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A Manifesto for Peace & Progress: Part II
Published: Sunday 23rd March 2003

In the Nuremberg Trials the Nazi leaders defended their actions on the grounds that they were following orders. This defence was rejected by the Tribunal. It was found that men and women, whether military or civilian, have a duty to resist orders from above if those orders require them to commit crimes against humanity.

Blair’s government has re-invented the Nuremberg defence. Despite the UN Charter, which outlaws a pre-emptive war; despite a clear warning from Kofi Annan that, without a further Security Council resolution specifically authorising it, this war would have no legitimacy; and despite a statement by this country’s leading international lawyers to the same effect, the government preferred the opinion of the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, whom nobody had heard from until then.

The second part of the government’s Nuremberg defence was to declare that whilst debate and dissent were very fine and democratic, once the vote was taken and war was begun it was everyone’s patriotic duty to unite in support of Britain’s armed forces as they bombed and invaded Iraq.

It is not. An unprovoked war against an undefended country is a war crime whatever flag it wears. No patriotic duty can excuse it. If we allow this government to send British troops to fight against Iraq, they will soon be sent to fight in Iran, Saudi Arabia, or any other part of the Middle East which the United States wants to re-colonise. For the sake of the soldiers of today and tomorrow we must resist.

For the sake of Iraqi children whose incubators will be switched off when America’s latest weapon, the E-bomb, cuts off their electricity, we must resist. For the sake of children who will be born deformed or die of cancer because depleted uranium has permeated their bodies with 5000 times the permitted amount of radiation, we must resist.

The government is waging war in defiance of the Geneva Convention and the Hague Convention, which require combatants to take all necessary measures for the safety of civilians. The Geneva Convention requires occupying powers (America and Britain) to provide for the safety of civilians who will be forced to flee their homes.

This government has ignored all such requirements. It has sanctioned the use of weapons such as cluster bombs which maim thousands of civilians. It has made no provision for the humanitarian catastrophe which this war will cause.

Therefore this government must be made to resign in order to minimise the harm its actions are causing, and to prevent further crimes. It must make way for a government of peace.

We advocate only peaceful, non-violent methods of civil disobedience and political struggle. And we call upon all political parties, groups, associations, community and religious organisations to resist in whatever way is appropriate for them.

We call upon the trade unions which finance the Labour party to withdraw all financial support until all British troops are withdrawn from Iraq.

We call on the TUC to organise a general strike to force the government to withdraw British troops. Political strikes, such as this, are outlawed under present legislation. But international law, and the prevention of war crimes, stand higher than British trade union law.

A government of peace will immediately declare a ceasefire and begin the withdrawal of British forces from Iraq. It will invite a process of international disarmament by ridding this country of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. It will close down all American bases and close its ports and its waters to the American navy.

It will declare its full support for the growing peace movement in America, and around the world.

It will give all possible material support to the people of Iraq to rebuild their shattered country, to rid themselves of a brutal dictatorship, and to call it to account before the International Criminal Court.

It will uphold the Refugee Convention and care for all asylum seekers in our midst. It will impose no quotas on asylum seekers fleeing war and persecution, and will offer as many jobs as possible to refugees from hunger and poverty. At the same time it will devote the billions of pounds it will not spend on weapons of mass destruction to the care of the sick and needy in Britain and abroad.

Bring down this government of war!
We need a government of peace and progress.

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