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Billy King


Nonviolence News



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

Issue 108: April 2003

Never ending War

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 like.

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.

Resources: This month’s Iraq war leaflet

An easy one this time. Fast to do and hopefully communicating without many words.

For the North , the UK in general, and the USA;
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 page].

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].


Serge Comment?

Shannon: Bertie’s new bowl…
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 caricature.

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 anymore… Grrr…


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