Iraq

Drones: a humane approach to war? Or a special form of inhumanity?

Dirk Kurbjuweit says Germany should not allow itself to be seduced by the idea that an unmanned aircraft is a humane weapon.
A SUICIDE BOMBER needs to be 100 percent willing to sacrifice his life. With a drone pilot, on the other hand, the risk of pilot death drops to zero percent.

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.

Amnesty Internationals support for imperialist occcupation

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 anti-war movement won't let Tony Blair forget about Iraq

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.
Tonight's Blair event at Arsenal's Emirates stadium in north London will be met by protests organised by the Stop the War coalition over his role in the Iraq war.

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.

Julian Assange has done us all a service. He needs support

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.)

The Largest Single Protest in the History of the Earth

Iraq war criminals line up to wage war on Iran

Marina Hyde - The Guardian

The creatures of the US military-industrial complex, have somehow managed to pick themselves up from what should have been career-ending humiliation in Iraq and call for more of the same.

The thing about a supertanker is that at least you can turn it round. It takes a while, by all accounts, but you have to think any such vessel has the turning circle of a London taxi compared with the US war machine, which – like its erstwhile willing passenger Tony Blair – appears to relish its lack of a reverse gear.

Are we moving inexorably towards a strike on Iran? There is "a smell of fresh chum in the waters" again, as the rip-roaring journalist Matt Taibbi put it recently.

This week, not a decade after the Iraq invasion, several former officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency accused its head of mishandling the Iranian crisis. They levelled charges of western bias, relying on dodgy intelligence, and sidelining sceptics.

This may sound vaguely familiar. In fact, the situation has all the charmless nostalgia of those I Love 1982-style shows, which saw "expert" talking heads such as Vernon Kay and Kate Thornton reminisce about everything from deely-boppers to the Falklands with no modulation of tone.

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