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Nonviolence News



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

Issue 116: February 2004

[Return to related issue of Nonviolent News.]

Fighting the wrong war

We are now fairly well into the 21st century and more than a couple of years after the '9/11' attacks in the USA. So what are world needs and how can they be arrived at?

The world certainly needs 'security' but the question is what 'security' and how this is arrived at. Real security is the ability to live a dignified life in peace, with enough resources for human dignity, including shelter, health care, and recreation. 'Security' which comes from the barrel of a gun is insecurity. True security comes from being friends with neighbours near and far.

But far more importantly, on a global scale, the poor world needs food, clean water, and easy access to cheap medical care and prevention, including HIV. Trade rules are stacked against the poor world, not least by the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and the rich world is so far unwilling to make the changes needed, as Cancun revealed last year.

The biggest threat within a few decades comes from global warming. Not only will some nations be obliterated from the earth, all will face massive challenges and a quarter of land animals and plants face extinction by 2050 or a couple of decades afterwards. The world would not be as we know it. Where will half the population of Bangladesh go to when the sea engulfs their land? Will the USA, EU and other industrialised countries, which have largely caused the problem, welcome them with open arms? The barriers and the fortresses are going to have to be mighty high in the rich world. And the ecosystem faces meltdown. This is an appalling travesty of our common humanity.

And what do we find the leaders of the strong countries doing? Wasting billions of dollars on wars that cannot achieve their objectives. Ignoring the peril which global warming threatens - including in a frightening way in Ireland where agriculture may be obliterated by a decrease in temperature through the Gulf Stream shifting. In the case of the USA, trying to expand its oil empire and increasing consumption (to be fair, Ireland has also considerably increased fossil fuel consumption with economic growth), and coming up with useless goals like putting humans on Mars.

Generals are usually accused of trying to fight the last war. The stakes are too high for 'the West' to fight a 'war against terrorism' which is largely of its own making. This distracts attention from appalling human rights practices both by certain powers within 'the west' and by its allies elsewhere. And more so it distracts attention from the more urgent issues which face the world.

The era when the cavalry (military) could charge and put everything right has gone from fiction, and was never the reality. One of the meanings of 'Cowboys' in European English is of cheats who promise to do a particular job or task, (usually in relation to work on housing) and do it badly, if at all, and charge exorbitantly for it. George Bush is such a cowboy. And Tony Blair deserves to get the (cowboy) boot for believing him when, for example, it is increasingly clear that Bush was gunning for Iraq before even coming, irregularly, into office (e.g. Paul O'Neill's testimony). What the USA and UK can retrieve from the Iraqi situation remains to be seen.

The Hutton enquiry in Britain was, to be fair, primarily into the death of one man. But to exonerate the British government and blame only the BBC, which despite its faults is one of the world's premier broadcasters, is inexcusable. We have seen the evidence. The mistaken intelligence report indicated that Iraqi military 'may be able' to deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes (probability anywhere between 0.01% and 99.9%, shall we say); the British government got this changed to 'are able' (probability of 100%) - and it wasn't 'sexed up'? The new Butler enquiry into intelligence on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is so circumscribed as likely to be worthless.

If George Bush and Tony Blair are serious about trying to make the world a better place and procuring peace for their people they can achieve an enormous amount. If they tackle the real needs of the world, and the real causes of poverty, death, lack of human rights, and insecurity through the possibility of environmental disaster, they will endear themselves to the people of this globe, and would be looked upon by history as far-sighted men of honour. They have the means. But will they have the will? Not by their showing to date. So it is up to us, the ordinary citizens, to make our voices, our lives, and our votes, count, wherever we are.

Luken From Below

This month's poem from Lothar Lüken:

Rainy Flag Day

Man opens umbrella -
will it ever change?
Fat woman begging:
Mister, some change!

Athletics Club collect - moist
Friends of the Earth collect - damp
Multiple Sclerosis Trust collect - wet

Student recites poems
on utopia and change.
Busker breaks string,
does a quick change.

Romanian Orphans Fund collect - soaked
Irish Wheelchair Society collect - dripping
Famine Relief collect - a drop in the ocean

Man opens wallet for me,
shivering girl barges in,
holds out paper cup:
Mister, some change!

But his coins clatter
into my official can,
I got the better cause,
I win, I fucking win.

I've had it,
can't take anymore,
drenched to the bone,
desperate for a change.

[Return to related issue of Nonviolent News.]

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