We May Have Won

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We publish below John Manning's response to the current prospect of war with Iraq, followed by a statement by veteran British socialist, Tony Benn.

 

John Manning sees hope in the UK's about-face on war with Iraq.

While the world's big press was chorusing the news that the attack on Iraq would take place on a definite date in February and the millions fighting for peace all over the world were fighting to keep hope alive and keep building the pressure - it suddenly appears that WE MAY HAVE WON!!! Britain, which was key to the US attack, has suddenly changed. The pressure must be kept up since the take-over will be sought in other ways, but stopping the killing is, literally, a life or death matter for humanity.

Britain's prime minister Blair was visiting Jordan and the press noted that Jordan was telling him that an attack on Iraq would bring total chaos in the MidEast. And yesterday, the Czech news agency reprinted a world agency dispatch datelined London / Peking/ Baghdad informing that British foreign minister Jack Straw, who has been a leading hawk and war organizer, had gone public with an opinion that the attack wasn't for sure after all. On the record, Straw wouldn't have said a word without an OK from Blair. All of which goes back to Left and peace leader Tony Benn's statement of almost a month ago, which I reproduce below.

  Tony Benn made it clear, that the UN was the issue and that Britain had this one chance to exercise a veto - to go with the UN instead of the US and that the US would not be so rash as to go it alone.

The victory, if we do win, will be the victory of the millions throughout the world who rose in resistance, not the least those in the United States, and must be the beginning of an alliance, with all our differences, to use the UN to settle conflicts and save the planet as a place for humans to live.

There are individual heroes - Tony Benn, who left Parliament after his 50th year of re-elections as a socialist and Labour holdout , to fight full-time to change Britain's policy and has worked at it night and day, speaking to crowds all over Britain despite the tragic death of his lifelong wife and comrade, Caroline.

Also not to be overlooked are the 400,000 members of the Communist Party of Japan who have led a growing national unity against US preparations of Japan as a base and ally to attack China, with Iraq and Afghanistan as starters. The high level JCP diplomatic delegations who visited Iraq and all Muslim countries , both MidEast and Asian, one after another, so emphasizing that all agreed on peace, the UN, and no attack, certainly had an effect in uniting resistance and in dispelling the anti-Muslim fear which was being cooked up. And JCP leader Kazuo Shii's call that the coalition should be, not "anti-US imperialism", but "for the UN and the rule of law" may given some of the Left and national independence movements trouble. But if you think about it, the larger issue has a far greater possibility of unity. And within a society of agreed laws and rules in the United Nations all our differences can be worked out. It is a matter of fighting for their observance and changing the bad rules by a reasoned struggle. Slower than violent revolution, but we end up alive.

War has become too dangerous for human survival. Its time is past.

Reproduced below is a statement by Tony Benn, Great Britain's senior statesman and former minister, for 50 years an incorruptible pro-socialist Labour MP, has exposed the real issues in the Bush/Iraq question, and they are deadly serious. The statement was directed to a particular opportunity for action in Britain but it applies to all people, all countries and until the danger has been overcome. It originally appeared in the socialist daily, the Morning Star, on December 13.

For the last few months we have been subjected to the most powerful war propaganda, designed to brainwash us into believing that war with Iraq is both necessary and inevitable.

Television pictures of war planes taking off from U.S. aircraft carriers are mixed with stories of troop movements and the establishment of a huge command HQ in Qatar, while Britain offers uncritical support for its US allies.

To whip up the hatred to a fever pitch, the Foreign Office issues a dossier of human rights abuses by Saddam, all of which we have known for years, but which have been released at this moment to make it appear that the war, when it comes, is motivated by a humane desire to lift the burden of fear from the people of Iraq by killing even more of them in a series of murderous air attacks.

But, if we are to understand exactly what is happening, we have to look beyond all these threats directed to Saddam.

The real story is that President Bush is actually threatening the UN and its role in resolving this crisis, with the long-term objective of dismantling the UN and substituting the forces of his US empire as the only true ruler of the world, able to guarantee its own oil supplies.

This also explains his policy toward Chavez in Venezuela - which also supplies a lot of oil - a man seen as unreliable and so an attempted coup was launched from Washington to get him out.

It failed and may be tried again as one of those backyard regime changes which the US has carried out in the past - as when Salvador Allende was overthrown with the help of the CIA.

It all began even before September 11, when the White House began to realize that the supplies of the Middle Eastern oil, upon which its whole economy depends, were vulnerable.

Iraq is hostile, Iran is unreliable and Saudi Arabia - which has no democracy whatever - might find its regime toppled by Muslim fundamentalists who want to see US troops leave the country.

Then based in Afghanistan, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was also important, because the US needed a pipeline through that country to bring the Caspian oil to the Western market and, although the Taliban had discussed this in Texas before Bush came to power, there was no certainty that it would go ahead.

If bin Laden had been caught and tried, his evidence in court would have proved too damaging, since he had been launched as a terrorist by the US itself, sent to Afghanistan to oust the Soviets and worked from bases which the US helped him build.

As a prisoner on trial for his life, he would have been only too glad to tell all.

For these reasons, Bush decided to transfer the anti-terrorist crusade from bin Laden to Saddam, who had nothing to do with September 11, and to widen the war of words into a direct threat against the UN itself - as he did when he issued his ultimatum to the General Assembly ordering it to support his war or he would go it alone.

Since the Security Council passed its resolution, Iraq has invited the UN inspectors back, cooperated with them in allowing access to all the sites they have wanted to visit and met the deadline set by the security council for a declaration of all the weapons it possesses.

These developments have caused alarm and anger in Washington, since the last thing Bush wants is a peaceful solution to the crisis, which would not help him with the oil he needs.

A major effort has therefore been made to discredit the UN inspectors and the Iraqi declaration of its weapons has been physically seized by the US government so that members of the Security Council cannot even get to see the Iraqi declaration that it, itself, demanded.

Against this background, it is even more unlikely that the Security Council will agree to authorize a war, so Bush is hoping that, by discrediting it, as he has done, people can be persuaded that he must act alone.

Meanwhile, the propaganda war goes on apace and, today, everyone can see that it is designed to undermine the UN so that Bush can launch the war for oil that the US corporations want.

One last hope remains and it is that, if Blair stuck to the UN instead of taking orders from the White House, it would become very difficult - if not impossible - for Bush to carry US opinion in a war that the US would be fighting without a single ally.

Britain currently provides a thin cover of legitimacy for what he wants to do.

In short, Blair has the power of veto on this one occasion. That is why we must step up the pressure on him in every way that we can and work with those courageous US citizens - many millions of them, – who are also against the war and are demonstrating to show their opposition publicly.

That is why the CND case in the High Court this week is so important in asking for a judgement declaring that Britain cannot disregard its international obligations by going to war without the authority of the Security Council.

"With all its weaknesses, the United Nations remains humanity’s best hope of finding the means to settle its many differences peacefully.

"If we allow the US empire to destroy it, as US ex-president Carter warned when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize and denounced the use of pre-emptive war as an open door to violence by any country against any other, the only law will be the law of the jungle."