Fallujah in Iraq, destroyed by Nato's stormtroopers in 2004
Sirte in Libya, destroyed by Nato's luftwaffe in 2011
By Felicity Arbuthnot, via Global Research
“Hypocrisy, the most protected of vices.” Moliere (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, 1622-1673)
Last week, a little more was learned as to the circumventions in Whitehall and Washington delaying the publication of the findings of Sir John Chilcot’s marathon inquiry in to the background of the Iraq invasion.
The UK’s Chilcot Inquiry, was convened under then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, to establish the decisions taken by the UK government and military, pre and post invasion. It ran from 24 November 2009 until 2 February 2011 and cost an estimated £7.5m. The as yet unpublished report is believed to run to 1,000,000 words.
The stumbling block – more of an Israeli-style ‘separation barrier’ in reality – has been the correspondence between Tony Blair and George W Bush, prior to an invasion and occupation that former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan finally told the BBC was “illegal”, and that “painful lessons” had been learned. ‘Lessons’ clearly not learned by the current British government. (16 September 2004)
The communications, in Sir John Chilcot’s words to former Cabinet Secretary Lord O’Donnell, related to “The question of when and how the prime minister (Tony Blair) made commitments to the US about the UK’s involvement in military action in Iraq, and subsequent decisions on the UK’s continuing involvement, is central to its considerations.” (Guardian, 17 July 2013)
Further: “Chilcot said the release of notes of the conversations between Blair and Bush would serve to ‘illuminate Mr Blair’s position at critical points’ in the run up to war.”
The inquiry had also been seeking clarification from O’Donnell’s successor, Sir Jeremy Heywood, regarding inclusion of references to “the content of Mr Blair’s notes to President Bush, and to the records of discussions between Mr Blair and Presidents Bush and Obama”. The wall remains in place.
Sir Jeremy Heywood, now the country’s most senior civil servant, was Tony Blair’s private secretary during the period of the trans-Atlantic lies that led to the Iraq war and during the creation of the Blair regime’s ‘dodgy dossiers’.
Interestingly too: “O’Donnell had consulted Blair before saying the notes must remain secret.” Effectively, one of the accused – in an action that has destroyed a country, lynched the president, murdered his sons and teenage nephew and caused the deaths of perhaps one and a half million people – is deciding what evidence can be presented before the court. Chilcot has seen the documents, but seemingly needs the accused’s permission to publish them.
A stitch-up of which any ‘rogue’ or ‘totalitarian’ regime would surely be proud.
Centre to the dispute between the inquiry, Cameron and his ennobled gate keepers is material requested for inclusion in the final report: “to reflect its analysis of discussions in Cabinet and Cabinet Committees and their significance”.
The documents being denied to the inquiry include 25 pieces of correspondence sent by Tony Blair to George W Bush and 130 documents relating to conversations between these lead plotters of Iraq’s destruction. Additionally: “dozens of records of Cabinet meetings”.
Ironically, on 31 October 2006, David Cameron voted in favour of a motion brought by the Scottish National Party and Wales’ Plaid Cymru (‘The Party of Wales’) calling for an inquiry into the Blair government’s conduct of the Gulf war.
On 15 June 2009, in a parliamentary debate, the terms of the Chilcot Inquiry were presented in detail, duly recorded in Hansard, the parliamentary records.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Blair’s successor stated: “In order that the committee is as objective and non-partisan as possible, the membership of the committee will consist entirely of non-partisan public figures acknowledged to be experts and leaders in their fields. There will be no representatives of political parties from either side of this House.”
David Cameron, then Leader of the Opposition stated piously:
“The whole point of having an Inquiry is that it has to be able to make clear recommendations, to go wherever the evidence leads, to establish the full truth and to ensure that the right lessons are learned … in a way that builds public confidence.”
Cameron was particularly concerned about: ‘openness’. How times change.
Further, said Cameron:
“The inquiry needs to be, and needs to be seen to be, truly independent and not an establishment stitch-up … The prime minister was very clear that the inquiry would have access to all British documents and all British witnesses. Does that mean that the inquiry may not have access to documents from the USA … On the scope of the inquiry, will the prime minister confirm that it will cover relations with the United States …”
Cameron concluded with again a demand for “openness and transparency”.
In response, Gordon Brown stated:
“I cannot think of an inquiry with a more comprehensive, wider or broader remit than the one that I have just announced. Far from being restricted, it will cover eight years, from 2001 to 2009. Far from being restricted, it will have access to any documents that are available, and that will include foreign documents that are available in British archives. [Emphasis mine.]
However, four years is a long time in politics, and last week, as David Cameron traveled to Sri Lanka for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, it transpired that the documents Sir John Chilcot had been pursuing and been denied for six months have been also blocked by: “officials in the White House and the US department of state, who have refused to sanction any declassification of critical pre-and post-war communications between George W Bush and Tony Blair”.
David Cameron is apparently also blocking evidence “on Washington’s orders, from being included in the report of an expensive and lengthy British Inquiry.”
However, ‘shame’ clearly not being a word in Cameron’s lexicon, he landed in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon, a British Colony 1815-1948) as the above shoddy details broke, in full colonial mode.
Spectacular welcoming ceremonies barely over, he launched in to an entirely undiplomatic, public tirade, at this gathering of the ‘Commonwealth family of nations’ alleging that his host, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, was guilty of war crimes during the civil war with the Tamil Tigers.
It is not disputed that, as in any conflict, terrible crimes were committed on both sides. But these are accusations from the man both covering up the genesis of massacres of genocidal magnitude – and who enjoined in the near destruction of Libya, the resultant lynching of the country’s leader, the murder of his sons and small grandchildren and uncounted others in another decimation of a country that had threatened no other.
Cameron’s Libya is Blair’s Iraq. As in Iraq, the dying continues daily.
The pontification also from a prime minister backing funding for the cannibalistic-orientated insurgents in Syria – the beheading, dismembering, looting, displacing, kidnapping, chemical weapons lobbying, child killing, infanticide-bent crazies – including those from his own country.
In Sri Lanka, he demanded the country ensure “credible, transparent and independent investigations into alleged war crimes” and said if this did not happen by the March deadline he arbitrarily imposed, he would press the UN Human Rights Council to hold an international inquiry.
Further: “truth telling”, he said, was essential. To cite hypocrisy of breathtaking proportions has become a redundant accusation, but words are failing.
In the event Cameron “left Colombo having failed to secure any concessions from President Rajapaksa or persuade fellow leaders to criticise Sri Lanka’s record in a communique”. (Guardian, 16 November)
As the prime minster slunk out, President Mahinda Rajapaksa delivered an apt, withering reaction: “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” he responded.
Ironically, in spite a tragic recent past, Sri Lanka is the only country in South Asia rated high on the Human Development Index. The UK and ‘allies’ recent victims Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan barely make it to the bottom.
David Cameron returned to Britain still having to grapple with how to evade delivering truth to the Chilcot Inquiry.
Hopefully, he will read a letter from writer Lesley Docksey:
“It was British taxpayers’ money that funded the Chilcot Inquiry, and this taxpayer wants her money’s worth. All the British government papers concerning the sorry affair of an invasion of another country belong to this nation – not to the United States, not to Tony Blair and not to the current government. Taxpayers aren’t here to save the faces of politicians.
“Nor is it, in the words of the Cabinet Office, ‘in the public’s interest’ that exchanges between the UK prime minister and the US president are kept secret’ – sorry, ‘privileged’ – from those who are paying their wages. The phrase ‘in the public interest’ only ever means the interests of the government of the day.
“Unless Sir John Chilcot and his team can publish a full and honest report, no lessons will be learnt by future governments. But then, if those lessons were learnt, and we the public knew (as in fact we do) what they were, this country would find it difficult to ever invade anywhere ever again.
“So, Sir John, in the words of a former PM, the Duke of Wellington, ‘Publish and be damned!’” (Independent, 18th November 2013)
Oh, and as David Cameron was lecturing Sri Lanka on ‘transparency’, the Conservatives were removing “a decade of speeches from their website and from the main internet library – including one in which David Cameron claimed that being able to search the web would democratise politics by making ‘more information available to more people’”.
“The party removed records of speeches and press releases from 2000 until May 2010. The effect will be to remove any speeches and articles during the Tories’ modernisation period …”
Comment again redundant.
“It’s a proxy war by outside forces and the world must stand up against it.”
This motion was passed unanimously at the recent CPGB-ML party congress
This congress notes that the last five years of deepening capitalist overproduction crisis have imposed genuine and unaccustomed hardships on British workers, and have hit working and middle-class youth with exceptional ferocity.
Congress further notes that British capitalism in crisis has seen all three of the major (Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour) parties in administration, and has shown that any party that aims to preserve British capitalism through this crisis cannot but attack British workers in general, and can offer no prospect of a productive and meaningful life or prosperous and secure future for working-class youth in particular. Since our last congress in 2010, we have seen the intensification of a long campaign against education and welfare provision for working-class youth, coinciding with a precipitous decline in paid employment.
Congress commends those British youth who have responded with an increased militancy and growing political consciousness, which has indicated both to the British state and the wider working class their revolutionary potential.
Congress joins in the popular outrage felt amongst British youth and students in response to parliament’s abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and skyrocketing higher-education tuition fees, which were introduced by a Labour government, and have been ratcheted up to a staggering £9,000 per year since 2011 by their ConDem successors. When these fees are combined with increasing living and accommodation costs, the reason that applications to university are down despite rising rates of unemployment becomes clear. We are witnessing the end of the era in which British working-class youth could access further and higher education; capitalism has declared the education of workers to be ‘uneconomic’.
Meanwhile, this congress notes that the burden of unemployment is growing, and probably stands above 10 percent nationally. Official figures have been systemically ‘massaged’ and under-reported over the last three decades, and can be considered only an indication of the problem rather than a true representation of it. The present figure is now based on the number of benefit claimants, so does not include the growing army of unemployed workers who have been deprived of their benefits, or those who receive incapacity benefits, students, the part-time under-employed, those over the age of retirement who cannot live on their pensions and are looking for work, or those classed as ‘illegal immigrants’ or asylum seekers, among others.
Congress further notes that more than one million British youth are unemployed: between 20 and 25 percent of all 16-24 year olds across the UK. As an index of discrimination, it merits attention that a staggering 60 percent of young black men are jobless. As a result of endemic unemployment and under-employment, declining and often derisory wages, 3.6 million British children are growing up in poverty (between a quarter and a third of all children in the UK), and that this figure is set to rise. A recent report indicates that 1,000,000 children go hungry in Britain every day.
This congress believes that in a country whose ruling class has looted the resources of an empire and ‘sphere of influence’ that covered two thirds of the globe for 300 years this is absolutely inexcusable. There is no shortage of money in Britain.
This congress does not believe the government and media-peddled lies that in these hard times, “we are all in it together”. We are wage-slaves in a global capitalist economy, where the super-rich capitalist exploiting class are growing ever wealthier, even as they ruin the economies of entire nations. Recent estimates show that the world’s super-rich finance capitalists have stashed $38tr of their ‘earnings’ in tax havens, simply to avoid paying any contribution from their ill-gotten gains towards the social wage of the labourers they exploit. In the last analysis, all their wealth is the product of our labour. Truly, “their wealth is built upon our poverty, their joy upon our misery”.
This congress notes that Britain is considered a tax haven for the super-wealthy, a place where ‘non-domiciled’ Russian gangster oligarchs (who have robbed the Soviet people’s wealth), oil sheikhs (who have sold the birth-right of the Arab peoples to western imperialists) and Greek shipping tycoons, among others, can launder their money no questions asked, and without having their capital taxed by the British state.
This congress believes that the interests of the working class, not the financial capitalists, should be considered ‘too big to fail’. But under our ConDem and Labour governments, the City of London bankers have accepted £1.2tr of British taxpayers’ money, while all useful government expenditure (housing, health care, and education provision) faces a 20 percent cut across the board. This is more than unnecessary, stupid, and inexcusable; it is deliberate and criminal. Our entire ‘democratic’ political system is designed to facilitate this capitalist gang in looting the masses of the people and, quite literally, stealing our future.
Congress further believes that, as a consequence of this crisis in the system of wage-slavery, working-class youth are increasingly aware of their alienation and disenfranchisement. Lacking youth facilities, encouraged to cultivate individualistic, consumer-driven, and destructive sub-cultures exemplified by the ubiquitous presence of alcohol and drugs in our communities, and in many instances driven to survive outside the limited avenues sanctioned by a failing system, an increasing proportion of youth are facing problems that make them capable of being criminalised.
This congress affirms that it is a sign of the bankruptcy of British capitalism that police repression (rather than jobs, housing, educational or economic support) is increasingly British society’s first and only response to our youth. We are living in a police state. In addition to political policing of demonstrations, and criminalisation of the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist sections of the population, working-class youth, whose problems the state cannot ameliorate, have become a constant target of police harassment, aggression and physical violence. While this has become a feature of life for all working youth, it is especially so for immigrant, black and Asian youth, who endure higher rates of unemployment and meet discrimination on every level in society, not least at the hands of our institutionally racist police forces.
Congress further affirms that British youth are angry and embittered at the prospect they face. In the absence of a strong and vibrant revolutionary movement to channel their anger and frustration, we have seen spontaneous outpourings of anger on the streets as never before. We are witnessing a change in the temper of our youth, students and young workers – as can be gauged by the spontaneous militancy shown during the London G20 demonstrations, the student protests of Nov/Dec 2010, young people’s overwhelming response to the TUC’s half-hearted call for action on 26 March 2011, to the Occupy and LSX movements, and, of course, by the nationwide youth uprising against police repression in August 2011, triggered by the latest cold-blooded police assassination of a young black man in Tottenham, and the clumsy attempted ‘cover-up’ that followed this murder.
Congress notes that Mark Duggan, a father of four children, was surrounded by 31 armed police in a taxi outside his home and shot dead. He was not armed, but, after his death, the metropolitan police lied to justify their actions. They claimed Mark shot at them first, and their act of murder was therefore ‘self-defence’. The disrespect accorded to his friends, family and the entire community was the final spark that lit the conflagration of nationwide anger against the police.
This congress believes that the CPGB-ML and Red Youth have been absolutely correct in refusing to equate the violence of the oppressed with the violence of the oppressor. The real thugs and vandals at work in Britain are the parasitic rich and their servants, the Camerons, Cleggs, Osbornes and Milibands; the politically-motivated judiciary and police. The real victims are the workers and youths themselves.
This congress further believes that education and organisation are our greatest weapons in the struggle to overthrow this parasitic order and build a new socialist society, but we refuse to renounce violent forms of struggle, for they too have their time and place. Meanwhile, our oppressor stands over us with a gun to our head, demanding that we proclaim ourselves non-violent and trust in his tender mercy!
This congress reaffirms that our task is not to disarm workers, but to combine their righteous and militant anger with a clear Marxist-Leninist understanding of the real enemy – capitalist imperialism and its representatives (all bourgeois parties, including the Labour party). What we need is not bourgeois pacifism but effective organisation and intensified struggle. We do not reproach those who rise up for their violence. Rather, we reproach our own movement for still being too small and weak to offer the kind of practical leadership that is capable of channelling their anger into more constructive acts of destruction. Spontaneous outpourings of rage, however justified, leave those involved isolated and subject to reprisal; they will not abolish capitalism, which is the cause of our misery.
Congress further reaffirms that capitalism can offer no solution to the problems faced by British youth. The level of police violence used against us is an admission by the British government and state, on behalf of capitalism, that they have no solutions to our problems. We must take our destiny in our own hands.
This congress therefore resolves to:
- Oppose the victimisation of young people in all its forms, including attacks on our education, housing, welfare, and employment.
- Oppose the criminalisation of young people, including all legislation and police powers that target working-class youth, the violent and discriminatory application of police powers and judicial sentencing against black, working-class and politicised youth.
- Oppose anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs), introduced in 1998, and their proposed successor, the criminal justice behaviour order (or CRIMBO) as arbitrary punishments intended to lay the blame for the decaying capitalist order on its young victims.
- Oppose arbitrary stop-and-search powers, which are used disproportionately against working-class youth, especially black youth.
- Do everything in our power to loosen the grip of establishment, overtly capitalist and reformist ideology and organisations on working-class, youth and student movements. We will oppose the pro-capitalist propaganda in our media, educational institutions and mainstream political parties. Labour party social democrats, Trotskyites, revisionists, pacifists and anarchists of various hues remain the chief obstacles to building a vibrant revolutionary movement in Britain.
- Promote the understanding that, while fighting for short-term gains and against the worst excesses of the capitalist economy and state, in the last analysis only a socialist planned economy administered by the dictatorship of the proletariat can solve the problems faced by working-class youth.
Recognising that Red Youth and the CPGB-ML have limited presence among the working class youth we seek to influence, this congress further resolves to take the following practical steps to increase the scope of our organisation and work:
- Each one, teach one! All members, even if isolated, should actively seek to recruit at least one other friend, student, or colleague into the organisation in their community or place of work. This is the surest way to double the size of our organisation, double our reach, and multiply our influence.
- Encourage all members to undertake a programme of personal study and participate in regular group study or discussion, wherever possible, using Proletarian, Lalkar and wider reading to strengthen their understanding in order better to be able to politicise the wider working-class.
- Encourage every member to subscribe to Proletarian and Lalkar, and read each issue. If there is a perceived problem with the material, criticisms should be fed back to the editors so that it can be improved. Each member should take at least one extra copy to sell on, and think about increasing this number progressively. Increasing circulation will help create fertile ground for recruitment.
- Encourage every member to maintain organisational contact with their nearest regional group, coordinate their action and attempt to attend regional and national events when possible. This will facilitate exchange of ideas and give each member a means of calling for help in organising local practical activity.
- Encourage every member to identify local, regional and national events and activities in which the party should take part, bring these to the attention of the party and participate in them personally. These may be local workers’ meetings, galas, rallies or demonstrations, solidarity or strike actions, union conferences or broad political fronts in which we can promote the aims of the party and the political interests of the working class, meet progressive workers, influence their opinion and recruit them to the ranks of the party.
- Encourage every member to read the available leaflets and party statements online. Copies can be printed off and distributed, using home, school or work facilities, or ordered in bulk from the party. Family, friends, school, university or the workplace may be your best avenue for dissemination, but members should consider the possibility of running regular street stalls where they calculate they can reach their target audience. If there is a particular issue that needs to be addressed that is not covered adequately by party literature, members should help write or commission the propaganda they feel is required.
- Encourage every member to think about writing letters or reports from their region (to be printed in Proletarian, on our website or in our party bulletin), or to inform their region (via the regional organiser) or the central committee (via the general secretary) of the problems, opportunities and successes faced by workers in their area and in their organisational work. This will help us to target our activity to our specific needs and help us grow in your area.
- Encourage all members involved in education to get involved in school, college or university debating societies, where they should seek to table debates on real political issues (Syria, Libya, war, capitalism, the economy, poverty, the food crisis, the environment, immigration, racism, etc) and invite party speakers. The party has been invited to speak at the Oxford Union in 2008, and at the Durham Union on three occasions. These debates, and many other presentations and speeches, are on our YouTube channel and can be used to support such a proposal.
- To think creatively, study diligently, act boldly, and, if in doubt, seek advice from local, regional and national comrades as to the best form of action to be taken to advance the interests of the group, the party, and the British and international working class.
We must learn to target our enemies precisely, to be systematic and broad in the sweep of our movement, and to ally ourselves and coordinate our action with the widest possible sections of the working class in order to tackle the crucial task of overthrowing the ruling class – by any means necessary.
This motion was passed unanimously at the recent CPGB-ML party congress
This congress recognises that the imperialist beasts of the USA, Britain and France planned, financed and played the major role, assisted by their various middle-eastern puppets, in the overthrow of the popular Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi.
This congress notes that they, through the trickery of a UN resolution to impose a ‘no-fly zone’, supposedly to ‘protect’ the Libyan people, used the combined air power of Nato member states to carpet-bomb and destroy Libyan airports, military bases, media stations, hospitals, schools, electricity and water supplies, general infrastructure and residential areas alike.
Congress further notes that, even with the great military advantage that this onslaught from outside gave the rats of the Transitional National Council (TNC), they were so numerically weak and lacking in any support within Libya that they could not make decisive use of this advantage. So it was that Libya was flooded with military ‘advisors’ from the imperialist regimes and elite troops from all the neighbouring states that were under the sway of imperialism.
This congress applauds the heroic struggle that the Libyan people and their army waged against Nato’s proxy forces on the ground, despite the horrendous effects of the imperialists’ all-out air war, noting that they held out for more than six months until the capture, torture and public murder of the leader of Libya’s green revolution, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
Congress also sends a red salute to the brave green fighters in Libya, who are continuing to put up resistance to imperialism and its puppets today.
Closer to home, this congress condemns the disgusting role played during the war on Libya by the ‘left’ supporters of imperialism – the social democrats, revisionists and Trotskyists. In Britain, the worst of these enemies of the international proletariat once more proved themselves to be the Labour party, the SWP, Counterfire, the CPB, and the ‘anti-war’ umbrella group in which many of those parties’ spokespeople play a leading role: the Stop the War Coalition (StW). StW held a single nationally-organised demonstration over the issue of the overthrow of the sovereign state of Libya by imperialism – but they held it outside the Libyan embassy supporting the imperialist-backed TNC and opposing the anti-imperialist leadership of Colonel Gaddafi!
This congress affirms that imperialism is the main enemy of the international working class, and that US imperialism, as the biggest and most powerful imperialist state, is the biggest enemy to world peace.
Congress further affirms that in an imperialist war the duty of the working class in an imperialist country is to work for the defeat of its own government. And an essential part of that process must be exposing and leading workers away from the misleadership of social democracy and its revisionist and Trotskyist hand-maidens, who will try with all their guile to keep workers tied to the imperialist war machine through revolutionary-sounding phrases and lies.
This congress resolves to continue working to show our class that we do have the power to stop the imperialist war machine by starving it of all the necessary supplies for its wars of brigandage, whether those supplies be weapons, transport or soldiers!
Congress further resolves to use all means at the party’s disposal to disseminate information about the ongoing battle in Libya, in order that British workers should understand that there is a popular resistance movement fighting to rid the country of imperialist forces. Our party will continue to expose the vile and rapacious doings of the TNC rats who now hope to rule Libya (with imperialist troops stood at their shoulders). These villains have murdered, kidnapped, raped, looted and evicted from their homes those supporting or suspected of supporting the green resistance. From the earliest days, even before coming to power, it was well known that the TNC rats were lynching black Libyans, as well as other black Africans working in the country, and our party will continue to remind the world of this fact.
Finally, this congress resolves to continue pointing out that this bloody war was brought upon the Libyan people in order to grab the country’s oil, to remove its anti-imperialist leadership, and to kick open the door to the re-conquest of Africa. The freedom and protection of the Libyan people was never a real reason for waging the war – except, perhaps, in the minds of a few simple souls who simply cannot, or will not, see the jackboot an inch from their face, even when it is pointed out to them.
This congress remains confident that the Libyan masses will rise again to rid their land of the imperialist puppets and bring the imperialists’ dreams of world domination to nought.
Long live the memory of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, hero of the Libyan and African peoples!
Victory to the anti-imperialist peoples!
Death to imperialism!
From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 3 December
China has announced that it will be spending £1.1tr over the next five years on developing green energy and clean technology hi-tech manufacturing.
In the meantime, the China Investment Corporation, China’s sovereign wealth fund, has announced plans for investment in UK infrastructure in the belief that this will bring “stable and sound financial returns”.
Osborne’s strategy for rescuing the economy now seems to revolve round spending some £30bn on infrastructure projects, for which purpose he is hijacking £20bn of pension funds, which will no doubt bear the brunt of any losses.
Projects to be included in Britain’s national infrastructure plan include upgrades to the M1 and M25 and new railway lines, including reopening an Oxford-Cambridge line that fell victim to the Beeching cuts.
From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 3 December
Britain and Iran have closed each other’s embassies.
The Iranian parliament voted to expel the British ambassador and downgrade diplomatic relations to the level of chargé d’affairs after the British government joined in with further US-led economic sanctions against Iran. On the spurious pretext of Iran’s nuclear development, Britain has been targeting Iranian financial institutions including the Central Bank of Iran.
The decision had to be ratified by Iran’s Guardian Council of clerics and lawyers that vets parliamentary activity. However, so enraged are the Iranian people by the unjust measures taken to pauperise their country that on 29 November hundreds of students laid siege to the British embassy in central Tehran, as well as to the embassy’s residential compound in a Tehran suburb.
Buildings were badly damaged and official and personal possessions seized or destroyed. Six British embassy staff were briefly held by the protesters, but were freed following intervention by the Iranian police.
Apparently, although the embassies have been closed, and Britain has both withdrawn its diplomatic personnel from Iran and expelled all Iranian diplomats from the UK, Britain has not actually broken off diplomatic relations with Tehran.
More on this issue here.
The following article will be presented to a workshop at Occupy Bristol tomorrow.
Iranian protesters during a demonstration in front of the British Embassy, in Tehran, on Tuesday 29 November.
Shock-horror: Iranians invade our embassy!
There was a big splash in the media at the end of November. The headlines were screaming about Iranian government agents attacking the British Embassy in Tehran.
Western governments lined up to say what a terrible affront this was against international law; what uncivilised behaviour this was. Statesmen pointed to a recent report from the IAEA (the UN’s nuclear watchdog) suggesting that there was now evidence that Iran is trying to make a nuclear bomb.
It was clear what capitalism wanted everyone to believe: Iranians are a bunch of wild-eyed Islamist fanatics hell-bent on plunging the world into nuclear war, and the only thing standing in their way is the glorious ‘international community’.
Why do they want us to believe this story? Because our masters want to get rid of the government in Tehran and replace it with another that will do their bidding. Why? Because they need to reinforce their stranglehold on the oil market and their geopolitical power in the region, and an independent, anti-imperialist Iran is getting in their way.
And why is it so urgent to attack Iran right now? Because the capitalist system is in such a deep crisis of overproduction that the only solution is for imperialism to plunge deeper into war – or for imperialism itself to be overthrown.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why those Iranian students might have been angry enough to want to occupy the British Embassy.
Back in 1953, Iran had an elected, secular government, led by Mohammad Mossadeq. This was overthrown in a coup engineered by British and US imperialism, which then planted in its place the Shah of Iran. Under the Shah’s bloody repression, Iran was plunged back into feudal backwardness, with a government that served the interests of the West.
In 1979, popular revolt ousted the Shah. Early hopes that this would develop in the direction of socialist revolution were dashed, as the mosque benefited from the relative weakness and disarray of the socialist forces. Yet henceforth Iran continued to be a thorn in the side of imperialism.
Least welcome of all to western imperialists has been the advent of the populist Ahmadinejad government in 2005, standing on a broad base of support from the poorest sections of society, supporting the Palestinian struggle against zionism and championing the independence and sovereignty of the Iranian nation.
In particular, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been associated in the western press with the development of Iran’s nuclear industry. Imperialism pretends to have proof that Iran, under the cover of a civil nuclear programme, is really aiming to produce its own bomb. There are two points to make here.
First: the countries with the worst track record of war crimes in the last half century, America, Britain and Israel, have more nuclear weapons than any other nation. Israel alone possesses around 200 ready-to-go nuclear weapons. Under these circumstances, weaker countries might be well-advised to equip themselves with the best defence equipment available.
Iraq and Libya both conceded to imperialist pressure to give up their nuclear weapons. North Korea declined. Which country has yet to be invaded and occupied?
Second: contrary to what is implied in the most recent IAEA report, it remains the case that there is no evidence that Teheran is currently trying to make a bomb – and America knows it. The panic around the imaginary bomb is being whipped up purely and simply to bump public opinion into support for further aggression against Iran.
For years, exhaustive and intrusive inspections have been carried out within Iran, and for years the IAEA itself had the honesty to conclude that there was no proof to back up the allegations, despite enormous pressure from imperialism.
How the US nobbled the nuclear watchdog
In 2009 the former IAEA chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, came to the end of his term of office. Washington never liked ElBaradei, who entertained an inconvenient belief in the neutrality of UN bodies and took his job too seriously for America’s liking.
This time they went to work, lobbying hard to bump a rank outsider, Yukia Amano, into the top position. Secret US diplomatic cables released on WikiLeaks reveal him to be “solidly in the US court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons programme”, and report that “Amano’s first bilateral review since his election illustrates the very high degree of convergence between his priorities and our own agenda at the IAEA. The coming transition period provides a further window for us to shape Amano’s thinking before his agenda collides with the IAEA Secretariat bureaucracy.”
So having got all their ducks in a line, the White House was able to sit back and wait for a newly tractable IAEA to dish up its ‘dodgy dossier’ on 8 November. On the back of this fiction Washington managed to steam-roller through the IAEA’s board of governors a resolution expressing “deep and increasing concern about the unresolved issues regarding the Iranian nuclear programme, including those which need to be clarified to exclude the existence of possible military dimensions”.
However, Washington had failed to get Iran reported to the Security Council or to impose a deadline for Tehran to comply with the latest demands. Clearly the need was felt to ratchet up the campaign of intimidation another notch. To this end, on 21 November, the US, Britain and Canada announced unilateral sanctions against Iran’s banking and energy sectors. France put in a sly kick too, urging world powers to boycott Iranian oil and freeze (ie, steal) her financial assets. China and Russia have joined Iran in denouncing these new sanctions.
The dirty war
Meanwhile, behind all this fabrication of evidence, diplomatic arm twisting and economic blackmail, imperialism has long been engaging in a brutal campaign of espionage, terrorism, assassination and sabotage against Iran.
Leading Iranian scientists have long been targeted for assassination. Recent examples include the car bombs that claimed the lives of two university professors, Majid Shahriari and Fereydoun Abbasi last year, and the booby-trapped motorcycle that slew another professor, Masoud Ali-Mohammadi.
Now, with rival Republican contenders for the presidency striving to outdo each other in fascist zeal, the ‘secret’ war against Iran is the best-advertised in history. According to AFP, Newt Gingrich “proposed at a 12 November debate that Washington kill Iranian scientists and disrupt Tehran’s suspect nuclear programme – ‘all of it covertly, all of it deniable’.
“In that same forum, Santorum said the United States must do ‘whatever it takes to make sure’ Iran does not develop a nuclear programme – then wondered whether Washington may already be heavily involved in doing just that. ‘There have been scientists turning up dead in Russia and in Iran. There have been computer viruses. There have been problems at their facility. I hope that the United States has been involved with that,’ he said. ‘I hope that we have been doing everything we can, covertly, to make sure that that programme doesn’t proceed,’ he said.” (8 December 2011)
There can be no doubt that Washington, London and Tel Aviv are already up to the neck in dirty tricks without the need for further prompting from the Tea Baggers. The ‘computer viruses’ to which Santorum referred clearly has in mind the Stuxnet cyber assault on Iran’s nuclear programme launched last year.
Nor are the attacks confined to cyberspace. In mid-November a missile-testing base near Tehran suffered a blast that reportedly killed over 30 members of the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps, including a leader of Iran’s missile programme, Major General Hassan Moqqadam. Time Magazine said this was the work of Mossad.
Then at the end of November there was a further blast, this time at a uranium processing plant in Isfahan. Israel’s former director of national security, Major-General Giora Eiland, bragged that the explosion was no accident, adding that “There aren’t many coincidences, and when there are so many events there is probably some sort of guiding hand, though perhaps it’s the hand of God.”
Curiously, none of the dirty tricks practiced by Washington and Tel Aviv excites anything like the manufactured outrage that greeted the B-movie fiction spun around a non-existent Iranian government plot to bump off the Saudi ambassador to the US.
29 November demonstration against the British embassy
So maybe now it’s easier to grasp why Occupy Bristol and Occupy London were joined by Occupy the British Embassy.
The self-appointed guardians of ‘democratic western values’ send saboteurs and death squads into other people’s countries at will, safe in the knowledge that the ‘international community’ will not raise a finger to stop them. But just let some enraged Iranian students lob a few bricks at the British embassy and pitch a portrait of the Queen out of the window and the UN Security Council cannot restrain its righteous indignation, condemning the demo “in the strongest terms”.
William Hague whinged that Iran had “committed a grave breach” of the Vienna convention. Obama declared himself “deeply disturbed” by what had happened, the German foreign minister fulminated against this “violation of international law”, whilst his French counterpart agreed that “the Iranian regime has shown what little consideration it has for international law”.
As for the nonsense that the occupying students were just acting as agents of the government, this hardly squares with the fact that the demonstrators in the end could only be restrained by the government’s own security forces using tear gas to clear the embassy compound! (We need hardly add that, had the demonstrators instead got themselves tear-gassed protesting against Ahmadinejad, they would at once have been hailed by the bourgeois media as peaceful democrats cruelly repressed by a tyrannical regime.)
Iran stands firm
Imperialist aggression against Iran is driven not only by the desire to humble an anti-imperialist force and strengthen and extend the imperialist stranglehold on resources and markets in the Middle East, but also by the strategic goal of containing Russia and China, a fact which is not lost on either country.
China champions Iran’s right to develop its civil nuclear industry, and neither China nor Russia has any interest in collaborating with the West’s sanctions campaign. This position constitutes an unwelcome stumbling block for the warmongers.
This challenge to imperialist world domination, taken together with the courageous anti-colonial resistance being mounted in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Somalia, all add to the perils awaiting the warmongers should they persist.
Nor should imperialism dismiss lightly Iran’s own ability to defend herself, even without the bomb she is accused of coveting. The recent successful downing of an advanced US RQ-170 drone over the eastern part of the country, one of many drones in routine violation of Iranian airspace, not only exposes US covert operations and demonstrates Tehran’s vigilance but also delivers sensitive military intelligence into anti-imperialist hands.
Iran’s struggle to defend herself demands the warmest support from all those in the anti-imperialist movement, not least those resisting imperialism within the belly of the beast itself.
After all, who better upholds the anti-capitalist aims of the Occupy movement than those brave students who dared to occupy the British embassy in Tehran? The students put it very well themselves, in a letter explaining their actions.
“‘We have occupied the British embassy to voice support for the 99 percenters of the world and in opposition to the policies of the world arrogance,” the letter said on Saturday. ‘We as the students who have occupied the British embassy in Tehran announce explicitly that we are standing for our historical decision and will humiliate Britain and make it regret,’ it added.
“The Iranian students called on the students, elites and truth-seeking people across the world to attack the interests of Britain in their region and stop London from looting their countries and nations any further.”
By giving active solidarity to those who stand in defence of Iran, Syria and other anti-imperialist countries under attack, we the 99 percent will strengthen our hand against the same imperialist enemy that is currently demolishing welfare, looting jobs and driving us into poverty and war.
Victory to the Iranian resistance against the imperialist warmongers!
Victory to the 99 percent!
From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 1 October
A three-year inquiry into the death of hotel receptionist Baha Mousa at the hands of the British army in Iraq has finally admitted a degree of serious culpability, while endeavouring to confine the blame to the first battalion of a regiment (the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment) that has since been disbanded.
The inquiry found that the regiment was using the ‘five techniques’ (for torturing prisoners): ie, hooding, white noise, sleep deprivation, food deprivation and painful stress positions. This is contrary to the Geneva Convention and has been expressly banned for use by British soldiers since Edward Heath’s time, when army guidelines were revised to outlaw inhuman practices that had been in regular use in northern Ireland and were instrumental in exacerbating the resentment of the local population at the British occupation.
Essentially, the enquiry found that Mr Mousa, a widower and father of two young sons, had been beaten to death. However, the inquiry concluded that while the beating was the “trigger” for his death, his overall “vulnerable state” of exhaustion, dehydration, renal failure and exertion brought on by his treatment at the hands of the army contributed at least as much.
Orders banning the ‘five techniques’ were observed only in the breach. Mr Mousa and nine others picked up at the hotel where he worked were all subjected to this torture as well as to vicious beatings in an open building with no doors, where senior officers could have come in at any time to see what was going on.
The inquiry took the view that even if they did not know, they should have done. And in fact, the very fact that the ill treatment was taking place so openly provides irrefutable evidence that the soldiers administering the torture were confident of their superior officers’ approval.
It remains to be seen whether anybody will face criminal prosecution for these crimes, or for any of the hundreds of other cases of prisoner abuse that have taken place not only in Iraq, but everywhere that the British army has been present as an occupying force.
The inquiry was at pains to say that this behaviour is exceptional, and that the army as a whole is really very gentlemanly. Very many thousands of oppressed people all over the world have personal experience of the reality, which is very different.
The following motion is being submitted by the CPGB-ML to the upcoming Stop the War national conference.
We believe that the proposed programme of action is both necessary and achieveable. We therefore call on all anti-imperialists and anti-war campaigners to give it the widest possible circulation in order to generate discussion and to mobilise support for this important work.
Individually, we may be powerless, but together, we do have the power to stop imperialism’s criminal wars.
CPGB-ML resolution to StW conference, October 2010
This conference notes the passing last year of a motion calling on the coalition “to do all in its power to promote a movement of industrial, political and military non-cooperation with all of imperialism’s aggressive war preparations and activities among British working people“.
Since that resolution was passed, many important developments have taken place, which on the one hand make this work more urgent, and on the other have created an atmosphere that is more receptive to our message.
Conference notes the attack on those condemning war crimes that was embodied in the draconian sentences handed down to the Gaza protestors. Congress further notes that these sentences were aimed not only at discouraging muslim youth from political activism, but also at dividing the anti-war and Palestine solidarity movements along racial lines, and branding Palestine solidarity as a ‘muslim’ issue.
Conference condemns the murder by Israeli commandos of nine solidarity activists aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in May, despite the fact that the UN had called for the ships to be allowed to pass. Conference notes the UN’s recent findings that these murders were illegal – another war crime to add to the many being committed daily against the Palestinian people.
Conference further notes that in the atmosphere of international outrage that followed these murders, even Israeli-friendly politicians such as Cameron and Hague were forced to make statements condemning both the murders and the siege on Gaza.
Conference reaffirms its support for all those who have taken the lead in active non-cooperation over the past year, in particular for Joe Glenton, for the EDO Decommissioners, for the Gaza protestors, and for the many British participants in siege-busting missions by land and sea to Gaza.
Conference notes that the landmark acquittal in the case of the Decommissioners can only facilitate more actions of this kind, since it not only sets a legal precedent, but is a reflection of the general sense of disgust against Israeli war crimes in particular.
Conference reaffirms its belief that the majority of people in Britain are opposed to British imperialism’s wars, and considers that the time is ripe to make active non-cooperation a central theme of our work. Conference therefore calls on the incoming steering committee to take the line of non-cooperation into as many arenas as possible, including:
- Putting on a fundraising concert to draw attention to the Gaza prisoners’ plight and to raise money towards a campaign to overturn their convictions.
- Approaching Joe Glenton to take part in a national speaking tour against cooperation with the Afghan war.
- Giving full backing, including maximum possible publicity, to all those groups or individuals, whether affiliated to the Coalition or not, who, like the EDO Decommissioners, the Raytheon activists and Joe Glenton, are targeted by the state for refusing to cooperate with, or for actively attempting to prevent, the illegal wars and bombings waged and backed by British imperialism.
- Stepping up the campaign outside army recruitment centres and at army recruitment stalls in schools, colleges and universities, drawing attention to the war crimes committed by the British armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Launching a full campaign inside the unions to draw attention to British, US and Israeli war crimes, with the aim of passing in each of them, and then at the TUC, motions condemning those crimes and calling on workers to refuse to cooperate in their commission, whether it be by making or moving munitions or other equipment, writing or broadcasting propaganda, or helping in any other way to smooth the path of the war machine.
- Following the excellent example set by PSC (eg, the campaign to draw attention to pro-Israeli propaganda in Panorama) and Media Lens (eg, alerts drawing attention to the media’s cover-up of war crimes committed in Fallujah) and working with these and others to draw in as many members and supporters as possible to an ongoing campaign to hold the media to account for their pivotal role in apologising for, covering up and normalising British, US and Israeli war crimes.
- Continuing and increasing the work already done to make Britain a place where war criminals, whether US, British or Israeli, can get no peace, through holding protests, through citizens’ arrests and through all other available channels, including using local, national and international courts to file charges and draw attention to their crimes.
Banners bearing portraits of Bloody Sunday victims are carried to the Guildhall in Derry, where relatives were able to read the first copies of the Saville report, 15 June 2010
By Eammon McCann via Sunday Tribune
Derry is still dizzy from the eruption of joy which greeted the Saville report’s recognition on Tuesday that all of the Bloody Sunday wounded and dead were unarmed civilians gunned down by British paratroopers for no good or legitimate reason.
But the report is not flawless. When it comes to the allocation of blame to the soldiers, it follows a pattern of convicting the lower orders while exculpating the higher command, and dismissing the possibility of political leaders having been even passively complicit in the events.
The individual paras who fired the shots that killed or wounded civil rights marchers are damned for the roles they played.
Additionally, Lieutenant Colonel Derek Wilford, commander of the First Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, is singled out for obloquy. It was his disobedience of orders, says Saville, which put the paras into position to carry out the killing. Had he followed orders, the massacre would never have happened. Thus, an undisciplined battalion commander and a small squad of kill-crazy foot-soldiers did it all.
The effect is to insulate the rest of the British army from blame. The report was brilliant for the Bloody Sunday families. It wasn’t a bad result for the British army either.
David Cameron might have found it more difficult to disown those involved in the atrocity so forthrightly had Saville included in his list of culprits, say, Major General Robert Ford, Commander of Land Forces, Northern Ireland, at the time, or General Sir Michael Jackson, second-in-command to Wilford on the day, later army chief of staff and Nato commander in Kosovo.
Ford, second in seniority in the North only to the General Officer Commanding, commissioned the Bloody Sunday battle plan, Operation Forecast, and ordered the paras to Derry to carry it out.
In the weeks before Bloody Sunday he had made plain his frustration at the failure of Derry-based regiments to bring the Bogside no-go area to heel.
In a document published by the inquiry dated 7 January 1972, Ford declared himself “disturbed” by the attitude of army and police chiefs in Derry, and added: “I am coming to the conclusion that the minimum force necessary to achieve a restoration of law and order is to shoot selected ringleaders amongst the DYH (Derry Young Hooligans).”
Ford took the decision to deploy the paras six days before Bloody Sunday, overruling a message the same day from Derry commander, Brigadier Pat MacLellan, indicating that he and local police chief Frank Lagan believed that any direct confrontation with the civil rights marchers should be avoided. Ford held to the plan in face of strongly-expressed opposition from other senior Derry-based officers.
On the day, although with no operational role, he travelled to Derry and took up position at the edge of the Bogside, shouting “Go on the paras!” as they ran past him through a barbed-wire barricade towards the Rossville Street killing ground.
Saville suggests that Wilford allowed his soldiers in the Bogside to exceed MacLellan’s orders “not to fight a running battle”.
But nowhere in the report is it considered whether Wilford and the paras might have believed or suspected that MacLellan’s orders need not be regarded in all the circumstances as binding. The possibility that Ford’s decisions in advance, and comportment on the day, played a part in the way matters developed is brusquely dismissed: Ford “neither knew nor had reason to know at any stage that his decision would or was likely to result in soldiers firing unjustifiably on that day,” Saville declares in chapter four of his report’s first volume.
In the same chapter, Saville insulates political and military leaders generally from blame: “It was also submitted that in dealing with the security situation in Northern Ireland generally, the authorities (the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland governments and the army) tolerated if not encouraged the use of unjustified lethal force; and that this was the cause or a contributory cause of what happened on Bloody Sunday. We found no evidence of such toleration or encouragement.”
This is remarkable. Numerous incidents over the previous year might have suggested toleration if not encouragement of unjustified force. The most egregious had happened six months before Bloody Sunday when the First Paras were involved in killing 11 unarmed civilians over three days in Ballymurphy in west Belfast.
Newspapers of the period, particularly nationalist newspapers, were carrying regular complaints, many of them plausible, of unjustified and sometimes lethal violence by soldiers against civilians.
Toleration of this behaviour might have been inferred from, for example, the fact that no inquiry had been held into the Ballymurphy massacre, nor any soldier disciplined, nor any statement issued expressing regret.
Saville’s dismissal of the suggestion of a “culture of tolerance” would be unremarkable if by “evidence” he meant testimony to the inquiry. He had at an early stage declined to examine prior events in the North on the reasonable ground that to subject the Ballymurphy incident, for example, to the same level of scrutiny as Bloody Sunday would have made the tribunal’s task impossible. But this makes the statement that, “We found no evidence…” puzzling: the tribunal had decided not to gather such evidence.
Many who read through the body of the report will be puzzled, too, by Saville’s acceptance of the explanation eventually offered by Jackson of his role in compiling the “shot-list” which formed the basis of the initial cover-up of the killings.
Jackson had provided the tribunal with a detailed account of his movements and involvement in the Bloody Sunday events and took the witness stand in London in April 2003.
Nowhere in his statement or his April evidence did he refer to compiling the shot-list or other documents giving a version of what had happened. His role emerged the following month during evidence from Major Ted Loden who described how, late in the afternoon of Bloody Sunday, he took statements from the shooters and plotted map references showing the trajectory of their shots.
However, when a number of documents including the original of the shot-list, were then produced, the list turned out to be not in Loden’s handwriting but in the handwriting of the now chief of staff of the British army.
Loden was asked how this could have come about. “Well, I cannot answer that question,” came the reply.
None of the shots described conformed to any of the shots which evidence indicated had actually been fired.
Some trajectories took bullets through buildings to hit their targets. All the targets were identified as gunmen or as nail or petrol bombers.
The other documents in the chief of staff’s hand were personal accounts of the day’s events by Wilford, the three para company commanders present and the battalion intelligence officer.
Recalled to the stand in October, Jackson explained that he had entirely forgotten these documents but had recovered a “vague memory” after they had been put to Loden.
It had earlier slipped his mind that he had produced, by his own hand, within hours of the massacre, a detailed version of Bloody Sunday in which no British soldier did anything wrong and their victims were all to blame for their own injuries or deaths.
Under questioning, Jackson was badly hampered by poor memory. More than 20 times he used phrases such as, “I cannot remember”, “do not recall”, “I have only a very vague memory”.
Saville resolves one contradiction by accepting both Loden’s original claim that he had written out the shot-list and Jackson’s subsequent explanation that he must have copied Loden’s script verbatim, although he could offer no explanation as to why he might have done this, nor could he recall who had asked or ordered him to do so. Loden’s own list has never been found.
In volume eight of the report, Saville rejects suggestions from the families’ lawyers that “the list played some part in a cover-up to conceal the emerging truth that some innocent civilians had been shot and killed by soldiers of 1 Para, although it is not explained exactly how this conspiracy is said to have worked”. He accepts Jackson’s claim that compiling the documents would simply have been standard operational procedure (which he’d forgotten about).
In their statements to the inquiry, none of the soldiers whose shots were included on the list recalled being interviewed by either Loden or Jackson about their firing.
Having suggested it was not clear how a cover-up based on the documents might have worked, Saville goes on to say that, “the list did play a role in the army’s explanations of what occurred on the day”.
He cites an interview on BBC radio at 1am the day after Bloody Sunday in which the army’s head of information policy in the North, Maurice Tugwell, used the list as his basis for explaining the “shooting engagements”.
Elsewhere, he finds that “information from the list was used by Lord Balniel, the Minister of State for Defence, in the House of Commons on 1 February 1972, when he defended the actions of the soldiers”.
Saville seems not to have considered the possibility that this was how a conspiracy might have worked.
Many in high positions in Britain will have been relieved to find that Jackson bore no blame for the Bloody Sunday events. The response of the families and their supporters to Saville’s report has been understandably and properly euphoric. Whether other finding of the tribunal will stand the test of time is less certain.