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Re: [casi] Iraq - what next? (1)

Dear John Hemming, and All,

If I understand you correctly, you are advocating an
"uprising by the Iraqi people" since, as you say, a US
attack is "inevitable". Hence, as you seem to suggest,
an "uprising" would "minimise [Iraqi] casualties.

You didn't identify who "we" are, but presumably you are
speaking for "varying Iraqi opposition groups" in favour
of an invasion.

An "uprising", ie, a bloody civil war, would certainly
"minimise" US-inflicted casualties. In fact, the Pentagon
has hoped for such an "uprising" for 12 years - that's
what the sanctions were meant to achieve. A civil war would
cost the US little, in money and prestige. Iraqis would be
killing one another and the US could step in as the great
"liberator" to solve the _humanitarian crisis_ - the one
created by the bloodbath and the one the US has maintained
for the last 12 years. It would also facilitate the political
ambitions of Iraq's opposition in exile, on whose behalf you
seem to be making this drastic proposal.

I am not suggesting that you were taking your proposal to
such cynical conclusions. But, if you think about it,
that's what it boils down to.

In any case, it's a moot point: I don't think there is
anything you, I, or anyone else can say to sway, intimidate,
or blackmail the Iraqi people into submission. For 12 years
Iraqis had to face death, misery, and starvation every day
of their lives, inflicted by bombing and the sanctions.
They suffered the loss of their livelihood, prospects,
and worldly possessions. Above all, they suffered the loss
of their children. So if the US want to further destroy Iraq
and the Iraqis, they will have to do the dirty work
themselves - under the benign gaze of the UN and the
international community. But they will be unable to break
the spirit of the Iraqi people.

(Come to think of it, no conqueror has ever broken the
spirit of the people through brutality. An exception are
the Amerindians in North America. This was achieved by
removing the children from their parents and beating their
language and culture out of them. So they lost self-respect.
But it's coming back because finally they have learned to
say j'accuse. - Many have also regained their spirituality.)

> I am not a member of the UK government, nor am I a member
> of the Labour Party.

Please don't think, John Hemming, that I am critical of you.
That would be pointless. As I discovered, you _are_ a
politician. And, as a politician, you may have considered
your proposal a pragmatic solution. Perhaps it is - I am in
no position to judge.

But I was saddened to see such proposal submitted to CASI.
CASI is read by Iraqis and by (primarily?) people in
solidarity with Iraqi suffering. As well, CASI to me was
one of the last refuges in an increasingly unfeeling
world - a world apathetic to or applauding a ruthless war
of conquest that started in earnest on October 7, 2001.


Loyalty was the first word that came to mind when I read
your proposal. I wasn't sure exactly what I meant by it.
What is loyalty? A French dictionary described it as a
'quality' or a 'lasting attachment' and it gave nuanced
examples: for family, friends, country... It may well be
a quality, but then not everyone would have it. It may
be an attachment, but then it could wane.

It was in an elementary Spanish dictionary that I found what
I meant: 'fidelidad', it said, was a behaviour (a conduct)
of 'las personas y los animales' towards others that never
betrays or deceives. True, 'never' is hard to achieve. But
that's what I mean by loyalty. (And I include animals too.)

So this is what struck me about your proposal. You didn't
factor in loyalty: loyalty of the Iraqi people for one
another, and loyalty of outsiders for the Iraqi people. And
it seems unlikely that casi members will renounce their
loyalty for the Iraqi people in favour of the political
ambitions of the invader or or Iraq's opposition in exile.
At least I hope they won't.

And loyalty (fidelidad) is not just a romantic notion. It
keeps alive a little faith in human nature. And it could
be a way to oppose this relentless war of conquest promoted
by the US and its henchmen - NATO, the UN, world leaders,
the media...and the gullible public. With loyalty, citizens
of the world can united, regardless of creed or political
convictions, anc can champion peace. This is happening now.
To be effective, it must grow stronger.

Loyalty to other fellow humans in the cause of peace, does
not preclude loyalty for your country. But obviously it must
preclude blind acquiesence to the killing and exploitation
of other humans (war). And that's were the problem comes
in: most people see government as part of their society,
and they want to identify with society at all times, not
set themselves apart.

I know of an American school girl who broke ranks easily
at the age of 15 - she is a rebel and has a supportive family.

And I know of an Israeli 'refusenik' to who found this very
hard. It took him 17 years - he has a conservative background
and was used to conform to the norms of society.

This refusenik, Asaf Oron, is signer number 8 of the
53 reservists who refused to serve in the Occupied
Territories. (By February 2002 there 251 signers.) Oron
has written an eloquent statement in which he talks about
the difficulties in setting yourself apart from society.
I think this also applies to us, especially now.

He talks about the ethical code of universal justice his
society espouses compared to the tribal code that condones
the stereotyping and killing of the _enemy_. And he talks
about the danger of being silent.

His two little boys made him realize that it was time to
break ranks. It was a quiet decision turning into an outcry:
"If you can't see that this is one big crime leading us to
the brink of annihilation, then something is terribly wrong
with you!"

(And can't you see that this is equally true of Iraq: It's
one big crime... And where is it going to lead us?)

Coping with the scorn of society was hard for Oron: It
comes down to choosing between two value system: one that
is very demanding - no fun at all. And one that beckons to
you from every corner (the conformist one.) He picked the
first road, the difficult one.

And then he discovered that he was not alone. "[It was]
like discovering life on another planet."

To get a taste of that other life, you'll have to break
ranks with your society, or indeed with the not-so-civilized
West. That goes against social conditioning and tribal codes.
And, as Oron found out, it can't be done in silence. You have
to speak up - expose lies, propaganda, injustice. That goes
against social tabus. Not easy. It may even cost you your job,
as several editors in Canada and the US have discovered.
But it isn't going to cost you your head.

What's the alternative? Not only an unfeeling world, but
also an unthinking one - moral and mental decadence.

In _Brave New World_ there was one thinking 'savage' left.
He hanged himself in despair.

Still hoping for a miracle about Iraq,

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