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Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Great March: And what the warmongers said

Five years ago today, my family and I, together with 2m other people took part in the largest anti-war march Britain has ever seen. We were marching with one intent: to try all we could, even at a very late hour, to avert the Iraq war. Of course, we failed in our objective: the decision to illegally invade Iraq had long been taken. But to my dying day, I am proud that I took part on that march: I'm sure others who took part feel the same way too. We may not have stopped the Iraq war, but we highlighted the sham 'democracy' that operates in our country- a 'democracy' where a tiny band of greedy war profiteers - and not the masses of ordinary people- set the agenda. It's interesting to look back at the flak that the anti-war protestors received five years ago from the warmongers.

Here's the Blair hagiographerDavid Aaronovitch writing in the Guardian:

"what are you going to do when you are told - as one day you will be - that while you were demonstrating against an allied invasion, and being applauded by friends and Iraqi officials, many of the people of Iraq were hoping, hope against hope, that no one was listening to you?
You could still be right and I could be mistaken. A war could be far bloodier than I imagine, the consequences far worse than I believe they will be. It is just possible that a new Iraqi government, instead of moving towards democracy, might be a corrupt oligarchy. All I can say is that the signs look relatively promising in both Kosovo and Afghanistan.
On the other hand, what if you are wrong?

Well, we weren't wrong David. You were. Most emphatically. And what was your punishment for being wrong? Answer: Being awarded an even better paid column in The Times.(Incidentally, I wonder if you still think 'the signs look relatively promising in both Kosovo and Afghanistan'?)

Barbara Amiel, the wife of convicted neocon fraudster Conrad Black, didn't much like the anti-war march either:

"The most revealing aspect of the anti-war march in London was what you did not see. You did not see any messages to Saddam Hussein or criticism of Iraqi policy.
These earnest seekers of peace, with so many signs denouncing George W Bush and Tony Blair, had nothing to say to Saddam Hussein; no request to please co-operate with the UN inspectors. Not one small poster asking Saddam to disarm or destroy his weapons of mass destruction. "

Ah, those weapons of mass destruction? I wonder what happened to them? Could it not be that the reason there was 'not one small poster asking Saddam to disarm or destroy his weapons of mass destruction' on the march was that there were some people who, despite all the deceitful pro-war propaganda, didn't fall for one of the most outrageous conspiracy theories of all time?

But perhaps the nastiest of all the neocon attacks on the anti-war marchers was made by Mark Steyn in the Daily Telegraph. In an article entitled 'Marching for Terror', Steyn wrote:

"Today's demo is good for Saddam, but bad for the Iraqi people, and the Palestinian people, and the British people. One day, not long from now, when Iraq is free, they will despise those who marched to keep them in hell."

Really, Mark? I think the Iraq people will despise, for generations to come, those who for the basest of motives, illegally invaded their country, destroyed its infrastructure and started a conflict which to date has claimed the lives of hundreds and thousands of people. Iraq today is hell, and the fault for that lies not with the anti-war marchers, but those who opposed them.


Rosa Lichtenstein said...

100% correct Neil; I was there with two of my daughters. I have been on many marches, small, large and huge, but this dwarfed the lot, combined!

It took us three and a half hours to 'walk' (more like shuffle!) from Bloomsbury Street to Hyde Park (on one half of the march), and the streets were as crowded as the Tokyo underground all the way, with many side streets full, as well.

We left the Park to travel back at about five o'clock, and we passed the back end of the march at 5.15 outside the Ritz Hotel --, the west end of Piccadilly was still crammed with marchers. Every bus shelter had about 50 anarchists a piece on top.

However, the demonstration at the end of March was the best one by far. It was about half a big and a hundred times more angry.

I stood outside Bookmarks on Bloomsbury Street waiting for my daughters to arrive, amazed at the sight that confronted me. Right at the front of the march in the 30 to 40 minutes before it set off, there were about 60 or 70 young people, mostly young women (16-25), who looked like they wanted to rip Tony Bliar's head off his shoulders. They kept up a barrage of sound that would have shamed a crowd of rabid football supporters. I have not seen anything like it anywhere before or since.

I shouted myself hoarse in the first ten minutes...

But, the February march might have failed in its primary objective, but it certainly gave heart to British Muslims, and to the Iraqi resistance.

And thus it helped put the brakes on any more imperial 'adventures' for the foreseeable future.

Martin said...


Should anyone ever write a biography of Steyn, an appropriate title might be "Showtunes of Empire".

Anonymous said...

This is an intellegent observation Neil, and we should always remind War mongers they did support a disaster that led to the killing of a Million people... so far, and there is no reason not to believe this number of victims will multiply every 5 years... unless this occupation came to an end.

Neil Clark said...

Rosa: Many thanks-and I agree with you about the impact of the march. You have a very interesting blog/website.
Martin: Great line! If only MS had stuck to writing about Broadway musicals...
Dan: It's great to hear from you. I was getting worried that you were ill.
I hope all is well with you. Your contributions to our debates are highly valued.

Anonymous said...

You have reminded me of someting Neil.

I've been to Trafalgar square in London on the first week of war on Iraq, and there was a group of Iraqis with a large banner hanged on the wall, calling for the persecution of the tyrant Saddam Hussain.
I counted them, 14 people, and you can tell they are actually two families.

The following Saturday, they were there again, with the same sign, corner, and same people I counted again, they were 15 individuals.

I don't mind if some people have no feelings towards their own people, although I don't have respect for them.

But the surprising thing in this story, is that they had a number of Journalists taking picture, and sort of interviewing them in the two occasions.

More surprising, the week after I have seen a woman from those Iraqi supporters of War on the BBC 24 News, talking about the libaration of her country. she was presented as a member of some Iraqi group ( don't remember what they called themselves, Iraqis for Justice or something similar).

I have seen this spin in my own eyes, 15 individuals have been takes as ( iraqi supporters) given a good media coverage, and presented to unsuspected viewers on the national telly, and no one said they were only 15 individuals of two families.

The same media coverage for the 2 Million demonstrators on our FREE MEDIA...
I'm one of those people who don't trust the media, with a reason.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your concerns Neil, I was out of the County... and going abroad again soon :-)

Neil Clark said...

Have a safe trip Dan and look forward to hearing from you again soon.