From the Eastern Daily Press, Wednesday, June 30, 2004:
How free are they?
Your leader (June 29) makes much of the outrage of Iraq's "democrats" - and, if such people exist, they are certainly going to need it because the future of that devastated country is far from certain.
It is naive to believe "democracy" has arrived in Iraq and that now we can all congratulate ourselves on a job well done.
The issue here, surely, is to what extent real "sovereignty" has been transferred to the Iraqi people and what difference will it make to their lives.
The Iraqis will hope for the following freedoms, which are taken for granted in any sovereign state:
Freedom to vote for whom they want in their elections;
Freedom to establish a non-secular Islamic state, if they wish;
Freedom to dismantle the biggest US embassy in the world, currently being built on their soil, if they so desire;
Freedom to work - and not having their jobs taken by foreign (mainly US) contractors;
Freedom not to be a 'client state' of the US (which is the version of democracy we are trying to impose on this proud and ancient people;
Freedom to control their own destiny - including the millions of dollars of oil revenue and aid allocated for re-construction, which is currently "managed" by the US-led authority, and of which $20 million is reported to be missing, unaccounted for;
Freedom to trust and believe that international law applies to every nation without exception;
Freedom to remember that all this happened before when Britain occupied Iraq in 1917 and made empty statements about "full sovereignty" in 1920;
Freedom to hope that somehow lessons have been learnt by the US/UK.
Only if all these freedoms can be guaranteed should we even begin to think we have helped the Iraqi people. Until then, it behoves all of us to remain vigilant on their behalf and ensure the words "democracy" and "freedom" are not debased.
Legality was in doubt
Braymeadow Lane, Little Melton. Does J. Rogers (Letters, June 17) know something about the United nations that Kofi Annan, its Secretary General, doesn't?
Mr Rogers believes "the war was legal" because it was "buttressed by three previous UN Security Council Resolutions". However, Kofi Annan clearly stated before the invasion that "if the US and others were to go outside the Security Council and take unilateral action they would not be in conformity with the charter". I'm not sure what higher authority I can quote to prove the invasion of Iraq contravened the UN Charter.
Furthermore, the US Administration itself has admitted the invasion was contrary to international law. In November, 2003, Richard Perle, a senior adviser to Donald Rumsfeld, said: "I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing."