The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 21st January 2005



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Lead

British cruelty and abuse in Iraq -

WHO GAVE THE ORDERS? 

by Daphne Liddle

THE BRITISH
public were shocked and stunned last Wednesday as  photos of British soldiers abusing Iraqi civilians were splashed across newspaper front pages.

 The photos, 22 in all, are part of the evidence being presented at the court martial of three of the British soldiers involved. They show appalling violence, intimidation and humiliation forced on a number of Iraqis, who are naked or nearly naked, some of them bound in rope nets.

The events depicted in the photos are reported to have happened at a storage base near the Iraqi town of Basra in the weeks after the illegal American and British invasion of Iraq. The court martial is taking place at British army base at Osnabruck in Germany.
 
only obeying...

The soldiers, of the First Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, claim they were “only obeying orders”. They say the Iraqis were looters, stealing food meant for humanitarian aid and they had been told to “work them hard”.

 It does not seem to have occurred to them or their officers that there is a staggering irony in their moral condemnation of these no doubt hungry men for stealing food, when they had just taken part in the violent theft of a whole country – an invasion that destroyed Iraq’s infrastructure and food supplies and did not trouble itself to restore them quickly.

 The pictures are so bad that Tony Blair and various senior army officials have been forced to condemn them in public and to disown the soldiers as a rotten handful.

 General Sir Michael Jackson, the head of the army said that 65,000 servicemen and women had served in Iraq since the invasion.

 “Only a very small number are alleged to be involved in incidents of this type, and in consequence the number of open investigations into deliberate abuse against Iraqi citizens is very small,” he said.

 Tony Blair described the pictures as “shocking and appalling” but said they should not be allowed to “tarnish the good name of our armed forces”. He added that the “vast majority” of soldiers who served in Iraq had done so “with courage and honour”.

 In this way those responsible for putting these men in this situation wash their hands of responsibility.

inevitable

Just last week an American soldier was jailed for 10 years for his part in the abuse that took place at Abu Ghraib. And in the same way the US government is trying to portray the scandal at Abu Ghraib as the work of a few rotten ordinary soldiers, rather than the inevitable outcome of a brutal invasion and the subjugation and oppression of its people.

 Some of the 22 pictures came to light when one of the soldiers took a reel of film to be developed in a photographic shop in Tamworth in Staffordshire.

 The shop staff called the police when they saw the pictures. A police investigation found the other photos as it questioned the soldiers involved. Several of them had taken pictures. This indicates they cannot have realised they were committing a crime.
 
with respect?

Army officials have claimed that soldiers were told to treat Iraqi civilians with respect and were instructed in the relevant clauses of the Geneva Convention.

 But it would take a very brave soldier indeed to refuse to carry out an order because it contravened the Geneva Convention.

 The intimidation and oppression of the entire Iraqi population is the deliberate policy of the invaders. The racist attitudes towards the Iraqis and their culture are part and parcel of what is, in the end, a colonial occupation.

 Imperialist armies traditionally brutalise their soldiers and then hypocritically claim to be shocked by their behaviour.

 The British army has a long-standing reputation for its cruelty in Ireland, India, Africa and many other places.

 On the same day as the 22 pictures were published, the Independent ran a feature article on the “torture, starvation, rape mutilation and mass executions” carried out in Kenya under British rule.

 Ordinary soldiers are made cruel by being subjected to cruelty in their training. There is a direct link between the shocking events at Deep Cut and the abuse in Basra.
 
must have known

Those soldiers would not and could not have acted in the way they did without senior officers knowing about it, without believing that this is what they were supposed to do.

 It is not enough to bring these three to trial. The investigation must continue and all those responsible for this policy, up to the highest levels, must be brought to trial. 

 *************
Editorial

The madness of George W Bush

  REPORTS that the United States has sent commando teams into Iran to target the Islamic republic’s nuclear installations have heightened tension in a region racked by the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq and the continuing Israeli persecution of the Palestinian Arabs.

According the New Yorker magazine, US special forces have been covertly operating inside Iran for the past six months selecting sites for future air strikes. Though Washington has dismissed the report as “riddled with inaccuracies” it has ominously not denied it outright.

Iran has long been a thorn in the Americans’ flesh. The revolution drove out the hated Shah, imperialism’s chief stooge in the Middle East in 1979 and Iran has been at loggerheads with the Americans ever since. While Democratic presidents like Carter and Clinton worked to contain Iran, the Bush’s, father and son, have always favoured a more aggressive stance.

Iran is on Bush’s “axis of evil” hit-list for daring to support Syria and the Palestinian resistance. Its considerable oil reserves are coveted by the big oil corporations who will never be satisfied until they control the world’s entire oil production. And the Islamic republic’s legitimate efforts to develop its own nuclear industry with Russian assistance, is portrayed as a direct threat to US interests by the war-mongers in the White House.

Though American air power can wreak havoc in Iran the consequences of such an attack would be disastrous. Iran’s religious leadership stretches right across the spectrum of the Shia Muslim community far beyond its frontiers. No one doubts that the response from the Iranian people and the Shia community would be robust in its fury if Iran was bombed.

France and Germany, the major powers in Europe, opposed the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq and they’ve worked to develop good relations with Iran. They recognise the strategic and economic importance of the country and they’re mindful of the fact that if Turkey joins the European Union, Iran will be one of their neighbours. Britain has also supported the EU’s constructive dialogue with the Iranian government over the past two years.

Where does that leave Tony Blair now? As usual waiting to see what the Americans do next.

Blair would have us believe that British imperialism is able to exert back-door influence on Washington in return for doing American imperialism’s bidding in Iraq and throughout the world. But what has he got for all his crawling to the White House?

All Blair can chalk up is a third-rate “peace” conference on Palestine in London that has been shunned by all except the hapless Palestinians themselves.

The anti-war movement is mobilising for the next mass demonstration in London in March. Hundreds of thousands on the street will send a clear warning to Blair and his cronies not to plunge the country into another illegal war and give support and encouragement to those in the labour movement struggling for a change of leadership.

Top of the agenda is the unconditional and immediate withdrawal of all British troops from Iraq. The next must be opposition to an attack on Iran or any other country by US imperialism.

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