THE WORLD is much closer to a terrifying war after the United Nations Security Council vote last week. ‘Senior British and US officials say that both George Bush and Tony Blair privately regard war against Saddam as inevitable,’ reported the Observer on Sunday.
Strip away the diplomatic language and last week’s UN vote was a death sentence for thousands of men, women and children in Iraq. The UN resolution gives an excuse to the US to start war whenever it wants. It is full of ‘tripwires’ which Saddam Hussein can be deemed at any moment to have failed on, and therefore open Iraq to a firestorm.
It allows the US to decide if Iraq has opposed the resolution. It lets the Security Council discuss breaches of the resolution, but even while those discussions are proceeding the US can still attack Iraq. ‘Surrender your country or get bombed’ is the real message to Iraqi leaders from Bush and Blair. Bombing is already under way under the cover of enforcing the ‘no-fly’ zones over Iraq.
The number of US and British air strikes on Iraq has increased tenfold in the last six months, the Times reported on Tuesday. If the weapons inspectors do go to Iraq they will be manipulated. Former UN arms inspector Scott Ritter revealed how the CIA used the last teams of inspectors in that way.
Amid the horror at the war drive there is one hope – the growing anti-war movement. The million-strong demonstration in Florence is the latest sign of the vast opposition to what Bush and Blair are doing. On 15 February there will be an anti-war day across Europe (see statement below). It is now up to all of us to hurl ourselves into trying to stop this war. Last week was a conspiracy to mass murder. We have to try and stop it.
THE US and Britain used bullying and bribery to bend the United Nations to their will. This supposed instrument of world government and peace is a ‘thieves’ and beggars’ kitchen’. The countries on the UN Security Council were all aware of the fate of Yemen, which opposed the US in 1990 before the first Gulf War.
The US slashed a crucial aid package worth $70 million, and Saudi Arabia expelled thousands of Yemeni workers. So last week Syria, which had been thought certain to vote against the resolution, backed the war motion. It had been offered the possibility of a deal for the return of the Golan Heights, seized from Syria by Israel in 1967.
And Syria was told that if it did not back the US then it would be declared a ‘terror state’ and might be next in line for the firestorm. Mauritius, a tiny island off the coast of Africa with a population of 1.5 million, also came under incredible pressure. It gets aid under the US African Growth and Opportunity Act. This stipulates that the money stops if ‘the recipient engages in activities contrary to US foreign policy interests’.
It is ‘back Bush or starve’. With more powerful countries like Russia and France the talks was less of threat and more of a cynical carve-up of oil and export contracts. Last week was compelling evidence that the UN works to give camouflage to the desire of the world’s most murderous state to dominate the world.
HUNDREDS OF people defied atrocious weather to march against poverty pay through east London on Tuesday. The protest, called by the East London Communities Organisation church-linked grouping, was also supported by local trade unions. Young people from colleges and schools marched alongside low paid workers to back the demand for a living wage of £6.30 an hour.
AN ‘ASSEMBLY of social movements’ met at the end of the European Social Forum in Florence last weekend. It agreed the following statement:
‘To all citizens of Europe! Together we can stop this war! We are fighting for social rights and social justice, for democracy and against all forms of oppression.
We stand for a world of diversity, freedom and mutual respect. We believe this war, whether it has UN backing or not, will be a catastrophe for the people of Iraq – already suffering because of the embargo and Saddam Hussein’s regime – and for people across the Middle East. It should be opposed by everyone who believes in democratic, political solutions to international conflicts because it will be a war with the potential to lead to global disaster.
There is a massive opposition to war in every country of Europe. Hundreds of thousands have already mobilised for peace. We call on the movements and citizens of Europe: (1) To start organising now against war. (2) If war starts, to protest immediately and to organise demonstrations in every country the next Saturday after the war starts. (3) To start organising now for anti-war demonstrations in every capital in Europe on 15 February.’
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