Some 20,000 people joined an anti-war march through London last Saturday. How right they were to protest has been underlined by events in the last week. First Tony Blair cheered on US president George Bush's plans to launch a new war against Iraq. Then the war in Afghanistan erupted in some of the heaviest fighting yet seen.
Bush and Blair crowed about their quick victory in Afghanistan last December. There would just be a 'mopping up' operation in the devastated country, we were told. But Taliban fighters brought down two US Chinook helicopters, killing at least seven US troops, on Monday.
The US has again started carpet-bombing Afghanistan, with B-52 bombers dropping barbaric 'thermobaric' bombs that ignite in a fireball that acts like a mini nuclear weapon. Meanwhile Bush's loyal ally in London has been cheering on US plans to attack Iraq.
Blair isn't just more war hungry than most European leaders. He is more enthusiastic than some of Bush's own cabinet. A US attack on Iraq could be less than three months away in May, or may be delayed until October, according to varying reports from the US. The anti-war movement in Britain has already rattled Blair, and anti-war protests have greeted Bush's recent visits around the world.
Building a powerful anti-war movement now can have an impact on Bush's plans to spread his brutal war to Iraq and other targets. It means building local networks in colleges, workplaces and communities against the war which are ready to respond vigorously to any US attack. It also means using focuses like the visit by US war criminal Henry Kissinger to London on 24 April to build the anti-war mood.
'THERE IS no peace, freedom or democracy in the war torn country of Afghanistan. Now the US wants to settle its unfinished business in Iraq after its war in 1991. This is about US strategic, economic and political power. The US wants 'full spectrum dominance'.
Over the next few months we need to raise our level of activity to match the new phase in the war. We have a special responsibility to show that Tony Blair does not act in our name.'
LINDSEY GERMAN, Stop the War Coalition
'WE ARE seeing the increasing concentration of economic and military power. It is the mother of all fundamentalisms. It has a name and we should call it by its name. It is called US imperialism. Our demonstration shows that we aren't going to be demobilised. If they start to bomb, let us pledge to take to the streets in every city in the country. Bush, Blair and Berlusconi, you can prepare your war, but we too are preparing to fight you all the way.'
TARIQ ALI, leading anti-war activist
NEXT SATURDAY... Don't miss this conference
The political fund: where should union money go?
Conference for all trade unionists Saturday 16 March, 11am-4pm, Camden Centre, Bidborough Street, London WC1 (near King's Cross tube/station)
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