Stop the War

Left Field

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Left Field is a thoughtful and gentle memoir. Born in 1945, David Wilson “had contact at a young age with people who’d led dangerous political lives”, such as the Danish doctor who helped Jews fleeing the Nazis.

His father had radical views and had witnessed the horrors of war and fascism first hand, being one of the first medics to go into Bergen-Belsen camp after liberation, and had shown the young David photographs of the horrifying scenes he had found there.

Cameron's Syria debacle

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The US attack on Syria is haunted by the ghost of Iraq.

"It's a bit like being present after a massive explosion. There is broken glass and dust is wafting around everywhere. It will take time for the dust to settle". This is how a senior Tory MP described the mood in the party in the wake of the defeat of the government's motion paving the way for military action on Syria.

Tony's trials

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The Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War reached a stage few may have foreseen as Socialist Review went to press, with Tony Blair poised to appear following damaging testimony from civil servants, lawyers and even the odd minister.

An inquiry that appeared as toothless as the establishment figures that comprise it nonetheless threatens to propel the architect of New Labour into the realms of the 2007 Channel 4 drama The Trial of Tony Blair, in which the war crimes of the ex-prime minister catch up with him.

Of course, we are a long way from seeing Blair on trial at the Hague. We are even quite a way from seeing any conclusions from the inquiry, which goes on hold ahead of the general election once - and if - Gordon Brown appears.

There remains little reason to expect anything more than a whitewash.

Warmongers, disloyal mandarins and WMD

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The Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war opened amid widespread scepticism in Britain and internationally.

There is concern that the investigation - the fifth of its kind since 2003 - will be another whitewash. Critics argue that the British government will try to prevent the truth from coming out, fearing the serious political and legal repercussions that might follow.

Anti-war campaigners also cite the remit and composition of the inquiry team as pointers for a probable cover-up. Four knights and a baroness investigating a war crime to learn lessons for the future!

Remembering Dissent

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Debate on Afghanistan is reaching boiling point. I write this on 11 November, Remembrance Day, marking the date of the armistice which ended the First World War.

That was famously the war to end all wars - although it was followed in just over 20 years by an even greater conflagration. Modern warfare has certainly seen comparable death tolls and suffering.

The Afghan quagmire

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The summer of 2009 marked the time when the war in Afghanistan came back to haunt the British government.

The "good war" has now become a hotly contested conflict. The new head of the British armed forces has predicted a 40 years British presence in the country, while the US army chief has admitted that Nato forces are losing the war and that they have a year to turn the situation round.

Operation Panther's Claw, launched as the US and British attempt to finally deal with the Taliban, caused ever higher casualties among the occupying troops and was manifestly failing in its stated aim.

Troops out - by their own choice

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A defence select committee of MPs has reported that the morale of British troops has fallen dramatically over the past several years, leading to a haemorrhaging of soldiers.

Recruitment levels have also sharply decreased, as - predictably - few want to sign up to be sent to fight in deeply unpopular wars. The stretching of troops over Iraq and Afghanistan has led them to not getting enough rest. So-called "harmony" guidelines define the amount of time troops spend on active duty in any one year, but these guidelines are being greatly exceeded according to the report.

Fighting the long war

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The political landscape is starting to change around the anti-war movement. The departure of Tony Blair from office much earlier than he would have preferred - itself the result of the catastrophe in Iraq and the consistent campaigning of the movement - creates a new situation.

The British government is already committed to a gradual military withdrawal from Iraq, where the troops now seem to be serving no conceivable purpose even in the government's own terms. Gordon Brown may decide to accelerate this process. Likewise, he may announce a clear intention to set up an inquiry into the circumstances under which the country went to war in 2003.

Bad politics and worse history

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The war in Afghanistan ended more than five years ago. The BBC's John Simpson told us so as he helped "liberate" Kabul perched on a British tank.

Four years ago the BBC, along with the world's press, reported the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad, and proclaimed an era of peace and liberation for the Iraqi people.

What a difference half a decade makes. The Karzai government controls less and less Afghan territory, and that control relies on the US and British led Nato army. The Taliban, largely unlamented in 2001 when it was overthrown, is gaining support from a population sick of being targets of US bombs and tanks. It now controls half of Afghanistan.

Politics after Blair

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John Rees examines the strategic choices that those who oppose war and neo-liberalism face in the post-Blair era.

The end of Tony Blair's prime ministership, announced almost exactly five years after the events of 9/11, is a major success for the anti-war movement. For people who became politically active through the struggle against the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon, five years can seem like a lifetime. But in terms of British politics it is a blink of an eye.

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