Socialist Worker

War looming but opposition grows

Issue No. 1812

ANOTHER OPINION poll in Britain last week showed the shock and anger many people feel at George Bush's rush to start a war on Iraq. Some 91 percent of Daily Mirror readers said in a phone poll that they were against the war. The paper has run several articles critical of an attack on Iraq and the war on Afghanistan. 'Mr Blair will next month face one of the biggest anti-war protests in Britain for years,' said the Mirror last week. Protesters will mass in London on 28 September. A string of Stop the War Coalition events will be held over the next few weeks.'

This follows a You.Gov poll that also showed how opposition to war on Iraq has increased over the last six months. Some 57 percent in the poll agreed that 'Blair behaves like Bush's poodle'. Bush has ratcheted up his war plans against Iraq several gears. The press stories debate whether 50,000 or 250,000 US troops will go in and how soon, not if, a war will take place. Bush is ignoring questions raised about the war that have come from unexpected sources-his own generals and strategists, rulers who are longstanding allies and the right wing media.

He is gathering round him a small band of the bloodthirsty to press for war. That includes his Secretary of State, Colin Powell, who has been presented as a restraining influence on Bush. Powell was wheeled out last week to dismiss Iraq's offer to talk to the United Nations' chief weapons inspector.

The warmongers claim that razing Iraq to the ground is acceptable because Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is supposedly building up weapons of mass destruction. There is no evidence for this, says Scott Ritter, former chief inspector of UNSCOM, the UN weapons inspection unit.

But Bush doesn't want any weapons inspection to go ahead, as it may delay his war plans. The UN chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, gave a point blank no to an invitation to visit Baghdad for an official meeting last week. Bush's under-secretary for arms control, John Bolton, admitted the US was not interested in the weapons inspection.

He confirmed that the US wants to force 'a regime change in Baghdad and that policy will not be altered, whether inspectors go in or not.' Bush can also rely, as ever, on Tony Blair for support. The British navy's aircraft carrier Ark Royal is to set sail for the Mediterranean next month packed out with Harrier jets, Merlin helicopters and 1,300 crew on board.

A destroyer is sailing alongside the warship which is set to carry out exercises with the US military. The two ships could easily sail into the Gulf to join any US action, despite Blair's claims that he has not made any decision to support Bush's war plans. Those preparations include the fleet of US military trucks being ordered in for rapid servicing, a freight train loaded with trucks painted for desert service being moved through Chicago last week, and enquiries about making tankers available to transport fuel that would be required in any war.

The US has also dug out its fighting vehicles in Kuwait that were mothballed at the end of the Gulf War 11 years ago. Bush is isolated in his drive for war, but he is determined to push ahead. We can build on the growing opposition to make it harder for Blair to be Bush's docile ally.

Church leaders, old military figures and leading trade unionists are all making public statements against the war. Every single show of opposition on the streets or in anti-war meetings puts more pressure on Blair and his hawks.

That makes it all the more urgent to build up opposition to the war through protests, meetings, and mobilising widely for the demonstration on 28 September.

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