Socialist Studies Socialist Studies

SPGB Socialist Opposition To War - Iraq: The War for Oil

The US and Britain has led a ten year war against Iraq using weapons of economic sanctions and repeated bombings. As a result estimates put the death of children in the region of 500,000. This war is now reaching a new phase with a planned invasion. We are told that it is about stopping a barbaric regime having the capability of using nuclear armaments, poison gas and long-range missiles. This could not be further than the truth. The war has been and is about oil and strategic interests.

That the war is really about oil and strategic interests is supported by non-socialists and the capitalist media. The US historian, Professor Michael Klare wrote recently, "If the real motives were made clear-that this is a grab for oil and an attempt to break the back of OPEC -it would make our motives look more predatory than exemplary" (CURRENT HISTORY March 2002).

The WASHINGTON POST reported that US, British, French and Russian oil companies have already started the rush for a stake in Iraq's oilfields. The former CIA director James R. James Woolsey told the WASHINGTON POST that if France and Russia backed the US-led war, "we'll do the best we can to insure that the new government and American companies work closely with them" (September 15th 2002).

Another US newspaper, the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE stated: "The world's biggest oil bonanza in recent memory may just be round the corner, giving US oil companies huge profits and American consumers cheap gasoline for decades to come. And it all may come courtesy of a war with Iraq. Once production reaches full capacity the enormous increase in supply could weaken OPEC and shift the balance of power among the world's major producers" (September 29th 2002).

The importance of Iraq as a source for oil is well known. Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world, some 112 billion barrels, second only to Saudi Arabia; with perhaps double that in undiscovered reserves.

For Socialists capitalism causes war. It is the Socialist contention that the basic cause of war in the modern world is the way in which society is organised around the exploitation of the working class and the competitive pursuit of profit. The cause of war is the constant rivalry between competing nation states.

The working class of the world has no interest in war. Workers have no country. They own no mineral resources like oil. Workers have no strategic interests to protect. And workers have no trade routes to fight over. It is not enough merely to protest against this war. To get rid of war, Socialists argue, we must get rid of capitalism, based as it is on competition and exploitation. This is the system which inevitably causes war.

To end capitalism is in the interests of the vast majority of the world's working class. The only solution is SOCIALISM - a global system of common ownership, with production for use, not for profit, based on the principles: "From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs"

We repeat what we said at the outbreak of war in 1914, and again in1939:

"Having no quarrel with the working class of any country, we extend to our fellow workers of all lands the expression of our goodwill and socialist fraternity, and pledge ourselves to work for the overthrow of capitalism and the triumph of socialism"


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