This weekend's International Peace Conference in London must be a springboard for extending the anti-war movement into the New Year.
So great is the disaster of the occupation of Iraq that it is impinging even on the inner sanctums of George Bush’s Republican party.
Ten more US soldiers killed on the outskirts of the supposedly pacified city of Fallujah last week. Ten more grieving families. Ten more funerals for the neo-cons to refuse to attend.
In Iraq itself there is mounting evidence that the puppet regime is unleashing US-trained death squads. What a fitting testament to the ambassadorial tenure of John Negroponte, the butcher of Honduras and Nicaragua.
As I write these words our great friend, leading anti-war activist Anas Altikriti, has returned to the land of his birth in a heroic attempt to secure the release of Norman Kember, a man of peace who with his friends has been caught up in the maelstrom that is occupied Iraq.
The entire anti-war movement wishes Anas’s mission well.
Where the invaders promised tranquillity they have brought a firestorm. In occupying another country and imposing a government to suit their own interests, they cannot be allowed to evade responsibility for the disaster they have unleashed on Iraq.
We know the numbers of British and US dead — though the images of the many thousands more severely wounded are kept from our screens.
The Iraqi dead, however, remain uncounted. It’s left to independent researchers to tell us that at least 100,000 have died because of the invasion.
Can anyone possibly evince a scintilla of amazement that the Iraqi people are resisting? Even Bush’s latest inane declaration of imminent victory acknowledges that the resistance in Iraq is composed of Iraqis who reject the occupation of their country.
That resistance is growing, despite claims of breakthroughs for the occupation. Growing too is the discontent behind the lines — in Britain and in the US.
Every week brings bad news for Bush and Tony Blair, and new revelations — the use of the chemical white phosphorous, the theft of Iraq’s oil through binding 30 year contracts, torture so widespread that even Washington’s once close friend, Iyad Allawi, likens it to the former regime.
Yet while Saddam Hussein is in the dock the US and British governments are busy defending an international torture ring, where phantom flights spirit people away to secret centres run by the CIA or their partners in crime.
This cannot be allowed to stand. And increasing numbers of people know it must come to an end now. That is the backdrop as we meet this Saturday.
There is much to do — forging links with the people of Iraq who are resisting and grinding the neo-con juggernaut into the sand; giving every assistance to Cindy Sheehan, Rose Gentle and the other military families who are the true representatives of young men and women economically conscripted into the army; grounding those torture flights; extending our agitation and preparing to take to the streets in huge numbers on 17 March.
We need to discuss how to make the pressure on the war governments unbearable.
This occupation will end. The question is whether it will drag on, at the risk of widening war, piling up corpses in the process. And the answer to that question lies above all in the hands of Iraq’s people and the international movement we have built.
The conference is on Saturday from 10am at the Royal Horticultural Hall, 80 Vincent Square, London SW1.