From the Eastern Daily Press, Monday, June 14, 2004:
UN must stop endless warfare
Reepham Road, Foulsham.
We have now had all the glorification of war, so it is time to tell the truth about modern warfare,
It is not a gallant fight between soldiers, but a carnage of the defenseless, women, children and the old. Modern warfare is based on terrorising people, killing, maiming and destroying on massive scales.
War has never solved anything, only caused more wars. Just count how many wars there have been since 1945 and how many people have lived in terror, been maimed, killed and been made homeless.
And still it goes on and on.
So, who do we pursue useless wars? It is a fallacy that we are fighting evil men/women, because the evil men/women are the products of our global politics and finance and the greed inherent in this.
Why is the United Nations not working in accordance with the purposes for which it was?
This concerns all of us. It is time we all searched our consciences.
From the Eastern Daily Press, Wednesday, June 16, 2004:
Servile view of a 'killer
The American dissident Noam Chomsky argues that the "respected intellectuals in virtually every society are those who are distinguished by their conformist subservience to those in power".
Thus, in his servile overview of Ronald Reagan's political life ("Honouring a special relationship," June 10), Chris Fisher omits any reference to Reagan's murderous history.
The UK media watchdog Medialens notes: "Reagan's eight years in office resulted in a vast bloodbath as Washington funneled money, weapons and other supplies to client dictators and right wind death squads across Central America."
This policy resulted in death tolls of more than 70,000 in El Salvador, more than 100,000 in Guatemala and 30,000 in Nicaragua. In Afghanistan, Reagen armed and trained Osama bin Laden and his supporters. In Iraq, Reagan offered significant support to Saddam Hussein, including weapons components, military intelligence, and the ingredients for manufacturing biological weapons like anthrax.
Reagan even sent a personal letter pledging his support against Iran, hand delivered by his Middle East envoy, Donald Rumsfeld. The deliberate and calculated policies carried out by the Reagan administration on the 1980s created many of the conflicts we see around the world today.
From the Eastern Daily Press, Thursday, June 18, 2004:
UN must be strengthened
United Nations Association,
High Green, Norwich.
Why is the United Nations not working for the purposes for which the UN was set up? Mr Sorensen (Letters, June 14) is rightly frustrated.
Democracy works only when governments listen to the people. The UN, like the European Union, will work only as long as the governments of the member states ut their trust in international diplomacy, and persuade the public that this is vital for peace.
The UN Security Council has often failed to intervene, to prevent or end wars. If the Security Council worked democratically, conflicts between nations could be resolved.
The veto of any of the five permanent members - Britain, France, Russia, China and the US - however can over-ruse a majority vote in the Security Council.
In many a crisis, especially during the Cold War, the Security Council was hamstrung by this.
United nations Associations, in Britain and many other nations, are working to bring a culture of peace,
We must persuade governments to prefer 'jaw-jaw' to 'war-war'. It will not be easy. Just as Britain does not want to cede its control over taxation to the EU, it does not wish to give up its veto in the Security Council.
There is a long struggle ahead to break politicians' reliance on war. Peace requires political will, and sometimes concessions to another nation's claims.
No national government entirely controls the destiny of its country.
For example, the Common Agricultural Policy radically affects British farming, and reduction in global warming depends wholly upon co-operation between nations. Wars are entirely destructive on both sides, an leave lasting distrust.
The UN is the best hope for the resolution of conflicts fairly, and we should work to strengthen it,
From the Eastern Daily Press, Saturday, June 19, 2004:
ONE WORLD (column) by MARGUERITE FINN:
Time to move on to world peace
As we approach the hand-over of 'sovereignty' to the Iraqi people on June 30, there are predictable calls from the US and UK governments for the public to "move on" from their preoccupation with the war. This is flawed, wishful thinking on their part.
The public are trapped in a limbo of mistrust and anxiety over the whole issue of the invasion and destruction of an ancient civilisation and its peoples in the name of freedom and democracy. The biggest obstacle to moving on is the fear that no lessons have been learnt from the US/UK's disastrous intervention in the region.
Is the world a safer place since March 2003? No.
Is the Middle East region more stable? No.
Is the War on Terror any closer to being won? No.
What we have gained is the opprobrium of the international community and the national shame of our involvement in an illegal war, occupation and abuse of human rights. For any real 'moving on' to occur, there first has to be an adequate national contrition led by the Government, followed by a radical reorientation towards anon-nuclear, non-aligned foreign and defence policy and a build-up of a special relationship with the United Nations.
Meanwhile, here in East Anglia, we have a relevant concern with the prospects for international security, because we host the biggest concentration of American military bases in the country: Lakenheath and Mildenhall in Suffolk; Feltwell in Norfolk and Molesworth in Cambridgeshire.
Personnel from these bases were directly involved in the war: refuelling bombers, rescuing missions and intelligence gatherng.
Longer-term concerns go well beyond this. There is no doubt that the US has nuclear weapons at Lakenheath. Having a nuclear base on the Norfolk/Suffolk border puts us in the front line of danger from terrorist attacks, not to speak of potentially horrifying accidents.
The danger of radiation from a simulated crash in Thetford Forest of a US aircraft carrying unarmed nuclear weapons (the 2003 exercise ominously coded 'dimming sun') has never been made public.
At a recent meeting in Dunwich, the consultant nuclear engineer john Large described in chilling terms the dangers facing the residents of Eats Anglia from a terrorist attack on the Sizewell nuclear complex. Current emergency procedures drawn p to deal with a small to medium-range accident at Sizewell A or B power station, are totally inadequate to deal with a major radioactive emission following a planned terrorist attack.
So, we are hostages to the proponents of nuclear power and nuclear weapons.
Moreover, the preparations are being made for the manufacture of a new generation of 'usable' mini-nukes here in the UK at AWRE Aldermaston.
This calls into question the commitment of both the UK and the US to Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (signed and ratified by this country nearly 40 years ago) to achieve prompt, total and unequivocal elimination of nuclear weapons.
Even if, as rumoured, the US intends to reduce some of its nuclear weapons in Europe - it will simply be a shift away from the big bases here in 'old Europe' towards more flexible 'lily-pad' bases elsewhere.
SO how do we, as a nation, regain our self-respect and move on from the horrors of this war? Two unlikely allies have recently shown one way: Madeleine Albright and Robin Cook, writing jointly in the Guardian on June 9, called on the United States "to stop developing new nuclear weapons, to sign the comprehensive test ban treaty and, together with Britain,, to support a fissile materials cut-off treaty that would end the production of fissile materials for use in nuclear weapons."
They went on to say that given their nuclear weapons capacities, the US and European countries have a special responsibility to ensure that these terrible weapons do not spread further - but before they can fulfil this responsibility, they must be seen as credible proponents of nuclear non-proliferation."
We must campaign for a bigger role for the UN in combating poverty by allowing the General Assembly, in which there is no veto, to control the IMF, the WTO and the arms trade. We must also control the multi-nationals and confine our military role to support for UN action authorised by the Security Council.
Current US/UK policies lead to perpetual war; these alternatives would open the way for world peace.
From Le Monde Diplomatique (English edition), June 1004:
'Torture in a good cause'
by Ignacio Ramonet
"The United States is committed to the worldwide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example. I call on all governments to join with the US and the community of law-abiding nations in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent other cruel and unusual punishment"
President George Bush, Washington Post, 27 June 2003
THE trap of colonial war is closing on the invading forces in Iraq. Like French troops bogged down in an earlier era in Algeria, the British in Kenya, the Belgians in the Congo, the Portuguese in Guinea-Bissau and the Israelis today in Gaza, US armed forces are now realising that crushing military superiority is not enough to save them from hostage-taking, ambushes and other deadly assaults. For soldiers on the ground the occupation of Iraq is fast becoming a descent into hell.
The characteristics of colonial war are usually arrogance on the part of the occupiers, who believe that they belong to a superior race (more civilised, more advanced), are contemptuous of the colon-ised and sometimes refuse to admit that the colonised are even human (1).
This colonial sense of superiority all too easily leads occupying forces, in the name of some higher sacred mission - defending good against evil, protecting civilisation, defending democracy - into disproportionate use of force. In Falluja in April, for example, US forces were intent on punishing those who had mutilated the bodies of four security guards killed in an attack. The forces bombarded civilian residential areas and killed 600 people, including many children.
In this context the US broadcast network CBS decided to break the media silence. In its programme, 60 Minutes II, on 28 April, it showed the first photographs of the savage treatment of Iraqi prisoners by US jailers in Abu Ghraib. These trophy images shocked the world. The report was proof that torture was happening in Iraq. The programme was ready at the start of April, but Pentagon pressure delayed its broadcast for three weeks. The chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, General Richard Myers, personally contacted anchorman Dan Rather and asked him to postpone the programme, arguing that it would endanger the lives of the troops in the "battle of Falluja".
There was official pressure to get the broadcast cancelled. Only when CBS heard that the journalist Seymour Hersh (2), working for the New Yorker magazine, was planning to publish fresh photographs alongside extracts from a damning report prepared by General Antonio Taguba (3) did the network decide to go ahead.
Initially the media had complied with US government instructions that banned pictures of dead US soldiers in Iraq (4) and the media had also censored such pictures on the basis that they were "not very patriotic". Fox News host Bill O'Reilly said: "By using those graphic images of the torture, CBS has given the enemies of America a powerful weapon. And that's disturbing."
President Bush went on air to announce that he was shocked. The defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, stepped forward to deny all prior know ledge of these practices. Both blamed the excesses on a few black sheep. They were lying. Just as they had lied about the weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein's supposed relations with Osama bin Laden.
The brutality against Iraqi prisoners was public knowledge. Besides Taguba's report, both the International Committee of the Red Cross and Amnesty International had reported on systematic brutality in accounts that had been circulating for months. As early as December 2002 the Washington Post (5) had revealed that prisoners accused of belonging to al-Qaida had been held in inhuman conditions by the US at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan and had been tortured. Some had died as a result of their maltreatment.
Other prisoners had been sent to secret prisons on the island of Diego Garcia or to friendly countries - Egypt and Jordan - known for torture. Around 600 prisoners, whose identities are still unknown, were sent to Guantanamo Bay, where Red Cross inspectors are still denied access; Guantanamo tested the techniques subsequently extended to occupied Iraq. An officer in charge of the prisoners said: "If you don't violate someone's human rights some of the time, you probably aren't doing your job." In a discussion of the treatment of prisoners J Cofer Black, head of the CIA counter-terrorism centre, said succinctly: "There was a before 9/11, and there was an after 9/11. After 9/11, the gloves come off." This climate of legitim acy and impunity opened the way to general brutality against Iraqi prisoners. "Torturing in a good cause" is now seen as a grim exploit that merits souvenir photos. If only to remind those involved that colonial wars are always immoral.
From Le Monde Diplomatique (English edition), June 2004:
(1) Donald Rumsfeld did recently admit that Iraqis "are human beings".
(2) Seymour Hersh is a veteran journalist who, in November 1969, reported the My Lai massacre in Vietnam of 16 March 1968; during a search and destroy operation conducted by Charlie Company of the US 11th Brigade under the command of Lieutenant Calley and Captain Medina, 300 civilians, women, children and old people were killed.
(4) The taboo was broken on 18 April by Tami Silicio, an employee of the Maytag Aircraft Corporation (subsequently sacked), who provided the Seattle Times with photographs of the coffins of soldiers killed in Iraq that had been brought home in cargo planes.