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The  article below is from 2004

Comment: Iraq War and Embittered Tit-for-Tat

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March 22, 2004- It is ironic that the same emotions which propel humans to conflict are also very evident in those who advocate peace in the world. Anger and hatred are much in display and the low level of tolerance for the opposing side's arguments is comparable on both sides. 

I happened to be reading an article in the Irish Times from a group called the Irish Anti-War Movement as I listened to a BBC report on the mass rape of over 100 women in Darfur in western Sudan. The attack by Arab militias was just one more atrocity in a country where three decades of war have resulted in an estimated 2 million deaths. There are many ongoing conflicts and situations of abuse of human rights in the world but it is striking that an American angle is often the catalyst for attention in the media and the interest of some individuals such as those supporting the Irish Anti-War Movement. A decade ago, hundreds of thousands had been massacred here in Europe in a war in the Balkans but there were no demonstrations against the paralysis of European political leaders. President Clinton was reluctant to intervene following the US withdrawal from Somalia. In Rwanda, the United Nations mission was scaled back as the campaign of genocide was taking hold. Again, there were no groups campaigning against the war and no political leader had to pay a price for inaction.   

The rights of the Palestinian people to nationhood and the related failure of the American financed policy of Israeli settlement on Palestinian land is an issue that merits significant attention but the rights of the Kurds- the largest ethnic group in the world without a state, have received little attention by comparison. In the mapping of the post-Ottoman Empire Middle East, Kurdistan was divided between four countries-Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Each of these countries tried to suppress Kurdish identity. Today, the Kurds of Iraq enjoy a significant degree of self-government and their success is one bright star amidst the short-term gloom about post-war Iraq.  

On the first anniversary of the Iraq War, arguments can be made on both sides on the rights and wrongs of the action. We have heard much about the sanctity of the United Nations but until the lock, which the five permanent members of the Security Council hold, is removed, the organisation cannot always have the last word. Robin Cook, the former British Foreign Secretary repeatedly criticises the war because it did not have United Nations approval. When Cook was in government, Russia did not support military action against Serbia’s campaign of violence against the Muslim population in the Serbian province of Kosovo and the US, UK and France launched a war without the approval of the Security Council.

The veto of the permanent members is also of relevance to the issue of the United Nations sanctions, which were put in place in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War. The writer of the referred to Irish Times article Dr. Colm Stephens should have bothered checking the conditions of the sanctions as the ‘very reason’ for the sanctions was more than the issue of weapons of mass destruction. It is of course convenient to ignore the reality that even if Dr. Hans Blix had been given the opportunity to produce a final report, the sanctions would have remained in place as long as Saddam Hussein was in power.  

Matched against the forecasts that were made a year ago, there has been no mass human catastrophe.  The UK Observer newspaper makes the following comment on the anniversary of Saddam’s overthrow:

Iraq is undoubtedly a better country today. The only large-scale poll of the Iraqi people last week revealed that 56 per cent of Iraqis believe their lives have improved since the war; a majority support the removal of Saddam Hussein; fewer than a fifth think things have got worse and very few - 7 per cent - expect things to deteriorate over the next 12 months.

Of course the picture is mixed. In the Baghdad suburbs, sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites is on the rise. In the ethnically divided city of Kirkuk, the intimidation continues of the Turkoman and Arab minorities by the Kurds who claim the city and its oil wealth. This continuing violence marks the greatest failure of the US-led occupation and threatens other progress - an improving economy, wider free speech and countless small improvements to the daily lives of ordinary Iraqis.

Now is the time for the international community to show its worth. On 30 June, the official occupation will end and Iraq will be run by its own transitional government. The constitution drawn up by the Iraqi Governing Council as the basis for that government is worth defending from those trying to drag Iraq into civil war. All nations, whatever their views a year ago, should back Britain's push for a new United Nations resolution mandating a multinational force to continue operating in Iraq. Iraq must feel supported. That is the best way to face those who wish it to fail.

 - Michael Hennigan

Our Comment feature has been incorporated in the:

The Finfacts Ireland News & Comment  Service from October 2004

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September 2004:

Ireland Tops Cash per Head Income Aid from European Union
Can Vincent Browne Shake Up a Cosy Irish Media?

Get an Education and Make Crime Pay

August 2004:

America: Celebrities, Politics and Money
Is Saudi Arabia on the Brink?
The Manchurian Candidate and the Evil Corporation
Darfur, the Media Loop and When News of Mass Killings is News

July 2004:

Incendiary Money Spinners: Fahrenheit 9/11 and President George W. Bush Assassination Novel Plot
Aer Lingus Management Buyout/MBO-A Contrarian View

UN Human Development Report 2004 and Ireland
Should Bertie Ahern Sack Mary Harney from the Irish Cabinet?

June 2004:

Senator Joseph McCarthy: The Implosion of an Irish American Demagogue
Irish Media-Caged or Paper Tigers?
The Celtic Tiger and Public Squalor in Modern Ireland
The Many Facets of Racism Part 1
The Many Facets of Racism Part 2

May 2004:

Balancing Frugality and Miserliness
The Gekko Doctrine-Fair Pay in an Age of Greed 
The Genesis of American Foreign Policy
In an Age of Cynicism: Trust me, I'm a Politician!

April 2004:

Dealing with Al Qaeda Terrorism
Employment Rights and Human Rights
The Opiate of the Masses
Prison of Culture-Japanese Hostages Get Icy Welcome Home 

March 2004:

The Irish Abuse of Power Tribunals
1989-A Year of Irish Corruption and Freedom
Iraq War and Embittered Tit-for-Tat
Irish Corruption and Morality: 'But sir, don't they all steal?'


US Corporate Scandals and the Laws of Unintended Consequences
Self Interest - Common Interest Imbalances

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