Engraving of Lenin busy studying

Economic & Philosophic Science Review

Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is the touchstone on which the real understanding and recognition of Marxism is to be tested.--- V. I. Lenin

Back issues

No 1219 10th February 2004

The warmongering and fascist-police nastiness of the West’s "anti-terror" diversions from the real imperialist crisis need putting in the context of the economic-collapse and blitzkrieg threats to ALL from Washington's domineering dementia. The anti-communist hangover disaster crippling the fake-'left' will be overcome by Third World revolt influence on all perspectives, and by continued patient struggle for Marxist-Leninist science, challenging the pure FORMS of 'regrouping' on the 'left' to commit at last on what PERSPECTIVE this repressive imperialist warmongering alone allows. Miners strike lessons still not being learned. Philistine rottenness of British 'left' traditions is a historical relic, bad but dying. Class battles need fighting with the same consciousness the ruling class has that its war could go all the way.

The West's "crisis solution" turn to fascist bullying, both domestically and internationally, is deeper in trouble than ever on all fronts, but 'left' attempts to challenge this imperialist degeneracy are only producing more and more chaos and confusion so far.

The inability, or refusal, to address the historical revolutionary implications of this breakdown yet again towards racist warmongering by the West's monopoly capitalist domination of the planet is leaving all the anti-Labour splitters, anti-TUC splitters, and the 57 varieties of Trotskyism, Revisionism, and 'Alliancism', in a demented squabble about FORMS of struggle to take on Blairism, but all still shirking the truth about WHAT HAS GOT TO BE DONE.

The Middle East warmongering, and its cover-up, is admittedly more farcical and being treated with more contempt than ever, as is the increasingly vicious 'homeland security' clampdown in Britain and America, and the censorship threats against the BBC.

But as laughably inept as the politics of the "war on terrorism" blitzkriegs have become, and as blatantly offensive as the obvious racism of all Blunkett's activities (and all police "emergency" scares) has become, — the fact remains that the brutal massacres of the peoples of the Middle East by hypocritical, lying, and incompetent Western military tyranny are real and continuing, and the utterly diversionary "war on asylum seekers" is gathering momentum; — doomed but nasty.

And to put faith in the hope that "the governments responsible won't be re-elected" is such a TOTAL ABDICATION of anti-imperialist politics as to merit just pure derision.

And this is not an issue of "let us not rock the democracy boat first. Let us continue to play the democracy game, and let the state show its hand by playing the anti-democracy game first".

What "democracy"'????

Imperialism rules by total lies and total propaganda brainwashing, always has done, and always will, pulling whatever "democracy" stunts it feels the need for, or what it can get away with.

The war is total lying bollocks; Hutton was total lying bollocks; Butler will be total lying bollocks; and Parliament is total lying bollocks, to put it regrettably but necessarily crudely.

And every week, this can be proved, and does get proved (see below) by what the bourgeois racket itself reveals about the shenanigans within, once splits or failures have occurred for which blame and scapegoats are needed so that the opportunist rat-race merry-go-round can continue spinning.

But nothing "anti-democracy" is needed anyway in order to build some seriously credible anti-imperialist politics at last, not even any increased "anti-globalisation" street anarchy as such, not on purpose.

All the traditional electoral, TU, leafletting, demonstration, etc, activities remain potentially perfectly valid.

What must change is the understanding of what these "democratic" forms of political struggle can achieve, and what they must therefore philosophically aim for and prepare people for.

The correct understanding is dictated ENTIRELY and UNAVOIDABLY by simply the nature of what a world imperialist system economic and political crisis really is.

The drive towards more and more measures of international warmongering and domestic fascism will be relentless and inevitable because there is nothing else that the monopoly capitalist ruling class CAN do and yet still remain the monopoly capitalist ruling class.

And the imperialist system will continue to rule, with no other solution possible, UNTIL IT IS STOPPED.

And the more "successes" and "advances" that electoralism, TU activities, demonstrations, leafletting, etc, "achieve" in their traditional reformist protest mode of politics, the more will imperialism resort in a crisis phase to increased amounts of warmongering tyranny escapades and alarms, and increased amounts of fascist repression at home.

The whole of modern history tells just this story and nothing else.

The 20th century's two monstrous World Wars "in the national interest" and the popularity of the turns to fascist military regimes everywhere reveal exactly the relentless warmongering determination of the monopoly capitalist bourgeoisie in the West once it feels that its incredibly sweet 800-year imperialist domination over the planet is in any way threatened.

It will do ANYTHING to keep in power. The imperialist ruling class will ITSELF eventually TEACH the mass of ordinary people on Earth to come to a REVOLUTIONARY understanding as the end result and the NECESSARY PHILOSOPHICAL AIM of all serious anti-imperialist struggle.

Meanwhile, the entire fake-'left' has got its head further up its own backside than ever before, and that is all it has achieved.

Its latest avalanches of muddled dithering are over how to respond to Labour booting out the railwaymen; how to play Galloway's RESPECT breakaway from Labour (and everything else); and how to assess the great miners strike 20 years on.

In every case, the need to understand these bitter educational lessons for the working class as part of the necessary revolutionary process remains the last thing occurring to any fake-'left' mind.

Like all the lessons from the economic crisis, the Middle East warmongering, and the lying hypocritical cover-ups, they are just more wasted opportunities, drowning in the endless, anti-communist ideological confusion so distinctive of the British labour movement above all others.

On the anti-Labour TU revolt, for example, one favoured response was for Crow’s RMT to resist expulsion but only agitate for "democratisation" of the use of all TU political fund spending so that workers would retain permanent control, voting for new aims as and when necessary.

Which was nice, but which remains an utterly lifeless abstract generalisation and which DELIBERATELY AVOIDS broaching the need in the working class for the launching of a REVOLUTIONARY debate over what should be the aims for ALL serious working class political activity.

And the RMT in Scotland remains, without any political debate, encouraged to continue diverting its political fund to the utterly reactionary SSP (Scottish Socialist Party where Sheridan & Co aim to outflank the SNP and New Labour by being even more Scottish, a ludicrous catastrophe for the workers there, and for the entire anti-imperialist class struggle in Britain).

The RESPECT skirmishing is even more decadent. The "clever" conclusion which the dubious 'left' is punting here, (appalled by Galloway but mindful of the powerful symbolism of his anti-Blair and anti-war revolt, and of some of the anti-imperialist understanding that he does come out with), pretends that there is no "either/or" over whether support for Galloway OUTSIDE the Labour Party might weaken the 'left' revolt against Blair INSIDE the Labour Party.

Backing BOTH revolts will only strengthen each other and strengthen the entire cause of 'socialism', is the verdict.

Which again is nice, but which is about as much use to the working class in the REAL crisis which it is facing as an out-of-date fellow traveller's season ticket.

Instead of voices for or against RESPECT, or for or against the damage its opportunism is doing to the Socialist Alliance's opportunism, voices are needed to warn the WHOLE anti-imperialist struggle that a REVOLUTIONARY CRISIS end to it is now INEVITABLE.

The 1984 Great Strike anniversary raised all of these questions (and more) even more poignantly.

What was that truly heroic achievement, that truly epic historical event, really FOR?????

The truly rotten philistinism of Scargill's personal politics has even now still not conveyed anything coherent to the working class.

The conclusions workers have alone been left with are either that another similar epic sacrifice by the working class would be a good thing some time, totally wiping out yet more brave workers communities which embodied some of the finest class spirit of the proletariat in Britain; or that the attachment to Labour Party politics really was the giant flaw in the whole miners strike struggle, condemning it to defeat from the start, but that replacing Labour by the SLP in workers affections and aspirations would make another such strike a really sound proposition now.

Both variants are an absolute catastrophe of further missed opportunities for learning priceless REVOLUTIONARY LESSONS in anti-imperialist struggle for the working class.

This is nothing to do with any crude mechanistic reductionism arguing that the 'war' for the right to picket, resisting the full might of the police state machinery, would have been better off if fought consciously for the seizure of government power in Britain, there and then.

Obviously, it was indeed pointless to have dragged the working class through an 18 month civil war against the full force of the police state machine, only to lose on the picketing right issue because of all the time fighting with one hand behind the back on the miners side, and then only to reach the realisation that the police-state/Tory/Labour/TUC establishment was NEVER going to let workers militancy, however justified, win on that basis anyway, therefore requiring the whole 18 month civil war to be gone through AGAIN, only this time with the working class fighting with the miners using BOTH hands for the power struggle.

THAT understanding (a matured revolutionary one) was probably not a realistic possibility at that time.

BUT neither was that completed version of revolutionary understanding necessarily needed at that time.

Truly colossal historical progress for serious and growing anti-imperialist revolutionary consciousness among workers could have begun to flow just from workers being given the FULL POLITICAL CONTEXT of that epic 1984 class war.

Scargill finally saw aspects of Labour reformism as merely part of imperialist police state never-ending tyranny ONLY when publicly forming the SLP in 1996.

But Marxist science and generations of good British working class communists and trade unionists had understood this and had FOUGHT capitalism on this basis for decades before 1984.

The miners strike should have been fought exactly on that basis, and NOT on the basis that a restored Labour Government and a restored reformist PLAN for COAL, both consciously supportive of working class mining interests (as perceived), were remotely possible, made possible by the steady post-1945 international maturing of insoluble imperialist system crisis which was slowly going to make the whole "reformist" delusion in the world utterly REDUNDANT.

Picketing to keep the pits open could have still been picketing to keep the pits open, but done on the basis that insoluble economic crisis would steadily be giving the Western imperialist system, loyally supported as ever by the Labour Party and the TUC, no choice but to steadily destroy all "reformist" concessions to the working class in order to allow unrestrained cut-throat market competitiveness back into the "free world" system for Britain to survive at all within a capitalist world economy.

That would have meant that the "legitimate" miners strike consciousness was ALREADY, there and then, about incipient REVOLUTIONARY consciousness for state power in Britain (or working class interests versus capitalist interests) right from the start.

Even better if this had been consciously made a fight for international working class interests (including workers state communist interests) against international imperialist interests from the start, which could have been well within existing NUM consciousness had the miners traditionally good leadership been even better.

It is not one man’s responsibility that it wasn't, but it is definitely the rotten philistine traditions of fake-'left’ Scargillism on questions of political theory which were undoubtedly an unnecessary extra burden for the working class to bear in 1984, and a lesson which still refuses to be learnt.

All that has happened with the SLP is that Scargill has simply recreated Old Labour in all its reformist TUC struggle delusions, only "this time under a winning leadership". Yeah, sure.

But instead of the Alliance, RESPECT, the SLP, and the 57 varieties, just inviting the working class on to more never ending "legitimate" struggles which police state ruthlessness will eventually only crush anyway, let workers consider that their whole life is always going to be just like a repeat of the 1984 dispute.

Then it was pit closures, the wrecking of the nationalised coal industry, the destruction of the NUM, & the break-up of the mining communities and their powerful influence in the working class which were the specific challenges from the relentless pressure of imperialist system economic crisis.

Nowadays, it is the robbing of pension rights; the spread of privatisation over the whole of the once public sector; the restrictions of charges and "choice" on the once free NHS; the loss of student grants; the commercialisation and privatisation of schooling; the relentless threat to all human rights in Britain; the ever tighter anti-union laws; the outsourcing of jobs; the ever stiffer first-time housing market and council house destruction; the overgrowing threats of war; etc, etc, etc.

Excellent that all sorts of specific protest struggles are developing and will continue to develop.

But it is also already LONG overdue that all such "legitimate” struggles should have as their clear perspective the ever deepening consciousness that only all-out revolutionary class war can possibly be the final act in this ever deepening capitalist system crisis-drama.

The ruling class is exactly armed with such class war consciousness, in their case counter-revolutionary consciousness.

That is why the police state forces fight so well (so determinedly, mean, and dirty) when the chips are down, as in the 1984 miners strike.

Workers need to fight all their same fights, but MASSIVELY strengthened by far clearer understanding of exactly the historical struggle they are in for, and exactly historically why right is on their side.

All imperialist state ways of working and surviving are now hugely out of date and a destructive menace to ALL of society, including to the ruling class themselves in these last desperate years defending a now bankrupt and reactionary system.

The fake-'left' methods of trying to calculate by numbers how much to encourage RESPECT, or SSP, or Crow, or Alliance anti-Labourism versus continuing 'left Labourism', etc, etc, etc, is just an utterly diversionary mug's game. However many millions “still think of themselves as Labour" supposedly, the crucial thing is that HISTORICALLY this "workers party" fraud is now turning into its COMPLETE OPPOSITE in this latest imperialist crisis where the traditional ruling class Tory Party still remains paralysed from leading the crisis counter-revolution itself.

It is New Labour which is putting the domestic reactionary and international warmongering boot in on behalf of sick and dying Western imperialism.

And let workers prepare for the greatest new battles in class war history armed powerfully with the CONSCIOUSNESS that imperialist reaction has never had such an unfavourable historical context in which to fight for survival.

Fascist strongmen with unconcealed warmongering jingoistic intent is one obvious move soon for the beleaguered crisis-ridden monopoly capitalist bourgeoisie to turn to everywhere, but what sort of a ridiculous and failed old stunt will that all sound now?????

We've had the era of Salazar, Franco, Tojo, Mussolini, Pilsudski and Hitler, etc, etc, and it was a catastrophic failure as far as rescuing the crisis-ridden imperialist system from fresh revolutionary communist upheaval was concerned.

And only the insane "peaceful road" class compromise of Stalinist Revisionism, paralysing the entire international communist movement, saved the imperialist system from even vaster revolutionary and national liberation disasters after World War II's shameful 'market-led’ warmongering catastrophe.

But now imperialism's 'crisis survival' challenge is harder than ever because now not only inter-imperialist trade war conflict looms, ready to turn into shooting war once again, but no longer are there any soft Third World options on which to "practice" for all-out warmongering gestures, threats, and displays as happened prior to the WWI and WWII main bouts, when Balkan, and African, and Asian poverty ridden soft targets were used as warm-ups.

Just the opposite. The phenomenon now is that the "superpower" imperialists can no longer even guarantee warmongering "victories" over their chosen Third World target practice.

Crisis-driven Western imperialist aggression has just about managed to get back into blitzkrieg warmongering as a way of life, but far from it being Germany, France and Japan next, this US imperialist armageddon threat is even having trouble conclusively demonstrating its "shock & awe" superpower "irresistibility" on Afghanistan and Iraq, two of the most wretched, impoverished, destroyed, ill-governed, and flyblown countries on Earth in their recent phase.

And but for the cretinous Stalinist-Revisionist legacy in Yugoslavia, paralysing that country, the NATO blitzkrieg bullying which started this latest warmongering era off, would have already run into colossal difficulties in the invasion destruction of little Serbia.

And even more dramatically, the first target up for some extended anti-crisis US imperialist warmongering is not Germany or France, but China, whose refusal to roll over and let deliberate dollar devaluation crush its fairly market regulated astonishing export triumphs to the USA was the subject of much perplexed gloom at the weekend's "crisis solution" G7 summit in Florida.

If the cruelly used, impoverished, and demoralised Iraqis refuse to come running to grovel before the all-conquering Stars and Stripes, then where does this warmongering era go with China as one of the next potential "axis of evil" targets of alleged "anti-democracy rogue statehood", the never trustworthy potential "allies of terrorism"??

And on top of all these difficulties of how and where will imperialism extend its "crisis-solution" warmongering diversions to wipe out the global market systems "overproduction" and corresponding slump, while distracting the mass unemployed with flag-waving war destruction exploits, the entire international community and especially its working class has been ideologically spoiled from easily accepting vast amounts of painfully destructive imperialist slump and warmongering ever again by the non-stop anti-communist propaganda brainwashing the whole world was subjected to after 1945 to prevent any more of the planet from taking the workers state path to non-colonial development.

After the promises of everlasting market prosperity and never-ending large dollops of American aid for keeping anti-communist regimes of every kind just about in power ever since 1945, what dare be said to them now about not only withdrawing all the dollar largesse, but threatening them with REAL "totalitarian militarism" this time, American grown.?????

Surely there will be revolutions everywhere.??????

The same on the domestic front. A fascist strongman, 1930s style, is an obvious war-jingoism gimmick, with racism as the obvious divisive tool to split the working class and rule despotically over everyone.

But will such crude and benighted garbage get far off the ground to start with in view of imperialism's relentless 60 year cleanup act since WWII to OUTLAW racism (stop Apartheid, segregation, colonial empires, etc, etc) for fear of the far better humanitarian example being set everywhere by communist revolutionary egalitarianism????????

Surely positive revolutionary despair of the imperialist system's return to warmongering and domestic racist repression would be likely to get its chance to speak first??

All the more reason for the fake-'left' to abandon its pointless manoeuvring and face up to the revolutionary philosophical challenge which it is thereby avoiding, namely, where can this imperialist crisis wretchedness possibly go next other than towards a profound and prolonged international REVOLUTIONARY crisis??????

What CAN any possible replacements for the Bush and Blair shamed regimes possibly say that is vastly different from this crisis-driven insanity of a "war against terrorism" which they all signed up to following the universal Sept 11 "something must be done" sick blather (which even the fake-"left" joined in)???

Kerry SUPPORTED the blitzkrieg on Iraq and Afghanistan, as did Howard and Kennedy, lunatic disasters only guaranteed to escalate the Third World's "terrorist" primitive-scream response to the hatred it feels for the West's continuing racist domination tyranny, now worsened by slump-crisis, and represented most barbarically in the ongoing slaughter-genocide of the Palestinian nation which ALL of the possible replacements for Bush/Blair STILL fully support (in backing the "right of Israel to exist" which in reality it can only do by continuing its slaughter-genocide colonisation of the land of Palestine, begun with Western imperialist backing in 1948 and now nearly completed, a source of permanent and GROWING "terrorist" response against the West from now until Doomsday.)

By all means let the next elections in the UK and USA prove the point that it is the imperialist SYSTEM which is in a warmongering crisis, not just Bush and Blair.

But only do so by already pointing out IN ADVANCE that no serious change in imperialist policy is even possible, and that the "democratic elections" are just another brainwashing propaganda farce for pulling the wool over everybody's eyes yet again.

The peculiar ways in which the Hutton farce played out give grounds for even suspecting that secret Establishment discussions have already sounded out Brown, Howard, and Kennedy for a possible "safe" replacement for an Inquiry slated Blair-Hoon regime which, shamed, would have duly fallen on their swords (assuming they could find them, of course) to signify, "disgraced responsibility" in the traditional fall-guy stunt way, but found to their horror that all replied "No chance. I'm not taking on that crock of shite".

At which point the Hutton Inquiry conclusions all had to be hastily rewritten to allow the crippled Blair-Hoon regime to continue carrying the can for this catastrophic Western imperialist disaster-in-the-making.

Everything depends on the two CRUCIAL ingredients; whether imperialism's economic "overproduction" crisis continues to grow and pollute the planet, insoluble and unchecked; and whether the revolt in the Middle East (and fast spreading elsewhere) against this brutally unjust Western domination of the world continues to grow.

Both ingredients become more explosively ripe with every passing day.

And far from it being mere EPSR assertions about the need to rebuild Leninism as fast as possible, the admissions of imperialist system bankruptcy continue to pour forth from the bourgeoisie itself in the cautiously-worded but revealing capitalist press cries-of-despair, some of which follow below, as per normal EPSR practice.

Eventually, overwhelming evidence will see the triumph of objective reason about history's next necessary developments, and therefore the rebuilding of Leninist science.

But meanwhile this target of the EPSR's struggle continues to fall foul of the rotten traditions of 'left' and trade unionist philistinism in Britain, worse than any imperialist country.

Corruption via the NATIONAL trait of the longest and most far-reaching assumptions of natural superiority, born of ruling the world's largest ever empire for such a long period of international influence, has indelibly imprinted Little Englander chauvinism and racism on EVERY vestige and political permutation of past class compromise trade unionism and reformism.

This tainted every branch of Revisionism and Trotskyism with their ever-recurring complacent collaborationism with Labourism and the TUC.

And tragic accidents of history conspired to prolong a British imperialist state rottenness long past its sell-by date when some deserved revolutionary come-uppance OUGHT to have been knocking much of this "democratic triumph" complacency out of a failure-hammered British "big power" psyche.

Specific experiences spell all this out best.

The trauma of the First World War knocked much of the imperialist strut out of the thoroughly corrupted British working class, but defeat was luckily avoided, thereby stopping any question of REVOLUTIONARY revulsion against imperialist warmongering degeneracy and insanity from developing any further, and thereby guaranteeing that responsibility for the horribleness of imperialist war settled in British mythology on "the Germans".

German imperialism's revival to take part in World War II under Hitler's NAZI-party tyranny obviously only gave added strength to these "democracy" delusions on the British 'left', most notoriously with CPGB boss Pollitt having to be temporarily sacked for his monstrous abandonment of Lenin's communist traditions for defeat of one's own side in the degeneracy of inter-imperialist war to demand support for the British Empire to "give the Hun another lesson", etc.

This was followed by a restored Pollitt leading the CPGB post-1945 down Stalin's route of "peaceful road to socialism" class collaboration with the post-war Labour Government's military re-colonisation of the British Empire.

Meanwhile, whatever Trots had not actually supported Labour by joining it, devoted all their energies to the destruction of "international Stalinist totalitarian tyranny", thereby assisting British working class cultural and emotional identification with Britain's "Big Power democracy" so-called "free-world" role.

Worst of all, British imperialism had once again in World War II emerged as "victors" when once again the reality of British imperialism's actual decrepit and degenerate position in the cesspit of world imperialist rottenness should have been leaving most of the working class in Britain in revolutionary uproar against this vicious, bankrupt, and out of date counter-revolutionary, racist colonial uselessness.

Instead, the "British is best" smug and arrogant deludedness lingers on painfully, continuing the imperialist corruption of the whole country.

The lucky Falklands War only prolonged the agony of this conceited fantasy. A series of flukes put up a "bad guy" enemy in Galtieri; kept British ship-sinking disasters to fewer than might have happened, which would have turned the war and public perceptions of it; and prevented the Argentines from acquiring more Exocet missiles which might also have tipped the balance.

So British imperialist "heroism" under Thatcher received yet another extended lease of life.

And all of this ludicrously prolonged British chauvinism and "Britain is best" conceit is piled on top of an anti-theory philistinism from British workers pragmatic trade union traditions that Marx had to make special mention of.

Which means the rebuilding of Leninism in Britain has never been easy, but putting forward the Leninist truth about the world still remains the only way for scientific reason, which must eventually triumph everywhere, to go in Britain. EPSR


Trying to pin down why the Government thinks it went to war is proving almost as difficult as getting reliable intelligence of Iraq's weapons capacity under Saddam. Until this weekend much of Britain had been misled into believing that we invaded Iraq because ministers had spine chilling evidence that Saddam had acquired weapons of mass destruction with which to zap us, if we did not hit him first. Then yesterday the Prime Minister appeared before Liaison Committee to brush aside with impatience the notion that the case for war turned on anything as tangible as a stockpile of weapons hardware.

It may help to jog the collective memory of ministers if we go back to the texts they themselves wrote at the tune. The motion they put before Parliament on the eve of war asked the Commons to "support the decision of the Government that the UK should use all means necessary to ensure the disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction".

The other argument for war deployed at the time was that invasion was necessary as part of the war against terrorism and to prevent the fabled weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of al-Qa'ida. It is probably as well for us all that the weapons of mass destruction did not turn out to exist because Iraq is now awash with international terrorists as a result of our invasion and the consequent collapse of border security.

Meanwhile the war and the subsequent occupation is proving a spectacular own goal in the war on terrorism. On Monday the Foreign Affairs Select Committee reported that the failure to find weapons of mass destruction "has damaged the credibility of the US and the UK in their conduct of the war against terrorism" and that the war "has possibly made terrorist attacks against British nationals and British interests more likely in the short term".

In short the war has neither disarmed a single weapon of mass destruction nor diminished the terrorist threat to British interests. It has, though, undermined the authority of the UN, divided us from our major partners in Europe and damaged our status in the Third World, especially Muslim countries. The Iraq war is proving the greatest blunder in British foreign and security policy since Suez.

And in response to the swelling mountain of evidence that the Government got it wrong, we were yesterday offered a mouse of an inquiry. As Number 10 has drawn parallels with the Franks committee into the Falklands war it is instructive to contrast the broad remit of that inquiry with the constricted terms of reference of the new Butler inquiry.

Franks was set up to review "the responsibilities of Government" in the run-up to the Falklands war. There is no hint anywhere in the remit of the new Butler inquiry that ministers had any possible responsibility for what went wrong, and most certainly no suggestion that its distinguished membership should waste their time contemplating such an old-fashioned constitutional principle as ministerial responsibility.

Instead they are to confine themselves to the narrow question of the accuracy of intelligence, as if the intelligence judgement led us to go to war on the basis of that threat. The reality is that intelligence from Iraq was rifled in order to find the scraps to support a political decision.

There has been a tendency in recent weeks to discuss intelligence as if it is proven scientific fact. It is not. If the information could be obtained from public, open sources we would not need a secret service to find it. The job of intelligence agencies is to peer into dark corners of the globe and try to imagine a whole jigsaw with a dozen pieces they have gleaned from human gossip and radio intercepts. Every intelligence assessment I ever read was meticulously careful to qualify the reliability of the data and to acknowledge there could be alternative interpretations.

It would be a gross injustice if the intelligence agencies were now to carry the can for a war built on such slender foundations. At the very least the Butler inquiry needs to ask what the intelligence agencies were tasked to find out on Iraq and whether Number 10 ever asked a sceptical question about the intelligence before it so readily pushed it in public.

But there is a greater falsity in confining the terms of reference to intelligence. The truth is that Tony Blair did not take Britain into Iraq because of any evidence of weapons of mass destruction. He joined in the war because he wanted to prove to President Bush that Tony Blair was his best friend and Britain was his most reliable ally. The Butler inquiry is a diversion, set up to examine the pretext for war rather than its origins.

To get at the rest reasons why Britain went to war, we would need to know what passed between Number 10 and the White House over the preceding year. If it turns out that the White House had reason to believe Britain would take part in an invasion of Iraq even before publication of the September dossier there will be little point in worrying about why its claims have turned out to be so wildly wrong and even less point trying to blame the intelligence agencies for the decision to go to war

Lord Butler will get short shrift from Number 10 if he has the impertinence to stray that far beyond his official brief. Yet we may find out anyway as a result of the parallel inquiries in the States. The final confirmation of our junior status in the special relationship was the decision that Britain should have an inquiry. solely because President Bush had already decided to hold one for the US. Nothing could more pointedly demonstrate how we have become humiliatingly dependent on the initiatives taken in the Oval Office.

We will though have to wait longer on the outcome as the White House is briefing that next year is the target date for the report of the US inquiry. We are all grownups and we all know the real reason for that leisurely pace. It suits President Bush just fine to have the inquiry licked into the blue yonder on the far side of the Presidential elections. For Tony Blair it is a potential disaster. The consequence could be an embarrassing report on the war coming out on the eve of the next General Election.

I do not know if President Bush was aware of that awkward piece of political timing. What is obvious is that even if he knew that this could be difficult for his friend in Downing Street he did not give it a second thought. At one of my last meetings with Tony Blair before I resigned I warned him that many in the White House would regard it as a bonus if controversy over Iraq weakened a leftist administration in Britain. I hope after the past week that the lesson has not been lost on him that, despite the political gamble he has taken on behalf of President Bush, there is no willingness over there to protect him from a political headache if it gets in the way of easing their own domestic pressures. Robin Cook



Independent Editorial, February 4

"Has this government learned nothing? The Hutton report demonstrated that a large section of the British public will not rest until there has been a rigorous, fully independent investigation into the reasons why Britain went to war with Iraq. So what is Downing Street's response? Another narrowly drawn inquiry under another doggedly establishment figure [the former cabinet secretary Lord Butler] that will sit only in private ...

"Now, the government has sliced off another easily circumscribed area of concern for its new inquiry the intelligence on weapons of mass destruction... Its terms of reference are deceptively broad ... while excluding the one aspect for which so many people are still demanding an explanation. How could the government lead this country into war ... on the basis of a weapons threat which turns out not to have existed?"


Daily Mail Editorial, February 4

"It would be a travesty if this inquiry concentrated on intelligence mistakes while ignoring the way politicians made them worse. Civil servants advise, but ministers decide. The Liberal Democrats are absolutely right to have nothing to do with this charade. The pity is that the Tories haven't taken the same robust view...

"Fifty-eight British servicemen have died in this misbegotten (and perhaps legally dubious) venture, while the monetary cost ran into billions and Iraq has become a magnet for terrorism. The public, rightly, expects answers as to how and why we were sucked into this mess ... If [Lord Butler] delivers another fudge, as we expect he will, that simply dumps over the intelligence services (as Hutton dumped on the BBC) the price will be heavy indeed: a further erosion of trust and deeper cynicism about politics."


Daily Express Editorial, February 4

"Another day, another inquiry and, in all probability, another whitewash ... Lord Butler, a stalwart of Westminster, infamously and wrongly cleared shamed the former Tory minister Jonathan Aitken of allowing his hotel bill at the Paris Ritz to be paid for by an arms dealer. He preferred to take the word of a minister at face value. No wonder so many of us are fed up with politics when all it appears to add up to is a cosy coterie of establishment figures looking after each other."


lain Macwhirter Herald, Scotland, February 4

"I doubt if another inquiry, this time of privy counsellors in secret, into this intelligence failure is going to restore public confidence... Cynicism is now so endemic in our political culture that people will dismiss it as another whitewash in the making ...

"No doubt blame will eventually come to rest on some mysterious system error, which led the scanty evidence of WMD to be inflated out of all proportion ... It is looking increasingly clear that military invasion was the wrong way to solve Iraq's problems. But that is the one thing that no inquiry will be looking at."


Simon Jenkins Times, February 4

"Lord Butler will be in a dire dilemma. He must either disregard his terms of reference, reject Hutton and blame the Campbell-Scarlett nexus for distorting intelligence. Or he must blame the intelligence community itself for an astonishing misreading of events. He is not the man to do the first... No civil servant, present or past, has ever regarded the bringing down of a prime minister as part of his job ...

"This wretched business needs no more navel gazing by the investigatory classes. The Hutton inquiry revealed the truth. Those interested can easily read the September and February dossiers. They can compare them with Hutton's evidence and with what we know from Iraq itself. There is no doubt what happened ... Whether 'knowingly' or not, the public was told a monumental lie. Politicians constantly complain that the media usurp their proper role. Let them now do their job. Only parliament has the final right to demand apology and redress. It can do so on the evidence already before it. There is no need for further inquiry. If parliament funks this duty, what a pathetic and wretched institution it has become."


DR BRIAN Jones was one of the unlikely stars of the Hutton inquiry. In disclosing his unhappiness with the use of his department's intelligence in the Government's 24 September 2002 dossier on Iraq's WMD, Dr Jones gave the lie to the insistence of senior officials that there was no dissent in the ranks of the intelligence service. He also corroborated a point made by the late Dr David Kelly and the BBC correspondent Andrew Gilligan. Here, Dr Jones goes much further in his dissent from the government line than he went in his testimony. He goes further, too, than Dr Kelly went in his incautious statements to the BBC Newsnight journalist, Susan Watts.

Perhaps his most damning contention is that the scientific and technical. directorate of the Defence Intelligence Staff, in which he was a branch head, contained "the foremost group of analysts in the West on nuclear, biological and chemical warfare intelligence". During the Hutton inquiry, the impression was created from the testimony of others that experts of comparable standing were scattered across the intelligence and scientific services and they held divergent views.

As Dr Jones says, this was not so. The leading experts were in one department, their objections to the lack of caveats in the dossier were widely shared, and they were overruled by those with less expertise and by the politicians. Dr Jones's second concern relates to the "compartmentalisation" of intelligence. He is not complaining about the standard practice of confining particular types of intelligence to particular groups, which means very few people understand the whole picture. But he does question the Government's assertion that it had crucial intelligence to which others had not had access and that this intelligence "removed the reservations we were expressing". Dr Jones says his boss had been given assurances about this highly sensitive intelligence, but had not seen it, and was "new to the intelligence business and unfamiliar with the assessment process".

Dr Jones says he now doubts anyone with chemical and biological weapons intelligence expertise was privy to the additional intelligence. He questions the validity of the extra, "ultrasensitive" information the Government claimed to have, and which apparently clinched the argument. If this could be, proved, it would be devastating to the Government. He is calling for the "box" of secrecy to be opened so the value of the information can be assessed. Where Dr Jones comes closest to echoing the opinion of Dr Kelly, as reported by Mr Gilligan and recorded by Ms Watts, is in his accusation of political interference in the wording of the 24 September dossier and in his questions about the provenance of the so-called 45 minute allegation. There was no evidence, he says, that the Iraq military had practised the use of chemical or biological weapons for more than a decade and no evidence that they had such stockpiles.

It may appear self-serving for Dr Jones to say he foresaw the possibility no WMD would be found. But this was the essence of his written objection to the wording of the dossier before it was published. That now appears a prudent and farsighted move.


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World Socialist Review

(edited extracts from a variety of anti-imperialist struggles)


The Sinn Féin President assesses the state of the peace process in the wake of the Assembly elections; is critical of the lack of action by both governments to meet their commitments.

THERE IS A dangerous and deeply worrying sense of drift in the political situation since the Assembly elections in November.

Instead of working and stable political institutions with the people's elected representatives making decisions on important issues which affect all our lives; across a range of social and economic issues; instead of a fully operational Assembly and all-Ireland institutions leading the delivery of change, advancing the equality agenda and championing a human rights based society, we have continuing impasse and an ever deepening political crisis. .

'Some commentators argue that the last election caused all this. That is nonsense.

Yes, there are major difficulties,

They did not begin when or because the people cast their votes. They are rooted in the British government's tactical approach to the Good Friday Agreement.

For the last five years, rather than fully implementing the Agreement, London has only proceeded at a pace the UUP and its own government agencies were prepared to tolerate.

To understand why it did so, it is important to appreciate that the British government is a unionist government — not unionist of the Irish variety but British unionism.

It is prepared to modernise and in fact in terms of the Good Friday Agreement, Mr Blair's government was moved to a range of all-Ireland positions, and British policy has been shifted quite profoundly, including on the status of the Union.

But in a state entirely unionist in its ethos, symbolism and management, any effort to modernise is bound to be very challenging.

And it isn't just about the section of people here who are unionist, I think they know London has little loyalty to them. But the senior policy makers within all the agencies here, and particularly those unaccountable branches of the so-called security agencies, are entirely anti-republican, anti-nationalist and pro-Union.

And these elements have an affinity with local unionism; the NIO, for example, is the main body for propagating unionist policy and still stands outside the equality agenda.

So it is easy to see why a British establishment panders to unionism.

It is also fairly easy to see how a British Prime Minister who wants to bring about change can be challenged at many levels within his own system.

The continuing power and influence of the securocrats is evident in the ongoing attempts by the British system to hide its real role in Ireland over three decades of conflict.

The British government's refusal to cooperate with the Barron Inquiry into the Dublin Monaghan bombings, the obstruction of the Saville Inquiry at all levels of the British system, the refusal to publish the Cory report and establish independent judicial inquiries, and the continuing refusal of the PSNI to disclose vital information to inquest hearings are all symptomatic of a culture of concealment that infects the entire British system.

Notionally, it could be argued that British strategic objectives until the Good Friday Agreement were quite limited.

• To contain the IRA, defeat it or render it ineffective.

• To bring about a coalition of Ulster Unionism and the SDLP, representing the so-called middle ground.

• To bring in a limited process of change which would satisfy these political interests and to gain Irish government political support for this.

In other words, the ingredients of a classical and limited pacification programme when what was and is required is a conflict resolution process.


The Good Friday Agreement changed this. It committed the British government to such an approach. How wedded or united the British political leadership was to this approach is a matter of opinion. What is for certain is that other elements of the British system were wedded to the old agenda.

None of these three political objectives materialised. The IRA was not defeated. And after ten years of cessations the question of beating the IRA or trying to demoralise, split or humiliate it should no longer be an issue. Unless of course no value is placed on the IRA's support for the development of the peace process and its endeavours to facilitate a sustainable process of change to build the peace; or unless Sinn Féin's peace strategy and our contribution to the process, which includes our efforts to bring an end of physical force, is to be set to one side.

The coalition most favoured by the British government did not work, even when it came together in a partial form in the first term of the Assembly.

Instead, the crisis within political unionism dominated Assembly politics.

And finally, the Good Friday Agreement was a charter for very significant change, not least because republicans were part of negotiating it.

Supporters if Irish "Mad dag" Adair intimiadate Irish schoolchildren walking to Holy Cross schoolSo instead of a limited process of change, the British government signed up for a fundamental transformation in which the Irish government is a joint and co-equal partner in the shared responsibility for its implementation.

Mr Blair, on 17 October 2002, acknowledged that this was such a vast undertaking that 'only in the first flush of a new government could we have contemplated it'.

I'm not seeking to exaggerate the radical or progressive nature of the Good Friday Agreement, although there are both radical and progressive elements in it. But it is in essence .a compromise that republicans and nationalists have signed up to, even though some may feel it falls short of what they are entitled to or expect.

However, it is a charter for change, which deals with a spectrum of issues. Apart from anything else, it points up the width and depth of the denial of people's rights and is an indicator of what has to be done if these rights are to be restored.

But to advance the process of change, a British government was required to press ahead with all its commitments. By so doing, people's rights and entitlements would have been secured. It would also have changed the political conditions here to encourage pragmatic unionism while thwarting rejectionist unionism. Instead, the tactical approach of the last five years has encouraged the rejectionists. This cannot continue.


This is not to underestimate the progress made. There is now a profound difference in the political landscape here and everyone involved; including the British Prime Minister, the Taoiseach and the leaders of pragmatic unionism, are to be commended for their contribution. he Irish government has played a significant and essential role and occupies a key position as equal partner with the British for implementing agreed change. But the challenges facing it are every bit as daunting as those facing London.

Arguably, an Irish government required different or at least additional and more far-reaching strategic objectives than a British government. Any consideration by Dublin advisors or Ministers of a way forward has to consider whether its objectives for the last five years were devised to promote Irish national and democratic interests and the rights of Irish citizens. Or were its objectives the same as the British?

The Good Friday Agreement is an all-Ireland Agreement. While its cutting edge was to create a changed political landscape in the north, because it is an all-Ireland agreement it affects all parts of the island.

But that too brings difficulties and conservative elements have been uncomfortable with such a prospect, even when it involves necessary change in the southern state, and particularly as this has been accompanied by a repopularisation of republicanism — national and democratic ideals — and a growing support for Sinn Féin.

So at times those in the Dublin political establishment who know better have put party political electoral or narrow self interest above the national interest, and the interests of the peace process.

At other times, the failure of the Irish Government to prevent the British Government from breaching the Agreement has caused difficulties throughout nationalist Ireland.

Maybe with the best will in the world, an Irish government could not have stopped a British government from departing from its commitments, but the effects on national morale cannot be ignored, especially because people from all over Ireland voted for the Agreement and the Irish constitution was changed on the understanding that the Agreement would be implemented.

There is criticism, for example, of what is referred to as a lack of transparency on the IRA's acts of putting arms beyond use. This criticism ignores the enormity of this issue for the IRA and its support base. But more importantly it ignores the Good Friday Agreement position on weapons and the role of the IICD.

It also ignores the issue of other weapons in use in the hands of unionist paramilitaries and British state forces, as against the IRA's silenced arms. And it ignores the lengths to which the British system has gone to protect those who put guns into the hands of unionist paramilitaries and who remain in place today.

All of this was brought very much into stark profile when the sequence of initiatives agreed for last 21 October was aborted by Mr Trimble, after republicans had moved to honour commitments made as part of an agreed sequence of statements and actions.

Mr Trimble's commitments and probably more importantly at this time, the British government and Irish government's commitments, have been put on hold. Neither government has moved one inch on the commitments they made.

Only Sinn Féin and the IRA upheld their parts of the agreed sequence.

This has caused profound difficulties for the Sinn Féin leadership. And the irony of it all is that there is no doubt about the significance of the IRA's act, even among its detractors and opponents. This has been acknowledged by governments and rejectionist unionists alike.

Despite what happened consequently, I want to make it clear that I stand over the remarks I made that day.

I set out a peaceful direction for republicans because I believe that is the proper position. But myself and Martin McGuinness and others had negotiated and received commitments from London, Dublin and the UUP leadership which persuaded the IRA leadership to put beyond use the largest amount of arms to date — and also to set out its view of my remarks.

It was bad enough that Mr. Trimble walked away from this but there is little that can be done about that now. But the two governments can fulfil their commitments and it is intolerable that the British and Irish governments have not done so.


This brings us back to the Assembly elections, which saw Sinn Féin make an historic breakthrough, emerging with the second highest vote, an increased number of seats and our status confirmed as the largest nationalist party in the north, and the third largest on the island.

But of course none of this counts. The electoral rights of all citizens who voted for our party and all the pro-Agreement parties are set aside and the Sinn Féin electorate is told we have to pass a series of tests before we are acceptable. It is ironic that those who are loudest on this issue also demand that their mandate has to be respected and British Ministers who have no mandate here whatsoever can change the rules to suit their government.

Most nationalists have no real conviction that the DUP will move speedily to engage with the current process. Sinn Féin sets no conditions whatsoever on talking to the DUP. Neither are we against sharing power with them, despite the record of some of its most senior members.

Our record shows that we are for the peace process, the political process and the wider process of conflict resolution. This is unchallengeable.


The DUP vote means they succeeded in mopping up all the anti-Agreement sentiment in the last Assembly. And with the transfer of Jeffrey Donaldson and his colleagues from the UUP, there is now a significant unionist majority in the Assembly against the Good Friday Agreement. They now can count on 34 anti-Agreement votes in the Assembly. On the other hand, the pro-Agreement parties can marshal 74 votes.

Those who promote the election results as a 'victory for the extremes' are seeking to serve some other agenda by camouflaging the realities behind the vote. The majority of people want the Agreement to work and are represented by two thirds of the MLAs.

One third, the DUP, have a desire is to destroy the Agreement, ignore the wishes of the Irish and British people, and turn the clock back to the bad old days of domination and supremacy.

But they know, if they reflect at all, that this cannot happen. The process of change can be frustrated or delayed, but it cannot be stopped.

The DUP can be moved. The only question is how long will this take.

Unionism; even of the Paisleyite kind, will have to face in time the same reality that led the UUP to the Good Friday Agreement.

However, the process of change and the rights of citizens cannot wait until a pragmatic element within the DUP emerges and comes into the ascendancy. The two governments have to face up to that reality.


Sinn Féin believes completely in the need to build relationships with unionism. The dialogue between the UUP and us was a central part of our strategy and we are determined, despite all the difficulties, to deepen and initiate this dialogue with all elements of unionism.

This includes an acknowledgement that the DUP should be given an opportunity to demonstrate its good intentions — even though Paisleyism is synonymous with sectarianism and bigotry, even though it has an antidemocratic ethos. But it must not be allowed to use the review to unravel the progress we have made.

The principles, structures and obligations of the Agreement cannot and must not be subverted.

The review as set out in the Agreement is about improving the delivery of the Agreement. It was never envisaged that it would take place during suspension of institutions — indeed the British government had no right to suspend the institutions, and had to step outside the Agreement to unilaterally take that power on themselves.

The review was never meant to deal with a process on hold. So while it may find there are ways of improving the delivery of the Agreement, it cannot resolve the current difficulties.


Sinn Féin will bring a positive attitude to the review, even though the review can only perform a limited function and must therefore be short, sharp and focused, as the Taoiseach and the Prime Minister promised.

And there has to be resistance to any attempt to make it a protracted exercise. Sinn Féin has asked that the review be completed within a month. In reality, it could be conducted in a week.

The two governments, therefore, have to be energised in how they approach the next phase. With the application of proper strategies and political will, I believe the process can be moved on.

However, if the next five years is to be a continuation of the past five years, then we face continuous stalemate, stagnation and eventual breakdown. No political process could be sustained on such a diet.

This places a heavy responsibility on the two governments — especially on Mr Blair and Mr Ahern. As the leaders of the two sovereign governments and the joint and co-equal guarantors of the Agreement, it falls to them to marshal the pro-Agreement forces and implement a strategy to defeat the wreckers and move the process forward.

This may mean the pro-Agreement, pro-peace parties and governments agreeing and setting out an agenda for progress. Obviously, such a task is outside the remit of the review and may require a different mechanism. But whatever else happens, the British government must lift the suspension of the institutions and allow the process defined in the Agreement to take its course.

It also means that the two governments have to honour their obligations made in the Agreement, made in last year's Joint Declaration and made in subsequent discussions.

We were told this would happen, irrespective of the outcome of the election. It hasn't.

On the contrary, there has been a paralysis affecting the many matters which are the responsibility of the two governments and which are of particular concern to nationalists and republicans.

• The institutions remain suspended.

• Important changes on policing and on the transfer of powers on policing and justice are now on hold.

• The programme of Demilitarisation outlined in the Joint Declaration has not materialised.

• The deep rooted and serious problems around the Human Rights Commission, and the Equality Commission, have not been resolved. The issues they are meant to address are not resolved.

• Promises on the Irish language issue have not been delivered.

• And the anomalous situation of people On The Run continues.

This sends out entirely the wrong message.

The reality is that when the governments decide to do something they do it. The suspension of the institutions and the introduction of the International Monitoring Commission are proof of this.

But it appears to nationalists and republicans that the governments will now let the DUP set the agenda in respect of citizens' rights and entitlements. This is unacceptable.

Mr Blair and Mr Ahern must do what they promised without any further delay.

They also know that a vacuum will encourage those who want to tear down this process.


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