I have been feeling confused about my attitude to this proposed war - a lone and rather timid voice amongst all the people I know. I share their feelings about American dominance and the US’s profound abuse of its economic and military supremacy. Yet I have been amazed at the absence of concern for a totally oppressed population; there is almost no mention of it. All the talk is about whether action over Iraq is good or bad for 'us'.
My feeling is that all this resurgent energy against war should be directed to finding ways to aid populations in getting rid of regimes that murder and oppress them. The left's natural sympathies here have been skewered by virulent suspicion and hatred of the US. That's why people are clamouring for a United Nations lead; but the UN as it stands has proved to be a weak and much manipulated tool (not least by great powers like the US). In my opinion, changes are urgently needed in the functioning and remit of the UN, including reform of Security Council membership.
The premise for action in cases like Iraq is genocide. Along with the likes of Milosevic and Pinochet, we should be able to indict and extradite Saddam Hussein. Terror and murder of one's own population is in my mind a much more legitimate reason for intervening in another state than weapons of mass destruction (how to intervene is of course the next big question). So many states currently fall under that category and the world still stands by. So much for 'Never Again'!
We have more information now than at any other time in history about what is happening behind closed borders, and yet we are still paralysed. The current Iraq war hysteria has so many subtexts that the real issues are being totally fudged. The people of Iraq have suffered too long under this brutal regime. In this they share the fate of many countries in the Middle East and Africa. It is the casualties of these regimes that are washed up on Britain’s unwelcoming shores. These are the voices we should be hearing from now - the fugitives of hideous oppression.
Originally published as part of a debate on 12 January 2003 Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. 1.