GEORGE BUSH is determined to launch a murderous war on Iraq and Tony Blair is backing him all the way. The bribery and arm twisting at the United Nations is about whether they will go it alone, or get the figleaf of UN backing for their war.
This war is wrong, whether or not it has UN backing. Bush claims, 'Iraq is a threat, a great danger to our nation.' Iraq is no threat to the US or Britain. It has no nuclear weapons, a fact the weapons inspectors underlined last week. The claim by the US and Britain that Iraq has been trying to import uranium for possible nuclear use was also exposed as a lie by the weapons inspectors' report.
Iraq has no missiles capable of seriously threatening its near neighbours, let alone the US or Britain. Even the al-Samoud missiles Iraq has been destroying recently could barely reach half the distance from the capital Baghdad to Basra in the south of the country.
The weapons inspectors have so far failed to find any evidence that Iraq possesses serious chemical or biological weapons. Iraq's army is less than half the size, and much more poorly armed, than at the time of the 1991 Gulf War. It has virtually no airforce or navy.
The country is almost bankrupt and its people are suffering dreadfully because of more than a decade of economic sanctions. The US intelligence agency the CIA admits, 'The probability of Saddam Hussein initiating an attack in the foreseeable future would be low.' Bush's hawkish national security advisor Condoleezza Rice pointed out before she joined the government that 'if Iraq does acquire weapons of mass destruction, their weapons will be unusable because any attempt to use them will bring national obliteration'.
The weapons Iraq has can only be used over a limited range. They could only be used on invading troops. If Iraq is not a threat, what is the reason for Bush and Blair's war? US power and oil
Those running George Bush's White House have long planned a massive show of US military power to further their global strategic aims. Bush's now vice-president Dick Cheney wrote back in 1992, 'Our strategy must now focus on precluding the emergence of any potential future competitor.' Bush's now undersecretary of defence Paul Wolfowitz wrote the official US Planning Guidance document in the early 1990s.
He argued the US must use military power to 'discourage' any other nation 'from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role'. The US National Security Strategy, published in September 2002, argues the US must use its 'unparalleled military strength' to fight for a 'single sustainable model' of 'free enterprise' across the world.
That is echoed by a US space command report which calls for building up 'war fighting capability across the full spectrum'. Bush's defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld said with characteristic bluntness, 'The US must be able to impose terms including the occupation of an adversary's territory and change of regime.'
Saddam Hussein used to be a US client. He stepped out of line so now the US wants to crush his regime as a lesson to anyone who may think of crossing the US. More is at stake in Iraq and the Middle East though - oil.
Oil is the world's most important commodity and central to the functioning and profits of industrial capitalism. Iraq has 10 percent of global oil reserves. Neighbouring Saudi Arabia has a quarter of the world's oil reserves. Kuwait and Iran also neighbour Iraq and each has around 9 percent of global reserves.
The US state department labelled Middle East oil as 'the greatest material prize in world history'. A report called Project for the New American Century was written in September 2000 by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Bush's brother Jeb.
It argued, 'The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in the Gulf. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a sustained American presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.'
The US and Britain claim that by removing Saddam Hussein they will end a dictatorship and liberate the people of Iraq. That is another lie. They propped up Saddam Hussein's regime for years. Across the world the US and Britain have financed, armed and supported dictatorships every bit as bad as Saddam Hussein's.
'Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies but as liberators.' That was the proclamation issued to the people of Baghdad by General Stanley Maude, commander of British forces when they invaded and occupied in 1917.
The only difference now is that the man issuing the hollow proclamation of liberation will be the US commander General Tommy Franks. The US has two alternative plans for Iraq.
One is to impose a US military dictatorship under the command of General Franks. The other is to find some Iraqi general who will remove Saddam Hussein and rule as brutally but in line with US interests. Neither will lead to liberation. This war is wrong and will be barbaric whether it is fought under the Stars and Stripes and Union Jack, or under the cover of the blue flag of the United Nations.'
'I had to go into the US Navy and salute the flag. Three years later I was burning the American flag. They lied about Vietnam. They said we were going to help the people of Vietnam and they murdered them.
The gangster in Washington has made a decision to go to war and the junior gangster Tony Blair is going along with it. They think we are stupid but millions see through them. If they have their war the future holds war after war after war. But throughout the world a new movement is growing. People are rising up.
They murdered Martin Luther King because he had a dream of a world without war where black and white people lived in peace. But that dream is coming alive in this movement.
Go back to where you live. If they go to war organise strikes, take over your universities. This is our world. We're going to take it back.'
Ron Senchak served in the US forces during the Vietnam War. He spoke at the anti-war demo in Manchester last Saturday