For more than a decade, the US and Britain have devastated Iraq with bombing and sanctions.
Hundreds of thousands have died as a result. Many thousands more will die if Bush and Blair succeed in making Iraq the next target in the so-called war on terrorism.
The labour movement should mobilise to stop Britain joining the attacks on Iraq which the US are preparing now. We must fight instead for practical support for genuine working-class and democratic opposition to Saddam from within Iraq.
A mass anti-war movement can stop Blair joining the new US war, and maybe stop the war before it starts.
The US administration is divided. Almost every government in the world except Britain is opposed to US attacks on Iraq. US intervention carries immense risks. Failure would reverberate right across the Middle East, and destroy the US's position as the undefeated world cop. Britain is Bush's one big ally. If Britain opposed war on Iraq, that might tilt the balance sufficiently to stop it.
In 1951, Britain's Labour Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, is said to have played a decisive part in stopping US plans to atom-bomb China. Whether Attlee's role was decisive or not, British government opposition to war now might help rein in the US government. At the very least, it would be a powerful spur to the development of a similar movement with the US.
The US is preparing the ground for a massive assault on Iraq: big speeches on the 'rogue' states that are the 'axis of evil'; money, arms and training for corrupt Iraqi opposition figures so that they can start a war on the ground to be backed up by US air power; the Boeing factory in Missouri is working around the clock to replenish US stocks of 'smart bombs' following the war on Afghanistan - these are their preparations.
Bush will host a conference on Iraq in Washington in April, where he and guest-of-honour Blair can finalise plans for war.
If we act now, we can force Blair to stay out of the war. Preparations for the war will take at least a few months - giving us time to stop the offensive before it starts.
Of course socialists have no support for the murderous Saddam Hussein - a brutal tyrant who has used chemical weapons on his own people.
But neither do we support more devastation being visited on the long-suffering people of Iraq.
All that bombing and sanctions have served to do is strengthen Saddam, who has been able to portray himself as resisting the brutality of 'the West'.
The opposition figures the US want to put in power in Iraq are not democrats but fiercely corrupt. Most are disaffected former Saddam allies who have participated in his war crimes and atrocities. They regularly cut deals with Saddam to undermine their rivals. They do not represent the democratic replacement that socialists want and Iraqis need.
We must start the fight within the labour movement now to stop the war. Already Labour MPs are making noises against war on Iraq: a mass movement in the unions and on the streets would encourage a split in their ranks. We must fight at the national union conferences, in branches, in every body we have access to, to build a mass movement that can force Blair to stay out of the war, and for our movement and the government to support the Kurds and working-class and democratic opposition forces in toppling Saddam for themselves.