Antiwar movement in the UK: On the move to end the war

2 Nov

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With Thousands of 1495 U.S. (icasualties.org) and 223 UK (BBC) troops dead and billions (in pounds and dollars) already spent on war, Afghanistan is obviously not the “good war”. Ironically, the same country that could not occupy Afghanistan during its colonial period is facilitating the current global hegemony’s occupation, so on Oct 24th, 8000-10,000 activists invaded London, to demand an end to the occupation. In the age of Obama, like Nixon before him, the ‘peace candidate’ has made good on his promised ‘peace’ by escalating an increasingly unpopular and long war in the name of securing a new client state under the hyper-corrupt Hamid Karzai.

The rally marched through the centre of London, with fierce chants and even fiercer protests denouncing Gordon Brown and his “Vietnam”; alluding to the 10 year U.S. war in Vietnam. The march proceeded down Hyde Park with an energized Socialist Worker Student Societies and Radical Youth contingent sprinting between gaps along the walkway. The radicalism of the aforementioned contingent was confirmed by an older activist beckoning us to stop sprinting because, “we were making the police nervous, and we don’t want them to start rounding up people”. In response, in the semi-satirical words of an SWP comrade, “they should be nervous, not us”. The protest culminated in a rally with famous anti-imperialist speakers such as, former Labour MP Tony Benn, Tariq Ali, and the rapper Loki; it also included Andrej Hunko from the German Left Party Die Linke, as well as the testimony from imprisoned (soon to be deported) Iraqi émigrés.

In some of his quality political satire the artist, Matt Bors, indicated that a generation of young people would’ve grown up never knowing peace. This fact and the robust antiwar presence illustrate the imperative nature for the construction and sustenance of our anti-imperial project.

The war in Afghanistan, like other Imperial wars fought in the “grave of empires” as Afghanistan is known for its history of counter-insurgency victories and strategic instability is one of occupation and it has caused a plethora of tragedies. Cited by the Independent in 2005, a UN report noted that in NATO controlled regions that Opium production (the main ingredient in cocaine) increased by 30% in the south to 106% in the North. In addition to the destruction of Afghani livelihoods, the stated goal of enhancing women’s rights has been maligned into a macabre joke with the legal rape law passed by the Afghan parliament that allows a husband to deny his wife food if she refuses to have sex with him for up to four days. Despite, a thousand strong women’s march in Kabul in 2008 against this law, the realities of patriarchy, tribal autocratic, and corporate rule have allowed this legislation to stand.

As the war continues on, the antiwar movement in the UK and Europe is something that spans a wide coalition of participants all against an imperial project. However, what is to be done? What project must come about in lieu of the imperial project? Despite, the participation of religious, Leninist, Stalinist, autonomous/ anarchist, Liberal Socialist, communist, and green opposition to the war, there’s some consensus: Afghanistan, as well as Iraq has to be free from U.S.-coalition/ NATO occupation, which really means that U.K. occupying forces cannot be based in these countries and the development of a democratic, progressive, and ostensibly social democratic government must be allowed to proceed.

The current political actors would not like the aforementioned conclusion; however, this is the programme, at least the preferred one, of the left in the United Kingdom (also the U.S. and Germany, etc…). The viceroy of U.S.’ Afghanistan Hamid Karzai, as well as the Pashtun nationalist and Taliban leaders are all culprits in the perpetuation of the war (as well as the former Al-Qaida, which has been driven out of the country).

The peace movement or the “fight for peace” has been a universal movement for change. It has manifested itself in various forms, sometimes along ideological, indigenous, or single-issue forms however, the idea is the same: war is a destructive institution, and it must be abolished; because, it is against the interests of the multitudes and thereby, it can be abolished. Here in the United Kingdom the old left and the new left is revitalized within the antiwar movement, as the British rapper Lowkey said that day, “We’re out here to put this on the agenda for the next election”. Despite, Gordon Brown’s gimmick of being tough on ‘anti-social behavior’ the score of the antiwar movement is one PM down (Blair) and in June, another will possibly go from office.

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