Culture and Life
by Rob Gowland
Dubbya having a hard time
So, we are back from the Christmas-New Year break and nothing seems to have changed. But that, when you think about it, is by way of being an astonishing achievement in itself. After all, if the jolly band of oil and aerospace industry honchos and Christian fundamentalists who run the USA today had been able to have their way, Iraq would by now be a smoking ruin over which the stars and stripes (the "flag of freedom" you understand) would proudly fly. Down at ground level, various US corporations (assisted by well-meaning and well-funded NGOs) would be vying with each other to establish hamburger concessions and oil concessions, depending on the size and influence of the corporation. But it didn't happen, did it? Too many people — and their governments — declined to support the new US crusade, at least not without a more credible justification than the eyewash being advanced by the Bush White House. This has been a very serious setback for poor George Dubbya. The seizure of Iraq's vast oil reserves would have to be a key (if discrete) campaign promise on his part to the energy sector corporations that bankrolled his election. His failure to deliver would not endear him to them nor bode well for his future. While the White House desperately ploughs ahead with its war plans, the influential voices raised against war with Iraq grow every day, Bush's approval rating has sunk to its lowest since the events of September 11, 2001. In the US itself, media commentators openly and regularly castigate the Administration's charge to war. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, one radio commentator in California expressed the view that Bush actually did not want to attack Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein, because Saddam was his "weapon of mass distraction". What a wealth of cynicism is encapsulated in that crack, eh? Every day that goes by without the US and its tiny band of allies (Britain, Australia and Israel, at last count) being able to launch their war sees the support for it fall away a bit more. Time is running out for Bush and his rapacious corporate backers. Meanwhile, Tony Blair has had to call in the security services to provide some much needed backup for his shrill demands for war now, preferably today. The opportune timing of the discovery of "evidence" of biological and/or chemical weapons in a London flat must have been such a relief to him — and so unexpected. Even if in most cases the subsequent well-publicised raids by Scotland Yard have failed to find any further evidence of anything, the media beat-up is enough for Tony's purpose. Facts are the least of his concerns. He also dismisses the fact that the UN weapons inspectors have found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction anywhere in Iraq. Instead he declares that he is "quite sure" not only that Iraq is hiding chemical and biological weapons (where, Tony, where?), but that those weapons pose a "direct threat to British national security". Talk about drawing a long bow!
* * *A Labour imperialist
Tony Blair is a Labour Party politician, but his foreign policy alone — on Iraq, Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland, Africa, etc, etc — marks him down as one of the most reactionary imperialists ever to occupy Number 10. The blatant racism of British policy towards Zimbabwe, and the campaign of disinformation and vilification being waged by Britain against the ZANU Government and President Mugabe, have failed to win support in various international fora, except from fellow racists like our own John Howard. While Mugabe or his representatives have scored successes at major world gatherings, those leading the attack on Zimbabwe, like Howard, have had to eat crow. The governments of Africa and the rest of the Third World will not support them. Undeterred, those behind the undeclared Anglo-Australian war on Zimbabwe (for that is what it is) have opened a new front: Cricket. The level of disinformation and arrant nonsense being peddled about Zimbabwe was well illustrated on TV the other night, as protesters tried to influence the cricket authorities' decision on whether to play an international match in Zimbabwe (and one in Kenya, too). One demonstrator solemnly told the media: "Sending a team to play cricket in Zimbabwe is like playing cricket in Nazi Germany." Actually, it is nothing of the sort. Mugabe and ZANU's great crime is that they have refused to meekly allow imperialism's chosen political team, with lots of foreign money, foreign advisors, and foreign-based radio support, to subvert the democratic process to gain control of the country. Everything that the people of Zimbabwe have struggled to build up over the last 20 years, after winning independence at the cost of great suffering and loss of life, would be handed over to foreign companies and private pirates if imperialism's man, Morgan Tsvangirai, was to gain power. Zimbabwe has lots of problems, which they are the first to acknowledge. Refusing to play cricket with them, or playing cricket but snubbing the country's President, is not going to assist the people of Zimbabwe to overcome their problems, which are mainly the result of economic sanctions and blockade by Britain and other capitalist countries.