TOBY HELM - THE OBSERVER
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for Tony Blair and George Bush to be hauled before the international criminal court in The Hague and delivered a damning critique of the physical and moral devastation caused by the Iraq war.
Tutu, a Nobel peace prize winner and hero of the anti-apartheid movement, accuses the former British and US leaders of lying about weapons of mass destruction and says the invasion left the world more destabilised and divided "than any other conflict in history".
Writing in the Observer, Tutu also suggests the controversial US and UK-led action to oust Saddam Hussein in 2003 created the backdrop for the civil war in Syria and a possible wider Middle East conflict involving Iran.
"The then leaders of the United States and Great Britain," Tutu argues, "fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart. They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand – with the spectre of Syria and Iran before us."
But it is Tutu's call for Blair and Bush to face justice in The Hague that is most startling. Claiming that different standards appear to be set for prosecuting African leaders and western ones, he says the death toll during and after the Iraq conflict is sufficient on its own for Blair and Bush to be tried at the ICC.
"On these grounds, alone, in a consistent world, those responsible for this suffering and loss of life should be treading the same path as some of their African and Asian peers who have been made to answer for their actions in The Hague," he says.
The court hears cases on genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. To date, 16 cases have been brought before the court but only one, that of Thomas Lubanga, a rebel leader from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has been completed. He was sentenced earlier this year to 14 years' imprisonment for his part in war crimes in his home country.
John Molyneux - Irish Anti-War Movement committee member
[N.B - this article is the view of the author and does not necessarily represent those of movement as a whole]
One of the strengths of the Irish Anti-War Movement (and, it should be said, of the Stop the War Coalition in Britain) is the clear stand it has taken against Islamophobia, as both a condition and a consequence of its alliance with anti- war elements in the muslim community.in mobilising against the Iraq War and the ‘War on Terror’.
This is important because Islamophobia has become the main, or one of the main, forms of racism (along with Anti-Gipsy racism in Eastern Europe) in contemporary Europe.
Historically racism has passed through several phases each building on but also modifying the previous phase: 1) anti-black racism that arose out of and justified the slave trade in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries; 2) the racism of imperialism (including anti- Irish racism, at its height in the late 19th and early 20th century; 3) anti – immigrant racism, especially in the second half of the 20th century. The first emphasised the sub-human and savage nature of black people so as to exclude them from the ‘rights of man’ being fought for by the European bourgeoisie at this time. The second shifted the emphasis to “childlike” and “immature” character of non- European peoples to justify their being taken under the wing of their colonial masters. The third focussed less on biological inferiority and more on cultural difference, making the economically required presence of immigrants in Europe into a “problem”.
Dirk Kurbjuweit says Germany should not allow itself to be seduced by the idea that an unmanned aircraft is a humane weapon.
The West's war on Islamist terror is currently being waged between these two conflicting priorities. Nothing is more indicative of the asymmetry of the war, and nothing is as symbolic of the cultures that are waging it.
It's a war between those who are willing to sacrifice everything and those who are unwilling to give up anything -- a war of sacrifice versus convenience, bodies versus technology and risk versus safety.
Like no other weapon, the drone stems from the needs and strengths of the West. Aside from convenience, technology and safety, it also represents a moral claim. In the world of weapons, the drone is a good weapon, at least at first glance. It claims no victims on one side and relatively few on the other, because it fires precision missiles.
The German Defense Ministry recently confirmed that the German military, the Bundeswehr, is currently reviewing the question of whether it should buy combat drones. (At the moment, it only uses unarmed drones for reconnaissance purposes.) Because Germany is relatively scrupulous in matters of war, the unmanned aircraft seems to be the ideal weapon for the country.
But is it really true that the drone is a good weapon? In reality, it raises a number of ethical questions related to pride, humanity and the law.
Keeping Their Distance
In the history of war, close-quarters combat is considered especially noble. It requires strength and courage. Those who are weaker and more cautious prefer to keep their distance. In the Bible, David was able to defeat Goliath because his slingshot enabled him to stay far away from the giant.
By Ashley Smith (USA)
MOST PEOPLE associate Amnesty International with challenging torture, protesting the death penalty and agitating for the liberation of political prisoners. On top of these important campaigns, Amnesty has over the last decade opposed the Iraq war and demanded the closure of America's concentration camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
So antiwar activists in Chicago were shocked during last May's NATO Summit to find that Amnesty International USA had plastered city bus stops with ads declaring: "Human Rights for Women and Girls in Afghanistan: NATO, Keep the Progress Going!"
Worse still, Amnesty USA put on a "shadow summit" of its own during the NATO meeting, featuring Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton's notorious secretary of state, who will be forever remembered for her chilling response to a question on 60 Minutes about sanctions imposed on Iraq in the 1990s. Correspondent Lesley Stahl asked, "We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?" Albright responded, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it."
With a veritable war criminal as one of its star speakers, Amnesty USA's shadow summit launched a campaign that, for all intents and purposes, called for the extension of NATO's "good works" in Afghanistan. Its speakers and promotional materials recycled George Bush's "feminist" justification of the invasion and occupation--that NATO would liberate women from Taliban rule.
LINDSEY GERMAN - THE GUARDIAN
FIVE YEARS after he left Downing Street, Tony Blair's attempted comeback to political life shows how little he understands about what went wrong with his career, and about the level of opposition to him that still remains.
He has planned a series of fundraising events to facilitate his return to grace, including an "in conversation" with Tessa Jowell and a £500-a-head dinner alongside Ed Miliband tomorrow. Jowell had to hastily cancel her appearance for fear of demonstrations.
It appears that his old friend and partner in crime, Alastair Campbell, will be there. While we have to assume that those attending will not choke on their dinners, many Labour members and voters will find all this too much to stomach.
Blair was determined to follow George Bush into war, regardless of the evidence of its necessity or the consequences. He and Campbell, along with head of MI6 John Scarlett, constructed a dossier that claimed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that posed a direct threat to Britain. It was a lie.
He refused to put the full and balanced advice on the legality of the war to his cabinet, let alone to parliament or to the public. Instead he insisted that it was legal, a fact disputed by many international lawyers.
Blair ignored public opinion, which repeatedly showed majorities against the war, and the largest peace demonstration ever in British history.
He bullied and bribed many Labour MPs into voting for war in March 2003, against their better instincts and the wishes of their constituents.
EAMON MCCANN - BELFAST TELEGRAPH
Sympathy seems in short supply for Julian Assange, the Australian-born founder of WikiLeaks currently holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
Swedish authorities want to talk to Assange about allegations of sexual assault in Stockholm. He says he fears that, if he travels to Sweden, he might be extradited to the US on charges of espionage arising from WikiLeaks' publication of 250,000 classified diplomatic documents.
Assange's supporters insist the allegations are spurious. The robust feminist and anti-war campaigner Naomi Klein says: "Rape is being used in the Assange prosecution in the same way that women's freedom was used to invade Afghanistan. Wake up."
Whatever the truth of what happened in Stockholm, Assange's apprehensions about what might happen in the US are far from fanciful.
The head of the US Senate's intelligence oversight committee, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, told the Sydney Morning Herald last weekend that, "I believe that Julian Assange has knowingly obtained and disseminated classified information which could cause injury to the United States ... He has caused serious harm to US national security and should be prosecuted accordingly."
In light of that, and given seemingly permanently heightened US anxieties about 'homeland security', Assange's nightmare glimpse of himself shuffling in a jump-suit in Guantanamo Bay can hardly be dismissed as an invented ploy for evading the Swedish police. So it's puzzling that few in the mainstream media seem concerned about his plight.
Assange's team worked for almost a year, with others, sifting through and annotating the leaked archive prior to launching publication in November 2010.
His partners were the New York Times, the Guardian, Le Monde, El Pais and Der Spiegel - publications held in the highest esteem, not least by themselves. (Hundreds of the leaked State Department cables have since been published in the Belfast Telegraph.)