As we go to press the TV is broadcasting scenes of US 'victory'. Yet if we have learned one fact in recent weeks it is that the first casualty of war is the truth. This war is not finished yet no matter what the headlines say. In the end the courage of those opposing the invasion of their land is no match for the superior firepower of US imperialism. At the same time the mass of people have to eat, and since 'humanitarian' bombs have wiped out their electricity and water supplies, many people, no matter how reluctantly, will have to turn to their invaders to provide the necessities of life.
The second, third and fourth victim (and countless more) are invariably innocent men, women and children, some of them in uniform, most of them not. All claims that civilian casualties were being studiously avoided stand exposed by the brutal assault on the Al Jazeera TV base and on those journalists who have dared to report from the front honestly, instead of doing what they were told.
The scenes of jubilant Iraqis welcoming their liberators are a farce. There are examples in modern history of genuine scenes of liberation. Picture the celebrating crowds following the defeat of the Nazis in Paris or the liberation of Rome. That was genuine jubilation on the part of millions. Scenes of children crowding around tanks or small crowds pulling down statues of Saddam Hussein do not stand up to comparison. In reality these were extras in a US propaganda film.
Just as the imperialists' earlier self-deception that the war would be over in days if not hours was shattered, so now the myth that they have secured control will not stand up to the "pockets of resistance" they will meet everywhere. Their dream of establishing a puppet regime, and then proceeding to exploit the Iraqi masses and their oil reserves, and asset stripping the country through privatisation, will prove more difficult than they imagine.
US firms are already circling over the battered body of Iraq like vultures ready to swoop. Here Bush has found a role for the UN after all. They can pay American firms to rebuild what their air force has wrecked.
The real intentions of the imperialists are now clear for all to see. Not liberation, not the destruction of weapons, but securing spheres of influence, and attempting to impose their authority on the masses everywhere in a war to re-divide the worlds markets and raw materials in the interests of US imperialism. Thus this war and its successors are not a sign of the strength of imperialism but of the weakness of the capitalist system, which can no longer proceed as it did in the past. Instead we have a return to the period of wars, revolutions and counter-revolutions which dominated capitalism before the second world war.
Even when they do succeed in their occupation of Iraq, this is only the first of many such wars. Syria appears to be next in line followed perhaps by Iran. Everywhere they tread they leave behind not peace and stability but turmoil and devastation. To recall the words of the Roman historian Tacitus "they create a wilderness and call it peace."
Anyone who imagines that the conclusion of war in Iraq will mean we can all go back to 'normal' is seriously mistaken. This will be the fantasy above all of the Labour leaders, who have been terrified of the mass movement of opposition the war has provoked. In reality that mass opposition reflects the burning discontent in society, which will be intensified not only against further wars, but also against privatisation, closures and job losses. The same crisis which compels the capitalists to go to war abroad, will mean an all out assault against the working class at home too.
The task of the hour for militant workers is to go on the offensive inside the labour movement. Brown's budget, hidden behind the smoke of war, will demand that we foot the bill for their military adventure. Not one hospital ward must be closed, and not one worker must lose their job to pay for this or any future imperialist aggression! Brown's budget plans, borrowing to fund more military adventures and puny spending increases based on a delusional growth forecast of 3 - 3.5% will mean a disaster. There will be no such growth in the next period and we will be asked to pay for both war and slump.
The firefighters struggle was put on hold while the war raged. But nothing has been solved for the firefighters. They have already rejected the insult of an offer from the government, and will rightly want to take action for their just claim, against job losses and against the threat to their right to strike.
There are more imperialist wars of plunder already being planned. The TUC leaders must not be allowed to hide under the table as they did on this occasion.
Not a penny for imperialist plunder!
Not in our name, and not at our expense!
For working class internationalism!
Above all it is necessary for the unions to mount a serious campaign against Blair inside the Labour Party. Those MPs who supported the war could be deselected and replaced by the union movement and the rank and file. Why stop there? All those Blairite MPs who support privatisation, job losses and anti-working class policies should be removed.
The struggles against imperialist war and to defend jobs and conditions are intimately linked. Capitalism is responsible for both assaults on working people. Both struggles require us to fight to reclaim the unions and Labour. They can only end with the socialist transformation of society.