“Why I joined the anti-war march”
by Timmon Wallis, member of Enfield Peace Campaign
Saddam Hussein is a brutal dictator. He has gassed his own people, invaded his neighbours and assassinated members of his own family. I wouldn’t want to be sharing a room with him in the Big Brother house. On the other hand, I don’t stay awake at night worrying that he is about to invade this country or blow us up with chemical, nuclear or biological weapons.
Maybe he has such weapons. Donald Rumsfeld should know, since it was Rumsfeld who sold him the stuff. But even if he does, does that make him such a threat to us or to the rest of the world that it’s worth risking World War Three to get rid of him and his weapons? I don’t think so.
It was the USA and others who built up Saddam Hussein’s military machine in the 1980s as a bulwark against the fundamentalist revolutionaries in Iran. His military might was then smashed to pieces during the Gulf War when over 100,000 Iraqi soldiers were killed and thousands of tons of ‘smart’ and not-so-smart bombs were dropped on every military base and factory in Iraq. Since then, Iraq has been operating under a crippling regime of sanctions with 2/3rds of the country under the control of British and American warplanes which have been bombing military targets in Iraq on an almost daily basis for 12 years now.
Between 1991 and 1998, UN arms inspectors destroyed whatever still remained of his nuclear weapons facilities and declared Iraq incapable of producing nuclear weapons. They found and destroyed all of Iraq’s remaining mobile missile launchers and all but two of his remaining 819 long-range missiles. They destroyed 56 fixed missile launch sites and 236 of his 285 long-range warheads. They destroyed 88,000 chemical munitions and 600 tonnes of chemical agents. They destroyed Iraq’s chemical weapons plant and its only known biological weapons facility.
In 1998 the US and the UK forced the removal of the UN inspectors so they could launch their ‘Desert Fox’ bombing campaign. Perhaps Saddam Hussein has been busy since then re-building his weapons facilities and preparing to attack the West. But so far the inspectors under Hans Blix haven’t found a single shred of evidence to suggest that is the case. So why now, all of a sudden, does Saddam Hussein pose the greatest threat to world peace since Adolf Hitler? Isn’t it more likely that as the two-bit tyrant of a country that has been bombed back into the Stone Age he does not have the capacity to attack anyone at all, even if he wanted to?
And even if Iraq did pose a ‘clear and present danger’ to world peace and security, is launching a pre-emptive attack the best way of dealing with that threat? I don’t believe for one minute that Saddam Hussein has any links with Al Qaida. He is a secular leader who fought a 7-year war against Muslim fundamentalists in Iran. Saddam Hussein is one of the Arab leaders whom Al Qaida are trying to overthrow themselves! But if we want to help unite the whole of the Arab world against us, we could not do much better than to launch an attack on Iraq at a time when Arab opinion is already enflamed about the plight of the Palestinians at the hands of Ariel Sharon.
In my view, Tony Blair is taking this country down a course of action that makes us – and the whole world – considerably less safe rather than the reverse. He is making us a target for terrorists that we otherwise would not have been. And he is unleashing pent up feelings of frustration and anger across the world, the consequences of which he simply cannot know.