Tony Blair is pushing for a new war on Iraq. His government does not care about what the public or other countries think. Defence secretary Geoff Hoon said about Iraq earlier this week, ‘We would be perfectly entitled to use force’ without a United Nations mandate. But there is deep resistance to these plans even among Labour MPs.
A Sunday Times poll last weekend found that 59 percent of people in Britain were against supporting a US-led attack on Iraq. Only 31 percent support a new war. Over 130 Labour MPs have signed a motion against military action in Iraq. The former Labour minister Chris Smith is usually loyal to Blair. But last week he spoke of the danger of attacking Iraq ‘on the coat-tails of an American unilateral decision’. Another former minister, Glenda Jackson, argued that attacking Saddam Hussein without evidence that he has weapons of mass destruction would be immoral. Any attack on Iraq carries with it huge dangers of destabilising the whole Middle East and ruining more lives across the conflict-torn region.
Vice-president Dick Cheney was humiliated on his recent tour of the Middle East, as leader after leader told him they opposed military action against Iraq. There is also growing unease at the turn of events in Afghanistan itself. The Sunday Telegraph said that US blunders and casualties in Afghanistan ‘have led to an increasing use of the ‘V’ word-Vietnam’.
Blair was jubilant at the apparent collapse of the Taliban last November. Now the biggest deployment of British troops since the 1991 Gulf War, some 1,700 soldiers, has been sent to Afghanistan.
The government is resorting to lies to justify the deployment of these troops. On Friday of last week Downing Street announced that US forces had discovered a biological weapons factory in an Afghan cave. They claimed that this was the reason for British troops being sent to Afghanistan. Even the US government refuted this.
A Pentagon official said, ‘I don’t know what they’re saying in London, but we have received no specific intelligence on that kind of development.’ The US has given Blair the job of laying out ‘evidence’ to justify a war on Iraq. Blair’s government is not limiting itself to Afghanistan and Iraq. Last week it sent two spyplanes to fly missions over Somalia. The strategy of military support for the US’s ‘war on terrorism’, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq or Somalia, is provoking widespread opposition. The mood that is developing among Labour MPs is magnified many times in workplaces and communities.
The Stop the War Coalition is calling on people to organise that anti-war feeling into a movement that can make Blair think twice before he takes us into another war. The Stop the War Coalition is encouraging everyone to go on the CND ‘Don’t Start Wars’ demonstration this Saturday.
The coalition has produced a national petition, ‘Don’t Attack Iraq’, which should be circulated round workplaces and colleges. The petition, along with the coalition’s union motion, can be the springboard for large numbers of people to pledge themselves to take some action if there are military strikes against Iraq.
Get the petition from the Stop the War Coalition. Phone 07951 235 915 or go to www.stopwar.org.uk
THE US military giant has so far failed to win a conclusive victory over the impoverished country of Afghanistan. The US’s recent Operation Anaconda was aimed at rounding up Al Qaida fighters. It ended in humiliation for the US.
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed that 500 Taliban fighters were killed. But so few bodies were actually recovered that some believe less than 100 Taliban fighters were killed. Many others escaped. The US troops suffered some 80 casualties, including eight dead. A British army officer said that the US operation ‘was a classic case of underestimating your enemy’.
Defence chiefs have told Blair to expect as many as 80 British casualties. The British troops have already been forced to seek alternative routes into Afghanistan after Pakistan refused them permission to use its airports. Their equipment was delayed in Pakistan. Afghan people are still suffering. The UN estimates that some 14,000 unexploded bomblets from cluster bombs dropped during the US raids are littered across the country.
BUSH AND Blair claim that an attack on Iraq would free the long-suffering Iraqi people from the oppression of Saddam Hussain. Kurdish camps in northern Iraq were bombed last week, killing 25 Kurds. The raid was carried out not by Iraq, but by US ally and NATO member Turkey.
Join the march this Saturday
DON’T START WARS
Saturday 30 March
Assemble 12 noon, Hyde Park, London Called by CND and supported by the Stop the War Coalition
Lecturers, other workers and students have sent their backing
A fight for pay restoration
Eight week strike over Covid payment
Keep up pressure on the streets