Friday, October 11, 2013
In the Name of Freedom
Grounds provided to Parliament for invasion: false and proven incorrect The UN process to clarify that falsehood: rejected, against the will of the international community Bush regime ideology: shock and awe in line with the 'Program for a New American Century'
Yet democracy (the later justification for war) was ignored. Democracy is still compromised by this demonstrated military culture that resists transparency. Democracy needs press freedom, judicial fairness and accountability, and transparency.
Democracy is not just a one-off vote. It is a culture, an accountability, an openness, a protection of the innocent. It is the freedom of the press to uncover hidden injustices. It should also be legality.
Was this war legal?
Were the actions without a 2nd UN mandate legal?
Was Abu Ghraib legal? Would we ever have been told about it, if it hadn't come to light? Or the rape and murder at Haditha?
Was the aerial bombing from great height a disproportionate action endangering the Iraqi civilian population? Would we ever have countenanced it against our own UK or US civilian populations?
Was the suppression of information like this legal?
Was the UK or US government aware of some of this information, and if it suppressed it, and acquiesced in its implications and violations, was it acting illegally its roles and responsibilities as an occupying force with responsibilities towards the civilian population?
Who killed the innocent civilian Baha Mousa? Which UK soldier did that? Why wasn't he prosecuted? Why did colleagues collude in a cover up?
Is the Ministry of Defense properly accountable or does it collude with the hiding of relevant information that should be part of accountability in a democracy? Why was it alright for the Ministry of Defense/British Aerospace to be engaged in weapons deals with Saudi princes, which involved illegal bribes, when the Saudi regime is non-democratic and has a bad human rights record?
What I'm really saying is: first Tony Blair said imminent attack from weapons of mass destruction was the reason for ignoring the UN processes already in place. Then, when this claim was shown to be doctored and false, the argument shifted to 'bringing democracy to Iraq' (as if Saudi Arabia and countless other trading partners couldn't be invaded on that pretext as well).
But, the democratic majority of the UK ad USA opposed the invasion without the legality of a 2nd UN mandate. Democracy also involves, legality, openness, transparency, accountability.
Countless known crimes in this terrible history of events have gone unaddressed and uncared for. People's intimate family lives have been shattered.
Perhaps the greatest crime that has gone unaddressed was the decision - against international opinion and against our own nation's democratic opinion - to invade Iraq and unleash chaos.
The Iraq War was a disaster and it did nothing for the "war on terror", motivating new martyrs, and totally losing the battle for "hearts and minds".
So I am wholly under-impressed by people who try to portray journalistic truths being brought to light as if *they* are the ones in the wrong.
Our culture is way too militaristic. Our soldiers - like *all* soldiers of courage, including Iraqi soldiers - deserve recognition for individual courage in an invidious situation. But was it worth the 100,000 dead mothers, children, sisters, grandparents, innocent people? Was it worth our own dead soldiers?
And how many more British and American soldiers will die in Afghanistan before we pull out, which the politicians know we must, yet they fear the losing face, and so other soldiers will die needlessly I fear. Indeed it's a weekly death count. As is the continuing civilian death toll there, when innocent people get strafed at weddings, or just wiped out by drones, and so the killing (and on the evidence of the past) the cover up goes on.
If we devoted a fraction of the money we spend on militarism to education, health, and help for those in need, of any faith or creed perhaps we might start winning hearts, and demonstrating democracy. Perhaps we'd stop the hypocrisy of invading countries in the name of democracy while remaining trading partners and colluders in regimes that are non-democratic and oppressive.
If Wikileaks contributes in some way to greater accountability in the future, then maybe politicians will take the responsibilities of war and its (in this case unplanned) aftermath more seriously.
But surely, we live in a democracy because we vote once every 4 years? If the people we vote for then go against the clear democratic will, and worse still, if they should ever break international law in going to war then what exactly are we exporting (apart from more arms) to the countries we claim to democratize?