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A mixture of arrogance and stupidity

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.
Bahman Nirumand
12 January 2003

The warmongering in Washington flows from an arrogance of power mixed with unlimited stupidity and ignorance. Nobody has any doubt that the US are capable of bulldozing Iraq with their gigantic military machinery, of killing hundreds of thousands and of taking control of the oilfields. However, they will not be able to quench the rising hatred and the wrath of the survivors. And this hatred and wrath will spread like a bushfire in the whole region and beyond. Nothing could provide a better basis for the fundamentalists and terrorist organisations.

A war against Iraq will jeopardise the partly artificially-drawn borders between states in the region. What if Iraq splits into several parts, if the Kurds found a new state, if the Shiites in Southern Iraq forge an alliance with their brothers in Kuwait, perhaps even in Iran, if the Wahhabite fundamentalists in Saudi Arabia chase away the king and the five hundred corrupt princes? Will the USA take the war to these countries as well? How many casualties do Bush and Rumsfeld find acceptable: a hundred thousand, two hundred thousand, more than a million? And what happens if Saddam Hussein, just as in Kuwait, sets the oilfields in Iraq alight?

According to international law no country has the right to use military force to cause regime change in another country. It cannot be denied that Saddam Hussein is a criminal, that he has total control over his people, that he is not only dangerous for his own country, but also for the neighbouring states. Nevertheless how would Americans react if Saddam Hussein decided to direct his weapons at the USA, to kill hundreds of thousands, to topple the government in Washington? Would the world allow him to do that if he had the power? After all the US possesses nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. If weapons of mass destruction justified a military attack, is it not Iraq who has the right to attack the United States, if only because it has not yet been proven to possess these weapons?

Should the USA in breach of international law and any humanitarian principle and in disregard of majority opinion at home and in the world really invade Iraq, they will begin a new era of global history, an era which encourages only the law of the fist. Is this the new global order, which President Bush and Mr Rumsfeld, Minister of Defense, want to confer upon us?

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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