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Engraving of Lenin busy studying

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 1311 2nd April 2007

Iran impotence for British imperialism underscores how devastating setbacks to imperialist arrogance in the Middle East are taking a toll. Imperialism has no choice but to continue to push warmongering as the only solution to slump contradictions which continue to intensify. Iran remains a prime target. But the increasing difficulties throw up major questions about how the warmongering finally breaks and how the inter-imperialist conflict underlying capitalist crisis is getting nearer surface as monopoly US grip is loosened. Marxist science ever more vital

Far from "playing into the hands of the imperialists", as the fake-"left" immediately rushed in to say, Iran's arrest and detention of 15 British sailors has further exposed the scale of the defeats and humiliation facing imperialism's neo-colonialism and war plans in the Middle East.

It reflects yet again the ferment of anti-imperialist hostility and resistance which has shaken imperialism to its core in the Middle East and throughout the world, multiplied hundreds of times by the viciousness and brutality of the imperialist war drive.

It is turning matters upside down to see the latest events as "a mistake" and as "strengthening" imperialism, part and parcel of the treachery of much of the fake-"left" and its actual craven capitulation to imperialist warmongering, which despite notional anti-war posturing has always lined up with ready "condemnation" of the messy anti-imperialist upsurge which is the reality of resistance at the moment.

The incapacity of British imperialism to rescue its sailors and impose its will, and the tepid "support" it has got from imperialist allies (lukewarm UN support, half-hearted European comments and a deafening silence for two weeks from supposed war leader, the USA) speaks of the opposite, an enormous historical weakness and hollowness within the capitalist system and the disintegration that growing underlying inter-imperialist tensions will produce as its crisis deepens.

Blair's impotent raging at Iran's supposed "inhumanity" has immediately drawn universal ridicule and contempt throughout the Third World and even among many in the heart of imperialism, underscoring just how devastatingly thin has become the "democracy and civilisation" story, used for centuries by the ruling class as the lying rationale and justification for beating and bludgeoning the entire planet into submission and exploitation.

The entire world is in no doubt about what is the source of torture, oppression and brutality on the planet, imperialism itself and most of all the dominant USA (strangely silent).

For all the revolutionary guard showmanship, and the confused mix of anti-imperialism with backward religious ideology which leads it, there is far more civilisation in the treatment of the British sailors filmed in perfect health and calm, than with anything that imperialism has done to prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, as even sections of the bourgeois press conceded:

...parading the prisoners in front of TV cameras was demeaning. But the outrage expressed by ministers and leader writers is curious given the recent record of the "coalition of the willing" on the way it deals with prisoners.

Turney may have been "forced to wear the hijab", as the Daily Mail noted with fury, but so far as we know she has not been forced into an orange jumpsuit. Her comrades have not been shackled, blindfolded, forced into excruciating physical contortions for long periods, or denied liquids and food. As far as we know they have not had the Bible spat on, torn up or urinated on in front of their faces. They have not had electrodes attached to their genitals or been set on by attack dogs.

They have not been hung from a forklift truck and photographed for the amusement of their captors. They have not been pictured naked and smeared in their own excrement. They have not been bundled into a CIA-chartered

plane and secretly "rendered" to a basement prison in a country where torturers are experienced and free to do their worst.

As far as we know, Turney and her comrades are not being "worked hard", the euphemism coined by one senior British army officer for the abuse of prisoners at Camp Bread Basket. And as far as we know all 15 are alive and well, which is more than can be said for Baha Mousa, the hotel receptionist who, in 2003, was unfortunate enough to have been taken into custody by British troops in Basra. There has of course been a court martial and it exonerated the soldiers of Mousa's murder. So we can only assume that his death - by beating - was self-inflicted; yet another instance of "asymmetrical warfare", the description given by US authorities to the deaths of the Guantánamo detainees who hanged themselves last year.

And while the families of the captured marines and sailors must be in agonies of uncertainty, they have the comfort of knowing that the very highest in the land are doing everything they can to end their "unjustified detention". They can count themselves especially lucky, for the very same highest of the land have rather different views on what justifies detention where foreign-born Muslims in Britain are concerned. In the case, for example, of the Belmarsh detainees, suspicion justified arrest; statements extracted under torture from third parties justified accusation; and secret hearings justified imprisonment.

With disregard for the rights of prisoners now entrenched at the very top of government, it comes as no surprise that abuses committed by rank and file soldiers go virtually unremarked.

...Instead of frankly facing up to the wrongs soldiers have perpetrated, officers and ministers speak of difficult work done in testing conditions, deliberate provocations, and propaganda by the enemy.

We all know in our bones that soldiers and civilians in revolt don't mix. Ask any historian. Ask them about what British soldiers did in Kenya, French soldiers did in Algeria, and Americans in Vietnam. While you're at it, ask them what the RAF did in Iraq under British rule in the 1920s

(gassed Kurds, in case you've forgotten).

We must all hope that Faye Turney and her comrades are returned to their families safely and soon. Then perhaps we can compare their accounts of their treatment with what Moazzam Begg and the Tipton Three have to say about Guantánamo, what Prisoner B has to say about Belmarsh, and what the men arrested with Baha Mousa can tell us of his screams on the night he died.

Ronan Bennett's latest novel, Zugzwang, is published by Bloomsbury in July

The sheer insensitivity and pompousness of Blair and the decayed and pointless British Empire establishment he so loves to crawl to (like all Labourites and reformists deep down, with their parliamentary strutting and posing - including in their essence even supposedly anti-imperialist "lefts" like Tony Benn) is thrown into an even deeper light when the vicious, arrogant British colonialist history is taken into account, as another bourgeois report reveals:

This is not just President Ahmadinejad. The antipathy goes back to colonial times, and the long and tortured history of British intervention in Iran [..] anti-British sentiment is shared by ordinary Iranians. Its resonance defies boundaries of age, education, social class or political affiliation....

It started during the 19th century as Iran - along with Afghanistan - became a pawn in the imperial Great Game between Britain and Tsarist Russia. The British sought successfully to use Iran as a buffer to bolster its position in India against the tsarist empire.

In doing so, however, they created an enmity supplanting the traditional Iranian fear and loathing of Russia. Fuelling it was a quickly acquired habit of meddling in Iranian politics and monopolising vital natural resources.

Relations quickly soured after a succession of monarchs - wanting to finance lavish courts - granted economic concessions to British entrepreneurs. In 1872, Nasser Al-din Shah granted Baron Paul Julius de Reuter - the founder of the Reuters news agency - exclusive rights over extensive parts of the economy, including railways, roads, tramways, irrigation works and all minerals except gold and silver. In 1896, the shah granted the forerunner of British Imperial Tobacco rights over the production, sale and export of Iranian tobacco. The move triggered mass protests led by Iran's Shia clergy and was supported by merchants in the bazaars. Police fired on one demonstration in Tehran, killing 2 several unarmed protesters. Amid the outcry, the concession was can-

celled, leaving Iran with its first foreign debt - £500,000 borrowed to compensate the British tobacco company - and a deep reservoir of anti-British feeling.

But the most important concession ... - oil. In 1901, William Knox D'Arcy, a London-based lawyer and businessman, was granted exploration rights in most of Iran's oil fields for the princely sum of £20,000. It took several years for D'Arcy's investment to bear fruit but when it did - after he struck oil in Masjid-e Suleiman in 1908 - its effect was enduring and fateful.

It turned out to be the world's largest oil field to date and a year later, D'Arcy's concession was merged into the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC). In 1913, with war clouds gathering in Europe, the British admiralty - under Winston Churchill - discarded coal in favour of oil to power its battleships. To safeguard the decision, the government bought a 51% stake in APOC. The importance of oil - and Iran - in British imperial expansion was now explicit. It was a priority of which Churchill, for one, would never lose sight.

For the next four decades, the oil company and Britain remained close to the heart of Iranian political and economic life and became twin sources of burning national resentment.

In 1921, the British - seeking a strongman ruler to replace the teetering Qajar dynasty - threw its weight behind a charismatic colonel, Reza Khan, commander of the powerful Cossack brigades. Within four years, Khan had seized power, anointed himself Reza Shah and instituted the Pahlavi monarchy. With British acquiescence, he ushered in a reign of repressive modernisation.

[But] During the 1930s, Reza Shah developed an admiration for Hitler and turned towards Germany, who had offered to build modern railways - an idea the British feared as a potential invasion route of India. As a result, Britain invaded Iran in 1941 and occupied the southern half of its territory. At the same time, it deposed Reza Shah and replaced him with his 21-year-old son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Despite his accession to the Peacock Throne, the young monarch never forgave his benefactors for their treatment of his father. Neither did the monarchists loyal to Reza Shah. Britain had alienated yet another sector of Iranian society.

Meanwhile, anger over the arrogant behaviour of the now-renamed Anglo-Iranian Oil Company - it later became BP - was leading inevitably to a fateful confrontation between Britain and Iran. Resentment over Iran's paltry share of company profits had festered for years. In 1947, out of an annual profit of £40m, Iran received just £7m. Iranian anger was further fuelled by the treatment of oil-company workers who were restricted to low-paid menial jobs and kept in squalid living conditions, in contrast to the luxury in which their British masters lived. Attempts at persuading the oil company to give Iran a bigger share of the profits and its workers a fairer deal proved fruitless. The result was a standoff that created conditions ripe for a nationalist revolt.

Into this ferment walked Mohammad Mossadegh, a lawyer and leftwing secular nationalist politician fated to go down as perhaps Iranian history's biggest martyr before British perfidy. Mossadegh was elected prime minister in 1951 advocating a straightforward solution to the oil question - nationalisation. It was a goal he carried out with single-minded zeal while lambasting the British imperialists in tones redolent of a later Iranian leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Within months, he had ordered the Iranian state to take over the oil company and expelled its British management and workers.

The company and the British reacted furiously. The Labour government of Clement Attlee

[!!!- note carefully- Benn's favourite—ed]

imposed a naval blockade in the Gulf and asked the UN security council to condemn Iran. Instead, the council embarrassingly came out in Iran's favour. Meanwhile, Mossadegh - who often did business in his pyjamas - embarked on an American tour in the naive belief that the US would back him against the British "colonisers".

It was a serious misjudgement. The oil company's executives were clamouring for a coup to overthrow Mossadegh. Attlee rebuffed the idea but when a Conservative government took office in October 1951, led by Churchill, it fell on more sympathetic ears.

With British power in decline, however, Churchill was unable to mount such a venture alone. American help would be needed. The result was Operation Ajax, a CIA-MI6 putsch that co-opted a loose coalition of monarchists, nationalist generals, conservative mullahs and street thugs to overthrow Mossadegh. With the economy teetering in the face of the British blockade, Mossadegh was ousted after several days of violent street clashes.

The shah, at that time a weak figure, had fled to Rome fearing the coup would fail. He subsequently returned to install a brutally repressive regime - maintained in power by the notorious Savak secret police -backed to the hilt by both America and Britain for the next 25 years.

The British remained loyal to the shah throughout the violent upheavals that presaged his own overthrow in January 1979. The Labour foreign secretary

[ nb!!],

David Owen, gave the monarch vocal support even as millions took to the streets in Tehran to demand an end to the dictatorship. Britain's stance provoked a brief takeover of its Tehran embassy by opposition protesters in November 1978. The shah, however, was unconvinced. In the final days of his reign, beleaguered and bewildered at the forces ranged against him, he told the US ambassador, William Sullivan, that he "detected the hand of the English" behind the demonstrations. Sullivan couldn't believe his ears but it is a view still held by royalists a generation later.

After the revolution, the Islamic authorities continued to draw on national resentment at more than a century of British interference, damning Britain as the "little Satan" (the US was the "Great Satan"). Such feelings were further fed by London's support for Saddam Hussein during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

...antipathy resurfaced most recently in June 2004 in an incident with uncanny parallels to the current stand-off. Then, eight British sailors were seized and paraded blindfold on state TV after allegedly straying into Iranian waters in the Shatt al-Arab waterway, where the 15 currently in detention were intercepted and arrested last Friday. On the previous occasion, the Britons were released following an apology from the foreign secretary at the time, Jack Straw.

It is the huge spontaneous revolutionary upsurge against the monstrous Shah and the nazi Savak torture police which was one major sign of the great modern transformations of all the exploited masses on the planet into permanent and deepening hatred of the capitalist system - headed off only by the lingering grip of religious backwardness from tipping into outright Marxist overturn.

Tragically, the steadily ossifying philosophical guidance of Moscow "communism" had already receded so far from revolutionary perspectives by then, under the deepening impact of soft-brained Stalinist retreat from Lenin's perspectives begun decades earlier, that the Iranian Tudeh CP was unable to seize the initiative from the mullahs' more flamboyant anti-Satan rhetoric (with the Ayatollah Khomeini desperately parachuted in from Paris by a desperate imperialism) and the whole was headed off into a religious backwater.

But the revolutionary anti-imperialist pressure is endlessly trying to break through, using even the language of the Mullahs themselves, just as the masses erupting throughout the Middle East and further afield have made use temporarily of whatever ideology they have at hand.

It is useless, and plays into imperialism's hands to "denounce" such leadership for "reactionary backwardness" (as the fake-"left" rushes to do at every opportunity, against Tehran right now, against Sudan and against Somalia's Islamic Courts for example, or against the Taliban or the Hamas militancy in long-suffering Palestine): in fact it suits imperialism to whip up just such hostility with endless over inflated stories about the more barmy side of Muslimism and religion.

But the character of these movements is no more settled by their religious nature, than the now titanically victorious Irish Republican struggle was defined by its Catholicism or the dog-in-the-manger defeated Orange colonialism was defined by Dr Ian Paisley's supposed Old Testament-ism.

It is the material reality of what, and how, and why, such movements are fighting (often stated for themselves with profound and highly sophisticated understanding of imperialist oppression, as even the Bin Laden speeches have shown in parts) which can be the only guidance for a Marxist understanding. Saudi ruling class backwardness comes not from the religion it clings to for justification but its historically outmoded tribal feudalism and corrupt stoogeing for British and American imperialism.

It is the fermenting revolutionary possibilities of the giant Iranian movement which attracts the deep hatred and fear of the US and British ruling class, and have put it top of the list for the next upsurge in imperialist warmongering.

If Iran is shortly blitzed, bombed or invaded, it will be not be because imperialism has been given an excuse "finally to attack" (it can easily make one at almost any moment as it always has in dozens of coups, invasions, takeovers and blitzings since the 1940s) but because the driving crisis of the imperialist system will not let the capitalist system off the warmongering hook.

It is the desperately escalating "overproduction" problems and the bitter conflict for shrinking markets - the fundamental contradictions of the system identified by Marx's brilliant analyses - which have driven imperialism three times into massive universal war destruction including the twice shattering total World War horrors of 1914-18 and 1937 to 1945.

The same unsolvable issues now push it unstoppably now back towards the third version - and on a wider and more universal scale than ever before, with far more destructive technology at its disposal.

It is the only "solution" imperialism knows to the slump collapse disaster that its insane production-for-profit system inexorably leads towards, over and over again, on an ever deepening spiral. There is no way out of the intractable contradictions - except to destroy the "surpluses" clogging the system.

The dominant capitalist power of the USA has made it clear it intends to stay ahead through sheer force, even as the monopoly dominant power of the dollar (established after the great WW2 imperialist power sort out) disintegrates more and more, intimidating the entire world into continuing to supply its relentless appetites for goods, resources and services in exchange for ever more hollow IOUs and increasingly worthless paper "credits".

The aggressive blitzing of suitably "evil regimes" with ruthless "shock and awe" destruction was intended to cow the entire planet, suppressing the growing resistance of the working masses to the endless exploitation and poverty that is their lot in the "globalised" world of capitalist production, and making clear to old and upcoming capitalist rival powers that the USA will brook no challenges, least of all as the collapse of the trading system finally implodes into the most monstrous slump and turmoil in all history.

It cannot be wound down or settle into a new furrow of world exploitation as it has time after time during the post-war inflation fed boom. The crisis has been stretched by a thousand credit, marketing and trade war tricks for decades (including the imposition of devastating currency and bank collapses on the Far East, on South and Central America and to some extent even on Europe by the overwhelming monopoly power of the dollar) and by the one-off luck for imperialism of the deranged liquidation of the Soviet Union by the philosophical retreat and eventual capitulation of ever more ossified Moscow revisionism, simply handing the workers state over to the "free market" for plunder.

And the immense extension of unbelievable levels of debt has been sustained by the titanic growth of the Chinese planned economy, whose, albeit unLeninist and wooden revisionist nationalism, has been able to use capitalist economic mechanisms to grow at historically unprecedented rates, incidentally salvaging imperialism temporarily by soaking up vast amounts of world resources and the paper credit around them.

But none of that can last, and the partial slump - including total bankruptcy for entire countries like Argentina recently - is a signal of the economic crisis devastation to come.

Capitalist press jitters about the American economy, - focused currently on the collapsing bank credit system around the cheap mortgage market and the potential for a major credit implosion - but repeatedly expressed over numerous dangers (e.g. the incredibly over-extended hedge funds, private debt, public debt, commodity collapse, WTO failure) are continuous indication of the terrifying fears that daily confront the more knowing sections of the ruling class.

There is no choice but for the desperate course towards war to be stepped up as things get worse and worse and the slide accelerates to open conflict for markets and dwindling profit opportunities, between ever more desperate major capitalist power centres.

Iran has been top of the list of relentlessly demonised victim "rogue states" and the "axis of evil" propaganda onslaught for some time as the imperialists gear up to take the warmongering to a new level from the first blitzings in Serbia, Afghanistan and Iraq and the Zionist terror inflicted on Lebanon and Palestine.

But US imperialism's aim to stun and intimidate the entire world with unambiguous assertive Nazi brutality has already taken an enormous hit in Iraq and Afghanistan. Far from ensuring a compliant future for the American Empire's continued enjoyment of unparalleled power and sweet luxury (for the tiny ruling class), it has produced the exact opposite effect, recruiting tens of thousands into the insurgencies and "terrorist" resistances, widening the conflict throughout the Middle East and on into Africa, and unleashing a variety of ever more hostile movements throughout the world from south America, to south-east Asia.

The whirlpool sucking in imperialist troops, resources and credibility just gets deeper and deeper, taking the entire system ever closer to total paralysis.

Splits in the ruling class over how to go forwards deepen every day, with the defeats and blows given voice by the "liberals" and Democrats (who would keep "patriotically" quiet enough if things were going "well") calling for withdrawal, to head off the increasingly disquiet and fears at home caused by the setbacks and failures.

Even with the latest "surges" in US troops into Baghdad, Iraq and Afghanistan are looking even more unwinnable than before:

The US army is lagging behind Iraq's insurgents tactically in a war that senior officers say is the biggest challenge since Korea 50 years ago.

In a bleak analysis, senior officers described the fighters they were facing in Iraq and Afghanistan 'as smart, agile and cunning'.

In Vietnam, the US was eventually defeated by a well-armed, closely directed and highly militarised society that had tanks, armoured vehicles and sources of both military production and outside procurement. What is more devastating now is that the world's only superpower is in danger of being driven back by a few tens of thousands of lightly armed irregulars, who have developed tactics capable of destroying multimillion-dollar vehicles and aircraft.

By contrast, the US military is said to have been slow to respond to the challenges of fighting an insurgency. The senior officers described the insurgents as being able to adapt rapidly to exploit American rules of engagement and turn them against US forces, and quickly disseminate ways of destroying or disabling armoured vehicles. J

The military is also hampered in its attempts to break up insurgent groups because of their 'flat' command structure within collaborative networks of small groups, making it difficult to target any hierarchy within the insurgency.

The remarks were made by senior US generals speaking at the Association of the US Army meeting at Fort Lauderdale in Florida and in conversations with The Observer. The generals view the 'war on terror' as the most important test of America's soldiers in 50 years.

'Iraq and Afghanistan are sucking up resources at a faster rate than we planned for,’ one three-star general said. ‘America's warriors need the latest technology to defeat an enemy who is smart, agile and cunning - things we did not expect of the Soviets.'

Other officers said coalition rules of engagement were being used against the forces fighting the insurgency. 'They know when we can and cannot shoot, and use that against us,' said one officer, reflecting the comments of US soldiers in the field. Another said recent video footage of an ambush on a convoy, posted on the Internet, was evidence that insurgents were filming incidents to teach other groups about American counter-measures.

The concerns emerged as Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, issued a stern warning that unless Iraq's neighbours - including Iran and Syria - united to help to shut down the networks supplying both Sunni and Shia extremists, Iraq's sectarian bloodshed would engulf the Middle East.

Speaking at the beginning of the conference of regional and international powers in Baghdad, Maliki warned: 'Iraq has become a front-line battlefield. It needs support in this battle, which not only threatens Iraq, but will also spill over to all countries in the region.' Shortly after he spoke, mortar shells landed near the conference site and a car bomb exploded in a Shia stronghold across the city.

The hint that the military want to use even more aggressive "rules of engagement" is unlikely to help since the reality exposed all the time is that they already do. "Taking the gloves off" will only inflame even more the growing world resistance, as it is in Afghanistan, which is steadily sliding towards being as big a problem as the more economically advanced Iraq:

The Associated Press is to complain to the US military after journalists said US soldiers deleted footage of the aftermath of an attack in Afghanistan.

President Hamid Karzai said coalition forces had opened fire on civilians, killing 10 people as they responded to a suicide attack on Sunday.

In another incident Afghan officials said on Monday that a Nato air strike had killed nine civilians.

Nato has said it is trying to reduce civilian casualties in its operations.

Freelance journalists working for the Associated Press said troops erased photos and video showing a vehicle in which three people were shot dead during Sunday's incident in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

Two soldiers with a translator came and said, 'Why are you taking pictures? You don't have permission'

A military spokesman said he did not have any confirmed reports that US forces had confiscated filmed material.

The Americans say the fighting started when a convoy of marines was attacked by a suicide bomber and came under co-ordinated small-arms fire.

They say their soldiers returned fire, and acknowledge that at least eight Afghan civilians were killed, with a further 35 injured.

President Karzai "strongly condemned the incident which took place due to a suicide attack on a coalition convoy and which prompted the coalition force firing on civilians that killed 10 people", a statement from his office said.

Reports say that as they left the scene along a busy highway, the Americans fired indiscriminately on civilians and their vehicles.

Thousands of local people took to the streets on Sunday to protest against what happened. The Afghan authorities have launched an investigation into the circumstances of the militant attack.

A freelance photographer working for the Associated Press and a cameraman working for AP Television News say they arrived at the site about half an hour after the suicide bombing.

Witnesses at the scene said three civilians in the four-wheel drive vehicle had been killed by US forces fleeing the attack, the journalists said.

"When I went near the four-wheel drive, I saw the Americans taking pictures of the same car, so I started taking pictures," photographer Rahmat Gul said.

"Two soldiers with a translator came and said, 'Why are you taking pictures? You don't have permission.'"

Mr Gul said troops took his camera, deleted his photos and returned it to him.

Khanwali Kamran, a reporter for the Afghan channel Ariana Television, said the American soldiers also deleted his footage, AP reported.

In a separate incident nine civilians were killed in a Nato air strike in the province of Kapisa, its deputy governor, Sayed Daud Hashimi says.

He said the casualties included five women and three children.

Nato officials say they are looking into the incident.

There is no way out for imperialism. It cannot leave either, giving way to the insurgencies and anti-imperialist movements swirling around with ever greater intensity. However posturing or unscientific or even reactionary in parts the ideologies that currently hold sway, they already contain huge anti-imperialist momentum, and it can only deepen, the more so they grasp the enormous historic weakness of the 800 year old capitalist system, now long overdue for overthrow and replacement by a sane, human and rational cooperative human society, world communism.

The despairing answer of the Bush neo-cons regime at present is to throw even more ill-afforded resources into the festering mess:

President George Bush has asked Congress for an extra 8,000 troops for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, on top of the 21,500 reinforcements announced two months ago. US military officials have hinted that there will be even more requests for troops for Iraq in May, when General David Petraeus, who took over as the American commander in Baghdad last month, submits a new strategic plan to Capitol Hill.

The latest request for an extra 4,700 combat support troops and military police is aimed at curbing an increase in violence in the past month. Thirty-one Shia Muslims returning from a religious festival were killed yesterday by a suicide bomb attack on their minibus in Baghdad.

The request for fresh troops for Iraq, although hinted at last week by Pentagon officials, will inflame Congress, where the Democratic majority as well as some Republicans are already opposed to the 21,500 reinforcements.

The 3,500 extra troops for Afghanistan, where US and British forces are expecting a Taliban spring offensive, will bring America's total in that country to its highest level yet. The new troops are to help train the Afghan army.

Mr Bush, who is on a tour of Latin America, sent the request for reinforcements from Air Force One to Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives. He told her: "This revised request would better align resources based on the assessment of military commanders to achieve the goal of establishing Iraq and Afghanistan as democratic and secure nations that are free of terrorism."

The cost of the latest deployments will be $3.2bn (£1.6bn), but the president told Ms Pelosi that he was cancelling other defence plans, so the total budget for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will remain unchanged at about $100bn.

...Senior US officers in Iraq said last week that they would welcome more troops for Riyals province, north of Baghdad, one of the hotspots in the war. Major General Benjamin Mixon said there had been a 30% increase in violence in Riyals, which he blamed in part on the arrival of Sunni insurgents seeking to escape the US security clampdown that began last month in the Iraqi capital and Anbar province.

The Iraq war is putting a huge strain on US forces, with tours of duty being extended and an over-reliance on national guard part-timers. The pull-out of Washington's coalition partners is exacerbating the problems. Tony Blair's decision to withdraw British troops from Basra could mean that more American troops may be needed to protect US supply lines between Baghdad and Kuwait.

George Bush refused yesterday to bow to renewed Congressional pressure to set a 2008 timetable for withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

In an appeal to patriotic sentiment, Mr Bush said politicians in Washington should not be seeking to impose random deadlines on military commanders in the field. The stand-off between the White House and Congress means, in theory, that funding for US troops in Iraq will begin to dry up by the middle of next month.

The president reiterated he would veto a bill providing £50.1bn for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to which the Democrats have attached the withdrawal timetable.

Mr Bush, who is determined to keep troops in Iraq throughout his remaining two years in office, said he would not accept artificial deadlines dictated by Congress. "The consequences of imposing such a specific and random date of withdrawal would be disastrous," he said.

"Our enemies in Iraq would simply have to mark their calendars. They'd spend the months ahead plotting how to use their new safe haven once we were to leave. It makes no sense for politicians in Washington DC to be dictating arbitrary timelines for our military commanders in a war zone 6,000 miles away."

Democratic leaders in Congress rejected Mr Bush's plea and said they had no intention of backing down. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, urged Mr Bush to calm down and stop issuing veto threats.

...The president claimed that the strategy of increasing the number of US troops in Baghdad and Anbar provinces was showing signs of success and repeated his warning that if the US left Iraq too soon it would open the way for terrorist attacks on the US. "If we cannot muster the resolve to defeat this evil in Iraq, America will have lost its moral purpose," he said. "If we leave Iraq before the job is done, the enemy will follow us here."

In a sign of the extent to which US public opinion has turned against the war, the House Republican leader, John Boehner, was booed at a conference of construction workers in Washington when he warned that terrorism would follow the soldiers back from Iraq to the streets of America.

The huge challenges to the imperialist system now growing have a long way to go before they develop the conscious revolutionary socialist leadership that is the only full solution to mankind's problems, seizing hold of all the scientific and technological development which is already present in the world and turning it to the rational and coherent development of all mankind, rather than the war destruction and philistine wasteful consumerism which blights lives in one way or another, in both the poorest and the richest of countries.

But the tide is already rising.

Huge pressures are on the multiple insurgencies and resistances to climb above the nationalisms, sectarianisms, halfway house centrisms and hampering superstitions and seek much more conscious, uniting mass leadership which can only be achieved with revolutionary scientific socialist leadership.

And the brewing crisis is throwing up even bigger problems for the dominant US ruling class, the more it fails to keep a grip on the planet. All the big imperialists are to some extent willing to go along with its agenda for the time being, joining in the barbaric suppression of any too "uppity" sections of the Third World, with troops to aid the blitzing under a supposedly neutral and "legal" United Nations banner, for example and doing their bit in subversion, propaganda and intelligence manipulation.

But at the heart of the imperialist crisis is ultimately the cutthroat competition of the monopoly producers which will surface eventually as the crisis finally hits the buffers and trade war lets rip in full vicious hostility when the only way to survive is a fight to the death.

It is inter-imperialist sort out that has twice been the immediate cause of bitter and deadly world war breaking out; a fight to the destructive death for these dinosaur powers, whose only contribution to world development now is total disaster and destruction.

The EPSR has long insisted that the inter-imperialist antagonism is the basic engine driving the world crisis - responsible, in a peculiar quirk of history, even for the extraordinary final liquidationism of the Stalinist Moscow revisionist legacy, as the USA re-directed its energies (partly) from the Cold War to the growing industrial and commercial challenge of the enormous Japanese economy and the even bigger potential threat of a German-led European bloc in the 1980s and 1990s.

The world stunning response of deluded and fatuous opportunist Gorbachevism in dropping its proletarian dictatorship guard in order to take up the shallow consumerist supposed "advantages of the ‘‘free' market", once it had made the idiot conclu

sion that the "heat was off" from imperialist subversion, was an unexpected bonus for the hard pressed USA, which was only hoping for some respite from the escalating cost and expense of the Cold War balancing game, to allow its intelligence and finance agencies to turn their full attention against the imperialist rivals.

But as many informal EPSR discussions at the time speculated, the carpet bagging plunder of the former Soviet Union, which has driven its living standards into penury for most of its tens of millions of ordinary workers, was never going to buy much time for the imperialist profit making economy and its contradictions; the fundamental contradictions have mounted relentlessly.

And neither will the huge markets developing in especially China and to some extent India or Brazil.

Even more overcapacity is swamping the world.

And the rival imperialists are beginning to make their impatience felt as the US order flounders in the teeth of world resistance.

The split between the US and Europe in the opening of the Iraq war is just a beginning, though telling in the rapidity with which the "surrender monkey" insults and hatreds reached fever pitch.

Listen now to these extraordinarily contemptuous statements by both of the major rivals:

Taro Aso, Japan's foreign minister, risked upsetting his country's strongest ally by suggesting US diplomats in the Middle East would never solve the region's problems because they have "blue eyes and blond hair".

Mr Aso, a straight-talking nationalist, said the Japanese, on the other hand, were trusted because they had "yellow faces" and had "never been involved in exploitation there, or been involved in fights or fired machine guns".

Japan has healthy relations with Arab countries and Iran and imports much of its oil from the Middle East. It is a big contributor of aid to the Palestinian Authority, but also has friendly ties with Israel.

"Japan is doing what Americans can't do," local media quoted Mr Aso as saying in a speech about Japan-sponsored investment in the Middle East. "Japanese are trusted. It would probably be no good to have blue eyes and blond hair. Luckily, we Japanese have yellow faces."

Mr Aso, seen by some as a possible successor to the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is no stranger to controversy. In 2001 he said a member of the burakumin, Japan's underclass, could never lead the country. He later angered Japan's indigenous Ainu population by describing the country as unique in being "one nation, one civilisation, one language, one culture and one race". While economics minister, he said he wanted to turn Japan into a country where "rich Jews" would want to live.

In 2003, he sparked protests when he praised imperial Japan's often brutal colonial rule of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945, and last month he described the US post-invasion plans for Iraq as "very immature".

Or from an increasingly confident and economically resurgent Germany, this "polite" version:

In 2007, most will agree that the unipolar moment, (of imperialist power) if it ever existed, has passed. That is only underlined by the failure of the "unipolar experiment" -aka the invasion and occupation of Iraq - and the damage it inflicted on Washington's international legitimacy and credibility. For traditional European Atlanticists, it does not make for pleasant viewing to see US leadership damaged and questioned. But expectations are low today regarding its ability to lead the international community. In the face of a US credibility crisis, some look to Europe to take the initiative and fill the vacuum. Can 2007 be a "European moment"?

Critics will contend that the EU is in no shape to lead, as it continues to grapple with its constitutional crisis, its inability to provide clear foreign policy guidance and its lack of military power. But on three critical global issues - nuclear non-proliferation, Middle East peace and climate change - it is better placed than anyone.

Opening nuclear negotiations with Tehran was a European idea in 2004, initially given a lukewarm reception by Washington. More recently, as the EU3 (Britain, France and Germany) approach began to be seen as the only game in town, Washington has offered more active support, but so far always stopping short of speaking to Tehran directly on the nuclear issue. Bringing Russia and China on board was, again, a European initiative. If a solution emerges, it is likely to be European-brokered. There is much greater cohesion among Europeans on Iran than there was on Iraq five years ago: on Iran, the EU will not be split.

When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, barely any progress has been made over the past six years. The adoption of the "road map" and the creation of the quartet (EU, Russia, UN, US) were born of European ideas. They were formally endorsed by Washington, but never seriously pursued and later quasi-abandoned. This year, a major effort by the current EU presidency has led to the quartet's revival, and more diplomatic activity. Many in the region doubt, however, whether Washington will have the determination necessary for a breakthrough in the peace process without even more active input from Europe. The European willingness to take more responsibility in the region,

and to play a role in ending the Lebanon war in 2006, including the deployment of military forces to the country, was an eye-opener for many -in the region and beyond.

On climate change, the critical question is who can - and will - lead the international debate about a post-Kyoto regime. If a deal can be hammered out in 2007, and if it has any chance of endorsement in the US, China and India, it will most likely be the result of the EU's ongoing efforts to move ahead with ambitious goals on CO2 emissions and energy saving.

But would a European moment in 2007 not be interpreted as a challenge to the global leadership role of the US?

Let's not get carried away: without active American support, political and military, none of these major challenges can be resolved. Europeans should beware the hubris of challenging the US. But the European moment could actually enhance the transatlantic relationship by offering, at a crucial juncture, elements that America currently lacks: legitimacy and credibility. That is why our American friends should encourage European initiatives, embrace a European willingness to lead, and welcome the European moment. Wolfgang Ischinger is the German ambassador to Britain and served as ambassador to the US from 2001 to 2006

The self-deprecating caveats at the end are a wise course at present when it is considered that the demented US neocon blitzkrieg policy has included overt threats to all potential challenges to US imperialism by George Bush, including warnings that even the hint of technology or military build-up on a scale which could tackle the USA would be instantly smited.

The surprise is that elements in both countries are willing to put their heads this far above the parapet. Just what the Japanese and the German ruling class now (and for a long time) discuss in private can only be speculated. But it drips with contempt and hostility.

The emollient words about "no exploitation" and "tender care for the environment" are just so much flannel of course, by imperialist powers every bit as bent on profit at any cost as any of the most ruthless US monopolists but with their own theories and style about how to go about things and spheres of influence.

They are both fearful, and contemptuous, that American imperialism is failing in what all the imperialists agree is a basic function - policing the world rebelliousness of the great masses.

Revolution is coming eventually. But it requires conscious Marxist leadership - not least to warn the working class, as no other leadership does or can, that the plunge into world war is unstoppable except by revolutionary overturn of capital. Study for Leninism. Don Hoskins

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World Revolutionary Socialist Review

(edited extracts from a variety of anti-imperialist struggles).
Criticism mounts over torture tactics at Guantánamo

Internment, US-style

It is now five years since the first images appeared of prisoners in orange boiler suits being carried on stretchers after their interrogation by the US military in Guantánamo, sparking a controversy about the prisoners' fate and their rights in this no man's land. Five years later, these prisoners are still in legal limbo: the US refuses to declare them prisoners of war, thereby denying them their rights and entitlements under the Geneva Convention.

These five years have not been a beach party for prisoners held at the infamous Camp Delta in Guantánamo, which still houses 470 men who have not been convicted of any crime. The inhumane treatment continues despite persistent criticisms from human rights organisations and even the United Nations General Assembly. British Prime Minister Tony Blair has called it "an anomaly". Obviously, the British establishment has difficulties dealing with a situation so similar to their own internment policies in the North.

More than 750 men have passed through the camp, and the testimonies of those who have been released have served to confirm what many have feared: that torture is a daily occurrence in Guantánamo.

There is the testimony of the British prisoners known as the Tipton Three, who are still trying to come to terms with the abuse they suffered during their time at the camp. They were repeatedly beaten, shackled in painful positions for long periods and subjected to strobe lighting, loud music and extremes of hot and cold. Others have spoken of beatings, sexual assaults and death threats. The Red Cross has reported that psychological abuse at Guantánamo has driven inmates mad, resulting in a significant number of suicide attempts - at least three of which were successful last year.

The aim of all this suffering is to obtain, in the words of the US military, information that will help prevent action by Islamic militants against US interests as well as sufficient

evidence to bring the detainees to trial before an army court. But not even the FBI sees any merits in the confessions gained by the army interrogators in Guantánamo. For example, one of the Tipton Three "confessed" to having appeared alongside Osama bin Laden in a video shot at an Afghan camp. In fact, at the time he was working in the British Midlands.

A UN report has confirmed evidence of torture. And Guantánamo is not the only US torture camp. Bagram, in Afghanistan, has been dogged by stories of abuse, and there are secret US prisons around the world where prisoners are completely unprotected by any law. The question being asked is whether it is right for the US to fight "terror" with this terror.

At the launch of its World Report 2007, New York-based Human Rights Watch, one of the world's leading human rights organisations, said that the "land of the free" cannot provide credible leadership on human rights and so "European countries must pick up the slack".

The situation must be desperate if human rights organisations are turning to European governments in spite of clear evidence that many of them -including Ireland - have allowed the US airspace to transport prisoners to secret locations where they may have been tortured. Certainly, as HRW said, "the European Union is punching well below its weight".

The authors of the 556-page report, which documents worldwide human rights violations, said that the abuses against detainees in Washington's so-called "war on terror" remain a major concern, as the Bush administration continues to defend torture by referring to it as "an alternative set of [interrogation] procedures".

Last October, when the international community demanded fair trials for the prisoners, the Republican-led US Congress flatly refused to entertain such requests.

But with the change of congressional leadership, organisations like Human Rights Watch may find some reason for hope.

New UN chief Ban Kimoon, like his predecessor Kofi Annan, has refused to accept the Bush administration's position on indefinite detentions. At his first-ever formal news conference, he told reporters that "the prison at Guantánamo should be closed".

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World Revolutionary Socialist Review

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


Recalling the "forgotten" continent

Africa currently supplies close to 20% of the hydrocarbons imported by the United States and, according to forecasts, within 5-7 years will contribute at least another 5%. Gas and oil are not the only natural resources possessed by a plundered continent that is still the depository of many varied reserves in notable volume.

Forgotten from the human point of view, it has always been a prey in the jaws of the great Western de predators. The antecedents are extremely eloquent, but as if that was not enough, Robert Gates, the new Pentagon chief, had the gentility to recall it by announcing the creation of the Africa Commando or AFRICOM.

George W. Bush let the matter slip on presenting his excessive budget plan for 2007. While the high aids toll or the hunger and poverty that are assailing that part of the planet have failed to arouse the least discomfort to date, the official U.S. recognition that attention should be directed toward it prompts suspicions, given former experiences, as the way of acting is so much the same that the best camouflage in the world cannot conceal it.

Under the flexible clothing of fighting terrorism is hidden the well-known appetite for terrestrial goods with which it reaches everywhere. The U.S. government recently admitted that it had twice bombarded Somalia and justified that action by saying that various members of Al Qaeda are located there (Lazuli Abdulla Muhamad and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhanj, allegedly linked to the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998).

The U.S. participation in the Somali conflict, by using Ethiopia as a visible battering ram hypothetically destined to solve the internal conflict of that country is too obvious and has prompted various sources to think that Washington is exaggerating the possible influence of terrorists in Somalia when what it is seeking to achieve at all costs are its geopolitical goals in the Horn of Africa.

Just as the pretext used to invade Iraq was the alleged existence of weapons of mass destruction and many others invented each time the United States wants to interfere in another country, it churns out suppositions or fallacies that are constantly less realistic.

The U.S. Army has been involved in the Horn of Africa for years. It has a base with 1,700 soldiers in Djibouti, located in an old headquarters of the French Foreign Legion. At least another 100 troops from that enclave are in charge of training the Ethiopian Army.

They have given planes, armaments and economic aid to that country so that it falls in with White House military plans for the area where, moreover, it has an air and sea force based around Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carriers in the Indian Ocean.

According to press reports based on Defense Secretary Robert Gates' statement, U.S. vigilance of the African continent is to be divided into three regional commands. The EUCOM, in Europe is in charge of covering all of Russia, the Caucasus and Turkey, plus northern Africa, western Egypt and all the western region and central-south of Africa.

For its part, the Central Command (CENTCOM) is responsible for central Asia and the Middle East and includes Egypt, Sudan and the, Horn of Africa, while the Pacific Command (PACOM) covers the African islands and the Indian Ocean, including Madagascar, as well as the whole of Asia and the Pacific.

What right does it have to such planetary vigilance? The natural question that arises is answered by Gates, who stated that the command will supervise security, cooperation, capacity to develop partners, support for non-military missions and, if ordered, military operations on the African continent.

The plan, already fully underway, has bipartisan backing. If other current factors are causing confrontation between the legislative and president, this is not the case here, as confirmed by Democrat Russell Feingold, president of the Senate Subcommittee, who affirmed that a commando for Africa will help U.S. troops to concentrate on a continent that is essential for national security. Clearly the issue will have consequences, possibly serious ones.

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World Revolutionary Socialist Review

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

Iranian ambassador exposes U.S. double standards

Before the Islamic Revolution, Washington proposed nuclear energy development for electricity; now it condemns Iran for doing just that, stresses Ahmad Edrisian

THE Islamic Republic of Iran celebrates the 28th anniversary' of the triumph of its revolution on February 11 and is preparing to do so with significant advances in its economic development, its nuclear program for peaceful ends, its democracy, and an expansion in terms of meeting the needs of its people.

Ahmad Edrisian, the Iranian ambassador to Cuba, told Granma International that that date will see the inauguration of 3,000 centrifuges for the production of enriched uranium, a nuclear fuel to be utilized for the generation of electrical energy and other peaceful ends.

He also noted that, in three month's time, the country will begin to produce the first 1,000 megavolts of electricity generated by nuclear energy, the first phase of a planned program that is opposed by the Western powers headed by the United States.

The diplomat assured that the entire process - as is the case to date - is to be inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and will be within the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which Iran is a signatory.

Why is Iran insisting on nuclear energy?

As a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has the right to produce that energy for peaceful ends.

One has to take into account that, in the not-so-distant future, resources like oil and gas will be exhausted, and for our country, which is on the road to development, the utilization of nuclear energy for those ends is essential.

According to analyses and studies undertaken by certain countries, including the United States, the resources of the Republic of Iran will be exhausted in 10 years and will have to depend, to a large extent, on nuclear power.

Obviously, considering our right as a member country of the NPT, we are obliged to utilize that energy for our development programs.

All the Western countries, including the United States, acknowledged prior to the Islamic Revolution that Iran would have to depend on nuclear energy for public use.

It was precisely the Americans who proposed the development of nuclear energy in Iran 30 years ago,. For, that reason the Persian country established nuclear cooperation relations with certain Western countries like Germany and France and an agreement was even signed with the Germans to build the Bucher plant which, at the triumph of the Revolution, was 70% executed.

This explains that the Iranian nuclear issue is nothing new; its antecedents date back to before the triumph of the Islamic Revolution.

What area would be developed with that energy?

The proposal that we received from the Americans was to produce 20,000 megavolts of electricity with nuclear energy, and that was when Iran had 35 million inhabitants; so now, when it has more than 70 million, the need would logically be greater.

On this basis the Iranian Parliament approved a plan to produce 20,000 megavolts of electrical energy by nuclear fission in the next 20 years.

The problems?

This is all happening while the Western countries have halted any type of nuclear cooperation with Iran, the reason why the completion of the Bucher plant, paralyzed for many years, is now being executed via a contract with the Russians.

In the next few months electricity generated via that plant will be in the national network.

I should explain that that both Iran and Russia have come under a lot of pressure from the West for that cooperation.

Before yes, now no?

This is the best example of the double standards of the United States and the West. Before the Islamic Revolution they made plans for Iran to develop nuclear energy and reach a production of 20,000 megavolts of electricity and now they are condemning Iran because it is developing those plans.

And the case of Israel with its 200 nuclear warheads?

In this instance, the international community knows that even the Prime Minister of Israel himself has acknowledged that that country possesses nuclear weapons; however, that has produced no reaction either in the UN Security Council or in the West, However, and according to the Non-Prolif-eration Treaty, the Middle East region should be a territory free of nuclear weapons.

In this case what the Israeli premier confessed is a serious and genuine threat to the security of the region and the world.

Nevertheless, the Security Council condemned Iran?

Yes, the Security Council resolution against Iran was achieved by pressure from the United States and other Western countries. It is a resolution contrary to the UN Charter. It is an extra-judicial and illegal document and the Islamic Republic of Iran rejects it in its totality.

The solution to this problem cannot be via resolutions or condemnations, but only via dialogue, and our country is disposed to continue dialogue with all the Western countries, without prior conditions.

We do not want confrontation in any way. Iran is disposed to strictly comply with its international obligations within the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency. What is the United States threatening?

The United States and the West should definitely know that sanctions and embargoes do not solve anything because the Islamic Republic of Iran is a country that has never threatened or invaded anyone in the last 200 years, and we are highly interested in participating in efforts to secure international peace and, naturally, we defend our right to development and hope that the Western countries will understand our position for once and for all.

The Iranian nuclear issue is a national matter and not a threat to anyone.

The same thing is now happening with the Iranian nuclear issue as when Iran nationalized its oil and was taken before the Security Council for that measure. In both cases our country has defended its rights and will not renounce them. And the municipal elections?

Another issue that has recently been distorted by the West is that of the recently concluded elections. Despite all the anti-propaganda, the Iranian people en masse went to the polls to elect the municipal councils.

More than 60% of the population participated. That mass presence showed the world their support for the government and the Iranian program.

All the tendencies and groups were present at these elections and had access to the municipal councils. That demonstrates the absolute freedom and democracy existing in Iran; totally contrary to what Western propaganda is saying.

We also had elections for the Councils of Experts, which are responsible for electing the leader of the Revolution.

In terms of the municipal councils 5,000 women were candidates and in certain cities it was the women who occupied the top posts.

How are relations with Cuba going?

I would also like to mention friendly relations with Cuba. We are sister nations with very good relations of economic cooperation.

The Cuban presidency of the Non-Aligned movement is very important and I am sure that it will advance a very important and favorable development within that movement.

It should be highlighted that the role of the NAM •

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