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New Labor, New Bombs

by Tariq Ali

As the future ripens in the past, so the past rots in the present. American leaders have long been used to treating the cracked British vase as a pisspot, but Attlee and Wilson, while dutifully kissing ass in the White House, did , at least, attempt to restrict and restrain the United States, albeit with little success. Blair and Cook and the rest of this dreadful gang seem to be only too delighted with any new opportunity to bark their support for the imperial war-monger in the White House, bombing Baghdad to show his toughness to electors at home and recalcitrants abroad. Blair’s argument that the new bombing was necessary to protect the lives of British pilots is incredible.

What the hell are these pilots doing in Iraq in the first place? Why have they been bombing Iraq for the last ten years? Over the last two years alone, the USA and Britain have dropped over 400 tons of bombs and missiles on Iraq. Blair has been raining down deadly explosives at a rate twenty times greater than Major. No other country in Europe supports this fire-storm. The bombardment of Iraq has now lasted longer than the US invasion of Vietnam. Blair, Cook and the entire Government are so used to the stench of their own hypocrisy that they can justify anything. No doubt Lord Macdonald will soon be telling viewers that the bombing raids were necessary to defend the democratic rights of the military-industrial complex to maximise profits, without which nothing can work and, therefore, if we want a better system of privatized transport in Britain we must understand the bombs are necessary. The brazen opportunism of New Labour culture appears to be reflected in the Labour Party as a whole and has affected its capacity to think critically.

The orthodox casuistry among loyal columnists and courtiers is to justify inconvenient realities-Israeli possession of nuclear weapons and colonial brutalities inflicted on the Palestinians, Turkish oppression of the Kurds, the clerical dictatorship in Saudi Arabia, etc.-with a breathtaking cynicism. Thus Blair’s Personal Assistant for Foreign Affairs, ex-diplomat Robert Cooper writes in his book of The Post-Modern State and the World Order” that: “We need to get used to the idea of double standards.” He also informs us casually that “the reasons for fighting the Gulf War were not that Iraq had violate the norms of international behaviour”, but the need for the West to keep a tight grip on “vital oil supplies.”

Together with the bombing, the sanctions regime kept in place by Clinton and Blair ands now Bush and Blair, has cost the lives of, taking the lowest estimate, 300,000 children. As the jets take off again for yet another bombing raid on the shattered and famished remnants of a Third World Country, why is the Labour Party so silent. A country mobilized for war by shameless demagogy can in a more disillusioned mood become vulnerable to other and more consistent demagogues. Dissent that refuses to be a spectator, but insists on wedging itself into the forbidden zones of modern politics is vital as a physic for any functioning democracy.

Dissent in Britain has become atomized. It reflects a hostility to all traditional politics and is confined to single-issues related to the environmental and animal rights. Most of these deserve support and yet something was missing. I wonder whether those who were extremely upset a few years ago by the cramped living conditions in which calves were shipped to slaughter-houses in France ever spared a thought for the number of children who died in Iraq from malnutrition and lack of medicine as a direct result of the inhuman sanctions policy imposed by Washington and London. Time to wake-up. CP

Tariq Ali is the author of The Obama Syndrome (Verso).

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