I was born in the middle of a war, the Second World War, 1939 – 1945, and I can not remember a time in all my years that there has not been some form of conflict somewhere around the world and the warmongering English has been at the heart of it all.
Once upon a time, wars were fought army against an army all that changed in the Second World War as the wholesale destruction of cities became acceptable, collateral damage. Civilians are the new cannon fodder, once the preserve of the 18th -19th-century soldier, now over 90 per cent of the casualties of war are civilians. War has now become a “Crime against Humanity”.
Twenty years ago almost to the day, America declared the “War on Terror” and attacked Afghanistan in 2001. If it was Americas desire to disrupt the operations of al-Qaeda, it could have stopped there. But in January 2002 George Bush announced a vast escalation of the US’s aggressive ambitions and intentions, revealing the existence of the “Axis of Evil” encompassing Iraq, Iran and North Korea, all now targeted for regime change.
It quickly became clear that Iraq was the priority target almost immediately after 9/11, despite the absence of any Iraqi connection with the outrage (if there were states complicit in al-Qaeda’s rise they were US allies Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.) This was always about the US wishing to gain control of Iraq’s vast oil reserves and enhance the security of Israel.
Tony Blair, leader of the ‘New Labour’ government, was on board from the start, which tells us much about ‘New Labour’ and how right-wing it had become, siding with a US right-wing Republican administration that shared none of the values of the Labour Party, or its better traditions at least.
Afghanistan by 2002 developed into a fully-fledged and open-ended military occupation, not ending with the “War on Terror” that soon extended into Iraq, Blair would be a key US partner on the new front, a war of choice unsupported by the provocation or by any pre-existing conflict which might normally be used to justify such aggressions, for aggression is the only word for it. In defiance of United Nations resolutions, Blair took the UK into an illegal war – The “Dodgy dossier” all spin and no truth in the lie that Saddam had the capacity to strike Britain with chemical weapons at 45 minutes notice.
Blair failed to move public opinion in the government’s favour, Blair’s policy was still seen as it was – an act of subservience to widely-reviled US administration bent on endless war.
Inspections of Iraqi facilities by the United Nations, something to which Saddam agreed to in 2002, the inspections, led by Hans Blix, turned up nothing because, as it transpired in very short order after the invasion, there was nothing to find.
In September 2002, I travelled overnight to London, to join with 400,000 of my fellow “Stop the War” activists, we marched shoulder to shoulder under the slogan “Don’t Attack Iraq” the demonstration had been organised with the Muslim Association of Britain.
Opposition to the war was gathering apace across the UK notably in the trade union movement, and in the local Labour parties and also amongst Liberal Democrats.
Phoney legal advice whistled up from Lord Goldsmith under pressure from Blair made no difference to public opinion than Foreign Secretary Jack straw’s feeble attempts to undermine UN procedures with his invention of the notion of the “Unreasonable veto.” This marked the start of a winter of mass campaigning against the looming war, including a day of direct action across the country in October. Local Stop the War groups mushroomed, here in Edinburgh our number was growing, pressuring constituency MPs to oppose Blair’s course of action.
On February 15th, 2003, I returned to London where I marched against the war, this time our numbers had swelled to two million, the largest demonstration ever held in this country by a long chalk. This was London, but repeated across the world; thirty million people took part in street protests worldwide.
Blair ignored the people of this country, and the 140 Labour MPs that voted against the war – Tony Blair stood by George Bush’s side in the onslaught against Iraq. France, Germany, Russia and China being among the states opposed to the aggression, a nakedly neo-colonial occupation regime under the US processes was established in an attempt to remake Iraqi governments stimulated religious sectarianism on the old divide-and-rule principles to effective disintegration of the Iraqi state, a circumstance which eventually created the conditions for the rise of the morbid Islamic state across much of the territory.
Hundreds of thousands died in the conflict, and millions of Iraqis were displaced internally or externally, the refugee camps are still with us today and mass migration into Europe, still poses a blight, for the European nations, from a war that these courtiers were against from the start. As for Blair’s England, they pulled up the drawbridge on, migrants risking life and lime to reach our shores, blaming the French and EU for not doing enough to stop them.
In Iraq, the countries economy was shattered, their museums looted and the only institution put under US military protection was the Oil Ministry. The occupation slid into the horrors of Abu Grahab and Guantanamo prisons.
The Iraq war stands today as the greatest crime of the 21st century, a crime against humanity.
As for Bush and Blair – rather than dragged to Den Hag as war criminals, they are looked upon as senior diplomats and their advice sot, on television political programmes, such as you will find on the BBC and Sky. Giving us some indication of just how corrupt our government system is, and how the mainstream media is simply their mouthpiece.
Sorry, I should have said at the start that I am a member of Stop the War and have signed the Peace Pledge.