Comment: Iraq War and Embittered Tit-for-Tat
Click for Comment Archive at bottom of page
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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: