The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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What an amazing meeting place of people and ideas the CASI list is!
I don't want to repeat myself or what others have said; least of all do I want the last word in a debate that I inadvertantly started (what's the 'smile' emoticon?).
'Just' two points:
The question of national sovereignty is not an abstract moral question, something which can be resolved by some legal formula for all time and for all places; rather it is a practical and burning question which is forced to the very top of the political agenda precisely by the concrete actions of US and UK imperialism. If 'national sovereignty' happens to be reflected in international law, this is only so because of the victories won by the struggles of the oppressed and colonised peoples during the past century, victories which the imperialist powers have never reconciled themselves to, and which they are extremely strenuously trying to reverse.
The denial of Iraq's sovereignty is the very essence of US/UK policy - which is to suspend Iraqi control of its economy and airspace until a pro-imperialist protectorate is installed in Baghdad.
The ruthless determination of these powers to continue oppressing and exploiting the peoples of the Middle East is the problem, not Saddam. This is a fact which we must have the courage to face up to. It means that defence of Iraqi sovereignty against the US/UK aggressors is a principle, and must be the axis of our campaign! Only the Iraqi people have the right to decide who rules their country! Only through the struggle to establish this principle will a true 'international community' take the place of today's grotesque parody.
Second point. Alan Bates stated: "At the conference on the holocaust
a few days ago, many ... wondered why the allied forces did not bomb the
railway lines to the death camps....Others might similarly wonder why,
when Hitler began rearmament contrary to the Versailles treaty, the allies
did not take firm action by bombing his production facilities. I
suspect that these past misjudgments...were simply applications of... principles
of non-intervention and national sovereignty."
I don't doubt the sincerity of Alan's views on this, but I think he is completely wrong. The allied policy towards the Holocaust was one of deep and conscious complicity. Until the Bolshevik revolution drove the anti-semites west, Britain's ally the Czar that was the locus of anti-semitism. Britain and the US slammed their doors in the faces of the Jewish refugees trying to get out of harms' way in the 1930s. It was no coincidence that Kristallnacht occured just a few weeks after the utter failure of the 'democratic' nations gathered at the Evian Conference, convened by Roosevelt to discuss the Jewish refugee crisis, to offer a place of refuge. Hitler said "see, the rest of the world doesn't want you either".
Britain suppressed news about the Holocaust during WW2 because a) it didn't want to let any Jewish refugees in to this country (Herbert Morrison, Labour Party Home Secretary in the War Cabinet was particularly vehement in this regard) and b) because it didn't want sympathy for the Jews to increase pressure on it to begin preparations for the western front, which would conflict with Churchill's over-riding concern to first secure the colonies in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
To define allied complicity in the Holocaust as a "misjudgement" is to carry the art of understatement to extremes. Alan should think twice before citing the experience of the Holocaust to attack "the principles of non-intervention and national sovereignty" in today's pre-war world.