| Susan Sarandon addresses the anti-war rally. (Reuters)
Washington, Oct. 27 (Reuters): Thousands of Americans took to the streets at the weekend to oppose a war on Iraq, but the Bush administration stood firm and said it was time for the United Nations to act not debate.
Baghdad kept up its war of rhetoric with Washington, accusing it today of trying to intimidate the UN Security Council into adopting a new draft resolution that could pave the way for military action.
“The evil American administration is practising clear terrorism inside and outside the Security Council in order to pass a new draft resolution,” said al-Thawra newspaper, the mouthpiece of President Saddam Hussein’s ruling Baath Party.
“Each paragraph of the new draft represents a core of tension and an excuse for launching aggression.”
US President George W. Bush, well used to invective from Iraq, also faced vocal opposition at home yesterday when thousands of Americans marched to oppose any war.
“This is going to be an ugly, unnecessary fight. Most of the world is saying ‘no’ to it,” civil rights leader Jesse Jackson told a crowd at Washington’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial. “Pre-emptive, one-bullet diplomacy, we cannot resort to that.”
Organisers said 150,000 people took part in the anti-war protest in the US capital, but witnesses put the number at fewer than 50,000. A river of marchers flowed to the White House to press the case that a war on Iraq would be a tragic mistake.
“George Bush, you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide!” chanted the protesters. “Let us resist this war,” liberal activist actress Susan Sarandon told the crowd. “Let us hate war in all its forms, whether the weapon used is a missile or an airplane.”
The protesters brandished signs reading: “No Proof, No War,” “Bush Sucks” and “Pre-emptive Impeachment”. Some protesters carried Iraqi flags. “No war, no way,” shouted a protester wearing a mask of Bush with horns and a pitchfork.
Another 40,000 marched in San Francisco, with thousands more demonstrating in Amsterdam, Berlin and other European cities. Nearly 3,000 people marched in a anti-war demonstration in Madrid.
Bush was not around to see the White House protest because he was taking part in a summit of Pacific Rim leaders in Mexico.
With a sceptical Mexican President Vicente Fox by his side, Bush repeated that the US would lead a coalition against Iraq if the UN failed to act to ensure Saddam did not possess chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. “If the UN won’t act, if Saddam Hussein won’t disarm, we will lead a coalition to disarm him,” Bush said.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, also in the Mexican beach resort Los Cabos for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, said key decisions had to be made in the next few days. “We have reached the point where we have to make a few fundamental decisions in the early part of next week and go forward,” he said. “We can’t continue to have a debate that never ends.”