From Castlebar - County Mayo -
A Viewpoint on the War in Iraq
9, Apr 2003 - 14:46
We have been asked to outline our view of the war in Iraq. Thus, a number of points that may be taken as the editorial view of castlebar.ie
- The war is primarily about oil.
- The Bush government is not in favour of energy conservation or restraint to combat climate change (Kyoto) and thus is worried about securing ongoing oil supplies at a stage where most of the world’s great oil reserves have passed the stage of peak production. Iraq has the second largest proven reserves of oil.
- The war is about profits for US administration-related companies (Halliburton, etc.).
- It is about distracting attention from the state of the US economy – it has been on a slide since well before Sep 11th
- It is about distracting attention from the fact that Osama Bin Laden has not been apprehended.
- It has very little to do with Sep 11 – Osama Bin Laden is on record as despising Saddam Hussein.
- It is about embarrassment (perhaps) that the USA funded and supported Saddam Hussein (even after the gassing of the Kurds).
- It is about embarrassment for not having removed Saddam Hussein in 1991 apparently because Bush Senior was afraid that a fundamentalist Islamic regime would take over and that would be worse than leaving Saddam in power.
- Saddam Hussein’s slaughter and ill treatment of those who rose up against him in 1991 but were abandoned by the Coalition of the time explains in part at least the poor welcome afforded the troops.
- It is not about weapons of mass destruction (none have been used so far. It seems likely that they would have been used by now had Saddam Hussein had the capability). While the US and others sold Saddam Hussein a range of materiel, it now appears the ongoing bombing of the very large no-fly zones (more than half the territory of Iraq) for the past 10 years had already 'degraded' the Iraqi army and airforce considerably.
- The various attempts by Mr Blix and others to disarm Iraq and render their nuclear, chemical and biological arsenal harmless now appear to have been quite successful.
- The war is about the fulfilling a policy that was first articulated in the 1992 Wolfowitz document (America astride the world like a colossus) which advocated what is, in our view, an extremely dangerous pre-emptive strike policy regardless of the UN and international opinion.
- The war, in a minor way, is of course also about ‘freeing’ the Iraqi population from Saddam Hussein. But the US Government’s concern for oppressed peoples is not exactly consistent or uniform. The US abandoned Somalia even though hundreds of thousands had been killed - when 19 US soldiers were killed in street fighting. They have paid scant attention to millions that perished in the Congo, Rwanda, the horrendous slaughter in Algeria and many, many other countries were human rights are denied every day. They have also actively supported and sold arms to dictatorships such as Saddam Hussein when it was convenient for American strategic interests. Thus, we are not terribly convinced when we hear Mr Rumsfeld saying that he is liberating Iraq as if on a mercy mission.
- A country obviously needs to support its troops once they are sent to war but this must be distinguished quite clearly from the poor justification for the war in the first place. Supporting the troops and hoping they come home safely is consistent with also deploring the unjust nature or the need for the war in the first place.
- We are appalled at the reported muzzling of the US media and the clamping down on civil liberties. When a middle-aged man - a male white Caucasian - is arrested in a shopping mall for wearing an innocuous white T-Shirt that says simply "Give Peace a Chance" it is surely time to be worried. The war is supposed to be about fighting for freedom and democracy?
- When the elderly parents of someone who was actually killed in the Twin Towers are told to live in France because they objected to the war it is certainly time to be worried about what is really happening.
- This war is not a video game although many media outlets portray it as such.
- That hundreds if not thousands of innocent people would be slaughtered in the war was so apparent and obvious from the very start. We ran a poll giving a stark choice by asking people simply if they were in favour of killing men women and children in Baghdad. It is not possible to support the war without also having to come to terms with this important and inevitable consequence of war.
- When we see images on TV and the web of young children with their head literally cut in two with their brains hanging out, we remember the chilling photo from the Vietnam war of that young girl running away from a napalm strike. Remembering also how traumatised Ireland was by events such as the Omagh bombing, we cannot imagine how Iraq can cope with thousands of bomb deaths in such a short period of time.
- This week we are running a link to a day-by-day counter which lists civilian deaths. This has also been cited by RTE as an authoritative source and it is produced by a group who is recording, in as accurate and objective a manner as possible, the number of civilians killed.
- No country in modern times has been bombed into democracy – democracy has to come from within; whether peacefully or violently. Democracy arose in India and South Africa relatively recently due to the work of Ghandi and Nelson Mandela but these models are not likely to be listened to in the present climate.
- The US Government does not understand Iraqi or Arab nationalism. The rage at which the invasion of Iraq has been greeted in the Arab Street is likely to produce many more terrorists who will have absolutely no doubt that their war is a ‘just’ war. The president of Egypt suggested that 100 ‘Osamas’ have been produced in the last two weeks as a result of Mr Bush’s and Rumsfeld’s adventure in ‘diplomacy.’
- The stated aim of nipping terrorism in the bud before it starts is therefore, likely to be totally unsuccessful. This is one of the most frightening aspects of the war.
- The sympathy of the world for the US following September 11th is still palpable, especially here in Ireland where so many have relatives in America. But if the Iraq war merely stimulates many more such outrages what then? The clamp down on civil liberties that would be required to stop this type of terrorism is not a pleasant prospect even if successful in stopping outrages; but the loss of the very freedom we are supposed to cherish and be fighting for is surely a defeat in itself?
Whether you agree or disagree with all, some or none of these points you are welcome to post your views on the Castlebar.ie bulletin board. You may also submit longer pieces to the Castlebar.News for consideration.
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