AS WE roll into the holiday period our rulers will inevitably bore us with the usual platitudes about “peace and goodwill” to lull us into a false sense of seasonal security. The fact that none of them believe a word of it themselves was clearly demonstrated this week at the United Nations.
Iraq complied fully with the Security Council demand to account for all its weapons a day before the deadline. But its contents were virtually dismissed in London and Washington even before it was read.
Reading it has been restricted to the chosen few by a unilateral decision of the United States. Washington commandeered the complete submission for release only to the other four permanent members of the Security Council, making it clear that the other members of the Council will have to make do with censored documents, allegedly on grounds of security. Norway and Syria have rightly demanded immediate access and the American action has been criticised by the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. None of this bodes well for the credibility of the UN or the prospects for peace in the Middle East.
This should come as no surprise to us. It is what imperialism is all about. Great Power bullying, gunboat diplomacy and war. But this war can be stopped.
In the United States the campaign for peace is growing. The mass protests in Britain and the rest of the European Union have strengthened the hand of those realistic elements in the European capitalist class, which are opposed to American hegemony. The popular feeling on the street reflects the growing opposition amongst working people and people from all other strata to another war – a war they know they will have to pay for in cash and blood.
Beware the Ides of March
Tony Blair has come in for some stick this week over his wife’s business dealings with a convicted Australian con-man, now under threat of deportation. Reams of pages in the bourgeois press have been devoted to this and even the lack-lustre leader of the Tory opposition is joining in the fun.
Julius Caesar, we are told, divorced his first wife, Pompeia, following rumours that she was having an affair with another Roman noble, Clodius. Though there was no proof against her Caesar declared: “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion”.
Of course this is not Ancient Rome and no one is calling on Blair to take such a drastic step. But what the press frenzy does show is that the media honeymoon with Tony Blair is beginning to end. And it almost certainly reflects the frustration amongst the dominant section of the ruling class at Blair’s apparent stalling on Britain’s entry into the European Monetary Union (EMU).
Significantly, retired Tory grandee Lord Heseltine has chosen this moment to call for the replacement of Tory leader Duncan Smith by the pro-Euro veteran Kenneth Clarke.
Divisions within the Cabinet over EMU went public last week with reports that the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, favours a slow-track approach to the single currency with Blair still in support of early entry.
While this may seem good news to the anti-EMU camp it has to be recognised that the Blair-Brown tiff is only a reflection of a wider debate within the ruling class itself. It is certainly not motivated by any desire to defend the interests of working people – who will certainly not benefit from British entry into EMU.
Nor is the current attack against the Blairs motivated by any anger at the direction of this New Labour government which bends over backwards to meet the demands of the ruling class to put the entire burden of the capitalist crisis on the backs of working people.
The problem the ruling class has at the moment is that Labour is the only game in town as far as EMU is concerned. The Tories are still in the grip of the Eurosceptics and the Liberal-Democrats cannot form a government on their own nor can they influence this one given Labour’s huge parliamentary majority.
Perhaps a message is being sent to Blair. We’ll see.
Incidentally, Clodius was prosecuted by the great Roman lawyer Cicero but the well-bribed jury acquitted him. Some years later Clodius was murdered on the Appian Way. Caesar became dictator of Rome. We all know what happened next…
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