We won't pay for the bosses' war - No War But The Class War

Leaflet from 1991, looking at the logic behind the impending Gulf War, and its meaning for the working class, both in the UK and internationally.

Whoever wins in the Gulf conflict, one thing is for certain. It's us - working class people in Britain, Iraq and the other countries involved - who will be expected to pay for it.

As in all bosses' wars, its us who will be told to kill each other and die in the battlefields while those with most to gain from the war sit at home and count their profits. And it won't just be working class soldiers and sailors who will be in the firing line. The use of Iraqi chemical weapons in Kurdistan and the US bombing of Panama (which left thousands dead) are a foretaste of the horrors that could be in store for civilians in the region.

Those of us not in the front line will have to pay in other ways. Already petrol companies have put up prices to keep their profits high, and the prices of other goods will no doubt follow. We can also be sure that any extra spending on the armed forces will be at the expense of hospitals, housing and what's left of welfare benefits.

Before the Gulf conflict blew up, the world capitalist economy was already heading for recession. As things get worse it's us who will be told to tighten our belts and put up with cuts in jobs and wages.

The patriotism that is whipped up in wartime is always accompanied by racism. In Britain there have already been calls for all Iraqis living here to be expelled from the country or put in internment camps, despite the fact that many Iraqis over here are refugees from Saddam Hussein's state terrorism. This is just what happened in World War Two, when jews escaping from nazi persecution in Germany ended up being locked up in Britain as "enemy aliens".

When we resist these attacks we will be condemned as unpatriotic. To this charge we should plead guilty and proud of it, for why should we make sacrifices for the sake of Britain, USA, Kuwait or Iraq? At the end of the day all countries are just big companies run for the benefit of our wealthy rulers.

Why war?
The western leaders talk of a war to liberate Kuwait, for freedom and democracy. The Iraqi leaders talk of a holy war against imperialism. All of this is bullshit - this conflict is about rival gangsters trying to secure control of the oil fields. As one US congressman put it, nobody would be bothered about Kuwait if they grew carrots. When Iraq was at war with Iran, the West was quite happy to give support to the "Evil Dictator" Saddam Hussein and to turn a blind eye to his use of chemical warfare. Iraq was equally happy to make deals with the "Zionist Imperialist Enemy".

As well as oil, this a war about the power of the military and arms manufacturers. With the end of the cold war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, military spending was likely to be reduced. The Gulf conflict has already reversed this trend, ensuring a strong position for the military and the usual fat profits for the weapons industry.

UN - peace off
We can't rely on the United Nations to bring peace - it is after all controlled by the same gangsters who run the rest of the world. "Peaceful" UN sanctions will mainly hurt the Iraqi working class (we can be sure that Saddam Hussein and his mates won't go short of goodies), and the UN has authorised the use of force to back sanctions - i.e. war. This is nothing new. During the Korean War, and other conflicts, UN forces actively took part in the slaughter.

Besides even where there is peace between states there is no real peace for us. When capitalism isn't killing us on the battlefield it's killing us at work (e.g Piper Alpha), while travelling (Kings Cross fire) or even at play (Hillsborough).

Only escalating the class war can prevent the massacres of both war and peace. Strikes such as those by oil workers can not only make working conditions safer but can sabotage the national economy, making it harder to wage war. Struggles like that against the poit tax can also undermine national mobilisation towards war.

Others can sabotage the war machine more directly. During the war with Iran, many Iraqi soldiers deserted and took part in armed resistance to the state. In the Vietnam war too, US soldiers mutinied, blew up their officers with hand grenades, sabotaged ships and refused to tight.

Taking sides in the class war
When it comes down to lt, Bush, Thatcher and Saddam are all on the same side- the side of the rich and the powerful. We have no interest in fighting their battles for them. The only war worth fighting is the class war to get rid of these scumbags for good. In Iraq, Britain and everywhere else working class people face similar problems (war, dangerous jobs, increasing poverty, etc.) and have the same enemies. By fighting together in a social revolution we can sweep away all the warring states and build a classless world human community in their place, a world where human needs are what counts, not money.

September 1990

Taken from the Practical History website.