|These are regular editorials
produced alongside the corresponding issues on Nonviolent
The current war in Iraq is not the conflict
which George Bush and Tony Blair had in mind. They looked
forward to an easy coast to victory with cheering crowds welcoming
Axis (USA, UK, Australia) forces as they marched triumphantly
and rapidly into Baghdad while their armies elsewhere ‘mopped
up’ remaining pockets of resistance, and the regime
quickly crumbled and fell. The reality, as we know, and so
many Iraqis and some US and UK soldiers know to their cost,
is rather different.
Bush and Blair, and presumably also their inner
circles, intelligence and armed forces, totally miscalculated.
It is not that anyone underestimates the atrocities committed
by the regime of Saddam Hussein, or the measures to which
those loyal to him will force others to resist, or indeed
who will be the final ‘victor’ - ‘to the
victor belongs the (sp)oils’. But both pro-war and anti-war
people have been surprised by the ferociousness of Iraqi resistance
to the US/UK invasion, and the USA is doubling their invading
force. Bush does his unconvincing best to look nonchalant
and talks of liberation. Tony Blair looks like a man who has
woken up from his worst nightmare to discover it is reality;
he is a man who knows he has made the wrong decision with,
literally, fatal consequences.
Morally they should of course admit at this
stage that they made the wrong decision, and stop the war.
But that does not happen in wars. Instead they will blunder
on through much blood (mainly Iraqi) to the much vaunted ‘liberation’.
To alter that famous quotation from a US officer in the Vietnam
war, it looks like “it is necessary to destroy the country
to save it” (a US major in Vietnam in 1968, speaking
about the town of Ben Tre, said “It became necessary
to destroy the town to save it.”)
Some people on the street, particularly those
of a fatalistic or pro-war bent, may think it is pointless
to protest against the war at this stage. How wrong they are!
That is just what Bush and Blair would want us to do. We have
to keep hammering at the alternatives that existed, the reasons
for the war (oil as a primary reason though not the excuse,
that was ‘9/11’) and the possibilities for nonviolent
struggle against repressive regimes at base level, for dispute
resolution at international level in future, and for meaningful
reform of United Nations structures. Now is an opportunity
to show that not only were there alternatives (totally ignored
by Bush and Blair in their foolhardiness) but alternatives
that can be used in the future. Otherwise history will be
repeated in an endless cycle of violence.
Because one thing is sure. If the war went well
in Iraq for the USA government it would not be long before
they moved on to their next target, the next country that
seemed to stand in their way for oil security, global dominance,
or whatever their vested interests happened to be. If people
can discover the nature of US imperialism (how else can you
describe the drive for full spectrum dominance?) from this
war then that will be something which humanity will have learned.
Meanwhile the suffering of the Iraqi people,
and some US and British soldiers, is only just beginning.
When it is all over the USA and the UK governments must be
shamed into putting a meaningful amount of money into reconstruction
of the country which they, through bombs and sanctions, have
helped destroy. And the world must also shame them into allowing
the Iraqi people meaningful decisions on their future and
not simply a choice of the options which the USA happens to
What a human tragedy. What a human loss. What
a human waste. And what a human miscalculation.
Bertie Ahern and the Irish Government meanwhile
decided to go ahead allowing US warplanes to continue using
Shannon as both landing and refuelling point (the latter in
the air as well as on the ground). This was based on wholly
‘pragmatic’ grounds and morality did not enter
the issue at all. The Republic is the only supposedly ‘neutral’
country in Europe to allow the USA such facilities. This pathetic
decision by a supposedly sovereign and neutral country beggars
belief. Bertie Ahern also has blood on his hands, the blood
currently being spilt in Iraq. Even if he decided to make
the moral decision but was afraid of the economic consequences
he could have used constitutional grounds for refusing the
USA access to Shannon, and softened the blow that way (a constitutional
challenge is ongoing). But not a bit of it. The USA seems
to have no better allies than the craven ‘A’ team
of Fianna Fail and the Progressive Democrats.
An easy one this time. Fast to do and hopefully
communicating without many words.
For the North , the UK in general, and
Copy onto an otherwise blank sheet of paper the following
in fairly large, bold type at the top of the (suggested, A5)
page, boxed or highlighted as you wish:
A COMPLETE LIST of the imaginative and creative
ideas which George Bush and Tony Blair had for solving the
Iraqi disarmament crisis before deciding to go to war:
[the rest of the leaflet is blank apart from
any contact information for your group, at the bottom of the
For the Republic:
A COMPLETE LIST of the moral and international peace issues
which Bertie Ahern and the Irish Government grappled with
before deciding to help the USA war effort in Iraq by providing
the use of Shannon Airport:
[ditto, blank sheet].
The Sun King, Louis XIV, established his morning waking-up
ceremony as a political game that has survived up to the present
in many different ways. You had the ‘Attendant of the
Dressing-Gown’, the ‘Attendant of the Slippers’
the back scratcher, and of course the ‘Attendant’
of the sacred, intimate kingly bowl, amongst others. A small
and pathetic crowd of courtisans, performing their essential
duties with overflowing willingness.
In the antechamber next-door, another crowd
of courtisans were awaiting their turn. Would the bowl be
theirs tomorrow? Following on from a pleasing performance
in the removal of the royal deposits, a few crumbs of power
would fall somewhere remote in the country…
Well, today’s Bertie Bowl may well contain
the overflow of Shannon’s sewage, when you look at all
the human traffic that has passed through there in recent
weeks. Compare that to the millions of dollars the Turks managed
to get for not engaging in the conflict! Humility abroad…
arrogance at home. It’s so petty it’s almost a
The banana republic licking the boots of the
colonial power that keeps it firmly under its yoke... Will
history ever stop repeating itself ?
And to think that only a few months ago this
same government was urging us to sign up for the Europe of
the Future – to show gratitude for the favours we had
been graciously granted. Mister Nice has transformed himself
into Mister Groveller.
And the Celtic tiger has changed into a vulture,
waiting in the shadows for the wild beasts to finish eating
so it can swoop on any scraps of flesh that may be left over
after the massacre…
I’m getting angry, aren’t you ?
And the weekly march doesn’t deal with my frustration