THE UNITED Nations (UN) Security Council was due to meet on Friday to hear the latest report from the weapons inspectors. War would be wrong whether or not George Bush and Tony Blair get support for military action from the UN. No veneer of diplomatic cover can justify the murder of thousands of innocent Iraqi men, women and children.
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council are the US, Britain, Russia, China and France. For any of these five countries to lecture about 'weapons of mass destruction' is breathtaking.
The US has over 10,000 nuclear warheads and more nuclear weapons than the rest of the world combined. It is also still the only state ever to have used these weapons in war. The US also knows all about chemical and biological weapons. It has built and tested anthrax bombs, and used chemical weapons in the 1970s in Vietnam.
Britain too has a nuclear arsenal, and New Labour defence secretary Geoff Hoon has repeatedly said these weapons could be used against non-nuclear states, including Iraq. Britain also has chemical and biological weapons facilities at bases like Porton Down.
Russia, China and France are also nuclear powers, with Russia's nuclear arsenal second only to that of the US. Most of the other members of the UN Security Council are either themselves brutal regimes or open to bullying and bribing by the major powers.
THE LIBERAL Democrats seem to be the only one of the three main parties to oppose war. Liberal leader Charles Kennedy said he would join Saturday's march. But his opposition to war is less clear than it seems.
He specifically pointed out to reporters that he is 'not anti-war come what may', and that he would back war if it had United Nations support. On this he is out of tune with the majority of Liberal Democrat voters, who wholly oppose war.
The issue at stake in the anti-war movement is not some diplomatic debate about what combination of states back mass murder. It is about whether war on Iraq is right or wrong. And the vast majority of people on Saturday's march know the answer to that.
Will splits halt Bush?
THE RULERS of Russia, China and France have clashed with the US. But they have focused on postponing the war, not ruling it out altogether. None of these states have clean hands. Russian ruler Vladimir Putin has been waging a savage war against the simple demand of people in Chechnya to live free from Russian rule.
China's rulers sent in tanks to crush students and workers demanding elementary democratic rights in Tiananmen Square in 1989. France's rulers have a long and bloody record too, much of it in the areas of Africa that used to be part of the French Empire. At the start of this week France, Germany and Russia were floating the idea of an alternative to the US plan for immediate war.
The main concern of the rulers of France, Russia and Germany is a sordid game about power and oil. The rulers of these states fear being left out of the carve-up of the Middle East and elsewhere if the US is simply able to impose its will anywhere in the world.
They want the US to accept that it must take their interests into account, over Iraq and also more generally. The people of Iraq, and not any combination of world powers, should determine the fate of their country.
Turkey armed to teeth
'POOR LITTLE Turkey.' That was the image presented by pro-war commentators following the row in NATO on Monday. They pretended that NATO member Turkey would be left defenceless unless it was supplied with missiles and surveillance planes by the rest of the military alliance.
But even the US military admits that Turkey has 'one of the larger standing armies of the world and second only to that of the United States within the NATO alliance'.
The US plan to send missiles there is an aggressive, not a defensive move. Turkey and the US have agreed that Turkish troops will seize part of oil-rich northern Iraq in any war. The missiles are aimed at preventing any resistance to that occupation on the part of Iraq.
The US plan also ignores the wishes of the vast majority of Turkish people-who want nothing to do with a war. What happened to democracy?
They are marching with us
WHEN WE march on Saturday so will millions of people in over 300 cities across the world. They include:
Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Aotearoa/New Zealand; Athens, Greece; Bangkok, Thailand; Barcelona, Spain; Beirut, Lebanon; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Berlin, Germany; Berne, Switzerland; Brussels, Belgium; Budapest, Hungary; Cairo, Egypt; Copenhagen, Denmark; Dublin, Ireland; Glasgow, Scotland; Harare, Zimbabwe; Havana, Cuba; Helsinki, Finland; Hong Kong, China; Hyderabad, India; Istanbul, Turkey; Jakarta, Indonesia; Johannesburg, South Africa; Karachi, Pakistan; Kiev, Ukraine; Kigali, Rwanda; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Lisbon, Portugal; Ljubljana, Slovenia; London, England; Lusaka, Zambia; Luxembourg; McMurdo Station, Antarctica; Mexico City, Mexico; Montevideo, Uruguay; Moscow, Russia; New York, US; Oslo, Norway; Paris, France; Prague, Czech Republic; Quito, Ecuador; Ramallah, Palestine; Reunion Island; Reykjavik, Iceland; Rome, Italy; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; Skopje, Macedonia; Sofia, Bulgaria; Stockholm, Sweden; Sydney, Australia; Tokyo, Japan; Valletta, Malta; Vancouver, Canada; Vienna, Austria; Warsaw, Poland.
Yiannis Sifakakis says, 'Many tens of thousands of people will be marching in Athens. People will be coming from at least 20 cities across Greece, in sailboats, trains and buses. 'Day by day trade unions have put out their own calls for people to march. The two big unions, the Greek TUC for private sector workers and the union for public sector workers, are backing the march.'
Bassem Chit from the anti-war committee says, 'Our conference two weeks ago called for a national demonstration in Beirut this Saturday. Our rulers are working hand in hand with the US and Britain in preparing a new massacre in Iraq. They are going to learn that they can be changed, in fact they must be changed. We must fight to stop this war, but we must also bring down these dictatorships.'
Richard Boyd Barrett, chairperson of the Irish Anti-War Movement, says, 'The march in Dublin is set to be the biggest political protest in Ireland for 25 years.
The biggest national union, Siptu, has officially affiliated to the movement and the ICTU, our TUC, has backed the call to march on Saturday.' Denmark Soren Peter Pynboe says, 'We are having a mass demonstration in our capital, Copenhagen, on Saturday, starting right in front of the US embassy.'
Vegard Velle says, 'There has been a fantastic mobilisation for the march on Saturday in Oslo. Three quarters of the population are against the war. 'Our Peace Initiative, No War on Iraq coalition has 140 groups including 13 national trade unions.'
Alan Goatley says, 'There are two main marches on Saturday in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Mandela came out hard against Bush and Blair. There is a definite feeling against Bush and Blair in the streets. We have a sense of marching with others across the world. We will join you with our noisy protest in the streets.'
Paul Kellogg says, 'This Saturday will be this country's largest ever anti-war mobilisation. 'Canada has been bomber number three or four in the US and Britain's last three wars. This time we have an anti-war movement that is, for the first time, causing doubts and splits inside the ruling Liberal Party.'
Jarvis Ryan says, 'Australia is set to have its biggest anti-war protests since Vietnam. Australian prime minister John Howard has sent warships, jets and 2,000 troops to the Gulf. Polls show as little as 6 percent support for war. The biggest protests will take place in Sydney and Melbourne.'
The United for Peace coalition reports, 'We want to make New York City's protest the biggest, most passionate anti-war gathering of them all. We were shocked and outraged to hear this week that the federal judge ruled the city of New York could deny us a permit to march. But our rally and demonstration will go ahead no matter what.'
Andy Durgan says, 'Our protest on Saturday is part of a wide movement. A 15-minute stoppage on public transport in Barcelona was planned for the night before the big march. A worker persuaded the joint shop stewards committee on the buses to support the protest. They then contacted metro workers where it was also accepted. At the Goyas film awards [the Spanish equivalent of the Oscars] actors and directors proudly displayed their anti-war stickers. Actors also wore their anti-war T-shirts at the parliamentary session on war on Wednesday of last week before they were thrown out of the visitors' gallery.'
The MST landless labourers' movement says, 'Organise in churches, communities, schools, work, neighbourhoods. On 15 February do something to help stop war.'
Ross Harold says, 'We will march in Paris on Saturday and in Marseilles. The movement has really grown in the last month. No one can rely on president Chirac, or the leaders of Germany and Russia, to stop war. The only reason some leaders are hesitating over war is the scale of the global anti-war movement.'
Anti-war events in London on Friday
THE anti-war events in London begin on Friday. Accommodation in central London is available for all those who need it.
6pm. Poets against the war including Mike Rosen, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Tony Harrison, Benjamin Zephaniah and Adrian Mitchell, Mr Social Control, Sarah Maguire, Mahmood Jamel, Moniza Alvi and more. Bloomsbury Theatre, Gordon Street. £5.
6.15pm. The war on terror at home, with lawyer Gareth Peirce, Dr Siddiqui of the Muslim Parliament and author Ghada Karmi. Room 10/13 Friends Meeting House, Euston Road.
6.30pm. Trade union rally including Bob Crow (RMT, pictured right), Jack Hyman (US West Coast longshoreman), Mark Serwotka (PCS), Billy Hayes (CWU). Chaired by Andrew Murray (Aslef). Bloomsbury Baptist Church, Shaftesbury Avenue.
6.30pm. Globalise Resistance video link-up with Edward Said. Hong Kong Lecture Theatre, Clement Building, London School of Economics, Aldwych.
6.45pm. Stop the War Coalition special movie opening. Alex Cox introduces his new film Revengers Tragedy. Curzon cinema, Shaftesbury Avenue.
7.30pm. Stop the War Coalition rally with Tony Benn, Algerian resistance leader Ahmed Ben Bella, journalist Yvonne Ridley (right) and John Rees. Friends Meeting House, Euston Road.
8pm. Showing of the film 11.09.01 with one of the directors, Ken Loach, and Dirty Pretty Things with director Stephen Frears. Bloomsbury Theatre, Gordon Street.
Cafe Bookmarks open for books, refreshments and exhibition of anti-war artists. 5pm-10pm, 1 Bloomsbury Street.
For more information phone the Stop the War Coalition on 020 7053 2155/6 or go to www.stopwar.org.uk