Issue 271 of SOCIALIST REVIEW Published February 2003 Copyright © Socialist Review

Editorial

Battle stations

It's a question of 'weeks not months', warns the warmonger in the White House. Bush and his trusty friend and military ally Tony Blair have drawn up the timetable for war. They have Iraq in their sights. While our prime minister may scurry around to try and cobble together a UN resolution, the US government has made it clear it wants to redraw the map of the Middle East and grab a greater share of the oil. And whether or not the pressure and inducements in the UN succeed, Blair and his New Labour government support the hawks all the way.

The military plans are frightening. More than 3,000 missiles will be launched in the first 48 hours of war. This is more than the total used throughout the whole of the last Gulf War. The use of nuclear weapons has even been suggested. A presidential directive, signed last September and now leaked to the press, has given the US military the green light to use nuclear weapons if they feel them necessary to win the war. 'A list of targets has been drawn up in a "Theatre Nuclear Planning Document" by Stratcom, the Pentagon's nuclear planning wing,' reports the Guardian (3 February). New Labour's defence secretary has stated that they too will use nuclear weapons if necessary. There will also be a land invasion, one aim of which will be to secure the oil, another to head towards Baghdad to depose Saddam Hussein. The fact is that tens of thousands of ordinary Iraqis will be killed.

Blair has made clear his contempt for the views of the majority of people in Britain. The more he tries to make the case for war, the more opinion is turning against him. In part this is because most people can see through his rhetoric. This war is not about getting rid of weapons of mass destruction, but is about US and British imperialist interests. But people are also angry at the fact that billions are being spent on war while New Labour are constantly making cuts at home. Firefighters are told they cannot have a decent pay rise; the national rail network is cutting back on investment and services; one of the main tube lines in London, the Central Line, is shut down for weeks following a serious accident in which dozens of people were injured; and students face the prospect that they will have to pay thousands of pounds just to get a decent education.

It is the combination of the war on Iraq and the attacks on workers in this country that is leading to a mass movement the likes of which we have not seen for many years. The conclusion that millions of people are coming to is that there is only one power capable of stopping this war--the power of ordinary people taking to the streets in protest. The demonstration on 15 February called by the Stop the War Coalition, CND and the Muslim Association of Britain is the most important protest for years. We urge every reader and supporter of Socialist Review not just to come to London on the day, but to use the days leading up to the demonstration to get as many people there as possible. If war breaks out then we must have networks of local activists to protest, strike, block roads and occupy in the country's workplaces, estates, schools and colleges. The support shown for rail workers who refused to move weapons has raised the very real prospect of political strikes and stoppages on the issue. We can make that possibility a reality.

Blair's constant manoeuvres show that he is determined to wage war. We need to send him a message--he does not do so in our name, and if he and Bush don't stop this war then we'll stop them


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