I joined and spoke at the Stop the War demonstration today (Saturday). I pay tribute to the Stop the War Coalition for its success in mobilising in such a short space of time such a huge number of people. To mobilse tens of thousands of demonstrators in less than 10 days is a remarkable feat of organisation but also shows the strength of feeling in our country on the issue of Lebanon.
I believe that the backlash across the world against the Bush/Blair strategy has had its effect in forcing the US and Britain to the negotiating table much sooner than was ever intended by Bush and Blair.
The draft UN resolution appears to move peace nearer with France playing a pivotal role in forcing the pace of negotiations. The Lebanese government however will not accept the loss of sovereignty over vast swathes of its own land and the Lebanese people of all religions will not now allow the isolation of Hezbollah.
At the same time the people of Gaza continue to suffer the oppressive intervention of the Israeli miltary.
If a cessation of military action is secured by early next week the progressive world must not turn its attention away from the Lebanon for the terms of the peace may be a further injustice perpetrated on the Lebanese and on the Palestinians.
Injustice breeds resentment. Traumatic experiences such as invasion and all the human suffering associated with it breed anger and a culture of revenge. Revenge is the mobilising force for terrorism. For the Israelis their military invasion of Lebanon and the use of intense force may appear to resolve the immediate threat of physical attack. However the long term cost is the potential of a new generation of enemies mobilised by their actions.
If a UN resolution is achieved this week and a cessation of hostilities takes place, let us call upon the UN to launch a fresh and much longer term peace making initiative in the region, addressing the injustices and bringing all parties back into the political process.Tony Blair has blown Britain's opportunity of having a major role in the peacemaking process as few around the world trust the independence of Blair's Britain. We may now need to look to France as the catalyst and coordinator of a new peace confrence for the region, including all parties but especially from Lebanon, the Palestinians, Iran, Syria and Israel.