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An ego-driven enterprise

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.
Ghada Karmi
12 January 2003

This war is something no one wants, least of all an Arab and a Palestinian like myself. There is no rational reason why it should be prosecuted and no argument proffered to date has been convincing – certainly not the weapons of mass destruction argument, which has fallen flat on its face ever since the US showed itself willing to counter a real threat coming from North Korea with diplomacy and offers of economic and energy support. For Arabs, the tolerance shown to Israel’s brutality against the Palestinians and its known possession of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction while castigating Iraq in the harshest and most bellicose of ways is nauseating. Many theories have been put forward to explain the American imperative to attack a country which is on its metaphorical knees and which poses not the faintest threat to the US or the West, but the real reason it seems to me lies in the West’s foolish policy towards Iraq, before and after 1991.

Having decided that Saddam Hussein was becoming a liability rather than the asset he had been during the 1980s, the US led a war designed to squash the Iraqi leader. But, despite stringent sanctions and a degraded country, he clung onto power and is a living monument to Western double-dealing and ineptitude. Iraq therefore poses a conundrum: how to resume normal business with it but have to stomach the fact that if Saddam stays in power, he will have ‘won’, and the US with all its might and power will have lost? This is unthinkable and, hence he must go, so as to enable the West deal with Iraq once more. The fact that this may get out of hand and drag the US (and Britain) into an Iraqi post-invasion quagmire is a nightmare which was not anticipated when the eagerness to teach Saddam a lesson first rose to fever pitch. If this ego-driven enterprise goes ahead, we will now all have to live with its dire consequences.

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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