Horror, barbarism and terror: the Gulf war has exposed the reality of capitalism.
Horror and barbarism. War, war between imperialist gangsters, continues. The coalition forces have begun their ground offensive. And Iraq will meet with defeat. Hundreds of thousands of dead - we don't know exactly how many for the moment - and no doubt as many wounded and missing; massive destruction in Iraq and Kuwait: this will be, and is already, the bloody and terrible result of this conflict.
Horror and cynicism of the bourgeoisie of the 'coalition' countries. Without any shame, reveling in blood, it has boasted of its technical prowess in this war. At first, in order to lull people's reticence about the butchery, it talked about a 'clean war': the missiles were only hitting military buildings. They could go through windows and elevator shafts, but they didn't kill anyone, at least not civilians. How marvelous - it' was no more than a 'surgical' operation. But the macabre reality couldn't be hidden for long. Thousands of civilians died under the massive bombardments of the B 52s and the cruise missiles. Will we ever know the frightful truth of all this? The height of cynicism: when the destruction of the Baghdad bunker undoubtedly left 400 dead, the Pentagon blamed the civilians, who shouldn't have taken refuge in this bunker and so put themselves in the path of the bombs!
The unlimited admiration of the media, the journalists, the military specialists for all this technical and scientific prowess put in the service of death and destruction is absolutely disgusting. Capitalism today is incapable of dealing with all sorts of epidemics in the world, cholera in Latin America, AIDS, and many others. Science and technology are at the service of death and destruction on a huge scale. This is the reality of capitalism.
Terror, capitalist terror, the terror of a rotting society, has descended on the populations. Terror on a huge scale on Iraq and Kuwait. The American coalition uses the most sophisticated, the most murderous, the most 'scientific' and massive weapons. We are not military specialists, and we have no taste for the sinister statistics. How much was it? At the lowest estimate, 100,000 tons of bombs have been dropped, 108,000 aerial sorties flown. How many cruise missiles launched from war ships in the Gulf, in the Mediterranean? The American bourgeoisie and its allies don't hesitate to use the most massive means of destruction except of course nuclear weapons, they are for next time no doubt - such as fuel air bombs and napalm. In comparison with this, the horrible exactions committed by Saddam' s soldiers were amateur stuff.
Even within the shelters, the civil populations are not safe. Can you imagine the damage, the fear, the panic and anguish of the children, the women, of men old and young in the midst of all the bombing: the explosions - when Basra was hit, the earth trembled in Iran - the sirens, and all the deaths and the injuries? We know that the American planes were often bombing 24 hours a day. We know that during the first night of the war, one and a half times the equivalent of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was unleashed on Iraq. We know that during one month, Iraq and Kuwait were hit by more bombs than Germany throughout World War Two!
One Patriot missile costs one million US dollars. The cost of one Stealth bomber is 100 million dollars. The total cost of the war will certainly be more than 80 million dollars, and that's just the most minimal estimate. In fact it will be a lot more, even if you only take into account the massive destructions in Iraq and Kuwait, and all the oil wells. The lowest estimates are already talking about 100 billion dollars for each of these countries. Twenty years' labor by the Iraqi workers has been annihilated. Is there any need to point out that Iraq's debt before the invasion of Kuwait was 'only' 70 billion? We are seeing a vast squandering of goods and riches.
Right now, three quarters of humanity are underfed and live in destitution. Right now, 40,000 children under five years old are dying of undernourishment all over the world. How many more will be marked by its effects throughout their lives?
The capacities of production are at the service of death and destruction, not of humanity and its well-being. This is the reality of capitalism.
Capitalist dictatorship and totalitarianism
Horror and shameful lies. Alongside the bombardment of Iraq, we have the propaganda bombardment by the media, aimed at the populations all over the world, and in particular the working class. The media are revealed for what they are: servants of the bourgeoisie and its war effort. From the first day of the war, the time of the 'clean war', the mobilization and enthusiasm of the media were sickening. But the manipulation of the news and the gung-ho prattle of the journalists wasn't enough. The different belligerent states, above all the USA and the most 'democratic' ones, imposed a military censorship worthy of the most vulgar fascist or Stalinist regimes, in order to ensure a completely dictatorial control over information and 'public opinion.' This is what the much-vaunted bourgeois democracy amounts to.
Another lie: this was a war for the respect of international law that had been transgressed by the Iraqi bourgeoisie. What kind of law is this, except the law of the strongest, capitalist law? It was either through naked self interest, as in the case of Egypt, Syria or Britain, or through bribes and threats as in the case of the USSR, China and France that the USA obtained the UN's agreement for a military intervention.
Saddam Hussein made a good move when he made a scandal out of the double standards that are operating in all this, when he pointed out that neither the UN nor of course the USA had used the same armed force to ensure that Israel would respect the resolutions calling on her to leave the occupied territories. The bourgeoisie only cares about law, about its law, when it serves its interests to do so.
After the war, neither peace nor reconstruction, but more imperialist wars
Once the conflict was unleashed, all 'reason' and 'morality' went by the board. The USA wants to bring Iraq to its knees, inflict colossal and irreparable destruction on the country. No matter what the cost this is the implacable logic of imperialist war. The American bourgeoisie has no choice. In order to fulfill its political objectives, to affirm without any ambiguity its imperialist hegemony over the world, it is forced to go all the way and use the enormous means of destruction at its disposal. Razing Iraq and Kuwait and ensuring Saddam's total capitulation are the objectives of the American bourgeoisie. These are the orders given to the military.
Saddam Hussein, in his desperation, has been pushed into the suicidal, unbridled use of everything to hand: Scuds, the oil slick in the Persian Gulf, burning the oil wells to protect himself from the incessant waves of bombers. He also has no choice.
Two countries, Iraq and Kuwait, have been covered in fire and blood. Their main wealth, oil, is burning and the wells will certainly be devastated for some time to come. The whole environment of the region is gravely threatened. The damage is already considerable. A large part may even be irreversible.
And in the midst of all this bloodletting, we have heard the lying, hypocritical wailing of the bourgeois 'opposition' to the war. The pacifists, the leftists who when they are not overtly supporting Iraqi imperialism like the Trotskyists do - call for demonstrations 'against the war for oil' and for peace. But peace is impossible under capitalism. It is just a moment for preparing war. Capitalism carries imperialist war within itself. The war in the Middle East is yet further proof of that.
Even if controlling oil remains important, it's not the main aim of the war. Since 2 August the oil wells of Iraq and Kuwait have been paralyzed, and after that they have been largely destroyed, but this hasn't led to a rise in the price of oil. On the contrary, prices have fallen. There is no threat of scarcity. There is overproduction of oil because there is a generalized overproduction of commodities and a world recession.
The war is not yet over and what are we seeing already? The ignoble vultures known as 'businessmen' are hovering over the carnage and hungrily seeking what profit they can make in the name of reconstruction. The British companies have waxed indignant about the rapacity of their American rivals. Making war together is a very moral and just thing to do, but business is business. Against these new lies, let's be clear that there won't be the kind of reconstruction that can lead to a revival of the world economy. A country like Iraq was already incapable of repaying its 70 billion dollar debt before the war. This was one of the reasons for its tragic adventure. So how and with what can it reconstruct? And that at a time when world capitalism has shown itself incapable of re-launching the ruined economies of the former Stalinist capitalist bloc.
All this is just lies and propaganda in order to sell the war and the sacrifices to the populations, and above all to the working class of the most industrialized countries. In order to offer 'reasons' to support the war effort.
But for humanity as a whole there is no reason to support this war or any imperialist war. Still less for the exploited, revolutionary class, the proletariat. Neither on the historic, nor the economic, nor the humanitarian level (see 'The proletariat and war' in this issue). This is just a massacre of human lives, an incredible waste of technical means and productive forces, which will disappear into a bottomless pit. And at the end of it, there won't be peace, but more wars. Contrary to all the lies, there will be no peace from all this, neither in the Middle East or the rest of the planet.
The war against Iraq prepares tomorrow's wars
The defeat of Iraq will obviously be a great victory for the USA. Despite all its declarations about peace, its moralizing about good and evil, the American bourgeoisie is in reality issuing a warning to all those who may be tempted to follow Saddam Hussein's example. The USA is the world's leading imperialist power, the only 'superpower' after the collapse of the USSR. Because it is the only country that can do it, it cannot stand idly by in the face of the multiplication of local wars, the questioning of frontiers, the development of 'every man for himself' between states, in sum, of chaos. This is the warning. They will guarantee the 'world order' of which they are the main beneficiary. This is one of the reasons for the bloody intransigence of the USA, their insistence on razing Iraq, on waging war to the bitter end. But this warning is not only addressed to Saddam's potential imitators - and there are plenty of them. There is another more fundamental reason for the USA's intransigence.
It is also and above all to issue a warning to the other great powers, Germany, Japan, the European countries and to a lesser extent the USSR. America's imperialist domination is still very real. Sending its armed forces to the Middle East, making a clear and murderous demonstration of its immense military superiority, dragging others, like France for example, into the intervention, waging the war to its bitter end, crushing Iraq in fire and blood - all this is the means it uses to reinforce its global 'leadership'. And above all to snuff out any pretensions towards independence, towards the emergence of another imperialist pole capable of challenging its domination. Even if the latter is highly improbable for the moment.
This is the reason for the USA's systematic rejection of all the peace plans and proposals for negotiation involving an Iraqi withdrawal, proposed in turn by France on 15 January and the USSR before the land offensive - each time supported by Germany, Italy, etc ... This is the reason for the increasingly intransigent replies, for the increasingly harsh ultimatums issued in reply to these peace proposals.
War, tens of thousands of tons of bombs, hundreds of thousands of dead, incalculable destruction, the razing of Iraq and Kuwait so that the American bourgeoisie can affirm and strengthen its domination, its imperialist grip over a world sunk in crisis, war and decomposition. These are the real aims of the war!
It was through the perspective and unleashing of war that the American bourgeoisie succeeded despite all the problems in forcing the other powers into 'coalition' behind its war aims. Each time that the pressure eased off, the centrifugal tendencies, the tendencies towards opposition to the USA, towards the emergence of an alternative to the USA's war-drive, came to the surface (see the editorial to IR 64). Proof that these countries were well aware that their American imperialist rival had led them into a trap which would make them weaker than ever.
Once the war is over, the tensions between the USA and the European powers, Germany in particular, and Japan, will inevitably develop. Faced with the economic strength of these countries, their rise to power, the USA will be led more and more to impose an iron grip over these nascent antagonisms, to use the strength at its disposal, ie its military strength, and thus war.
The war against Iraq is the preparation for other imperialist wars. Not for peace. On the one hand, the aggravation of the economic crisis and capitalism's slide into chaos and decomposition will inevitably push countries into military adventures like Iraq's. On the other hand, and in this situation, the leading imperialist power, faced with chaos, faced with its potential rivals, will more and more use its military strength and war in order to impose its 'order' and its domination. Everything is pushing towards the accentuation of economic and military tensions. Everything is pushing towards the multiplication of imperialist wars.
This is what the bloody military victory of the western coalition announces.
In this imperialist war in the Middle East, as in any other imperialist war, it's above all the working class that pays, that is the main victim. It pays with its life when it is in uniform, enrolled by force at the battlefront, or when it simply finds itself under a rain of bombs and missiles. It pays with its sweat, its labor and its misery when it is 'lucky' enough to not be directly massacred.
Marx and Lenin are dead and buried, claimed the bourgeoisie when Stalinism fell apart. However, Karl Marx's watchword 'workers of the world unite' is as relevant and as urgent as ever faced with the nationalist, warmongering madness that is descending on the whole of humanity.
Yes, the international proletariat is the only force, the only social class that can oppose this increasingly insane and hellish machine that is capitalism in decomposition. It is the only force that can do away with this barbarism and build another society where the causes of war and poverty have disappeared.
The road is still a long one. However, we must go along it with determination because the most dramatic deadlines are approaching day by day.
The first steps are to refuse to make economic sacrifices, to reject the logic of defending the national economy. Rejecting national unity and national discipline, rejecting social peace and the logic of imperialist war, this is the road to follow. These are the slogans that revolutionaries must put forward.
The economic crisis, the sharpening trade war, is exacerbating imperialism and war. Crisis and war are two sides of the capitalist coin. The first, the crisis, leads to war. The latter in turns aggravates the crisis. The two are linked. The workers' struggle for its class demands against attacks and sacrifices, and the struggle against imperialist war, are one and the same struggle: the revolutionary struggle of the working class, the struggle for communism.
Workers of the world unite!