Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)
For struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria
Newspaper of the DSM
STOP BUSH’S OIL WAR
In defiance of the massive strength of the global anti-war movements that have had more than 50 million protesters on the streets across the world, the monstrous American led war machine struck on Thursday, March 20th. This was after expiration of the 2-day ultimatum president Bush gave Saddam and his sons to flee Iraq which the latter defied. Thus a war with its associated socio-economic disaster and human and ecological catastrophe has commenced. The US, according to the secretary of state, Collins Powell, leads about 30 countries in a "coalition of willing"
, a total 300,000 troops, in this murderous military expedition in Iraq but which the warmongers would prefer to call war of liberation of the Iraqi people. The US hawks claimed they are spearheading the war in order to rid Iraq of Saddam and dispossess him of alleged stocked pile of weapon of mass destruction. By the end of the war they intend to install "democracy" and "freedom" in Iraq.
OIL-THE WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION
In reality this war is an imperialist war of prestige and oil super profit. The section of the US' ruling class with the executive power led by Bush wants to reaffirm the overwhelming military supremacy of the super power after the September 11 demystification. They are also interested in controlling the massive oil reserve of the Middle East, right from Iraq, the second largest reserve after Saudi Arabia. The oilfields in Basra, the Iraq's second largest city produced the prized "sweet crudes" that are cheap and easy to refine. The Middle East accounts for about 65% of the world' oil. The US is the biggest industrial nation in the world and the largest consumer and importer of the oil, the main source of energy, needing alone 30% of the world total. Therefore, oil is very strategic to its economic interest. Besides this "
national interest", George Bush and some members of his kitchen cabinet have strong link with some major oil companies and contractors, whose profit interests along with that of other big businesses they ably represent in the government. These companies have started warming up to storm Iraq after the victory for super profit. This is why the warmongers are very concerned about the safety of the Iraqi oilfields as they are waging the war, not for the interests of the Iraqis as they have tried to make the world to believe.
To actualise this objective without fetter, the first mission of the warmongers in Iraq is the removal of Saddam. This is expected to be followed by installation a new regime to be led by an Iraqi protégé or an American military governor that will facilitate the easy flow of oil revenues to US and British energy corporations at the expense of the already impoverished working people of Iraq.
It must be noted categorically that Saddam is a vicious dictator whose almost 15 years of administration have been a disaster to the Iraqi people. He deserves to be removed. But this is the task of the Iraqi people not of the US government and multinational oil companies which can only usher in exploitative and autocratic regime like that of Saddam. The Afghanistan experience comes handy in this respect to buttress this assertion. The Hamid Karzai led regime imposed after the collapse of the Talibans is not fundamentally different from the later in all ramifications. It is equally anti-democratic and dictatorial.
The foregoing further exposes the emptiness of the so-called gospel of democracy of the US in relation to the war besides the fact that many of the US allies are anti-democratic and despotic regimes. The people of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar are governed by reactionary, tyrannical, autocratic and feudal royal families and sheiks and they do not have any saying in the affairs of their countries. Musharaf and Mubarak are ruthless dictators who rule Pakistan and Egypt respectively with iron hands and hate democracy with passion.
George Bush and associates have failed woefully to prove the allegation that Saddam still possess weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, has criticised the intelligence reports the US and her allies. After the verification of the claims there in, they turned out to be a ruse. In their own independent work after more than three months of intensive inspection with co-operation from Iraqi government, as confirmed by Hans Blix, there was no trace of the alleged WMD found.
Even as regards weapon of mass destruction, the US has the largest possible quantities. Equally, Israel, Pakistan, India and some other allies of the US possess WMD. North Korea, packed into "axis of evil" along with Iran and Iraq by Bush, does not only have WMD, its government also sent away out of the country weapon inspectors and removed their installation. Perhaps the country would have been attacked but it is lucky it does not have oil. Collin Powell has assured that the conflict with Korea with be resolved diplomatically.
Saddam has equally been alleged to have link with terrorist groups particularly Osama and his Al-Qaida network. This has not also been also established. The only indisputable link between Saddam and Osama is that both are monsters created by the US. It is the only northern part of Iraq that has been under the control of the US since the end of the Gulf war that a trace of terrorist group has been found.
SADDAM-THE MONSTER CREATED BY WASHINGTON
It must be stated that whatever Saddam might have once amassed as WMD along with biological and chemical weapons were procured through the assistance of the western powers particularly the US. He was supported morally (with intelligence services), financially and materially during his war against Iran between 1980-88. In December, 1983 a month after Saddam used chemical weapons against Iranians, Ronald Reagan and vice president George Bush senior commissioned Ronald Rumsfeld, the current Defence Secretary, as a special envoy to court Saddam and to ease the way for the US companies to sell to Iraq biological and chemical weapons components, including poisonous chemicals, anthrax, botulinum and bubonic plague cultures. Incidentally, the Pentagon (the US Defence Headquarters) recently identified anthrax as a key component of Saddam's biological weapons programme. This support was to ensure that Saddam was not defeated by Iran. With the approval of Commerce Department, Dow Chemical company in 1998 sold $1.5 million worth of pesticides to Baghdad despite the suspicions that they would be used for chemical warfare. This was after Saddam massacred about 5,000 Iraqi Kurds with a poisonous gas sprayed with the helicopters the US sold to him in 1983. The US equally contributed to the technology and nuclear weapon programmes that was the basis of the then Iraq's WMD.
EFFECTS OF THE WAR
This war will definitely aggravate excruciating suffering of the Iraq people. Before the war about 60% of Iraq's people depend on food rations supplied under UN oil-for-food programme meant to cushion the effect of the US's inspired UN sanctions. Out of the programme an average Iraqi lives on just N65 per day in a depressed economy. Therefore, besides thousands that may be killed by the direct effect of the bombing, many particularly the children and aged would die of starvation since invasion has already disrupted the rationing programme. Even when the programme was on "smoothly" at least 500, 000 children died.
Although the US led troops are making using of what the Pentagon called precision-guided bombs and missiles, as Rumsfeld has alluded to, this cannot guarantee protection of lives and properties of the Iraqi people. Despite the so-called 'smart' weapons of the US and allied forces during the last Gulf war, at least 150, 000 Iraqis were killed. Similarly, as it was during and after the last war there would be devastating biological and ecological effects of the war in Iraq and the Middle East, although with Iraqis as the worst hit.
If Saddam attacks Israel as he did during the last war and Israeli government retaliated unlike then by launching nuclear attack as it has promised, the Middle East will be further thrown into terrible turmoil with the ordinary and working people of Israel and among Arabs at the receiving end. This calamity will be compounded if Saddam unleashes biological and chemical weapons that he still likely has in stocks out of desperation of a drowning man.
This war has already skyrocketed the price of crude oil after the announcement of Bush that the war might be prolonged. Some economic analysts have said that the world should expect the price of oil to be as high as $50 per barrel. This in no uncertain term is a ticket for economic catastrophe. Though the working people of US will be affected, for example the country's crude inventories have fallen to lowest level in the last two years and the people have to pay for $200 billion meant to be spent on the war, the country still has capacity to absolve the shock to a large extent. This is the same for other industrialised nations on a bit lesser level, as they have stock-piled the oil before the outbreak of the war. It is the working people of non-oil producing nations particularly of the third world that will suffer most.
NIGERIA IN CRISIS
Nigeria is not immune to the adverse effect of the energy crisis arising from the war. Before the war actually broke out, the Nigerians had been eking a living out scarce oil in the country with enormous agony. Queues had returned to filling stations, transport fares increased by almost hundred percent and commuters stranded at the bus-stops. Now with the war now raging, we have to expect a worse situation. Although Nigeria is the 6th producer of oil in the world, we still import refined oil due to neglect and under utilisation and insufficiency of the country's refineries. The on going poignant agony of fuel crisis may remain with us until the war last. Otherwise, there may have to be astronomical increase in the pump price of the petroleum products as it has already been canvassed for by the government licensed importers. The attendant implication shall worsen the level of poverty, inflation and other socio-economic crises in the country.
Although this war has nothing to do with religion, as stated earlier it is an imperialist war for prestige and super oil profit, it is not impossible that there may be misconception among some Muslim communities who would see it as a war against Islam. Thus there may be possibility of outbreak of religious crisis in the country particularly in the northern part. This may endanger the on-going transition and make the much expected 2003 elections a mirage.
STRUGGLE MUST CONTINUE
Yes the war has commenced, yet the anti-war campaigners must not allow themselves to be condemned to despair. The struggle must continue. At the same time the campaigners and those who are opposed to the war must have to realise that Bush went ahead in contempt of the massive global outcry against the war due to the drive of Bush and other capitalist vampires for oil super profit. Ultimately, the on-going war has only further established the fact that capitalism as a socio-economic system based on profit motive can only guarantee humanitarian catastrophe and ecological calamity along with poverty, homelessness, unemployment, etc., and not the general well-being of the people. The working people must therefore build a mass movement against this self-centred, crisis-ridden system called capitalism, and fight for socialist reconstruction of the society with democratic management and control of the society and world resources by the working people.
In Nigeria, the workers, trade unions, Nigeria Labour Congress, students, the youth, the old, the Christians, Muslims, radical political parties like National Conscience Party and human rights organisations should protest against the imperialist war, organising mass demonstrations and strikes. The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Zone D has blazed the trail with the initiation of an anti-war platform named Coalition Against War in Iraq, CAWI. The coalition must begin immediately to organise mass action against the war.