Lessons From The Struggle Against The Gulf War

The slaughter by the Americans and their allies of the deserting Iraqi troops represented a defeat for the international proletariat. This article shows how class struggle militants in Britain, by positing the class war ideally rather than practically, allowed the anti-war movement to be dominated by ineffective left-liberal sentiments and tactics.

A new cycle of working class struggle is tentatively emerging in continental Europe over austerity measures required by the Maastricht Treaty. But here in Britain any optimistic anticipation of the prospect of struggles is tempered by the shadow of a recent defeat. For since the historic and inspirational turning point of the poll tax rebellion, the resurrection of autonomous and uncompromised class hatred in Trafalgar Square and the mass refusal of austerity, has come the defeat of the anti-war movement.

The Gulf War may not have had an effect on the working class's ability to wage defensive struggles in response to coming offensives, but the revolutionary Left have still to come to terms with our failure to prevent the successful slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi proletarians. It is as if the blood of those thousands of Iraqi mutineers and deserters carpet-bombed on the road to Basra is somehow on our hands; the anti-war resistance in Iraq was so successful it rendered the Iraqi state incapable of defending its gains in Kuwait at all, while the impotence of the anti-war movement in the US and Britain virtually gave the murderous representatives of US/UK capital carte blanche to have Iraq bombed back into the Middle Ages.

In order to exorcise the ghost of this defeat we have to undertake a critical reappraisal of where the anti-war movement went wrong. Moreover, we have to reassess our own attempts to prevent the war and how we influenced the strategy pursued by the anti-war movement as a whole. It is not enough to say, as many who confined their opposition to grumbling over their pints must have done, that the outcome was inevitable, that the war couldn't be prevented, that we could never defeat the forces of war, backed by the UN, the police forces and the media. The Vietnam war is a recent enough reminder of how a seemingly omnipotent war-machine can be rendered impotent by concerted opposition amongst soldiers and the class from which they are drawn. And right up until the commencement of Operation Desert Storm, despite the propaganda which accompanied Operation Desert Shield and the lack of any effective redress to it by the anti-war movement, opinion polls suggested that around 50% of the population were opposed to military intervention. Not a bad foundation from which to build an active and effective opposition.

Our failure was not inevitable. Nor can it be solely blamed on the left-liberal leadership of the anti-war movement, for their success in controlling the movement reflected our inability to mount a successful challenge to the leadership, their positions, and most of all, their strategy. So, we have to look at our own role in resisting the war, what we did right and wrong, the strengths and weaknesses of our strategy.

Anti-war Strategy

The experience of our class has shown us how capitalist wars can be effectively opposed. For the sake of analytical clarity this opposition may be divided into three separate strategies which are in reality particular yet inter-related aspects of the overall struggle. These may be roughly defined as:

i) undermining support for the war by stressing the class antagonisms involved;

ii) actively sabotaging the state's ability to conduct a war and;

iii) precipitating a crisis 'at home'.

Let us consider these in turn.

i) Undermining the notion of a national interest.

The war in the Gulf has served to decimate a once combative oil producing proletariat, to reassert the role of the US as global policeman in the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse, and also to stimulate another round of capital accumulation based on military procurement. These results may well have been considered during the build up to the war, and could have been factors in deciding to pursue the aims of the Allies by military means rather than through sanctions. But the primary aim of the Allies was to resecure the flow of Kuwaiti oil revenue into the US and UK banking systems, essential for the financing of the US deficit. In other words, the war was fought for the interests of US and UK capital, for their need of injections of finance capital from Kuwait, which have amounted to $60 billion invested in the US alone.

On the other hand, it was to be the working class who would be made to pay the price for the war. The refusal of Iraqi troops to fight was not anticipated, so casualties amongst British as well as Iraqi troops were expected. On top of the despair of the families from whom they would have been taken, the working class as a whole was expected to suffer as NHS wards were to be denied to us in order to treat the troops. As it was, patients had operations cancelled in preparation for this eventuality.

Although the financial costs of the war have been largely recovered through reluctant contributions from Japan and Germany and other oil states such as Dubai, UAE etc, and the massive profits from subsequent arms sales to the region, the costs were always liable to be foisted onto the shoulders of the working class through higher taxes, cuts in public services, and price rises. The government also hoped for another 'Falklands' Factor', rallying a nation divided over the poll tax behind the flag of the bourgeoisie.

In order to successfully oppose the war it was crucial that the anti-war movement stress that the war was to be fought for the interests of the capitalist class alone, and to decisively situate itself in opposition to those interests. This could be done through the usual means of propaganda such as leaflets, banners, graffiti, fly-posting, public meetings, and through high profile actions.

Not only is this essential for building an opposition at home that knows why it opposes the war and can thus formulate tactics such as strikes and civil disorder which reflect the class basis of that opposition, but it is also essential to encourage 'disloyalty' amongst those troops expected to fight. Historical examples abound of desertions and mutinies making it impossible for rival capitalist interests to compete by means of war, not least in Vietnam where US troops were often more inclined to kill their officers than the supposed enemy. And there is evidence to indicate that a concerted refusal to fight in the Gulf War was not an impossibility. Even without the social unrest 'back home' that formed the backdrop to resistance in Vietnam, many troops refused to go to the Gulf, including at least 23 of the US's elite force, The Marines, who are currently in jail for desertion. There were also cases of warships en route to the Gulf being sabotaged . And Bush showed that he did not have absolute confidence in the loyalty of the US army when ammunition was taken away from all enlisted men and women on bases he visited during 'morale raising' trips to Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield.

Examples of this strategy were seen in Germany, both during the build-up to war and once it had started. In August of 1990 a live TV show debating the Gulf crisis was disrupted by anti-war protesters with a banner reading: "There's always German money in weapons when there's any slaughter in the world." And on January 21st 1991, anti-war protesters attempted to make clear in whose interest the war was being fought by blockading the entrance to the Frankfurt stock exchange and pelting the dealers with eggs and paint bombs.

ii) Sabotaging the war machine.

Fighting a war is huge logistical exercise requiring the coordinated movemen ts of troops, weapons, ammunition, and supplies from wherever they are stationed to wherever they are required. The ability of military commands to perform this operation is clearly dependent on a number of factors, including the reliability of those workers not required to fight but who are nonetheless essential for this logistical exercise, and if cooperative themselves, on their ability to function without interference. This presents many opportunities for sabotaging the war effort, and indeed there were a number of instances of such sabotage against the Gulf War. For example in August 1990, 4000 maintenance workers on US bases in Turkey went on strike for higher pay, thus deliberately hampering the war effort. And in France in September 1990, workers held up a ferry carrying troops to the Gulf, albeit for only 12 hours. In Italy there were attempts to blockade Malpanese airport near Milan in order to prevent it from being used to refuel USAF B-52's en route between bombing raids in Iraq and British bases.

In Germany frequent attempts were made to blockade military depots and barracks in order to disrupt the mobilisation for the war. Transport command supplies were also blocked, holding up the movement of the raw materials for the military bases of the British and American troops stationed in Munster, Bremerhaven, Frankfurt, Berlin and elsewhere. The tactic of disrupting the transportation of military supplies was also used in France on several occasions, and in Holland, where trains supplying troops in Germany were persistently sabotaged, derailed, and blockaded.

iii)Fermenting Crisis at Home.

The backdrop to the end of the Vietnam War, a result of the refusal of American conscripts to fight for their state, was a severe social crisis in the United States and Western Europe. One of the ways in which that crisis manifested itself was through civil disorder in opposition to the war in Vietnam. Footage of the riot in Grosvenor Square may look like a Keystone Cops movie compared with what Britain has seen in the last decade or so, but it was nevertheless an important moment in the international crisis which led the US State to pull out of Vietnam and confront the crisis it was suffering in its factories, streets, campuses and ghettoes.

Again, examples of this strategy were seen in opposition to the Gulf War. General strikes occurred in Pakistan, Italy, Turkey and Spain, although they seem to have been successfully restricted to one day only by union bureaucracies. A token 1/2 hour stoppage against the war occurred on January 18th 1991 at a firm in Bremen, Germany, and later that month, also in Germany, draft resisters forced to work as hospital orderlies went on a 3-day strike in opposition to the war.

Demonstrations against the war occurred virtually everywhere imaginable. And some of these, although not enough, spilled over into direct confrontations with the forces of the state. For example, in Bangladesh, police were forced to use batons to contain demonstrators on September 3rd 1990.

Waging Class War against the Bosses War...................

It can be seen from the above outline that there were a number of attempts, using various strategies, to wage the class war in continental Europe against the inter-capitalist war in the Gulf. One could no doubt find many other instances of anti-war resistance abroad if one was determined to search beyond these few examples which, despite a virtual media blackout on such activity, were available to the anti-war movement thanks to War Report, Counter Information , and a leaflet by B.M. Combustion .

One could criticize many of the actions which occurred as tokenistic, such as the one day strikes. But the point is that these actions, whether limited or exemplary, could never succeed in stopping the war unless they spread beyond those countries whose involvement in the war was relatively minor. Stopping the war meant that the class war against the Gulf war had to be taken up in those countries central to the UN backed coalition: the US and the UK.

...............Or not as the case may be

Early signs from the US were encouraging. On the 20th October 1990, 15,000 marched in New York and there were demonstrations in 15 other major cities. And US activists appeared willing and able to take direct action. A San Francisco TV station was disrupted, a cop car set alight on a demo, and the Golden Gate Bridge was blockaded on several occasions. These actions were not generalised however, and it appears that anti-war activity soon became dominated by left-liberal campaigners, of whom someone wrote in Echanges 66/67:

"They have brought their experiences with a vengeance into the new movement by demanding compromise with the status quo ideology and calling for protest within the context of peaceful obedience to the authorities so as to gain their respect. Many urge 'working through the system'. They tell us we must put pressure on elected representatives.....we must elect better representatives.....They urge that we 'support our troops', not hurt their feelings by criticising the job they do, and that we should express patriotism while criticising government policy. We must prove that we deserve to be listened to by obeying the rule of law and order, and by respecting the police".

This strategy of constitutional protest was an absolute failure. The attempt to base the opposition to the war on an alternative interpretation of the interests of US capital, and thus exploit the divisions which emerged within the US capitalist class, meant that Bush was given a free hand once Congress had voted in favour of military action and the bourgeoisie buried its differences and rallied to his support. The failure of the anti-war movement to root itself in a class opposition to the interests for which the war was to be fought can be measured by the overwhelming support for the war registered in opinion polls, even allowing for their notorious unreliability.

Here in Britain the anti-war movement registered its disapproval of the government's policy towards the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and, as in the US, sought to do so peacefully and constitutionally. Of course the anti-war movement was not a homogeneous mass, and contained within it many different perspectives united in their opposition to the war, many of which were fiercely critical of the CND/Tony Benn leadership. But the anti-war movement remained within the parameters set out by this leadership. These parameters derived from their political perspectives. They accepted the pre-supposition of a national interest. They accepted the legitimacy of the United Nations. They accepted the 'need' to re-establish the Kuwaiti regime's control over Kuwaiti oil. Their opposition to the war was thus based on a difference of opinion on how to achieve the goals of US/UK capital; they even advocated the pursuit of these goals by starving the Iraqi working class through sanctions.

As a result the anti-war leadership would never have countenanced the actions required for an effective opposition to the war. They wanted no repeats of the 1956 street battles in Whitehall against British intervention in Suez, a possibility they were only too aware of following the momentous re-emergence of class violence in Trafalgar Square only a few months before the Gulf crisis. The grip that the leadership maintained on the anti-war movement meant that it amounted to nothing more than a few peaceful marches to Hyde Park where any anger could be safely dissipated. No action was taken which challenged the authority of the state or undermined its ability to wage the war. The movement was confined to peaceful protest while the state was engaged in the mass slaughter of Iraqis.

We have not yet answered the question, however, as to how it was that the forces of pacifism and social democracy were able to contain the anti-war movement. It is not within the scope of this article to provide a comprehensive answer to this question, comprising as it would not only a critiqueof Trotskyism and anarchism, but also discussions of the psyche of the British working class and its experiences of wars. But we can start to answer the question by undertaking a critique of one group that should have mounted a challenge to the leadership of the anti-war movement: No War But the Class War.

No War But The Class War

NWBTCW was a loose collection of revolutionaries who came together in opposition to the Gulf War. As they clearly pointed out in their leaflets, their opposition to the war was firmly rooted in a class-analysis rather than some form of moralistic liberalism."We won't pay for the bosses war" was the headline on a leaflet distributed during the prelude to the war. "As in all bosses' wars, it's 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 " it continued. As well as providing the cannon fodder, "those of us not in the front line will have to pay in other ways..........it's us who will be told to tighten our belts and put up with cuts in jobs and wages."

NWBTCW also seemed to know what would be required for an effective opposition to the war: "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 poll tax can also undermine national mobilisation towards war. Others can sabotage the war machine directly".

For various reasons however, NWBTCW limited itself to positing the class war ideally. Few, if any, steps were made towards actually realising it in practice. As Workers Scud pointed out, "a call for general class struggle opposition to the war became an emotional cushion". How and why this came to be will hopefully become clearer as we follow the evolution of NWBTCW through the unfolding of the Gulf War.

Resisting the build-up to War

Following the commencement of Operation Desert Shield in August 1990 NWBTCW was formed at a meeting in London to discuss ways of mounting an effective opposition to the war. Amongst those present were representatives from Hackney Solidarity Group, Anarchist Communist Federation, Class War, Anarchist Workers Group, Wildcat and assorted individuals including one of us from Brighton.

A proposal on the agenda was that we begin to organise a demonstration outside one of the major oil company offices in London. But rather than discussing this and other suitable actions the meeting soon became focussed on the fact that the AWG had adopted the Trotskyist line of supporting an Iraqi victory in the war. Their argument that they supported the Iraqi state militarily but not politically cut no ice with the rest of those present who pointed out that an Iraqi military success, in itself a virtual impossibility, could only be pursued by the imposition of military discipline on the Iraqi working class: suppressing the class struggle, shooting deserters and communists, torturing those who actively opposed the war etc.

The AWG were quite rightly expelled from the group. Had they not been there would have been endless problems over basic positions to be conveyed in the group's propaganda. With the rest of those present in agreement over the need to escalate the class struggle against the war in solidarity with the working class of Iraq, rather than implying that they should forsake their own struggle, the expulsion of the AWG should have allowed NWBTCW to press ahead with organising effective actions to sabotage the war effort. But as time went on it became clear that the meeting, and the argument with the AWG, had a different effect on those present. NWBTCW in many respects came to see its role as one of defending a class position on the war, rather than having a class position as a necessary but (in itself) insufficient prerequisite for taking practical steps to stop the war. Its concern with defining itself primarily against the position adopted by the various Trotskyist sects seemed to be at the expense of a practical challenge to the boundaries of peaceful constitutional protest imposed by the Benn/CND leadership.

Let us examine exactly how it was that this failure became manifested. Following the meeting the various groups and individuals involved threw themselves into the task of escalating the class struggle in order to undermine the mobilisation towards war. But rather than attempt this squarely on the terrain of anti-war resistance, as had been originally proposed, efforts were directed almost exclusively towards the on-going struggle against the poll tax.

Those of us in Brighton also directed our attention towards the struggle against the poll tax, and the important associated work of supporting poll tax prisoners. But the neglect of anti-war activity itself in the hope that confrontation with the state over the poll tax would be sufficient to counter the movement towards war must now be seen to have been a major mistake. It is obvious now, and indeed was clear at the time with the ditching of Thatcher, that the state was attempting to conduct a tactical retreat over the poll tax. Our attempt to turn their tactical retreat into a rout, and thus create a political climate in which the state would find it increasingly difficult to pursue the war was well intentioned, but there turned out to be no real practical way of pressing home our advantage and seeking out large-scale confrontations.

Only when the war actually began in January did the enormity of this tactical error become obvious. Not only had the rest ofNWBTCW also devoted their practical energies towards other struggles like the poll tax, but any sort of organisational work in preparation for the outbreak of the war had been entirely neglected. No plans had been laid for an immediate response to the start of the war such as a demo or an occupation. No efforts seem to have been made to make contacts with other groups, such as those who had been involved in Cruisewatch and the like, who would be prepared to take some form of direct action against the war. There was not even a decent network for communication between and throughout the various organisations and individuals who had been involved in the initial meeting. This haphazard approach to organisation continued through the duration of the war and served to compound the earlier mistakes.

The War Begins

As the pictures came through of the bombing of Baghdad, following the passing of the UN deadline for withdrawal, many people were filled with horror and suddenly became aware of the urgency of the situation. In Brighton there were spontaneous demonstrations, and in London anti-war protesters converged on Trafalgar Square. But it soon became blindingly obvious that the neglect of planning of any sort of autonomous direct action had proved costly. The CND network had already established itself as the focus for opposition to the war. The fact that we could not immediately provide any alternative focus for opposition to the war, a focus that would have been capable of developing increasingly effective tactics and drawing in ever-larger numbers, as the town hall riots had done with the poll tax struggle, meant that we had to start from scratch and begin by operating within the movement as it had become constituted under the guise of Tony Benn and CND. We had to find ways of starting from within the movement and carrying people beyond the boundaries set out by the leadership.

Not only had organisational matters been so neglected that we found ourselves in this position, but it soon transpired that NWBTCW was in a worse state than it had been in at the start. Meetings began but the venue was apparently switched a number of times without keeping people informed, and so it seems that many of the original participants were thereby excluded. Sectarianism or stupidity? Worse still, the person who had the contact list disappeared for most of the duration of the war, making coordinating and communication matters even more difficult. Indeed, we in Brighton did not receive any mailouts whatsoever from NWBTCW, despite providing a contact address at the inaugural meeting and making subsequent requests to be kept in touch.

This haphazard approach to organisation may now, however, be seen as symptomatic of the shift in the group's raison d'etre: The narrowed base was even less adequate for putting practical proposals into action, but was perfectly capable of putting together leaflets outlining the group's position and calling for escalated class struggle.

Here in Brighton we belatedly began to take action to sabotage the war effort. The local Committee to Stop the War in the Gulf, dominated by pacifists and supported by the SWP, had reduced anti-war resistance to "peace vigils", standing peacefully and if possible silently around a statue in the middle of town. Not surprisingly this inspired no one and went unnoticed by everyone. But a blockade/picket of the Territorial Army HQ was organised and attended by the NVDA elements in the peace movement, by hunt saboteurs, squatters and the members of Sussex Poll Tax Resisters. This was far more inspiring for those involved, spilling over into scuffles and forcing the TA to ring for the police, a van-load of whom arrived as we were leaving. A shame it had not been got together earlier as this type of action contained the seeds which could have grown into mass civil disorder.

There were various other low-key autonomous direct actions around the country, ranging from putting in the windows of Army Recruitment offices to occupying the toll booths of the Severn Bridge. But a national focus was needed, by neccessity in London, and all that was happening were the peaceful marches to Hyde Park, largely ignored by the media.

NWBTCW distributed a leaflet on the demonstration following the outbreak of the war entitled "Sabotage the War Effort!" Following a brief outline of mutinies in WW1, Vietnam and the Iran-Iraq war, it continued: "The war can and must be opposed on the home front as well as in the armed forces", and cited the attacks on munitions trains in Europe and the burning of a cop car and blocking of the bridge in San Francisco. Then it urged that "We can also refuse to pay for the war in any way by resisting attacks on our living standards- by carrying on refusing to pay the poll tax and other bills, by striking for more pay, by opposing cuts." NWBTCW wanted to keep the home fires burning, but evidently this was to take place away from the demos and over issues only indirectly related to the war. They had made no plans to try to make the demonstrations we were on anything other than peaceful and inconsequential.

On discovering a few days before the next national demonstration that NWBTCW had not worked out any practical initiatives for it, we desperately tried to figure out a way of stirring up some serious disorder on it. But attempts to find out the route of the march were fruitless, so we were unable to work out any potential targets for a lightning occupation, impromptu picket or well placed brick. So on the day before the demonstration we were forced to settle for producing a leaflet which we hoped might fire the imaginations of the demonstrators, particularly those grouped around NWBTCW. Under the heading "Class War Against The Oil War" and an introduction it declared:

"Already nearly 50% of the population opposes the war, but so far this massive opposition has remained largely passive. It will only succeed when it actively confronts the forces for war and once it goes beyond the boundaries, set out by CND and its friends, of peaceful constitutional 'protest'.......With much of the opposition to this war being censored by the mass media it is vital that we make our presence felt. It was a glimpse of our anger on the 31st of March last year that contributed to the downfall of Thatcher. Today we must show that anger again. We must refuse the state's right to define the nature of this demonstration. While they ask us to march peacefully between police lines they are murdering men, women and children."

Fighting talk is never enough, of course, so the reverse of the leaflet showed a suggestive map of central London locating the following buildings: the American Embassy, Shell Mex House, Esso House, Texaco HQ, Mobil Oil HQ, Vickers HQ, The Admiralty and the MOD. As it turned out the demonstration avoided all of these potential targets, only passing near to the American Embassy which was so heavily protected by police that it would have been the least desirable of them all. Still, we hoped that the leaflet might force NWBTCW to work something out for the next time. Just in case, however, we decided that we should formulate a concrete proposal of our own and attend the next NWBTCW meeting, to take place a week before the next national demonstration.

Just before the next meeting the Allied forces finally launched their ground offensive to retake Kuwait. The bombing campaign had continued for weeks, destroying residential areas, sewage plants, hospitals and other civilian as well as military targets, and now they were going to move in for the kill. We were all expecting to see the body bags donated by DuPont bringing the corpses back for burial. Once again we were filled with anger and a renewed sense of urgency. But at the NWBTCW meeting the discussion was primarily concerned with the necessary, but still insufficient, organisation of public meetings against the war and how to deal with Trotskyist hecklers. Then we put forward our proposal, and to the credit of those present, the urgency of the situation and the need to respond decisively was accepted.

We were to:

i) Mobilise our forces as best as possible. All NWBTCWcontacts and virtually every anarchist group in the country were to be informed of a meeting point near the main demo at which they were to converge at a specified time. It was to be made clear that we would move off immediately to take some unspecified form of direct action.

ii) Conduct a lightning occupation of Shell Mex House, only a few hundred yards from the main assembly point and with no visible means to prevent our access.

iii) Send others off to inform the gathering demonstrators of the occupation and pursuade many as possible to join us or help defend the occupation with a mass picket in The Strand.

iv) See how the situation evolved and respond accordingly.

We shall never know whether the plan would have worked in practice. It may have failed , or it may have been the moment at which the anti-war movement launched itself beyond its previous limits never to return. But we did not find out, for between the notification of contacts and the day of the demonstration the war was ended by the mass desertion of the Iraqi conscript army. The demonstration itself was small and dejected. But worse still, virtually no-one turned up at the secret assembly point aside from ourselves. It was a missed opportunity, for the first reports were already coming through of the heroic uprisings in southern Iraq; we could have at least discussed possible solidarity actions had there been enough of us. As it was those present were simply demoralised by the failure of others, and the rest of NWBTCW in particular, to turn up.


We made some serious tactical errors during our campaign against the Gulf War. We pinned our hopes on the anti-poll tax struggle, and left too much of the responsibility of organising autonomous resistance to the war to comrades in London. We have acknowledged our mistakes however, believing that self-criticism is an essential moment of revolutionary praxis. In print ing this article we hope to contribute to a similar process of self-criticism amongst others involved in NWBTCW, who will know much more about what actually happened within the group than us. This article should also help others who were not directly involved to learn from our mistakes.

To be fair to NWBTCW, no-one anticipated that the war would be over so quickly; we all underestimated the potential for revolt of the Iraqi army. Had the war continued and the corpses and wounded started arriving in Britain then NWBTCW may well have been in the front line of agitation against the closure of NHS wards for the war effort. And the anti-war movement may well have been galvanised by the deaths of British troops in a way it wasn't by the slaughter of Iraqi civilians. But NWBTCW must acknowledge that it failed consistently over a period of six months to do what was so desperately required. Various practical suggestions were made by various members, but were not put into practice. Not, it would seem, because other proposals were deemed to be more effective, but because the group was ultimately content to defend the right position, the historic class position in all its purity.

In other words, the NWBTCW group seems to have seen its role as a predominantly ideological one. The truly internationalist position had to be broadcast to the movement and the Trots had to be denounced or attacked, leaving the grip of social democracy and pacifism intact. Even when the CND/Benn leadership were threatening the RCP with the police because they refused to toe the patriotic line, NWBTCW were more concerned with getting into fisticuffs with the RCP than challenging CND's complicity with the state. For many years positions regarding the nature of the Soviet Union have served as the 'litmus test' for determining the 'authenticity' of groups within the British left that have claimed to be revolutionary. Was it the collapse of the Soviet Union and the declining relevance of these arguments that led to members of NWBTCW becoming preoccupied with distinguishing themselves from the rest of the ('always counter-revolutionary') Left?

We cannot do anything to change what happened during the Gulf War but we can learn from our mistakes. And with it looking increasingly likely that the British state will be involved in a joint attempt to intervene militarily in Yugoslavia, to ensure that the carve-up goes along the lines desired by German capital, we must be ready to make sure that they cannot get away with their bloody crusades so easily again.