what we think

Time to stand up against war

THE ONLY people in Britain who are enthusiastic about this war are politicians and establishment figures who will never get within 1,000 miles of the fighting. Margaret Thatcher took us into one war in her ten years as prime minister. Incredibly, Tony Blair has hitched Britain to US bombing raids twice in two years. It is a lie for Tony Blair to claim he has been swept into bombing Serbia by a tide of pro-war fever. There is great unease among ordinary people.

All the polls show that just 50 percent actively support the war. Local papers and radio stations have been inundated with letters and calls exposing Western leaders' hypocrisy. Even many establishment figures are, for their own reasons, opposed to the bombing and sending in ground troops. Denis Healey, who staunchly backed Washington during the Cold War, says Clinton's adventure in the Balkans will lead to wider conflict. Ex-generals Sir Michael Rose and Sir Peter de la Billire recognise bombing cannot achieve its alleged goals.

The split in the establishment is fuelling doubt and opposition to the war among millions of people. A solid minority want the bombing to stop because they rightly do not trust Blair and Clinton to deliver peace and equality abroad or at home. Many more are deeply suspicious of NATO's motives. Now is the time for everyone who opposes this madness to stand up and be counted.

The left has the moral authority in this conflict. Socialist Worker reported from Kosovo on the oppression Albanians faced there BEFORE the break up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. No Western leaders listened. They wanted "strong leaders" like Slobodan Milosevic in the region. We opposed all the ethnic cleansing in the region—against Muslims, Croats and Serbs—without exception. The West supported ethnic cleansing when it suited it. Socialists condemned Saddam Hussein's gassing of Kurdish civilians in 1988. Western governments continued arming him. We welcome asylum seekers fleeing tyranny into Britain. The gutter press and the Home Office smear them as bogus.

Many times this century individuals have raised the call for international solidarity of all working people against the aggression of big powers and nationalist scapegoating. In the First World War that message grew from the margins of society to be on the lips of millions as the slaughter progressed. Already more people oppose the war in the Balkans than in August 1990 at the start of the Western military build up against Iraq.

Those who oppose this war need to organise. A left wing anti-war movement can win over those who reluctantly go along with the bombing. As individuals, working people are powerless. Together we can halt this war and provide an alternative to the capitalist system that breeds such conflicts in every corner of the globe.


"NO TO NATO —the workers of the Balkans are our brothers" reads the banner of the Socialist Workers Party in Greece. They were taking part in a 16,000 strong protest against the war in Athens last Friday


THE SCOTTISH and Welsh nationalist parties have raised doubts about the war. Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond said last weekend, "There is no doubt that Milosevic is a brutal tyrant. But would it not be possible and preferable to blockade Serbia and make the arms embargo work? If there is a plan to help the people of Kosovo I haven't seen it so far." He was due to make a television broadcast on Monday.

Plaid Cymru MP Cynog Dafis's speech in the Commons last week questioned whether the war would be effective and asked if it might lead to an acceleration in the killing of Kosovans. These speeches are a welcome change from the government's enthusiasm for war. But the SNP and Plaid Cymru have been hesitant about uncompromising opposition. This is no time for half measures. The SNP and Plaid Cymru should come out openly against the war and call a wave of protests.



PLUS: Eamonn McCann on Rosemary Nelson * 25 years since the Portuguese Revolution * Jackson Pollock

The monthly magazine of the Socialist Workers Party Available for £1 from SW sellers or plus 49p from PO Box 82, London E3 3LH