Anti-war news

Union Leaders Call For Action

THE LEADERS of five trade unions want trade union action to oppose this war. Paul Mackney of college lecturers’ union Natfhe; Billy Hayes of Communication Workers’ Union CWU; Mark Serwotka of civil service union PCS; Bob Crow of rail workers’ union RMT and Mick Rix of train drivers’ union Aslef demand a recall TUC Congress to discuss the proposed attack.

As Paul Mackney said: “The TUC is bound under its rules to recall the Congress if there is a danger of war. We are calling on the TUC to act on this rule now.”

Rule 8 (K) says: “In order that the trade union movement may do everything which lies in its power to prevent future wars, the General Council shall, in the event of there being a danger of an outbreak of war, call a special Congress to decide on industrial action, such Congress to be called if possible, before war is declared.”

Paul Mackney suggested that a declaration of war could trigger massive protests in every industry against it within hours.

Rail workers in Motherwell have shown the way by refusing to drive trains with military equipment headed for Iraq. International Socialist Resistance (ISR) is organising school and college strikes and protests for Day X, when war is declared.

Socialists and anti-war activists in the trade unions should organise for similar decisive action in the workplace on this vital issue.

Weapons of mass destruction

“DODGY TAPES, grainy videos, great rhetoric, but where’s the proof Colin? – Not Enough”, screamed the Daily Mirror headline.

Dave Carr

Its verdict on US secretary of state Colin Powell’s dossier of ‘incontrovertible’ evidence of Iraq’s possession of ‘weapons of mass destruction’, matches the scepticism of most people.

It now emerges that part of Powell’s evidence, supposedly drawn up by British spies, is in fact part of a student’s thesis published on the internet last September and dealing with the situation in Iraq twelve years ago!

According to the Royal United Services Institute, the British government’s dossier “appears to be obsolete academic analysis dressed up as the best MI6 and our other international partners can produce on Saddam. The word ‘scandalous’ is, I think, greatly overused in our political life but it certainly applies to this.”

Few doubt that Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship has deadly weapons – which sizeable nation doesn’t? But it’s clear from the UN weapons inspectors, both up to 1998 and now, that Saddam is far weaker militarily than in 1990 when his troops invaded Kuwait. The subsequent destruction of the bulk of the Iraqi armed forces then didn’t result in the use of his chemical and biological stockpiles.

However, many Iraqis and indeed many coalition troops have since succumbed to cancers and other diseases associated with toxic depleted uranium used in US artillery shells during that war.

Moreover, even George Bush and Tony Blair concede that Iraq does not have nuclear weapons.

But whereas Iraq faces obliteration from the US and its allies, North Korea – which does possess such weapons and is building more in flagrant disregard of international treaties and has threatened a pre-emptive nuclear strike if the US deploys more troops to South Korea – is, according to Powell, being engaged ‘politically and diplomatically’.

A clear and unambiguous case of mass hypocrisy!

NATO’s divisions open up

AHEAD OF Hans Blix delivering his crucial UN weapons inspectors report, huge divisions have opened up between the US administration (backed by Tony Blair) and France and Germany (backed by Russia).

Attending a conference on International Security in Munich last weekend – as over 20,000 anti-war demonstrators protested outside – US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s arguments inside the hall were unceremoniously rubbished by Germany’s foreign minister, Joschka Fischer.

The French and German governments, with one eye on public opinion and another on maintaining their own strategic interests with Middle Eastern regimes, have countered the US’s war drive with a ‘peace plan’ to allow UN inspectors ‘more time’.

US exasperation over “old Europe” compounded George Bush’s earlier anger over France, Germany and Belgium’s objection as NATO members to allow US missiles to be deployed in Turkey – a front-line country.

This Franco-German peace plan talks of extending no-fly zones to cover the whole of Iraq and deploying UN troops across the country to stop suspicious transports. Whether this UN ‘occupation’ would be acceptable to Saddam’s beleaguered regime is debatable.

But US secretary of state Colin Powell dismissed the plan as a “distraction, not a solution”. Powell has also made it clear that if Blix’s report so much as hints at any “non-cooperation” by Saddam then the US will press for war.

The US would prefer to have the fig-leaf of the UN to legitimise their imperialist aggression, but they are prepared to act without it. With or without UN backing, however, this will be a war for profits and prestige and should be opposed.

If Bush wins a war, what happens next?

BUSH’S GOVERNMENT and military establishment are fighting a war for power, prestige and oil profits. They are already discussing how they can rule Iraq when they win.

At first they had thought in terms of a long occupation like that of Japan from 1945 to 1951. But US imperialism worries that following the pattern of this so-called ‘reconstruction’ under General MacArthur (who was given great powers, and was answerable to the US President and no-one else) would be seen as too brashly colonial and would cause resentment in the Arab world.

Now they envisage a shorter spell of military rule lasting from six to 18 months. Then they hope to set up an interim civilian administration, which would involve fewer troops.

If they negotiated the first two steps as easily as they hope, their planned next stage would be to establish a pro-US government in Iraq. In truth this would be at best a puppet regime – disarmed, neutered and ready to be sucked dry for its oil.

That’s what they want. But many things could hinder their plans. For a start, a UN “contingency planning report,” says that up to 500,000 Iraqis could suffer injuries and need medical treatment in the war. This grim human suffering could disrupt food distribution and health services as well as increasing political resentment.

There are political problems with who takes control of these bodies. Bush wants his head of armed forces in Iraq, General Tommy Franks, to head the occupation and someone like Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf – US forces leader in the last Gulf War – to head up the “interim civilian administration”. Others aren’t so sure that’s a good idea!

US strategists hope that the oilfields stolen from the Iraqi people will make enough money to defray the cost of occupation. But official estimates are that a US peacekeeping force of 75,000 to 200,000 would cost between $17 billion and $46 billion every year.

An American economist estimates that, even if a defeated Saddam doesn’t set fire to the oilfields, the oilfields will only produce £25 billion a year to help cover the financial costs of this war. The war’s human costs are of course enormous.

Blair losing support over Iraq

TONY BLAIR’S arrogant dismissal of public opposition to war against Iraq is taking its toll politically.

According to a Times/Populus poll, support for Labour has fallen to its lowest level for ten years – just 1% ahead of the Tories.

34% of people say their opinion of Blair had gone down because of Iraq. Women in particular are moving against Blair and New Labour.

Blair is taking a huge political risk by backing a US-led war. The enormous opposition that exists against war as well as over issues such as cuts, privatisation and low pay needs to be channelled into building a new mass party that can provide a political alternative to the pro-war, pro-big business stance of New Labour.