By Andrew Murray, chair of the Stop the War Coalition (THE GUARDIAN, 17/02/07):
We won’t be fooled again. The allegation that Iranian explosives were behind the deaths of about 5% of the US soldiers killed during the occupation of Iraq is the latest instalment of a determined endeavour by the world’s most practised liars to whip up a fresh war psychosis. It is not in the least surprising that Iranian weaponry should turn up in Iraq, given that much of the present government in Baghdad spent the Saddam years in exile in Tehran. Iranian merchandise does not, in this case, require the involvement of Iranian ministers, as US generals have now conceded.
Many sensible people seem inclined to dismiss the possibility of any attack on Tehran as too mad to contemplate. Even President Ahmadinejad seems to doubt the Bush bluster is serious. We should not be so complacent. If the Washington neocons have any attractive feature, it may be their transparency about intentions. So perhaps we should assume that the Cheney crew will do their best to deliver on their stated programme, World Domination or Bust, while they still have the power to do so.
Will Gordon Brown sign up to this latest twist? There is at least this difference between the present prime minister and his successor. Brown very much wants to win the next election, while Tony Blair couldn’t care less. And the last thing Brown wants is to have to face the electorate to secure an already difficult fourth term with British soldiers still dying in Iraq on a weekly basis.
Still less would he want to have to explain away Britain getting caught up in an extension of the war to Iran, an eventuality that would, among other catastrophes, dwarf the present military mortality rate around Basra. And what with David Cameron, not obviously stoned at the time, declaring that British foreign policy should no longer be based on slavish support for Washington, it should at least be possible for a Labour prime minister to say no less.
Brown has been leading the charge for spending about £70bn on a new nuclear deterrent. Bang goes Prudence, ravished by Trident, although that may be just part of a cunning plan to make Blair relaxed about quitting No 10. In any event, public opinion must surely soon start to percolate past the impenetrable object that a mute and cowed parliament of place-people has represented these last four years – few questions, fewer debates, and certainly no votes.
The bleak contrast this presents alongside the timorous efforts of the Democratic-led US Congress to get a handle on the situation is striking. The new regime on Capitol Hill may not have screwed up its nerve to do what the people want and cut off further funding for the occupation, but it has at least started probing the conduct of this continuing calamity. Who knew, for instance, that Del Boy of Trotter’s Independent Trading was in charge of reconstruction in Iraq until a House of Representatives committee unearthed the facts about truckloads of dollars being whizzed around Baghdad and beyond, with not a receipt in sight? Not a peep from our backbenches. Perhaps the whips have worked out you could buy a job lot of peerages this way with no paper trail for Yates of the Yard to trip over.
So it is past time to bridge the gulf between parliament and people that the Iraq war has opened up. The people will be on the streets once more next Saturday, demanding that our troops come home from Iraq, that we abandon our nuclear weapons folly and disengage from George Bush’s rolling war. Since no MP seems to have a better idea, let the people’s will prevail.