Heads we win, tails you lose
THAT seems to be the watchword of Blair and Bush as far as Iraq is concerned these days. They ignore the fact that the United Nations arms inspectors have found no evidence of any material breach of the disarmament commitments imposed on Iraq after it lost the 1991 Gulf War. They ignore the inspectors’ plea for more time to do the job thoroughly. They jump on the inspectorate’s complaints of Iraqi non-co-operation on some outstanding questions.
Immense pressure is being put on the inspectorate to produce the reports imperialism wants to justify its seizure of Iraq’s oil fields.
That Anglo-American imperialism is desperate for a pretext to invade Iraq; there’s no doubt. But they are facing mounting resistance at home from a peace movement that grows by the day and increasing international opposition to a new carve-up of the Middle East.
The other Great Powers: People’s China, Russia, France and Germany want a peaceful resolution to the crisis which essentially means giving the inspections all the time they need to ensure that Iraq has fully complied with the disarmament demands of the United Nations. The rest of the world, apart from a handful of countries totally under America’s thumb like Israel, back the call for peace. And so do millions upon millions of people in Britain.
Blair thinks he can ignore the voice of the people; the millions who voted them into office; the millions of workers whose unions fund the Labour Party Blair heads; the millions who will pay for this war in higher taxes and their lives so that the big oil corporations can make more super-profits off the backs of the Arab masses.
We must prove him wrong.
An attack on one ...
Now Blair is directing moving against the Fire Brigades Union in a desperate attempt to break the strike. A Bill is going to be rushed through Parliament to give the Government powers to impose a pay settlement on the firefighters and the draconian changes in shift patterns which will lead to cuts in jobs and cuts in overall fire protection. The Labour MPs backing the firefighters’ struggle must lead the fight in the Commons. The rest of the union movement must step up their solidarity with the FBU to ensure that they win their just claim for a living wage.
... Is an attack on all
When the British Empire straddled the globe, and London was called the capital of the world the London Underground was one of the jewels in its crown. It was hailed as the best service in the world. There may have been a degree of exaggeration because in those days of imperial pretence everything British was “best”. But London Transport certainly had the biggest rapid transit system consisting of a modern underground railway network plus round-the-clock tram, trolley and bus services.
The trams and trolleys have long gone from London’s streets. All we’ve got left is a totally inadequate semi-privatised bus service and the woefully under-funded and soon to be semi-privatised London Underground. Under funded and unsafe.
Last weekend’s crash on the Central Line highlighted the dangers passengers’ face. Mercifully no one was killed. The rail unions are calling for a public inquiry into the cause of the accident, due to a faulty motor.
For years the unions have argued for more investment in the capital’s transport system and the retention of staffing levels to ensure adequate maintenance; meet health and safety requirements and guarantee the regular service Londoners need.
The answer is massive public investment to restore the Underground and build a comprehensive transport system for the capital - not the third-rate semi-privatisation which is all that Blair & Co have put on the table.
Billions, millions upon millions of tax money, are found to pay for
our bogus nuclear defence systems and neo-colonial war. Less and less is
being spent on health, education, transport and safety. This Government,
like others before it, has opted for guns, not butter. The struggle for
peace is clearly linked to the fight to defend the living standards of
working people. Blair thinks the people can be ignored forever. A huge
turnout on 15 February against the war will make him think again.
Demand for Peace mounts
YET AGAIN peace campaigners from all over Britain and the world have been very active, as the threat of an imperialist attack on Iraq grows nearer. Here are just a couple of reports:
Campaign grows in Wales
by Wendy Lewis
THE CAMPAIGN to stop the war against Iraq gathered pace in Wales with a rally at St Athans RAF air base.
The demonstration was organised by students from Atlantic college, Llantwit Major, together with students from Cardiff and Swansea universities.
Young people from all over the world called on world leaders not to give in to pressure from Bush and Blair. The colourful demonstration featured giant papiér maché doves, large banners, anti-war cheerleaders and musicians. The procession filled the small seaside town.
The following day four coachloads went from Wales to Fairford air force base in the Cotswolds, from where the Stealth bombers would fly in the event of war breaking out.
The narrow country lanes rang to the echoes peace songs from the Cardiff Reds Choir. Numbers had swollen from 300 on the previous march, to over a thousand.
During the peaceful rally, the crowd marched up to the gates demanding entry to inspect the weapons of mass destruction held inside. A mock bomber flew over them, prompting a die-in.
Protesters cut two large holes in the perimeter fence through which 35 protesters climbed into the base. They were arrested but released without charge.
Then two more were arrested and taken to the police van, which only released them when the crowd blockaded the gates.
One of the workers from the base complained that the protest had closed the base for the entire day. Hundreds of messages of peace and hope were tied to the perimeter fence, along with banners representing peace groups from all over the South West and Wales.
The good-natured peace rally finished with music, singing and colourful theatre.
Ray Davies, chair of the South Wales Stop the War coalition, said that it was a huge priority of peace campaigners to articulate the massive opposition to the war in Wales. He called on everyone to support the forthcoming rally on Friday, 31 January, called by the Muslim, Sikh and black communities.
The march is leaving the Islamic Centre, Alice Street at 15pm, and marching up Bute St to the Marriott and then down to the National Assembly of Wales.
Here, demonstrators will had in a letter to the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru Assembly Members.
There is also a rally called by Swansea Stop the War Coalition on Saturday 1 February. They are meeting at the Patti Pavilion Swansea at 12noon. And there is a rally at which Jill Evans MEP and Richard Edwards are the main speakers.
Vigils, petitioning, meetings and rallies are being organised on a weekly basis through the coming weeks.
‘In the hands of the devil’
IOD chief economist Graeme Leach said, in a report, that in economic terms, a short war is better than no war, or no regime change, because of the removal of uncertainty.
The report had envisaged a range of scenarios between the West and Iraq and what effects each would have on the United States’ economy.
Leach concluded that a prolonged Gulf War could send oil prices soaring to $80 a barrel, make the US stock market fall by 30 per cent and the country’s gross domestic product shrink by two per cent.
But, he said this scenario was unlikely. He thought a short, successful war was most probable and said that would make oil prices quickly fall back by about a third to $20 a barrel and the US economy grow by 2.9 per cent this year.
“Once you look coldly at war we’re in the hands of the devil,” said John Edmonds. He was appalled by the report and said: “I understand what the IOD is trying to do but there’s not much humanity in this is there?”
Mr Edmonds argued that the best thing for the economy would demobilisation. “Then the world would heave a sigh of relief,” he said.
“Once people start saying: ‘Oh, economically it would be much better if we had a quick war,’ we are on the road to perdition.”
Mayor of Hiroshima warns of US nuclear danger
THE MAYOR of Hiroshima, Tadatoshi Akiba, last week called for the abolition of nuclear weapons, especially in the light of the threatening US attack on Iraq and the failure of the US to rule out the use of nuclear weapons in such an attack.
He was speaking in Leeds last week at a meeting of Mayors for Peace, an international movement of heads of local government opposed to war.
“As it prepares a military attack on Iraq, the US has hinted that nuclear weapons could be involved,” said Mr Akiba. “ This posture reveals that the US has forgotten the path to reconciliation, a path that requires severing the chains of hatred, violence, and revenge.
“These developments compel us to strengthen our resolve to abolish nuclear weapons and work for a genuine world peace that values reconciliation and humanity.”
Mayors for Peace is made up of 535 cities across six regions of the world The Forum was held to consider how local authorities can build a culture of peace and citizenship in troubled areas of the world and to build community cohesion within their own areas.
Representatives from the International Association of Peace Messenger Cities and the Nuclear Free Local Authorities joined the mayors in encouraging the establishment of a network to establish international local authority organisations committed to peace.
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