A Complete Fraud

The new democracy according to
Bush, Blair, bombs and business

by Tony Benn

CovertAction Quarterly, April / June 2001


The election of President George W. Bush aroused a great deal of worldwide interest, not least because of what happened in Florida and the Supreme Court decision.

"New Labour" in Britain was severely shaken because Prime Minister Tony Blair had established close links with the Clinton-Gore administration. It had argued that they shared his belief in the mysterious ideology of the "Third Way." To see that philosophy rejected left a political vacuum they are now trying to fill by pretending that George W. Bush shares the same values.

But, looked at more deeply, the re-establishment of the Republicans in the White House, even as the Congress is finely balanced, does pose very serious threats to the peace and stability of the world.

Perhaps the first and most obvious effect has been observed with the decision to bomb Iraq, which has absolutely no legal basis in the Charter of the United Nations to which the United States is still officially committed.

In that sense, the February bombings conducted by Bush and Blair were acts of terrorism and those who died in these bombings were victims of war crimes.

Since the sanctions were imposed, costing the lives of over half a million innocent Iraqi civilians, the enormity of what has been done there stands out.

Of course, the Bush-Clinton-Bush years have a certain continuity about them which makes it even harder to unravel what the real policy is going to be from now on.

Bush seems to be set on a course of world domination especially by means of introducing the NMD (Nuclear Missile Defense system) or "Son of Star Wars" rearmament program, which will allow U.S. spacecraft to destroy any land installations in the world.


The immediate consequence has been to alienate European allies in NATO and the Russians and the Chinese. It could trigger a new global arms race costing billions of dollars at a time when world poverty represents a far more direct threat to peace.

The President has no intention of allowing NATO or the UN to play any part in shaping his foreign and defense policies. It is not inconceivable that the United Nations, like the League of Nations before the Last world war, could be effectively rendered impotent.

Bush seems to combine the isolationism that led the American Senate to reject the League of Nations after the First World War with a readiness to act unilaterally in a truly imperial style.

One of the tragedies of this, from a British point of view, is that Britain has gone along with American policy with very rare exceptions since 1945, the most noteworthy Prime Minister Harold Wilson's rejection of Lyndon Johnson's request for British military support in Vietnam.

For many people in Europe and worldwide, the subservience of London to Washington is something of a puzzle because as a member of the

UN Security Council, a significant member of the European Union and with important Links with the Commonwealth, Britain would seem ideally placed to play a more independent role in world affairs.

However, the so-called special relationship which, we are told, gives us unique influence in Washington is, in fact, a complete fraud.

The plain truth is that successive British governments have boasted about our independent nuclear deterrent when, in fact, Britain is entirely dependent on the United States for access to the technology that allows Trident nuclear submarines to fly the British flag.

In reality, if any British government ever tried to fire those missiles, they could not be targeted without the global satellite navigation system, controlled from the Pentagon, being switched on to make it possible.

In return, the U.S. has many bases in Britain supervising our intelligence services and our nuclear policy.

This is why Mr. Blair had to go along with the bombings of Iraq and why, when the detailed all new Star Wars plan is published, the Prime Minister will, after the impending British election is safely over, announce his full support.

However, it would be a mistake to think that the policy of the new President will be limited to military interventions around the world whenever U.S. economic or strategic interests appear to be threatened-though that is certainly likely to happen.

Much more serious is the American domination of and support for the World Trade Organization and the IMF, which are forcing poor countries to open their doors to multinationals and privatize their services including those in health and education.

The budgets of the public services everywhere in the world are enormous and Big Business wants to get at them to create captive markets for the services they provide in the interests of their own shareholders and at the expense of those who work in them and depend upon them.

All this may sound very pessimistic-but I still retain my optimism for the future of those who believe in democracy, political morality, internationalism and socialism.

Perhaps the most interesting example of the counter-pressures that are building up occurred at Seattle at the end of 1999 when a very wide coalition representing the trade unions, the peace movement, the churches, the environmental movement and many others decided to make a stand.

This has mobilized many millions of people who have become totally disconnected from the electoral process because they quite properly see that process has been corrupted by the virtual purchase of the democratic process by the corporations themselves.


If democracy is ever to be threatened, it will not be by revolutionary groups burning government offices and occupying the broadcasting and newspaper offices of the world.

It will come from disenchantment, cynicism and despair caused by the realization that the New World Order, (proclaimed by the first President Bush after the Gulf War,) means we are all to be managed and not represented.

The low turnout in elections as we saw in America and are seeing in Britain is a direct result of the growing public realization that this is the case.

Recollecting as I do that similar circumstances brought Hitler to power in the 1930s, the Seattle movement will have to turn its mind to political action that makes use of the ballot box and the voting machine to secure a change at the top.


This is not in any way incompatible with direct action-but those who organize it must have a clear political objective that Looks beyond pressure to the winning of power in the seats of government.

Looking back over the years since the 1917 Russian revolution, it is clear that the existence of an anti capitalist superpower represented a very powerful pressure upon Western capitalism. This led it to accept colonial liberation to avoid what they saw as the risk of the old colonies going communist.

It is even true that the welfare state, whether it be under Roosevelt's New Deal, or Prime Minister Attlee's post-war Labour government, was tolerated by capital to prevent the spread of socialist ideas in the West

Now that Stalin's communism is gone, we are seeing the brutal nature) of capitalism exposed and this has) produced the counter movements that we are now witnessing.

At present, all governments have to bend their will to the demands of the transnationals but if the popular movements become strong enough, there is no doubt that they will have to be taken into account by any politician who wants to be reelected, even in the semi-democratic societies in which we now Live.

For me, one of the most powerful signs is that all these arguments are as clearly understood in the United States as they are in Europe and the rest of the world, even if at present, this represents a minority movement.

One of the greatest problems we face is that the media deliberately and systematically deny us knowledge of what is happening(at this level in every country and never report the radical international conferences that have been established on this new network with their own websites and email communication systems.

It is quite clear that the internet poses a serious threat to the privileges of the rich and powerful for exactly that reason. All the emphasis on crime and drugs and pornography used to justify the suppression of the internet is really aimed at suppressing knowledge of the radical politic alternatives that are now available.

Even if Washington does achieve the total military domination of space and the transnationals keep up the pressure directly and through the undemocratic institutions they control, people cannot be held down forever.

The parallel with apartheid is as good as can be found since the blacks who were disenfranchised won the day against a white elite which controlled the army, the police and the media.

They would not accept exclusion from power and neither should we.


Tony Benn is a British Labour Party Member of Parliament. He held several cabinet positions from 1966 to 1979. He is a socialist and advocate of "participatory democracy"

New World Order

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