Iraq: Anti-war protests – Belgium and Canada

More than 10,000 demonstrated against the war in the streets of Brussels last Sunday. This was an important succes given the fact the trade union organisations didn’t realy mobilise and given the fact that some on the left had boycotted the demo.

Anti war protests in Belgium and Canada

10,000 demonstrate at Brussels anti-war demo

The demonstrators opposed the war for oil. This was generally accepted. A banner of the christian trade union federation ACV-CSC read: "No war for oil". Some traditional politicians from the Greens and social democrats who were present couldn’t answer the question asked by the television teams asking them: "No war in Iraq, but you did agree on delivering arms to Nepal, how do you explain?".

LSP/MAS (Belgian CWI section) intervened with a big group of members and supporters. We had a loud delegation of 150-200 mainly youth and our placards and stickers were present in the whole demo. We had the loudest contingent shouting slogans as: "Bush, Blair, CIA, How many kids did you kill today?", "Geen oorlog voor olie, Stop Bush en Blair" (No war for oil, stop Bush and Blair), "Bush Assassin, Blair son chien", (Bush: killer, Blair: his dog), "Résistance internationale contre la guerre du capital", "Internationaal Verzet tegen de oorlog van het kapitaal", (International resistance against capitalist war), "George Bush, we know you, daddy was a killer too",…

We sold over 200 papers and collected over 500 euro for our campaign fund. At least one joined the party on the demo.

This demo has to be used to build the anti-war resistance on a local level. Therefore we called for the setting up of anti-war committees in the schools, factories, universities,…

Canadian socialists say no to war

Below is the text of a leaflet distributed by members of Socialist Alternative (CWI in Canada) during last Saturday’s 6,000 strong rally against Bush’s war plans. CWI Online, 18 November 2002.

For a mass mobilisation of workers and youth to stop the Imperialist war machine!

Bush has interpreted the mid-term election results in the US as a support for war. In fact only 37% of the population voted and opposition to war is increasing. Nonetheless the next phase of the US administration’s drive towards war on Iraq has begun. After almost two months of wrangling, the UN Security Council has unanimously agreed a resolution on Iraq.

Those on the Security Council who oppose war are claiming that the resolution is their victory. The Syrian foreign minister said that the resolution "has pushed the phantom of war into the background for several weeks or months. Our goal is to spare Iraq and the region from a military strike".

This is an attempt to hide reality from the Arab masses. This is a war for the prestige and profit of US imperialism. The UN Security Council resolution is little more than an inadequate disguise for the brute interests of US imperialism.

Bribery and threats

Colin Powell and company used a combination of bribery and threats to get other countries on board. Russia and France were undoubtedly promised a cut of the oil bonanza that the US expects if they take Iraq.

Smaller countries like Syria were reminded of what happened to Yemen when they voted against the last Gulf War (they were then on the UN Security Council). The US declared Yemen’s vote as the most expensive ’no’ in history, and promptly cut off its aid.

As Rice and Powell have made clear, in essence this resolution gives the US what they want. The resolution leaves room for the US to go to war unilaterally if they consider Iraq to have failed to comply with the inspectors, and the US government has made it absolutely clear that they intend to do so.

The US military build up in the region has continuing apace. It is estimated that there are already up to 50,000 US service personnel in the region. By January there could be enough for a full-scale invasion, with sufficient troops for a smaller scale operation within a month.

And Bush and his advisors expected that Saddam Hussein will fail to comply. No wonder – the resolution is designed to be impossible to comply with. Rice has talked about ’zero tolerance’, meaning that the smallest ’breach’ by the Iraqi regime will result in war.

Despite Chretien [Canadian prime minister] pretence at having an "independent" foreign policy, the Liberals are preparing to fall in line behind Bush and waste hundreds of millions on war, which should be spent on housing and health care in Canada.

Imperialism brings misery to billions across the planet and the US’ wars are just the tip of this iceberg. Only socialism can provide a solution, where working people worldwide, with the vast resources of capitalism at their disposal, can begin to democratically and rationally plan society and solve the problems afflicting humankind.

Socialist Alternative (CWI in Canada)

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November 2002