31 August 2007
Iraq is not Vietnam; it may be more important
Iraq is not Vietnam. You can tell that because they speak fucking Arabic in Iraq and Vietnamese in Vietnam. Easy, really, so it didn't need this dreary list to teach us something that we already knew.
However, in one crucial aspect, Iraq is Vietnam. Both countries suffered a war of aggression that was waged against them by the United States and her allies. Support for Iraq today - and Vietnam 40 years ago - involves standing up for that basic principle of non-aggression, and that basic socialist principle of opposition to imperialist expansion.
In another crucial aspect, Iraq is more important than Vietnam. A generation ago the world was divided up into sovereign states, each with its own national economy. Today, led by the USA, national borders are increasingly becoming nothing more than lines on a map, with goods, services and people moving more or less freely across those lines.
As socialists, our aim is obviously to create a better tomorrow for our children, but equally obviously it is to destroy capitalism. We cannot have the one without the other, and the destruction bit has to come first.
The fact that the Iraqi guerrillas are not Fidel Castro Ruz and his men is neither here nor there. They fight for their own values, and those values are not ours, but they also fight, indirectly, for the end of globalised capitalism. In that sense, their war is our war, because they are fighting for us.
If the United States is thoroughly, comprehensively and totally defeated in Iraq, then there is the possibility that she may withdraw into isolationism. If that happens, then a large part of our war will have been won for us.
Now these are all very big ifs, but such an outcome is conceivable. If it happens, if those ragged heroes in Iraq do manage to stop the forward march of globalisation, then the British political class is likewise likely to find itself discredited by the process of defeat. People will be asking questions, and will not be looking to that class for answers.
We need to be ready. The left needs to get its act together and decide on a programme that will take Britain forward. We did it in the 1930s and early 1940s - we were ready for when the time came in 1945. We have to be ready again.