'The catastrophic results of the Iraq invasion are often portrayed as having been impossible to predict, and only inevitable with the benefit of hindsight. If only to prevent future calamities from happening, this is a myth that needs to be dispelled. The very fact that the demonstration on that chilly February day in 2003 was the biggest Britain had ever seen, is testament to the fact that disaster seemed inevitable to so many people.'( Owen Jones, We anti-war protesters were right: the Iraq invasion has led to bloody chaos, Owen Jones, Guardian June 10 2014)The problem, however, is that the demonstration in February 2003 did not prove many foresaw how the invasion would become the disaster it did. Obviously, there were informed experts on the Middle East who foresaw that an invasion could fragment the nation along sectarian lines and so were against it.
Yet few leading anti-war activists trying to ramp up opposition to Tony Blair mentioned this at the time. Tariq Ali made no mention of a resurgence of sectarian warfare. Nor did John Rees, George Galloway, Lindsey German or Andrew Murray foresee that or write about it.
The reason was because they were not interested. The war was by definition wrong because all wars launched by the imperialist US and Britain would be wrong because all state violence for them is wrong unless it is being used by revolutionaries to terrorise enemies into submission.
So the reason people marched against the war may have been ideological , taking a stance against an 'imperialist' war. For others, the invasion was just an attack on a Muslim nation. Others believed it was wrong because they thought the official justifications hid other more obvious motives.
There were many who saw George Bush's administration were intent on invading Iraq without having first proved Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and, rightly, that this provided the pretext for removing the dictator and securing US and British control over Iraqi oil.
But for leading members of the Stop the War Coalition, such as Ali, the war was a 'threat to peace', a blitheringly obvious statement as a war by definition means the end of peace, unless the argument is that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was less a threat to peace than the US. As he put it,
'The pretext not only failed to convince but served rather to fuel a broad-based opposition as millions now saw the greatest threat to peace coming, not from the depleted armouries of decaying dictatorships, but from the rotten heart of the American empire and its satrapies, Israel and Britain'.Even so, the invasion of Iraq removed Saddam fairly quickly and it only became clear a year later that Iraq would, in fact, fragment into a religiously sectarian forms of warfare aimed not only at the occupation forces but at others vying for control over Iraq and its oil wealth.
Ali was, in fact, extolling some largely mythical Iraqi national 'resistance' force, 'the Iraqi Army did not disintegrate at the first shot; there was little sign of widespread popular gratitude for the invasion but rather more of guerrilla resistance and....increasing anger in the Arab world'.
Evidently, the reality in Iraq has been far worse than anti-war activists had imagined in 2003.Yet few, if any of them-as opposed to Middle East experts who warned Blair about the probability of sectarian warfare and were ignored-knew or cared about Iraq's sectarian divisions back then.
On the contrary, many anti-war activists seemed more concerned the US and Britain might have been successful in invading Iraq and fervently wanted it to be defeated by 'the guerilla resistance' and for collaborators to 'meet the fate of Nuri Said' i.e. to be murdered and the corpse dug up, burnt and mutilated.
The demonstrations of 2003 acheived nothing nor has the 'anti-war movement' and one reason for that is that the STWC was dominated by sinister ideologues in the Socialist Workers Party and creepy apologists for dictatorships such as Galloway who discredit what should have been a good cause.