European Antiwar Protesters Mobilize

On Sept. 28, the same day as large U.S. demonstrations took place against the threatened war against Iraq, at least half a million people marched in London and Rome to make the same point. In fact, Irish radio estimated the London march alone to be half a million. The organizers said 400,000.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bush’s principal international ally for a war on Iraq, came under heavy fire at the London demonstration.

One of the speakers was Bob Crow, a railway workers union leader, representative of the new upsurge in union militancy challenging the policies of the neo-Thatcherite Blair wing of the Labour Party. In an article in Counterpunch dated Sept. 30, the New Left personality Tariq Ali wrote that all of the new crop of militant union leaders are against the war.

Recent polls show that 70 percent of the general population in Britain oppose their country joining a U.S.-led military strike on Iraq.

Another speakers included Ken Livingston-lord mayor of London, elected over Blair’s opposition-and veteran Labour Party left leaders like Jeremy Corbyn MP.

After Blair, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi is Bush’s most important supporter in Europe, but politically he is on more slippery ground. Berlusconi is a big business shark whose affairs are constantly in the courts. He was elected chiefly as a result of the political confusion caused by the disintegration and rightward movement of the Italian Communist Party. He is in coalition with the old somewhat reconstructed neofascist party, whose emblem is still the colors of the Italian flag arising from the grave of Benito Mussolini.

The victory of the right in recent Italian elections has been counterbalanced by huge demonstrations of the left, swelled by an impressive youth radicalization.

Antiwar demonstrations are becoming a constant of political life in Italy. On the weekend of Oct. 5-6, marches took place in 120 Italian cities, involving close to 1.5 million people, according to United Press International. Police estimated that close to 200,000 marched in Rome and 60,000 to 100,000 in Milan.

“If the government can ignore this … it can ignore anything,” said an on-the-scene journalist for the La7 network in Milan. “On this day, the Italian people have spoken … and they say they are against support for the American position.”

Opinion polls support that view, showing that more than two out of every three Italians oppose any armed conflict over Iraq.