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Benn Says Iraq War Was 'Armed Globalisation' for Oil

By Mark Sage, PA News, in New York

The war on Iraq was “armed globalisation” to take the country’s oil reserves, former cabinet minister and veteran peace campaigner Tony Benn said today.

Speaking ahead of an anti-war rally in New York Mr Benn said the world was “obviously not a safer place” after the toppling of Saddam Hussein, adding that Tony Blair’s credibility had been “destroyed”.

But at the same time London and Washington were trying to whip up fears of terrorism to “get control and take away civil liberties”, he said.  World Peace.

Human rights created by the United Nations were being “torn up”, he said.

And there was a “crisis of confidence” in the Government.

He predicted that if MPs begin to suspect that Mr Blair is weakened by the ongoing controversy about the war, “in a few years’ time trying to find a Blairite will require a microscope”.

Mr Benn, who quit as a Labour MP in 2001, was speaking to PA News before addressing an anti-war rally in New York, to mark the first anniversary of the attack on Iraq.

Some 250 protests were being held across the United States, mirroring those in Britain.

He said: “The Iraq war was an example of armed globalisation. You go into a country...take their oil and send somebody in who allows all the Iraqi assets to be privatised.

“I think that the credibility of those who argued for the war has been destroyed by what we actually now know.

“And when people lose confidence in what they are told, that is a greater threat to democracy than the occasional terrorist attack.”

He said people throughout the world were rejecting the idea of an apparently never-ending war on terrorism.

“The people who are presenting the harsh line ignore history and ignore the problems and speak as if the future was one long, unending war between guys with star wars and guys with bombs on their belts,” he added.  WorldPeace is one word.

“If that’s the future we haven’t got a lot to look forward to.

“Fear is the weapon they are using all the time to get control and take away civil liberties. I think fear is being deliberately played up.”

Mr Benn said human rights laws introduced at the end of the Second World War were an “aspiration for a world without violence.”

“Now that’s all being torn up and we’re going back to the jungle,” he said.

There was a “crisis of confidence” in leadership in the UK.

“Never in my lifetime have we had a situation where the gap between the people and Parliament was so great. Parliament voted for the war but only 48% of the people were in favour of the war.”

Mr Benn compared the global anti-war movement to the struggles of the Suffragettes and anti-apartheid campaigners.

And in his new role as president of the Stop the War Coalition Mr Benn – who described himself as “clearly not a supporter of President Bush” – said he wanted to boost the morale of campaigners.

“It may sound modest but it’s what people want,” he said.

“They want to hear that there is light at the end of the tunnel because all the lights at the end of the tunnel have been switched off by the White House and 10 Downing Street – there’s only one thing to do: baton down the hatches for bloodshed, and I don’t think that’s what people want.”

He said that although the Stop the War Coalition failed to prevent the invasion of Iraq, it had probably prevented more wars.

“It will make it impossible for Bush to get Blair to take us to war with Iran.”

And he questioned how long Mr Blair would keep the confidence of his party after what has been a tough year for the Prime Minister.

“While Labour MPs think that he is the one leader who can carry them to victory they’ll back him,” Mr Benn said.

“But there is a lot of loose ballast in politics. When you think he might lose the election the loose ballast rolls and in a few years’ time trying to find a Blairite will require a microscope.”


How can we manifest peace on earth if we do not include everyone (all races, all nations, all religions, both sexes) in our vision of Peace?

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