“We need an international movement against war & for peace.”Richard Burgon
We are pleased to publish Richard Burgon’s speech from the #NoWarWithIran demonstration:
Seventeen years ago, this month, in his State of the Union address, George W Bush, made clear the United States would launch war on Iraq, regardless of whether there was UN backing or not.
And to our shame, our government signed up to that.
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died. Millions of Iraqi lives were destroyed. Over 4,500 US soldiers and 179 British service personnel lost their lives.
But a war on Iran could be even more deadly. It risks a new full-scale war in the Middle East that could spiral out of control.
On that historic demonstration against the Iraq war in 2003, two great Labour Party advocates of peace – Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn – made clear why we should not blindly follow a right-wing US President into such conflicts.
Their words then should be listened to by our Prime Minister today
I was there in the crowd that day in 2003 as Jeremy Corbyn warned that war on Iraq would “set off a spiral of conflict, of hate, of misery, of desperation, that will fuel the wars, the conflict, the terrorism, the depression, and the misery of future generations.”
After so much bloodshed in Iraq. After war in Afghanistan – the US longest-ever war. War on Libya. Bombings and a humanitarian catastrophe in Syria. After years more oppression of the Palestinian people. And after the barbaric assault on Yemen, we know that Jeremy was right then.
And he is right now in calling for restraint and opposing this push for yet another war
Jeremy’s message of anti-war internationalism, of peace and justice, of seeking political and diplomatic solutions – not needless military ones – must remain at the core of the Labour party.
In these increasingly dangerous times, we need an international movement against war and for peace. It’s vital our Party plays its role in that movement.
With our own PM seemingly desperate to side with Trump, we need a Labour Party determined to force our government on to another path.
That forces our government to stand up to Trump’s reckless push for war
That forces our government to make it clear we will not be dragged into any war on Iran
That forces our government to use its political and diplomatic weight to get the Iran nuclear deal back on track – and to resolve all the ongoing justices in the Middle East.
No doubt some in the press will try to label our demonstration today as crude anti-Americanism.
Let’s make it clear: we stand with every one of those US citizens marching today in dozens of cities
We stand with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who rightly pointed out that the rich and powerful launch wars – but it is the poor who die in them
And we stand in full solidarity with Bernie Sanders – hopefully the next President of the United States – who not only called for no war on Iran but for ending the U.S. military presence in the Middle East.
And I will end on the words of a great American, Martin Luther King.
King said: “The great problem and the great challenge facing mankind today is to get rid of war.”
Those remarks were in his famous speech on the “Three Major Evils” those being “the evil of racism, the evil of poverty, and the evil of war”. As he said: “these three evils are tied together.”
With Trump in the White House and Johnson in No 10 fighting poverty, racism and war must be our priorities today.
Whatever the setbacks, as individuals and as a movement we cannot – and will not – retreat from those duties.
Thank you very much.