US AND British forces had bombed Afghanistan for a week and a half as Socialist Worker went to press. Their 'war on terrorism' means killing innocent Afghans in revenge for the attacks on the World Trade Centre-attacks which didn't involve a single Afghan. Yet, despite the carnage Bush and Blair are raining down on Afghanistan, the US and Britain are worried the war is not going their way.
After nine days of bombing, the 'international coalition against terrorism' was already cracking. The Israeli government continues to assassinate Palestinians. This threatens the truce that Bush and Blair have pushed through in an effort to show they care about the plight of the Palestinians. Fighting also erupted between India and Pakistan, key US allies in the war, in contested Kashmir.
Pakistan's dictator, worried about growing opposition at home, warned the US that the bombing campaign in Afghanistan must be brief. Even the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia, where 20,000 US troops are stationed, has been forced to be critical of the US because of the wide opposition to the war among its people. 'This is killing innocent people,' said Prince Naif, the Saudi foreign minister, on Monday of this week. 'The situation does not please us at all.' Amid all the horror of the war there are signs of hope.
Hundreds of thousands of people across the world protested last weekend against the war, including 50,000 in London (see special four-page pullout). This movement, as it grows, can have even greater effect. The opposition to the war can crack Bush and Blair's coalition apart and stop the slaughter. The bigger the revolt and protest in the Middle East and in Asia, the more difficult it will be for Bush and Blair to continue the war and impose their imperialist solution on Afghanistan.
In Britain we have a special duty to play our part in the fight to stop a war in which Tony Blair and his government are in the front line. Last weekend's demonstration was an excellent start to creating the kind of movement needed. It is a start that everyone opposed to this war now needs to throw themselves into building on.
We need meetings to build opposition to the war in every workplace, school and college. We need activities in every area to spread the anti-war arguments as widely as possible. We also need to push supporters of the war to debate openly and so show up the weakness of their arguments.
And everyone, wherever they live or work, needs to start to organise now for the national demonstration in London on Sunday 18 November called by the Stop the War Coalition. We need to fight to ensure that the demonstration is the biggest show of resistance possible to this bloody war.
Battle needed on home front
'NOT FOR a single instant' since 11 September, says Tony Blair, has he forgotten his domestic agenda. 'Contrary to what people think, although we haven't been issuing press releases every day about it,' Blair told the Observer, he is moving ahead 'to deliver the reform programme' for public services.
The Railtrack collapse should have signalled the death of the very notion of privatisation and the market in our public services. Instead Blair's 'reform' is about more of these insane policies. 'Nothing should stand in the way of the use of the private sector' in public services, said Blair on Tuesday.
That means more PFI privatisation schemes for hospitals and schools. It means pushing ahead with the disastrous PPP privatisation plan for London Underground. And it means public sector workers handed over to wage-cutting, conditions-busting private contractors.
Blair's assault on public services at home comes as Britain's bosses are unleashing a job-cutting frenzy (see pages 8 and 9). On all these fronts our union leaders are saying little and doing nothing. Their shameful silence and inaction must be challenged. For all our sakes, 'not for a single instant' can we afford to drop the fight at home.