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RATIONALISING THE RHETORIC.


Malcolm Harrison

Since the possibility of war was announced I have received many anti-war email circulations and it occurred to me that it would be good to collect them together and circulate the resulting document. I have received no pro-war emails yet though they must be about. Most of the articles below openly speak out against war but they vary greatly in tone. There are ones that assail our instinct for justice; well-written appeals to our sentiment - fact and propaganda - and the usual plethora of black humour. It was sometimes hard to tell conspiracy theory from reality, particularly in the beginning, but this is history in the making, orchestrated as never before, day-by-day on the Internet. This new ability to communicate openly across nations without censorship has stirred an international debate on the ethics of war and the proliferation of arms and whether the end can ever justify the means. 

The obvious line, that we should bomb Saddam and get it over with because he is an evil despot who murders his own people, is to reduce the argument to a very superficial level. I wish it were only that simple. Are we ready to accept responsibility for the mayhem that might follow and a significant deepening of simmering hatreds? Is this the kind of peace we want? It ignores the innocents it will kill with its brutal expediency, and it very conveniently places the responsibility for the situation squarely on the shoulders of Saddam Hussein. Where is our humility in all this? From an ethical point of view the Bush administration comes out of the cyber postbag looking pretty immoral also, even if the information being disseminated is only half true. This is not the goodies verses the baddies. Many of the articles are aimed at discrediting the US administration by exposing its self-interested, hypocritical position, painting it as dark as the opposition. 

Clearly the US and Europe have, with mind numbing short sightedness, sold arms to countries where there were already terrible ethnic tensions. This is corporate criminality and if we allow these social criminals to continue to peddle their dreadful trade we will be faced with the prospect of war again and again. The maxim "live by the sword and die by the sword" was never more appropriate. However, sadly for us all, political decisions are made for us on a daily basis, without conscience, from a social consciousness that accommodates the proliferation of weapons and looks after its own regardless. Those decisions set us on a path that has lead us to the brink of crisis and the need to contemplate again the insanity of war as a restorative measure. To have it otherwise at this time would appear to require a migration to a parallel universe where such barbarity is anathema. Sadly we do not live in that universe. 

We cannot go to war because we believe it to be right or on a lie that won the propaganda war. Neither can we go to war ignoring a stack of unspoken agendas in our back pocket. Blair has moved the goal posts - from 'a war against terrorism' to 'Saddam Hussein's connection with Al Qaeda' to 'the removal of weapons of mass destruction (that seem impossible to find)' and then to 'a moral duty to remove a brutal despot', (There is ample proof that Saddam was a brutal despot a decade ago) - in his attempt to win public approval. If all those reasons were mutable and therefore not the real reason for a historically significant pre-emptive strike on Iraq then what is the real reason? This invasion has every sign of being one with a very powerful hidden agenda and the propaganda is just a smoke screen to make us equally culpable of the murder of innocents. 

Clearly, even if war could be justified, if the objective is to reduce terrorism, the US is the last nation that should take out Saddam Hussein. The need to reduce terrorism is not a justifiable reason for the US to sweep away all moral constraints and make a pre-emptive strike on Iraq. It gives licence to any nation to take out its neighbour if it imagines it to be a threat. If the issue is one of morality then in an ideal world the Muslim nations should deal with this troublesome brother for the sake of the Iraqi people when it could be construed as an act of compassion. If the US fronts this war, murdering expendable Iraqi civilians as a means to an end, it will be seen as an act of revenge and none of us can say what will follow. 

Ultimately, it is motive that defines our future, not our actions or how we make it appear. Most people want peace - sometimes at any price but peace never the less - not the brutality brought to us by megalomaniac, self-serving politicians, presidents and generals. We will only have peace when we allow the detached and enlightened mind into world politics. War will never bring peace because it ignores a prevailing social sickness that confuses sophistication with being cultured. Thus we are now standing on a precipice where no compassionate human being wants to stand. Peaceful resolution may no longer be available to us because the deluded choices our governments have made during our recent past have predicted this war. If we go to war we will kill many innocent people and bring immense suffering on a nation already burdened by terror, and another great wave of pain will roll across humanity - a wave that threatens to drown us all. 

What you might wish to consider when reading this is that the Bush administration is presiding over the largest Trade deficit in American history, and that that administration has committed billions to an immoral war dressed up as a crusade. Globally, oil is actually running out. There may only be ten years of significant oil reserves left which in historical terms is no time at all. If Bush pulls back or is forced to pull back by the UN; if he cannot ride home with oil in his back pocket and the opportunity for some close to him to make billions from arms deals that will in turn fuel more wars, not to mention Saddam's head on a plate, then his future looks very bleak indeed. Such entrenched positions do not easily lead to acts of contrition. 

You could also be excused for thinking that what might yet save the day is the sobering prospect of the possible 100 billion dollars it would cost to fight this war and an already staggering US economy and yet it might be exactly what will save the Bush administration from economic meltdown. Healthy economies depend, not on cash quantity but on cash flow so to express the unthinkable, a winnable war with Iraq (and no body bags) would ensure the re-circulation of billions of dollars within the US economy. The depressed stock market would reawaken, flagging pensions would eventually revive and there would continue to be food on our tables; so what if the cost is only a few Iraqi children. And why Saddam? Well he was just the easiest justifiable target. Is this then the hidden agenda? Well we are warned never to get near a drowning man! 

But then we are also told that this war is a JUST war and that God is on our side……….well that's a relief!' I wonder what God that is?

THANK YOU.
Malcolm Harrison.


© M D J Harrison 2003