A year ago today, at this time, my wife and I were walking to join what was to be the biggest ever demonstration in British history. You can find my report about that demo here.
I’ve looked at all the news services today and they don’t seem to be commemorating this event. Perhaps it’s the post-Hutton Whitewash fallout, they’ve become conveniently amnesiac.
What I do remember is how we were vilified at the time by Butcher Blair and his New Labour toadies. As I’ve said before, we were the ones accused of having the blood of Iraqis on our hands, simply for having the temerity to protest against the impending war.
Well, I say war. But it wasn’t really a war, was it? How can you have a war when one side comprises the dominant military superpower and its lackeys and the opposition is an impoverished country with a tiny military spend?
Here’s some relevant facts and figures from Jackson Thoreau about the great world menace of Iraq:
Military spending, worldwide: $900 billion.
Percentage of worldwide military spending by U.S.: 50.
Percentage of worldwide military spending by Iraq: 0.0015.
No, it wasn’t a war. It was a massacre. A massacre of innocent civilians justified by invented intelligence reports roared out by prime baby-killers like Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice.
It was the most evil event in my lifetime. It was organised and carried out by the US and UK governments with a smattering of help and tacit support from other coward nations.
There are no WMDs, of course. There never were. That’s not just according to the peace movement, that’s now the view of US officials sent in.
Here in the West, we’ve forgotten. We’ll continue to see documentaries about the evils of official enemies like Pol Pot but we’ll see nothing about the truckloads of severed body parts created by our brave fighting forces.
It’ll all be swept under the carpet. Let’s not bring up that unpleasantness, it’s all in the past and at least we got rid of Saddam. Anyway, he was going to bomb us. Or something. I’ve forgotten exactly what but I’m sure there must have been some reason. Musn’t there?
This is what Roland Huguenin, one of six International Red Cross workers in the Iraqi capital, said last year:
“There has been an incredible number of casualties with very, very serious wounds in the region of Hilla. We saw that a truck was delivering dozens of totally dismembered dead bodies of women and children. It was an awful sight. It was really very difficult to believe this was happening.”
Don’t worry, Roland – it wasn’t happening. Nothing bad happened.
The Iraq invasion was a surgically precise US operation. Their noble forces tirelessly rooted out terrorists and WMDS (ssssh, don’t ask where they are!), all for the democratic good of average Iraqis. Any protests of casualty levels must be from extremist commie groups. Like the Red Cross. Or the Diana Foundation:
“It’s appalling that, despite the well-documented problems with cluster weapons, the US and UK are dropping them on Iraq,” Andrew Purkis, chief executive of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund said in a statement.
“We urge people to join our campaign to put pressure on governments to take responsibility for the clear up of these indiscriminate weapons of war. Until then, cluster bombs must not be used.”
Unlike a lot of antiwar rants, the focus of my anger is not George Bush and the US civilian population. Firstly, they were lied to by the US media, fooled into believing the Iraq invasion was somehow linked to fighting the terrorists who bombed the WTC. Secondly, I’m not American: that’s not my fight. There are many, many American antiwar demonstrators who have fought against the renegade clique now in charge of their country. And they’ve done so in a far more gung-ho, pro-war atmosphere than us Europeans have. I salute them.
No, I’m concerned about the actions of my country, my government.
If you’re reading this and you’re a British citizen, I want to ask you something.
How do you feel, living in a country that’s just committed a war crime? That’s lead by a murderer, a butcher, a war criminal? Does it make you proud to be British? Does your chest swell when you think of the great job “our lads” did over there, slicing unarmed civilians into bloody ribbons? If you feel happy about all that, then I have nothing more to say to you – you’re way beyond my reach.
But if you feel angry and unhappy, I have to ask you: what did you do about it? Were you there, next to me and my friends as we marched, at least trying to avert murder in our name? If you weren’t, I beg you to be there next time because I know the British antiwar protests did make a difference. Not enough, certainly, but I know our actions worried Butcher Blair and reined him in. I only wish more people had protested, we might have been able to pull the UK out of the invasion entirely. Who knows how that would have de-stabilised the US attack?
Feb 15th, 2003 was the best ever example of democracy, of the freedom that people down through the ages have fought for. Whether we were Chartists or Sepoys, we were fighting for our democratic rights. Be it Cable Street or Bunker Hill, the struggle was always for freedom from dictatorship.
Democracy isn’t simply voting for the least appalling tosser every few years, it’s about taking control of your own life, of your own country. It’s obvious now that if Britain was a true democracy, we would never have taken part in the Iraq massacre. The will of the people was against this patently unjustified attack.
So, we should commemorate February 15th. We should remember what democracy in action truly looks like, how it feels to be absolutely alive. And we should never forget how we were ignored in our so-called democracy and how evil smiled as it prepared to feast.