The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 10th February 2006

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by our Middle East Affairs correspondent

ANGLO-AMERICAN imperialism is turning the screws on Iran with threats of war if Tehran refuses to abandon its nuclear research programme.

US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the United States does not rule out using military force against Iran to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons.

“All options, including the military one, are on the table,” Rumsfeld told German financial newspaper Handelsblatt this week.

“Today, biological, chemical and radiological weapons are available which could kill tens of thousands of people,” Rumsfeld declared. “There is a genuine possibility that these weapons could fall into the hands of people who behead innocent people and blow up children. The people of the free world must realise that they have been warned.”

Rumsfeld said Iran must be prevented from developing atomic bombs. “We know that terrorists are desperately seeking ever more deadly weapons. Iran is the main sponsor of terrorist organisations such as Hezbollah and Hamas,” he claimed.

This was dutifully echoed by Tony Blair, who has weekly video conferences with the American president. Blair told senior MPs on the House of Commons Liaison Committee that he could not rule out the use of British troops in any future US conflict with Iran.

never say never

“You can never say never in any of these situations,” he said while stressing that Britain still preferred to resolve disputes with Tehran through “peaceful and diplomatic means”.

Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, the man who said Iraq disarmed long before the US invasion in 2003, is also warning Americans to prepare for a new war with Iran.

“We just don’t know when, but it’s going to happen,” Scott Ritter said last week at a meeting to promote his latest book.

Ritter, who argues that Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons, predicts that the nuclear issue will end up going to the UN Security Council, which will determine there is no evidence of an atomic weapons programme. Then, he says, John Bolton, America’s UN envoy, “will deliver a speech that has already been written. It says America cannot allow Iran to threaten the United States and we must unilaterally defend ourselves.”

“How do I know this? I’ve talked to Bolton’s speechwriter,” Ritter claims.

Ritter also predicts that the war would start with American air-strikes on Iran which the Bush administration hopes would lead to the overthrow of the current Islamic leadership. If that doesn’t happen they expect Iran would retaliate against Israel and the US would respond with a nuclear attack on Iran.

The only way to prevent this is to elect a Democrat controlled Congress this November, said Ritter, a lifelong Republican.

Last year the controversial former weapons inspector was predicting that the US was going to attack Iran in June. Whether Ritter has access to insider information or is simply being fed stories by the Pentagon’s psychological warfare department remains to be seen.

It certainly isn’t fazing the Iranians who are adamant that their nuclear research programme will continue, come what may, calculating that the imperialists would risk the wrath of millions upon millions of Muslims throughout the world, far greater than the furore over the Danish cartoons, if the Islamic republic was subject to an unprovoked attack. But foolish comments about the Holocaust and offering prizes for Holocaust cartoons are only playing into the hands of the imperialists, whose first objective is to completely isolate Iran politically and economically.

Meanwhile in Washington a former US official has admitted stealing millions of dollars meant for the reconstruction of Iraq.

 Robert Stein has confessed to stealing more than two million dollars and taking bribes in return for contracts when he was a senior official in the American “Coalition Provisional Authority” which administered Iraq immediately after US-led invasion in March 2003. Two senior US officers are also charged with taking $200,000 a month in kick-backs in collusion with Stein.

 Stein was appointed to manage an $82 million-plus fund for the rebuilding of shattered infrastructure in south-central Iraq in 2003 and 2004, despite a previous conviction for fraud that was apparently missed by the Pentagon.

  He has admitted to conspiring to give out contracts worth eight million dollars in return for back-handers and milking two million dollars from reconstruction funds. He also received gifts and sexual favours lavished on him at a special villa in Baghdad.

Stein has pleaded guilty to counts of conspiracy, bribery, money laundering, conspiracy, a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a machine gun. He faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.


Free speech, equality and the class struggle

WITHIN the last few days we have seen the Government defeated on the Religious Hatred Bill, BNP leader Nick Griffin acquitted of race hate crimes – and boasting that this was a victory for free speech – and Muslims around the world protesting at anti-Islamic cartoons published initially in a Danish newspaper. These different events lead to questions as to where communists stand on the issue of free speech and equality. Bourgeois critics ask why, if ridicule of one religion is bad, should not all religions have equal protection from ridicule and criticism?

 But communists see the world from a class perspective. We know that if you apply equal criteria in a world that is fundamentally class divided and unequal, it will have a very different impact on vulnerable working class communities than it does on rich and powerful communities.

 Films and shows like The Life of Brian, Jerry Springer the Opera, Father Ted, or the Dave Allen Show lampoon Christianity but there is no danger of them inciting anyone to attack Christians or the Pope.

 The rantings of hate-mongers like Ian Paisley are another matter. They do lead to attacks on vulnerable members of the Catholic community in the occupied north of Ireland.

 Criticism and rational debates among atheists and the leaders of various religions do not threaten vulnerable people.

The Muslim community is, by and large, part of the working class and for workers an injury to one is an injury to all. The foul outpourings of the BNP – who now scapegoat Muslims because they know it is against the law to incite hatred against them as Asians or Blacks – and the Danish cartoons are an attack on a vulnerable community. They are reminiscent of the Nazi cartoons of the 20s and 30s in Germany that incited hatred against Jews. And we know where that led – to the gas chambers. Muslim communities have a well-founded fear of history repeating itself in that respect, and as workers they deserve the support and protection of the organised working class.

Communists are atheists and we believe all religions to be mistaken and that all of them have regressive aspects that hold workers back. But we do our best to resolve this through rational argument. And we respect our fellow workers – whatever their religion – who stand beside us in working class struggle for peace and social justice.

 We call for all education to be secular – for children from all religious backgrounds to be educated together, to learn to respect each other as human beings. They should be informed about different religious beliefs and they should be taught science and rationalism so that as young adults they can come to their own conclusions.

 We also call for Muslim communities to enjoy the same legal protection against the hate-mongers as they could expect under the race relations legislation.

 But we recognise that bourgeois laws are never going to give the working class the protection and freedom that it needs. That job can only be done by the class itself, by the trade unions and other organs of the class standing up in unity against all who would divide and weaken us on the basis of colour, creed or gender. If we allow fascists to attack Muslim youngsters today and do nothing, our own children could be attacked tomorrow.

 When confronted by questions about free speech, equality and so on the acid test, as always, is what impact would this have on the working class? What impact would it have on real social justice?

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