All out against the war

October 31 will see dozens of meetings, rallies and university teach-ins against the threatened attack on Iraq. The Stop the War Coalition has organised many local events for the 'Day of action to stop the war'. It is very important that we keep the momentum going after the tremendous turnout for the September 28 in London and the October 19 in Glasgow demonstrations - 300,000 on the first and 15,000 on the second. Many, many more people could become activated and politicised in this period - if there is organisation on the ground. The prospect of a long-term military occupation of a post-war Iraq, as envisaged by George W Bush, even frightens the British establishment: "In a sign of new tensions emerging between the US and UK over possible action against Iraq, senior British officials say the toppling of Mr Hussein's regime would have to be followed by the imposition of an interim administration under a United Nations flag." (Financial Times October 21). Of course this does not mean that we support Tony 'the dove' Blair against George 'the hawk' Bush. Or that we call on the UN to give its blessing to an attack against a population that is already suffering under the inhuman sanctions imposed by exactly that organisation. Quite the opposite. Divisions at the top open up the space for pressure from below. These are ideal conditions for the working class to voice its opposition and its own alternative. In such a highly political period masses of people follow political debate. Many will be looking for answers. For our rulers the question is simple: not only is Saddam Hussein an evil dictator who oppresses his own people; he is apparently now threatening the whole of western society with his 'weapons of mass destruction'. This is hypocrisy times two. The American bourgeoisie would not lose any sleep over the former, while there is still no evidence for the latter. While long-term access to the oil resources of the Middle East is a concern of the imperialists, the real reason for attacking Iraq is the necessity to 'sort out' rogue states. In the aftermath of September 11, the USA is keen to impose its political and military hegemony over the world. If you are not with us, you are against us. So far, the media machine has been very successful in convincing a majority of people that it is up to the British and American military to resolve the situation. According to the latest poll, conducted by MORI/ITV News, 71% of all Britons support an attack on Iraq with a United Nations mandate, although only 22% support a war without UN backing (The Guardian October 17). The Bali bomb helped too. In this situation, the left must put forward its own answers in the shape of a consistently democratic programme. A new regime imposed from above by the west will never be accepted by the Iraqi people in the long term. The instability of Afghanistan serves as an example. It is up to the Iraqis themselves to overthrow their dictator and establish their own democracy from below. True, on western television screens there is no sign of any viable opposition. But last week's farcical 100% presidential 'referendum' and the claimed release of every single prisoner shows how vulnerable Saddam Hussein really is. We have already seen demonstrations in Baghdad by the families of prisoners not released in his amnesty. Such courage is highly significant politically. His unstable regime could simply implode. Tina Becker