Socialist Worker

'Victory' that will breed discontent

Issue No. 1847

MILLIONS OF people across the world marched last weekend against the US occupation of Iraq. The chaos in Baghdad and US companies crawling over the bodies of the dead to get their hands on lucrative reconstruction contracts confirmed what this war was really about.

It began as a war for US power and control of oil. It ended as one. The conquest and occupation of Iraq is not the end of the US's plans for domination. It wants to use the victory in Iraq to put economic and political pressure on other countries. Key figures have already made threats against Syria, Iraq's neighbour. George Bush's spokesman called Syria a 'terrorist state' and a 'rogue nation'.

And hardline defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Monday, 'We have seen a chemical weapons test in Syria in the last 12-15 months.' Yet even Richard Butler, the former UN chief weapons inspector in Iraq who followed every US wish, admits that every state in the region, including Israel, possesses chemical weapons.

The US occupation will create huge bitterness amongst Iraqi people. US forces will repress anyone who stands for an independent Iraq, no matter how much they hated Saddam Hussein. US troops shot at least ten people dead in Mosul in northern Iraq, said press reports on Tuesday.

They were protesting against the city's new US-backed governor. This is the 'liberation' their war has achieved. But Bush and Blair don't just face problems in the Middle East. Bush faces bitterness in the US over the state of the US economy. An opinion poll in Newsweek on Monday reported that more people in the US - some 46 percent - disapprove of Bush's handling of the economy than approve. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs in the US as the economy tailspins into crisis.

Blair is also in a minority over key domestic political issues like foundation hospitals and higher tuition fees. New Labour is particularly worried about what will happen in the elections on 1 May.

The party has only got enough candidates to stand in two thirds of the seats up for election. New Labour also has serious problems as the networks which would have campaigned for the party's vote in the past hardly exist anymore. A survey by the firefighters' FBU union in Scotland with 7,000 members has shown that thousands have abandoned New Labour.

Four years ago 63 percent of firefighters voted Labour in elections for the Scottish Parliament. Just 1 percent said they will vote Labour in the same elections on 1 May. People across Britain are angry and disillusioned with New Labour. Many of them have joined the magnificent protests against the war over recent weeks and months.

The anti-war networks need to keep together to continue opposing the occupation of Iraq, and any future war Bush may decide to launch. Some people will have the opportunity to campaign and vote for a socialist alternative to the rotten politics of New Labour on 1 May.

The Scottish Socialist Party is standing in the Scottish Parliament elections, the Socialist Alliance is standing in over 160 seats in the local elections in England, and the Welsh Socialist Alliance is standing for the Welsh Assembly elections.

1 May is also the traditional day of workers' protest around the world. The demonstrations in most major towns and cities in Britain that day are a great opportunity for people to protest for peace and justice and against US imperialism.

Every Socialist Worker reader and anti-war activist should ensure that these protests pull in those people who oppose Blair's policies at home and abroad.

The global opposition

ON THE same weekend as 200,000 people marched against the war in Britain, there were protests across the world. 'Some 100,000 marched in Montreal, Canada. Protests were held in more than 40 cities across the country last Saturday,' reports Paul Kellogg. 'The networks are in place for mass action against war, no matter where Bush strikes next.'

Marches took place in a dozen cities across Spain. It included tens of thousands in Madrid, and 300,000 in Barcelona. There were angry calls for the resignation of prime minister Aznar. Anti-war marchers protested in the US. 'In Washington DC banners and slogans expressed opposition to the occupation of Iraq,' reports Rami Elamine.

'Cathina McFadden, a student at Western Michigan University, came with about 50 classmates. She said, 'I still stand against the war,' and her placard read, 'Don't kill me and call it liberation.' 'Between 25,000 and 30,000 marched through the city, stopping at corporate and government targets who are promoting the war and profiting from it - Fox News, CNN, Halliburton, and the Chamber of Commerce.'

In Poland there were demonstrations in several towns. In Cyprus more than 800 people gathered at the capital's central square in Nicosia to march on the US embassy. Thousands of school students in Norway went on strike against the war on Tuesday of last week.

In Oslo 3,000 school students gathered outside parliament and marched to the US embassy. Some 3,000 marched again in Oslo last Saturday. Over 3,000 people demonstrated in Gothenburg, Sweden, despite massive media propaganda. 'More than 20,000 people protested in Melbourne and 10,000 in Sydney in Australia against war and occupation. There were also smaller rallies in Perth, Canberra and Brisbane,' reports Jarvis Ryan.

The Ghana Anti-War Movement organised a rally of about 2,000 in Accra on Friday of last week, despite the police's refusal to allow the march.

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What We Think
Sat 19 Apr 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1847
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