Hi Ho, Hi Ho,
It's Off to War We Go

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by Stephen Phillips

Hasn’t mid-February proved to be interesting indeed? Across the globe, tens of thousands of people from Sydney to San Francisco gave up their spare time to take to the streets and voice their concern about America's stance toward Iraq.

What that stance involves (for anyone who hasn't been paying attention) is that G.W. and his cronies appear to have an overwhelmingly single-minded desire to kick ten bells of crap out of Saddam and his regime, and to remove any weapons of mass destruction that he may or may not have. 

A worthy enough goal, if that were the end of it.  But there are more issues at stake than just removing a despotic individual from power.

We need to consider the wider implications of a conflict with Iraq.  The removal of Saddam by force could have a knock-on effect that not only threatens the stability of Iraq and its neighbours, but could also quite possibly engulf the whole region, from Israel to India and beyond.   Now, there’s a frightening scenario.

Another issue that this administration has managed to dodge is the human cost of the conflict.  The population of Iraq is approximately 22 million souls, and as people know, there is always collateral damage in any kind of conflict, no matter how “smart” your bombs may be.  Just how many innocents will have to die to remove one man?  I can’t put a figure on that, but I think any loss of life will be too much.

The peace marchers (who, by the way, covered the whole social and  economic spectrum--from veteran campaigners to mothers with children) were extremely vocal in their opposition to conflict with Iraq.  Now, I wonder why that may be? 

Of course, no one has any doubt that Saddam Hussein has proven himself to be an unstable individual with a history of oppression toward his neighbours and fellow Iraqis, and that he is quite capable of very aggressive behaviour. 

But žs he a threat militarily toward the US? 

...Uh, no. 

Is he a threat to the United Kingdom?  

Correct:  Another big, fat no!

So who is he a threat to, anyway?

If you listen to the fiery rhetoric coming from Washington, Saddam is a threat to almost everybody on the planet, and should be removed from power immediately.  So is that it?  Just because G.W. is on the warpath, everyone else on the planet should fall into line without question?  Sorry, George, I think you're on your own on this one.

What’s interesting is that even Tony Blair, who until recently was stoically behind George Junior, has softened his approach to this situation--even going so far as to say that the weapons inspectors should be given more time to complete their mandate.  Now, I don’t know about anyone else, but that sounds like backpedaling to me.

So exactly where are we at present? Well, the French are holding out for more time, and are vehemently opposed to military action except as a last resort.  The Germans, Russians, and Chinese are all erring on the side of giving the inspectors more time;  and that  leaves only the other two permanent members of the Security Council, Great Britain and the Good Olde U.S. of A.

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the U.S. administration will continue to push for war regardless of the mounting global opposition to such an action.  Tony Blair, though, knows that his position on this issue is very tenuous, with mounting public dissent at home, and a growing crisis within Europe that threatens to split the Union.

What's next? 

All I can say is that I’m reminded of an old TV advert about “Heinz Baked Beans,” in which the catch phrase is “A million housewives every day open a can of beans and say, 'Beans means Heinz.'”

Ten million people this past weekend opened their mouths and said “No to War.”  Need I say   more?


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