'A COLD and calculated manipulation of the work of human rights activists.' That was the damning verdict of Amnesty International on home secretary Jack Straw's dossier on human rights abuses in Iraq published this week. Amnesty is absolutely right to question Straw's motives. New Labour has launched a propaganda war to back a US attack on Iraq. It wants us to believe it is so concerned about human rights there that it will join the US in blasting the country and its people. George Bush has been piling troops and weapons into the Gulf region ready for the mass destruction of the country. US and British planes have kept up their regular bombing raids on Iraq, which have been continuing since 1998.
They killed four civilians last Sunday when they bombed an office building in Basra in southern Iraq. The US is preparing a 'practice run' for its war on Iraq, according to the New York Times.
It is setting up a command base in Qatar, just 700 miles from the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, to plan its war. From here it will simulate a campaign against an enemy in the region. This exercise will coincide with the deadline this week for Saddam Hussein to hand over details of any weapons of mass destruction he has.
The weapons inspections have not led to any pause in the US war preparations. Bush and the hawks in his administration are not interested in whether weapons of mass destruction are discovered or not. If Saddam admits to having any weapons, that's an excuse for war. If he says there are no such weapons they will brand him a liar and bomb him anyway.
'So far the signs are not encouraging,' said Bush this week, despite Iraqi compliance with the weapons inspectors. The US is holding open discussions about when, not if, Saddam is replaced. Chaos
Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the British ambassador to the United Nations in New York, admitted last weekend, 'A lot of thinking has been going on into a post-war Iraq.
'There is a good deal of strategic planning going on.' Afghanistan is an example of the chaos that comes with a US-installed regime. The local force it promoted as the new government, the Northern Alliance, has not brought peace.
The US even resorted to launching bombing raids on rival warlords battling for power in the western part of Afghanistan last week. The two groups eager to be handed power in Iraq are already locked in bitter arguments.
The Iraqi National Accord is led by former members of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party. Multimillionaire banker Ahmed Chalabi leads the Iraqi National Congress, the other group. The US wants to ensure a loyal government is in place in Iraq. Its war plans are not about democracy or human rights. The US is just concerned to safeguard oil supplies from Iraq, which has the second largest oil reserves in the world.
WHILE BUSH and Blair continue to prepare to attack Iraq tens and thousands of people are taking to the streets to oppose them. Around 15,000 marched in both Sydney and Melbourne in Australia last Saturday. Some 1,500 protested in Adelaide.
Thousands more marched against the war in other towns and cities. Over 10,000 people also protested in Istanbul, Turkey, last weekend.
The Stop the War Coalition national conference scheduled for this weekend in central London has been postponed until Saturday 11 January to allow delegates to attend the firefighters' demonstration. For more information phone 020 7053 2155/6.