Tony Blair and his government have backed US president George Bush’s war in Afghanistan to the hilt. But even some sections of New Labour are worried about his plans to spread his war to Iraq, Somalia or any other country the US decides is a ‘rogue state’.
A senior member of Bush’s military planning team reported in last week’s Sunday Times a comment from foreign secretary Jack Straw while he was in the US. ‘He said, I quote, ‘The problem with Iraq is 250 bodies-on the Labour Party backbenches’,’ said the Pentagon official. Some cabinet ministers are worried about the effects of a war whose targets are chosen at the whim of the US.
They are aware that hitting Iraq is likely to fuel anger across the Middle East. There have already been protests in many countries, including US allies like Saudi Arabia, against the bombing of Afghanistan. They are terrified at the upheaval any further attacks will cause across this region.
Despite these concerns Blair will undoubtedly back any moves that Bush makes. Other European governments which have not tied themselves so closely to the US have also expressed concern about targeting Iraq. French president Jacques Chirac met Blair on Thursday of last week and spoke of ‘serious consequences for the international coalition’ if the US declared war on Iraq.
Bush’s plans to target Iraq or Somalia and his whole-hearted backing for Ariel Sharon and Israel’s offensive against the Palestinians should give further motivation to the anti-war movement. There have already been two demonstrations of 50,000 and 100,000 people in London.
Many more people will be appalled at the prospect of the US blasting Iraq or Somalia. They remember the images of starving Somali people and the destruction of that country during the last ten years. The US now wants to present these people as a threat that has to be crushed by US firepower. Bush is determined to press on with his war.
He has appointed General Wayne Downing as ‘director of counter-terrorism’. His bloody record includes commanding special forces troops in Panama and the Gulf War which killed many thousands of people. He authorised US gunships to be used against Somalia in 1993.
The anti-war movement has to be just as determined to build even bigger opposition to the warmongers and their desire for killing and destruction, not just in Afghanistan but across the world.
Some 350,000 people demonstrated in Madrid, Spain, last Saturday at the right wing government’s plans to privatise education, reduce grants and restrict access to university
The first major anti-capitalist protest since the 11 September attacks in the US will take place in Brussels in Belgium on Thursday and Friday of next week. This is what Fausto Bertinotti, leader of the Italian Refounded Communists, writer George Monbiot and Eric Toussaint of the Brussels Social Forum told a meeting of 600 people in central London last week.
The governments of Europe showed last week that they still fear the power of the mass anti-capitalist demonstrations that have mushroomed since Seattle in 1999. The European Union council of ministers discussed how to try to stop protesters travelling to such demonstrations. They want to bar ‘potentially dangerous persons’ who could be out to ‘organise, cause, participate in or foment trouble with the aim of threatening public order or security’.
This comes after huge protests in Gothenburg and Genoa earlier this year terrified the world’s elite. Protesters are seizing the chance to show the wide opposition across Europe to the jobs massacre that bosses have pushed through under cover of 11 September. This is the focus of the Thursday 13 December demonstration. The TUC says there will be 80,000 workers travelling across Europe to protest outside the European leaders’ summit against sackings, privatisation and neo-liberal policies.
Then those government representatives will face a demonstration on Friday 14 December of thousands of people demanding an end to war. The march for global peace and justice is backed by 150 organisations. Brussels is a short trip across the Channel. Why not ask your workmates, fellow students or members of your anti-war group to join the demo or raise money for others who want to go?
For more information ring Globalise Resistance on 020 8980 3005 or see www.resist.org.uk
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