|Volume 53 Number 9, March 25, 2023
20th Anniversary of the Anglo-US Invasion of Iraq
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20th Anniversary of the Anglo-US Invasion of Iraq:
Anglo-US-led NATO Block is Still "Not In Our Name"
Network Rail Workers Vote to Accept Pay Offer
When Bush and Blair were preparing to launch their attack on Iraq in 2003, the people responded with the largest
demonstrations around the world. In London, on the eve of the invasion of Iraq some two million people marched to
Hyde Park on February 15, 2003 - it was a defining moment.
On March 20, 2003, 20 years ago, US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair led a "coalition of the willing" in an unprovoked invasion and occupation of Iraq in spite of the massive opposition coming not just from the people but also from the United Nations. This Anglo-US "coalition of the willing" not only continued its unjustifiable claim that they were fighting a "war on terror" following their invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, but also they tried to justify the invasion with deliberate misinformation that Iraq had chemical weapons. No British government has ever been brought to account for this, there has been no apology to the Iraqi people, or reparation to the Iraqi people. The question can also be asked: has the British government now ended its warmongering ways? The answer is no. On the contrary, this week the British government chose the day of 20th anniversary of their illegal war against Iraq to announce that it will be the first country to supply depleted uranium (DU) shells to Ukraine in the proxy war Britain is today waging against Russia . It was precisely these depleted uranium shells that were used by the Anglo-US forces against the people of Iraq with many prominent doctors and scientists now saying DU contamination is also connected to the recent emergence of diseases that were not previously seen in that country, such as new illnesses in the kidney, lungs, and liver, as well as total immune system collapse . This, criminal action by the British government once again further confirms that today the Anglo-US-led NATO block is still "Not In Our Name".
This past week, the Iraqi people were insulted further by "mainstream" media when the airwaves were filled with Blair's use of the anniversary to justify his invasion and occupation of Iraq because he claimed it was different from Ukraine as they were "removing a despot and trying to introduce democracy". This was all to continue his warmonger role and to try and justify Britain's support for provoking and continuing to escalate the war in Ukraine with Russia. Blair's government was responsible, alongside the US, for the invasion of Iraq 20 years ago causing hundreds of thousands of deaths to civilians and Iraqi defenders and the destruction of its cities, infrastructure, museums and cultural heritage, as well as the death of British soldiers and service personnel. Blair is also personally accountable for these crimes, yet he has never been called to account, though despised in the court of public opinion.
Following the invasion of Iraq, the US and Britain, with other European powers, went on to destroy Libya in 2011. They continued their attempts to orchestrate and participate in the civil war in Syria and Yemen, also leading to huge numbers of deaths and displacement and rampant destruction in these countries. They continued to escalate confrontation with Iran by weaponising the Arab states alongside Israel.
Today, following the formal withdrawal of first British and then US troops from Iraq in July 2021, the terrorist forces that US and British special forces had a major hand in creating and controlling in Iraq are still killing people on a daily basis in Iraq and Syria. US and British ground, sea and air forces are still actively intervening and carrying out bombing raids and drone strikes in the Middle East and north Africa. Although the Anglo-US forces were forced to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2022, the US still imposes crippling sanctions on that destroyed and impoverished country in which they waged war and occupied for 21 years.
The Anglo-US and the NATO alliance of these western powers, having failed in every single one of their claimed goals in the Middle East and Africa, now imagine that they can escalate their confrontation with Russia in Ukraine by escalating it as a proxy war, as well as threatening China by inciting a conflict between China and the Chinese territory of Taiwan. This is the old colonial and dangerous imperialist course for world hegemony that the world and its people are no longer prepared to accept.
In fact when Bush and Blair were preparing to launch their attack on Iraq in 2003, the people responded with the largest demonstrations around the world. The march of some two million people in London on February 15, 2003, on the eve of the invasion of Iraq was a defining moment. Not only did people say "No to War", but millions condemned the war as "Not in Our Name". This signalled a change world wide that the old order was failing in the face of the new arrangements of the people in the world that was striving to be born. The struggle of the people of the world was firmly against the old warmongering, colonial and imperialist arrangements of the US and Britain and for world domination and hegemony abroad. It was also against their diktat and use of police powers against the people at home.
It is this face of the people - the modern democratic personality of the people and profound democratic demands developing amongst the people themselves that are in contradiction to rule by dictate and war, anarchy and violence - that these imperialists fear the most. This is why today the people are facing the most virulent disinformation campaign of the monopoly media to try and divert their outlook into one of support for the pro-war and warmongering agenda of Britain's ruling elite. In spite of this, thousands have been and are demonstrating, in Britain and across Europe and world-wide, against the US-led NATO escalation of the war in Ukraine and for peace.
On this 20th anniversary of the Anglo-US invasion of Iraq, Workers' Weekly pays tribute to the millions who took part in opposition to the invasion of Iraq and gives the call to yet again make our own history with the outlook that their wars are "not in our name", and that this struggle must lead to establishing the power to implement this outlook for peace and against war. Let us expose what events are revealing, that US-led NATO, with its close ally Britain, are still the real block to peace in Europe and the world.
While it may have looked like the Anglo-US warmongers and their war allies have not been held to account, despite their own wishes, or what they think of themselves, the developments today are settling scores with what they stand for. The clash between the conditions and authority are urging the peoples to step up the fight at this time for what belongs to them by right, for human-centred forms of governance, and to make their countries zones for peace, freedom and democracy.
No to the US/NATO-provoked War in Europe!
Peace Negotiations Now!
No to NATO! No to War!
No to the Westminster "Democracy" which Ensures a Pro-War Government!
Fight for an Anti-War Government!
1. The British government marked this anniversary of their illegal war in Iraq when on March 20 this week answered a question in the Lords tabled by Lord Hylton on March 6. Baroness Goldie for the government and Ministry of Defence said: "Alongside our granting of a squadron of Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, we will be providing ammunition including armour piercing rounds which contain depleted uranium."
2. Responsible Statecraft, March 21, 2023
Research suggests that DU shells can cause long-term environmental damage as well as cancer and birth defects.
"Contamination from Depleted Uranium (DU) munitions and other military-related pollution is suspected of causing a sharp [rise] in congenital birth defects, cancer cases, and other illnesses throughout much of Iraq," wrote journalist Dahr Jamail in an investigation for Al Jazeera. "Many prominent doctors and scientists contend that DU contamination is also connected to the recent emergence of diseases that were not previously seen in Iraq, such as new illnesses in the kidney, lungs, and liver, as well as total immune system collapse."
Rail workers have voted to accept the latest offer from Network Rail in their 9-month dispute with the railway infrastructure operator. The members of RMT, who include signallers and track maintenance workers, voted by 76% to 24% in favour of acceptance on a turnout of 90%. Those who work for 14 private train operating companies across the country are still in dispute and are due to walk out again on strike on March 30 and April 1.
According to the union, key features of the offer include:
The union explained that the new offer, which was also improved with the new money, was made following the most recent strike action in January and the threat of more action. The previous offer had been rejected on a vote of 64%. Following the new vote, the National Executive announced the end of the dispute with Network Rail.
While the union is "not pretending this is an overwhelming victory," said RMT general secretary Mike Lynch, "we do accept our members' verdict."
"Strike action and the inspiring solidarity and determination of members has secured new money and a new offer which has been clearly accepted by our members and that dispute is now over," he said.
Nevertheless, it is clear that negotiation in the strike action represents only a ceasefire in the workers' actions as the dignity of the workers' labour is still up for question, while the employers' offensive continues. Network Rail has plainly stated that it will go ahead with its so-called modernisation and maintenance reforms, which workers oppose. Further, the dispute with the train operating companies is ongoing and the questions of driver-only operated trains and the removal of ticket offices still have not been resolved.
The fact remains that the pay deal does not even meet inflation. The working class as a whole cannot accept below-inflation deals, and living standards cannot be allowed to drop as this too is against the dignity of all workers. Employers and the government cannot demand that workers, nurses, doctors, teachers, pensioners, and society at large accept cuts - cuts to pay, cuts to working conditions, cuts to living standards and services. All of this at a time when the pay the rich schemes, financing war production, and, yet again, bank bailouts are thrust into people's faces.
Speaking in their own name, it is workers who said "Enough is Enough", with the spirit that there must be change. It is the workers who decided to strike, casting huge votes in favour of action. It is also the workers who decided when to hold their fire until another day. Much is being learned in their actions, through which workers are developing their own independent outlook. Rail workers are continuing their struggle to defend their interests, and are well aware that mammoth battles still lie ahead.
(Sources: RMT, news agencies)
Slogan painted on wall in Paris. The visit is now cancelled.
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