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Billy King


Nonviolence News



These are regular editorials produced alongside the corresponding issues on Nonviolent News.

Issue 112: September 2003

[Return to related issue of Nonviolent News.]


The recent recovery of Jean McConville's body on a beach in Co Louth after thirty years will bring some respite to a family who have been through the wringer many times. It is also a reminder of the atrocities committed by all sides in war; offering help to an injured British soldier was a capital offence or so it proved in west Belfast at the time for Jean McConville, who must have been a brave and very human being.

However the revelations about the Troubles on all sides will continue for decades to come. Prepare to be further astonished as the years go by. Some sides, official and unofficial, will continue to resist giving details of their actions until it is dragged out of them. Unfortunately the complexities of the situation in terms of the multi-faceted war in Northern Ireland means that no one truth and reconciliation process can deliver closure for everyone. The fact that non-state forces were engaged, often in internecine and sectarian ways, makes for difficulty in getting everyone to the confession table. And even if the state backs some processes, its different arms or parts resist focus on their particular story and sordid details.

But there are many steps forward which can be taken, such as those proposed by Healing Through Remembering. The longest journey begins with a single step. In the case of Northern Ireland, the journey to closure on the Troubles will take decades and consist of many, many small steps which together may represent such a journey. Some of these steps will lead nowhere, but that may not be obvious until the next corner is looked around.

May a thousand flowers blossom.

War on a lie and prayer

It is difficult to know which would be preferable; that the heart of the British government lied through its teeth about the need for war, or that they really did believe their own propaganda about '45 minute' attacks on the west and so on. Which is preferable, that they are proven to be liars or that they are proven to be totally incompetent in their assessment of risk and in their intelligence service? Because it has to be one of these two options. Given Tony Blair's performance at the Hutton enquiry into David Kelly's death, it looks like the latter. Unless of course he is lying because he would prefer to be seen as stupid rather than dishonest. And fortunately or unfortunately it looks like Tony Blair believes himself.

The situation in Iraq meanwhile is going from bad to worse. Again the 'liberators' totally misread the situation and what they could achieve. Even the United Nations workers are now a target. The situation looks like it will go from bad to worse before it has a chance of getting better. If the USA and UK do want to do something about repairing Iraq's infrastructure and getting the country on its feet again, it is becoming more and more difficult because of the dangers for foreigners working there. That of course is not to say Iraqis could not do the job themselves but that is not sorted either, and they would need money and resources to do the job.

The USA and UK governments have dug themselves into a deep hole. Getting out of that hole will be difficult but it will also entail getting out of the country at the first viable opportunity but not, we repeat not, abandoning support for the reconstruction of Iraq. That would simply be more neo-imperialist water under the bridge. The USA and UK owe a debt to Iraq. But they are not going about paying it in the right way. Total control should be handed over to the United Nations, now, but the USA in its contempt for international opinion, and the UN itself, is not going to do that. What is currently on offer to the international community is a subordinate role; even now, after some disastrous months in Iraq, the USA and UK have not learnt a real lesson. As a result US and UK soldiers, and the people of Iraq, will continue to suffer.

And what must have been George Bush and Tony Blair's prayer? 'Lord, let us find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq'. There has been no response from the Almighty, nor is there likely to be. And even if they did find something now, after all we have been through, and all the lies told, who would believe them unless there was overwhelming evidence? And unfortunately a lot more water has passed under the bridges of the Tigris and Euphrates since then. And the USA and UK look increasingly to be up the creek without a paddle.

Copyright INNATE 2021