That’s it folks! The leader of the free world has spoken. “The friends of freedom will disarm Saddam Hussein”. Where do I sign up to be a friend of freedom you might ask? Sounds good to me.
The American president went on to say: “This kind, generous and compassionate nation will lead the world to peace”.
Wow! We’d all like to support such a nation, wouldn’t we? Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to become a ‘friend of freedom’ helping out a kind and compassionate nation? Mr. George W. Bush sounds as though he has noble aspirations.
If you really want to be a friend of freedom, the first thing you should do is find a role model. Now let’s see… Eureka! The perfect friend of freedom, known also as man’s best friend, is surely Britain’s nodding Prime Minister.
Like the American leader, Tony Blair also wants to “liberate the Iraqi people” and be a main player in the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ or is it ‘the Coerced Unwilling? These two friends of freedom are all set to do that by invading an ancient land steeped in history with up to 250,000 troops, state-of-the-art weapons, tanks and large stocks of Atropine. If the stubborn Iraqis don’t shower them with flowers and candy, then they wouldn’t rule out nuking them out of existence. Still want to be a friend of freedom?
Australia’s John Howard does. This kind and compassionate Prime Minister is responsible for the indefinite detention of thousands of asylum seekers behind barbed wire. They find freedom by sewing their lips together or jumping from the top of Howard’s fences to their death. Iraqis are already dying in his country, a few more, or a few hundred thousand more won’t make much difference to his stony heart.
Many Americans know what it is like being a friend of freedom. Defending freedom against those nasty Commies caused the war in Vietnam, which still weighs heavy on the psyche of the more sensitive. They still remember the draft dodgers who fled to Holland and Scandinavia where they lived on the generosity of sympathisers, smoked dope and grew their hair long. They still recall how the Vietnam vets were spat on when returned home hoping for glory, and the image of the child raw with napalm burns still scars their national conscience.
Although on a much smaller scale, war with Iraq could evolve into a Vietnam replay. If the Bush/Blair-combo do succeed in getting their way, we could suffer from collective guilt for decades to come. Germany, too, still retains its Holocaust scars as we can see from its stringent laws concerning anti-Semitism and racism, as well as its reluctance to join in a conflict with Iraq. Japan, of course, is still nostalgic about the era when the kindly friends of freedom helped them with their population explosion and tested a new weapon at the same time.
It is clear that the Bush administration’s plan to attack Iraq was in the pipeline long before Bush junior came to office. George H Bush was accused of not finishing the job in 1991 and was the victim of an alleged assassination attempt, thought to have been the work of Saddam Hussein. Add to the pot the Bush family interests in both the oil and the weapons industries, along with America’s geopolitical ambitions and you could find a combined raison d’etre for the friends of freedom to go to war.
We should also take into account the right-wing southern Baptist, Christian-Zionist beliefs of many of the upper echelons of the US administration. People who believe in the Second Coming, which will only come to pass post-Armageddon, are Bush’s main political support base. We still haven’t found out where Bush stands on this issue. We probably never will as this crusading friend of freedom has cleverly ensured that his and his father’s presidential records and tapes will be sealed for a very long time to come.
It should be said that most followers of Christ around the world abhor this proposed conflict, including Pope John Paul II and almost every Anglican bishop. They know that when Jesus said: suffer little children to come unto me for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven, he did not mean prematurely, after burying their charred little bodies.
The self-styled religious ‘friends of freedom’ have also taken it upon themselves to re-interpret various Christian injunctions.
‘Thou shall not kill’ has been expanded to ‘Thou shall not kill our friends and supporters and to hell with the rest of the blighters’. ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers’ has been altered to mean ‘The Peacemakers are nothing but a darn nuisance thwarting our ambitions’. The Old Testament’s ‘an eye for an eye’ reads in their book ‘let’s poke out their eyes just in case they may take ours’.
Whichever way one looks at it an invasion of Iraq would be self-serving and immoral. Iraqi women are still giving birth to babies with deformities due to the use of depleted uranium by allied forces during the Gulf War. The Friends of Freedom won’t admit that they were responsible though. They’ve even labelled thousands of their own troops suffering from Gulf War Syndrome as being hypochondriacs, while sending others into that same bloody arena.
While Iraq was once a bastion of culture and modernity in the Middle East, it is now little more than a wasteland on every level. It may soon become a giant graveyard thanks to the jolly Friends of Freedom.
Imagine if you and your family were trapped in a city over which a Damaclesian sword of death and destruction was hanging. How would you feel if the most powerful nation on earth was gunning for you and yours literally, and when you eat your breakfast each day, you wondered whether that day would be your last? This is exactly what the people of Baghdad are going through now. They ponder on their future, whether there will even be a future. Even if no bomb ever falls on Baghdad, our leaders are putting its residents through a living nightmare.
Iraq was wrong to invade Kuwait in 1990, but it has paid a heavy price for its wrongdoing. Since then, Iraq has been trying to rejoin the world community, get the sanctions lifted and it has been asking for a process of forgiveness and reconciliation as was seen at the Arab League meeting held in Beirut early last year.
Iraq has not threatened the US in any way for the past 12 years and does not possess missiles with sufficient range to hit New York or Washington or even London. Its Scuds can reach Tel Aviv as we saw during the Gulf War and fears are that this time they could be loaded with chemical or biological weapons.
The recent televised warnings of the Iraqi President’s son, Uday, and the sight of half-a-million of Iraqi troops dressed in full protective gear and gas masks did little to allay such worries. The Friends of Freedom could end up triggering the very thing they hoped to avert in their eagerness to protect Israel at any cost.
The Bush administration is, of course, fully aware that Iraq has not sought war and is not aggressing anyone, yet has still seized every opportunity since September 11, 2001 to impress upon the American people and the world that Saddam Hussein is a direct threat to the US. The Pentagon also knows the risks inherent in invading Iraq both to American service personnel and to the entire region.
Sadly many Americans are unable to see that their government is trying, and often succeeding with the assistance of its compliant media, to pull the wool over their eyes. This propaganda has proved so effective that today some 46 per cent of Americans believe that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the atrocities committed by Al Queda terrorists on that fateful September day. When the missiles hit Baghdad, they will feel avenged for the downing of the World Trade Centre, and while proudly sporting their flag pins, praise America’s Finest for a job well done.
If some Americans are hopelessly misinformed, the British, while admittedly less gullible and gung ho, are apathetic. Most have little interest in wars fought at the other side of the world and would prefer to watch Eastenders than the news. They appear to know all about Brittany Spears, as well as Posh Spice and her footballer husband and little about their own politicians – even less about foreign policy. It is hard to believe that Britain was one of the world’s most advanced nations and a political main player.
Real friends of freedom, staring in the face a war, which could kill hundreds of thousands of innocents with devastating repercussions for our planet, must make their voices heard.
Time is now of the essence. We haven’t got the luxury of wasting it listening to the stomach churning propaganda emanating from the White House and Number 10. We must show those fake friends of freedom that their lies are falling on deaf ears. We must answer these scoundrels with a unanimous ‘not in my name’ in as many languages of the world as possible.
We are being duped with flowery expressions, obfuscation and untruths. We can keep ourselves safe by letting the weapons inspectors do their work and engaging in dialogue with Iraq.
True friends of freedom must open their eyes, see the truth and refuse to allow this dirty war to take place. Iraqis, like all of us on our planet, have the right to life, security and happiness. The unholy alliance of Bush, Blair and Howard will only bring them… and us sheer hell on Earth.
LINDA HEARD is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org