RW ONLINE: George Bush's Worst Week
George Bush's Worst Week
Revolutionary Worker #1189, February 2, 2003, posted at rwor.org
We received the following article from A World to Win News
February 17, 2003. It was George Bush's worst week since he declared war
on the world after September 11. First the UN Security Council refused to back
the U.S.'s call for war without delay. Then the next day and in the days
following, in a magnificent outpouring of the world's people, millions upon
millions took to the streets, including in scores of cities in the U.S.
The protests were especially enormous in Britain, Spain, Italy and Australia,
the countries whose governments are most closely aligned with Bush. London had
not seen so many people in the street since the end of World War 2; the crowds
in Spain were bigger than at any time since the celebration of the end of
fascism. Further, February 15 was also historic in the extent of these
simultaneous actions, stretching through 600 cities in Asia, Africa and Latin
America as well as the wealthy countries. It has been proven beyond any doubt
that the people of the world are opposed to this war and that if Bush and other
leaders go ahead with it anyway, they can expect an unprecedented storm on a
The February 14 Security Council meeting was a big setback for the U.S. It
was a personal humiliation for Colin Powell, Bush's would-be diplomatic weapon
of mass destruction. His presentation of America's case against Saddam Hussein
to that body a week earlier was explicitly rejected and implicitly ridiculed.
Even one of Powell's most puffed-up moments then, when he brandished
spy-in-the-sky photos to prove that Iraq is moving around and hiding weapons to
evade inspections, was deflated. Chief chemical and biological weapons inspector
Hans Blix argued that the scene shown in the pictures "could just as easily have
been a routine activity". In the debate following, 11 out of the 15 Security
Council members agreed, to one extent or another, with France's proposal that
the inspections should continue. The U.S.'s hopes to introduce a resolution
endorsing immediate military action collapsed. A meeting of the five permanent
Security Council members with veto power that was supposed to follow this debate
did not even take place.
At home, Bush responded with his own version of Goebbel's Big Lie, the
principle that if you say anything loud and often enough, some people will
believe it. He played the "terrorism" card, fabricating a link between Saddam
Hussein and al-Qaeda and organizing hysteria on a mass scale in an effort to
make some Americans believe that this war will not be naked aggression but
self-defense. Some people bought the government's efforts to make them believe
that their family's lives are in danger from monsters under every bed. A great
many others refused to seal their lips and minds with duct tape and demonstrated
instead. Hundreds of thousands massed in front of the UN headquarters in New
York despite threats and some attacks from mounted police. This protest included
people of all social classes and family members of people killed in the attack
on the World Trade Center, Bush's pretext for launching a global rampage.
Politically it would be extremely difficult for the U.S. to launch this war
without some sort of international alliance. Further, British troops are a major
and integral part of the war plan, as are US bases in Italy and military
facilities in Spain. Yet these governments are in such a flagrant split with the
people of their countries that the Spanish newspaper El Pa
Iraq is not the only country facing the possibility of regime change in the near
future. Further, the hundreds of thousands of determined people in the streets
of Pakistan, Malaysia, the Philippines and many other countries gave a taste of
what is in store for the local flunky rulers if this war is unleashed. In Iraq
itself, however the people feel about that government, the sight of hundreds of
thousands of people marching against the Bush alliance, including thousands of
civilians with guns, must have caused some of the Western rulers who are hoping
for a quick war to think again.
The U.S. needs some sort of international coalition. It needs some sort of UN
resolution even to convince some Americans that this is not just a case of naked
aggression. Tony Blair needs such a resolution even more. British mainstream
newspapers are warning that an attempt to wage war without it might threaten the
survival of his government.
Yet so far at least they haven't been able to get the Security Council to go
along. France is doing its best not to allow its conflict with the U.S. to lead
to an open break. It has not challenged the basic premise of this war, that the
big powers have the exclusive right to certain weapons and that they can use
them to dictate to Third World countries. In his speech at the UN, France's
Foreign Minister made a point that many ruling class figures in other countries
agree with - that this war might have "incalculable consequences for the
stability of the region... reinforcing feelings of injustice, worsening tensions
and setting off other conflicts". In short, he argued that this war might prove
too dangerous to the interests of all the great powers. The hundreds of
thousands of people demonstrating in Syria and Turkey the next day underscored
the reality of this fear.
The stakes could not be higher.
Bush has gambled the future of the American empire on this war, and the U.S.
government is determined to go ahead with it. Exactly because there is so much
at stake for all of them, the U.S. is counting on France ultimately deciding to
make the best of a bad bargain and not try to stand in the way of the U.S. war
France's opposition in the UN has won sympathy from people around the world.
UN staff members and representatives of non Security Council UN members
committed the forbidden act of applauding Foreign Minister Dominique de
Villepin's speech to the Security Council. But President Chirac refused to
satisfy the demand of French antiwar protestors and even of many leading
politicians that he pledge to veto any resolution backing this war. Instead, he
emphasized that France's stand could change and that it is leaving all options
open. France has not even gone as far as Germany by categorically excluding the
possibility that it will back or take part in this war.
To be clear, what the U.S. is planning for Iraq is not "disarmament", as Bush
puts it, or "containment", as France sees it, but the armed seizure and rape of
the country. Meanwhile, the U.S.-led war on Iraq is increasingly becoming real,
not just potential. During the last week US and British aircraft staged five
raids against Iraqi ground-to-ground missile batteries. This is the first time
in five years of air strikes that the axis of evil forces have moved beyond
hitting Iraqi anti-aircraft installations and command centres to directly target
Iraq's ability to wage war on the ground. This prelude to invasion is aimed in
part at preparing to seize Iraqi oil fields intact at the opening of the war.
Further, it is an indication that this invasion is already under way, although
not yet on a full scale. According to many commentators, these raids on small
and hard-to-detect targets could only have been called in by American and
British Special Forces troops on the ground in southern and northern Iraq. But
as yet no government has seen fit to expose this or to object in the name of the
UN or anyone else.
In fact, the opposition of a number of governments is less than it seems, or
is at least hedged. Schroeder himself pointed out that about 10,000 German
troops are serving in military operations involving the U.S. at various places
around the world right now. Belgium is providing logistical support for the U.S.
invasion build-up via its port facilities. Neutral Austria has banned U.S.
warplanes from violating its airspace and American troops from crossing its
territory (extremely useful if they are to be sent by train from U.S. bases in
Germany, one of the main staging areas for the war, to embark on ships in
Italy). So far, no other government has followed suit.
In the period since September 11, both sides, the rulers and the people, have
undergone tremendous changes. The clashes between them have become sharper and
broader. Rarely in history has humanity ever been so united as it is against
George Bush and the war he is determined to start. That is the context in which
the U.S. is preparing to go ahead with this war no matter what, while seeking to
keep the political price from becoming more than it can afford. And that is also
the stage on which the European and other powers are maneuvering to advance
their own interests, some as local potentates in an American world empire and
others by trying to limit that empire's reach.
The opposition of European governments is a major problem for the U.S. This
is one favorable factor shaping the world situation. The other factor is the
conflict between the U.S. and the people of the world. Each of these two factors
helps heat up the other. In other words, the more and better people oppose this
war, the more the fear and hesitation of the other governments come into play,
while at the same time this opposition from other governments, even
half-hearted, gives greater openings for the people's struggle to advance.
The interplay between these two factors is an increasingly important obstacle
to this planned war, and it could conceivably make the whole thing unravel. In
other words, Bush's coalition could be cracked and even shattered. But this is
conceivable only if the people preserve and intensify their struggle. In
particular, it is vital that the people do everything possible to prevent their
governments from giving this war active or passive support under any
circumstances. As demonstrators chanted in the streets of Paris, the real veto
is in the streets.
The struggle will certainly become more difficult and complex as U.S.
imperialism brings its military might and its influence on governments and media
around the world increasingly to bear, and when in the face of this many tremble
and others surrender. The people must keep in mind that in the end, they have
nothing they can rely on but their own strength.
The prospect of the towering crimes being set in motion by Bush & Co. has
aroused millions and millions of people all over the world to political life and
common struggle. Even though their interests are opposed to every existing
government and ruling class in the world, the strength of the people is
asserting itself once again as a major factor in world politics in a way that
has not been seen for far too long.
Events over the next few weeks may well mark the world for years to
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