Sunday, 11 February 2007

Scottish Stop the War Conference

Yesterday I spoke at the Scottish Stop the War Conference in Glasgow, this is a copy of the speech I delivered. I was also lucky enough to meet Craig Murray (picture below) the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan who was dismissed by the government after he exposed the awful human rights abuses of the central Asian state which is US’s ally on the ‘war on terror.’

Bring you the fraternal greetings of the Scottish Socialist Party.

I am grateful for the invitation to join you today and believe I can humbly say that no party has done more to oppose the illegal invasion, war and continuing occupation of Iraq by British and American forces than the SSP.
Ours has since day one been and remains a consistent and unrelenting anti imperialist position.

Our Opponents Pronouncements
It is always an interesting starting point to look at the point of view of your opponents in order to measure up our achievements.

Last November I was involved in a prolonged piece of correspondence in the letters pages of the Scottish Sunday newspapers with Scots Labour loyalists Brian Wilson, the Former Cabinet Minster, David Cairns MP, Des Browne then the newly installed defence secretary and his departmental colleague Adam Ingram MP.

They had pronounced in the wake of defiance of MOD policy by Military Chiefs of Staff, and escalating carnage in Iraq that
‘We [Britain and US] are bringing peace, stability and democracy to Iraq.’

You could have fooled me. Not much evidence of all three on ground in Iraq.
Peace? Where. Stability? Where. Democracy? Where.

Attacking those of us here who have called for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, Wilson accused us of having
‘little regard for people in Iraq whose lives depend on the presence of British troops.’
Troops whom Wilson claimed without obvious blushing, had ‘arrived three years ago to liberate the people of Basra’!
I mean you could not make this up.
We are the ones who apparently have little regard for innocent Iraqis and they are the ones who invaded and murdered in order to liberate them.

And all this whilst even Wilson was forced to concede that
‘Today Basra is largely run by religious parties and their militias who have infiltrated the police and are backed by Iranian insurgents to run the proliferating political assassination squads and criminal gangs.’
He goes on
‘The evidence of improvements in the provision of daily necessities like foodstuffs, water supplies, adequate housing and electricity is not easily seen.’[ Nov 2006]
And remember this was supposed to be the ‘safe south’ around Basra.
What on earth would he be forced to say about Baghdad?

All of which hugely underplays the carnage and mayhem that is part and parcel of daily life in the greater Baghdad area where most Iraqi’s live.

It is worth reminding ourselves
What the Invasion of Iraq was For?
I] Because Saddam Hussein's regime was responsible for 9/11
Ii] Because S H regime was harbouring and backing Bin Laden
Iii] Because S H had WMDS
Iv] Because S H was a threat to his neighbours, UK , USA
V] Regime Change- yes but not job of Bush and Blair

All complete and calculated lies.

SSP took the view then and maintains that the illegal invasion, war and continuing occupation of a sovereign nation was for US imperial interests in the 21st century.
Those interests pursued to ensure US economic and political power underpinned by worlds only military superpower as a warning to the world.

And of course underpinning all their interests, their interest in oil and its continuous supply to the western world.

21st century US economic imperialism demands taking more out that puts in.
Seizure Of IRAQI OIL Riches
US Plans to privatise Iraqi oil fields and are well under way.
Iraqi Parliament will vote through Bills to that end in April. Paul Bremmer the US envoy has put US companies in place to receive that oil.

Oil Privatisation Opposed
But the plans are being opposed by the Iraqi unions.
The SSP is in contact with these Iraqi unions /political groups, indeed we have continued our links with the Iraqi Union Solidarity Campaign’ and have material here this weekend if people want to take that away with them.

All Events Overshadowed by the
Bloodthirsty Communal and Sectarian Civil War
Or as Labour loyalists like to refer to it as ‘Peace, stability and Democracy’.

UN estimates the killing running at 100 per day. This the equivalent of 36,500 per year of ten times 9/11!
Yet To the demand we here have made for the immediate unconditional withdrawal of UK Troops it is claimed ‘there would be a bloody civil war’!
No wonder we are angry.

How much blame for this massacring blood lust is US/UK occupation responsible?
The current situation is out of control;
Iraqi government is a puppet of US, utterly ineffective and moreover only there because backed by the US military. Do not have the support of the Iraqi population.

So the insurgency –so called – feeds off the hostility of the wider population to the Iraqi government.
The insurgency of the former Ba’athists and Sunni militias on the one hand faces the Iranian backed Shia rebels of the Maghdi Army on the other.

Foreign military occupation is therefore a catalyst for the violence and not a force for unification or pacification or liberation.

Troop Withdrawal
The situation on the ground according to US military command is desperate.
Even in the safe south of Basra the British military command has not been able to venture out of its Basra Palace command HQ in 6 months other than on military protected sorties back and forth to the UK.
They are well aware that the so called battle for ‘hearts and minds’ has been lost.

It is in these dire circumstances, which led to the utterly unprecedented interviews in the Daily Mail last November by the General Command, effectively to go public and countermand MOD policy in Iraq and demand an immediate plan for a phased withdrawal must be seen.

So what has happened to the phased withdrawal?
Last November MOD forced to promise the number of UK troops in Iraq, then at 7200, would be reduced to 3500 by February.
However like their US allies have actually sent more. Bush announced that 30,000 more US troops be sent.
In other words they are headlong into a disastrous and ‘catastrophic failure of policy’ and cannot easily get out of it.
To withdraw would be to lose huge credibility and admit defeat and to stay is to make that defeat all the more certain and all the more humiliating.
If I stay there could be trouble, if I stay it will be double.’’

Tony Blair’s Legacy
Has the hands of 130 UK troops on his hands and 3,000 US troops and 660,000 innocent Iraqis. Iraq will haunt him the rest of his life.
His political legacy Iraq: lies, death, and a catastrophic failure of policy.
The worst leader Labour has ever had…paradox as first to lead them to three election victories.

Trident TWO his parting gift.

The longer UK forces remain in Iraq the greater their defeat, the greater the bloodshed and the greater the ignominious retreat forced on American imperialism. In that sense another Vietnam on the way.

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