Peter Morgan

Countdown to 10 June: Wipe the Smiles Off their Faces

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Peter Morgan looks at the unique opportunity we have to teach Blair and Bush a lesson on 10 June.

There is one memorable moment in Errol Morris's masterly new film The Fog of War, in which Robert S McNamara - the secretary of defence under Kennedy and Johnson and the man responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese - admits that both he and Lyndon Johnson knew the US was embroiled in a war it could not win and a war it had to get out of. That point came, he admitted, after about 23,000 US servicemen and women had been killed. Yet the final total of US casualties in the Vietnam War ended up being 58,209.

Striking parallels

Local Elections: 'Labour's Membership Has Gone Underground'

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'Many people have left the Labour Party. There are also large numbers who have let their membership lapse. In east Dorset, where I come from, there are only five Labour candidates put up for 34 seats. I have actually registered as Dorset Stop the War and we are fielding ten candidates.'

So said Damien Stone, a former Labour councillor who is standing in the local elections on 1 May. Some 10,000 seats are being contested, yet despite newspaper reports of a postwar surge in support for Blair and New Labour there are plenty of signs that they will face a difficult night on 1 May.

'A Party I am Beginning to Despise'

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Labour Party activists talk about their anger at Blair's drive to war.

A war on Iraq could plunge the Labour Party into its biggest crisis ever, with the possibility of mass resignations and the certainty that tens of thousands of Labour Party members will be marching against the government on 15 February. This is a prospect that, you would think, would worry the Blairites at head office, but that's not the feeling I got when I telephoned Labour's headquarters to ask for a response: 'We're not aware of anyone leaving the Labour Party because of the war on Iraq. Nor are we aware of any feeling of discontent.

Industry - Anger into action?

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The firefighters' action has revived talk of the winter of discontent in the 1970s. Chris Bambery and Peter Morgan look at what happened.

Everyone has their breaking point and I'm afraid the FBU has reached theirs.' These are the words of Jim Burge, a firefighter of 15 years based in North London, who takes home just £21,500 per year. He was speaking shortly before the FBU leadership announced that they were suspending their first two strikes over pay after the government hinted that there might be more on offer than the 4 percent on the table.

The Alternative Dossier 4: Interview with Ralf Ekeus

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'The inspectors and the directorate of the inspections were pressurised to undertake controversial inspections... and thereby cause a stalemate which could form the basis for direct military action.' Rolf Ekeus

This is an edited interview with Rolf Ekeus on Swedish radio, 29 July 2002. Ekeus was executive chairman of Unscom 1991-97. He was Sweden's ambassador to the US 1997-2000. He is also chairman of the governing board of the Stockholm Peace Conference and OSCE high commissioner on national minorities. We join the interview as Ekeus explains how the US influenced Unscom inspection tours...

The Alternative Dossier 2: Countdown to War

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How the US armed Iraq.

1982

Despite intelligence reports that Iraq still sponsored groups on the State Department's (SD) terrorist list, and 'apparently without consulting Congress', the Reagan administration removed Iraq from the state terrorism sponsorship list in 1982.

Source: New York Times, 28 February 1982.

The removal made Iraq eligible for US dual-use and military technology.

Source: Mark Phythian, Arming Iraq (Northeastern University Press), p34.

1983

The Alternative Dossier 1: Arms and the Man

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'Iraq had made frequent use of a variety of chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq war... In 1988 Saddam...used mustard and nerve agents against Iraqi Kurds at Halabja in northern Iraq. Estimates vary, but according to Human Rights Watch up to 5,000 people were killed.' The Government's dossier on Iraq released on 24 September 2002

The images of people frozen in instant death after Iraq gassed thousands of people shocked the world. To this day the massacre at Halabja, which the government refers to in its long awaited dossier on Iraq and which Blair mentioned when he addressed the TUC this year, remains a terrible crime. If anyone doubts the brutality of the Iraqi regime, then they have only to remember what Saddam Hussein did in March 1988.

The Alternative Dossier 7: With Friends Like These

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Bush's cabinet and their corporate links.

Ann Veneman, Agriculture Secretary
Veneman served on the board of directors for Calgene Inc, which was the first company to bring genetically engineered food, the Flavr Savr tomato, to supermarket shelves.

John Ashcroft, Attorney General
Ashcroft was one of only a handful of senators sponsoring a bill that extended the patent on Schering-Plough's ultra-profitable allergy pill Claritin. The patent is worth billions of dollars in potential revenue.

The Alternative Dossier 6: Sanctioning Murder

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'In 1990...the world imposed economic sanctions on Iraq. Those sanctions were maintained after the war to compel the regime's compliance with security council resolutions... Saddam Hussain has [worked] around the sanctions to buy missile technology and military materials.' George Bush in his speech to the UN, 12 September 2002

The United Nations Security Council imposed economic sanctions on Iraq on 6 August 1990, in response to its invasion of Kuwait. Under these sanctions, all imports into Iraq (except medical supplies) and all exports from Iraq were prohibited, unless the Security Council permitted exceptions. A spokesman from the US State Department later referred to these sanctions as 'the toughest, most comprehensive sanctions in history'. Similarly, a Select Committee of the House of Commons said that the Iraqi sanctions regime 'is unprecedented in terms of longevity and its comprehensive nature'.

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