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The war to oppose is the next one

Gerard Killoran on stopping Bush’s war plans.

The biggest issue facing the British left in the coming year is what do if the United States bombs Iran. In a press conference in Brussels on 22 February 2005 Bush said, "This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. And having said that, all options are on the table." Bush did not say that he would get ready to attack at some time in the future. If that happens, Blair will be asked to join in and he also has not ruled it out. There has been a great deal of fuss during the election campaign about Michael Howard's use of the word 'liar' to describe Tony Blair, as if it was somehow a breach of the rules of the gentleman's club that is British Politics.

Blair does lie, but he prefers to use other methods to deceive the public. In the case of Iran, Blair has promised not to invade knowing that this is not the American plan. The Americans and British have barely enough ground troops to maintain the occupation of Iraq and so a bombing campaign intended to provoke regime change as in Yugoslavia is the preferred option. Last November Jack Straw was asked if Iran was to be bombed and replied: "Not only is that inconceivable but I think the prospect of it happening is inconceivable." As we now know from leaked foreign office minutes, what Jack Straw conceives in public is markedly different from what he conceives in private.

The British presence in Iraq will continue to divide the pro and anti-war left. The latest tactic used by the Left Imperialists is to argue that the British and American occupation is bringing democracy and trade union rights to the Iraqi people. A bizarre notion given Bush and Blair's contempt for both in their own countries. This also ignores the British and American support for the regime in Colombia, the most dangerous country in the world to be a trade unionist – hundreds are killed every year.

Another of their tactics is to portray the Iraqi resistance as 'Fascist', only interested in attacking civilians and trade unionists when the vast majority of attacks are in fact aimed at the occupying forces. The false image is reinforced by news reporters restricted to their hotels in the isolated Green Zone of Baghdad who report only what is relayed to them by the occupiers. When was the last time you heard the deaths of American soldiers announced on the BBC? It happens every day. If Charles Kennedy can call for 'troops out' then so can we.

The invasion of Iraq and the proposed attack on Iran continues the neo-conservative strategy to control the world's oil supplies and eliminate all strategic rivals to Israel in the region. As this dominates the world's attention, the Israeli government under Ariel Sharon can continue turning Gaza into the world's biggest prison while expanding West Bank settlements. The 'Road Map' will continue to lead the Palestinians nowhere as the 'two-state' proposal turns out to be the one and less than a half state solution that Israel has always wanted.

The left needs to start a campaign for equal rights for Palestinians both in the occupied territories and in Israel itself. This means that the 'Law of Return' has to apply to Palestinian refugees too. The AUT's action against two Israeli universities is a small beginning, but we should be pushing through our unions for a boycott of Israeli goods as a first step towards economic and military sanctions. Remember, the only country in the Middle East that possesses Weapons of Mass Destruction, is a threat to its neighbours and illegally occupies their territories, is Israel.