The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 14th September 2007

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by our Arab Affairs correspondent

imperialism’s top commander in occupied Iraq, General David Petraeus, told the US Congress this week that the military objectives of the so-called troop surge “are largely being met”. But hostile Senate Democrats bluntly said the surge strategy was an abject failure in its prime objective and several senior Republican Senators also questioned the Bush administration’s approach, as Petraeus and US ambassador to Baghdad Ryan Crocker endured a grilling during the second day of testimony to Congress.

General Petraeus said nothing new. The “surge” offensive was working. More time was needed though the 30,000 reinforcements sent in this summer could be withdrawn sometime next year. The general rejected Democrat claims that his testimony had been scripted in the White House but this didn’t convince the New York Times which described it as “another of the broken promises and false claims we have heard from Mr Bush”.

Whether the extra “surge” troops leave or stay is largely irrelevant to most Iraqis. It would still leave them at the mercy of the 130,000-plus US army of occupation, together with a legion of mercenary “contractors”, struggling to prop up a puppet regime that had no credibility amongst the masses to start with.

While General Petraeus was painting a rosy picture of success in Baghdad on Tuesday the resistance showed what they were capable of by hitting the US army HQ at the international airport. Rockets and mortar fire rained down on “Camp Victory” killing one soldier and wounding 11 more. Meanwhile back in Al Anbar province, a resistance stronghold, partisans continued their campaign to cut all major transport links by blowing up two more bridges on the motorway in the western desert last Friday. The number of bridges blown up on the Al Anbar motorway this year now stands at five.

The attack came only a day after a “Conference on Rebuilding Al Anbar” discussed restoring the province’s bridges, power stations and water purification plants – all of which have been destroyed during the years of the American occupation.

 The conference was convened by the puppet “vice-presidents” and a number of other quislings in the American-installed administration. Also presiding over that conference were the US Ambassador, Ryan Crocker, and a number of American Senators.  It was announced that the sum of $84 million had been earmarked for the puppet authorities in the province and another $50 million as “compensation” to be given out to families that have suffered during the American occupation.

The Iraqi people certainly are suffering. In Saddam Hussein’s day part of the oil wealth was set aside for the people. They had full employment, a national health service, schools and universities, electricity and drinking water.

Since the Anglo-American led invasion in 2003 four million Iraqis have fled the country. More than a million have died. Sixty per cent are out of work. Seventy per cent of Iraqi children are not in school. Eight million people, or almost one-third of the population, are in need of emergency aid. Now cholera has returned.

More than 7,000 cases of acute diarrhoea have so far been reported in the cholera epidemic in northern Iraq, putting over 2.8 million people at risk from exposure to the infectious and sometimes fatal disease, according to the United Nations health agency.

The UN World Health Organisation (WHO) is taking emergency measures to help the Kurdish “autonomous” region authorities contain the epidemic. Ten people are so far reported to have died. WHO Technical Officer Omer Mekki told reporters that doctors still need materials to control the pandemic, including drugs, medical supplies, diagnostic and enteric disease bacteriology kits, water testing kits, awareness and communications tools and equipment.” He added that they are making their best efforts to lead the UN emergency aid in northern Iraq.

Health authorities in occupied Iraq say that all evidence suggests that the transmission of cholera is still spreading. While it is unclear exactly what initially caused the outbreak, preliminary investigations show that the polluted water the area residents were forced to rely on due to a shortage of drinking water, may have been to blame.

Doctors warn that the continuous movement of people and goods, bad sanitary conditions and high temperatures may increase the possibility of spreading the disease rapidly to other areas such as Baghdad and the central provinces.


No one expected much from Brown

THE ANNUAL conference of the Trades Union Congress kicks off with the annual address from the leader of the Labour Party that most of the unions keep afloat through their dues and donations. Tony Blair could barely disguise his distaste at this ritual reminder of where the money comes and he worked tirelessly during his decade in office to find alternative sources of funding to make the final break with the unions possible. Fortunately for us the Tories and the Liberal Democrats were opposed to tate funding of political parties and business backing, such as it was, dried up soon after the “loans for peerages” scandal broke.

Gordon Brown plays a different hand. While he never seriously expected a rapturous welcome from the delegates at the Brighton Centre on Monday he certainly wants to keep the big affiliated unions on board in time for the next election.  He privately promised trade union leaders regular talks at Downing Street “without fear or favour” in a letter to TUC general secretary Brendan Barber last month that was conveniently leaked to the media on Monday. Whether these regular consultations will develop into genuine dialogue and consultation rather than public relations exercises largely depends on the union leaders themselves.

The Prime Minister certainly made no apology for the dismal anti-union policies of his predecessor while making it clear that the union movement can expect no more than the usual platitudes and a few token concessions on training, the minimum wage and agency workers in the future. Instead we were given a lecture on globalisation and all the great work Britain has supposedly  been doing “building jobs and prosperity” in the 21st century.

The Tory media highlighted Brown’s concern at the spectre of foreign competition: his proposals to limit the influx of non-European Union workers and guarantee a “British job to every British worker”  — a term  that would not sound amiss from a Neanderthal Tory or a follower of the British Nazi Party. To be fair to Brown he didn’t actually use those exact words but merely said he was suggesting “new ways that we can respond to globalisation by creating more jobs for British men and women and for young people throughout our economy”. Though Brown’s repeated stress on the “British” and “Britain”  might have made delegates think he had strayed into  the wrong conference  he made it clear later that: “We will at all times stand up to expose and eliminate from every council hall in Britain the bigotry of the BNP”.

Brown saw no need to make any reference to “social justice” or even pay lip-service what the social-democrats called  “socialism” in the old days. Though the Labour leader talked about “workers” and “working people” he said nothing about the party millions of them have repeatedly returned to office since 1997. He dwelt on the role he sees for the unions and the Government, which he says will give “our workers…the power to acquire the skills that give us the bargaining power, the higher wages, and then the prosperity”. But he said nothing about repealing the anti-unions laws of the Thatcher era that curb free collective bargaining or anything about the relationship between the unions and Labour that he wants to curb in his own proposals for internal Labour Party reform.

The Labour Party was established to provide a political platform for the unions –  not a road to power and position for class collaborators, opportunists and place-seekers. It certainly needs reforming by returning to its democratic roots with all power in the hands of the affiliated unions that fund it. Until that happens the right wing of the movement and the likes of Blair and Brown will continue to hold sway.

Nobody could expect much from Gordon Brown at TUC this week so no one should be surprised at what we got. Brown was Number Two in the Blair Government. He publicly went along with everything in the “New Labour” agenda, no matter what he might say these days.  They have their agenda. We need to fight for ours – for a democratic Labour Party and for the communist ideal.

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