Editorial from the April 2003 issue of the Socialist Standard
The organised slaughter has begun. It is now clear that this was always the intention of Bush, the nominal head of US capitalism, and his British counterpart, Blair. They cynically allowed the diplomatic wrangling to go on at the UN so as to buy them time to get their forces massing on the borders of Iraq up to full fighting strength. This done, diplomacy was discarded and the military given the go-ahead.
This war is not being fought simply to overthrow a brutal dictator – though this will surely happen. Nor even to stop the spread of chemical and biological weapons – even though countries like the US and Britain are anxious to maintain their monopoly of such weapons. It is being fought over a key energy source – oil, of which Iraq has the second biggest reserves after Saudi Arabia. The chief aim is to secure future supplies of such energy resources, essential to their political and economic demands.In other words, this war is no different from any of the wars that have taken place in modern times. It's a business war. Capitalism is driven by the competitive struggle for profits between corporations and states. Conflict, economic, political and, as a last resort, military is built-in to capitalism over sources of raw materials, investment outlets, markets, trade routes, and strategic points to control and protect these. When a state judges that its “vital interest” is threatened – e.g. needing to secure access to a key raw material, trade route or military outpost – it goes to war. Iraq did this when it invaded Kuwait in 1990 and America is doing this now in invading Iraq.
Capitalism breeds war, though most people would prefer to live in peace. Consequently massive propaganda exercises are employed by the state to stoke people's fears and anxieties that stem from their material poverty and insecurity. Invariably these also endeavour to present it as being in some way humanitarian. This is because people have a healthy horror of war. They know war means death and destruction. Death not only of the soldiers on both sides, but also of women, children and old people as “collateral damage” – who make up four-fifths of casualties of modern war – and destruction not only of military installations and hardware, but also of bridges, roads, power stations, ports, hospitals and other socially-useful constructions.
This particular war may be over quickly. The Iraqi armed forces are no match for the US army and its awesome weapons of mass destruction. It is, however, going to be followed by chaos and massacres throughout the region, as Bush and Blair well know but have dismissed as “a price worth paying” to secure control of oil supplies.
Many people's gut reaction is simply that war is crazy. Socialists share this anti-war sentiment. It is one of the reasons why we are Socialists – real Socialists that is, not supporters of the sort of state capitalist dictatorships that failed in Russia and Eastern Europe, but advocates of a united world community without frontiers based on all the Earth's resources, natural and industrial, becoming the common heritage of all humanity and being used to satisfy people's needs instead of for profit. We have concluded that capitalism means war and that therefore to get rid of wars and the threat of wars – and the constant preparation for war represented by maintaining armed forces – you have got to get rid of capitalism.
That voices are raised against the war, millions of voices, shows that there is hope. That workers – whose experience of life stems from using their energies and talents to co-operatively solve problems and achieve goals; who realise the potential for mutual dependence and support; who enjoy some security of life won through the class struggle – are determined to oppose the war shows that opposition to war has its basis in material reality rather than mere moral condemnation.
War is completely unnecessary. We are living in a world that has enough resources to provide plenty for all, to eliminate world poverty, ignorance and disease, to provide an adequate and comfortable life for everyone on the planet. Yet under capitalism resources are squandered on armaments, of individual as well as of mass destruction, and, as now, in actual war. Even in times of peace – as the armed truce between wars is called – capitalism's pursuit of profit pollutes and plunders the planet and upsets the balance of nature with potentially devastating consequences. The economic law “no profit, no production” applies implacably, resulting in millions dying of hunger and related diseases every year simply because it is not profitable to produce the food to feed them and, in fact, often while the food that could feed them is destroyed so as to maintain prices and profits.
As World Socialists, who are opposed to war and to capitalism which breeds it:
- We place on record our horror that capitalism has once again provoked the orgy of death and destruction known as war.
- We extend the hand of friendship to our fellow workers in Iraq who our political masters have designated as targets for destruction.
- We pledge to do all within our means to bring the slaughter to an immediate end.
- We pledge ourselves to continue to work for the establishment of a world socialist society of peace and cooperation.
- We call upon fellow workers everywhere to join in the struggle for World Socialism.
The Executive Committee,
The Socialist Party of Great Britain,
Companion party of the World Socialist Movement.