Stop the War NOW!

17 Feb

I have my differences with those who, while sharing my view that blame for the Ukraine War lies with Washington, say the Kremlin is also culpable. For reasons given many times before and after February 24, 2022 – here for instance – I say Russia, having repeatedly failed over many years to gain a peaceful resolution of her legitimate concerns, had no acceptable alternative.

But what I share with those people is vastly more important; namely, cognizance of just how dangerous a thing is America’s war machine, “our” governments’ subservience to those who drive it – see yesterday’s post on Canberra – and above all a recognition that the world has never been so close to thermonuclear war.

I’ll be standing shoulder to shoulder with them a week tomorrow – in London’s Portland Place at 12 noon on February 25 as per the above notification. Hope to see you there too.

Meanwhile I urge you all to read this excoriating offering by Media Lens. It’s a characteristically forensic piece on how ill served we have been, still are, and will continue to be until we finally recognise, en masse, that media business models absolutely debar them from speaking the truth on matters as important to power as war. Here the focus is on their coverage of the wars, linked in more ways than one, in Ukraine and, twenty years earlier, Iraq.

“A Beautiful Outpouring Of Rage” – The Observer, The Great Peace March And Nord Stream

London’s Hyde Park, February 15, 2003

The 20th anniversary of the illegal, unprovoked US-UK war of aggression on Iraq comes at an awkward time for a UK press currently suppressing the truth of the illegal, provoked Russian invasion of Ukraine. It’s particularly awkward for our fearless watchdogs to recall the great anti-war march of 15 February 2003 when, in 2023, they are busy stifling dissent protesting America’s horrific proxy war in Ukraine.

In the Observer, Tim Adams wrote a piece under the joyous title:

‘”A beautiful outpouring of rage”: did Britain’s biggest ever protest change the world?’

Now that it doesn’t matter – Iraq hasn’t mattered, or even existed, for the UK press for years – the Guardian Media Group can allow one of its journalists to portray the protest as ‘beautiful’. Ironically, Adams’ piece is an ugly rejection of everything it professes to admire. This comment says it all:

‘Knowing what we know now, those who gathered that day in the capital were on the right side of history.’

In fact, on 15 February 2003, it was absolutely clear that we protestors ‘were on the right side of history’ on the basis of what we knew then!  But 20 years on, as though caught in a time warp, Adams persists with the fake ‘mainstream’ focus of the time:

‘The marchers at the time did not agree on everything, but they shared a commitment to try to silence the drumbeat to war – or to at least to give the UN weapons inspectors more time to find the fabled weapons of mass destruction on which the rhetoric of Blair and President George W Bush depended (the previous day, Hans Blix, leader of those inspectors, had again informed the UN that no such weapons had yet been found).’

And again:

‘The Observer was split down the middle over whether to support the government in its desperate efforts to get a UN mandate for war…

‘Although the news section of that day’s Observer was solidly in awe of the peace march, elsewhere the leader column suggested that, “as the least worst option” it reluctantly went along “with a majority in Britain who would accept military action if backed by the UN security council”.’

It’s fine to mention that these were indeed ‘mainstream’ obsessions at the time, but not without pointing out that it was all nonsense. The whole focus on ‘weapons of mass destruction’ (WMD) was fake, a crude deception. There were no ‘weapons of mass destruction’ left in Iraq by 2002 – as chief UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter was telling anyone who would listen in 2002 and 2003. But even if there had been, they were battlefield weapons, artillery shells, made with Western assistance by an Iraqi government that had no links whatsoever to the September 11 terrorists; a government that had shown no interest whatever in waging a terror campaign against the US or Britain – countries that had been using any manufactured excuse to torture the country into submission through genocidal sanctions for 13 years.

There was never any question of Iraq possessing nuclear weapons. But even if there had been battlefield biological and chemical weapons, and even if Iraq had had links with al-Qaeda, Britain and the US would have had no right to invade a country by which neither had been attacked or even threatened. And what would Saddam Hussein, clearly facing an all-out superpower oil grab, possibly gain by attacking or supporting attacks on the West? Any such attacks would have dramatically increased the risk to his own life for no practical gain.

But even if Britain and the US had been attacked by Iraq, they would not have had the right to devastate the country with a completely disproportionate invasion and occupation. Would we argue that Iraq had the right to invade, occupy and devastate the United States and Britain in response to ‘our’ air attacks and invasion?

We very much doubt that the Observer’s then editor, Roger Alton, was ‘solidly in awe’ of the peace march. In January 2003, as war loomed, Alton told his staff:

‘We’ve got to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Americans.’ (Nick Davis, Flat Earth News, Chatto & Windus, 2008, p.350)

In September 2006, the Evening Standard reported that Alton had been on ‘something of a lads’ holiday’ in the Alps. His companions included Jonathan Powell, ‘Tony Blair’s most trusted aide’, and staunch Blairite MP and propagandist Denis MacShane. (Gideon Spanier, ‘In the air,’ Evening Standard, 6 September 2006)

A few days after the march, leading Observer columnist Nick Cohen poured scorn on:

‘The satisfaction of an anti-war movement which persuaded one million people to tell Iraqis they must continue to live under a tyranny…’ (Cohen, ‘The Left’s unholy alliance with religious bigotry,’ The Observer, 23 February 2003)

What does Adams have in mind when he writes of ‘Knowing what we know now’? Of course, he means there were no WMD and the results of the war were catastrophic for Iraqis (although not for the US-UK; the war was not at all a ‘failure’, as is often claimed). But that is a tiny part of what we now know, and no thanks to the Observer and the Guardian. As we reported last year, any casual reader can Google ‘BP and Iraq’ and find:

‘In 2009, bp became the first international oil company to return to Iraq after a period of 35 ‎years…

‘‎Today, bp, PetroChina and BOC are working in partnership to develop Rumaila, the ‎second-largest producing field in the world, estimated to have around 17 billion barrels of ‎recoverable oil remaining.‎’

Anyone can Google ‘Exxon and Iraq’ and find:

‘In January 2010, ExxonMobil Iraq Limited (EMIL), an affiliate of Exxon Mobil Corporation, signed an agreement with the South Oil Company of the Iraq Ministry of Oil to rehabilitate and redevelop the West Qurna I field in southern Iraq…

‘In October 2011, ExxonMobil signed six Production Sharing Contracts covering more than 848,000 acres in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.’

Read the full Media Lens piece …

London on the 25th – it’s in your diary, right?

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11 Replies to “Stop the War NOW!

  1. I can’t come to London on the 25th, but will be there in spirit.
    I swear by everything that the two Davids write at Media Lens. The mendacity of the so called journalists at the Guardian especially, never ceases to amaze me. They are apparently now writing all kinds of shite like “If only we knew then what we know now ” which is disingenuous bollocks because in 2002 and early 2003 the likes of Scott Ritter were telling anyone prepared to listen that Iraq had no WMDs.
    Jonathan Cook especially regularly writes about the useful idiot for warmongers that is George Monbiot.
    You may have seen the film Official Secrets with Keira Knightley playing the part of Katharine Gun, a courageous woman who risked prison to expose the dirty goings on by the US and British secret services. She was only spared almost certain imprisonment because Blair and Co didn’t want exposed the fact that their top lawyer had been sent to Washington to have his arm twisted into saying an invasion would be legal.
    Of course no risk of any of the war criminals being prosecuted. Anyway the point I wanted to make was that Roger Alton, Observer editor at the time of the Iraq invasion, was rightly portrayed as being all for the war. And he was best mates with Blair’s chief of staff.
    They never change. They’re now all for the US proxy war with Russia.
    Hope the event on the 25th goes well.
    Peace xx

    • Shame you can’t be there, Margaret. We could finally have met in person.

      The two Davids at ML do vital work.

      Jonathan is good too.

      Yup, I did see and enjoy Official Secrets.

      Nope, they never change …

      Peace through Solidarity x

  2. Looking back on both of those marches – there was an earlier one in September of 2002 which I also attended – what stands out in stark contrast to the present moment was a contextual clarity about the situation within the StW movement which, to be both frank and honest, I’m struggling to find at present.

    At one point, stood in Hyde Park listening to the speakers on the stage during the February 15 2003 event, I was asked by a couple of people working through the crowd shooting a video vox pop to put my pennysworth.

    Interestingly, this request coincided with the recollection I was having of a conversation I had on the previous September march – only a few hundred yards from where I was standing at that point in time – with a mutual acquaintance who, using as a reference point my experience of having served in the armed forces in my younger days, had speculated aloud along the lines of what might be achieved to prevent what we all knew (even then) was likely to happen if WE had access to the kind of hardware equipment which is the basic tool of any soldier.

    A recollection which totally buggered up the point I had wanted to articulate as I had watched this pair of vox poppers work through the crowd. Which was that even with ten times the number of protesters all the verbal denunciation from the stage would not be sufficient to prevent what had been planned for Iraq (among others – see the well known segment of the General Wesley Clarke interview from a few years back on the planned invasion of no less than 7 countries). Ergo the only practical non-violent way of preventing the Iraq invasion would be for every single individual present at that event and others across the UK and Europe to immediately up sticks and use whatever means of transport necessary to decamp en mass to Iraq and use ourselves as human shields.

    And, whilst the subject of that recollected conversation from the previous September was made more in frustration than anger or genuine intent, the realisation at that moment was that it contained a practical point of clarity which totally undermined the point I had wanted to articulate. Given what we all knew at the time and have experienced since it is inconceivable that such a notion of successfully getting to Iraq in sizable numbers and using ourselves as human shields would have made the slightest practical difference to the intended timetable and outcome.

    My (sub) point (on clarity)?

    I don’t recall hearing even a hint of a single argument from any source at the time or since – belligerent or antiwar – that whilst the former CIA asset Saddam Hussain was a genuine bona fide brutal dictator that Iraq and Iraqi’s did not have the right to counter, both defensively and offensively, by force of arms what was about to happen.

    Moreover, assuming a level of honesty (which, I concede, experience suggests may not exist) among all those present in both body and spirit in September 2002 and February 2003 I would wager a substantial sum that I would encounter great difficulty in finding anyone involved in the anti-war movement and its supporters from that time who would not have at the very least breathed a huge sigh of relief if someone, somewhere, had stepped in with the only practical option to prevent what was planned. Which was to militarily intervene with sufficient means to prevent the planned slaughter and rape of a people which everyone involved on those marchers reasonably claimed they wished to achieve.

    Granted, it may not have been made explicit, but I’d argue the practical point implicit in that conversation from the September 2002 protest march was implicitly recognised as valid by most, if not all, of those involved in the UK antiwar movement at that time. That is; that the only practical way to prevent what happened in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya would have been for some other power to step in and not only say but demonstrate practically this far and no further.

    And, an aside, that is exactly what has now occurred.

    The same cannot be said of the anti-war organisation right now. Everyone with a working brain cell knows that:

    1. If the Russian Federation had not preempted what everyone knows was planned the peoples of the Donbass Oblast’s and the Crimea would have suffered the same fate as those of Iraq, Libya, Syria (before the Russian Federation stopped it in it’s tracks), Somalia, et al.

    Unless of course one believes in the fantastical notion that the bulk of the best troops of the NATO Ukrainian armed and trained forces were massed on the Donbass contact line (and according to the OSCE were increasing its murderous shelling and slaughter of civilians) – at a time when the bulk of the Russian forces were concentrated far to the north in Belarus – in preparation for their works weeks annual outing to the Black Sea?

    2. That both Russia and China (and according to recent recorded and written statements, from within the same USA MIC that planned to take out seven countries in short order, a war with China is penciled in for 2025) would be next on the list.

    And what I find odd to the point of reeking hypocrisy is the lack of clarity from the anti-war movement as an organisation which seems more concerned with virtue signalling than practicalities such as evidence and doing what it says on the tin.

    The current plague on both your houses approach clearly implies that it would be far better for the Russian Federation and its peoples to have sat back and done nothing. Let themselves be slaughtered, raped, and dismembered back to the stone age like the peoples of Iraq, Afghanisatan, Libya etc.

    Indeed, there is a strong sense here along the lines of this might well be unfortunate for those adversely affected but at least it provides self-styled and self-identified trendy Western ‘progressives’ the opportunity to tut tut among themselves from a position of safety and comfort (as per Caitlin Johnson’s point) about how terrible it was that so many people were attacked and savaged in Eastern Ukraine, Crimea, and eventually Russia.

    Just like happened in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria.

    And we have not even yet touched on the lazy and dishonest use of the term ‘invasion’ in this narrative – a narrative which exactly matches The Official Narrative (TON). Clearly used in a sense which, without a hint of chutzpah, equates the existential based response of the Russian approach with that of the Western actions in cases such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya etc.

    And herein lies the key point. To achieve the objective of genuine practical peace, starting with peace talks there is a requirement to properly, adequately and consistently identify the problem using the available evidence. To apply principles consistently. To do what it says on the tin. Just like with any real world problem issue at any and all levels.

    Right now I don’t see any convincing evidence that the anti-war movement of today, as an organisation, even recognises or wants to recognise those necessary requirements to achieving those on the tin stated objectives of peace and peace talks. At present all I’m seeing is the exact opposite. To be brutally frank I cannot see how that stated objective, in a practical rather than theoretical sense, can be reconciled with an approach which refuses point blank to recognise and accept the necessary basic evidence based staring point to achieving that stated objective.

    Is just seems like watching modern (sic) management in action. This is our objective but we are going to ignore the evidence necessary to achieve that objective and take the opposite approach because we ‘feel’, regardless of what realities anyone else points out, that this is the right approach according to our opinions.

    Being serious about doing the business means not doing a bodge job. As a result I might well be sitting this one out?

    • As you know Dave, I am neither a pacifist nor a supporter of the ‘plague on all their houses’ Stop the War Coalition. (Or for that matter the SWP, from which co-founders Lindsey German and John Rees emerged, under circumstances far from clear to me.)

      I agree with your arguments against its publicly stated positions, and have said so on this and other sites, most importantly in respect of the dirty war on Syria.

      That is why my attendance will NOT be to endorse StW.

      It will be for two reasons:

      • To stand with those who, like me, are horrified by what is happening. I say that giving unified voice to our horror, however impotently, matters.
      • To engage with all who will listen on why the current war (like all the others: past, present and yet to be) is happening. I can hardly be accused of having been unforthcoming on that question (!) and you know me well enough to realise that I shan’t be Zipping My Lips For Peace & Harmony on Saturday week in London.

      The StW Coalition is a popular front. Popular fronts are ‘rainbow alliances’. Of necessity their foundations are shaky. That’s why they always fail at the first hurdle – the problem definition stage of which you speak. Informing their approach is fear of upsetting a castle of cards: a shaky reconciliation of irreconcilable interests. Twas ever thus. In its public utterances on all of this century’s imperialist wars, StW has failed that most basic test – what exactly is the problem here? – and for the reasons you imply.

      But should those of us with better understandings, of what is happening and why, hold our noses and stay away? I see a great danger of sectarianism. I say there’s a compelling case for getting in there and making our arguments in an arena where there’s a chance of being heard.

      PS – the issues at stake here are so important I’d like to promote this exchange to an ATL post. That OK with you?

      PPS – there’s still time – just – for the two of us, and anyone else of similar mind, to put together and print a few hundred copies of a short statement as to why this war is happening. These could be handed out on the demo. Interested?

      • No worries. I have in mind a related post on the Crazy’s thread. However, I’m pressed for time right now. Will get back later during the weekend.

  3. Great work, Dave. Someone should run off your central argument and hand it out on the march. I’ve never seen the point made better.

  4. Dave is of course on the money – but so is Phil. StW is the closest we’ve got to a public platform questioning and opposing US and NATO military aggression in Ukraine. Riddled with contradictions and lack of analysis though it is – it’s what we’ve got and where a pitifully small number of people (given its broad church approach) who oppose Western actions are.

    It’s one of the few opportunities we’ve got to dissent publicly about what is being done in our name.

    See you in London on the 25th Phil.

  5. I have to say I’m with Bevin in commending Dave on his representation of a point that is never addressed by these STW demonstrations. Whilst I might admire the work that Roger Waters dedicates himself to, I read the transcript of his address at the UNSecCouncil and was dismayed. He followed the same script as the false narrative of the Graund etc. insomuch as he blamed Russia and of course that evil doer Putin.
    This war by the US FOR the US against Russia(and the EU if they would but admit it) in this particular instance(it will be China, Iran or Syria again the next time round)has been in the planning since the US realised that Putin wasn’t just another (sober) oligarch and had every intention of remedying the massive harm the US, Yeltsin & thieving oligarchs had visited on Russia & it’s people.
    For eight years now the predominantly Russian ethnics of Eastern Ukraine have suffered every kind of cruelty the neo Nazi western Ukraine AND NATO US poodles could inflict on them while Putin tried his best to negotiate peace both for them and Russians in their Motherland.
    Meanwhile the STW coalition did absolutely Sweet FA and waited until there was hardship and suffering for anyone else not Russian to become evident and NOW they want to take a stand against war?
    What kind of outfit are these people promoting and what circumstances warrant a demonstration, especially of this magnitude, before they are willing to act against war? When Russia is the one supposedly instigating it(despite all evidence to the contrary)?
    I hope you get the chance to put the record straight just as you have previously successfully done in so many of your posts in defence of the Russian people & their President.
    I wish I could help, but I don’t travel well or I would bring my own fliers to the venue and hand them out.
    Best wishes & hope the weather is kind to you.

    Susan 🙂

    • Well it goes without saying Susan that if the weather is not kind to me, I shan’t be turning up! I’m a committed sort of chap, but there are limits!!!

      (Just kidding …)

    • Well, it looks like at least some anti-war protests in some surprising parts of the world are officially organised to march under their own narratives:

      “”No NATO, no war” – such slogans were heard in Washington. Hundreds of Americans held a rally in the center of the US capital demanding to dissolve the North Atlantic Alliance and stop military assistance to Ukraine. The Biden administration was accused of wasting American taxpayers ‘ money.

      Soviet and Russian flags right in front of the Lincoln Memorial in the United States. What do you think of that, Joe Biden? Hundreds of Americans took to the streets of Washington demanding not just to stop the supply of weapons to Kiev, but to stop the indirect war. Such a policy, according to the audience, does not benefit anyone except military corporations.”

      “The anti-war protesters demanded NATO’s dissolution, peace negotiations with Russia.

      The anti-war protesters gathered to demand that the U.S. stop sending weapons to Ukraine, disband NATO, and join China and Russia in creating a multi-polar world, among other demands.

      The rally was addressed by speakers that included former State Department speakers, politicians, journalists, and activists.

      “I know some people, who would not show up to this peace rally, this anti-war rally, because of some of the speakers they had lined up on stage,” Jimmy Dore, a comedian and popular podcast host said on stage.

      “I get what they are saying ‘hey, I want to stop a nuclear war, but not with those people.’ The people who won’t be attending today never had any intention of doing so. If it wasn’t one of the speakers, it would have been the weather. It would have been because they have more important things to do than survive. They will be at home watching CNN not cover this all day.”

      The protest was criticized, mostly from the left, for hosting some speakers who hold conservative views on social issues, and for being organized in part by libertarian groups.”

      Given the track record over recent times of the controlled ‘trendy left’ that Caitlin Johnson eviscerates I bet they did. And not only over the speakers but also the narrative as a result of its evidence based approach.

      As Mr Punch might observe: “That’s the way to do it!”

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