River Wissey Lovell Fuller


January 2004

Ron Watts examines the case fo war with Iraq


We should never have joined with America to invade Iraq without the approval of the UN. The reasons for doing so remain obscure; the principal excuse given before the invasion was the existence of weapons of mass destruction, when none were found the emphasis changed to the need to remove Saddam for humanitarian reasons and more recently it has been claimed that it was part of the war on terror. How gullible are we supposed to be? Osama bin Laden, the man claimed to be behind the current wave of terror was a sworn enemy of Saddam Hussein and had called for him to be overthrown. Whatever the reason for the invasion, however, we are there and we have to make the best of it. It is clear that many Iraqis are pleased that Saddam was overthrown and it is clear that some are not, but they all mostly agree, it seems, that they do not want us there now.

Of course we have to be tough on terror and tough on the terrorists but, equally important, we have to be tough on the causes of terror. In most instances of major outbreaks of terrorism there has been an underlying genuine grievance that gives the extremists a chance to flourish within their community. So it was with the IRA and the Mau Mau, for example. Today there does appear to be a hard core group of terrorists, which presumably is represented by Al-Qaida, who are Islam fundamentalists violently opposed to western culture and American imperialism. Unfortunately the awful, unjust and immoral actions of the Israelis, their occupation and oppression of the Palestinians and the illegal acquisition of their land, has produced a genuine sense of grievance among the Palestinians and resulted in attempts by them to fight back. The only means at their disposal to fight against Israel's overwhelming fire power (courtesy of the USA) is to employ suicide bombers. The first suicide bombers in Israel were the desperate act of a desperate people.

The image of the desperate situation of the downtrodden Muslims in Palestine has greatly angered many in the Islamic world and has generated some support for the extremists that would not be there otherwise. American support for Israel and Britain's close association with America make America and Britain be seen as the enemy and some young Muslims are no doubt keen to fight. Once again, however, the only way in which they can fight is by terrorism and, inspired by the Palestinian's example and driven by religious fervour, they have turned to suicide bombing. The forceful occupation of Iraq, another country with a strong association with Islam - despite Saddam's efforts to produce a more secular state - is also a source of anger for the Islamic world and gives further sustenance to the terrorists.

We have to combat the terrorists but we are unlikely ever to defeat such an elusive enemy by force, least of all by the current US tactic of bombing the homes of suspects. It is essential that we try to remove the underlying causes as far as possible. It follows therefore that the nations of the world, including the USA, should demand that Israel withdraw its forces from the occupied territories, remove the illegal settlements and accept the existence of an independent Palestine state as a neighbour. Furthermore we should hand over control of Iraq to the UN with a view to establishing a democratically elected government and withdraw US and British forces as soon as possible.

Sadly the rhetoric of Bush and Blair give us little cause to hope that this will happen and so, unfortunately, we can expect further acts of terrorism well into the future.

Ron Watts

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