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A Manifesto for Peace & Progress
Published: Wednesday 12th March 2003

There is a brutally simple logic behind America and Britain’s decision to attack Iraq. It is this: Iraq cannot retaliate. This is the American military doctrine in action, the Powell doctrine. Only attack when you have overwhelming superiority in the air and on the battlefield, and when your own casualties can be kept to a minimum. Never hit an enemy until you are absolutely certain that he cannot hit back. It is a language recognised by bullies everywhere and perfectly understood by Tony Blair and Jack Straw.

Iraq satisfies the Powell doctrine’s conditions in full. It has no air force, and its air defences on the ground have already been destroyed by American and British bombardment in the ‘no fly zone’. It has no navy. Its army, apart from its professional corps of Republican Guards, is a conscript army, too untrained to hit back, but large enough to provide target practice, as it did in the Gulf War, when Iraqi troops in retreat were bombed and strafed in what was infamously called the ‘turkey shoot’. As for chemical and biological weapons, whether or not Iraq possesses anthrax, botulism toxin, VX, sarin, ricin, mustard gas, or smallpox, they are useless on the battlefield, and no protection against air attack. Not since Abyssinia was bombed by Mussolini has there been such an unequal war against such a helpless enemy.

A new war will be genocide upon genocide. War and sanctions have killed half a million Iraqi children since 1991; two-fifths of the Iraqi population have no access to clean water; half the pumping stations and water purification facilities are out of action; Iraq’s hospitals are without electricity for many hours at a time, and desperately short of medicines and equipment. How will they cope when 800 cruise missiles and 3000 bombs rain down upon the country in the first 48 hours of an attack?

This will be an awful, terrible war crime. Its perpetrators, safe in Washington and Downing Street, boasting of the accuracy of their laser guided weapons and washing their hands of all “collateral damage”, will be war criminals. They know perfectly well how terrible will be the number of Iraqi dead and wounded. The UN report, the Oxfam report, the Medact report all forecast hundreds of thousands of casualties, and 3.5 million threatened with starvation and epidemic disease.

An impending catastrophe

We are moments away from catastrophe - in fact, from several catastrophes. First, for the people of Iraq, soon to be slaughtered in a senseless war. For the children of Iraq and neighbouring countries, who will be traumatised permanently by the destruction they have seen and heard.

Second, for the people of Palestine, for whom all prospect of an end to the Israeli occupation will be postponed indefinitely. For decades Palestinians have kept alive the hope that international law will prevail, and that Israel will be made to abide by UN resolutions 194, 242, and 338. But the US and Britain are only concerned with Iraqi compliance with resolution 1441, and Iraq will be destroyed because it failed to comply, or was alleged to have failed. But Israel will be encouraged by Iraq’s destruction to continue its brutal war in the West Bank and Gaza. How infinitely more effective suicide bombs will seem, and how much more persuasive all forms of terrorism will appear, when all hopes of a political solution are extinguished!

Eight hundred years after the Crusades, American and British ‘crusaders’ will occupy an Arab country, home to the oldest civilisation in the world. General Tommy Franks will be viceroy. Ahmed Chelabi, or someone equally unknown, undistinguished and unelected, will be the puppet president. Iraqi oil wells will be protected by the Airborne Division. Iraqi oil will be de-nationalised. And though the rest of the stock market will nose-dive as before, Exxon shares will go sky high. Iraq will be the headquarters for American domination of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and any other country where seething anger, poverty and newly radicalised youth threaten to revolt against ageing and corrupt dictatorships.

The final catastrophe threatens us all. With or without a second UN resolution, George Bush and Tony Blair are destroying all hope or pretence of international order and rule of law. The UN has been made to seem as venal, as helpless and as superannuated as was its parent, the League of Nations, before World War II. It is damned whatever it does. If it opposes Bush and Blair it will be brushed aside. If it supports them with a second resolution, it will be seen to have bowed to American bribery and blackmail. At a time when its authority is required as never before, for the protection of Iraq, of the Palestinian people, of the Chechen people, of the Kashmiri people, it will have been discarded as a useless memento of the post World War II settlement. All its treaties and conventions will be torn up. America and Britain threaten Iraq, a non-nuclear country, with nuclear weapons.

It is not too late

Millions of ordinary people, the largest majority ever assembled against any war, have demonstrated their opposition. We are being dragged against our will into a war to which we have given no consent. Parliament, which regularly tests its conscience and its scruples with debates on fox-hunting, can hardly rouse itself to debate war with Iraq. Trade unions are against the war. Churches are against the war. Liberal Democrats are against the war. Constituency Labour parties are against the war. All Britain’s artists, and almost all her professions are against the war. We are being marched to war at the behest of the Prime Minister, the Tory party, Rupert Murdoch, Conrad Black, Lord Harmsworth and Richard Desmond.

It is not too late. We can stop this madness. A government which will not listen to the people, or even consult the will of parliament, has lost the right to govern. The government of war must be removed. We must have a government of peace.

A government of peace will immediately demand the lifting of the sanctions on Iraq. It will rebuild Iraq’s shattered water purification plants, its hospitals and its power stations. Only in this way can we help the Iraqi people to rid themselves of a cruel dictatorship.

To trade unionists and workers everywhere we say: not a single sacrifice, not a single cut in services, not a single job should be lost to pay for this war. The trade unions should withdraw all financial support from a Labour party whose Prime Minister wages war on Iraq. They should support the firefighters to the full. If the firefighters lose the right to strike, all workers will lose it.

All civil liberties, democratic rights and human rights are in danger. Each day brings new waves of arrests and deportations. New prison camps and prison ships are being prepared. The war against Iraq is becoming a cauldron of racism and xenophobia. Be warned! This hue and cry against asylum seekers and illegal immigrants is the government’s deliberate propaganda weapon. By a campaign of scare-mongering which links asylum seekers to alleged terror plots, the government hopes to silence the opponents of war. A government of peace will repeal all anti-asylum laws, uphold all principles of the Refugee Convention and close down all detention centres.

A party for peace and progress

We ask everyone who opposes the war and supports these principles to sign this manifesto. Give it to your work-mates, your colleagues and your neighbours. Adopt it in your trade unions, parties, associations. Together let us build a new party for peace and progress. Let us have a government of peace.

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