapons inspection. At the same time, the US leadership has made it clear that even if Unimovic, the new UN weapons inspectorate, reports that Iraq is clean of WMDs, the US still demands "regime change".

In other words, weapons of mass destruction are merely a pretext for the US. Weapons inspection is irrelevant for the US. Bush laid down a whole range of conditions which, in reality, could not be met without the ousting of Saddam.

Since the end of the 1990-91 Gulf War, the US and the Western powers, under the banner of the UN, have imposed sanctions on Iraq which have had a devastating effect on the population.

Throughout that time, the US and Britain have mounted continuous bombing raids against Iraq, to enforce sanctions and the no-fly zones in the north and the south of the country. These have been stepped up in recent months.

The US has the military power to smash Saddam's regime. But a second US war against Iraq would "open the gates of hell", as the secretary general of the Arab League said recently.

The death and destruction would be unimaginable. When many hospitals, schools, electricity and water utilities, etc, have only just been rebuilt, social conditions would be set back another ten, or 20 years or more.

According to Lawrence Lindsey, Bush's chief economic adviser, a US war against Iraq would probably cost $200 billion (208 billion). Currently, around half the world's population struggles to survive on an income of less than $2 a day.

The 1990-91 Gulf War cost $50 billion ($80 billion in current prices), but Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Japan and others contributed $48 billion. They are unlikely to pay for a second war, reinforcing suspicions that the US intends to grab Iraqi oil as reparation.

Imperialist interests

Why is the US, a mighty superpower, hell-bent on attacking Iraq, a regional dictatorship with a depleted armoury and a shattered, semi-developed economy? The answer is strategic power, economic domination, and oil.

The neo-conservative hawks of the Bush leadership are determined to use the US's unrivalled military power to redraw the map of the world in the interests of US imperialism. They have used the outraged reaction against the attacks of 11 September as a golden opportunity to implement their agenda for a new global "Pax Americana". US corporations, banks and finance houses will be assured free access to markets, resources and cheap labour anywhere in the world. Regimes that stand in the way of this will be punished or changed. Friends will be bribed and protected.

Bush's plans were drawn up long before 11 September, and even before he entered the White House. In September 2000, for instance, a right-wing think tank, Project for the New American Century (PNAC), drew up a blueprint for Cheney (now Vice-President), Rumsfeld (now Defence Secretary), Wolfowitz (his deputy), and other Bush advisers.

They planned to take military control of the Gulf region whether or not Saddam was in power: "The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification; the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein", says PNAC.

The US's armed forces, the report continues, are "the cavalry on the new American frontier". After "9-11" Bush increased US military expenditure by a staggering $100 billion over the next six years. Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and company also revealed their new military doctrine, based on offensive, "tactical" nuclear weapons, and the strategy of pre-emptive war against the US's enemies.

A war for oil

Oil, of course, is a major motive for US intervention in the Gulf region. Control of Iraq's reserves, second only to those of Saudi Arabia, would give the US a decisive influence over world oil markets. Big business in the US is dreaming of unlimited supplies of cheap oil at $10 a barrel (compared to the current price of around $30 a barrel). Even now big oil companies are staking their claim to Iraq's oil reserves.

Once they control Iraq, with a stooge pro-US regime in place, the hawks believe they can rebuild the political architecture of the whole region. They would move to impose a settlement on Israel/Palestine, strengthening the Israeli state while sponsoring a "Palestinian state" that would be an Israel-dominated "bantustan".

Since its emergence as a major industrial power at the end of the 19th century, US capitalism has played an increasingly imperialistic role on the world arena. The neo-conservative leadership under Bush, however, marks a new phase of the American empire. They are linked to the most ruthless, greedy sections of big business, oil companies, arms manufacturers and financial swindlers. They advocate an even more aggressive, rapacious form of imperialism. Smashing Saddam militarily would, for them, be a powerful demonstration that they mean business.

But they are deluded in thinking that military power alone can secure a stable world order. The Bush leadership is blind to the explosive fallout of a military attack on Iraq. The US can defeat Iraq militarily. But an invasion of Iraq could be much more costly in terms of US casualties than the 1990-91 Gulf War. The regime's power to resist is unknowable, but Iraqis would be defending their homeland against occupation.

The aftermath of war could also cause big problems for the US. Iraq (divided between Sunnis, Shia and Kurds) could implode, with neighbouring powers like Iran and Turkey intervening.

A US assault on Iraq would provoke an explosion throughout the Arab and Islamic countries. Survival of pro-American dictatorships like Saudi Arabia and Egypt would be in the balance, with the possibility of extreme, anti-US leaders taking over.

Outrage at a US attack on an Islamic country, together with their support for Israel against the Palestinians, would produce many more recruits for organisations such as al-Qa'ida, increasing the terrorist threat to the US and other Western countries.

If the US attacks Iraq there will be a tidal wave of opposition, all the stronger if the war and its aftermath are prolonged. There will be mass protests, not merely against war, but against the system of imperialistic capitalism which produces a continuous stream of conflict and war. There will be a growing consciousness of the need for worldwide socialist transformation, for a society based on workers' democracy and democratic economic planning. Only an end to capitalist exploitation and oppression can eliminate the scourge of war.

No US Warplanes in Shannon - No War For Oil

by Paul Murphy
Socialist Voice October 2002

NO WAR for oil was the message from the 400,000 strong demonstration in London on 28 September, one of the largest anti-war demonstrations in history. Across the world hundreds of thousands more echoed this sentiment protesting against Bush and Blair's drive to war.

On the same day 2,000 demonstrated in Dublin against the war and also against the use of Shannon Airport by US warplanes. The Irish government still claims to be neutral, this claim has been clearly exposed as a lie. It was only a few months ago that we were all told how having a seat on the U.N. Security Council would enable us to be a force for peace in the world.

However, when the representatives of the US and Britain have demanded a war which will result in the deaths of many thousands of ordinary Iraqi people, what has the Irish representative said? Instead of arguing the case for peace, and opposing the drive to a new war on Iraq, they have simply bowed down before the interests of US imperialism, and all ideas of neutrality have been dropped.

To add insult to injury the Irish government has clearly itself on the side of US Imperialism by allowing US warplanes to use Shannon Airport. The Irish government by this action is complicit in the war crimes which will be perpetrated against the people of Iraq. Ordinary people especially young people must oppose this war and demand an end to US warplanes refuelling on our soil.

By allowing US warplanes to use Shannon Airport the Irish government has shown that it is not neutral in this war.

Socialist Youth are not neutral either. We stand side by side with the Iraqi people against US Imperialism. We stand for the building of a massive international anti-war movement. We are campaigning against Fianna Fail and the PDs to force them to stop the US from using Shannon and also to vote against (on the UN Security Council) any resolutions that allow the US to take military action against Iraq.

A defeat of the government on these issues would also be a defeat for Bush and Blair's war drive, and would help boost the global anti-war movement.

Youth Against War

Socialist Voice October 2002

Socialist Youth has established Youth Against War as a campaign to organise young people into the anti-war movement. Please visit our website

You should join Youth Against War today. Get active, encourage your friends to join, set up a branch of Youth Against War in your school or third level college.

What you can do!

Join Youth Against War Today
Distribute Leaflets in Your School
Get Your Friends to Join
Organise a Youth Against War committee in your school or third level college.
Come to our regular anti-war stalls, pickets, protests and meetings to help build Youth Against War
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