This is an archive of the former website of the Maoist Internationalist Movement, which was run by the now defunct Maoist Internationalist Party - Amerika. The MIM now consists of many independent cells, many of which have their own indendendent organs both online and off. MIM(Prisons) serves these documents as a service to and reference for the anti-imperialist movement worldwide.

The English angle on the war on Iraq

War Plan Iraq: Ten Reasons against War on Iraq

by Milan Rai & Noam Chomsky
London: Verso, 2002, 240pp. pb

This book contains pleas for peace from 911 victims, photos of potential Iraqi victims, a chapter by Noam Chomsky and a thorough account of the background leading to the war in 2003. Milan Rai helps us refute a number of myths being spread by the war-mongers right now:

1. Myth: there was 12 years time for diplomacy to work in disarming Saddam Hussein. Now it's time for "action."

Fact: The United $tates never backed disarming Hussein and ordered the end of UN inspections in 1998 just before they were going to certify Hussein free of weapons of mass destruction.

In the whole 12 years, Iraq was under military occupation with no-fly zones in the north and the south. Also thanks to ongoing military action unreasonably extended, Iraq was not able to trade without the use of smugglers. Although most Amerikkkans were not paying attention to any news at all before 911, the war in Afghanistan and now Gulf War II, the military all along said it was in charge of Iraq's infrastructure. Colonel John Warden explained how the United $tates was using humanitarian disaster to shape Saddam Hussein's behavior: "'Saddam, when you agree to do these things, we will allow people to come in and fix your electricity.'"(p. 139) The war in Iraq never ended; hence to blame failure on "diplomacy" as if military means were not in use the whole time is misleading.

In March 1997, Bill Clinton's U.$. Secretary of State Madelaine Albright said that even if Iraq complied with the UN resolutions,(p. 47) the United $tates would not lift economic sanctions against Iraq, contrary to Paragraph 22 of the UN Resolution 687 on Iraq. Needless to say this gave Iraq little reason to cooperate with UN arms inspectors and Iraq had no choice but to consider war to end the sanctions and deter the united $tates, which clearly indicated that weapons inspections were secondary to some other U.$. goal in Iraq.

In 1998, Russia, China and France asked the united $tates to uphold Paragraph 22 if Iraq disarmed. On October 30th, the United $tates said "no" again.(p. 48) At this time, many including U.$. employees realized that the United $tates was stabbing the UN in the back, and trying to force the UN to fail in order to justify U.$. pursuit of other interests besides weapons inspections.

In fact, the United $tates was caught using the weapons inspectors to infiltrate with a team of CIA spies attempting to overthrow Saddam Hussein.(pp. 55, 201) Whatever it was the united $tates was trying to achieve, it was willing to sacrifice the weapons inspections to stage a coup against Saddam Hussein. Of course, Iraq had no choice but to oppose inspections that were not inspections.

Twice in 1998, the UNSCOM weapons inspectors had to all withdraw from Iraq, because the United $tates told Richard Butler it was about to attack Iraq. When Butler withdrew, he did not even tell his boss--the UN Security Council--and thus Russia, France, China and England had no chance to stop the united $tates from ruining the weapons inspections process again. After the second time and U.$. bombing of Iraq, the UN weapons inspectors did not return. Richard Butler temporarily covered up for the united $tates by making up some lame excuses for why the inspections had failed. Russia and China exposed Butler to the whole world in the UN Security Council in 1998 as U.$. bombing was going on. By his own admission, when the United $tates attacked, Butler was 6 to 8 weeks away from completing all inspections and certifying Iraq free of weapons of mass destruction.

A US intelligence officer admitted in February 2002 that the U.$. strategy was "not to take yes for an answer" from Iraq.(p. 61) Finally in April, 2002, Bush and Blair held a press conference in the open where they said "regime change" was their goal. In such a circumstance, it is useful for the imperialists to pretend the weapons inspections failed when they did. They can then justify "regime change."

As we go to press, it's been over a week of war, but the U.S. Government failed to meet one of its stated objectives. Planners had said they would have 48 hours to get Saddam Hussein before his deployments of weapons of mass destruction took place.(p. 161)

2. Myth: France stabbed the United $tates in the back.

Fact: Going back several years, France voted to enforce the existing UN resolutions consistently, along with Russia and China and occasionally England. The French vote against war is consistent with its earlier stances, the United Nations charter and the relevant UN resolutions on Iraq.

The United $tates did not want to allow Iraq to resume oil exports or allow weapons inspections to succeed, so there was no way for the united $tates to vote along with the other members of the Security Council. Those members of the Security Council wanted the original UN resolution enforced but were unable to enforce it, because the United $tates and England had veto power. It is now a matter of public record that the United $tates all along had another agenda besides enforcing UN resolutions.

3. Myth: Democrats would not have carried out this war.

Facts: Bill Clinton was the one in charge when the United $tates intentionally sabotaged UN resolutions on Iraq including Paragraph 22 of Resolution 687. He also carried out military operation "Desert Fox" against Iraq and attempted a coup against Saddam Hussein by using weapons inspectors for purposes other than those declared by the UN. The "Desert Fox" bombing in December, 1998 was against international law even according to a one-time British Minister of "Defence," Lord Healey.(p. 145)

Clinton's bombing of Iraq ended UN weapons inspections until just before the 2003 war. As Colin Powell correctly stated, the goal of "regime change" really started under Clinton: "'We have had a policy of regime change, which really has been there all along but was crystallized by President Clinton in 1998 at the time of Desert Fox."(p. 75)

Under Clinton, there was also the 23 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched against Iraq for a faked bomb plot against Bush Sr. in 1993.(p. 132)

4. Myth: The Labour Party's soul is against the war, so Blair cannot win a vote by using democratic methods.

Facts: A March 2002 survey showed that Labour Party supporters had higher percentages in favor of war than either the Conservatives or the Liberal-Democrats. Labour and Conservatives were essentially equal in their support of the war.(p. 167)

Milan Rai said in 2002, that "Hence Mr. Blair's decision not to put the invasion of Iraq to a vote of the House of Commons. The Prime Minister is determined to launch what US hawks call a 'war for democracy' in Iraq by undemocratic methods."(p. 7)

In 2003, we see that Milan Rai was wrong: Blair did hold a vote and he won it despite a defection of a minority of his party. If the Labour Party were so concerned, it could have removed Blair in 2002, never mind 2003. True, the Labour Party felt that this issue deserved more discussion than any other issue in recent decades, but in the end, it voiced some qualms but went along with the prime minister and Bush.

Milan Rai correctly pointed out that Blair had a self-interest in making more ridiculous claims than Bush did, because Blair had more of a public opinion poll gap to make up.(p. 118) All along, Blair correctly perceived which way the public would go. Once at war, 54% of the public swung around to support him, up from 36%.(1) Blair had said about previous polls in April 2002: "'It's hardly surprising frankly if people are concerned about military action at this present time because we are not suggesting it at this present time.'"(p. 165)

The reason for all this is that the peace movement has too many bourgeois democratic prejudices to be able to understand the true nature of the power struggle going on. That is why Blair won it. Even if England eventually retreats under repeated blows, the fact remains that the English peace movement was too weak to stop Blair's throwing the dice, and taking a chance with the whole world's survival.

On the question of "democracy," the more relevant problem than fools who do not understand electoral politics as well as Blair does was the Conservative Minister justifying support for the war by "secret intelligence reports."(p. 119) Justifying a war with "secret intelligence reports" is fine in a monarchy or fascism, but in "democracy" the citizenry is supposed to be informed.

5. Myth: Colin Powell is a moderate without influence in the Bush administration.

Facts: Powell won the strategic battle against Perle, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. The United $tates went to the United Nations and feigned interest in weapons inspections one last time before unleashing war in 2003. More crucially, contrary to New York Times propaganda attempting to protect and manipulate Powell through his putative future electoral base as a presidential candidate, the basic military strategy in Iraq was Powell's.

The "cakewalk" faction of reactionaries so reactionary that they are "radical" favored using Amerikkkan air power to back an invasion of Iraqi exiles. They believed that the Iraqis would greet them with "flowers and song" while throwing rice to their "liberators." The "radicals" of the Bush administration believe that Amerikkka is so loved and Saddam Hussein so hated that toppling Saddam Hussein would be like toppling the Taliban despite the fact that everyone knew Saddam Hussein has several divisions of regular troops and equipment that the Taliban did not.

Ironically, Milan Rai shares the assumptions of the Pentagon "revolutionaries." He said the revolt of the people to be liberated should have been supported at the end of the first Gulf War and the whole Republican Guard annihilated when U.$. forces had the chance.(p. 86) Some of the press predictions about targets of the war that said the united $tates would not attack the Republican Guard in Gulf War II(p. 95) have proved wrong as we write this.

In contrast with the Pentagon "revolutionaries" today, Powell argued for use of overwhelming force (250,000 troops) and no reliance on "half-assed" people with schemes about Iraqi exiles. Even a compromise position of 80,000 troops fell to the wayside, so complete was Powell's victory in the Bush administration. 250,000 troops ended up going and more may be on the way as we write this.

An article in the New York Times called on Powell to resign and another New York Times article incorrectly concluded Powell did not get what he wanted on Iraq strategy, but Powell replied that Gallup polls show he is still popular for the job he is doing. Powell himself answered the New York Times on March 26, 2003: "'Personally, I'm very much in sync with the president and he values my services,' Powell told National Public Radio."(2)

6. Myth: Nothing else works but military force.

Facts: Nothing else has failed but military force. All through history, the united $tates has used the same means it is using now and that has not stopped terrorism, war and economic disaster. The CIA created Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden and now we hear idiots globally calling for the same means to be used to rid the world of Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden, who themselves were only the means of destroying previous enemies.

The same reactionaries who said Saddam Hussein was so evil and assured us that he has chemical, biological and nuclear weapons are now counting on Saddam Hussein's good intentions not to start a five or six digit slaughter of Amerikkkans and possibly I$raelis. It looks like something other than military force involved, because the United $tates did not kill Saddam Hussein within the first 48 hours as planned.

Saddam Hussein got his start with the CIA by assassinating a "communist" relative and providing lists of "communists" to the CIA.(p. 97) Now when something goes wrong with Saddam Hussein the same reactionaries are saying to use the same methods as in the past. Once again the CIA is in there, with Special Forces. Once again, the united $tates is trying to make some deal with the Kurds inside Iraqi borders, but in 1963, the CIA supported the Kurds and then spit them out. It delivered weapons to Turkey and Iran to crush the Kurds. (That's how Saddam Hussein's party came to power in the first place. Junior Saddam Hussein only climbed the ranks with more of the same and won especial favor from U.$. masters for his war in the 1980s with Iran.)

Likewise, in 1991, Bush Sr. called for a revolt of the people against Saddam Hussein, but the Amerikkkans not only did not support the revolt and allowed it to be crushed by Saddam Hussein, but also, the United $tates refused to let one Iraqi rebel batallion have its weapons to fight Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein promptly slaughtered the rebel batallion, once again with U.$. assistance.

We are told repeatedly thanks to a computer programming glitch lasting more than a week at that the FBI is rounding up Saddam Hussein supporters in the u$A. When will the FBI start arresting the CIA? When will Bush Sr. be put in the clink?

This should teach all Third World and former-Soviet bloc people that solidarity against U.$. imperialism has to come first and foremost before everything else. The U.$. uses its friends and then spits them out. Ask Manuel Noriega or Saddam Hussein.

What the peace movement in the imperialist countries should learn from all this is that the government is not serious about ending terrorism. The only beneficiaries of this continuous CIA/military action are the arms dealers and manufacturers. Give the weapons to one side and then the other--make profits off both.

People globally should also learn that the united $tates will assume ANY guise to get a job done. In the past and now the CIA is posing as the most militant communists in order to avoid being detected. In order to install a king and overthrow parliamentary democracy in Iran in 1950s, the CIA organized a mob of "communists," so that the military could find a justification for seizing power in August, 1953.(p. 100) We have to learn when communists are getting things done and support them, even if we cannot be sure who they are exactly.

We of the peace movement have the radical idea that we can actually PAY for gasoline and thereby get along with people, expand trade and create global prosperity. We also see no reason to trust our government officials to weapons manufacturers and dealers willing to bribe anybody for a short-run profit. Our means to prosperity may not be as obvious as selling weapons to opposing sides of a war, but we believe the communist plan of peace and prosperity is much more sound for the long-run.

Noam Chomsky

In contrast with some other more wilting writing of his recently, MIM appreciates the chapter in this book. In concrete form, Chomsky expresses internationalism.

Chomsky points out that Bush is a criminal even on bourgeois legal grounds. Ironically, now that there are Amerikan POWs held by Iraq, Rumsfeld is all rhetoric about Iraq's respecting the Geneva Conventions on war crimes, but before the war started, Chomsky was already criticizing the united $tates for undermining the Geneva Conventions in the Middle East. Even Bush Sr. as a diplomat in 1971 admitted that I$rael was violating the Geneva Conventions. Despite this and numerous UN resolutions, the united $tates never enforced the relevant resolutions. "As High Contracting Parties, the US and the European powers are obligated by solemn treaty to apprehend and prosecute those responsible for such crimes, including their own leadership when they are parties to them. By continuing to reject that duty, they are enhancing terror directly and significantly."(p. 30) Just remember Amerikkkans, when you see those POWs on TV, what goes around comes around.

Criticism of the book

We have a a few complaints about this book. This goes for any book that attempts to handle the details of war and imperialist "foreign policy": in the process of refuting lies or bringing forward history now ignored in today's headlines, we have to be careful about ending up sharing the unspoken assumption of our opponents. Quoting at length from former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter--who voted for Bush after all--is an example. To understand what the rulers are really trying to do, we do have to read Ritter and Milan Rai; however, if we end up arguing forever in the Ritter vein, that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction or that the best way to find out is to send in inspectors (and not troops who may be the victims of those weapons of mass destruction), we will lose out on a theoretical level.

For the public, we understand "theory" often means "speculation" or "values," but for MIM, following Marx, Lenin and Mao, "theory" is something even more valuable than an individual fact, because theory is a generalization about facts that tells us how facts are linked together. There are two keys theoretical aspects missing from both the works of Ritter and Milan Rai: 1) capitalist economic organization as it ties to militarism. 2) internationalism and how it is an expression of the social forces capable of bringing global peace.

We can see ignorant nationalism masquerading as bourgeois democratic prejudice in Milan Rai's statement, when he calls the United $tates and England "two of the freest societies ever to have existed."(p. 189) Quite the contrary, the United $tates imprisons more people percentagewise than any other country and England does more than anyone else in the European Union.(3)

Milan Rai says "in the case of Iraq, inspection is an option, and almost certainly the only effective one."(p. 74) This includes the assumption that the causes of war and militarism cannot be addressed effectively, so the united $tates may continue to use weapons of mass destruction while Iraq cannot.

It's quite ironic to see Donald Rumsfeld sing the glories of capitalism and then fret that northern Korea could sell nuclear weapons for profit. Now the united $tates is trying to stigmatize Russian arms sales to Syria and Yemen as going to Iraq. Russia replies that it sold arms quite legally to Syria and Yemen. The United $tates says those weapons then ended up in Iraq. Anyone looking at Uncle $am has to ask: "what are you bitching about? Capitalism is the system you asked for!"

That is all details of one bourgeois telling another that his or her sales are illegitimate. The fact is that weapons production is profitable all across the world. Where there are sanctions as in the case of Iraq, there are smugglers. When it comes to smuggling, there are people of all nationalities willing to take risk for profit. That means there will be attempts to supply demand wherever it is.

On the demand side, there are also more than a few bourgeois with an interest in seeing the united $tates slowed or defeated in Iraq. To think it is only Iraq defending itself is a big mistake of narrowness in thinking. That is why the Arab League finally did condemn the u.$. war in Iraq, with many quietly saying the united $tates better suffer some in Iraq or everyone will be tempted to knock off Arab regimes at the drop of a hat.

All of the smuggling of arms and expertise to Iraq is inevitable under capitalism. Only a global socialist order would eliminate the incentives to arms smuggling. This raises another point: to think for some reason that the Amerikkkan bourgeoisie should have the right to own and use weapons of mass destruction while the Iraqi bourgeoisie does not is not internationalist. Such a thought cannot bring peace. Large portions of the Milan Rai book and the Ritter book carry the underlying assumption that Iraq should be disarmed but not the United $tates. At best, these authors share a belief in international law and the United Nations, a kind of bourgeois internationalism which in practice means hands off the united $tates as the greatest bourgeois power that cannot be stopped or brought to order anyway.

Only socialist internationalism is the ideology that can organize the forces that can bring u.$. imperialism to order. There is no other slumbering giant capable of the task without fatal bourgeois divisiveness.


*See more material on Iraq
*For the latest news on Iraq also see our newspaper MIM Notes

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