Not least of Gordon Brown’s worries at this week’s Labour conference is the “war on terror”. His government, like that of Tony Blair, is mired up to its neck on a number of fronts.
Every one of them is marked by failure. And the “war on terror” is spreading and deepening.
The populations of Iraq and Afghanistan remain bitterly opposed to the occupations of their countries.
There is still a threat to Iran, and the Palestinians are worse off than they were seven years ago.
War in Somalia has created one of the worst refugee problems in the world.
Most recently, the war between Russia and Georgia has increased inter-imperialist rivalry and threatened new wars between major powers.
Nearly seven years since the war in Afghanistan began, a European diplomat has claimed that things are worse in the country than at any time since 2001.
Despite Tony Blair’s claim then that “we will not walk away”, the situation facing ordinary Afghans is war, a huge refugee problem and increasing misery, while a small layer get richer.
The Taliban is now resurgent in much of the country, its support fuelled by the increasing number of airstrikes carried out by Nato forces, which have resulted in large numbers of civilian deaths.
The US is determined to continue with the “war on terror”, which has not only spread to the Caucasus but even threatens to embroil Latin America, an area the US considers its backyard.
David Miliband, New Labour’s foreign secretary, has become the most enthusiastic follower of the Bush gang as it uses its last few months in office to wreak havoc around the world.
Brown paid lip service to troop withdrawals when he became prime minister last year. But he has followed identical policies to Blair.
The Stop the War Coalition, CND and the British Muslim Initiative have called a protest outside Labour’s conference this Saturday to demand troops out and an end to government warmongering.
This comes at a crucial time. Brown’s leadership is under threat and the US elections mean a new president in the new year. Anti-war voices need to be heard loud and clear this weekend.
But, important though the demonstration is, it is not enough.
The Stop the War Coalition needs to mobilise locally, to protest, hold meetings, campaign against army recruitment and do all the other things that keep the war in the public eye.
Activists in every town and city have to build vibrant local groups, which are broad-based and include trade unions, peace groups, religious groups, school and college students, and the MPs and councillors that oppose the war.
The number of wars is likely to increase over the next few years. The situation in Afghanistan is worsening, and tensions in Iraq continue, now appearing in the once “more peaceful” Kurdish area.
The Caucasus is still at boiling point, with Nato expansion being pushed for Georgia and Ukraine, and the likelihood of further flashpoints there.
Poland is the latest country to sign up to the US’s “defensive” missile system.
Whoever wins the US election, these wars will continue unless we campaign all out to stop them. Imperial overstretch and gathering recession can make the US even more unpredictable, not less.
Our job is to force the US’s closest and most abject ally to change course.
That’s why our message has to be heard in Manchester this Saturday, and in every high street, college, workplace and school in the months to come.
Lindsey German is the convenor of the Stop the War Coalition. She writes in a personal capacity