Statement of the League for the Revolutionary Party, December 2002.
The United States ruling class is again preparing for war on Iraq. Bush has announced plans to unleash the military, while Democratic Party leaders cheer. Iraq’s workers and poor, who live under Saddam’s dictatorship and are already starved by the U.S.-U.N. economic embargo, will of course suffer most from the planned attack.
While 3,000 people were killed by the September 11 terrorist attacks, over 200,000 Iraqis were slaughtered by the U.S.’s "Desert Storm” terror. Since then another 1.5 million Iraqis have died from starvation and disease as a result of the sanctions–7,000 children per month. Now the Iraqi masses are targeted for more mass suffering. Meanwhile, U.S. workers will be called on to sacrifice for the war effort. Strikes and protests at home will be condemned as anti-American, and working-class youth will be expected to die. And for what?
The reasons are profit and power. U.S. capitalists–especially Bush and Cheney’s oil business buddies–hope to profit by exploiting Iraq’s oilfields. Iraq’s oil reserves are second only to Saudi Arabia’s. As the world’s lone superpower, the U.S. is also maintaining a military threat to show the world’s masses that behind local rulers stands a force ready to crush them, and to intimidate local capitalist pawns who may try to buck the system for a larger slice of the profits. Washington’s tightened choke-hold on world oil supplies will give it a more powerful economic weapon against imperialist competitors like Germany and Japan and "allies” like Russia and China.
We live in an increasingly crisis-ridden and unstable capitalist world. With a slide into depression and falling profit rates, the world’s imperialists will have to exploit the world’s workers, oppress the nations of the "third world,” and fight amongst themselves. The U.S. war moves are a contradictory attempt to defend capitalism in general, but also American capital in particular, at the expense of others.
The war drive against Iraq also fulfills the aims of profit and power at home, with economic crisis raging here as well. The September 11 attacks were an opportunity for the U.S. ruling class to hype patriotic unity and strengthen police powers, most directly against Middle Eastern and Central Asian immigrants, but ultimately against Blacks and Latinos and the working class as a whole. The government provided billions in corporate handouts, and nothing to the workers that were being laid off and raided workers’ social security funds to pay for the war effort and capitalist tax breaks.
The Iraq war drive enables the ruling class to create another opportunity. Already the patriotic blather has been used to blunt a growing mass outrage against corporate greed, corruption and the collapsing economy.
Hundreds of immigrants still languish in jail with no charges pressed against them and no legal representation. The legitimizing of "racial profiling” against them will only be used further against all racial minorities. "Homeland security” was used as a blunt weapon against dock workers fighting contract attacks. The "USA Patriot Act” took care to define terrorism broadly enough to include mass struggles like protests and strikes. We can expect more of the same from the war drive and certainly a war itself.
Revolutionary socialists are working-class internationalists. This means not only fighting against capitalism in general, but imperialist oppression of other peoples. It is our duty to defend the Iraqi people. Washington’s war drive threatens to slaughter hundreds of thousands more Iraqis in our name. They have a right to defend themselves. In a world of brutality, pacifism is for privileged fools.
In every workplace, school and college campus, we must cut through the lies and expose Washington’s war aims. In the unions, we must raise motions opposing the war that tie the union leaders to throwing the unions’ weight behind organizing protest actions.
Fighting Washington’s moves toward Iraq is also essential to most effectively fighting the ruling class’s anti-working class and racist attacks at home. War will be used to oppose our struggles. Union workers who need to strike to defend their working conditions, along with Blacks, Latinos, and immigrants who want to protest incidents of racial oppression, will be condemned for dividing the nation.
Inevitably, the ruling class will use war with Iraq to heighten calls for sacrifice, try to force us to work harder for less, and claim budget crises as their excuse for cutting spending on education and other social services. So opposing a war on Iraq will prove to be a basic act of self-defense for workers and oppressed people in this country as well.
As the world economy’s crisis deepens, capitalism is turning to its tested methods to prolong its rule: mass unemployment and starvation, war and dictatorship. This is the nightmarish future it offers humanity if it is not overthrown.
Capitalism has built an international economy, with the potential to produce abundance for all the world’s people. Modern technology and industry have the potential to produce more than enough to liberate all from want and back-breaking labor. Capitalist ownership of the economy is the barrier to this world of abundance.
But capitalism has also created the working class that is capable of overthrowing it. Brought together from all parts of the world and organized, the working class is not only in the position to defeat the system, but institute a society based on the public ownership of the productive forces. Racism and national oppression will be buried along with their economic basis.
But for victory the working class needs its own international revolutionary party, built by the most politically advanced workers and youth. Within it, Black, Latino and immigrant workers will play a key leadership role.
We in the League for the Revolutionary Party are dedicated to the task of building this party. If you’re interested in learning more about us, get in touch. We have a world to win and little time to lose.