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No Support For Bush's War
AS BRITAIN'S Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon sends 1,700 British commandos to fight al-Qa'ida and Taliban in Afghanistan, opinion polls suggest there will be big opposition if Blair backs US escalation of military action to attack Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
By Roger Shrives
An ICM survey in The Guardian shows 51% disapprove of Britain joining US President Bush's posse to re-fight the 1991 Gulf War.
Bush's war with Afghanistan has not brought any of the burning issues of the Middle Eastern area nearer to solution. Quite the opposite. US special envoy Anthony Zinni has spent the last week in desperate 'shuttle diplomacy' to try to set up peace talks between the Israeli state and the Palestinians.
It has achieved little and the death toll rises daily. In the first half of this month over 160 Palestinians and 30 Israelis have been killed.
In Ramallah in the West bank, Israeli troops besieged the local hospital, its 100 staff and 80 patients, cutting off water, electricity and phone links as bulldozers ripped out trenches in the road. Israeli state forces justified this as revenge after Palestinian terrorists killed 13 Israelis.
Zinni's peace shuttle can't convince even the most reactionary leaders of the Arab states that America is acting from disinterested motives on Iraq.
US vice-president Dick Cheney, on his 11-nation tour of the Middle East, met Crown Princes Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Salman of Bahrain, who both said an invasion of Iraq was not in their interests. Salman said that the people dying in the streets today aren't dying from Iraqi action but from Israeli attacks.
The US still claims that Iraq is acquiring weapons of mass destruction - Arab rulers want to warn Saddam to comply with UN resolutions and to accept the return of UN weapons inspectors. But they are worried about the effect of military action.
Many Arab workers and peasants ask why the US expects Iraq to comply with UN resolutions while for decades US representatives at the UN have vetoed all calls for Israel to end its occupation of Arab territory.
Military leaders in Britain have warned Blair that Saudi Arabia wouldn't let its bases be used without a Middle East peace deal and that finding a replacement for Saddam acceptable to both the West and the Middle East would be very difficult.
There are even rumbles in the Labour Party - where over 100 backbenchers oppose military action and even cabinet minister Clare Short hints at quitting her cabinet post if Blair supported "blind military action in Iraq".
Blair's backing of Bush's plans have made him increasingly isolated within Europe and a head of steam is building up in the trade unions against Blair's policies. A minority of New Labour MPs may now speak out against Bush's plans which centre around maintaining US interests in the world.
Bush may well ignore the warnings and use economic threats to try get compliance from many Middle Eastern rulers. But they fear that the mood amongst the Arab masses, already explosive after Afghanistan, could erupt and threaten their rule.
Even the reactionary King Abdullah of Jordan warns of a "regional catastrophe". The workers and poor in the region have to fight to build their own independent organisations to overthrow their reactionary leaders as part of the international struggle for socialism.
In The Socialist 22 March 2002: