The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 9th June 2006
The Land Beneath Our Feet (Part1)
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AWAY WITH MURDER
by Daphne Liddle
THE LEVEL of violence from United States and British occupation
forces against unarmed Iraqi civilians is now so high that even the
puppet Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has felt it necessary to complain.
Last week he said: “They run them over, or kill anyone
suspicious. This cannot be accepted.” This man depends on the 130,000
US occupation troops for his survival but recent revelations about
Haditha and other massacres have been too much even for him to stomach.
An internal US army investigation is being conducted into the
death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad. His family say that US marines took him
from his home in the town of Hamandia middle of the night in April and
After that, the family says, the marines planted evidence to
imply he was preparing to plant a roadside bomb, including a shovel,
explosives and an AK-47 rifle.
Very soon the results of an investigation into the fatal shooting
of 24 Iraqi civilians, including children in November last year in the
town of Haditha in north-western Iraq are expected.
This massacre is claimed to have been an act of revenge by US
marines after one of their number was killed by a bomb.
Two investigations into this incident are underway. The second
one, by the Navy Criminal Investigation Service, could lead to charges
of premeditated murder and dereliction of duty by several marines.
But current statistics indicate that no US personnel are likely
to face any serious penalty. If any do, it is likely to be confined to
the lower ranks – as happened with the Abu Ghraib abuse scandals.
In a third incident, puppet Iraqi police say that US soldiers rounded
up and murdered 11 civilians in Ishaqi, near Baghdad on 15th March.
These claims were backed up by BBC video footage. But a Pentagon
investigation has ruled that only four civilians died and it exonerated
the US forces involved.
There are claims that these cases are just the tip of a huge
iceberg. Journalist Robert Fisk, reporting from Baghdad, wrote: “I
remember the first suspicions I had that murder most foul might be
taking place in our name in Iraq.
“I was in the Baghdad mortuary, counting corpses, when one of the
city’s senior medical officials – an old friend – told me of his fears.
‘Everyone brings bodies here,’ he said. ‘But when the Americans bring
bodies in, we are instructed that under no circumstances are we ever to
do post mortems. We were given to understand that this had already been
done. Sometimes we’d get a piece of paper like this one with a body.’
“And here the man handed me an American military document showing
the hand-drawn outline of a man’s body and the words ‘trauma wounds’.”
Things are no better in the British occupied zone. Earlier this
year British troops were cleared of killing Abu Mousa, an Iraqi hotel
clerk, who was held in British custody for over 24 hours before he
died. During his interrogation, fellow prisoners in the next door room
say they heard him screaming.
And last Tuesday two Coldstream Guardsmen were acquitted of
manslaughter after a youth drowned in 2003. He was one of a group of
youths caught looting by British troops and flung into a canal “to make
them feel uncomfortable”.
Ahmed Jabar Karheem, aged 15, could not swim and he died while, it is
claimed, troops watched.
In both these cases, the defence lawyers for the soldiers claimed that
local witnesses were lying in order to get “blood money”.
But Phil Shiner, a human rights lawyer who represented Karheem’s
family, said: “There are huge structural problems with the military
system of investigating itself.”
He accused the Royal Military Police of a number of failings. “It
lacks independence”, he said, “It lacks rigour. It lacks a strong
rationale to get to the bottom of this type of incident.”
Last November seven British paratroopers were cleared of
murdering an Iraqi teenage after the military investigation against
accused witnesses of seek
Iraqi civilians must be wondering if there is any outrage or
atrocity that American or British troops could commit that would
actually result in them being held to account.
It must be terrifying to live under a military occupation where
you know that you and your children are fair game to kill without fear
But these sorts of killings and atrocities go with any
imperialist military occupation. They inevitably lead to hostility and
suspicion between the occupying troops and the civilian population,
which deepen with every death and every incident.
The military and intelligence services knew this. They warned
Bush and Blair before the invasion that this would be the outcome. They
are the ones who decided to put our troops into this impossible
position. They are the ones who are ultimately guilty of all these
Chains of debt
THE BBC last week ran a series
of three programmes Britain’s Streets of Debt which exposed the tactics
of the major high street banks and loan companies to target vulnerable
people and pressure them into borrowing so much money they cannot
possibly pay it back. Then the lenders make a fortune imposing penalty
charges or repossessing homes while their victims are thrown out on the
The programmes told horror stories of people deep in debt
committing suicide because they do not know how to escape the
nightmare. We saw finance companies known as “sub-prime” lenders, who
deliberately target those who have had credit problems in the past –
those with County Court judgements against them or who are juggling
multiple debts. These companies pose as a friend to the desperate,
offering consolidation loans that will be easy to pay off, helping
those who have been turned down by banks and other lenders. Sometimes
they call themselves debt counsellors. Their adverts fill the airwaves
and to people with severe debt problems, they seem like a lifeline.
They are anything but.
They charge significantly higher than average interest rates.
They know that these borrowers will probably have difficulty managing
regular repayments and then they can really be milked with penalty
charges. When the threats of repossession start to come, legal costs
are added to the borrower’s growing bills.
We saw one elderly couple who borrowed just £2,500 18 years
ago from a “sub prime” lender who paid £10,000 in interest over
12 years and still ended up owing the company £100,000 and with a
threat of repossession of their home. When that threat came to court
the judge wiped out the debt completely and threw out the repossession
But by then the stress of debt and living in absolute poverty had
taken a heavy toll on the health and happiness of the whole family.
This is an extreme horror story. But millions of people in
Britain are now living permanently under the shadow of debt. The people
of Britain now owe over £1 trillion in credit card and other
personal debt and almost an equal sum in mortgages, including second
mortgages. Students are now beginning their working lives owing tens of
thousands of pounds. We are becoming accustomed to deep debt from a
very early age, with the fear of painful penalty charges if we don’t
keep up the payments and the bailiff on the doorstep if we stumble and
fall. No wonder stress-related mental illness is soaring.
But living with permanent debt has deep ramifications for our
whole way of life. We dread missing the payments – so we are afraid of
losing our jobs, or even losing a few days’ pay, so we become compliant
workers. The bosses of course welcome this effect.
When we get into trouble and the sums just don’t add up, we seek
to increase our income by extending our working hours, either through
overtime or through a second job. The pressure for long hours working
does not only come from the bosses – it also comes from those workers
who are effectively enslaved to the loan companies.
When our earnings rise a little, suddenly our credit rating goes
up, whether we’ve asked for it or not. The loan company is making sure
it gets the benefits of those extra hours of labour. And we’re too
tired to think rationally about how we’re being fleeced.
We’re too busy working to see much of our families but we make it
up to them by buying them expensive presents and holidays with the
extra credit we’re allowed. And get steadily deeper and deeper in debt.
But what do we expect? The banks and loans companies are the
essence of capitalism. They exist to make profits, not to make people
happy. Why should we be surprised when capitalists behave like
Most slaves quickly learn to hate the slave driver. But the
problem with the slaves of the banks and loan companies is that too
many of them feel a little bit guilty and embarrassed about letting
themselves get into a financial mess.
It’s time to stop being embarrassed about being ripped off and
get together and get angry. This is an issue that should be taken up by
the whole labour movement but especially the trade unions.
In the long term it is the best possible argument in favour of a
socialist revolution, after which this sort of predatory capitalism
would be outlawed and its practitioners sent to jail.
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