Iraq: Oil, Blood and Class - International Bureau for a Revolutionary Party

Article written by the International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party on the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Submitted by Fall Back on July 11, 2009

Humanity is once again about to live one of its defining moments. The spectre of war is looming upon us. U.S. imperialism is about to unleash its fury upon the people of Iraq and the attack could be imminent. Every day, the U.S. State apparatus is waging a preparatory propaganda war on the world scale to prepare public opinion for the next bloody onslaught. This war is once more presented to us as a fight for freedom and world security against the dastardly regime of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. We have absolutely no sympathy for Saddam and his henchmen. During the Gulf Crisis of 1990 we wrote: 'Saddam is an imperialist (albeit on a smaller scale) who has put to death thousands of Iraqi workers (not to mention the half million who died fighting on behalf of Western and Soviet imperialism on the Iranian front).' However, if Saddam is certainly an enduring threat to his own population (which capitalist leader isn't?), it is highly doubtful that he now represents much of a menace outside the borders of Iraq.

Iraq suffered tremendously during the Gulf War and is economically and militarily drained by the ordeal of nearly 12 years of a very harsh embargo and continuous bombardments. Iraqi society has been reduced to the state it was in many decades ago. It is estimated that one million people have died, half of them children. The economic infrastructure has been shattered and the military arsenal disintegrated. Whatever Saddam may have left in terms of germ and chemical warfare capabilities was given to him by the U.S. between 1985 and 1989. During this period, we know by Congressional testimony from 1994, that the U.S. military sent him quantities of the West Nile Virus, E. coli, anthrax, botulism and a nerve gas rated a million times more lethal than Sarin! All this was to be used against his and the U.S.'s rivals. So whose use of weapons of mass destruction constitute a threat to humanity?

Why then is Bush so hell-bent on war? It is obvious that the arms issue also invoked by his pal Blair is no more than a pretext for an assault that has much more devious objectives. Saddam's purported weaponry is not what is at stake. The London Daily Mirror dubbed Blair's recent dossier as 'being full of marshmallow facts'. The title of a September 15th article in the Washington Post gives us a better clue: 'In Iraqi War Scenario, Oil is Key Issue'. Indeed, oil production and its control is of the outmost importance. World oil production is expected to reach a peak between 2008 and 2010 and then begin an irreversible decline. In a context where the U.S. is ever more unsure of its great Saudi Arabian supplier, the old Oklahoma and Texas oilfields are becoming exhausted and even the Alaskan ones are running out. The different imperialist powers are competing to assure a steady and secure supply of oil in a steadily more explosive economic situation. France, Russia and other imperialist powers have been investing heavily in and around Iraq for this reason. The same edition of the Washington Post goes on to write: 'A U.S. ouster of Iraq President Saddam Hussein could open a bonanza for American oil companies long banished from Iraq, scuttling oil deals between Baghdad and Russia, France and other countries, and reshuffling world petroleum markets, according to industry officials and leaders of the Iraqi opposition.'

But another issue exists. The US absolutely wants to defend the primacy of the dollar on the oil market, because this is a source of a perfectly parasitic rent for the US, which is estimated at around 500 billion of dollars annually. This financial rent in its turn is the material condition for the survival of the American economy which is seriously suffering on the global markets. In the mean time the other imperialistic (great or small) powers are getting impatient with these conditions where they have to pay dollars for oil and thus pay a rent to the US, and they are agitating in both Iraq and Iran, which are both ghettoized by the embargoes imposed by the US. That is the real reason tens of thousands of human beings are probably about to be slaughtered. Let us not forget that capitalism was born 'sweating blood from all its pores' (Marx).

Iraq's oil reserves are the second biggest in the world in a region that contains 2/3 of global petroleum reserves. The economic and geo-strategic importance of control over it is obvious. That is why France, Germany, Russia and China, among others are less than enthused by U.S. plans. The basis of their present resistance to war with Iraq is based on their own imperialist appetites. The U.S. is able to do what it is doing because its competitors do not have comparable strength. It's for this reason that, despite the tensions, if the U.S. and the U.K. do go forward with military intervention, some of these countries might support it at the last minute in an effort to maintain their interests in post-Saddam Iraq. Italy is already planning this manoeuvre and with the same imperialistic aims, is sending thousand of its alpine troops to Afghanistan.

Internationalism and War

In this war we offer support to neither side. We will not fall into the frequent leftist trap of giving 'critical' support to Iraq because it is the weaker of the two belligerents and is not the aggressor. We reject any nationalist and patriotic mobilizations whether in the Arab or the Western world. For workers everywhere our greatest enemy is in our 'own' state. This means that we demand the immediate recall of all Western forces about to be sent to or already in the Gulf area. This also means participating in all anti-war activities on an internationalist 'No War but the Class War' basis. This requires fighting the bourgeois propaganda war machine by exposing its lies and undoing its traps at every turn. Finally and above all it means supporting every form of a workers upsurge. No more cuts in programs and services in the name of 'national interests'. We must fight austerity, fight the cuts, fight the lies and ignore all nationalist and militarist hysteria.

We are often asked: is there to be no end to this horror? Is the future of humanity reduced to the constant pursuit of blood-soaked horizons? The internationalists of the International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party see their duty as 'saying what is'. We think that there is a way out of this quagmire if we know what direction to take and who is blocking the way forward. That is why we accuse the capitalist system itself of warmongering and crimes against humanity. We proclaim that the international working class is the only social force that has the potential to put an end to this barbarism (for example the possible work stoppage by the U.K. firefighters alone would impede the war efforts of the British state as it would require 10 000 troops to cover the strike). We consider that the class struggle waged to its finality, the great social upheaval of proletarian revolution, is the only way out of the nightmarish cycle of war-reconstruction-crisis-war.

Whatever the present state of awareness and wills, we are convinced that imperialist wars will not be stopped by debates in Parliaments, Senates no more than in the United Nations. The first steps towards a real opposition lie in the consciousness and the realisation of the fact that the destiny of war and peace will only be decided in our factories, our workplaces and in our streets. Until then, in the ongoing chain of conflicts and wars, imperialism will always emerge as the real victor and the international proletariat and indeed humanity itself, the great vanquished. Imperialism or socialism, war or revolution, there is no other alternative!

The only way to guarantee peace is to get rid of capitalism. Workers, comrades, our only war is the class war!

This article has been archived on from the Against capitalist war, against capitalist peace archive on the Red and Black Notes website.