Socialist Worker

Tony Benn — more reasons to march

Stop the War Coalition president Tony Benn spoke to Socialist Worker about the war and the impact of events in the US

Issue No. 1967

With hurricane Katrina, class and race divisions have surfaced in the US for everyone to see. Socialists have known about these for some time, but for many others it was a clear expression of what US capitalism has done to black people and the poor.

It destroys the idea that the US is any kind of model for the rest of the world to follow.

The scenes, reminiscent of disasters such as the Tsunami that hit Sri Lanka, and the fact that Cuba has offered to send over 1,000 doctors to help the US, give people a totally different perspective.

This disaster also makes the question of the war even more urgent. The money spent on war should have been spent on the dykes in New Orleans.

We are now facing a crisis in Iraq that is mostly a product of the war. There are divisions in Iraq now — over control of oil, Sharia law and sectarianism.

But if you put a simple question to the people of Iraq — “Do you want the Americans to withdraw?” — I think you would find that George Bush has pretty well united them on the issue of getting the US troops out.

When I was born Britain had an empire. You heard the argument in favour of occupation so many times — you can’t leave India, you can’t leave Rhodesia.

But in the end you can’t make peace and have justice without people having responsibility for their own affairs.

When I look back on it all now the amazing thing is that all the so called terrorists, such as Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, ended up having tea with the queen as heads of ­Commonwealth countries.

So you just have to be very careful about the propaganda. The propaganda is designed to justify the US staying in Iraq, privatising its assets, keeping the oil, keeping its military bases there and indeed to provide a launching pad for its next possible attack, perhaps on Iran.

The casualties in Iraq are mounting. Some 1,900 US troops have died, 2,500 have been maimed and Bush is gradually losing support.

I was in the US recently and I must say I was struck. I think that the anti-war movement has got a very big role to play both in the US and here.

In Britain you hear very little about the US peace movement. Every American is presented as a Bush supporter or a Democrat who is critical of Bush but supports the war. But I know how very strong the US anti-war movement really is.

If Bush launched an attack on Iran I think the situation would be absolutely catastrophic. That’s why the 24 September demonstration in London is of great importance, because it’s timed to correspond with the march on Washington.

The fact that all these come at the same time is a sort of world pulse of conscience and anger beating together.

Demonstrate

Saturday 24 September, 1pm
central London

called by Stop the War Coalition, CND, Muslim Association of Britain

Stop the War Coalition rally

Friday 23 September 7.30pm
Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, London (near Euston station)
With veteran US anti-war campaigner Tom Hayden, Tony Benn and others


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