Thousands of anti-war demonstrators converged on parliament on Monday of this week (see » Anti-war march to parliament beats the ban) to demand an end to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Gordon Brown was forced to respond – but all this amounted to was an announcement that he planned to cut troop levels in Iraq to 2,500 from next spring, “subject to conditions on the ground”.
The prime minister used his Commons statement on Iraq to crank up the heat against Iran and Syria, calling on both countries to halt support for “terrorists”.
He praised General David Petraeus, the hardline US general who wants to ramp up the occupation of Iraq.
Brown received precious little in the way of opposition in parliament. The rabidly pro-war Labour MP Andrew MacKinlay complained that Britain is being “too nice to Iran”.
Menzies Campbell, leader of the allegedly anti-war Liberal Democrats, said there was “no useful purpose” for British troops to remain in Iraq – but then called on them to be sent to Afghanistan instead!
Brown’s announcement came on the day a damning report was published by the respected Oxford Research Group, a foreign policy thinktank, that slammed the entire “war on terror” strategy as “wrong in every major respect”.
The report was written by Bradford university’s Professor Paul Rogers. “Every aspect of the ‘war on terror’ has been counterproductive in Iraq and Afghanistan, from the loss of civilian life through to mass detentions without trial,” he said.
“It has been a disaster. Western countries simply have to face up to the dangerous mistakes of the past six years and recognise the need for new policies.”
He added that going to war with Iran would “make matters far worse” and would add “greatly to the violence” across the Middle East.
Whether Brown will listen to these words of warning is another matter.
According to the Daily Telegraph, “senior Pentagon officials” say Brown has already been briefed on US plans to launch attacks on military bases in Iran – and provisionally accepted them.
It quotes Vincent Cannistraro, a former White House intelligence chief, who says, “The British understand there’s a possible need to strike… This understanding was reached shortly after Brown took office.”