Anti-war weekend round-up

FRIDAY ~ MoD accused of propaganda in Iraq worksheets for schools [in England!]:

The children’s secretary, Ed Balls, has written to officials in the MoD asking them to investigate teachers’ claims that their worksheets for 16- to 18-year-olds provide a one-sided view on the war in Iraq.

The National Union of Teachers said the MoD was “unethically” targeting recruitment materials at schools in disadvantaged areas.

Steve Sinnott, the union’s general secretary, said: “It is propaganda, it does not present a balanced position.

“When you are dealing with something as controversial as Iraq and different events which led up to the invasion, teachers are under an enormous duty to present material which is balanced.”

One worksheet supplied by the MoD and designed by a private marketing company, Kids Connections, describes the UK force’s efforts in Iraq as mainly targeted at “helping the Iraqis to rebuild their country after the conflict and years of neglect”.

SATURDAY ~ Thousands join anti-war protests:

In London there were speeches from the leaders of a range of groups including CND and the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.

As well as anger over Iraq and Afghanistan, there were also calls for no action to be taken against Iran.

Speaking at the rally in Trafalgar Square, the Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Tongue told the BBC that the war in Iraq had been an illegal act, supported by false documentary evidence.

“We feel that there are people who have literally got away with murder. We have people who have made an illegal war happen, and no-one has brought them to book, and it’s about time we did.”

Former Labour cabinet minister Tony Benn said: “The troops in Iraq have caused devastation. It’s the same in Afghanistan.”

‘Hidden war’

Green MEP Caroline Lucas called for Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to be prosecuted for war crimes.

And a spokesman for the Stop the War Coalition said: “Estimates suggest as many as one million have died violent deaths as a result of the occupation of Iraq.

Despite talk of a change of attitude to Bush’s wars, Brown is sending more troops to Afghanistan. This hidden war is fast becoming a disaster mirroring Iraq.”

SUNDAY ~ Five years of slaughter

Nick Clegg – markedly more resolute-sounding now than his party was at the start of the Iraq war – speaks for us all with his warning against “blindly” following Washington’s lead.

“On this anniversary of the greatest post-war strategic failure in British foreign policy,” he says, “both Labour and Conservatives must learn from their fateful decision to back George Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

“Never again should the objections of millions of British citizens be so lightly ignored. Never again should we blindly follow instructions from the White House. Never again should we do such untold damage to the international rule of law.”

Let’s face it, few of us would disagree with a word of that. But it would have perhaps been better if the Lib Dems had maintained their anti-war position once the war had started, not dropped it like a hot brick the moment that the invading powers commenced hostilities.

Labour, with the usual honourable exceptions, maintains a sheepish silence on the hundreds of thousand of deaths and the virtual destruction of one of the world’s older civilisations – as well it might.

Every Labour MP who voted for the war, who steamed ahead with mass killing at the behest of a devious and duplicitous prime minister, is compromised and shares the guilt of the war criminals Bush and Blair.

And Labour’s present leader, the man who announced, when chancellor, that he would fund the slaughter however much it took, maintains a guilty silence on Britain’s shame, hoping against hope that the mud won’t stick.

But the troops are still in Iraq, killing and being killed, seemingly without end. They are in Afghanistan facing the same prospects and, if Bush and his ilk have their way, they will move into Iran as well.

The Tories, as is their usual form, want the best of both worlds, at once supporting the warmongers – as they did throughout the war – and attempting to gain a cheap electoral advantage by calling for an inquiry into the war.

But, given the chance of power, they, too, will grab onto the US coat-tails and slide into war under the orders of our transatlantic cousins.