AFTER the initial massive demonstrations against the Iraq invasion, the anti-war movement in Europe appeared to have lost its momentum. It seemed that, disillusioned at their failure to have any impact on leaders like Britain’s Tony Blair, all those ordinary people who had felt that the war had been foisted upon them with trumped-up justification, retired hurt. This turns out not to be so.
A huge demonstration is being planned for Saturday 18 March in protest against the US / UK continued occupation of Iraq. Protests are already planned in over 40 towns and cities across the world and they will be joined by mass demonstrations in Baghdad and in Basra, all calling for "Troops Out of Iraq". The Iraqis marching in Baghdad and Basra will be uniting with protesters in Amsterdam, Ankara, Athens, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Boston, Copenhagen, Denver, Dublin, Geneva, Helsinki, Istanbul, Jakarta, Karachi, Lisbon, Ljubljana, London, Madrid, Managua, Manila, Melbourne, Memphis, Minneapolis, Montreal, New York, Odense, Oklahoma, Ottawa, Seoul, Stockholm, Sydney, Tarragona, Toronto, Vancouver, Vienna, Warsaw, and many other towns and cities. (see http://www.stopwar.org.uk/march20). Across Britain, meetings, street stalls, film shows and other events are being organised to help build support for the London demonstration.
March 18 is the third anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq, which has been opposed consistently by the majority of British people, millions of whom over the past four years have been involved in what is the biggest protest movement in British history. Close to 15,000 leaflets publicising the March 18 international day of protest against the Iraq occupation and threat of war against Iran, have been distributed at the large anti-Islamophobia demonstrations held in London over the past two weekends, with many of the demonstrators saying they would be in London for the third anniversary of the attack on Iraq.
Muslims came from all over Britain on February 11 and February 18 to protest against the attacks on their religion and the racism which has over the past few weeks too often been promulgated under the disguise of "freedom of speech", following the publication of offensive and racist cartoons in a Danish newspaper. Many Muslims that the attacks on their community were also being used to undermine the anti-war message, at a time when the news from Iraq and the details of torture and abuse perpetrated by the US and UK armies have once again highlighted the scale of the war crimes that have been — and continue to be — committed by the occupying forces.
At the same time, it has become increasingly clear that one of the main reasons advanced for the attack on Iraq — that Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium in Niger in order to build an atomic bomb — was based on documents forged by rogue CIA officers. Although the forgeries were crude and easily discredited by the International Atomic Energy Authority — once the US Administration allowed the IAEA to inspect them — the main thrust of the documents were used by President Bush on 28 January 2003 to justify the attack on Iraq. He said, without any real evidence whatsoever, that Iraq had sought out uranium in "an African country" in order to make a nuclear bomb". If the president took the United States to war with a case that he knew to be false he could well be impeached.
This is what is really behind the special prosecutor’s investigation into the "outing" of the CIA officer Valerie Plame, wife of former ambassador Jow Wilson. Wilson investigated the Niger uranium claim and pronounced it as nonsense, thus embarrassing the president. Plame’s "outing" is seen by many as an act of revenge and a warning. The special prosecutor’s investigations appear to be moving closer to the vice-president and may not stop there. All this boosts the anti-war movement.Phillip Knightley is a veteran British journalist and commentator. He can be reached at PhillipGK@aol.com