attending the various "Anti War" protests
in Belfast and the march in Hillsborough yesterday,
a number of critical remarks on the anti war movement
came to mind.
one should remember that it is both the American government
AND the British government that have illegally invaded
Iraq. However, the Anti War movement unilaterally
concentrates on US imperialism. The "bad Americans"
are blamed for everything by the Anti War movement,
British imperialism is not attacked, Tony Blair is
simply criticised for not opposing Bush and going
to war. When attending the anti war demonstrations
(at least in Belfast and Hillsborough), one will hear
all kind of anti-American and/or anti-US policy slogans.
"Who let the bombs out ? Bush", "USA
is the biggest terrorist", "Hey, hey USA
how many kids have you killed today". It is to
the US consulate in Belfast that protestors march.
There is a large police presence around symbols of
US corporate culture, like McDonalds. The US stars
and stripes is the hated flag; some marchers even
try to burn it. But on British imperialism, protestors
are silent. Why are they not singing "Go on home
British soldier, go on home -have you got no f***
home of your own?" or "Britain's greedy
hands: you will meet the same resistance like you
did from Bobby Sands"? With the Black Watch regiment
in Basra, one could have expected protestors to chant
"The Black Watch",(especially as some of
them had personal experience of "peace keeping
operations" by this Scottish regiment -in particular
the famous Falls Curfew in July 1970 when they ransacked
homes in search for weapons held by our local republican
guard), but British troops are not mentioned. The
only time I heard a reference made to them was by
a leading trade unionist who was asking the people
to support "our boys" in the Gulf ! The
simple "Brits Out of Iraq" slogan was used
by just a tiny minority of protestors. No pickets
of British Army barracks have been organised. There
were no protests organised outside the Royal Irish
Regiment base. The police does not have a heavy presence
round symbols of British culture like Marks and Spencer's,
and demonstrators do not march to British government
offices. No one tries to burn the Union Jack. The
USA is not our country, there is very little that
we can do about Bush or what happens there - it is
up to the American people. However, Blair is our
Prime Minister and we could be far more efficient
if we concentrated on British rather than US imperialism.
Nobody tried to link up the Iraq issue with more domestic
matters. While protestors were shouting "No War
on Iraq - Free Palestine", no one dared to raise
slogans like "Ireland and Iraq - Brits Out".
Not only is the Anti War Movement silent on the British
government, it has a soft spot for the imperialist
trade unions and the imperialist Labour Party. For
the Anti War movement, it is "bad elements"
within these that have to be criticised. But this
underestimates how deep the British Labour movement
is connected to imperialism. The Anti War movement
is afraid to really challenge and confront the British
state and its responsibility in the invasion of Iraq.
It is not risky to shout hostile anti-American slogans.
However, it is far more dangerous to oppose "our"
second problem is that it is not clear what the Anti
War Movement is about. In the beginning it was to
show popular opposition to a war with Iraq. Now it
seems to be for a cessation of operations by US and
British troops. To the Coalition's War, it counter
poses an abstract "Peace Now" slogan. At
the demonstration in Hillsborough yesterday, a lot
of the speakers for the Anti War movement pointed
out the "hypocrisy" of Bush (of course,
he is the arch-villain!), for coming here to talk
peace in the North of Ireland while at the same time
fighting a war in Iraq. However, there is no hypocrisy
or contradiction in this. The so-called
peace process and the war in Iraq are
both part of the same British and American plan to
eradicate opposition to their global rule. And to
this concrete opposition to imperialist rule, the
Anti War movement is also silent. It is opposed to
Bush, but does not really support the right of the
Iraqi people to resist US and British invasion. At
this stage, the best slogan is "Victory to the
Iraqi People!", "Ireland and Iraq
- Victory to the Republican Armies!". No concrete
solidarity has been organised with the Iraqi resistance.
The Anti War movement is more about peacefully begging
Bush (and Blair to a certain extent) to stop the war
in Iraq. Very few in the Anti War movement seem to
understand that what is needed is not to convince
Bush to stop the war with Iraq, but to support the
defeat of Blair and Bush in Iraq.
two issues have to be seriously addressed by the Anti
to the Iraqi people" is not synonymous with
"Victory to Saddam Hussein". It is even
unlikely that Saddam Hussein will lead a consistent
fight against the British and American invasion
- he might be more concerned about his own personal
safety and that of his money.
his regime is crumbling. Many Iraqis are saying
"We may not be great fans of Saddam Hussein,
however we are opposed to the US and British invasion".
In practice, we are witnessing here the re-colonisation
of an Arab country for the first time in 85 years.
Spontaneous movements of resistance to a US and
British imposed solution are likely to rise. It
is these movements that should be supported. A defeat
for the US and British governments would be that
for them to impose their solution in Iraq would
come at such a heavy price (in terms of stability
of the region, political credibility etc) that it
will in practice be a defeat.
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