IBT Speaker at Anti-war Rally

The following remarks were made by an IBT supporter at an anti-war rally in Wellington, New Zealand on 20 March. The demonstration, held outside Parliament, drew some 200 people.

Hi, I’m Marcus from the International Bolshevik Tendency.

Of all the appalling crimes committed by George Bush Jr. and his administration, one that is less direct but nevertheless very significant is the fact that he tends to make his Democrat opponents look so much better than they really are.

We should remember that it was the Democrats who invaded Vietnam in the 1960s and, more recently under Clinton’s watch in the 1990s, who committed mass murder against the Iraqi people through the brutal sanctions campaign, the death toll from which included an estimated half million children. So Bill Clinton still leads George W. Bush in the number of Iraqi dead each is responsible for – although admittedly Bush is trying to catch up as fast as he can.

The NZ Labour Party, like the US Democrats, tries to pose as a progressive alternative, by hedging its bets a little on Iraq. But Labour’s generalised support for Bush’s Middle East campaign has been clear. Army engineers in Iraq, SAS and other troops in Afghanistan, Navy frigates in the Gulf - all this has helped in little ways to free up stretched US military resources in the Middle East. When [Labour Prime Minister] Helen Clark has her sit-down with Bush in Washington later this week, he will know he’s dealing with a small but solid and reliable imperialist ally. All the rest is just talk.

The likes of the Democrats and NZ Labour are well aware of a central truth about capitalism – that running the capitalist system requires various forms of social and economic warfare against workers in their own countries, and periodically requires open terror against the ordinary working people of the Middle East, Africa, and beyond. To do away with war, oppression and violence, we need to do away with capitalism.

But that doesn’t mean there can’t be important defeats for the imperialists in the short and medium term. And we should greet those defeats with grim celebration. For 10 years after the defeat of US, NZ and other imperialist troops in Vietnam in the 1970s, US foreign policy was dominated by a “Vietnam syndrome”, where for a while the US was very nervous about launching new attacks around the world. And we are starting to see the development of a new “Iraq syndrome” in US ruling circles – and that is a very good thing. Every time Iraqi insurgents score a small, localised victory over a unit of imperialist troops in Iraq today, they are helping to buy lives somewhere out there in the future, in some other country – perhaps South-East Asia, or Central America, perhaps Iran.

But the social programme of the Iraqi resistance is, in general, deeply reactionary, and today Baghdad is a hellhole of sectarian violence. What’s necessary is a socialist strategy that transcends these sectarian divides throughout the Middle East – to unite Sunni and Shiite, Muslim and Jew, Iraqi and Iranian, on the basis of their shared class interests, and to break the hold of imperialism on the region and the hold of their own local rulers and exploiters.

Posted: 28 March 2007