It almost defies belief that George Bush and Tony Blair could be contemplating a new war while the fires they have already started in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to rage.
But the journals, websites and pundits of the neo-conservative right in the US are discussing exactly that – a military strike on Iran.
They are piling up the same fanciful propaganda that we heard on the eve of the invasion of Iraq – non-existent weapons of mass destruction, the interests of the so called international community, the alleged threat from another Middle Eastern country.
And from most media commentators comes a staggering lightmindedness. We are told an attack will not take place. But John Bolton, the US ambassador to the United Nations, has indicated candidly to British MPs how far plans have been developed.
The British government pleads that it is pursuing diplomacy at the same time as refusing to rule out an attack – the same kind of dissembling we saw over Iraq.
The anti-war movement should break the consensus of complacency and raise the alarm now, on Saturday as we march for an end to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and against an attack on Iran.
The other attempt to trivialise the danger is the claim that action would “only” be air strikes or a military blockade to enforce sanctions.
The implicit assumption is that Iran would not hit back. But it will hit back – most directly in the south of Iraq where just 8,000 British soldiers are surrounded by ten million Shia Muslims, many of whose leaders feel a loyalty to Tehran.
Those young men and women, largely conscripted by unemployment and the lack of decent prospects, would be made to pay the “blood price” for Blair’s alliance with Bush and the neo-conservative right.
The catastrophe of Iraq – which last weekend’s papers were forced at least in part to acknowledge – forewarns us of what a nightmare that would be.
In the corridors of Westminster there are many MPs who mutter with incredulity about what a disaster Iraq has become under three years of US and British occupation.
The argument for staying has long since drifted from the one that was given for invading. Now we are told British troops have to stay there in order to prevent a civil war – the same civil war that the occupation is fomenting by its presence and policy of divide and rule.
Soon, perhaps, we’ll be told British and US troops have to stay to guard the graves of Iraqis killed by the occupation.
Still the Labour cabinet is standing shoulder to shoulder with Bush. Foreign secretary Jack Straw has invited US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to a jamboree in his Blackburn constituency.
I spoke in the town on Friday of last week to a meeting of 200 called at short notice by the Stop the War Coalition to organise a protest when she arrived. The venue of that meeting had to be changed three times in one day after attempts were made to cancel the meeting.
If you want to sum up Respect’s challenge in the forthcoming council elections in England, it is to end the contempt for democracy, venality and arrogance that leads Blairite councils in traditional Labour areas to believe they can do what they like.
In the East End of London we are fighting to sweep out the New Labour regime. In many other areas we are campaigning to get councillors elected who will be able to represent trade unionists, those on the receiving end of racism, and every progressive cause.
We want to repeat the experience of Preston, where just one Respect councillor has become a symbol of resistance – not just in the town, but across much of Lancashire.
No matter where you live, you face a question in the run?up to the 4 May elections – should you reward Labour, the very government working people are struggling against, or help get Respect elected, a partywhich is part of those struggles?
I hope you will work with us to ensure that after 4 May we hear in council chambers the voice of the anti-war movement, housing campaigners, workers robbed of their pensions and everyone else who has been shut out by the three neo-liberal, pro-occupation parties.
Don’t attack Iran ? Bring the troops home demo
18 March, 12 noon,
Parliament Square, London
George Galloway’s new pamphlet Target Iran will be available on Saturday’s demo.