by Krishna Ahooja-Patel on Womens International Ligue for Peace and Freedom.
Baghdad is burning. Massive bombing of the city continues without any discrimination between soldiers and civilians. In this war, as in others since 1991, ninety percent of those who die will be civilians – and largely women and children. Before the invasion on 20 March 2003, there was near-consensus in the Security Council against disarming Iraq by force. France, Russia and China among the permanent members, and almost all non-permanent members, made strong statements on finding solutions under various articles of the UN Charter. In an open forum of the Security Council, demanded by the 116 non-aligned countries, country after country spoke in favour of the alternative to war – allowing the UN inspectors to continue their search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Millions of citizens across continents and communities came pouring onto the streets in protest against the policy of pre-emptive action of the US administration. Why have these voices who screamed against the war fallen on deaf ears? At what point of time is protest transformed into policy?
It has been suggested that never before in the last half a century have so many millions of citizens come out openly and stubbornly against using the might of one superpower who considers itself the “policeman of the world”. In addition this “hyperpower” (as the French now define the US) has also given itself the role of imposing their model of democracy on small, vulnerable and poor countries. Their declared objective of the war on Iraq was to disarm, change regime and impose ‘democracy’. The latter objective means that a government of US-liking is put in to control the rich natural resources of Iraq whereby American and possibly British transnationals will be given major contracts on a priority basis. The exploitation of these resources by the private sector may or may not be shared with EU states (due to differences of opinions towards this war), but it should be recalled that this is not the first battle for oil in this century.
Should the weapons inspectors’ work have been cut short by the announcement of the UN Secretary General before the declaration of war? However their work could not have continued once US and UK decided to go it alone and attack Iraq outside the UN Charter, conventions and customary international law. As a result the international community is not only devastated but decimated by the recent invasion of Iraq by the new invaders in the company of the old colonialists. The adjectives: illegitimate, illogical, unjust, illegal are all inadequate to describe the cruelty and inhumanity of this war on a UN member state, its citizens, its culture and heritage. The prevalent feature of international relations today is certainly not the rule of law but the rule of the jungle. The international political and economic order after this war must be under the umbrella of the United Nations and its architecture of international law.
Being against the war in Iraq does not signify being in favour of dictators such as Mr. Saddam Hussein. But it does mean that “we the people” are part of a huge tide – peoples’ movement – towards peace. Peace means that each member state has the right to forge its own path towards development; choose its own form of government; build its own economic institutions and design their own destiny.
This can only be done in freedom; moving from a uni-polar to a multi-polar world.