Waging a wasteful, senseless war

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 19 Mar 2003

The Star says... 

THE world is rushing headlong into a terrible war not because it wants to, but only because one country – the United States – prefers war to peace. In real terms, a fight to the finish between the superpower and Iraq will destabilise West Asia and jeopardise peace and prosperity around the world. 

A central vexing point is that this war is so avoidable. Nearly the entire world believes an already hobbled Iraq is no immediate threat to anyone, and can be disarmed peacefully without killing and maiming thousands of unfortunate Iraqi citizens. 

Washington is already convinced that it will not seek or require United Nations approval to attack another country. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has made clear that such action will break international law. 

And yet the US-UK-Spain axis of war is not deterred. It is a symptom of UN impotence that the world body, founded to promote peace and prevent war, is helpless to stop the excesses of a rampant superpower. 

Part of the problem is that there has never been a sound reason to go to war. President Bush himself first tried to justify his war-like approach by alleging President Saddam’s callousness and cruelty, then his cultivation of terrorists like Osama bin Laden, then Saddam’s possession of terrible weapons. 

The facts are that a US war against Iraq will unleash far greater callousness and cruelty, after Washington has long cultivated alleged terrorists like Osama, while retaining the world’s largest store of terrible weapons. There is seldom if ever a justification for war, and this war certainly has no justification whatsoever. 

The costs of the war are astronomical in themselves. A conservative estimate is said to be around US$100bil even for a short war, while the human costs in deaths and suffering are incalculable. 

The total sum is likely to be considerably higher, especially when the losses suffered by other countries in the trade and investment sectors are included. The few who are likely to make a satisfactory killing in the war business are US oil industry players and US arms manufacturers. 

On the ground, hapless Iraqi men, women and children will be decimated when US and British forces destroy schools, hospitals and other civilian targets. Their military representatives have already announced that no sites are off-limits, on the pretext that Saddam may be hiding banned weapons in civilian areas. 

Meanwhile, both the UN Security Council and the world at large are bitterly divided. The majority in each is against war, but the imbalance of global aggression is so overwhelming that might is right and democracy is kept at bay. 

It is bitterly ironic that among the reasons touted for this war is the attempt to stub out terrorism. Yet the harsh reality is that such a war will encourage, provoke and energise terrorist activity like never before, as even American commentators and British conservatives like Chris Patten concur. 

War as terror cannot possibly erase terrorism. It is only likely to help justify terrorism by terrorising innocents. 

But if the United Nations is ineffectual, it does not mean others should be apathetic. 

Every word, statement and argument by every individual, group and nation against war should add to a tally of global protest, to prevent war where possible and terminate it soonest where practicable.  

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