Global and local echoes of the anti-war movement: a British Muslim perspective
by Salma Yaqoob
The war is over and victory declared amidst scenes of jubilant Iraqis tearing down statues of Saddam Hussein. Political leaders and commentators rushed to consign the anti-war movement to history. The message was clear--those who opposed the war were wrong or misguided, and the 'liberation' of Iraq was the proof that the war had been just.
Events since the fall of the Iraqi regime have progressively undermined this argument. Resistance to the occupation is growing, and throughout Iraq there is widespread discontent at the failure of the occupying powers to adequately address even the most basic needs of the Iraqi people. More particularly, there is an overwhelming demand for Iraqis to be allowed to take charge of rebuilding their own country. Meanwhile, the mysterious absence of any 'weapons of mass destruction' continues to haunt the British government, which, in order to win support for its war, placed such stress on the immediate danger posed by Iraq's weapons programmes.
While our rulers have every interest in erasing from public memory any trace of the anti-war movement, we ought not to make the same mistake.
Yes, the anti-war movement failed to prevent the war. But it is only a matter of months since opposition to the war climaxed with a worldwide day of protest on 15 February 2003. Up to 2 million people marched in London that day and the importance of this event, both globally and locally, should not be underestimated.
The anti-war movement had a real impact on world politics. It influenced the prosecution of the war; it gave confidence to opponents of the war in the Arab world; it led to a co-ordination of international protests to a degree not seen for many years; and it dramatically raised the consciousness of millions of people about the actions being carried out in their name.
Full article - Issue 100 of INTERNATIONAL SOCIALISM JOURNAL, Autumn 2003