Campaigning against War on Iraq

Submitted by AWL on 30 September, 2002 - 12:22
  • The truth about Saddam.
  • Cathy Nugent looked at Labour Against the War's 'counter-dossier' produced in advance of the Government's dossier on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction

  • Labour Against the War
  • How do we stop Blair's war drive?
    By Gerry Byrne
  • Frontline Poetry: Phrase Book
  • Defend Iraqi Kurds and Iranian asylum seekers

The truth about Saddam

What is the truth about Saddam's chemical and biological weapons? In The dishonest case for a war on Iraq LATW examine some of the same evidence as the Government's dossier - which is, after all, an aggregate of information including a lot that has been in the public domain for a long time. Whatever the truth about Saddam's weapons, the war should be opposed. However, if you do want to critically examine the evidence, LATW's dossier is a good place to start.

The dishonest case points out how a lot of the intelligence evidence about Iraq is unverifiable and based on accounts by dissidents who may not always be completely truthful. In this respect the counter-dossier is a useful counterweight to the Government's document. That document, although it does not contain some of the more extreme claims which were anticipated before its publication - that Iraq could build a nuclear bomb in a few months for instance - is propaganda. It was produced as cover for Blair to help in his resolve to send British troops in to help Bush's war on Iraq, come what may.

The conclusion the reader of The dishonest case comes to can only be: we still do not know the truth about Saddam's weapons.

The dishonest case also gives a useful summary of the US and UK's involvement during the 1980s in arming Saddam Hussein and acquiescing in his genocidal campaign against the Kurdish people.

As useful as LATW's dossier is, it has some serious faults. The authors try to assess the probability of Saddam Hussein using weapons of mass destruction. Action that the US and Britain may take against Iraq - using weapons of mass destruction - is the thing that is most likely going to provoke Iraq to use its weapons.

However, accepting that does not mean you should give Saddam Hussein the benefit of the doubt - believe that he really isn't capable of irrational or unprovoked military action. The dishonest case says that Saddam Hussein has never acted in defiance of western imperialist interests. That is not the case. Saddam Hussein has had ambitions for Iraq as a regional power that have put him into conflict with the West - his invasion of Kuwait in 1990 is an example of that. This invasion is not mentioned at all in The dishonest case! The authors also fail to mention Iraq's use of scud missiles against Israel during the Gulf War - an important piece of evidence in any assessment of the foreign policy of that regime.

The dishonest case for a war on Iraq
was written by Alan Simpson MP and Glen Rangwala
Labour Against the War, PO Box 2378, London E5 9QU; tel.: 020-8985 6597; fax: 020-8985 6785
email:; obtain copies of this bulletin, send a A4 SAE (41p stamp) for one or a cheque for £2 per 10 ordered to cover costs. Further donations towards package costs most welcome.

Labour Against the War

1. LABOUR AGAINST THE WAR unequivocally condemns the terrorist outrages in the US on September 11 as a violation of human rights and an attack on working people of many races.

2. LABOUR AGAINST THE WAR believes that military action in response to the events of 11 September 2001 will neither eradicate the threat of terrorism nor create a stable international framework in which the rule of law will be observed. UK support for war is not in our name.

3. LABOUR AGAINST THE WAR calls on the British government to oppose a military response to the events of 11 September, to seek other methods, including diplomatic and political, to bring the alleged perpetrators of terrorism to justice and bring real humanitarian aid to the people of the world.

4.LABOUR AGAINST THE WAR is totally opposed to any military attack on Iraq.

5.LABOUR AGAINST THE WAR opposes any clampdown on civil liberties and asylum seekers on the pretext that this is required by the current situation and will stand up for civil rights in an open, democratic society. We shall oppose racist scapegoating of the Muslim community.

6.LABOUR AGAINST THE WAR will work with the Labour Party and Trade Union movement to promote these aims throughout the labour movement, stating our case to the wider public and supporting the Stop the War Coalition in a determined quest for justice, not vengeance.

Annual affiliation £10 organisations, £5 individuals.
Send to address above.

How do we stop Blair's war drive?

By Gerry Byrne

Marching along the street is all very well. But how are we going to stop the war?

Blair has shown he's impervious to public opinion: the majority of people surveyed are opposed to any attack on Iraq, but that's not going to stop him. New Labour MPs barely dare to raise their heads - just 56 voted against the Government in the debate that was forced on Blair. "Wait and see, keep your heads down" is hardly going to stop him in his tracks.

And already threats have been made to use anti-terrorist and emergency legislation to ban strikes in the event of war. In the US, the Patriot Act has already been brandished as a threat against dockworkers in dispute and immigrant workers organising against sweatshops. Blair has talked of using troops to do the work of firefighters and of making their strike illegal. So much for defence of democracy and the right of people to live free of intimidation!

The Stop the War Coalition's call for civil disobedience, which was endorsed by Tony Benn, called for action on the next day following an attack: stop the workplace, stop the street, stop the city, stop the country, stop the war.
What does that mean in practice?

Every union needs to meet, to discuss concrete plans to oppose the war, to reaffirm the right to take action, to refuse to be intimidated. Local Socialist Alliance, Stop the War and campaigning groups, need to look beyond just mobilising for the demonstration and start building the links that will make direct action and civil disobedience an active reality - sending speakers into every workplace, school and community group; setting up telephone trees for an immediate response when war is called; defending the right to strike and making active solidarity with workers in the front line of opposing Blair's dictatorship.

Frontline Poetry: Phrase Book

As war approaches, language starts to wobble. Words take on peculiar paradoxical meanings. Lies have always been part of the armoury of the warmongers. In the last Gulf War, the industrialisation of death and the perversion of language, entered a new phase: mass murder as consumer entertainment. 'Surgical strikes', 'smart bombs' - the illusion of a sanitised casualty-free combat was brought to our living rooms by military-manipulated media.

It was only later that the truth started to leak out: the 'chicken shoot' carnage on the road to Basra, incinerated conscripts, hospitals and nurseries hit when smart bombs lost their way.

Jo Shapcott's poem Phrase Book plays with this unreality of language, taking the odd syntax of a phrase book and mixing it with the deliberate deceit of the bomber pilot's military-technical vocabulary. And all within "my own front room".

Behind it, "I am an Englishwoman", the unquestioned imperiousness of tone, the disturbing complicity - "I have done nothing". Imperialism inside your head.

Phrase book

I'm standing here inside my skin,
which will do for a Human Remains pouch
for the moment. Look down there (up here).
Quickly. Slowly. This is my own front room

where I'm lost in the action, live from a war,
on screen. I am an Englishwoman, I don't understand you.
What's the matter? You are right. You are wrong.
Things are going well (badly). Am I disturbing you?

TV is showing bliss as taught to pilots:
Blend, Low silhouette, Irregular shape, Small,
Secluded. (Please write it down. Please speak slowly.)
Bliss is how it was in this very room

when I raised my body to his mouth,
when he even balanced me in the air,
or at least I thought so and yes the pilots say
yes they have caught it through Side-Looking

Airborne Radar, and through the J-Stars.
I am expecting a gentleman (a young gentleman,
two gentlemen, some gentlemen). Please send him
(them) up at once. This is really beautiful.

Yes, they have seen us, the pilots, in the Kill Box
on their screens, and played the routine for
getting us Stealthed, that is, Cleansed, to you and me,
Taken Out. They know how to move into a single room

like that, to send in with Pinpoint Accuracy, a hundred Harms.
I have two cases and a cardboard box. There is another
bag there, I cannot open my case - look out,
the lock is broken. Have I done enough?

Bliss, the pilots say, is for evasion
and escape. What's love in all this debris?
Just one person pounding another into dust,
into dust. I do not know the word for it yet.

Where is the British Consulate? Please explain.
What does it mean? What must I do? Where
can I find it? What have I done? I have done
nothing. Let me pass please. I am an Englishwoman.

From Jo Shapcott: Her Book: Poems 1988-1998
(Faber & Faber, 2000)

Defend Iraqi Kurds and Iranian asylum seekers

The British government has increased its pressure on refugees and asylum seekers and is further curtailing their limited rights and meagre benefits. Asylum seekers from Iraqi Kurdistan are threatened with deportation under the pretext that Kurdistan is safe. Iranian asylum seekers are being forcibly deported to Iran to face a brutal regime.

Saturday 12 October 1.30-3.30pm, Victoria Square, Birmingham

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