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Economic and 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

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No 1243 July 27th 2004

West's warmongering threats becoming incessant, - Sudan follows Iran. And even far vaster conflicts are now viciously being -prepared-for in the sicker entrails of the American Empire. But with continuous disasters, the "logic" of these bellicose plans rests entirely upon the impossibility of trying to solve the imperialist world economic system's "overproduction" crisis in any other way than by war. Franco-Prussia, WWI, and WWII have set the incurable pattern, plus the permanent arms race, thousands of smaller wars, and non-stop colonial bullying. Only DEFEAT for this SYSTEM of "might is right" belligerence can now let society get ahead, -instead of drowning in the West's lies, hypocrisy, and destruction.

While most of the Western world continues to stumble on towards worsening world crisis, terrified of its warmongering and imperialist-split implications, and paralysed from taking much obvious preparation actions, — the American Empire is acting out the logic of its allotted aggressive role and making ever more belligerent plans.

No sooner had "invade Iran" propaganda been launched internationally (last week's EPSR) than blitzkrieg on Sudan began to be canvassed too.

The same ludicrous and hypocritical nonsense about "genocide" that was used as the "excuse" for devastating Serbia in 1999 to really launch the Empire's warmongering programme as the only "solution" to its incurable "overproduction" economic crisis (see EPSR box), is being inflated against Sudan.

But this is a genuine civil war situation in Africa's largest country, and all sides, including the Government in Khartoum, are telling the West to keep out or face hostility from all sides.

Another Iraq or Afghanistan (see below) could be on the cards with the American Empire bogged down in unwinnable conflict, — and Iran would be ten times worse if the West goes in.

What is the logic of all this disastrous warmongering mayhem???

Only the EPSR has consistently explained this inevitable pattern of world history.

All of modern history is about the same thing for the last century and more, — the impossibility of all the larger monopoly-capitalist empires avoiding conflict due to the cut-throat competitive anarchy of the "free market" which periodically ends up with so much "surplus capital", — relative to the amounts of profit which can be extracted from an ever-more-sharply-exploited world population, — that a fall in profit and bankruptcy starts to loom FOR EVERYONE (see EPSR box).

The only way "forward" then is for the major powers to start destroying each other's "surplus capital" which is queering the pitch, beginning with tariff barriers and trade sanctions, etc, etc, etc, but always ending in a "might is right" show of strength.

The pattern of the Franco-Prussian War (1970), World war I (1914 and World War II (1941), plus about a thousand smaller localised wars in between for smallscale superiority conflict tells an unmistakable and unmissable story.

Now, after the longest artificial credit-created boom in imperialist history (needed since 1945 to halt the appeal of the Socialist Camp planned economic triumphs), the greatest "overproduction" disaster hangs over the "free market" anarchy, about to collapse all its financial and marketing order into total chaos.

And the imperialists all know that it is coming, even though they all tell endless propaganda lies about "recovery" and "the economy is fundamentally sound", and even though the smaller and weaker monopoly-imperialist powers remain paralysed with inaction out of fear of what chances they have up against the incredible size and aggressiveness of the American Empire.

The USA still dare not admit too openly to world economic catastrophe on its way, because it would suffer the greatest humiliation, having pulled all the strings since 1945 at the United Nations, the IMF, the World Bank, and by, in effect, printing the world currency (to lavish around on all its stooge military and political control enterprises around the planet, without any rational controls whatever, so that the world is now totally polluted with "surplus capital").

But the Empire is more and more arrogantly willing to throw its weight about, — and against more and more "enemies", — as the economic crisis develops, — certain of only one thing:- that CRUSHING all "opposition" and "argument" with American power is now the sole guaranteed way of "winning" this trade-war competition.

There is no other way out of the total chaotic mess that the world's finances and markets have binged their way into.

And although the warmongering campaign has not started too well, — apart from demonstrating US imperialism's colossal "shock and awe" devastation capability), — Washington will increasingly stress that America's "national security" is facing constantly escalating danger, and a warmongering psychosis WILL be whipped up to keep whatever level of belligerence going that is necessary to "win the crisis".

There is humiliation in Iraq, and some cosmetic "handover" has had to be cobbled together.

But more and more US forces are pouring into Iraq, and Middle East war with no end in sight is the only perspective visible at the moment, — Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Sudan, and so on.

There is really serious warmongering resistance now, — fight back against the American onslaught, — and with much more being prepared. And it is not without tremendous historical significance and prospects (see below).

But in these new "crisis" circumstances, the mightiest Empire in world history could keep going for a very long time.

But much more telling, — and chilling, — is the preparations being made for EVEN WIDER CONFLICT, — back to the inter-imperialist conflict which is really the crucial essence of Franco-Prussia, WWI, and WWII. Listen to the capitalist press's better-connected own press reports:

WHILE EUROPE sleeps, plans for its marginalisation in world affairs move forward. It matters little whether George Bush or John Kerry occupies the White House after this November's election. Both are bound by one hard fact for Americans, September 11, 2001, changed everything.

Yes, Kerry is gambling that he can persuade France and Germany to be more agreeable in dealing with the US. He will probably fail, given France's long-held policy of forcing the US to seek approval from the the UN Security Council, in which France wields a veto, and rampant anti-Americanism in Germany.

But no matter there is little difference between Bush's declaration: "America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our country" and Kerry's statement: "We will never wait for a green light from abroad when our safety is at stake ..."

Which should give pause to those in Europe who are chortling over Bush's belated appeal to the UN for assistance in setting up elections in Iraq, and his request that Nato contribute something to establishing security in that terror-bedevilled country.

However, Europeans who think that this bodes well for them had best think again. With withdrawal impracticable, reform becomes essential to American security. Bubbling up in the think-tanks of Washington, in policy discussions with Republicans gearing up for a second Bush term, and in meetings with politicians already preparing for a run in 2008, is a new thought — every bit as revolutionary as the proposals that emerged from the neoconservatives in the run-up to the 2000 presidential race. New, and blindingly simple.

Reform the international institutions of which America must remain a part. Start with the UN. The European Union's constitution calls on member states to "unreservedly support ... a common foreign and security policy ..." Moreover "When the Union has defined a position on a subject which is on the UN Security Council agenda, those member states which sit on the Security Council shall request that the union minister for foreign affairs be asked to present the union's position."

Better still, goes the talk around Washington seminar tables, have the minister replace those EU member states that sign the new constitution. Exit France as a permanent member, and European nations as rotating members of the Security Council. If they are to be permitted any representation other than through the EU, it will be as members of the 191-nation General Assembly. Enter India, with a population of more than one billion, more than twice that of the expanded EU.

The Bush team believes that such a reform would be enormously attractive to developing nations, a fact that cannot be lost on whoever would be helping Kerry to find a way around French and German obstructionism, retain its permanent seat in recognition of its independent foreign policy and its importance as a US partner in the maintenance of world order. But were it to adopt the constitution and the euro, the pressure from America to drop it from the UN, and to restructure still another international organisation, the G7, to exclude currency-less nations, would mount. Only the US, EU, China and Japan would be able to influence interest and exchange rates.

Next in line for reform is Nato, which Europe has starved of resources. The redeployment out of Germany of half the US force stationed there is the first step in reducing America's commitment to Nato. Resources will instead be concentrated in such "coalitions of the willing" as will emerge, and in implementing regional pacts in Asia and the Middle East The Franco-German decision at the recent Istanbul summit to deny Nato a significant role in training Iraqi defence forces may have been the final nail in the coffin of Nato as we now know it. Since "Nato has not kept its promise" in Afghanistan, according to The Economist, there will be few mourners at its funeral.

This is anti-Germany effectively, — the outstanding obvious rival for world leadership as degenerate and decadent America falls down on the job.

At the moment, it would be no contest, but Germany is playing a very clever and disciplined game, and there is still a massive way to go before the American Empire can bully or brainwash the planet into accepting inter-imperialist war again.

The world's memories are predisposed to NEVER accepting it again, but that won't stop it, of course, once renewed 1930s slump conditions set in, and the world mentality is full of bitterness and recriminations over who is "responsible" for the collapse back towards hard times and poverty.

And the general historical expectation must "be that, — as always before, — the imperialist powers will at least be able to get a major national-hatred war STARTED, — even if it ends in so much defeat and catastrophe that new rounds of world communist revolution kick off as they did after Franco-Prussia, WWI, and WWII.

But will it be "no contest"??? Unlikely. The American Empire is bankrupting itself already. It is in serious danger of economic collapse.

Its military will still be mightier than ever, and more aggressive than ever.

But the financial-restraints and supplies-restraints in a COMPLETELY bitterly-divided world (which is what this fourth round of insane imperialist warmongering devastation is going to produce in a now globally-advanced world) - as always with empires leads to more and more internal disintegration.

Although smallscale as yet, some of the figures and stories of American Empire mismanagement and degeneracy are already startling, — as admitted in their own reports:

THE Pentagon needs a prompt injection of at least $12.3 billion (£6.6 billion) because the demands of Iraq and Afghanistan are leaving military commanders short of cash and manpower.

Without it the US military will run out of money before the end of the fiscal year, having already burnt through the $65 billion given by Congress for the wars in Iraq and central Asia. To add to the Pentagon's problems, the US Army and Army National Guard, America's largest part-time military force, are both facing recruitment crises. Military officials partly blame the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal:

While the image of the US military has suffered from the disturbing images of torture, humiliation and sexual abuse in Iraq, the Army has been dipping into its delayed entry programme to meet a temporary increase of 30,000 soldiers. As a result it now has only 2,260 in the scheme, down from 12,236 last year.

That, experts say, could make it much harder for the force to meet its 2005 quotas. "I worry about this every single day — recruiting and retention," Lieutenant-General Franklin Hagenbeck, the US Army's top personnel officer, said in an interview yesterday with The New York Times. "We are recruiting a volunteer force during a time of war. We've never done that before."

The film Fahrenheit 9/11, by Michael Moore, has not helped: it shows how military recruiters target shopping centres in poor areas to enlist new personnel. It then contrasts this with a patriotic American mother who loses her son in Iraq and becomes anti-war.

Recruitment has been made more difficult by the Abu Ghraib affair and the high death toll in Iraq, which stands at about two a day, bringing the total since the war began, to 900. About 6,000 American troops have been injured — many of them ending up amputees, as they did in Vietnam.

The inspector general's report disclosed that since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the US had held more than 50,000 prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, a number never before made public The most pressing concern for the Pentagon, however, remains cash. A report out yesterday by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the independent investigative arm of Congress, spelt out how serious is the budget crunch caused by diverting resources to Iraq from around the world.

According to the GAO, the repair of equipment has been delayed, Air Force and Navy pilots are grounded, training exercises cancelled and facility-restoration projects put on hold. The Army has overspent by $10.5 billion and is asking the Marines and Air Force to help. But the Air Force is $1.4 billion short, and the Marines are overspent by about $500 million. But there is speculation in Washington that the Pentagon will have to make an early withdrawal from the $25 billion in war funds that the White House has requested for. the next fiscal year.

And there is corruption too, inevitably. Grotesque corruption, as befits a dying Empire:

What he wants to know is whether the Bush administration has been fiddling with Iraq's oil revenues.

He wrote to the Republican chairman of the reform committee on July 9, suggesting there was a serious case to answer. Subpoenas should be issued, he said, "to investigate potential mismanagement of the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) by the United States".

The DFI was set up after last year's invasion as the depository for Iraq's multi-billion-dollar oil revenues and was administered, until June 28, by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) — with notional UN oversight.

In particular, Mr Waxman is curious about "the [Bush] administration's last-minute 'draw-down' of billions of dollars from the DFI for unspecified expenses" prior to last month's transfer of sovereignty.

"For example, $lbn [about £550m] was withdrawn from the DFI during the last month of the CPA's existence for unspecified 'security' purposes."

The administration provided no information about how these funds would be spent, Mr Waxman says, and has yet to do so.

He is concerned about apparent attempts by the then CPA chief, Paul Bremer, to mandate and direct the spending of a further. $4.6bn in Iraqi oil funds after the handover.

He is also exercised by the results of a belated audit of the DFI's accounts that concluded they were "open to fraudulent acts" and lacked "transparency". In all, the CPA earmarked more than $6bn of Iraqi funds in the last two months of its existence.

He wants to know whether CPA officials obstructed the auditors, KPMG, who were employed by the UN-created International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB).

And he also asks why the White House has "failed to comply with numerous IAMB requests [for information about] payments of approximately $l.5bn in DFI funds to Halliburton" — the Texas-based oil services company formerly headed by the vice-president, Dick Cheney.

Mr Waxman is not alone in asking questions. In April this year, the chairman of the IAMB, Jean-Pierre Halbwachs, wrote to Mr Bremer saying the awarding of three. contracts to Halliburton without a competitive bidding process was "a source of concern". His letter appears to have had little effect.

The IAMB is now reviewing the CPA's overall conduct and must decide whether a full investigation is necessary.

Given the problems over alleged misappropriation and fraud that engulfed the UN's oil-for-food programme in Iraq from 1997 to 2003, and which are now under investigation, swift, rigorous action in this instance may also be deemed essential.

Officials from Congress's financial watchdog, the general accounting office, have pointed out meanwhile that while the CPA was keen to appropriate Iraqi oil revenues, it was much more reluctant to spend bilateral US aid funds.

Nearly all of the $20bn in the DFI was spent or allocated by June 28 — but only 2% of the $18.4bn promised by the US for reconstruction was actually spent. According to White House figures, for example, and despite all the rhetoric about building a new Iraq, not a cent of America's own money had been spent on construction, healthcare, sanitation and water projects as of last month.

Last month, Iraq Revenue Watch, part of the Soros Foundations network, accused the CPA of "committing billions of dollars to ill-conceived projects" using Iraqi rather than US funds, effectively pre-empting budgetary decisions that should have
been left to the interim Iraqi authority.

This is a charge also voiced by senior Iraqi officials in Baghdad, quoted anonymously this month by the Washington Post; and, intriguingly, by British government aid officials who reportedly blocked spending projects proposed by Mr Bremer in the dying days of the CPA. But at Westminster, only the Liberal Democrats have formally called for an investigation.

Such matters are plainly extremely sensitive as the US presidential election approaches — especially for George Bush and Mr Cheney.

In this context, two facts may be of interest: Halliburton was the largest single recipient of Iraqi oil, funds during the occupation, according to the Army Corps of Engineers' figures released last month. And among US politicians, according to the Center for Public Integrity, Mr Bush has been the largest single recipient of US oil and gas industry campaign contributions since 1998 — his total stands at $1,724,579.

What the world's future is really about is DEFEAT of the American Empire, and it will come.

And ONLY through that defeat can the world now move on. After 800 years, the Western monopoly-capitalist system has reached near-TOTAL world exploitation, and near-TOTAL undismantlable supreme monopoly power, always the inevitable ultimate result of the monopolisation process.

But paradoxically, at the same time, that supreme power is unavoidably simultaneously falling apart because of the incurable inherent in-built CONTRADICTIONS (see EPSR box) of the monopoly-profiteering system eventually skinning the also-rans so effectively that ALL profits dry up because of the lack of effective purchasing power in the impoverished and exploited parts of the world, — the overwhelming majority of mankind still.

Meanwhile, that falling apart is now beginning to show itself in UNPRECEDENTED ways in modern imperialist history. The world's greatest-ever SUPER POWER is proving itself to be quite staggeringly inept and vulnerable, and on its way towards demoralisation, it would seem. Its warmongering is going quite disastrously, relatively speaking.

The totally indiscriminate slaughter goes on, — making a disgusting mockery of Washington's pretence to want to invade Sudan to "save lives". No such concern in Iraq:

American helicopter fires four missiles at a house in Fallujah. Fourteen people are killed, including women and children. Or so say the hospital authorities.

But no Western journalist dares to go to Fallujah. Video footage taken by local civilians shows only a hole in the ground, body parts under a grey blanket and an unnamed man shouting that young children were killed.
The US authorities say they know nothing about the airstrike; indeed, they tell journalists to talk to the Iraqi Ministry of Defence — whose spokesman admits that he has "no clue what is going on".

And by the time, in early afternoon yesterday, that the American-appointed Iraqi Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, said that he had given permission for the attack — even though US rules of engagement give him no such right — there had been car bombs in Tikrit in which two policemen died, one of Saddam's former generals was captured, and Fallujah became just another statistic, albeit a deeply disturbing one: this is the sixth air strike on the insurgent-held city in less than five weeks.

None of the six was independently reported. The dead were "terrorists", according to Mr Allawi's office. So were the doctors lying?

As in Afghanistan, so in Iraq. US air strikes are becoming "uncoverable", as the growing insurgencies across the two countries make more and more highways too dangerous for foreign correspondents. Senior US journalists claim that Washington is happy with this situation; bombing wedding parties and claiming the victims were terrorists — as has happened three times in a year — doesn't make good headlines.

Reporters can't be blamed for not travelling — but they ought to make it clear that a Baghdad dateline gives no authenticity to their work. Fallujah is only 25 miles from Baghdad but it might as well be 2,500 miles. away. Reports of its suffering could be written in Hull for all the reliability they convey.

Here, then, is the central crisis of information in Iraq just now. With journalists confined to Baghdad — several have not left their hotels for more than two weeks — a bomb-free day in the capital becomes a bomb-free day in Iraq. An improvement. Things might be getting better. But since most journalists don't tell their viewers and readers that they cannot travel — they certainly don't reveal that armed "security advisers" act as their protectors — they do not see the reality of cities such as Fallujah, Ramadi and Samara, which are now outside all government control. Indeed, US Marines are no longer allowed into the centre of Fallujah, which is now run by the Fallujah Brigade", made up , of former Baathists and current insurgents.

The Independent does not use security advisers in Iraq, armed or otherwise.

So what happened in Fallujah? The US attack on the house at 2am yesterday turned the building into a pit of earth in which small bomb fragments and arms and legs were found. Locals described the building as the home of poor people. Angry crowds of men cried "God is Great" at the site. And then an official in Mr Allawi's office announced that "the multinational forces [i.e. the Americans] asked Prime Minister Allawi for permission to launch strikes on some specific places where terrorists were hiding and Allawi gave his permission."

Precisely the same formula was used by Iraqi authorities 84 years ago when RAF aircraft made "precise" attacks on Iraqi towns and villages supposedly sheltering insurgents opposed to British occupation. Ironically, one of the US bases near Fallujah currently under constant nightly attack by Iraqi gunmen is Habbaniya — the very air base from which British bi-planes had staged their air strikes.

On an Islamist website — and, in truth, no one knows who controls it — Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, one of Osama bin Laden's junior fighters, claimed that Saturday's suicide attacks on the Iraqi Justice Minister and a military recruitment centre in Mohammediya, which killed a total of eight Iraqis, were his work. The US military blamed the bombings on "people who want to stop the progress of democracy in this country" — which is an odd way of describing an organisation that allegedly wants to destroy not just the US-appointed government here but the United States itself.

But the growing total hostility to this American neo-colonial reoccupation (of the Middle East by Western imperialism) —, becoming more bitter, determined, and effective by the day, — is the even bigger story, — almost certainly the most important story of all.

Only proletarian revolution can finally end the dying nightmare of the last degenerate moments of the 800-year Western imperialist world-rule saga, — given that incurable warmongering crisis will set that revolution going, — inevitably and uniquely.

And it is to the Third World that Leninism has always looked, following the initial surprise revolutionary triumph in "semi-asiatic" Russia.

Palestine has always remained a symbol of this hitherto in modern times, (since the Stalinist Revisionist self-liquidation, through theoretical bankruptcy, of the Socialist Camp and the world communist movement),— — because it was always obvious that the Zionist genocidal colonisation,— backed by Western imperialism seeking to divide, and rule, and reoccupy the Middle East,— would continually never stop driving the usurped Palestinian nation either towards total extermination or else towards a magnificent and world-inspiring revolutionary fightback. It is coming.

But the American Empire crisis is now developing so rapidly and so widespreadly that it is also now possible to see other conflicts being escalated all the way towards very serious threats indeed of war-defeats for Western imperialism, resuming where Vietnam left off (when the world socialist revolutionary drive was still viable, and had not been corrupted totally by Stalinist Revisionist theoretical bankruptcy.)

Iraq is showing colossal and competent resistance-spirit, as is Afghanistan, but both are relatively smallscale. As larger and larger countries get dragged into the warmongering turmoil, the chances of Western humiliation will increase rapidly.

And what the West will find utterly impossible to correct is the dramatic change in relationships between the haves and the have-nots as the world has rapidly grown up under globalisation.

It is a natural and unstoppable process of time whereby Western imperialist intervention is now universally mistrusted and hated where once, a century ago, it might have still just been treated with shock, fear, interested amazement, or money-making delight.

But now, the whole world economic system is sickening, and the masses of the world are ready to fight for something much much better and more just.

Even historically impoverished Afghanistan (although admittedly devastated in modern times because of Western imperialist intervention) is failing to respond to supposed Western "reconstruction generosity", — by the West's own admissions:

Earlier this month, it was announced that the elections in Afghanistan were to be delayed for a second time, with the country now supposedly choosing a president in October and a new parliament next spring.

The timing of the election, one month before George Bush goes to the polls himself, has as much to do with American as Afghan politics. With Iraq in turmoil, a newly elected Afghan president will be offered as proof that at least some of the administration's foreign policy objectives have been met.

As it happens, the announcement of the election date comes as an independent research body has published a report on what it sees as the failure of the security policy in Afghanistan, accusing the international community of serious neglect. The report, by the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU), points out that, compared with countries where the international community has intervened militarily, Afghanistan has been badly let down.

Nato has just decided to increase its forces there from 6,500 to 8,700, which the report claims will be inadequate.

"Shamefully, Afghanistan has the lowest international troop to population ratio of any recent intervention," asserts Col Philip Wilkinson, who co-authored the paper with Michael Bhatia and Kevin Lanigan. The report says that Afghanistan now has one member of the military to 1,115 members of the population, compared to one per 50 at an equivalent period in Kosovo, one per 111 in East Timor, one per 161 in Iraq and one per 375 in Haiti.

"Nato's continued inability to provide significant forces will only further embolden President Karzai's opponents — whether warlords, poppy-growers or terrorists," the report concludes, arguing that "the Taliban are far from defeated, poppy production has soared, and regional warlords are still brazen in their abuse of citizens and in their dealings with the central government."

Andrew Wilder, director of AREU, which is based in Kabul and receives funding from the EU, the UN, Sweden and Switzerland, reckons that as the situation stands it is still not possible to hold fair and safe elections.

Aid agencies have also expressed their concerns. "Afghanistan continues to be sidelined as international attention and resources remain focused on Iraq," says Barbara Stapleton, spokeswoman for the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief in Kabul. She says that many NGOs have called for an increase in security to help the country stabilise itself. Many others in the aid community have expressed concern that the election is being hurried through without enough attention paid to the safety of voters and registration teams.

In his novel about the Taliban period, The Swallows of Kabul, Mohammed Moulessehoul, under his nom de plume of Yasmina Khadra, writes: "The Afghan countryside is nothing but battlefields, expanses of sand and cemeteries ... everything appears charred, fossilised, blasted by some unspeakable spell."

Best of all, the West will be seen as tripping up on its own "democracy", its own most fatuous hypocrisy about allegedly "why" Western colonial blitzkrieg, has been blasting colonies non-stop for nearly 800 years, all over the Third World, and is currently more belligerent and devastatingly destructive than ever before.

This "bringing democracy" fraud has become such a big joke that it is now virtually impossible for any major imperialist regime to give a single straight answer on any subject.

The whole world system is sinking in chaos wreathed in the West's LIES, - on its own admissions:

So Andrew Gilligan, the BBC reporter who claimed that the government had sexed up the intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, was mostly right. Much of the rest of the media, which took the doctored intelligence at face value, was wrong. The reward for getting it right was public immolation and the sack. The punishment for getting it wrong was the usual annual bonus. No government commissions inquiries to discover why reporters reproduce the government's lies.

All journalists make mistakes. When deadlines are short and subjects are complicated, we are bound to get some things wrong. But the falsehoods reproduced by the media before the invasion of Iraq were massive and consequential: it is hard to see how Britain could have gone to war if the press had done its job.

No British newspaper is likely to emerge unharmed from such an inquiry. The Independent, the Independent on Sunday and the Guardian, which were the most sceptical about the claims made by the government and intelligence agencies, still got some important things wrong.

Much of the problem here is that certain falsehoods have slipped into the political language. The Guardian, for example, has claimed on nine occasions that the weapons inspectors were expelled from Iraq in 1998. Embarrassingly, one of these claims was contained in an article called Iraq: the myth and the reality. Even John Pilger, who could scarcely be accused of dancing to the government's tune, made this mistake when writing for the paper in 2000. It's not that the Guardian believes this to be the case: it has published plenty of reports showing that the inspectors were withdrawn by the UN, after the US insisted that they should leave Iraq for their own safety. But the he is repeated so often by the government that it seems almost impossible to kill.

The Observer, I think, would do less well. It commissioned some brilliant investigative reporting, which exposed many of the falsehoods reproduced elsewhere in the media. But it also carried several reports that were simply wrong. It published five articles claiming that there were "direct Iraqi links with the US hijackers" who destroyed the World Trade Centre in 2001. One suggested that "Iraqi training, intelligence and logistics were hidden behind an Islamist façade". Iraq, it claimed, "ran a terrorist camp for foreign Islamists, where it taught them how to hijack planes with boxcutters".

Three reports suggested that the anthrax attacks in the United States in October 2001 had "an ultimate Iraqi origin". Other articles maintained that "Iraq is developing a long-range ballistic missile system that could carry weapons of mass destruction up to 700 miles"; that it had developed "mobile factories of mass destruction"; and that it "has tried to buy thousands of... aluminium tubes, which American officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium". All these stories turn out to have been based on false information supplied by the Iraqi National Congress and US or British intelligence agencies.

Its editorials also appear to have been too willing to give George Bush and Tony Blair the benefit of the doubt. In November 2002, for example, the paper maintained that Saddam Hussein "expelled UN weapons inspectors in 1998; he subsequently built up an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction... the real responsibility [for averting war] lies with Saddam himself". The paper consistently argued that we should not go to war without an international mandate, but supported the invasion when that mandate didn't materialise.

The Observer published plenty of stories that contradicted these reports. But a balance between true and false still averages out as partly false, and its readers were left not knowing what to believe. In May this year, the paper published an article by David Rose retracting some of the incorrect material. I don't think I'm alone in believing that it provided insufficient redress. It failed to deal with the allegations of links between Iraq and al-Qaida, or of Iraq's responsibility for the anthrax attacks. And it seems wrong that one journalist should take responsibility for decisions that must have been approved elsewhere.

This partial retraction contrasts uncomfortably with the comprehensive apology published by the New York Times four days before. "Editors at several levels who should have been challenging reporters and pressing for more scepticism were, perhaps, too intent on rushing scoops into the paper." the NYT confessed. "Articles based on dire claims about Iraq tended to get prominent display, while follow-up articles that called the original ones into question were sometimes buried. In some cases, there was no follow-up at all."

But the Observer's sins are minor compared with those of the Times, the Sunday Times and the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs. They all appear to have been willing accomplices in the Pentagon's campaign of disinformation. By far the worst of these offenders is the Sunday Telegraph. In September 2001, it claimed that "the Iraqi leader had been providing al-Qaida... with funding, logistical back-up and advanced weapons training. His operations reached a frantic pace in the past few months".

In October 2001, it reported that "Saddam Hussein has relocated his chemical weapons factories after the first case of anthrax poisoning in America... A senior western intelligence official said that... The entire contents of their chemical weapons factories around Baghdad have been moving through the nights to specially built bunkers'."

In September 2002, it reported that "Saddam Hussein is developing frightening new ways to deliver his arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, including smallpox and the deadly VX nerve agent". Another report on the same day claimed that "Saddam is on the verge of possessing crude nuclear devices that could be 'delivered' using 'unorthodox' means such as on lorries or ships ... Saddam has the capability to assemble all the components required to make nuclear weapons." In February 2003, it claimed that "Iraq's air force has advanced poison bombs".

All of these stories — and many others — appear to be false. But far from retracting them, it keeps publishing new allegations which look as dodgy as its pre-war claims. Like the Observer, it appears to have been used by black propagandists in the intelligence services and Iraqi defectors seeking to boost their credentials. Unlike the Observer, it seems happy to be duped.

So who will hold the newspapers to account? It seems that the only possible answer is you. You, the readers.

We now know that the public was misled over Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. But have we also been misled over the even more emotive issue of Iraq's mass graves.

Coalition officials have claimed that they contain the bodies of 300,000 Iraqis. In November last year, Sandra Hodgkinson, then head of the coalition's mass graves action plan, told the press that 260 grave sites had been located, which contained the bodies of "at least 300,000".

In comments and speeches, Labour ministers and MPs have repeated this figure time and again. Tony Blair told the Today programme in April: "We have found the mass graves of 300,000 people already in Iraq. It doesn't get a great deal of publicity, but it's true."

At the end of last year, Stephen Ladyman, Labour MP for South Thanet, declared: "We are rebuilding a nation where we found 300,000 bodies in mass graves so far." According to Denis MacShane, minister for Europe: "We've now uncovered 300,000 bodies in mass graves, there because of [Saddam Hussein's] torture and tyranny."

Some journalists took such comments as evidence that thousands of bodies had already been retrieved. In a press conference with a senior US official on November 20, a journalist asked about Blair's claim that "400,000 [sic] bodies have been exhumed from Iraq". The US official said: "We've seen numbers that are in the hundreds of thousands. It's certainly absolutely at least 300,000 or more; it could be as high as... 500,000."

For pro-war commentators, claims that there were at least 300,000 bodies in mass graves became the trump card in debates about the war, overriding the anti-war lobby's concerns about the failure to find WMD or the chaos caused by the coalition's military intervention.

"According to the latest estimates, the mass graves in Iraq contain the remains of at least 300,000 people, but we're still arguing about whether the war was 'justified' " wrote Mark Steyn in the Daily Telegraph.

So what is the coalitions evidence to substantiate the numbers cited? The coalition's claims are based less on investigation and excavation than on guesswork.

Blair stated that the graves of 300,000 have already been found. Yet when I asked Joanna Levison of the US state department how many bodies have been exhumed, she said: "Through official procedures? None."

Levison, who has taken over from Sandra Hodgkinson as head of the coalition's mass graves action plan, says that more than 270 grave sites have been reported and over 50 confirmed. At some of these there have been "community-led exhumations", where Iraqis have desperately dug around for the remains of loved ones, "but no coalition-led exhumations".

Jonathan Forrest of Inforce, the International Forensic Centre for the Investigation of Genocide at Bournemouth University, also says that no bodies have been exhumed, except unofficially by Iraqi communities.

Inforce is one of many teams of scientists from Europe that has carried out initial forensic tests on grave sites, to verify that they are graves and to estimate how old they might be. Forrest's team worked in Iraq for five months last year.

"I do not believe that any forensic scientists have exhumed any bodies in Iraq at all," he says.

With no evidence by way of officially exhumed bodies, how did the coalition arrive at the estimate of 300,000 buried in mass graves? Levison says there is an "international consensus" that this number of Iraqis perished under the Ba'athists. Forrest believes that he might, inadvertently, have played a part in giving prominence to this figure. He says journalists in Iraq constantly asked his team how many were in the graves. "So we adopted the Human Rights Watch figure of 290,000, and rounded it up to 300,000."

Yet HRWs figure is an estimate for the number of Iraqis who disappeared under the Ba'athists, "many of whom are believed to have been killed" — not for the number buried in mass graves. HRW itself refuses to use its figure of 290,000 as an estimate for the number of bodies in mass graves. The group's senior researcher in Baghdad says: "How can we conclude that they are all in mass graves? We won't know that until there have been full-scale exhumations of the grave sites. There have been no official exhumations yet."

The estimate of 300,000 Iraqis killed by the Ba'athists also includes deaths for which the western powers arguably bear some responsibility.

Saddam's brutal attacks on the Kurds in the 1980s occurred as part of the Iran-Iraq war, during which the Reagan administration supported and armed his regime. When that war ended in 1988 Saddam sought to consolidate his rule at home; in the Anfal campaign he sent forces to quell the Kurdish uprising in the north (supported by the Iranians), again with US consent. The massacre of the Shias in 1991 took place after they were encouraged by the first Bush administration to rebel following the first Gulf war, and then abandoned to their fate.

None of which makes Saddam's regime any better, of course.

But it does underline what is the REAL PROBLEM on earth, and the ultimate source of ALL the planet's difficulties, — namely the utterly hypocritical, corrupt, and murderous DOMINATION over the world that the "might is right" American Empire now wields, the culmination of an always potentially ultimately unjust Western colonial history of cruel exploitation.

Concentration camps are part of the US nazi agendaEnjoying such colossal privileges in life-style as a result of this long tyrannical relationship, the West can never possibly con-template just giving it all up.

"Problems" can start anywhere, from anything, — like in Darfur, Sudan, now.

But within an imperialist world of INCURABLY poisonous relationships, and given that the West only really knows how to rule by superior might and aggressiveness, — every problem sooner or later just comes down to being a problem of decadent Western colonial domineering, — ridding the world of which is now civilisation's crucial step forwards. Build Leninism. EPSR

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World Revolutionary Socialist Review

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

Unionist politics and Loyalist-NAZI terror are identical.

Intimidation of the nationalist community by 'loyalist' backwardness and thuggeryDURING an open-air rally in 1959, Reverend Ian Paisley upbraided Protestant residents of the Shankill for allowing a handful of Catholic families to live in their midst. Inciting the crowd with sectarian hatred Paisley listed addresses of homes occupied by "Papishers and Popesmen"

To the accompaniment of an Orange band, the crowd marched up the Shankhill Road and attacked the houses identified by Paisley, breaking windows and daubing Taigs Out on the doors.

A contemporary of Paisley's recalled a telephone call from the DUP leader the following morning, in which Paisley crowed about the "great meeting" of the night before. Asked if he had been responsible for the ensuing sectarian violence. Paisley replied: "Not me, I was in the car on the way home."

In the subsequent 45 years since this incident, unionist politicians have routinely been 'on the way home' when it came to taking responsibility for the sectarian conflict they have often incited and frequently fuelled. And yet, since the imposition of partition, the Six-County state has been maintained on the dual actions of anti-Catholic discrimination and sectarian violence.

Equalities of citizenship denied by political unionism have been underpinned and reinforced by unionist violence. Discrimination in the housing and job markets has been accompanied by the seasonal pogrom, particularly against Catholics living or working outside their allotted ghettos.

Yet curiously, the politicians pursuing policies of anti-Catholic discrimination have never been publicly identified as a contributing factor, let alone being called to account, in any ensuing sectarian violence.

In England, the British government has showed no such reluctance in identifying the racist policies of extreme right-wing groups like the British National Party as playing a critical role in upsurges in racist attacks on minority communities and interracial conflict.

A similar coordinated analysis has been sadly lacking in the north of Ireland and it's not hard to understand why. Britain has traditionally maintained its foothold in Ireland through the mechanism of unionist domination in the north.

As a corollary of this, 'violence' has been portrayed as essentially oppositional rather than integral to British rule. However, in the context of the current peace process, ongoing unionist violence has been throwing this representation of ¦violence" into sharper focus.

Sectarian discriminatory political practice and unionist violence is not always as obvious as unionist politicians, like Ian Paisley, inciting mob violence. Although, as more recently witnessed at Drumcree, Holy Cross and the siege of Short Strand, surprisingly, it often is.

A direct relationship between anti-Catholic discrimination and unionist violence is harder to establish but recently there has been emerging statistical evidence to support the notion that they do go hand in hand. This relationship has become particularly evident in districts where Catholic populations remain a minority community within a predominantly Protestant area.

In boroughs like Lisburn and Newtownabbey, continued discriminatory practices within local politics dominated by anti-Agreement unionism have accompanied a sustained unionist paramilitary campaign of sectarian violence.

Lagan Valley has a large Protestant majority population. and covers the towns and villages of Lisburn, Dunmurry, Derriahy, Glenavy, Stoneyford, Moira and Dromore, amongst others. In the constituency as a whole, Catholics make up 20% of the population while in some areas, the Catholic population accounts for 50-70% but, isolated within a larger unionist area, these nationalist communities are particularly vulnerable to attack.

In the last four years, there has been a sustained and organised sectarian campaign of murder, violence and intimidation against Catholics living and working in the Lagan Valley area.

Nine Catholic churches within the constituency have been targeted, many on a repeated basis. Three Catholic schools have been attacked. Catholic businesses in the villages of Stoneyford and Dunmurry have been forced to close after repeated intimidation.

Successive sectarian attacks against Catholics socialising in Lisburn, culminating in the murder of James McMahon in November 2003, have left the city centre a virtual no go area for the Catholic community.

Meanwhile, Paul Butler, a leading local nationalist political representative, has been the subject of a focused campaign of intimidation by unionist paramilitaries, with four attacks on his home within the last 12-month period.

'The Catholic and nationalist people of Lagan Valley have been on the receiving end of a highly organised and sustained campaign of sectarian intimidation which has accelerated in intensity since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement," says Paul.

"At home, school, work or prayer, the Catholic community in Lagan Valley has been subjected to a most vicious sectarian campaign. They have a right to demand this siege be lifted and to expect political, civic and religious leaders from the unionist community to raise their voices to end this campaign," says Paul.

"But the unionist-dominated Lisburn council has steadfastly refused to adopt power sharing at council level, sending out a clear message to the bully boys that Catholics are to be treated as second-class citizens in this city."

The UDA are primarily responsible for this campaign, although they are not solely responsible; lesser known groupings, such as the Orange Volunteers, have also been involved.

"While the media have given extensive coverage to the battle between the UUP and DUP, and inside the UUP, within the Lagan Valley constituency, less coverage has been given to the activities of unionist paramilitaries in their campaign against the Catholic people of the area," says Paul.

This campaign of intimidation has occurred against a background of deafening silence from the political leaders of the unionist community. Their silence can very easily be interpreted as at best 'disinterest' and at worse 'approval' by those on the receiving end of this violence.

"The situation is made worse by the appalling failure of the PSNI to adequately deal with those responsible for the violence. The Catholic and nationalist people of Lagan Valley do not feel safe in their own homes or where they work," says Paul.

Loyalist organisations appear to operate at will. Those responsible for this violence are well known, yet they are rarely arrested and few searches are made to locate arms and explosives.

On a more sinister note, the PSNI recently told a Catholic family who were burnt out of Stoneyford that they could not arrest the person responsible for intimidating them because "he is a Special Branch agent".

More disturbingly, this violence recently led to a young Catholic, James McMahon. losing his life after being attacked and beaten by a unionist paramilitary gang in the middle of Lisburn. The PSNI know the people who killed McMahon yet, to date, no one has been charged with his murder.

The sectarian agenda pursued by many unionist politicians and the lack of political will to confront sectarian practices within the political leadership of unionism (together with the partial nature of the reform of the unionist dominated PSNI) means that unionist paramilitaries are literally getting away with murder.


And in Newtownabbey the situation has been even worse. Since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, there have been six sectarian killings carried out by unionist paramilitaries.

These include Catholic building worker Gary Moore, Catholic teenagers Ciaran Cummings and Gerard Lawlor, and a young Catholic postal worker Daniel McColgan. Trevor Lowry was kicked to death by a UDA gang in the mistaken belief he was a Catholic and Gavin Brett, a Protestant, was shot dead outside a GAA Club as he chatted to his Catholic friends.

A sustained campaign of sectarian violence and intimidation against Catholics living in the South Antrim borough peaked during the summer of 2002 with over 60 Catholic families driven out of the area following repeated attacks on their homes.

Last week, Newtownabbey Councillor Briege Meehah had her worst fears confirmed when a statistical profile of the council's workforce she requested identified a staggering inequality in the Protestant/Catholic ratio.

Briege described the findings as a damning indictment of the unionist dominated council's record of fair employment. The statutory monitoring that must be supplied to the Equality Commission showed that 88.5% of the council's workforce is Protestant, whilst
a mere 11.5% are Catholic. A further breakdown of the figures revealed that out of 17 managers, only one was Catholic.

In responding to the findings, Neal Willis, head of administration and resources at Newtownabbey, inadvertently identified the dynamic between sectarian discrimination within the council and unionist paramilitary violence.

Newtownabbey was not the only local authority to have problems recruiting equally from both communities, he said.

"The perception amongst Catholics is that it is unsafe to work in some areas of Newtownabbey," said Willis.

Lisburn Borough Council has a long history of sectarian discrimination, both against nationalist constituents within its Lagan Valley boundaries (for example, systematically denying funding to nationalist estates like Twinbrook, Poleglass and Lagmore) and
sectarian discrimination against elected nationalist representatives within the council.

Indeed, on occasion the sectarian ethos within the council has spilt out into open hostility and violence, with Sinn Féin councillors being verbally abused and physically attacked. At one time, the threat of unionist violence was so great that Sinn Féin's Lisbum Councillors wore bullet-proof jackets and travelled to the council chambers in an armour-plated car.

Despite the current peace process, inside the council chambers unionists have attempted to block the introduction of the anti-discrimination d'Hont system, while denying effective nationalist representation in crucial decision making arenas. At the last AGM, Lisburn unionists systematically denied the election of even a single Catholic to the position of chair or vice chair on all council committees.

The failure of the unionist-dominated council to embrace the peace process has been further exacerbated by the return of Jeffrey Donaldson as the current MLA representing the Lagan Valley area. Donaldson's anti-Agreement stance is well documented and recently culminated in his defection to the DUP.

Meanwhile, outside the council and Assembly chambers, unionist paramilitaries have waged a campaign of violent intimidation against vulnerable Catholic families and businesses in the Lagan Valley area.

Last week, Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Butler published a detailed account of recent sectarian attacks in the greater Lisburn, Lagan Valley area. The dossier, compiled from media reports of sectarian attacks, lists over 70 serious incidents, including gun attacks, petrol and pipe bomb attacks, arson, assault and murder. •

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