All that was strong and positive about the annual Stop the War conference held in London this June sprang straight out of the magnificent resistance being mounted by the Iraqi people against the criminal and failing occupation of their homeland.
As our delegation noted in the course of raising its call for the movement to adopt as its main campaigning slogan the watchword ‘Victory to the Iraqi Resistance’, the healthy influence provided by this uncrushable spirit of resistance had even started to invade the primary motion put forward by the steering group, thoroughly imbued though that body is with the ideology of social democracy.
True, going all around the houses with the call to “show support for the people of Iraq who oppose the occupation and who want the troops to leave” , instead of simply coming out with the simple and candid statement urged by our comrades, betrays an irresolution on the question that ill serves the Iraqi people, the anti-war movement and the British working class. Yet even these half-hearted words represent an advance from some of the shameful nonsense that has been spouted under the Stop the War banner, representing as it does a grudging recognition of the enormous prestige that has been earned by the Iraqi resistance.
One can measure the distance travelled by the movement by reference to the scoundrel’s motion that was put up by the Socialist Party (yesterday’s Militant fleas, now scratched off the Labour dog, but still sharing a common master). In the past, it might have been possible to win approval in the anti-war movement at large with the insane proposition that, if only we gave less support to the Iraqi resistance than we do, there might be less sectarian strife in Iraq and wider support for ending the occupation. For this was the sum total of the Socialist Party’s wisdom on the subject!
They told us that: “The prospect of a religious-based civil war inside Iraq has … brought concerns that if the troops were withdrawn a sectarian bloodbath could ensue.”
Yet the fact is that, despite the worst efforts of the imperialist death squads, genuine civil war has not become a reality outside of the lying headlines of the capitalist media. And why is that? Precisely because of the extraordinary unity and determination of the Iraqi resistance even under the most vile sectarian provocation.
So if the Socialist Party really want to do what they say they want to do, ie, “do everything we can to avoid a descent into a sectarian bloodbath” , then they should give full support to that national resistance.
Instead, we are advised to refrain from giving “unconditional support for any groups claiming to be the resistance inside Iraq”.
“Instead, we should argue for the establishment of multi-ethnic, non-sectarian defence forces to defend the Iraqi people.”
So rather than give support to the resistance that regularly announces its presence by a steady sequence of hammer blows against the imperialist military machine and its local stooges, the Socialist Party prefers to reserve its support for a make-believe, hypothetical resistance, one that would conform to this gentry’s own exacting guidelines!
And who is to create this army of toy soldiers? The armchair generals of the Socialist Party?
The breathtaking arrogance of these shallow doctrinaires, who dare to offer the Iraqi people a list of conditions that must be satisfied before they are prepared to peep out from behind the bloodstained skirts of their own ruling class and offer even the barest lip service support for those brave men and women willing to sacrifice all in defence of their homeland, proved too much for the Stop the War conference to stomach.
True, the top table opposition to this motion simply defended the steering group against charges of muddled leadership after the London bombings, neatly avoiding reference to the real essence of the treacherous sectarian nonsense that the Socialist Party charlatans seek to nurture in the anti-war movement. However, anyone with his ears open would already have heard Iraqi commentator Sami Ramadani earlier offering an account of the Iraq conflict that effortlessly exposed all the imperialist lies on which the SP so gullibly feeds.
Ramadani stressed the crucial political significance of British support for the war, noting the way in which Blair’s trips to the USA are used to try to bolster flagging support for the war in America.
The Iraqi resistance, he said, had landed the US in the biggest quagmire since the Vietnam war, which was why the propaganda mill was working overtime to discredit the resistance as sectarian murderers. It was to hide this reality that the media made so much fuss about the reported slaying of al-Zarqawi, whose sectarian activities were falsely accounted for as representative of the resistance struggle.
Sectarian death squads, Ramadani explained, were indeed issuing indiscriminate threats against citizens from every background, shia, sunni and secular, including doctors and academics, compelling some to flee. But these were tools of an occupation which was doing everything it could to foment sectarian strife, in a last desperate throw to still the rising anger against the everyday crimes of the occupation, with water too dirty to drink, soil contaminated by depleted uranium, a health service in a state of collapse and a puppet government steeped in corruption involving billions of dollars.
Why else would imperialism be smuggling Kalashnikovs into Iraq from Bosnia? Why else would imperialism be smuggling 200,000 guns into Iraq, if not to arm the death squads it pretends to be fighting?
According to Ramadani, what stood against this cynical effort to push Iraq into the abyss of civil war was the spirit of resistance which said: we are neither sunni, shia nor Kurd, but Iraqi!
Sadly, despite the sound judgement shown in giving a platform to those like Ramadani, whose contributions reflected the demoralisation of the aggressors and the strength of the resistance, and despite the collective wisdom of the conference in voting down the Socialist Party’s sectarian provocation by an overwhelming majority, the prevailing tone of the conference remained one of cosy self-congratulation and social-democratic fudge.
Our party’s intrusion on this undemanding consensus, our insistence that the anti-war movement get serious about giving consistent support to those in struggle against imperialism, starting with the clear adoption of the slogan Victory to the Iraqi Resistance, triggered an equal and opposite collective flight from reason, with only a handful offering support.
The story is not over yet, however, as evidenced not least by the considerable interest generated by our pavement stall, the substantial number of papers sold on the day, and the passionate agreement expressed by a number of individuals for whom our position was clearly a welcome surprise.
As one of our comrades expressed it in moving our motion, the real unity for which we need to be striving in the anti-war movement is not the impotent unity of those who genuinely want to struggle against imperialist warmongering with those who merely wish to pay cynical lip service to this struggle.
The unity that is urgently needed is that between the two fronts: the anti-war front that expresses itself in domestic opposition within Britain, America and the rest; and the anti-war front that sets the pace for the whole movement, the frontline struggle mounted by the Iraqi resistance against the Anglo-American military forces and their mercenary hirelings.
The deeper the crisis of imperialism becomes, the harder it will prove for social democracy to continue walling off the working class in Britain, USA and elsewhere from their natural allies in the international struggle against imperialism.
And already, albeit on a puny scale for the moment, Bolshevism is putting down its marker in Britain.