War against Iran edges closer
Peace movement to hit the streets
Two US aircraft carrier battle groups are now in the Gulf, US troops are building on the Iraq border with Iran, and a recent military exercise involving 15 warships and 100 warplanes took place right on Iran’s doorstep. Diplomatic threats are intensifying and the UN is being pushed to pass sanctions against Iran – it’s just like the build up to the Iraq invasion. A full scale expansion of the US’s Middle East war is increasingly likely.
Our urgent task here in New Zealand is to help mobilise an outpouring of anger and protest against any attack on Iran. The peace movement must hit the streets in big numbers. We need to reach out to everyone who’s against war, who hates Bush, is horrified by nuclear weapons, and bring them into a broad anti-war movement.
Auckland response to attack on Iran
1) On the day the bombs fall, gather outside the US Consulate, 23 Customs St, from 5pm.
2) Hold pickets at the US Consulate every evening until the first Saturday following an attack.
3) On the first Saturday following an attack, gather at Aotea Square at 12 noon, where democratic decisions can be taken about what further actions to take.
We can help deliver a defeat to imperialism
The struggle against the war is at decisive stage. The US could be heading for globally significant defeat, particularly if troop dissatisfaction grows to levels where it’s impossible for the US to continue the war. This is what happened at the end of the Vietnam War – the soldiers simply refused to fight anymore. Large peace demonstrations globally calling on the troops to mutiny could tip the balance.
In Britain the STOP THE WAR coalition is gearing up for immediate protests. George Galloway, Respect MP, is calling for “civil disobedience in every community, walkouts in every school, protests and strikes in every workplace. If George Bush bombs Iran, we should bring this country to a standstill.”
Labour has blood on it hands
by VAUGHAN GUNSON
Socialist Worker, Whangarei
“The US is the world’s only superpower so the relationship is important.”
- Helen Clark, NZ Herald, 26 March 2007.
A week before travelling to Washington to meet the president, prime minister Helen Clark announced that the deployment of NZ troops in Afghanistan to support the US-British occupation would be extended until September 2008, and that a NZ navy frigate will be sent to the Arabian Gulf next year to help patrol the sea lanes with US warships.
And when it comes to Iran the Labour government is under pressure to fall in line with the US, Britain and Australia in condemning Iran’s uranium enrichment programme. Asked at a 27 February press conference if she believed Iran was developing nuclear weapons, Clark replied: “We don’t know. Who does? The problem is their lack of transparency.”
In this part of the world the NZ military has been working closely with their Australian counterparts in dampening down any “hot-spots’ in the Pacific. Australia is the US’s main ally in the region. Washington has been so pleased with NZ’s commitment to serving US interests that they’ve waived their own ban on military exercises with NZ three times in the last 18 months. Under Labour military ties between the two countries are being strengthened.
The political ties are also being drawn closer. Helen Clark’s “behind the scenes” commitment to the US’s global war has seen her rewarded with a visit to the White House, greeted warmly by secretary of state Condolezza Rice and George W Bush himself.
After her meeting with Bush, Clark said: “I think there is quite an acute appreciation in Washington DC of the things New Zealand does which are very much in tune with US values, the role we play in the Pacific, the way we've dealt with counter-terrorism issues, the strong support on counter-proliferation. I think it’s a time when friends are valued in Washington (NZ Herald, 22 March 2007).”
Clark knows how much Bush is despised in New Zealand – probably most Labour Party members hate him as well. So it’s politically risky to be seen having friendly chats with a figure many people associate with death and destruction.
But in the minds of Labour’s leaders it’s more risky not to, because this government is keenly aware that it needs to keep their capitalist partners on side. And what NZ’s big capitalists dream of is a free trade deal with the US. So Labour has to suck up to the Bush administration, otherwise the capitalist class might pull the plug on the government and pull the middle classes with them.
Labour’s warm relations with the murderers in the White House contrasts with the stance by Venezuela’s socialist president, Hugo Chavez, who keeps referring to Bush as the devil.
The people in Venezuela are fighting a different war, against poverty and powerlessness. Revenues from the nationalised oil industry are being pumped into extensive social programmes for the poor. Thousands of community councils are springing up all over Venezuela where people are taking democratic control of their own destinies. Chavez calls it “Socialism in the 21st century”.
To be against war means to be against capitalism. Chavez knows this, and in different way Labour’s leaders know it. They’re going to continue backing both evils – capitalism and war. But it’s not an easy sell, which means there are opportunities for us.
We should be vocal against any “blood for trade” deals with Washington. And as socialists we can be highlighting the inspiring example of Venezuela’s revolution that’s combining anti-imperialism with anti-capitalism.
If the US does attack Iran, images of Helen Clark shaking Bush’s hand will still be in people’s minds. And then there’s the prospect of Rice or another senior member of the Washington administration visiting New Zealand – while the bombs are raining down on Iran?
Labour is vulnerable. An inclusive and broad anti-war movement could do real damage to Labour and open the door to forces on the left. That’s got to be the aim.
No “blood for trade” deals!
Socialism not war in the 21st century!
Chavez not Clark!
NZ Super Fund invested in nuclear bombs
The Green Party released an important report called ‘Betting the Bank on the Bomb’ in February. Written by Greens co-leader Russell Norman, the report shows that the government’s New Zealand Super Fund is investing tax money in nuclear weapons manufacture.
The investment choices of the Norway Pension Fund are compared with those of the NZ Super Fund. 12 companies that the NZ Super Fund invests in are blacklisted by Norway for ethical reasons. These reasons include:
- nuclear weapons manufacture.
- cluster bomb manufacture.
- environmental destruction.
- labour rights and human rights violations.
Among the 12 companies the Labour government invests in are Northrop Grumman Corp ($9 million) and European Aeronautic Defence & Space Company ($6.9 million), both involved in nuclear weapons production, and $15.8 million in Lockheed Martin Corp, which manufactures cluster bombs.
This is the same government that boasts about its commitment to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. But if there’s a buck to be made nevermind, it’s the ethics of capitalism that Labour is committed to.
US war increases nuclear risk
The excuse being used by the US and its allies to go to war this time is Iran’s uranium enrichment programme, which is being claimed (without evidence) will be used to make nuclear weapons. The Iranian government says it’s to be used by nuclear facilities to generate electricity.
Hans Blix (former Chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq) in his forward to a new report released by the Oxford Research Group argues the case against any attack on Iran. He says: “In the case of Iraq, the armed action launched aimed to eliminate weapons of mass destruction – that did not exist. It led to tragedy and regional turmoil. In the case of Iran armed action would be aimed at intentions – that may or may not exist. However, the same result – tragedy and regional turmoil – would inevitably follow. Further, as argued in this study, armed attacks on Iran would very likely lead to the result they were meant to avoid – the building of nuclear weapons within few years.”
It’s Washington’s global war that’s kickstarting the nuclear arms race. The logic for the rulers of countries like Iran is now to acquire nuclear weapons, because then maybe the US would think twice about invading. The blame for the world becoming a more dangerous place (terrorism, wars and the nuclear threat) lies squarely with the US and its allies. This truth needs to be spread far and wide.