Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Stop the War Demo - Why We Are Marching Today!

Stop the War Demo 28th Sept
Embankment, London 12.30pm
Speeches Hyde Park 3 pm

“There has been only two periods in human history ­ war, and preparation for war. We have never known peace.”

- Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

It is probably the central paradox of the human condition: in this marvellous world, full of diversity and wonder, where humanity is uniquely adapted to thrive, we are fashioning such a destructive reality. It is almost enough to make you lose faith in your fellow men.

But I for one realise it is not the majority of my fellow men who are manufacturing this current scenario of war without end. It is the tiny minorities on both sides of the ideological spectrum who stand so adamantly opposed to one another that have the rest of us caught in the crossfire. Maybe I’m too idealist, but I still trust that the vast majority of people innately know how to live in peace, co-operation and tolerance of one another. It is only those who hold the keys to economic and military power, and those they suppress and demonise in order to justify their own existence, that are empowering this reality. Yet history teaches us that it has always been so, and we have come to accept endless war as an unfortunate consequence of the irreconcilable differences between the fundamentalist ideologies of those who hold power ­ who characterise themselves as the defenders of our liberty - and the grievances of the dispossessed and brutalised who would tear down our ivory towers.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

If September the 11th has done one service to humanity it is that it has made us question our beliefs and motivations more deeply than any incident in recent history. We’ve had defining moments of crises before. But there is never a time like the brink of war for sharpening one’s mind.

There is one fundamental question to ask ourselves at this juncture - do we believe the portrayal laid before us or do we challenge it? And long time peaceniks like myself can never resist asking, Œwhat are we fighting for?’ Let’s make no mistake, we have a decent society well worth defending. Far from perfect admittedly, but certainly the most egalitarian and just in human history. And, God knows I couldn’t write and publish criticism of Saddam in his own domain. I’d have gone to the wall a long time ago. But in our society to dissent is one of the few privileges still intact, so excuse me while I exercise it.

If we accept the current hypothesis then we endorse the world view that the US and it’s closest allies defend the principles of freedom and democracy which are the beacons for the aspirations of all humanity. We rightly believe that we have fought hard to earn and defend our secular, just society and that our forebears have sacrificed greatly to enshrine our freedoms. We would be lax in our duty not to defend it vigorously against enemies who would impose upon us a totalitarian and unaccountable regime. But these achievements have been of those who have stood up against indomitable force, and the military-industrial complex regard them as a small concession to their absolute power - liberties that can be rescinded if warranted by them.

The authoritarian mindset of those who bang the war drum love to sing from this hymn sheet, but they are not the ones who wrote it.

It is an Orwellian twist of events. For fifty years it was the ogres of communism that threatened us and we would justify alliances with right wing dictators to stave off its influences. Now Russia is our friend, China a major trading partner, and the area of the world identified as a threat portrayed as those who share an unsophisticated fanatical religion.

After brief talk of a peace dividend, Saddam Hussain and Bin Laden could not have emerged a moment too soon to salvage the raison d’etre of our military-industrial complex. We have gone from the great fear of nuclear annihilation by communists to the new threat of Islam. Islam is the new enemy. Progenitor of a network of sophisticated plotters, saboteurs and terrorists. Now, just to be Moslem is a cause of suspicion. And what’s the best way to whip up fear. Make you enemy bigger than he is. Give him Œweapons of mass destruction’. Are we expected to blithely accept this newspeak? Our former partners in the bulwark against communism are now our new greatest threat.

Sooner or later we must ask the Saudi Arabia question. And when we do, all this talk about freedom, democracy and security just evaporates. It is not about ideology. It is about control of oil resources and the power that ensures. Right now in America, you can’t get elected without the support of the oil lobby.

Al-Quaeda is essentially the liberation movement of one of the most brutal, repressive and unjust regimes in the world. And only extreme naivety on the part of Americans can fail to comprehend how their support for this regime has turned them into a legitimate target in the eyes of Bin Laden’s supporters. The US, and the UK, were perfectly content to support mad dog Saddam until he slipped the leash, and became a symbol of defiance against American control of this Œvital resource’. And our reliance on this environmentally destructive fuel makes us all complicit. In this sense we are all both perpetrators and victims of this war. Our dependence on oil is primarily what empowers these extremes. During the Clinton Presidency, America’s craving for the oil resources of the Middle East went unsatisfied. Now Bush has the perfect pretext for seizing these assets, and unlike his father, will not be swayed. He’s proven it could be done in Afghanistan, and he is anxious enough to deflect attention from his domestic corruptions that whipping up fear of Œweapons of mass destruction’ has become his favoured distraction.

However reluctant or gung-ho we are about once again having to wade in in force to put to rights an intolerable regime, we must never cease to ask if it really our only option. Are we so weak that only military force will serve our purpose? Those of us who fight for peace should never believe that there is no option but war. The problem of such evils loose in the world is never going to be cured by military dominance.

Like most idealists, I occasionally need something to feel cynical about. But that is about the only useful purpose of this imminent war.

Peter McCaig.


The Most Dangerous Person On Earth
It's not who Bush would like you to think it is
by Jack Balkin
September 26, 2002

When George W. Bush was governor of Texas, his basic strategy was to stake out a position and refuse to budge, hoping to bully others into acquiescing. Only when met with strong opposition did he back down and compromise. We are seeing the same strategy in his policy over Iraq. In the past weeks, the president has attempted to bully the United Nations and now Congress into allowing him to attack Iraq and depose its leader. He is likely to get his wish. But the larger problem is not what will happen if no one stands up to Saddam Hussein. It is what will happen if no one stands up to the president and his vision of moral clarity.

Our Constitution left the power to declare war to Congress because of the fear that if the president could act unilaterally, he might seek to aggrandize himself by taking the country into one war after another. Although the president could always defend the nation if attacked, he could not initiate hostilities without Congress' approval. In the 20th century, Congress' role has receded of necessity, so the president's power to make war has been hemmed in largely by domestic politics, the threat of nuclear reprisal and international law.

The Bush administration's new policy of pre-emptive attacks is a dangerous addition to this mixture, creating a host of bad incentives. Simply by announcing future threats that deserve pre-emptive action, presidents can seize control of the political stage. A president who takes the country to war pushes aside all other concerns. By shifting the nation's forces from one military offensive to another, he can divert attention from domestic failures and foreign policy blunders. The more often the president attacks other countries pre-emptively, the more likely it becomes that our country will be attacked in turn. The president can then justify additional military action in response, and no patriotic American will oppose it.

In this way, the president can effectively govern through war, with disastrous consequences for the nation and for the world. Armed with the doctrine of military pre-emption, the perpetual political campaign perfected by our last president might well become the perpetual military campaign of future presidents.

President Bush had good reason to take us to war after Sept. 11. Still, he has not accomplished his stated goal of eliminating al Qaeda or capturing Osama bin Laden. With victory not achieved and Afghanistan still unstable, he has now attempted to shift our attention to a new war with Iraq. Again, he may well have excellent reasons for doing so. But we must pay attention to the larger picture. Members of Congress debating authorization for an attack on Iraq should ask the president tough questions about what future military actions he is considering. The way the president's foreign policy is proceeding, Iraq may not be the last war he asks us to fight.

The president is right about one thing, however. Today the world faces a single man armed with weapons of mass destruction, manifesting an aggressive, bullying attitude, who may well plunge the world into chaos and bloodshed if he miscalculates. This person, belligerent, arrogant and sure of himself, truly is the most dangerous person on Earth. The problem is that his name is George W. Bush, and he is our president.

Jack M. Balkin is Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment at Yale Law School. His latest book is "The Laws of Change" (Schocken Books, 2002).

Regards, -- Peter McCaig Green Events INK, The Independent News Collective Swanfleet Studio 2nd Floor 97-99 Seven Sisters Rd London N7 7QP ph 020-7281 8483 Fax 020-7281 7328

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
World Headlines


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.