Activity Workshop

Wars, cowardice and patriotism

During March and April 2003, most of the world was sickened by the wanton display of terrorism, brutality and greed by several prominent world leaders. Even worse, this state-sponsored piracy was being conducted in our names.

Years later, the destruction, subjugation and wholesale murder by the occupying forces is still continuing to terrorise the local population, with little prospect of an end in sight. Despite great public attention and media attention, and overwhelming evidence of the criminal behaviour of the politicians during this episode, there is still yet to be any sacking, impeachment or imprisonment of those reponsible.

But weren't they right to invade Iraq?

No, they weren't. It was utterly unjustifiable, as every single reason given for the invasion has since been shown to be based on nothing more than deliberate deceit. Perhaps a paraphrasing of the statements will help to expose the absurdity - let's listen to the politicians who wanted the war, the trusting public who believed what the politicians said, and the skeptical public who began to see the twisted logic being employed.

Politician: Iraq has ignored the UN, we must get a second resolution to authorise force to make Iraq comply with the UN.
Trusting Public: Yes, we agree, we must get a second resolution. It is unacceptable that Iraq ignores the UN.
Skeptical Public: Yes, we agree. Everyone is subject to the UN and its democratic process.

P: The UN won't give us what we want, but Iraq has vast stocks of dangerous chemical and biological weapons, which threaten us. We must ignore the UN and attack Iraq.
TP: Yes yes, we have to ignore the UN to protect ourselves from the immediate threat.
SP: We can't ignore the UN, that's exactly what we accused Iraq of doing. What is this urgent threat, exactly?

P: We have proof that Iraq has attempted to buy materials for nuclear weapons, we must invade and stop them.
TP: Yes, we must definitely send our troops to invade, we must defend ourselves.
SP: Well, if you have definite proof, then that's a clear violation of the UN. You do have definite proof, don't you? Proof that isn't obviously and amateurishly forged?

P: We must secure the oil reserves, and assassinate their leader.
TP: Yes, we must rescue the Iraqi people from their evil dictator and give them their wealth back.
SP: Err hang on, wasn't this about the weapons?

P: We must invade Iraq to take revenge for the September 11th attacks.
TP: Saddam was behind the World Trade Center attacks? Send our troops in NOW!
SP: But there's absolutely nothing to tie Saddam or Iraq to the World Trade Center. Nothing at all! Where's the evidence?

P: Iraq has proven links with Al Qaeda, we must invade to prevent more terrorist attacks.
TP: Wow, in that case we must remove him NOW for our own safety!
SP: Proven links? You haven't shown us a shred of proof. Or the proof about the weapons? Why are you showing us photos of "mobile chemical laboratories" when you know that they're actually just equipment for filling weather balloons? When you know that they were sold to Iraq by Britain? And why is your "dossier" so completely worthless? Why don't you show your proof to the UN and get a resolution passed by the whole international community?

P: The threat from Saddam's chemical and biological weapons is imminent. We must act now. We know where the weapons are.
TP: Imminent threat? Invade now!
SP: Then just tell the UN inspection teams where they are, and they'll find them. That's their job. Invading now without a mandate would be an unprovoked attack and contrary to international law.

P: Well, we invaded, and after months and months of looking for the biological and chemical weapons, we found absolutely nothing. But it doesn't matter.
TP: No, it doesn't matter. The Iraqi people are now free.
SP: But you said there were huge numbers of these weapons, with factories, and laboratories, and thousands of litres of chemicals, ready to attack in 45 minutes? You said you knew where they were! Where are they?

P: It seems that some mistakes were made with the intelligence before the war, but that doesn't matter because the Iraqis are free now.
TP: No, it doesn't matter because the Iraqis are free now.
SP: What, the reasons for going to war were falsified and misrepresented, innocent civilians were terrorised, maimed and killed, the country littered with cluster bombs and depleted uranium, our troops exposed to injury and death, but it *doesn't matter*? And how free are they now, exactly, with their power plants and public utilities bombed and sabotaged, massive unrest and violence, daily killings, and a hostile occupying force routinely guilty of a variety of abuses?

P: There were never any chemical or biological weapons in Iraq, no nuclear weapons program, and no links to Al Qaeda or the World Trade Center attacks at all. Every single one of our stated reasons for going to war were completely wrong. But we still refuse to apologise. Now, Iran and Syria, on the other hand, do have chemical and biological weapons, are trying to make nuclear weapons, and have links to Al Qaeda.
TP: We must invade Iran and Syria to protect ourselves from... erm... whatever you say.
SP: You mean, you lied in order to start a war, you've admitted you lied, and now you're lying again?

It has now been shown that there were no "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq (at least until the US started dropping illegal napalm bombs, cluster bombs and depleted uranium there). The Iraqi authorities were complying with the UN regulations, and were agreeing to all the inspections the UN and its member countries requested. There were no links to Al Qaeda, in fact Al Qaeda would have gained little sympathy from such a secular state. There were no links to the World Trade Center attacks, no matter how many times they are still being mentioned in speeches about Iraq.

It has also been shown that all this was known by the war-mongering politicians, even as they were announcing to the world what they knew to be untrue. It has been shown that the decision to attack Iraq dated back well before any of the WMD issues surfaced, and even before the World Trade Center attacks themselves. It has been shown, through the Downing Street memos, that the so-called intelligence was being deliberately "fixed around the policy" to attack Iraq no matter what happened. It has been admitted that the WMD issues were chosen as the reason for the previously-agreed invasion because it was seen as something that "everybody could agree on".

So, either our highly-paid representatives accidentally led our countries into a war of conquest, flouting international law, disregarding public opinion and killing innocent civilians on a massive scale, because they unwittingly missed the obvious and made enormous blunders with their fact-gathering, OR, as now seems apparent from the recently released memos, the deceit and misrepresentation of the facts was deliberate and calculated distortion, to deceive the public into supporting a war which the politicians had long ago decided that they wanted.

Either the politicians we employ to work for us are blitheringly incompetent and dangerously unfit for their jobs, or deceitful and dishonest, and guilty of war crimes as well as treason. In either case, does this make you want to continue to employ these people? Or does this make you want to bring them to justice?

Why are you bothered?

Because it's criminal, and it's being done in our names. It's brutal, dishonest, but most of all totally hypocritical. Look at who is complaining about "compliance with the UN". Look at who is throwing around accusations of "developing nuclear weapons". The people complaining are the worst offenders! Those who are strutting around talking about democracy and freedom, are the very people struggling hard to deny basic democratic rights and free speech at home. Who talks about justice and still maintains detention camps in Cuba with not even Geneva convention rights being given? Detention without trial, without evidence, without limits and without apologies? Those who talk about "rogue states" and "terrorists" are themselves committing the very worst atrocities and terrorist acts, those who preach about civil rights are the ones torturing suspects and beating up innocent civilians, those who indignantly demand their "right to exist" are the ones brutally and systematically denying others exactly the same thing. It's breathtaking.

And the aftermath

It's now 2010, and details are still emerging of the horrors of these never-ending wars. Our troops were sent there under false pretenses, and many have died. Those who yelled to "support the troops" probably didn't imagine how many would come back home missing limbs, just to support the flag-waving jingoism. The calls for "patriotism" are equally sickening, there's nothing more patriotic than defending one's country against corrupt and deceitful politicians.

And how is the international reputation doing, after the moral crusade against the "axis of evil"? Let's see, torturing at Abu Ghraib, killings at Haditha, complete disrespect of international law at Guantanamo, countless killings of innocent civilians, extraordinary renditions, it's a sorry sorry tale. The recently-leaked video from wikileaks is just another example of senseless killings from the military machine, and probably the only reason this was leaked is because some Reuters photographers were involved. How many such killings do we never hear about?

Without an exit strategy, it's a war without end, and many people are wondering what the final cost will be. How do you know when you have finished, when you have declared war on an intangible word like terrorism? And when the fundamental reasons on which the war was fought have been shown to be just fabrications from the eager war-mongering politicians?