The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 30th March 2007
Marching against imperialist war
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STRIKE ON IRAN!
by our Arab Affairs Correspondent
ARAB LEADERS gather in Riyadh for yet another Arab League
summit on Palestine amid reports that the United States is preparing a
massive air-strike against Iran to resolve the nuclear crisis
US imperialism has never favoured Arab summitry but this meeting in the
Saudi Arabian capital is an exception. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
and the European Union’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana will be in
attendance and American foreign minister Condoleezza Rice has
just spent four days in the Middle East calling on the Arabs to “reach
out” to Israel.
The Riyadh summit is expected to re-affirm its commitment to its own
Beirut Declaration of 2002, which offered a “full peace” in return for
a “full” Israeli withdrawal from all the Arab territories it has
occupied since 1967, along with a “just solution to the Palestinian
refugee problem”. Israel rejected it at the time but Tel Aviv is now
under pressure from its master in Washington to at least pay
lip-service to this initiative and this, many Arabs fear, is because US
imperialism wants at least some Arab rulers on its side if and when the
White House decides to hit Iran.
None of this is good news for the Blair government which has asked
Russia and Turkey help win the release of 15 Royal Navy sailors
detained by Iranian naval forces for allegedly entering Iranian waters.
The sailors and marines from HMS Cornwall were inspecting ships for
contraband in what the Royal Navy claim were Iraqi waters.
But former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, has endorsed
the Iranian action.
“In international law the Iranian government were not out of order in
detaining foreign military personnel in waters to which they have a
legitimate claim,” Murray said, who was also a previous head of Foreign
Office’s maritime section, carrying out negotiations on the UN
Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“For the Royal Navy, to be interdicting shipping within the 12 mile
limit of territorial seas in a region they know full well is subject to
maritime boundary dispute, is unnecessarily provocative,” he said.
The former envoy said that this was “especially true as apparently they
were not looking for weapons but for smuggled vehicles attempting to
evade car duty”.
“What has the evasion of Iranian or Iraqi taxes go to do with the Royal
Navy?” he questioned in comments on his webpage, set up after he was
sacked from his post in 2004 after criticising British foreign policy.
Russian military intelligence has reported a flurry of activity by US
armed forces near Iran’s borders, a high-ranking security source said
in Moscow on Tuesday.
“The latest military intelligence data point to heightened US military
preparations for both an air and ground operation against Iran,” the
official said, adding that the Pentagon has probably not yet made a
final decision as to when an attack will be launched.
The Pentagon is looking for a way to deliver a strike against Iran
“that would enable the Americans to bring the country to its knees at
minimal cost” he said, adding that the American naval presence in the
Persian Gulf has for the first time in the past four years reached the
level that existed shortly before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
Inside Iraq the much-vaunted imperialist “surge” offensive has run out
of steam without achieving any of its original objectives. Sectarian
killings are rising again and the resistance has gone on to the attack
again across the country and in the heart of the capital Baghdad.
The top-security “Green Zone” in Baghdad is under regular fire – the
most spectacular being last week’s rocket fire that forced the end to
meeting of the UN Secretary General with puppet Iraqi “premier” Nouri
Puppet “deputy premier” Salam al Zawbi’i was severely wounded and a
number of his bodyguards killed in coordinated Resistance attack last
Friday in Baghdad. Three people were injured when the US embassy inside
the “Green Zone” came under indirect fire last week and two Americans,
a soldier and a mercenary “contractor” died when another rocket slammed
into the US military compound on Tuesday.
Two vehicles laden with explosives and chlorine gas smashed into
the main gate of a US military base in Fallujah on Wednesday causing a
powerful explosion and sending a cloud of toxic gas across the base.
Eight puppet police were killed and 20 more wounded along with a number
of US troops.
And so it goes on, as Izzat Ibrahim, the leader of the underground Arab
Renaissance Socialist Party (Baath) stressed in his appeal for help to
the Arab leaders meeting in Riyadh. The “heroic resistance will not
stop jihad and expanding and widening this jihad until the last
invader soldier has been expelled from the soil of Iraq and until the
utter and complete liberation from every kind of control, blackmail,
and exploitation, whatever time this may take and whatever sacrifices
this may require”.
Slavery is a class
THE ARCHBISHOPS of Canterbury
and York last Sunday led a procession through London that included five
middle-aged white men and a 15-year-old youth; they wore chains and
were yoked together with makeshift wooden yokes, wearing T-shirts that
said “So sorry”. It was an event to mark the abolition of the slave
trade (though not slavery itself) and to put pressure on the Government
to make a formal apology for Britain’s leading role in the
transatlantic slave trade.
Tony Blair, as ever, made a commemorative speech in which he
expressed profound sorrow for the harm done by the slave trade but
hedged and fudged and did not deliver the all-important direct apology.
Why not? Because to do so would be to admit liability and in capitalist
legal terms that means coughing up with compensation. And there is not
enough money in the universe to compensate for the horrors that were
inflicted on slaves.
So instead the bourgeois politicians and press try to say that
slavery is old history, and no one alive today has any responsibility.
But the products of slavery are still very present in the modern world.
The sugar plantations of the West Indies created the wealth that made
Britain powerful. Many existing and still prosperous families and
companies became wealthy on the back of the slave trade – companies
like Baring’s Bank, Tate and Lyle and the Bank of England. These
companies are still benefiting from the imperialist exploitation of
Third World countries where the resultant poverty is still driving
desperate families to sell their own children to modern slave owners,
in the hope that this will secure food and work for them. There are
still around five million child slaves in the world, according to
United Nations estimates.
If the imperialists ever said sorry for slavery, they might have
to stop doing it, or at least stop creating the conditions where it
Black workers demanding an apology need the support of their
fellow white-working class. They are not seeking to impose an
impossible guilt trip on white workers – who are also victims of the
imperialist ruling class. In the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries
while these rulers were buying and selling black workers in the West
Indies, in Britain they were driving native British workers out of
their homes and their common grazing land in the enclosure movement to,
replace them with more profitable sheep.
Black workers do need an acknowledgement of the vast contribution
their work made to the wealth and prosperity of western capitalism and
of the suffering it caused and still causes. They need an
acknowledgement that their struggles against slavery and imperialism
are a major dimension in the struggles of the working class as a
whole. We all need an acknowledgement that the struggle of black
workers against slavery is not something marginal, faraway and long
ago, but a vital part of the mainstream working class struggle and that
it continues today.
Meanwhile those who have inherited the big banks and estates
founded on the backs of slavery could stop pretending it has nothing to
do with them and use their wealth and power to rescue and compensate
the modern victims of slavery. They could – as a gesture – wipe out
Third World debt; they could stop dumping cheap subsidised products on
Africa and Asia – bankrupting small local farmers; they could stop
using loans and “aid” as a way of stripping these countries of all
their wealth. But they won’t; that’s not the way that capitalism works.
They won’t stop until the united working class, black, white and
all colours, stops them. This started happening in Russia in 1917, and
later in China, in Korea, in Cuba and Vietnam. Now, while the armed
might of imperialism is pinned down by the heroic resistance in Iraq
and Afghanistan, it is continuing in Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and
Nepal. Workers of many nations are liberating themselves – as did the
slaves of the West Indies.
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