The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 22nd October 2004

Londoners march to "Bring Our Troops Home Now!"

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by Daphne Liddle

is facing yet another backbench rebellion after 40 Labour MPs signed a motion calling for a full Commons debate and vote before he responds to US demands to redeploy up to 1,000 British troops from the south of Iraq to the more dangerous Baghdad area.

The US claims the troops are needed to fill a gap temporarily as they divert their own troops to pound the resistance town of Fallujah yet again.
seen through

But many have already seen through the spin. Morale among the US troops is at rock bottom. Twenty months after they thought they had subdued the Iraqi people, many major towns are now entirely in the hands of the Iraqi resistance. And the Americans are facing steadily mounting casualties with two or three deaths every day.

 Last week the US military admitted that 17 soldiers were under investigation for refusing to operate a fuel convoy because of safety fears.

 The soldiers, based north of Baghdad, told their family members they thought the convoy, bound for Taji, was a suicide mission. They cited the poor condition of their vehicles and the absence of ground and air support for the convoy.

 The US army claims this is the first major breakdown of discipline over safety issues.
bad impact

But reports like this are having a bad impact on Bush’s electoral hopes in the two weeks before the presidential election. It is becoming clearer and clearer that the majority of US troops in Iraq just want to go home and the Iraqis want them to go home.

 This is why Bush needs a token gesture from British troops. The US already 130,000 troops in the north of Iraq, the extra 1,000 odd British are unlikely to make a significant military difference but they will make a difference to US morale in America.

  Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy is backing the call for a parliamentary vote before any British troops are redeployed but many believe the decision has already been made.

 One defence source said: “It was decided and virtually underway,” and said the Government’s claim that no decision had been made was “nonsense”. “I think there is an issue over the extent to which they have misled Parliament,” he added.

 This will increase unease among the many back benchers who voted for the illegal invasion of Iraq in March 2003 on the basis of scares about weapons of mass destruction based, they now know, on lies and deception.

Most are now regretting voting for the war, feeling they were bamboozled into endorsing a decision already made between Blair and Bush and unwilling to be fooled again.

 Paul Farrelly, the MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme is one of them. Last week he said: “There is no way we should give this dangerous American any sort of encouragement to inflict the sort of civilian casualties that we have already seen in Fallujah. We should instead be praying that he leaves office soon.”

 Geraldine Smith, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale is another who voted for the war but now thinks differently. “There is widespread alarm among the British public about the deployment of UK troops to fill in for the Americans.  They were meant to be home by Christmas; we need to see an exit strategy. It look as if we’re getting deeper involved,” she said.

 Last Wednesday in the House of Commons Blair, looking rattled as he always seems to now, insisted that no decision on the troop deployment has yet been made but that there will soon be a big “increase in activity” by both US and British troops in Iraq, to “prepare the country for next January’s elections”.

 He claimed this was not for the benefit of the Americans but for the Iraqis, that it would be short and that the troops involved, of the Black Watch Regiment, would indeed be “home for Christmas”.

 This has been widely interpreted to mean that if the Americans cannot force the people of Fallujah and other resistance towns to submit to their phoney elections, they are about to try to blast them out of existence.

Blair would be unlikely now to get a vote of support in the Commons; he is so discredited after the WMD and the sexed-up dossier affair.

 MPs must press for the return of the troops for their safety and for the safety of the Iraqi people.

 And MPs must be asked how long they are going to tolerate being led from one disaster to another by a shameless liar and warmonger.


Power crisis

ANEURIN BEVAN once said that since Britain is an island built on coal in the middle of a sea full of fish, no one living here should ever be cold or hungry.

 But last week two major unions – Amicus and the Transport and General Workers’ Union – and the Confederation of British Industry issued warnings that this country may face power cuts because of the lack of an integrated power policy. It’s not as though the resources do not exist; we still have plenty of undeveloped coal and alternatives like solar, wind and wave power have hardly begun to be exploited. We do not need to go down the path of nuclear power that will store up nothing but danger and huge expense for coming generations in dealing with the waste products.

 But why have we come so far with no proper integrated energy policy? Because the giant oil companies do have a global energy policy and that is that every country should be dependent on their products.

  The lack of an energy policy is not because successive governments have been too stupid to consider this but because they are blackmailed by the oil transnationals – the same companies behind the illegal invasion of Iraq, the brutal exploitation of Nigeria and efforts to destabilise the popular government of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. They are also behind the promotion of the culture of the private motor car throughout the western world, resulting in pollution levels that are poisoning the planet, causing global warming, melting the ice-caps and drowning low lying land around the world.

 Back in the 1970s when North Sea oil was beginning to be exploited, the giant oil companies, mostly based in the United States, did not want Britain to become independent in oil resources. North Sea oil was a light variety of oil that was easy to refine. But the giant companies who coveted the oil fields built refineries that could only take medium oil – so that Britain would have to continue to buy in heavier oil from the Middle East to mix with the light. The Tory government of the time was in this way pressured into giving control of the North Sea to the oil companies instead of developing the field as a national asset.

 But these companies are now facing a problem – their oil wells are beginning to run dry. So their need to control all the oil fields of the globe intensifies. It is now too precious to leave in the hands of “mavericks” like Saddam Hussein and so Iraq had to be invaded, with or without international consensus.

  And this highlights just how much the oil company interests are now at odds with other sections of capitalism, especially manufacturing industry. The current rapidly rising oil prices will increase production costs significantly and will put many companies out of action and could trigger a global downturn. Differences within the global ruling class will be exacerbated and governments will come under greater hidden commercial pressure to go to war to defend the profits of one faction against another.

 Capitalism has always been an unstable and dangerous economic system. Now the monopolisation process has produced such global giants, the prospect of them clashing threatens the whole planet.

 Socialism is not just a nice idea; it is now a vital and urgent necessity. But history has shown that socialism always advances most when its enemies – the various factions of global capitalism – are most divided. This is no time for hand-wringing or wallowing in despair; this is time for action and leadership of the coming ruling class – the workers.

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