This article is also published at www.counterfire.org
One of the most useful meetings I went to at the weekend - at the Marxism festival in London - was about war, the economic crisis and imperialism. Lindsey German cited a recent speech by General Sir Richard Dannatt, who argued that economic and ecological crises make the world more unstable (and thus military conflict more likely).
The generals are using this as the basis for lobbying for greater military spending and "more boots on the ground", as Dannatt put it. This is at a time when the public sector is threatened with a squeeze on spending and workers are told to accept less in hard times. It is also, of course, at a time when the war in Afghanistan shows signs of worsening, with no indication of a solution for the NATO leaders.
The links between war and economic crisis came up in discussion at last night's Stop the War organising meeting in Tyneside. We talked about the issue of military recruitment and how we can campaign against the disgusting propaganda deployed by the armed forces to recruit young people - who often have little hope of finding jobs - to fight in their wars. We mustn't allow the inexorable rise in youth unemployment to become good news for the military recruiters.
Haifa Zangana spoke eloquently, in the same meeting at Marxism, about the continuing occupation of Iraq, with over 100,000 mercenaris still operating there - which gives the lie to the poular illusion that the occupation is pretty much over. In our local meeting yesterday we agreed that the new inquiry will ensure Iraq remains on the news agenda and that we must take the opportunity to mobilise for a total withdrawal, together with demanding truth and justice from what looks suspiciously like a cosy Establishment inquiry (though admittedly better than first envisaged, as it will be mainly in public and can apportion blame).
We also started planning for two major priorities in the autumn. The first is a big public meeting to oppose Islamaphobia, and defend Muslim communities, to take place in Newcastle in October. The second is the enticing double whammy of demonstrating at the G20 finance ministers in Scotland on 6 November, then at the NATO defence ministers (also in Scotland) just one week later. We'll be organising transport and looking to get a great turnout. The G20 protests in particular will be a chance to connect the wars and occupations to the economic and environmental disasters affecting us all.