At the recent Stop the War Coalition
conference Socialist Unity caught up with Hilary Wainwright,
editor of Red Pepper, and asked her a
SU: How do you feel the day's
been progressing so far?
HW: I think most important
has been the contributions of the Military Families Against the War. That is
going to have a huge impact in terms of taking the campaign forward. Simply
repeating the same tactics as before and not broadening the base I think would
have been a problem.
MFAW really strikes at the heart of
Tony Blair's position because these are people who did believe a lot of his
rhetoric and are the people who feel most let down by the lies they were told.
Their active participation as part of the campaign against the war and as part
of the coalition I think is really really decisive. Its been really encouraging
to hear from Iraqis themselves, that was very powerful. I'm hopeful that the
coalition is moving in an effective direction. I think coming together of the
coalition with Occupation Focus is a really good move.
The potential has always been, since
February 15th, to build a lasting, cumulative campaign, that is beginning to be
realised and any sectarianism or exclusiveness is being overcome by people's
recognition of what's at stake.
SU: In terms of action
against the war what role do you feel direct action and civil disobedience have
to play in the wider movement?
HW: I think it's important, I
think you need action at all levels from the refusals of soldiers to fight,
individual refusals to collective direct action against military bases for
example. Leafleting of TA sites, recruitment offices through to mass
demonstrations then to lobbying of MPs - all those levels are necessary.
SU: A controversial issue
within the movement concerns attitudes towards the Iraqi resistance. How do you
feel we should approach this issue with particular regard to the killing of
civilians and Iraqi trade unionists?
HW: Our basic thing is that
Iraqi's have the right to resist and we should support that resistance but we
shouldn't lift our morality and socialist principles in our support. So where
there is behaviour like beheadings of aid workers or kidnapping journalists I
just think that's wrong and we should say so.
SU: And, final question, the
war on Iraq has often been referred to as a new Vietnam, how far do you feel
these parallels go?
HW: Well I think in terms of
American imperialism or the role of the Americans obviously there are many
similarities; the reasons, the drives are particular to the present conjuncture,
the present era. But the drive to dominate, whatever the reasons, are basically
I think the nature of the movement,
the movement against war in Iraq was beginning long before the war had even
begun. In Vietnam the movement developed with the war so I think that people
learned from Vietnam, history never repeats itself so people have its lessons in
I think it's interesting the
soldiers we have just heard have been very influenced by the Vietnam experience
and recognise that that war was stopped by the people themselves, by the
soldiers and so people are learning from Vietnam and creating a movement that
potentially is going to be as effective in a different context.