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Proletarian issue 73 (August 2016)
Chilcot report: a devastating exposure of the British establishment
Blair hung out to dry in an attempt to divert attention from the continuing crimes of British imperialism.
On 6 July this year, the eve of the 11th anniversary of the 7 July 2005 London terror attacks, the long-delayed Chilcot Report (CR) into the Iraq war was at long last made public. Its findings were intended to be ready for publication in 2010; actually it took a whole seven years for these findings to see the light of day. With an estimated word count of 2.6 million, the inquiry cost the taxpayer just over £10m.

No class-conscious worker ever expected Sir John Chilcot to lay bare the real reasons for this war; that Anglo-American imperialism was guilty of a predatory war for domination (the highest crime against humanity), and that the war was directed at the overthrow of the legitimate Iraqi government, which presented an obstacle to the war aims of the imperialist banditry.

What is more, the CR accepts the false assumption – an assumption essentially accepted also by the social-democratic and Troto-revisionist fraternity – that the war would have been fully justified if Iraq had really been in possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This basic premise is, however, completely unjustified. In all fairness, Iraq, or any other country, is as entitled to manufacture WMD as are the US, Britain, France and other nuclear powers.

If countries are to be denied the right to produce WMD, it can only be under a comprehensive, non-discriminatory, universal, verifiable and enforceable treaty that bars the production and possession of such weapons to all. Failing that, the attempts by imperialism to deprive some countries of the right to manufacture these weapons serves merely as an excuse to disarm them as a prelude to imperialist wars for regime change.

It is thus the case that, while looking the other way when it comes to the sizeable nuclear arsenal of the zionist state of Israel, imperialism is conducting a relentless war – by propaganda, economic sanctions and blockade, and other means – against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear capability, which the DPRK needs as the surest guarantee of its sovereignty, and as a protection against US imperialism’s evil designs for the overthrow of its government and social system.

Be that as it may, considering the narrow scope and terms of its reference, Sir John’s report has proved devastating for the British establishment in terms of exposing and holding it to account for its share in that destructive and predatory war, which, in addition to the loss of 179 British soldiers’ lives, resulted in the death of two million innocent Iraqis, the internal and external displacement of more than five million, and the wholesale destruction of the country, leaving behind the legacy of sectarianism and terrorism which since then has spread to, and destabilised, vast areas of the middle east and is now threatening to become a feature of life in the centres of imperialism – as is evident from the recent spate of terror attacks in Belgium, France and Germany.

Most people had come to expect a whitewash from Chilcot, following its predecessors, the Hutton and Butler reports. Thankfully, and surprisingly, this is not the case. Sir John’s report exposes, albeit in the understated language of the British civil servant, in pitiless detail, the dishonest, hypocritical, duplicitous, villainous and shallow conduct of the then Labour leader and prime minister, Tony Blair – the chief British warmonger. Notwithstanding its emphasis on Blair, the report has much wider application, which we shall come to shortly.

Chilcot’s aversion to calling a spade a spade

With an inbuilt dislike for calling a spade a spade, Sir John does not say that Blair told bare-faced lies. Instead, in reference to Blair’s September 2002 statement warning that Iraq had WMD that could be launched in 45 minutes threatening British bases in Cyprus, Chilcot says: “The judgments about Iraq’s capabilities in that statement, and the dossier published on the same day, were presented with a certainty which was not justified.” Translated into plain language, it means that the statement was a lie. (See Chilcot report: Tony Blair's Iraq war case not justified, BBC News, 6 July 2016)

War was unnecessary if the aim, as claimed by Blair, was to deprive Iraq of its WMD (WMD which Iraq did not in fact possess) says the CR: “We have concluded that the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted”, adding that “Military action was not a last resort”.

Characteristically, Sir John does not say outright that the war was illegal even under British law. However, he implies precisely that in dealing with the argument that the legality of the war depended on an assurance by Blair to his attorney general, Peter Goldsmith, that Iraq was guilty of “further material breaches” of its obligations to the UN.

The “precise basis on which Mr Blair made that decision is not clear,” says Sir John. In other words, Blair’s assertion was baseless. That being the case, as there was in fact no legal basis for his assertion, Blair was guilty of leading Britain into an illegal war. What is more, cabinet ministers were, or allowed themselves to be, kept in the dark about the “legal uncertainties” concerning the war. (See Damning Chilcot report helps answer these key questions about the Iraq War by Shane Croucher, International Business Times, 6 July 2016)

Goldsmith comes out badly from the CR, with his reputation nearly as badly damaged as that of Blair. Having initially argued that military action needed a second UN resolution, which did not materialise because of French, Russian and Chinese opposition in the UN security council, he allowed himself to be arm-twisted into changing his mind and providing a legal cover for the predatory war against Iraq.

The CR concludes that the circumstances in which it was decided that there was a legal basis for British military action “were far from satisfactory” – ie, it was a dishonest legal opinion. Goldsmith did not even provide written advice explaining his decision.

Responding to the CR, Goldsmith asserted that it was his “honestly-held opinion that there was sufficient authority in UN Security Resolution 1441, together with Resolutions 678 and 687, to go to war. I welcome the fact that there is nothing in today’s report that challenges either my conclusion or my view.” (See Circumstances of decision to invade Iraq were ‘far from satisfactory’ by Patrick Wintour and Owen Bowcott, The Guardian, 6 July 2016)

Like Blair, he must be totally deluded to believe that the CR does not challenge either his conclusion or his view. It does precisely that, albeit in understated language.

As a matter of fact, the CR points out that as early as December 2001, Blair’s policy was to work for regime change in Baghdad. In a memo dated 28 July 2002, Mr Blair promised US president George W Bush: “I will be with you, whatever.” Legal or not, Blair had committed Britain to participation in the Iraq war a whole eight months before its commencement, while working to invent ‘facts’ to justify British imperialism’s part in this criminal predatory venture.

Flawed intelligence

The CR censures intelligence chiefs for allowing Blair to publish false claims. The joint intelligence committee (JIC), then headed by Sir John Scarlett, is strongly criticised for allowing Blair to present, without being challenged, the case for war more strongly than was warranted by the evidence, which was “flawed”.

In 2004, Scarlett was promoted to the head of MI6. He left the service in 2009 and has since advised firms including Statoil, PricewaterhouseCooper and Morgan Stanley, although, as someone complicit in a megalomaniac’s march to war, he should, in the words of the Daily Mail’s Max Hastings, “be running a whelk stall on St Helena”. (How our ruling class betrayed us: the cabinet. MI6, generals, law officers, civil servants ... all were complicit in a megalomaniac’s march to war, 7 July 2016)

Also criticised in the report is Sir Richard Dearlove, then head of MI6. In a damning passage, the report says that the misleading Iraq weapons dossier (the ‘dodgy dossier’), with its exaggerated claims about the threat to Britain’s national security by Iraqi weapons, when in fact there was no imminent threat at all, left “a damaging legacy, including undermining trust and confidence in government statements, particularly those that rely on intelligence that cannot be independently verified”.

Since MI6 supplied “flawed intelligence and assessments” on Iraq’s ability to use WMD, the agency is clearly left with a huge trust deficit – as, indeed, is the political establishment. (See Chilcot's indictment of Tony Blair could hardly be more damning by Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian, 6 July 2016)

Although Blair claimed that the US and Britain were carrying out the will of the UN security council, as a matter of fact he embarked on the invasion without the approval of the UN. “In the absence of a majority [in the security council] in support of military action, we consider that the UK was, in fact, undermining the security council’s authority.” This is a damning indictment of the warmongers, who claimed to be acting in the name of the security council against the Iraqi government for the latter’s alleged flouting of security council resolutions! (See BBC, op cit)

Robin Cook’s resignation

Many senior government ministers, such as Gordon Brown and John Prescott, did not challenge Blair’s assertions and the drive to war because they were not included in decisions – or, more likely, because they allowed themselves to be excluded. Robin Cook, the then foreign secretary and the leading opponent of the war in early 2003, alone emerges with honour.

Standing at the back of the House to deliver a searing critique of the case for war, he quizzed intelligence chiefs over their claims and resigned to a standing ovation on 17 March, saying: “I can’t accept collective responsibility for the decision to commit Britain now to military action in Iraq without international agreement and domestic support ... the threshold for war should always be high.”

He predicted civilian deaths on a mass scale. Iraq “probably had no weapons of mass destruction”, he said and probably only had chemical weapons sold to the regime by the US in the 1980s, asking: “Why is it now so urgent that we should take military action to disarm a military capacity that has been there for 20 years, and which we helped to create?” Mr Cook went on to conclude: “I intend to join those tomorrow night who will vote against military action now. It is for that reason, and for that reason alone, that I resign from the government.” (See This is Robin Cook’s powerful resignation speech that failed to stop the Iraq War by Dan Bloom, Mirror, 6 July 2016)

As a matter of fact, the entire British cabinet (with the exception of Mr Cook), MI6, army generals, law officers, civil servants, the majority of Labour and Tory members of parliament and most newspapers happily joined Blair’s drumbeat to war.

Iraq war made Britain less safe

Contradicting Blair’s assertions that military action in Iraq would make Britain safe, the CR says: “Mr Blair had been warned … that military action would increase the threat from al-Qaeda to the UK and an invasion might lead to Iraq’s weapons and capabilities being transferred to the hands of terrorists” – precisely what has actually happened since. (See BBC, op cit)

Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, head of MI5 from 2002-7, told the inquiry that the invasion of Iraq substantially increased the terrorist threat to Britain and helped to radicalise young British muslims. This is corroborated by Alistair Campbell, Blair’s spin doctor, who wrote in his diaries: “Eliza gave a very gloomy picture of the terrorist scene here, said that even though al-Qaeda were not directly linked to Iraq, they would use an attack on Iraq to step up activity here. TB [Blair] was looking really worried at that point.” (See Key figures scrutinised in the Chilcot report by Ewen MacAskill and Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian, 6 July 2016)

Dame Eliza is one of the few to emerge from the CR with her reputation enhanced.

Britain’s humiliating defeat

In addition, the report says that the war was characterised by catastrophically poor planning, poor risk assessment and equipment shortages which, among other things, led to a “humiliating” defeat for the British military in Basra, with British troops having to use prisoner exchanges to get patriotic resistance forces to stop targeting them. In a masterly understatement, Sir John concludes: “The UK’s military role in Iraq ended a very long way from success.” In plain language it means that the UK’s military action in Iraq ended in a humiliating defeat. (See BBC, op cit)

Blair’s response to the report

On the same day as the CR was presented, Tony Blair held a press conference lasting almost two hours, during which he attempted to brazen out his criminal record on the war against the people of Iraq. Contradicting all available evidence, he claimed there was no rush to war; that there were no lies; that parliament and the cabinet were not misled; that there was no secret deal with America; that intelligence was not falsified; and that the decision to go to war was made in good faith. (See In full: Tony Blair’s press conference after the publication of the Chilcot report by Scott Arthur, YouTube, 9 July 2016)

The truth is that he had, as early as 2002, committed Britain to war, as is clear from his above-cited 28 July 2002 note to Bush saying “I will be with you, whatever.” While repeatedly asserting that the aim of the war was to disarm Iraq, in secret correspondence with Bush he wrote that “getting rid of Saddam Hussein is the right thing to do”. In other words, the war was for effecting regime change and replacing the government of Iraq with one subservient to Anglo-American imperialism.

Eleven days after 11 September 2001, Blair travelled to Washington as an honoured guest for George W Bush’s address to a joint session of the US Congress. The following month, he was in Brighton to speak at the Labour Party conference. During his speech, marked by delusions of grandeur, he said ominously: “The kaleidoscope has been shaken. The pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they do, let us reorder this world around us.” (See Full text: Tony Blair’s speech, The Guardian, 2 October 2011)

A few days after the start of this criminal predatory war, Blair wrote to Bush on 26 March 2003 thus: “Our fundamental goal is to spread our values of freedom, democracy, tolerance and rule of law … That is why, though Iraq’s WMD is the immediate justification for action, ridding Iraq of Saddam is the real prize ... This is the moment when you can define international priorities for the next generation: the true post-Cold War world order.” (See Declassified letters: From Tony Blair to George Bush about the Iraq war, Business Insider, 6 July 2016)

Shorn of all euphemism, the above words have only one meaning – namely, the pursuit of complete and total domination by Anglo-American imperialism through the forcible overthrow of the legitimate governments of countries that stood in the way of such domination. The allegations of Iraq’s possession of WMD and the faked intelligence to support these allegations were merely an excuse and a pretext for waging a devastating war in pursuit of domination.

Astoundingly, Blair asserted that the world is a safer place after the war: “I believe I made the right decision and the world is in a better place right now.”

As someone who participated in the unleashing of the most horrendous and devastating terror on the Iraqi people, with millions of people slaughtered and displaced, and the wholesale destruction of the country, he shamelessly went on to say: “Saddam was himself a wellspring of terror, a continuing threat to peace and to his own people. If he had been left in power in 2003, then I believe he would have once again threatened world peace.”

He concluded by saying: “I can’t say sorry for Iraq ... I’d do it again.” The Daily Mail article cited above, written after Blair’s brazen press conference, quite correctly characterised him as “a monster of delusion”. Indeed, looking at the middle east in the aftermath of the Iraq war, only someone who had taken leave of his senses and was thoroughly bankrupt morally could have made these assertions.

Military families demand Blair’s prosecution

Following the release of the report, military families called him a terrorist. Sarah O’Connor, whose brother Bob died in Baghdad in 2005, expressed her judgment and anger in the following words: “There is one terrorist in this world that the world needs to be aware of, and his name is Tony Blair – the world’s worst terrorist.” Her words were enthusiastically cheered by some of the other relatives.

Twenty-five bereaved family members were at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in London, where they were given a few hours to read the report before it was officially published. Most of them welcomed the report. “Everything he [Sir John] said today, we have been saying for all these years,” said Rose Gentle, whose son Fusilier Gordon Gentle was killed by a roadside bomb at the age of 19.

Pauline Graham, Rose Gentle’s mother, said: “Now we know where we stand and what we can do. Tony Blair should be taken to court for trial for murder. He can’t get away with this any more”.

Reg Keys, whose son Tom was killed in 2003 aged 20, told reporters that, considering the ongoing terrorist deaths in Iraq, “I can only conclude that unfortunately, and sadly, my son died in vain.”

Mr Keys’ sentiment was echoed by other relatives of the fallen British soldiers. Theresa Thompson, whose son Kevin was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Basra in 2007, aged 21, said: “It was an illegal war. He died in vain. He died for no purpose.” “I won’t stop till Tony Blair is held responsible for this,” said her husband Mark. (See Reg Keys, Rose Gentle and Sarah O’Connor react to the Chilcot report by Express and Star News, YouTube, 6 July 2016)

This is a sentiment shared not only by bereaved families of British soldiers but by millions of people across the country.

Corbyn’s apology

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn did the decent thing and apologised on behalf of the Labour party for the Iraq war, saying that those who took the decisions “laid bare in the Chilcot report” must now face up to the consequences. He described the Iraq war as the most “serious foreign policy calamity of the last 60 years”, after meeting families of military personnel.

In a speech at Westminster he said: “I apologised to them for the decisions taken by our then government that led this country into a disastrous war. It’s a disaster that occurred when my party was in government.”

Without naming Blair, Mr Corbyn said that parliament had been misled by a “small number of leading figures in the government”, who were “none too scrupulous” about how they made their case for war. He went on to “apologise sincerely on behalf of my party for the disastrous decision to go to war in Iraq in March 2003.

“That apology is owed first of all to the people of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost and the country is still living with the devastating consequences of the war and the forces it unleashed.” It was they, the Iraqi people, he said, who had paid the greatest price.

Speaking after David Cameron in the House of Commons, he described the war as an “act of military aggression” that was considered illegal “by the overwhelming weight of international legal opinion”. Continuing, he sated: “It [the war] led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and the displacement of millions of refugees. It devastated Iraq’s infrastructure and society.

“The occupation fostered a lethal sectarianism that turned into a civil war. The war fuelled and spread terrorism across the region”.

The former Labour government, he said, had misled parliament. “The government’s September 2002 dossier that Iraq had WMD that could be deployed in 45 minutes was the most notorious of many deceptions.” He invoked the memory of the late Robin Cook, who, in his resignation speech, had stated clearly in “a few hundred words what has been confirmed by this report in more than two million words”. (See Corbyn apologises after Labour's role in Iraq war ‘laid bare’ by Chilcot report by Anushka Asthana, Rowena Mason and Jessica Elgot, The Guardian, 6 July 2916)

Let it be noted that as Corbyn delivered his damning apology, Labour backbencher Ian Austin shouted: “Sit down and shut up, you’re a disgrace.” Austin’s shameful heckle was supported by several other Labour MPs, including Mike Gapes, Steve McCabe, Margaret Beckett and Alan Johnson.

Gapes also used social media to criticise Corbyn’s apology: “Saying sorry to victims’ families is not the same as apologising for removing a brutal fascist regime. I don’t.” Obviously Mr Gapes is unable to see the real brutal fascist dictators of Anglo-American imperialism, who wage predatory wars of rapine and pillage and overthrow governments that present an obstacle to their quest for domination. (See The Chilcot report: Jeremy Corbyn blasted for Iraq War apology by Lucy Fisher, The Times, 8 July 2016)

The despicable Ann Clwyd said that she would still vote for the war against Iraq: “No one will ever be able to convince me that the world is not better off without Saddam Hussein in power.” (I’d still vote to go to war in Iraq, The Guardian, 6 July 2016)

No Conservative MP plunged such depths of degradation, decadence and degeneration as did the MPs belonging to an allegedly socialist party. Even David Cameron had the decency to say that MPs who had voted for the war against Iraq in 2003, as he had, should take their “fair share” of the responsibility for its consequences. In his statement on the CR, he said that “MPs on all sides who voted for military action will have to take our fair share of the responsibility. We cannot turn the clock back but we can ensure that lessons are learned and acted on.” (See PM statement on the Iraq Inquiry, Government website, 6 July 2016)

Having said that lessons ought to be learned, he went on to negate his statement by affirming his commitment to Britain waging imperialist wars to protect ‘human rights’ [read imperialist super-exploitation and brigandage] and safeguard Britain’s special relationship with the US. Failures over Iraq, he said, should not undermine the idea that Britain should intervene where human rights were endangered.

Nor should the CR lead to Britain’s ‘special relationship’ with the US being questioned. “It would be wrong to conclude that we shouldn’t stand with our American allies when our common security interests [ie, ‘our’ imperialist interests] are threatened,” he said, adding: “I don’t think they’re always right but I think they’re always our best partner and we should work with them.”

As one of the architects of the predatory war against Libya, he doubtless had in mind the defence of that criminal enterprise, which resulted in the deaths of several tens of thousands of innocent Libyans, the murder of their leader Colonel Gaddafi, and the wholesale destruction of their country. This is what passes for ‘learning lessons’ with the political spokesmen of imperialism.

Calls for Blair’s prosecution

Corbyn also apologised to the families of soldiers “who died in Iraq or who have returned home injured or incapacitated”. Hinting at a case for prosecuting key decision makers, he said: “We need Britain to join the 30 countries including Germany and Spain that already support giving the International Criminal Court the power to prosecute those responsible for the crime of military aggression.”

Paul Flynn, shadow commons leader, said that Blair might have a legal case to answer. “I think really there should be serious consideration to him being prosecuted for this but I think this remains to be seen,” he told BBC2’s Daily Politics programme.

In apologising on behalf of his party, Mr Corbyn stated that the “decision to go to war in Iraq has been a stain on our party and our country”. In uttering this sentence Mr Corbyn was ignoring the bloody record of the Labour party and the blood-soaked history of British colonialism and imperialism. No one in the least acquainted with historical truth would be fooled by Mr Corbyn’s attempt to present in bright colours the record of the Labour party and Britain alike.

Even Sir Michael Rose, former commander of the SAS, who led the UN forces in Bosnia, had this to say in the Daily Mail of 7 July 2016: “This war was unjust and unjustifiable. On 9 January 2006, I publicly called for the impeachment of Blair over Iraq. At that time our MPs did not have the moral courage to act. Today, reflecting on the anger of the people of this country who have been so betrayed by him, they will do so now.”

He expressed the belief that the families of the 179 soldiers killed in Iraq have a number of possible grounds for legal action against Blair. (Why the families should see Blair in court)

Attempts to safeguard the system by sacrificing Blair

In May 1997, after Labour’s landslide election victory, Tony Blair stated from the steps of 10 Downing Street: “Mine will be a government that seeks to restore trust in politics in this country.” As it turned out, no British prime minister in recent history has left office with such a legacy of distrust in bourgeois politics.

And this in large measure can be accounted for by Britain’s participation under Tony Blair in the imperialist war against Iraq. Because he has brought such discredit to the ruling class, the latter has turned against him, with the hope that by sacrificing him the whole system may be purged and carry on with repression at home and war abroad.

But it will be difficult to square this circle, as there is the widespread perception that the people of Britain have been betrayed not by Tony Blair alone, but by a much wider range of political, journalistic, ideological, parliamentary, ministerial and business representatives of imperialism, with the full backing of intelligence agencies and the top echelons of the civil service.

In a withering piece in the Mail on Sunday, conservative journalist Peter Hitchens laid into the hypocrites who supported the war willingly and are now busy passing the buck to the fallen and deservedly discredited and despised Tony Blair.

“If you want to blame anyone for the Iraq disaster, look at yourselves,” he wrote. “I mean those scores of MPs of both parties who scuttled, bleating, through the war lobby [on 18 March 2003, parliament voted by 412 to 149 for war] and now claim, falsely, that they didn’t know the facts.

“I mean my media colleagues, who have been trained from their earliest years to doubt what they are told, yet swallowed Alastair Campbell’s great dish of steaming tripe without a thought. Come on, how hard was it to see that the danger was invented, that the war was illegal and that it was none of our business? I have no prophetic powers but I could see it.”

Mr Hitchens pointed out that instead of learning from the Iraq fiasco, the same people who claim to have been fooled by Blair are willingly allowing themselves to be fooled into supporting a war with Russia: “And yet, diddled so blatantly that even an official report now confirms it, you still don’t learn. How many supposedly responsible voters are currently being fooled by today’s attempt to spin us into a stupid conflict with Russia, a country almost nobody in Whitehall knows anything about or understands?

“At least as many as were misled by claims of a fictional massacre into supporting the Libya disaster. At least as many as were persuaded by a media chorus to admire Hilary Benn’s feeble, poorly argued speech urging us to bomb Syria.

“Is there no idiocy you can’t be gulled into by a bit of atrocity propaganda or the endless recycled claim that the chosen target is the new Hitler, who must not be ‘appeased’?”

Mr Hitchens offered a “word of advice” and issued an ominous warning in these words: “If you don’t like atrocities, don’t start wars. Wars are the mother and father of atrocities, and one day they will come home to us, if we keep launching them against others.”

He concluded his thought-provoking article with remorseless logic and powerful arguments as follows: “Vladimir Putin is already being turned into the new Hitler. Nobody who knows anything about Russia thinks this is true. But a couple of weeks ago we more or less secretly sent British troops to Ukraine, a country with which we are not in any way allied, and which is a war zone. Was parliament asked about ‘Exercise Rapid Trident’? I can find no record of it.

“We have just made the daft decision to send 650 scarce troops to Poland and Estonia. This is supposedly in response to a ‘Russian threat’ to these countries for which there is no actual evidence. Apart from the tiny enclave of Kaliningrad, Poland doesn’t even have a border with Russia. As the wise academic Professor Richard Sakwa, whose father served in the pre-war Polish army, has rightly said: ‘Nato grew to meet the threat it had itself provoked’.

“If we are not careful, we shall once again create a war out of our own exaggerated fears and by believing our own propaganda. Any of you who are taken in by this have no right to attack Mr Blair. You are as bad as he is. He and his like couldn’t do what they do without your help.” (Want to see who started the Iraq war? Look in the mirror, 10 July 2016)

Imperialism means war

Though welcoming the CR for exposing the deception and fraud that British imperialism’s political representatives and intelligence services resorted to in the run up to the Iraq war, those representing the interests of the proletariat must go further and explain to the latter the mainsprings of modern war in general and the Iraq war in particular – namely, that imperialism is the source of modern war.

The wars waged by imperialism have nothing to do with democracy, freedom or the rule of law, but everything to do with domination. And since war cannot be eliminated without destroying imperialism, the struggle for peace must be inextricably combined with the struggle against imperialism.

In its quest for domination, in waging predatory wars, imperialism is able to enlist the support of its own privileged workers – what Lenin called the ‘labour aristocracy’ – who act as a purveyor of corruption and opportunism in the working-class movement. (See Imperialism and the split in socialism, October 1916)

Nothing could have illustrated this support more clearly than the Labour party and trade union leaders backing the renewal of Trident, supposedly in order to preserve the jobs of skilled labour, on the one hand, and supporting the Remain campaign in the referendum for fear that a Brexit would weaken imperialism, on the other.

In its struggle against imperialism, the working class must also wage an uncompromising struggle against this opportunism that weakens and divides our movement. One only has to cast a cursory glance at the Labour members of the British parliament and the trade union bosses to be convinced of this simple, yet hard to learn, truth.
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