THE WORLD will be a safer place,’ foreign secretary Jack Straw told parliament two days before the war on Iraq. ‘Iraq’, Tony Blair said in the same debate, ‘will be the test of whether we take the threat of terrorism seriously.’ A year later at least 15,000 Iraqis have lost their lives in this ‘test’, each one dying as horribly as the 200 people blown to pieces in Madrid last week.
Terrorising Iraq has done nothing to stop terror-on a rather smaller scale-threatening elsewhere. It has increased the chances of it happening. As Dr Glen Rangwala, who exposed Blair’s second ‘dodgy’ dossier on Iraq, told Socialist Worker:
‘The US and Britain have shown they will operate outside the rule of law and any sense of morality. This means they make enemies. Violence is now seen as acceptable by some people because of the scale of the animosity. A Washington-based research unit, headed by Madeleine Albright, found that around the world attitudes to the US were changed by the war in Iraq. Clear majorities in countries like Jordan, Pakistan and Indonesia had more sympathy for Osama Bin Laden than for George Bush. The US, through its long term policies, but primarily through the war and occupation of Iraq, effectively sponsors terrorist groups and ensures they have support in communities.’
The anti-war movement warned this is precisely what invading Iraq would bring. So did the government’s spies at MI5. And in the same parliamentary debate where Straw and Blair said they were going to reduce the danger for those of us lucky enough to be in Europe and not Iraq, several speakers pointed out what would happen.
‘The war will exacerbate the terrorist threat for years,’ said Labour MP John McDonnell. He is now one of the MPs Blair wants to get rid of. The bombs to be dropped on Iraq will be a recruiting sergeant for terrorism,’ warned Labour’s Tam Dalyell.
Former health secretary Frank Dobson made exactly the same point in the previous debate over the war. And even arch Tory Kenneth Clarke, best known for savaging the health service a dozen years ago, could give this grim warning: ‘The next time a bomb explodes in a Western city, the government must consider to what extent it contributed to it.’
In hitching this country to Bush’s war Blair has made people here a target for the kind of attack that shattered Madrid. And he knows it. One down, two to go: Blair, Bush and Aznar in the Azores to plan war last year. Voters have kicked Aznar out. Bush is trailing in the polls for the presidential election. We have a chance to punish Blair by building the Respect vote in the European and London elections on 10 June.
THE pro-Bush press say the threat of terrorism pre-dated the invasion of Iraq. True. But that’s only because the US has been pushing policies that breed a terrorist response for many years-arming the Israeli military, strangling Iraqi civilians with sanctions and threatening any state it does not like.
Spain’s ousted leader, Jose Maria Aznar, threw his lot in with Bush’s neo-conservatives even though 90 percent of the Spanish population opposed the war. Last weekend they again saw through Aznar as he tried to manipulate the Madrid bombings to steal the election.
A huge turnout at the polls. People on the streets for peace. And the response from the US and British governments? It was to switch from gestures of sympathy for the Madrid dead to condemnation of Spanish voters for kicking out Bush and Blair’s partner in crime. It’s only democracy, it seems, when their man wins.
Blair is wrong, so he turns his back on another swathe of the world’s population who fall victim to the phoney ‘war on terror’ and who reject it. The majority of Spain’s voters are right. We should follow their lead in taking to the streets, punishing the warmongers at the polls and ending the policies that bring terror.
JOIN THE GLOBAL DAY OF PROTEST SATURDAY 20 MARCH, 12 NOON, HYDE PARK, LONDON
Bosses unleash misery on ordinary people