Standing by Israel

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.
Ralph Giordano
12 January 2003

You ask me where I stand?

My immediate reaction: any question about the Iraq crisis which mentions George W. Bush, but not Saddam, contains per se a tendentious answer. Which prompts me to ask back: "And where do you stand?"

My second spontaneous reaction is to say: "I am on Israel’s side, ladies and gentlemen, primarily on Israel’s side!"

No, I do not want this war, I dread it and its consequences – but I strongly oppose the impulse which lets the arch crook Saddam off the hook, leaving intact this terrible status quo, and delegating sole responsibility for the crisis to "the Americans". I am fed up to the point of nausea with the pathology of anti-Americanism and refuse to identify oil greed as the motive for the escalation of the crisis in the Middle East.

I am not a blind defender of the United States, and I have often raised my voice against a foreign policy which connived in the Cold War with all right-wing dictators around the globe. America, however, does not have one face. It has many. And it is a good thing to have America – I owe her my life after all, even though the 8thBritish Army liberated me on 4 May 1945.

I hope that Saddam will be defeated without a war – but he has to be defeated! And the UN must be behind it.

Again it rings true: pacifism in a non-pacifist world means nothing but the continuation of murderous and terrorist regimes. It cannot be the answer to the chief rogue Saddam Hussein.

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.

By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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