350,000 in London march to oppose war on Iraq

Paul Flewers hatchet.job at virgin.net
Sun Sep 29 07:15:41 MDT 2002

I was on the anti-war demonstration in London. It was enormous, much bigger
than anything I've seen in London in the last 20 years or so. It was also
noisy and lively, and showed that there is a lot of popular feeling about
this issue, and particular about Tony Blair boot-licking of Bush Junior.

Nonetheless, I think that Blair is not going to stop backing Bush. He has
made a few statements about the need to go through the United Nations, but
this is a trap, as many opponents of the US unilateralism that Blair
supports say that any move against Iraq must go through the UN. This is
dangerous on two accounts. Firstly, it accepts that Iraq is a threat or at
least a problem which needs to be dealt with, either through sanctions or
war. Secondly, it underestimates the ability of the USA to bribe and cajole
the UN Security Council. Russia can and will be bought off with a couple of
sacks of potatoes, France and China will not block the USA through their
vetoes -- to use a veto against the USA means symbolises real resistance to
Washington, and neither will do this at the moment. Blair has played a very
sneaky role in getting Bush to look a little more favourably at the UN,
probably reminding him that he can better assert US interests through it
rather than against it.

As for the numbers on the march, I can't say. I was towards the back of the
march, and people were still filing into Hyde Park long after I'd got there.
List members in Britain will be aware of the London Metropolitan Police
method of counting demonstrators -- for members outwith Britain, the Old
Bill usually get their figure by dividing the estimated attendance by two or
three -- so their figure of 150 000 can be doubled without any sense of
exaggeration. Strangely enough, when the squirearchy and toffs of England's
Countryside Alliance assembled en masse last weekend to parade their
reactionary ideas, the police didn't issue their own estimate, but happily
endorsed the Alliance's figure of 400 000.

Paul F

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