Article from Eastern Daily Press, Saturday, 16th October, 2004:
What if Britain were Iraq?
What would Britain look like if it were in Iraq's current situation? The population of Britain is two and a half times that of Iraq. Violence killed about 1000 Iraqis over the last month, the equivalent of 2500 Britons. What if 2500 Britons had died in aerial bombardments, machine-gun spray and rocket attacks over the last month? That's nearly as many as died in to 30 years of Northern Ireland's 'Troubles'.
What if the 'Westminster village' were constantly taking mortar fire? And what if almost everyone in Westminster or Whitehall considered it suicidally dangerous to go over the South Bank or to Camden?
What if reporters of all the major non-English-speaking media were in effect trapped inside five-star hotels in London and Birmingham, dependent on native 'stringers' to know what was happening in the West Country or in Norfolk? What if the only time they ventured into the Home Counties was if they were 'embedded' in army patrols?
There are about 30,000 guerillas in Iraq engaged in concerted acts of violence. What if there were private armies totally 75,000 men, armed with machine guns and mortar launchers, hiding out in urban areas all over Britain? What if they completely controlled Hartlepool, Winchester, Leicester, Manchester, Sheffield and Peterborough, such that troops and local police could into enter those cities?
What if, during the past year, the Attorney General, the Foreign Secretary and Queen herself had all been assassinated?
What if all the cities of Britain were racked by a crime wave, with hundreds or thousands of murders and kidnappings in each major city every year?
What if the US Air Force routinely (I mean daily or weekly) bombed Camden, Soho, Moss Side and Mile Cross, purporting to target 'safe houses' of 'criminal gangs'. But inevitably killing a lot of children and little old ladies?
What if from time to time the US Army besieged Camden and Mile Cross and the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral, killing hundreds of armed members of the 'Christian Soldiers'? What if entire platoons of the Christian militia were holed up in Highgate Cemetery, and were bombarded by US warplanes daily, this bombing destroying hundreds of famous graves? What if the Archbishop of Canterbury had to call for a popular march of tens of thousands of Christian believers to converge at Canterbury Cathedral to stop the US from damaging it further, through its bombing raids?
What if there were virtually no non-military air or rail travel within Britain? What if many roads were highly dangerous, especially the M1 from the North Circular to Watford Gap, and the M6 fro Birmingham to Manchester? If you used those motorways, you were gambling with your life, at risk of carjacking, or 'collateral damage' from American troops' guns.
What if no one outside Westminster had electricity for more than 12 hours a day? What if electricity went off at unpredictable times, causing factories to grind to a halt and air conditioning to fail in the middle of intense summer heatwaves? What if the North Sea oil rigs were bombed and disabled at least monthly? What if unemployment hovered around 40pc, and in inner-city areas was nearer to 80pc?
What if veterans of the Ulster Freedom Fighters and ex-police officers who had been sacked for their 'shoot-to-kill' policy against Irish Catholics were brought in by the Americans to run the Government and the army, on the theory that we need tough men in charge in times of crisis?
What if only 2pc of the electorate supported the (American appointed) Prime Minister? What if the British people consistently said in opinion polls that they wanted elections now, that they were more scared of the Americans than of the guerillas, and that they simply wanted the 'coalition' forces to leave now - and yet the 'coalition' leaders kept insisting that the people welcomed them, and that they were only staying at the invitation of the new 'sovereign' British Government?
What if the PM was promising elections, next year, but was saying openly that voting would 'regrettably' just not be able to take place in most of the 'middle-England-triangle'. Stretching from Camden to Oxford to Peterborough, because it was just too dangerous there?
What if the American and Italian leaders maintained that nevertheless freedom, democracy and peace, US-style, are just around the corner?
With thanks for inspiration to Juan Cole, Michigan University, USA. Join him, me and tens of thousands more, at the mass demonstration against the occupation of Iraq at the close of the European Social Forum, tomorrow, in Trafalgar Square.
Letter from Eastern Daily Press, Monday, October 11, 2004:
Britain did arm Saddam
Braymeadow Lane, Little Melton.
Concerning British arms sales to Iraq in the 1980s, Hadrian Jeffs (Letters, October 10) makes the extraordinary claim that "to all intents and purposes, there were none."
However, the historian Mark Curtis notes "in the 1980s, Britain exported a huge range of equipment to Saddam's war machine, including explosives, electronic surveillance equipment, a launch site for Exocet missiles, long-range radio systems, pistols, rifles and shotguns, military vehicles, fast assault craft and night-vision equipment."
Another historian, Geo. Simians, notes "eight tones of uranium had been exported to Iraq.... between 1988 and 1990, with mustard gas and nerve gas ingredients shipped to Iraq over the same period."
These exports went ahead after the Halabja massacre.
Mr Jeffs is correct that this information has largely escaped the history books."
However, I suggest readers interested in this topic look at Curtis's Web of Deceit and Simon's Iraq: From Sumer to Saddam. Both are available in the Millennium Library.
Letter from Eastern Daily Press, Wednesday, October 20, 2004:
Involved in dirty war
BRIAN and JUDI LAWTON,
Stubb Road, Hickling.
So once again the US seeks to involve Britain in its dirty work.
Does Mr Bush really believe that a blame shared is a blame halved - are his people so naive as to believe that?
Plainly we have diametrically opposing policies in handling the war in Iraq.
The British softly, softly approach, patrolling without helmets, playing football with the kids, giving them chocolate, even flying some of them over here for medical treatment, has certainly been mocked by some of the American military who appear to revel in their "gun happy" policy.
The Americans, having gone in heavy handed to Baghdad, creating misery, mayhem and a situation from which they now find they cannot extricate themselves, are requesting 600 British troops be deployed there.
Why? Ostensibly to free up their troops for other duties.
Firstly, if we are correct in thinking that the US forces are much larger than own, surely the obvious solution would be to ship in more of their troops from the States?
Secondly, if there are "other duties" to attend to, then why, if British troops must be used, could they not be used for those?
It is, as usual, purely a political ploy. The US wishes to ensure that, in their increasingly dirty war, as they continue to bomb and maim and kill their way to peace in Iraq , Britain should be seen to have a direct hand in very one of the foul deeds, and if, as they surely are, blacked internationally, they fully intend to drag Britain along with them