The Battle Rages On

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Tens of thousands are set to gather in London on 19 March for the next big anti-war demonstration. The anti-war movement must now gear itself up for its next battle as Bush threatens to extend his 'war on terror' to Iran or Syria.

Barely satisfied with the destruction of Iraq, the possibility of a civil war in the country and the deaths of tens of thousands of its citizens, Bush has raised the prospect of extending the war even further. Part of the neo-conservative gameplan has always been to ensure strategic control over access to Middle Eastern oil, even if that means redrawing the boundaries of the region, building 14 permanent bases in Iraq and deposing leaders.

But we should not be fooled into believing that the Bush administration is all-powerful. This is most obvious in Iraq itself, where the resistance to the occupation shows little sign of going away. There is now open discussion in the US about what, if any, exit strategy the US military has in Iraq, and some political leaders have even raised the prospect of a Vietnam-style defeat.

And the fact that Bush and new Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had to launch a charm offensive with European leaders shows that they are less than confident about their international isolation. It is worth remembering what Rice said regarding US diplomacy in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq: 'Punish France, ignore Germany and forgive Russia.' The pressure they are under today means they have to be much more conciliatory.

This is largely down to the anti-war movement. From its initial opposition to the invasion of Afghanistan, the movement has had to engage on a number of fronts. Most importantly, it has mobilised millions of people onto the streets, both in this country and throughout the world. This has given confidence to thousands of activists in every workplace, college and locality to raise opposition to the war.

But alongside this we have had to fight a political battle to expose the lies of our leaders. In all its reasons to oppose the 'war on terror', from the non-existent weapons of mass destruction to sham claims of bringing democracy, the Stop the War Coalition has been completely vindicated.

The political ramifications of all this are still being felt in this country. The New Labour government finds itself in a much weaker position than a few years ago and the credibility of Tony Blair has been severely dented. This makes the possibility of Blair supporting an attack on Iran extremely unlikely, if not impossible.

And along with yet another mass protest against the war, New Labour finds itself facing growing opposition to its domestic agenda, with potentially over a million workers on strike against cuts in pensions - going just before a general election. The result is that a number of pro-war Labour MPs face a very real challenge at the forthcoming election by candidates from the Respect Coalition.

All of which gives an added urgency to the forthcoming anti-war demonstration. Not only can it further raise the pressure on the warmongers, but it can also unite all those who oppose their attacks on pensions, refugees and the environment. There is not only a future to build, but a world to win.