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[casi] Speech for Glossop anti-war meeting

[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]

If anyone can face reading it all, here it is. Any corrections, suggestions and criticisms welcomed!

First of all, let me say that it is good to see that some politicians are still aware of the need 
to consult the people. I'd like to thank Tom Levitt for taking time this evening to listen to his 
constituents whom he will be representing tomorrow. It is to be hoped that his presence here 
tonight is more than an appearance. It is to be hoped that what he hears tonight will impress upon 
him the need to do whatever he can to prevent the coming slaughter in Iraq.

It is difficult to be brief because the reasons against war are manifest. First of all, let us bear 
in mind that the people of Iraq have suffered greatly for the last eleven years thanks directly to 
the policies of this country's government. As most people here will know, one and a half million 
people are estimated to have died as a result of the sanctions regime and the continuous bombing 
raids that US and UK planes are flying every day.  Disease is rife as, denied access to clean water 
and subjected to disproportionately high amounts of radiation, children are dying in agony from 
diseases such as diarrhoea and XXXXX. In their dying days they are often prevented from taking more 
than aspirin to help their pains. Anaesthetics and other pain killers have been labelled 'dual 
purpose' by the US and the UK. That is, they might possibly be used to make weapons.

Shamefully, half a million children aged under 5 have been allowed to die in this way. Legally, 
this does not constitute genocide, but there is a crime against humanity called extermination which 
could be brought against the US and the UK. Unfortunately, the US has used its muscle to ensure 
that it can never be arraigned before an International Court of Justice.

 The majority of those Iraqis who manage to survive are eking out an existence with the rations 
that are doled out to them. When the new bombs fall, these people will be hard hit. They will have 
their very means of existence snatched away from them and they will die. Once again, they will die 
of starvation. They will die of radiation poisoning and they will die of disease. The Pentagon has 
come up with figures of at least 100 000 civilian deaths.

Let us be clear. All of this talk of regime change is a new euphemism for war.  Blair and Bush 
would have us believe that this is some sort of moral crusade for the rights of people  who have 
already suffered enough. What we are encouraged to forget is that a large proportion of Hussein's 
poisonous gases, his arms and his weapons were either sold to him by British industry or made using 
technology bought from England. Our governments had no moral qualm then. It seems strange that they 
 have found our conscience now! As the Iraqi dictator ordered the massacre at Halabjah, British 
government officials were sat on his white couch, smiling for the cameras. The following month, a 
man from Trade and Industry was offering Hussein export credits worth 340 million. He returned a 
year later to close the deal and celebrate the growth of Iraqi trade with Britain which had grown 
from 2.9m to 31.5m, all within the space of a year.

Much is made of the need to win approval from the UN if this war is to be fought. It seems strange 
considering that the last war in Iraq was fought without the approval of the UN. A pedant might 
point out that this was illegal. But, considering the USA's impunity, a cynic might reply that this 
would appear to be irrelevant. In any case, one should look at the bluff and bluster of the USA in 
this matter. Such is the concern for Iraq to respect UN authority that the USA and, shamefully, the 
Labour government of this country, have signalled that they are prepared to defy the very same 
authority and wage war regardless of what the UN says!  We have the tragicomic scene of Bush 
insisting on the return of the UN inspectors and then threatening to block their mission once the 
Iraqi government agrees! We have the juxtaposition on the BBC news of a statement from Saddam 
Hussein saying that Iraqi has no chemical weapons, no biological weapons and no nuclear weapons 
with the response from the White House saying that this is 'disappointing!' I am sure they were 
disappointed! In 1998, once it was revealed that the UNSCOM inspectors were passing information 
directly to US military intelligence, they were removed quickly in order to allow British pilots to 
fly in alongside their American allies and bomb Iraq and its people. The official reason was that 
the Iraqis were hindering weapons inspections. George Bush is the one who is now threatening to 
hinder weapons inspections. The Iraqi people are the ones who are threatened with more 

Faced with the unchanging barrage of half truths and barefaced lies, it is hard to remember some 
salient facts about the UN. Firstly, it will be a cabal of 15 nations who decide whether or not we 
go to war with Iraq. Those fifteen nations are made up of ten relatively small and quite powerless 
countries, including Mauritius and Ireland. Interestingly, it is from a Mauritian island that was 
denied independence by the British, that warplanes will leave to bomb the Iraqi people to death. 
The island of Diego Garcia was retained by the British who forced its native population out of 
their homes and into exile. Luckily, they were hidden in foreign slums and  as death and disease 
weave their magic effect, they will soon be no more than an abstract example for concerned liberals 
to tut about. Their island was promptly made available to the USA as a refuelling base and a 
nuclear weapons dump.

The remaining five are the Permanent Members. Each of these five must agree to take the same 
action. Failure to do so means that UN blessing is withheld and any aggressive action taken in the 
light of this will be deemed to be illegal. That was what happened in 1998 when China abstained. 
But nobody thought to investigate that! In return for its passive support, China was granted 'most 
favoured country' status in the US and the world was allowed to forget the massacre in Tianenmen 
square. Russia was given an imperial thank you of some $4bn. The UK didn't need persuading and 
Canada also did what it had to do.

We also need to disabuse ourselves of the idea that the UN Security Council is an independent body 
which always does the right thing. The UN Security Council jumps when the Master tells it to. It is 
made up of individuals who represent their countries and who have their countries' best interests 
at heart. If the Master promises billions of dollars for their country in return for their support, 
they have shown that they will be bought. If the Master offers shares in the world oil market, they 
will jump higher than any of us can imagine. Disgracefully, the UK govenment jumps higher than all 
the rest put together!

This is why the UN has turned a blind eye towards the massacre of the Iraqi people, despite the 
most damning evidence coming from its own people on the ground. This is why the UN gave the 
go-ahead to invade Somalia, Korea, Viet Nam and Cambodia. This is why the UN allowed Pol Pot's 
Khmer Rouge to reconstitute itself and actually devoted huge amounts of aid to this end. This is 
why Iraqi people are facing annihilation whilst the nearby State of Israel having violated 68 UN 
Resolutions, attacked and invaded 6 countries, not including Palestine, occupied 3 countries of 
which one remains occupied, excluding Palestine; having started three wars, being in possession of 
weapons of mass destruction, being in possession of nuclear weapons, having as a leader an infamous 
war criminal and being responsible for the deaths of 17 and a half thousand Lebanese civilians, has 
not once suffered the disapprobation of the Security Council.

I apologise for having talked for so long. It just remains for me to remind Tom Levitt that his job 
tomorrow is to represent the feelings of his constituents accurately. There are a number of us who 
are opposed to war whether with or without the approval of the UN. We stand in solidarity with the 
workers and the oppressed of Iraq. We refuse to allow them to be butchered in the interests of our 
governments. Tomorrow, you will have the opportunity to show yourself as a man of honour rather 
than a man of career. Don't make the mistake of thinking that disobeying the boss could cost you 
your job. It may well be that obeying your boss is what will put you on the street.


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