U.S. government vs. Arab revolution: Bush running on empty in Mideast face-off

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Just think: George Bush, with Democrats cheering him all the way, is pushing us into war with Iraq, so that Big Oil and the Saudi monarchy can continue to suck up the profits derived from control of the oil supply, so that the U.S. can retain its political grip on the Mideast and therewith its ability to facilitate corporate plunder worldwide; so that U.S. war industries can thrive; so that U.S. capitalism can limp along awhile longer; so that Republicans and Democrats can divert attention from domestic woes such as the savings and loan scandal, the failing drug war, debt, recession, homelessness, joblessness, etc.

Bush thinks maybe war will save the capitalist system. From here it looks like shipwreck for sure.

Better think twice, George. From the outset of the crisis, despite the fiercest pro-war propaganda blitz in U.S. history, no Americans, outside the usual gaggle of jingos and war profiteers, has wanted a Mideast shootout, the polls be damned. Read the letters to the editor in any U.S. newspaper and talk to coworkers and people in the street; war-lovers these days are rarer than interest-free bank loans.

A few months from now, when gas and food prices have hit the moon, and the national debt reaches $400 billion, and Neil Bush still hasn’t been strung up for his role in the S&L rip-off, papa George is liable to wake up to a crowd of disgruntled citizens outside the White House demanding his scalp.

Jihad. Woes on the home front are just the half of it. The minute the U.S. starts shooting, the entire Arab world is going to rise up against Guess Who. Washington may have at last gotten the Saudis to grant it some bases on Arab soil. It may have persuaded Egypt, Syria, and other bourgeois Arab states to go along with the imperialist game plan, for now. But Arab capitalists are not the Arab masses, who, to a person, despise the U.S. as the Thief of Oil and traducer of Arab dignity.

Already, there have been pro-Iraqi demonstrations in Amman, Damascus, and other Arab capitals-and among Palestinians in the West Bank, that special nightmare for U.S. war wizards.

Bush has been trying desperately to keep Israel hunkered down on the sidelines. But Iraq is dragging the Zionist state onto center stage, stressing its historic role as imperialism’s Mideast pit bull and calling for holy war against both attack dog and master. Should war come it will be just so.

Divide and be conquered. Washington banks heavily on continued “moderate” Arab support. Its foredoomed strategy is, as ever, to widen the gulf between the moderates and Arab radicals and stave off united Arab upheaval against the West. Not for nothing has the U.S. spent past decades, bribing capitalist Arab government—including the one in Baghdad-with weapons sales and development aid.

But in addition to being an oil thief, Washington is also the devil behind Israel and the rape of Palestine, and every bourgeois Arab government except Egypt holds its people by virtue of real or pretended opposition to the Zionist encroachment. And no way can Bush stop Saddam Hussein from hauling Israel into the conflict, or the Mideast from exploding immediately thereafter in a chorus of “Death to the West!”

Along with this there will commence the sizing of caskets for Arab capitalists.

In lining up Egypt, et al., against Sad dam, Bush has exacerbated the class divisions wracking the Arab world. He is, inevitably, helping pave the way for the renewal of pan-Arab revolt.

On one side in the Mideast conflict now stand U.S.-led imperialist states and the tag-along Soviet Union, Zionist Israel, and the Arab bourgeoisie. Arrayed on the other side are the outraged Arab people from Iraq to Morocco.

The Arab revolution-anti-imperialist, hence implicitly anti-capitalist-is gathering steam, even if through the warping ambitions of the “renegade” bourgeois strongman Saddam.

Aggrieved ambition. Iraq emerged from its 1980-88 war with Iran armed to the teeth by the West and the Soviets, enough to whet Saddam’s vision of a Greater Iraq. The U.S. had aided, abetted and armed Iraq to prevent the Islamic fundamentalist Khomeini from subverting the “moderate” Arab regimes.

Along with a vision, Iraq came out of the war with an $80 billion debt-to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the U.S., and France among others-and debt spelled trouble for the war-torn Iraqi economy.

Saddam’s way to glory and out of trouble lay through the Kuwaiti oil fields, and there he embarked on August 2.

What to make of Iraq’s contention, made to justify its subsequent annexation of Kuwait, that the Emirate is rightfully a part of Iraq, having been ripped away by British imperialism after World War I and set up as a puppet state to help ensure Western control over the oil?

Kuwait was definitely set up by the British for exactly that reason. So were all the Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia. In fact, the entire Mideast political configuration is an imperialist creation, imposed after the first world war when the British and French carved the region into separate states and installed rulers in each who were loyal to one or the other imperialist power.

Iraq itself was fashioned out of three ethnically divided, formerly Turkish provinces in 1922. Kuwait had been part of one of these provinces, Basra, under the Turks, but Britain stripped it away to deny Iraq access to the Persian Gulf and prevent it from threatening British dominance there.

Upsetting the applecart. It’s incontestable that Kuwait and all the Gulf states are key to continued Western domination in the Mideast. Who in good conscience could mourn Kuwait’s passing?

Yet Iraq is no less an imperialist creation (one that broke out of its assigned role, to be sure). And its claim as a state to Kuwait rests on the validity of an administrative arrangement imposed by long-dead Turkish imperialism. So why does the Arab world cheer Saddam?

Not from support for Iraq’s particularist ambition, but because he has upset the imperialist applecart. He has called into question the legitimacy of all the Gulf states-and by implication the entire configuration of states bequeathed by the West after World War I.

Result? A fundamental erosion of imperialist order and a huge step forward for pan-Arab revolt. Saddam himself, who invokes Arab unity as an essential basis of policy, would betray it for Greater Iraq. It’s been plain from the outset that his principal aim in invading Kuwait has been to supplant the Saudis as the Man the West Must Bargain With for oil.

Iraqi analysts speculate that if Saddam feels compelled to withdraw from Kuwait, he’ll negotiate to hold two islands at the head of the Gulf and a strip along the border just inside Kuwait. His annexation decree separated this strip from the rest of Kuwait, making it part of Basra province-his fall-back position and the basis for the peace signals he’s been sending to Bush.

Saddam is willing to accept the imperialist status quo-with “necessary” modifications in favor of bourgeois Iraq. But modifications, for Iraq or any Arab capitalist state, tend fundamentally to unravel the imperialist setup, in favor of Pan-Arabism. This, as we’ve seen, is unacceptable to the West.

Nor in the long run can it help Saddam. Pan-Arabism, anti-imperialist by definition, must of necessity rid the Mideast of all bourgeois influence; I.e., it must confront and uproot the Saddams of the region.

Capitalist Iraq has no legitimate claim to capitalist Kuwait. But it is up to the Arab revolution-which does have claim-and not the U.S., to deal with Saddam. This it can do by differentiating between his aims and those of pan-Arab revolt and by linking up with U.S. antiwar forces to oust the U.S., which enforces the conditions that breed the Saddams and all the evils that beset the Mideast.

Dark prospects. George Bush ought just to give up and get out of the Mideast. But he can’t and he won’t. That’s capitalism. And that likely means war, regardless of risk, perhaps by the end of the year .

If the U.S. backs down now, it not only loses control of the oil; it loses face. This could be fatal; the country is racked by S&L scandals, spiraling debt, impending depression, a crumbling education and health care system, mounting joblessness, homelessness, poverty, bigotry…

The American people, no longer bewitched by the specter of U.S. power, might just say to hell with it and revolt.

So war looks attractive to Bush and the Democrats. But war means an estimated $400 billion national debt. Three bucks or better for a gallon of gas. Skyward prices for housing and food. A gushing hemorrhage of funding from cities, welfare, schools. roads, you name it, because of the war.

All this and bales of body bags too.

The American people will say to hell with all that.

For capitalism, it’s a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

No war! One good thing, it didn’t take the U.S. antiwar movement long to get revved up after Bush went into battle mode.

Demonstrations have already occurred in cities from coast to coast, and a big national march is scheduled for October 20 in Washington D.C.

Demographically the movement reflects the widespread domestic opposition to the war: young, old, women, men, gays, straights, Arabs, Jews, people of color, whites, radicals, unionists, liberals-all are building to stop the insanity.

The movement so far is rightly focused on getting the U.S. out of the Mideast. A wing of the movement led by liberal Zionists, however, would condemn the U.S. and Iraq equally—obscuring, for Israel’s benefit, the imperialist roots of the conflict, and therefore what is needed to end it. This position bolsters the U.S. presence, and not by accident, because the Zionist state cannot last without it.

This issue will be a sticking point in achieving antiwar unity, the more so as the movement grows and liberal Democrats- to a person pro-Israel-pile onto the bandwagon to rein in the horses.

But the basic issue is whether the movement shall be anti-capitalist. Imperialism being the inevitable outgrowth of the profit system, this shouldn’t seem a problem. But here too, Democrats will be up to their old tricks, obscuring essential connections, redbaiting, etc., in an effort to excise radicals.

They’ll try to squelch democracy, I.e., stop open discussion of issues; free discussion leads to intelligent-and radical-conclusions and action.

The first prerequisite for an intelligent, effective antiwar movement: democracy. All opinions, including those of socialists, must be respected and encouraged.

A democratic, radical antiwar movement will shut the war down-by confronting the system that makes war inevitable. It will fight on the basis of the following demands:

U.S. out of the Middle East! Hands off Arab land!

End the war drive! No draft!

Money for jobs, housing, and AIDS, not war!

End all U.S. aid to Israel! Zionists out of the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon! For a bilateral, secular, socialist state for Jews and Palestinians!

For a pan-Arab solution to Saddam’s aggression! For a socialist Mideast!

Stop oil-price gouging!

Nationalize the oil and energy industries under workers’ control!

Develop solar and other forms of energy as an alternative to oil!

Properly armed, the antiwar movement can win-and we must. Tens and hundreds of thousands of people are going to be slaughtered if we don’t stop the U.S. war machine. The crisis is here, now. The opportunity is ours.

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