Thousands of words have been written about the new Labour leader, but you only really need to know one thing – he campaigned for peace.
In 2002 I attended the anti-war march in London. I was 18 and not fooled by the talk of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and ‘ The War on Terror’ – it all sounding ridiculously vague and something out of a superhero film. The US was already waging war in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attack, a day none of us will forget. I saw the towers go down on the news. My teacher came rushing into the classroom and switched on the TV, his face as white as a sheet. We all watched in horror.
Less than a month later the US invaded Afghanistan. Then Iraq came into the firing line. Fighting terrorism with terrorism could only bring more bloodshed.
Protesters marched again and again, before and during the war. We were 2 million strong in the heart of London and 36 million across the globe with a total of 3000 marches.
My sister and I went to Buckingham Palace and stuck our banner “NO WAR IN IRAQ” on the gates. It stayed there until the police took it down. We met many different people on the marches, everyone united against the imminent invasion. There were cries of “Allahu Akbar” meaning “God is great” from Muslims praying for protection.
The UK and US still bombed. I remember the first bombardments on the news, rockets falling to sleeping cities, and feeling so sad for the many innocent lives shattering under the blasts and so angry with our government. They kept bombing for 8 long years. Soldiers were sent by the planeload to kill and die.
I will never forget or forgive that decision. I will not brush war under the carpet because it’s supposed to be ‘over’. This happened in our lifetime, under our noses, with our money and without our consent.
It is far from over. Nobody has been brought to account. We only have a bunch lies, cover-ups, and an endless Chilcot Enquiry – piles of papers to excuse an illegal war (they really do take us for fools.)
British troops finally withdrew in 2009 and US troops in 2011. Combat operations in Afghanistan officially ended in 2014 but the US continues to conduct airstrikes and Special Operations with 10,000 US soldiers currently remaining there. 2014 was recorded as the worst year for civilian casualties in Afghanistan. And let’s not forget Pakistan pulled into the war from 2004 until 2012.
Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan still suffer. Many there will never forget; never get back their lives and those forever lost.
During the occupation, Iraq became a breeding ground for extremists. ISIS, which is currently rampaging through Syria and Iraq, formed in US military prison camps. It is estimated that 17 of the 25 top ISIS leaders were prisoners in US camps between 2004 and 2011. This includes the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who was incarcerated at Camp Bucca. The prison camps where ideal for radicals to plan and recruit. US soldiers rounded up any Iraqi males of military age, without trail, and locked them up with extremists in the camps – an abundance of fresh flesh for radicals to pounce on.
Abu Ahmed, a young jihadist at the time, is now a senior official for ISIS. In a Guardian interview he describes Camp Bucca:
“In prison, all of the princes were meeting regularly. We became very close to those we were jailed with. We knew their capabilities. We knew what they could and couldn’t do, how to use them for whatever reason. The most important people in Bucca were those who had been close to Zarqawi. He was recognised in 2004 as being the leader of the jihad (…) we had so much time to sit and plan. It was the perfect environment. We all agreed to get together when we got out. The way to reconnect was easy. We wrote each other’s details on the elastic of our boxer shorts. When we got out, we called. Everyone who was important to me was written on white elastic. I had their phone numbers, their villages. By 2009, many of us were back doing what we did before we were caught. But this time we were doing it better.”
The involvement of US and allied forces in The Middle East radicalized thousands, building an army of extremists, and brought an attack on our own country. July 7th 2005, London shook with trains and buses exploding. One of many terrorist attacks around the world. ‘The War on Terror’ has made the world more dangerous. Terrorist attacks have more than quadrupled since 2001. Only yesterday 86 people were killed in a peace rally in Ankara, Turkey.
Tony Blair, who spearheaded the invasion with Bush, ironically then became peace envoy to the Middle East. Labour now has a new front man – Jeremy Corbyn. Not only did he march against the war, he was a driving force in organizing the largest ever peace protest in Britain. He condemned the decision to invade Iraq and demanded a vote on the issue. He stood up when it mattered, as did all of us who marched, and is still demanding answers. It is causing stirs and uncomfortable groans among the political class. They all want to shut him up saying we should forget the war, it’s done and dusted. They want to shut him up because they have sins to hide.
There is no excuse for illegal war. Not time, not ignorance, not Chilcot. War should always be the very last resort and not taken on rashly and under false pretexts. We are talking about people’s lives. Thousands upon thousands have died due to the invasion, and are still dying. The people who made that decision, the people who ignored the global outcry and sent soldiers to fight, are free and living comfortably. If it were their sons fighting, if it were their lives on the line, if it were their children under the blast, would they have still invaded?
Cameron talks of tragedy yet neglects the greatest tragedy. A tragedy Corbyn and 36 million peaceful protesters fought to prevent, a tragedy which is still ongoing. War is raging in the Middle East, millions of lives have been ruined, millions of children orphaned, millions of refugees fleeing – a crime against humanity which could and should have been avoided.
Cost of ‘ The War on Terror’ – Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan.
Body Count Study on war causalities in these regions (not including other countries targeted by U.S.-led war in Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Syria etc.)
“Even now, 13 years after this war began, there has still been no equivalent study.”
“This investigation comes to the conclusion that the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, i.e. a total of around 1.3 million. Not included in this figure are further war zones such as Yemen. The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware of and propagated by the media and major NGOs. And this is only a conservative estimate. The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely.”
Body Count Iraq:
“The figure of 655,000 deaths in the first three war years alone, however, clearly points to a crime against humanity approaching genocide. Had this been understood and recognized by the public at large, the Iraq policy of the U.S. and its European allies would not have been tenable for long.”
“A poll carried out by the Associated Press (AP) two years ago found that, on average, U.S. citizens believe that only 9,900 Iraqis were killed during the occupation. With such distorted figures, outrage about the war is hardly to be expected. This state of affairs could be very different if the public were made aware that the actual number is likely to be more than a hundred times higher.”
“the real number of victims lies between 390,000 and 940,000.”
Body Count Afganistan:
“since 2004, more than 27,000 sorties by the U.S. Air Force have wreaked enormous havoc among the civilian population. We just need to recall the air attacks against the fuel trucks in Kunduz and the numerous wedding parties that were annihilated by bombs”
Afghanistan Summary (October 2001 until the end of 2013)
|Civilians and Combatants||Directly Killed|
|Excess deaths incl. Afghan Civilians||106,000 – 170,000|
|Afghan Security Forces||15,000|
|Private U.S. Security Forces||3,000|
|ISAF and OEF Soldiers||3,409|
|Civilian employees of the US government||1,700|
Body Count Pakistan:
“The war in Pakistan is therefore a consequence of the U.S./NATO war in Afghanistan.”
“It can be suggested that at least 80,000 Pakistanis (insurgents, security forces, civilians) have been killed, with twice as many civilians killed than insurgent fighters. Taking all sources and factors into account, a total number of 300,000 war deaths in the AfPak War-Theatre until 2013 seems realistic.”
War refugees and displaced:
Afghan, Iraqi, and Pakistani people: 7.6 million
Allied troops and police deaths:
Allied troops and police wounded:
$4.4 trillion US taxpayers + interest payments = $7.9 trillion by 2054.
£37 billion UK taxpayer
Number of Weapons of Mass Destructions:
“Today, permanent acceptance of war and occupation is most easily accomplished by using humanitarian, human rights pretexts for war, such as “reconstruction,” “stabilization,” “securing human rights” or “democratization.” After the so-called “global war on terror” was at first justified as a (pre-emptive) self-defense, even later on the continued occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq were likewise explained by those alleged goals. While at the beginning such military interventions were called “humanitarian interventions,” today their proponents try to classify them as part of the so-called “Responsibility to Protect” which Western states try to enshrine as a new norm in international law.”