Listen to the voice of peace

  • Letters
  • Saturday, 22 Feb 2003

By Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing

THE drums of war are beating increasingly erratically, and the tension across borders is as taut as guitar strings. But what’s emanating is hardly music to the ears. 

On one side there is increasingly belligerent rhetoric from the United States and Britain preparing to militarily “disarm” Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein - supposedly to free the world from weapons of mass destruction, 

On the other are voices of common people calling for a peaceful solution to the crisis. In Malaysia, the Malaysians for Peace coalition has surpassed its target of one million signatures.  

Last weekend, more than 600 peace rallies were held around the globe attended by some eight million people – many holding banners that get to the heart of what many believe is the real reason of the US’ hardline approach to war: Blood for Oil. 

First, let’s take a look at the oil story. 

Iraq possesses the world’s second largest oil reserves, after Saudi Arabia.  

Iraq’s oil is of high quality and inexpensive to produce, making it one of the world’s most profitable oil sources. Whoever controls this region, controls the future of oil. 

The US and Britain are the headquarters of the world’s four largest oil companies, a relationship too convenient to ignore. 

Investigative news reports reveal that discussions are already under way about how Iraq’s oil will be “carved” up among the biggest oil companies in the world once the war is over. 

Then, there’s the phrase “weapons of mass destruction”, being bandied around and accepted without real analysis. 

What really are weapons of mass destruction and do they really exist in Iraq? 

Nuclear weapons are the only weapons of mass destruction, say experts. 

Chemical and biological weapons are greatly limited in their range of destruction. 

American President George Bush said the US would pre-emptively strike against people or nations believed to be plotting to kill Americans.  

In essence, America is saying it will invade any country if it believes terrorist forces exist within that country.  

This is counter to every modern international law. 

So, where does that leave the rest of the world? If America “believes” there are such forces within Malaysia, will they invade us? Such unchallenged US policy sets a dangerous precedent for the world.  

Other countries intent on controlling or colonialising another may use the argument of “pre-emptive strikes” under the shroud of “terrorism” to subjugate another country. 

There is no evidence that Saddam Hussein’s regime was in any way linked to the Sept 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.  

There is also no hard evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. 

Sadly, the fear and paranoia that now defines US policy is surely one of the victories of the terrorists.  

A culture of fear is now institutionalised in the American lifestyle. 

What is terrorism and who defines what a terrorist is anyway? Terrorism exists in many forms – we experienced economic terrorism during the Asian financial crisis in 1997.  

We know how lives were shattered and families torn apart by the greed of powerful and wealthy individuals and nations, 

Isn’t this yet another example of economic terrorism? 

Double standards exist in definitions of terrorism.  

The Palestinian people who fight for their state with stones and suicide bombings are no match for the sophisticated tanks and ammunition of the Israeli forces.  

Yet, despite violating more than 70 UN resolutions, Israel has never been held accountable by the US or the UN. 

In fact, the US has used its veto on 75 occasions, virtually all of them on Middle East resolutions or to “protect” Israel, Arabs say.  

On top of this, the main arms supplier to Israel is the US, making a mockery of the so-called peace process and its positioning as “honest broker” in this problem. 

The 26 million people of Iraq will pay the price of a war on their country. 

Already suffering from 10 years of poverty caused by US-led UN sanctions against their government, some 16 million depend on international humanitarian and government handouts for the most basic food. 

The international community increasingly views the sanctions as illegitimate and punitive.  

Our Prime Minister's wife Datin Seri Dr Siti Hasmah’s visit to Iraq bears testament to the failure of economic sanctions to bring about a change in Iraq. 

She led one of the first women’s groups to Iraq in 2000 to see for herself the dire effects of economic sanctions on Iraq. 

In a media report, Dr Siti Hasmah described one of the many heart-breaking sights the team witnessed: “I saw sick children in the hospital in Babylon sharing beds with their mothers, sharing oxygen masks. Doctors were trying hard to reduce their suffering from leukaemia, bronco-pneumonia and diarrhoea. My tears flowed and flowed.” 

The World Health Organisation estimates that 100,000 Iraqi civilians could be wounded and another 400,000 hit by disease after the war, 

The war against terror is not about the powerful suppressing the weak, the rich taking the biggest share of the pie for itself, and for one superpower to determine the course of the world by bullying and threatening others. 

The US Government is not making the world a safe place for its people by being the world’s bully. 

Innocent Americans will keep paying the price of this increasingly isolationist foreign policy ... until more rational voices prevail. 

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