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Come clean, America

It is 12 January 2003 and US president Bush has rallied his troops for what he calls “The first war of the 21st century”. What is your view of this crisis, where, briefly, do you stand? This is the question we are putting to people around the world, especially those with their own public reputation and following. Our aim, to help create a truly global debate all can identify with.
Eyal Weizman
12 January 2003

Nobody has yet managed to provide a good explanation why - even in its own terms - America needs to go to war with Iraq.

Could it be that the true, missing relation between its rhetoric and its plans lies well beyond our ability to see only two steps ahead?

For the latter possibility I have a 1960s technophobic-fantasy version. Somewhere at the renovated Pentagon there is a giant computer that simulates possible scenarios when you press ‘play’. It is a kind of an ‘international relations laboratory’ that runs alternative futures in fast forward mode.

Maybe when they ran it often enough, it no longer came up with deadly urban warfare in Iraq, a massive humanitarian problem or a wave of global terrorism. Maybe Sharon withdrew from the West Bank and established Palestine. Maybe Iran, rubbing shoulders with half a million Americans, switched to the west again. Maybe Saudi Arabia brought science back into its textbooks.

This is a simple call for the American administration to come clean - and tell us what the end-game is (or put the software on the web), and why what we think willhappen will not happen. In an age when even ‘good causes’ are questionable, how can we be expected to accept something whose relation to any cause or common-sense is so feeble? And yet we do.

Originally published as part of a debate on 12 January 2003 Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. 1.

See also Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. II

 

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals


To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.


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