Socialist Worker

Blair's legacy is Iraq: Nothing else even comes close

Lindsey German explains why, despite the best efforts of official politics, Blair could not shake the war factor

Issue No. 2050

A poll last week in the Independent showed that 69 percent thought that Tony Blair would be remembered for the war in Iraq.

Another 9 percent thought he would be remembered for his relationship with George Bush. Only 1 percent, in contrast, believed he would be remembered for his three election wins.

Why has Iraq remained the defining issue in British politics? Partly there is unfinished business about how we were taken to war. None of the whitewash inquiries into the war have been able to achieve closure.

It is commonly accepted that Blair lied over the threat of weapons of mass destruction and how much a danger Saddam Hussein was. He continues to lie about Iraq today, claiming recently against all evidence that the main people responsible for violence there were Al Qaida.

There is widespread frustration that he has not been held to account and that indeed no one in government has been forced to resign over the whole disaster.

There is further frustration that while even the US Congress debates the war and has passed resolutions calling for the withdrawal of troops to begin, the British parliament has remained virtually silent. It is in a state of fearful paralysis at what it has created.

However, none of this would probably have been decisive without the disastrous consequences of the war itself. The death toll of Iraqis almost certainly stands between half a million and one million.

An estimated two million Iraqis are refugees. Death and chaos are the daily companions of many Iraqis.

Britain and the US have lost in Iraq, but refuse to admit it. Instead, they continue an occupation which is turning more and more Iraqis against them.

The wider war is going equally badly. Afghanistan is once more involved in a full-scale war, with the Taliban growing in influence. Increasing numbers of Afghans are turning against the Western powers and their government in Kabul.

Lebanon was targeted by Israel in a proxy war for the imperialist powers last summer. Currently war rages in Somalia, launched by Ethiopia with the backing of the US, which has bombed the country.

And there is a huge question mark over Iran, the growing power in the region – thanks largely to Bush and Blair’s policies – which is repeatedly threatened with attack.

There is growing resistance to these wars in the countries themselves, and in the heart of the imperialist powers.

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In Britain, the anti-war movement has organised the major opposition to Blair’s rule and has maintained the issue of the war at political centre stage. We have pinned the blame on Blair and he will never shake it off.

The movement continues to mobilise tens of thousands. This should be a lesson to his successor. But, Gordon Brown, the favourite to succeed Blair, seems to be taking no notice.

He has visited Bush in the White House and is committed to the whole policy – even though the government no longer uses the term “war on terror”.

Stop the War are campaigning to ensure that the new Labour leader changes policy and withdraws the troops, ending these colonial occupations – otherwise his legacy will be the same as Blair’s.

Lindsey German is the convenor of the Stop the War Coalition and writes in a personal capacity.

Stop the War has organised an open letter to the new prime minister calling for a change of policy and troops out. Approach Labour councillors, MPs and Labour Party members, trade union reps, and other office holders. Get people at work and in union branches to sign it. It will be presented to Downing Street soon after its new occupant takes office. Go to www.stopwar.org.uk


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