‘To say in a precise sense that someone holds this or that theory is already to imply the stolid, blankly staring proclamation of grievances, immune to self-reflection.’
It is easy to be against the current Bush/Blair Coalition if you only see them as oil plunderers, and there is no doubt that the presence of the Coalition in Iraq is for that reason, but they are not there for the oil per se, but to secure oilfields, crucial as they are for the continuing and unimpinged self-valorization process of capital. The oil fields keep the whole racket going world-wide, and it really doesn’t matter what is produced anywhere in the world, as long as the value-system is maintained. It is indeed unfortunate to see so many oilmen in the Bush administration – it doesn’t bode well. Dick Cheney’s Halliburton empire continues to make millions of dollars out of the misery in Iraq.
Beyond this there are other reasons for the Coalition’s presence. David Harvey’s The New Imperialism does not stick to old formulae but tries to unravel the new status quo. First he speaks of ‘a dialectic between the territorial logic and the capitalistic logic (which) is now fully engaged’ in Iraq. Harvey speaks of the end of the hegemony of the USA, and what better proof of this is his claim that ‘the central banks of Japan, Taiwan and China do much to cover the deficit in the USA.’ Others have suggested that one important reason all hell descended upon Iraq was because Hussein was flirting with the Euro as a currency of exchange instead of the dollar, threatening to bring down that flimsy house of cards known as The American Empire.
Harvey also warns of the imminent danger of Saudi Arabia falling into the hands of radicalized Islam. In fact the only organized opposition there is Al Qaeda. If there is to be any hope of an end to the mess that is the current Middle East, it is essential that the Royal House of Saud liberalises quickly on all fronts: women must be given full rights and the Saudi Royals need to demote themselves along the lines of the British parliamentary democracy, namely, ‘the King reigns, but does not govern.’ The Shah of Persia was told of this innovation; he shrugged it off with scorn saying ‘I represent God on Earth.’ He went the same way as Nicolas II of Russia who also refused reform. Humanity in that part of the world was subsequently hurled over the precipice that resulted in Stalinist gulags and famine . The roots of Stalinism are to be found in the Czarist tyranny: after having been trained to the mindset of operating clandestinely, it proved impossible for the Bolsheviks to operate along democratic lines. The possibility of Lenin heading a British style Cabinet with Trotsky as Foreign Minister is one less bad solution in what soon became the most bloody century ever known. Back in 1905 Nicholas II ignored the British diplomats who told him that that parliamentary democracy worked reasonably well, and although it was far from perfect, the change of government every four years staved off anger; jubilation was in the streets when a bad government was turfed out – and lets be fair, all governments end badly. You only have to look closely at the present animal farm led by Tony Bliar. A real sty, but, unhappily, many in the left opposition to this form of democracy are potential Napoleons, Squealers and Snowballs, given half a chance. Today, they are using the Iraq war because they lack any new theory of the capitalist system – dabbling instead in partial critiques. It was the same case back in the 1930s, when Stalinist Russia was either praised, by the likes of Sydney and Beatrice Webb as the new hope for humanity, or defended by others on the left as a ‘degenerated workers’ state.’
Some are prepared to ally themselves with people who are not in accord with them on all main issues in a desperate bid to create some kind of positive critique. You only have to look at responses to anti-Semitism for proof of this. It is hard to comprehend how some socialists are prepared to see Israel wiped off the map in some kind of perverse ‘cleansing’ (or göttadamarung) of that region’s troubles. Others compare Israel to apartheid era South Africa. In reality, things are not so simple. For Palestinians left to rot in the refugee camps, anything short of a ceasefire and a brokering of peace will be a disaster, but some – cheerleading safely outside the zone of conflict itself – see only violence as a solution. It saddens us to have to point out that Yasser Arafat wrote a preface to Mein Kampf in 1978. According to French author Henri Meschonnic the book can be found at the Amman Airport Library.
Maybe Mahmoud Abbas is made of a different mettle – we welcome his dialogue with the Israelis, and some see hope in the establishment of a free trade port along the Gaza Strip, controlled by the Palestinians and acting as a kind of warehouse or distribution centre for the whole region. Unfortunately, many ruling elites in the Middle East wouldn’t welcome such a change to the status quo. However, you can be sure that any hope of peace breaking out will depend upon Abbas reining in the Hamas crew, which the Israeli state makes a difficult prospect whilst the brutality of it’s army continues unchecked – an army that knows it can never afford to lose a single war. It is a complicated business when critics of the Israeli state can enjoy a Western lifestyle with all the secular freedoms that implies if they ever find themselves in Israel, but for left-wing radicals anywhere else in the Middle East, a very quietist attitude to gay rights and women’s liberation is necessary for survival. Palestinians have suffered terrible and cruel injustices at least as far back as the massacre at Dier Yassin in 1948, when the mantra ‘troops out now’ became a terrifying reality for Palestinian villagers, as they were massacred at the hands of the fledgling Israeli state; the withdrawal of British troops left them completely defenceless. Four years before, Jewish people seeking refuge in Palestine from Russian pogroms suffered appalling violence upon their arrival, and the spiral continued. Today not one person in that region is unaffected by the bloodshed as the impact of Israeli bullets in the occupied territories and the revenge of suicide bombers within Israel itself testifies. Today it is necessary more than ever that all those involved move beyond their hard-line attitudes and seek reconciliation. The potentially murderous division between Zulu and ANC factions (let alone the white ruling elite) during the transition from apartheid to majority rule in South Africa back in the late 1980s were largely overcome, and a similar process is needed in the Middle East today. It seemed an impossibility to many for a peaceful solution for South Africa then – but stoking the fires from afar helps no one. Sadly, it is not so easy a business in the Middle East in 2006; Hamas mix the AK47 with dishing out food, hence they have a popular base. The various factions in Northern Ireland and the Basque ETA gangs all mixed their social dialogue with guns and bread. Hence they end up ‘representing’ people on the ground. Tragically there are forces on both sides whose material interests lie in keeping the old hostilities going. For now, dialogue between all sides and at all levels in urgently needed.