18 April 2004
Such was the cry I heard in South Africa in pre-1994 days and on innumerable occasions since. A reader wrote me and castigated me (somewhat) for allowing my emotions to get the better of me in my last essay. Rather, he said, I should be supplying analysis, a view with which I wholeheartedly agree. Well we all have our lapses, so now I’m back in the real world (what’s left of it) and ready to do battle.
It’s a wet and rather cool Sunday morning in Sarf London and having got this morning’s Website housekeeping out of the way (not that it ever ends – it ‘only’ took me about 3 hours), showered and dressed, I can now apply my caffeine-charged brain to the task at hand.
Palestine and Iraq are two intertwined dilemmas for the imperium, for on the one hand, the myopic vision of US capital felt (believed) that ‘solving the problem’ of Iraq would inevitably lead to a ‘final solution’ (where have I heard that phrase before?) to the Palestinian ‘problem’.
But of course the Iraqi problem, far from being solved has led the imperium into a quagmire, or as BlackCommentator put it,
“The magnitude of what has transpired since the U.S. invasion is not yet fully understood, even by much of the Left. The Bush men have already been defeated. What is unfolding is a terminal debacle, a crack in history. Bush made it so, and perversely confirmed the epochal nature of events when he told reporters, Tuesday, “Now is the time, and Iraq is the place.”
Just check out some of today’s headlines taken at random, coming out of the corporate press:
“BAGHDAD, Iraq – US Marines backed by helicopters battled hundreds of Iraqi insurgents near the Syrian border Sunday in fighting that killed five Marines.”
“IS the comparison of Iraq with Vietnam exaggerated?”
San Francisco Chronicle – “It’s too soon to know.”
“REBUILDING of Iraq nearly halted by insurgency”
Fort Worth Star Telegram
“US closes Iraq roads to protect convoys”
Salt Lake Tribune
“PHONE calls risky at besieged Iraq base”
“BIG security for Hill Iraq visit”
The Age – Melbourne
“LEERY UN officials balk at role in rebuilding Iraq”
Contra Costa Times
The imperium’s adventure in Iraq is no more, no matter what the media tell us. Remember when they told us that with the capture of Saddam the ‘remnants’ of the Ba’ath regime would slink away? What of the jubilant of Shia ‘majority’ that once they were no longer oppressed by the Sunni ‘minority’, they would embrace Koca Kola Kulture with open arms? And what of the fabled ‘Sunni Triangle’? But of course any reading of US policy on Iraq (or anywhere else in the world for that matter) reveals that all of it was talk and no more. Nation-building? Democracy? A crock of shit, every last word.
The meeting between Bush and Blair last week left most people (those who cared anyway) gasping for breath in its total avoidance of the issues. But then what else should anyone have expected? With the ‘war on terror’ in ruins, and oil heading for $40 a barrel and a national uprising in Iraq, short of throwing in the towel, Bush/Blair had no alternative but in upping the ante, ergo the decision to formally annex the West Bank, for that is what it is. Blair and co have made much of the ‘handing over’ of the Gaza Strip but its small potatoes, the real prize is the West Bank. How long before the tiny Gaza Strip, cut off and economically unviable as any kind of real state also becomes a part of a ‘Greater Israel’? But then the idea of a Palestinian state was always a fiction invented by the imperialists.
The media too has done its part in foisting this sleight of hand on the public by going along with all the nonsense about the ‘road map’ and that “it’s a start” when in any case the ‘road map’ was a sick joke to start with, designed to fob off those in the Labour Government who needed an excuse to hang on to their jobs in government. The entire thing was an exercise is self-delusion and the self-serving interests of a gang of rancid politicians in Westminster. It was moreover, an event that will never be forgiven and from which the Labour Party will never recover (when Blair first took office there were 400,000 rank and file members of the Labour Party and today? Perhaps 250,000).
Today’s assassination of the new leader of Hamas, Rantissi gives us the real deal. The Israelis like the Americans believe that they can terrorise the Palestinian people into producing a political ‘leadership’ that will capitulate to the demands of the imperium. They are, in effect two sides of the same coin and with an equal chance of success. But what makes the imperium think they can be successful in Palestine where they failed in Iraq? Those who go through the phony debate about whose wagging the tail and vice versa, avoid the fundamental issue, namely that US and Israeli policy has been in lockstep for decades, it matters little whose wagging what. To paraphrase, what’s good for America is good for Israel.
The parallels are obvious, blatantly obvious, as with the failure to find a puppet ruling class in Iraq, so too the sidelining of the Palestinian Authority has also failed to produce a puppet class willing to risk the wrath of the Palestinian people. The wriggling of Blair and his cronies over the past few days has been embarrassing even for their supporters and is indicative of just how desperate the situation has gotten for the imperium.
The “terminal debacle” goes a long way toward explaining the events surrounding the Bush/Blair/Sharon annexation of what’s left of Palestine, for not only does it reveal the desperate nature of the situation for US capital, it serves to divert attention away from the Iraqi national uprising. But not for long, for although this maybe a setback for Palestinian national aspirations in the short term, like Iraq, it represents yet another defeat for the imperium.
For do Bush, Blair and Sharon really expect the Palestinian people to roll over and give up after almost fifty years of struggle? What kind of thinking is it that propels this (sick) joke of a political class?
If this were a poker game, I’d say that the imperium is about to lose the bank for the words of both Bush and Blair reveal that their hand is not even a low pair. Moreover, it has revealed once and for all what the agenda is and has been all along. One need only look at the pathetic exhumation of the ‘road map’ by Blair in his futile attempt to justify his capitulation to Bush to see a bankrupt policy that has no future except increased terror and death for the poor of the planet. By throwing in their lot with the parochial interests of Israeli fascist capital, Bush/Blair have played their final card. All the talk of ‘leverage’ that Blair and his apologists rolled out before has vaporised just like the fabled WMD.
Some on the left argue that engineering yet another ‘crisis’ could be a way out, perhaps Syria, Venezuela or even Iran but how realistic is this option? For starters, it’s not likely to find a willing partner in Blair (who is in any case, on his last legs and soon to be dumped). Shorn of a willing partner in crime, US capital will be out there, on its own. No amount of WMD will enable the US to get its way unless of course, it decides to build a 4th Reich (and we all know what happened to the 3rd). And in any case, assuming so, it merely puts off the inevitable — the day of reckoning for the imperium and its corporate paymasters.
Some argue that by going all the way with Sharon’s plan will ensure the ‘Jewish vote’ for Bush this November but this is pure fantasy given the tiny percentage of the Jewish vote and only serves to mask the real issues. Big capital is big capital, and the only interests it serves are those of big capital.
And to those who think that a Kerry victory will change anything, think again folks, for Kerry is on record as wanting to “finish the job” in Iraq just like his British equivalents. For the imperium, this is a one-way street. In banking everything on Iraq and losing, the imperium is caught by the short and curlies, it has no place left to go except down. The question is, will it risk all and take us with it?
A question that raises the fundamental issue — that by focusing on people like Bush and Blair we entirely miss the point, for ultimately, Bush has no more control over events than we do. Capitalism as ever, is driven by its own internal and inexorable logic. Bush can no more capitulate over Iraq (without a force greater than its own to compel it) than Sharon can pull back from the brink of an act of genocide.
We need only look to the sacrifices made by the Vietnamese people in defeating US imperialism — an estimated three million deaths and a struggle that took about twenty-five years and one that left the country effectively destroyed both economically and ecologically. So far, Iraq has cost the lives of an estimated 1 million Iraqi citizens (some put the figure much higher) over a fifteen-year period and the scale of destruction is actually far worse than that of Vietnam due to the weapons of mass destruction used by the imperium on the defenceless people of Iraq.
Ultimately then, unless we in the so-called developed world are prepared to effectively challenge the political and economic class that rules us, things look decidedly bleak. Mass demonstrations are all well and good but then what? In the UK, Blair will go but will his replacement be any better? Dream on folks.
For the better part of a century we have stood by and watched the poor and oppressed of the planet do our fighting (and dying) for us. And die they have in their tens of millions. We live our comfortable, insulated lives by virtue of their impoverishment and oppression. Some of us relieve feelings of guilt by supporting an estimated 120,000 ‘charities’ in the UK, but all this does is creates thousands of jobs for us, and does not a single thing to effectively aid the poor of the world, in this the fourth richest country on the planet.
Since 1945, the Labour Party managed capitalism as part of the ‘social contract’ it negotiated with capitalism supposedly on behalf of working people. It went along with the Cold War agenda of US capitalism, and we should expect nothing different now or in the future from UK’s political class.
In the US, the Democratic Party goes through the same charade. It too has marshalled the support of organised Labour (what’s left of it) and Americans should expect nothing different from the Dems either. It practices the same racist policies both at home and abroad just as the Labour government plays the race card with its treatment of ‘asylum seekers’ and ‘illegal immigrants’ and its hysterical propaganda about ‘Islamic fundamentalists’. But where is the hysteria about Jewish or Christian fundamentalists? It’s the same old story, just a different ‘enemy’.
Unless we reformulate a new vision for a socialist alternative, one that moves beyond the parochial interests of the nation state, one that deals with the reality of a global ‘commons’, my feeling is that we are doomed. Okay, so two million people marched in London last year against the war and in Spain this year a right-wing war-mongering government was tossed out by the people (at least the Spanish people had an some kind of alternative to vote for). But in the UK and in the US, where is the alternative? The newly-created ‘Unity Coalition’ headed by George Galloway is no more than a return to the fantasy of the ‘old’ pre-Blairite Labour Party but offers nothing in the way of a real alternative to the policies of the present, let alone the past in spite of all the slogans.
The writing is on the wall the folks and we are fast running out of time. No justice? No peace.