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ARROW anti-war briefing I

Please feel free to forward this email widely if you find it useful

Dear all

ARROW is manufacturing a bunch of these briefings to circulate at 
London demos. We could really do with (even very small) donations 
to help with our printing costs. There are thousands of people out 
there who don't know about this list and whose only chance of 
hearing these arguments is if this thing is printed out and handed out.

A formatted version (Word, double-sided A4) is available from me. I 
am trying to obey my own guidelines of not posting out attachments 
on the Aftermath list cos it causes problems for some users.


Milan Rai

& Joint Coordinator, Voices in the Wilderness UK
29 Gensing Road, St Leonards on Sea East Sussex UK TN38 0HE
Phone/fax 0845 458 9571 local rate within UK
Phone/fax 44 1424 428 792 from outside UK
Pager 07623 746 462
Voices website

PLEASE SUPPORT ARROW (Active Resistance to the Roots of War)
Please help with the cost of printing and distributing these briefings by 
sending cheques made out to 'ARROW' (marked 'briefings') to 
ARROW, c/o NVRN, 162 Holloway Rd, London N7 8DQ. 

Many thanks


Justice Not Vengeance
ARROW Anti-War briefing 1 (20 September 2001)

On 11 September 2001, three hijacked civilian airliners were flown 
into the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. The US and UK have 
threatened to use military force in retaliation. Their primary target is 
Afghanistan, home of Saudi terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, but the 
Pentagon is also pressing for a massive assault on Iraq.

US Vice-President Dick Cheney has said that there is no doubt that 
Osama bin Laden played 'a significant part' in the atrocities. 
(Independent, 17 Sept. p. 5) But there is no evidence at this point to 
support this claim. 
        The first country to announce a breakthrough in the 
investigation was Germany, when it confirmed that three of the 
suicide hijackers had once been based in Hamburg. Germany's chief 
federal prosecutor Kay Nehm said that his office was investigating a 
small extremist Islamic group: '"These people were of Arab 
background and [had] formed a terrorist organisation with the aim of 
launching spectacular attacks on institutions in the US," he said.' (FT, 
14 Sept., p. 6)
        On 16 Sept., the German chief prosecutor still had no hard 
evidence on any Osama bin Laden connection: 'Despite a weekend of 
intense police activity in Germany, however, the country's chief 
prosecutor said he still had no evidence linking the alleged hijackers to 
the Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden.' (Guardian, 17 Sept., p. 11) 
Incidentally, this was paragraph 31 in a full page inside story. It should 
have been a front-page headline.
        According to the Daily Telegraph, 'In public Mr Blair is playing 
the role of the warrior king, declaring that Britain is already "at war 
with terrorism",' but in private he has been a voice for restraint. 'In 
his two telephone conversations with Mr Bush, Mr Blair raised 
concerns... In particular, he stressed that no strike should be made 
until sufficient evidence had been gathered to decide the target fairly 
and properly.' (18 Sept., p. 12) He is not alone. 'Arab leaders - caught 
between public opinion which has been embittered by US support for 
Israel and genuine outrage at the brutality of the attacks - are sending 
an increasingly clear message from the Islamic world: we need 
evidence.' (FT, 20 Sept., p. 6)
        The Independent has learned from FBI sources that the case 
against bin Laden is 'largely circumstantial', 'a tangled web of contacts, 
connections and semi-autonomous cells stretching most of the way 
around the globe.' 'The perpetrators are believed to have had little or 
no direct contact with the top man. At most they would have 
participated in training at one of Mr bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan. 
What US investigators have got is, primarily, a series of connections of 
the type: Person A, who was seen in a meeting with Person B, who 
was identified in court as an associate of Person C, who either spent 
time in Afghanistan or admitted a link to some other suspected 
member of al-Qa'ida', Osama bin Laden's terrorist network. (20 
Sept., p. 5)
        It is worth going back a few days to a Daily Telegraph interview 
with the director of Europol, the EU's anti-terrorist organisation (15 
Sept., p. 9). Jurgen Storbeck 'cautioned against jumping to conclusions 
before the mass of evidence had been properly sifted.' Europe's head 
of anti-terrorism said: "Bin Laden is not the automatic leader of every 
terrorist act carried out in the name of Islam. It's possible that he was 
informed about the operation; it's even possible that he influenced it; 
but he's probably not the man who steered every action or controlled 
the detailed plan. As for the idea that, sitting in Afghanistan, he could 
have controlled the last phase of the operation is something we 
should not accept without a lot of doubt."
         "There are a lot of people with the same philosophy who may 
have been to bin Laden's training camps, but are not necessarily 
under his orders," Mr Storbeck added. (Daily Telegraph, 15 Sept., p. 
        The Independent's Andrew Gumbel describes the FBI case 
against bin Laden as 'not what a prosecutor in a high profile murder 
or terrorism case would call an open and shut case'. (19 Sept., p. 5) 
This is a euphemism for grasping at straws.

Even if there were solid evidence to implicate Osama bin Laden, this 
would not justify military action in law. 

One nonviolent route, which has not been exhausted, is extradition. 
The Taliban's position seems to be that extradition is 'premature' 
(which it surely is, on the basis of the evidence so far), but that they 
would study 'any evidence' (Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, ambassador to 
Pakistan, Independent, 13 Sept., p. 8) One member of the Pakistani 
delegation which pleaded with the Taliban to hand over bin Laden, 
Nasirullah Khan Babar, said, "If it was proven that Osama was 
involved, I think this time the Taliban would extradite him." 
(Guardian, 19 Sept., p. 1)
        This was reinforced by the statement by the Taliban 
Information Minister, Qudrutullah Jamal: 'Anyone who is responsible 
for this act, Osama or not, we will not side with him. We told [the 
Pakistan delegation] to give us proof that he did it, because without 
that how can we give him up?' (Independent, 19 Sept., p. 1)
        The issue of extradition seems to turn on the issue of proof. 
Thus far, Britain and the US seem to be prioritising threats and 
bullying over the evidence.

The Western world is rightly paying the minutest attention to the 
suffering of those affected by the destruction in New York. But mass 
suffering is not confined to lower Manhattan. 'As many as five million 
people in Afghanistan, a quarter of the population, are facing famine, 
according to the [UN] World Food Programme' (WFP). Aid workers 
'crucial to the maintenance of programmes that keep Afghans alive' 
have been withdrawn because of the threat of a US-led assault. Until 
11 Sept., the WFP distributed food to 3 million people in the country, 
and was about to expand its provision to 5 million people. 
        'Peter Goossens, deputy director for Afghanistan, said that 
stores would be empty by the middle of next week.' He said, "It is 
only early days, but already this is potentially a disaster." (Telegraph, 
18 Sept., p. 5)
        As part of its plan to capture bin Laden and destroy his 
organisation, Washington forced Pakistan to close its border with 
Afghanistan, so that no suspects could escape. But the World Food 
Programme warned that 'More than 1.5 million people may [try to] 
leave Afghanistan in search of food and safety now foreign aid 
workers have left'. (Telegraph, 15 Sept., p. 4)
        Millions are about to face homelessness and famine, even if the 
US does not drop a single bomb. As long as vital aid workers are kept 
out of Afghanistan by the US/UK threat of war, there is no alternative 
to disaster. The 'war on terrorism' is also a 'war on the civilian 
population of Afghanistan', but the television cameras and the 
newspaper photographers are not capturing their fear and pain. Five 
thousand people were murdered in New York, and that is a horrific 
crime, but that cannot justify creating an unnecessary famine for 
millions of the poorest people in the world.

Even if there was an airtight case against bin Laden, and there were 
no massive effects on millions of desperately poor families, there 
would be no justification for the threats against Afghanistan. 
According to the Charter of the United Nations, nations are not 
permitted to use force against other nations, except in self-defence - 
in very particular circumstances.
It is up to the UN Security Council to determine if there has been 
aggression or an act of war against the USA, and to decide what to do 
if there has been such a 'breach of the peace' 'to maintain or restore 
international peace and security'. (Article 33) UN Security Council 
Resolution 1368, adopted the day after the destruction of the Twin 
Towers nearby, expressed the 'readiness' of the Security Council to 
'take all necessary steps' to 'respond to the terrorist attacks of 11 
September 2001, and to combat all forms of terrorism, in accordance 
with its responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations'. But 
it did not authorise the use of force, or delegate the use of that force 
to individual nations or military alliances. It is against international law, 
therefore, for Britain and the US to take military action unilaterally.

Article 51 Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent 
right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs 
against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council 
has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and 
The use of armed force in self-defence is justified in international law, 
under the UN Charter, only when the armed attack is so sudden and 
extreme that the need for action is 'instant, overwhelming, leaving no 
choice of means, and no moment for deliberation'. This wording 
comes from US Secretary of State Daniel Webster, speaking in the 
1830s, condemning a British act of claimed 'self-defence' which sent a 
US ship over the Niagara Falls. Webster's definition has stood the test 
of time, and was relied upon at the Nuremburg Tribunal. It is 
described as 'customary international law.' 
        It is plain that there has been ample time for 'deliberation' since 
the attack, and there is an enormous array of possible remedies at 
hand. It would therefore be against international law for Britain and 
the US to take military action against the suspected perpetrators of 
the atrocities, even if (a) there were hard evidence of Osama bin 
Laden's involvement, and (b) the world were prepared to regard the 
coming military action as "self-defence". Menzies Campbell of the 
Liberal Democrat party has said in Parliament, 'Retaliation is not self-
defence by any legal measure with which I am familiar.' (Daily 
Telegraph, 15 Sept., p. 6)
        The UN Charter explicitly states that the resolution of 'any 
dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the 
maintenance of international peace and security', shall, first of all, 'seek 
a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, 
judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or 
other peaceful means of their own choice' (Article 33). This London 
and Washington have failed to do. 
        It seems almost universally accepted that the United States 
should be free to fire its missiles at whichever country it believes to 
be harbouring its enemies. This is a right we would not accord to any 
other country. It is a terrorist doctrine.

Jonathan Sayeed, Conservative MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, said in 
Parliament when it was recalled, 'There has to be some understanding 
why there is so much hatred for so many institutions in the United 
States. Unless we deal with some of the deep-seated causes, then 
more terrorists will come to the fore.' (Independent, 15 Sept., p. 10)
        Former British ambassador to NATO (1986-92) Sir Michael 
Alexander has urged 'the free world as a whole, not the US alone' to 
'develop a common strategy of response that goes beyond mere 
retaliation'. The strategy must defend 'our way of life' and punish 
'those who violate it.' 'But it must also embrace a co-ordinated attack 
on the underlying injustices, the consequences of which are visible at 
the Channel Tunnel and in the waters around Australia as well as in 
New York and in Washington, that fuel and will continue to fuel a 
war under way for some time but now becoming hideously obvious.' 
(letters, Independent, Review, 14 Sept., p. 2)
        Studs Terkel, the US author, says, 'Peace is indivisible, the world 
is one and we are not the invincible guardians of the world we once 
were. For the first time we have been touched, and other people 
have been touched in different ways. Unless we learn what it is to be 
that bombed child, wherever that place is - whether it be Vietnam or 
Iraq or wherever - we have learned nothing.' (Guardian 2, 14 Sept., p. 
        For an authoritative view, we turn to an observer of the Middle 
East region with unparalleled credentials - Robert Fisk. Fisk observes, 
'this is not the war of democracy versus terror that the world will be 
asked to believe in the coming days. It is also about American missiles 
smashing into Palestinian homes and US helicopters firing missiles into 
a Lebanese ambulance in 1996 and American shells crashing into a 
village called Qana and about a Lebanese militia  paid and uniformed 
by America's Israeli ally  hacking and raping and murdering their way 
through refugee camps.
        'Ask an Arab how he responds to 20,000 or 30,000 innocent 
deaths and he or she will respond as decent people should, that it is 
an unspeakable crime. But they will ask why we did not use such 
words about the sanctions that have destroyed the lives of perhaps 
half a million children in Iraq, why we did not rage about the 17,500 
civilians killed in Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon. And those basic 
reasons why the Middle East caught fire last September  the Israeli 
occupation of Arab land, the dispossession of Palestinians, the 
bombardments and state-sponsored executions ... all these must be 
obscured lest they provide the smallest fractional reason for
yesterday's mass savagery.' (Independent, 12 Sept)

PLEASE SUPPORT ARROW (Active Resistance to the Roots of War)
Please help with the cost of printing and distributing these briefings by 
sending cheques made out to 'ARROW' (marked 'briefings') to 
ARROW, c/o NVRN, 162 Holloway Rd, London N7 8DQ. Further 
briefings will be circulated by email over the ARROW anti-war email 
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