The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 5th March 2004

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by Daphne Liddle

JUST WHEN Blair thought his Iraq nightmares had subsided, they rose up again, stronger than ever. New revelations emerged that Government claims over the legality of going to war were definitely dodgy and Clare Short admitted that British spooks had  bugged the United Nations.

 The storm started just a week ago when the trial of Catherine Gun for breaching the Official Secrets Act was dropped. Just before the war began, a year ago, Ms Gun, an employee at the Government’s electronic listening centre at GCHQ in Cheltenham, told the Observer that American intelligence was asking GCHQ to spy on the United Nations.

 Ms Gun’s defence against the accusation of divulging Government secrets was that she was acting in an attempt to prevent an illegal war. The legality of the war was central to her case so her lawyers demanded to see the legal advice that was given to the Government by the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith.

At that point the Government dropped Ms Gun’s prosecution, drawing public attention to its reluctance to divulge this information and leaving the public to assume it must be seriously dodgy.

 The next morning, former Cabinet Minister Clare Short  was interviewed by John Humphries on Radio Four’s Today programme.

 He asked her about the legal information the Government had been given. Ms Short replied: “It came very, very late, he came to the Cabinet the day Robin Cook resigned and sat in Robin’s seat; two sides of A4, no discussion permitted.

 “We know already that the Foreign Office legal advisers had disagreed and one of them had said there was no authority for war.

 “The Liberals have been pressing for the brief on the basis of which he said there was authority for war, there’s a question of whether the exaggeration of the threat and the immediacy of the threat from any possible biological or chemical weapons in Iraq was part of the brief for the Attorney General so that he could give the legal authority.

 “So my own suspicion is that the attorney has stopped the prosecution because part of her [Gun’s] defence would be to question legality and put his advice in the public domain – and there was something fishy about the way in which he said the war was legal.”

 Later in the interview Clare Short admitted the Government had indeed been bugging UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and she had seen the transcripts of bugged conversations. She also admitted that Britain and the United States had been bugging various UN delegations in the run-up to the war.

 At the time Anglo-American imperialism  was exerting enormous pressure on countries like Mexico to vote for a UN resolution that would legalise the attack on Iraq.

 Those countries held firm. There was no resolution but Britain and the US were determined to go ahead anyway.

 They claimed earlier UN resolutions, 678 and 687, passed just after the first Gulf War, forbidding Iraq to develop any more weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), had been breached and therefore the invasion was justified.

 Since the war, the US and Britain have been unable to produce any evidence of Iraqi WMDs – so they cannot prove Iraq broke any sanctions and their whole legal basis for the war is destroyed.

 It is also interesting that after the first Gulf war, Prime Minister John Major and George W Bush’s father considered that the crucial UN resolutions justified them throwing Iraq out of Kuwait but did not justify them invading Iraq.

The war would still have been an abominable imperialist aggression even with UN support – as did the first Gulf War, the attacks on Yugoslavia, Somalia and many other US aggressions.

 But failure to get UN backing made a crucial difference. It revealed a divided global ruling class. Those in favour of peace found themselves backed by major pillars of the press, like the Daily Mirror and the Independent. The peace demonstrations were the biggest ever in British history. Controversy over the war refuses to die down.

 This has encouraged Iraqi resistance to the occupation and may well have discouraged Blair and Bush from forging ahead with attacks on Iran, Syria and People’s Korea.

 Now a group of progressive lawyers has called on the International Criminal Court to look into the acts of the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and Attorney General to see whether they have broken international law and should be charged as war criminals.

 Their case will be helped by an admission by Richard Perle, a senior adviser to the US defence secretary, that the US has indeed broken international law in invading Iraq. He claimed it was necessary because France was reluctant to support the war.

 Now the parliamentary ombudsman, Ann Abraham, has demanded to see Blair’s controversial legal advice. She has the power to insist on seeing it and to decide how much of it should be made public.

 Meanwhile the Tories have quit the Butler inquiry, taking with them its very last shred of credibility.


Haiti: A very American coup

FINANCE reactionary gangs. Encourage business interests to mobilise against the Government. Incite them to launch a campaign of civil unrest and armed rebellion. And then seize the president and bundle him off on a plane into exile in Africa. It worked like clockwork and US imperialism is back in the saddle in the Caribbean republic of Haiti. American marines are in the capital, preparing to turn themselves into a “peace-keeping” force, that together with the French, will doubtless supervise the election of a new government that will do the bidding of big business without question.

President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was Haiti’s first popularly elected leader. He made his mark as a radical priest during the Duvalier dictatorship, with sermons calling for reform and social justice that earned him the hatred of the Duvalier regime. He played a prominent part in the movement against the Duvalier family and the military regimes that followed them, surviving at least nine attempts on his life, to win the 1990 elections on a platform of  “participation, transparency and justice”. Ousted by corrupt army leaders and forced into exile in 1991, Aristide triumphantly returned in 1994 and was restored to office and re-elected president in November 2000 with more than 90 per cent of the vote.

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. American imperialism has plundered what resources the country possesses for years with the support of a tiny Haitian elite that live in luxury while the people starve.

Aristide was no great reformer but he could do little in the face of American hostility that has effectively blocked some $500 million of international aid to Haiti for over a decade. He bent over backwards to meet the demands of the imperialists’ International Monetary Fund but he refused to agree to the indiscriminate privatisation of state resources or cut wages, education and health services. That sealed his fate.

American imperialism, backed by the French who seek to increase their influence in what was once their chief colony in the West Indies, thinks it has one a cheap victory.

Overthrown by a motley gang of druglords, corrupt businessmen and former Duvalierist officers who would have got nowhere without the hidden, or not so hidden, hand of the CIA, the United States now hopes that Haiti will return to “normality” and once again be a safe place for unbridled exploitation and plunder.

Haiti’s poor peasants and sweatshop workers swept Aristide to power hoping for social justice have been taught a bitter lesson by the imperialists and exploiters. But it is the Haitian masses who will ultimately will decide the future of their country whatever the imperialists think.


Blair must go

Blair has been ducking and diving all week over the Iraq war scandal. Over 300 days have passed since the invasion of Iraq and still no evidence has been presented that Saddam Hussein’s government possessed banned weapons systems. The Prime Minister refuses to reveal the advice of the Attorney-General on the legality of the war bleating that it’s some sort of state secret. The Tories have pulled out of the Butler Inquiry into intelligence on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction on the grounds that its terms of reference were “unacceptably restrictive” and former Cabinet Minister Clare Short is trying to restore her radical credentials by putting the knife into Blair over the war to considerable effect.

The Blair leadership is thoroughly discredited throughout the country. Who can believe a word the Prime Minister says on Iraq or indeed any other matter these days? Everyone can see that Blair is an albatross around the neck of the Labour Party – apart from his cronies and those directly dependent on the Prime Minister for their jobs. The future of the Labour Party and its continued electability revolves around the invasion of Iraq and its continued occupation. It won’t go away until Blair goes for starters. Mass support for the next anti-war demonstration in London on 20 March will give renewed courage to the Labour rebels who ultimately must move to rid the Labour Party and the country of Tony Blair and his worthless clique.

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