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The Masses Have Spoken Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Nadia, Greece Aug 28, 2003
Peace & Conflict , Human Rights   Opinions


Firstly, the statistics: over 6 million protesters on the streets of cities around the world on February 15, 2003. More than 567,000 children dead in Iraq as a consequence of the embargo. Mortality rates in the country have increased to 32 percent. The United States and Britain have also presented numbers to justify the necessity of military force in Iraq. I'm not convinced. The speeches by United States President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair emphasize the need to rid the international community of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, through military action. But the February 15 global protests prove that too many questions have been left unanswered.

A first question that arises is: Why this sudden focus on Iraq, and Iraq alone? The leadership of Iraq has not changed since the 1980s when the US administration was supporting Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war. When Libya's leader, Muammar el-Qaddafi, acquired weapons of mass destruction and encouraged terrorist attacks, US President Ronald Reagan chose not to invade Libya and opted instead for containment; why isn't this policy adhered to in the case of Iraq? The issue of whether or not Iraq has weapons is still unconfirmed. Too many flaws have been found in the reports of both US Secretary of State Powell and Blair regarding evidence. Even United Nations Chief Inspector Hans Blix pointed out that the photographs brought before the Security Council by Powell "did not necessarily show Iraqi deception.”

More humiliating for the US-UK initiative is the discovery of plagiarism from Internet sources in Blair's latest white paper. Complementing these errors were the French intelligence agencies that found no support for the claim that there is a link between Iraq and Al-Qaeda. It seems only logical to continue weapons inspections until the attainment of concrete proof. Even if weapons of mass destruction are discovered, it is still unclear how a war will effectively meet the goals of the initiative. Much as with the embargo, it is the Iraqi people who will be harmed and not their leader. This, ultimately, was the effect of the war on the Taliban in Afghanistan that clearly failed to affect Osama Bin Laden; he is still alive and a continuous threat.

Moreover, such a war will not prove to the international community (as was suggested) that oppressive regimes are not tolerated. On the contrary, a military attack gives further legitimacy to Iraqi claims that the US is the true aggressor. An attack would be counterproductive, as it would make a hero out of a dictator. Unfortunately, in this heated debate, the most crucial issue is frequently ignored: war causes suffering. The incidence of Iraqi child leukemia from the 1991 Persian Gulf War has increased 12-fold. One can only imagine (and shudder at) the long-term damage of today's war technology.

The Iraqi people have been suffering under an embargo for the past 12 years. They have been constantly subjected to bombings because of the "No Fly zone." How can anyone assert that peace is upheld through further killings and more suffering? Even if the lives of Iraqis are not considered, let us not forget the lives of the soldiers - whether they are from the US or the UK or anywhere else in the world, human lives will be lost.
Considering that there are other alternatives to war, these lives would be lost without reason. It has been estimated that such a war will cost the US government $100 billion. If the UN inspections teams receive an additional $100 billion in funding, surely they can become the most effective means through which to disarm Iraq. It may seem idealistic, but there are at least 6 million people in the world today that value life and peace over any political objective. Violence, in any situation, must be a last resort.

Luckily, we don't need to reach that stage. This crisis is a test of the principles of democratic society. Will peace be supported, even if it leads to the first split in Western alliances since WW II? What if it conflicts with the interests of businesses and industries? Do politicians in democratic systems still represent the will of the people? The masses have spoken in an unprecedented fashion. The European Union has unified in stating on February 17, 2003, that war is a last resort. Twenty-two Arab nations meeting in Cairo on February 15, 2003, have emphasized that they will "refrain from offering any kind of assistance or facilities for any military action [against] Iraq's security, safety and territorial integrity.”

It is almost beautiful that such a large portion of the world can unite under one cause - forgetting differences of culture or history. If we cannot stop the war, at least we have proven that the foundations of democracy and of the UN have not been forgotten. It is these values that no country - NO country - has the right to ignore.



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