The Guardian March 5, 2003

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Letters to the Editor:

What's a life worth?

"Is the price worth it?" was the question Madelaine Albright (then US 
ambassador to the UN) was asked in 1996. The question referred to the 
deaths of half a million of Iraqi children as a result of sanctions imposed 
on Iraq. She replied: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price  
we think the price is worth it".

Right after the Gulf war Colin Powell was asked about the number of Iraqis 
killed in that war. His response  "It's really not a number I'm terribly 
interested in".

I don't think that the present US administration is any different in its 
approach though it's trying hard to present its proposed illegal attack on 
Iraq as a "liberation" of the long-suffering Iraqi people.

Fifty per cent of Iraqi population is under the age of 18. The two 
devastating wars  with Iran and the USA  have taken their toll on the 
male population of Iraq.

So in demographic terms, the attack on Iraq will be an attack on the young, 
the old and the women.

Doctors' organisations have been issuing warnings about the precarious 
situation where a generally exhausted population will be pushed into 
irreversible decline if a war starts.

Peace actions across the world are brought about by the fact that the USA 
and their willing partners (Britain and Australia) are keen to re-write the 
international law books to make a pre-emptive war a legal means of solving 
international problems  a frightening proposition.

People are responding with compassion for the Iraqi people who are being 
treated as a disposable commodity in the "righteous" battle against the 
devil Saddam.

It's no wonder that the only churches that support this crusade are the 
American Christian Right and US tele-evangelists.

And where are the "right-to-lifers" now? I didn't notice their banners on 
February 16. But of course, that my be because the crowd was too big.

Jason D
Fairfield, NSW

Iraq is not East Timor
I am absolutely disgusted with the war beat-up of Rupert Murdoch's News 
Corp. We have a big choice of papers in Adelaide: Murdoch's Advertiser 
or Murdoch's Advertiser.

News Corp owns more than 175 titles on three continents, publishes 40 
million papers a week and dominates the newspaper markets in Australia, 
Britain and New Zealand.

Murdoch was direct and open about the reasons to go to war  getting rid 
of Saddam Hussein would lead to cheaper oil.

"The greatest thing to come out of this for the world economy . would be 
$20 a barrel for oil. That's bigger than any tax cut in any country". (The 
Bulletin interview)

This is pro-war stance is not surprising, nor is it surprising that the war 
hawks get a good run for their (and our) money in the Murdoch rags.

But I was surprised and rather shocked by a feature piece by Jose Ramos 
Horta, East Timor's Foreign Minister.

In his article Mr Horta recalled his family's suffering and losses during 
the long Indonesian occupation, the resistance struggle and the 
intervention of international forces to oust the Indonesian military.

However, on the question of attacking and occupying Iraq Mr Horta is a 
strong supporter of the US, British and Australian Government's positions.

He accuses all those who oppose the war of keeping Saddam Hussein in power 
and thus contributing to "the peace of the dead".

This is a catchy phrase. But I, for one am not going to be persuaded by it. 
Thousands of Australian people have been supporting the struggle in East 
Timor  despite their own government's policies as we all remember.

Thousands of people were prepared to hide East Timorese refugees in their 
own homes  and face punishing consequences for that.

East Timor was a country which had been illegally occupied. Iraq is not. 
Iraq is about to be illegally occupied by a far superior force. That and 
the terrible price the whole world is to pay for such an occupation.

The US and its allies are desperately trying to bribe, coerce and threaten 
counties into supporting their war.

It is sad that Mr Horta got involved in this campaign for war, especially 
considering that Non-Aligned [Movement] countries came out strongly in 
opposition to the war.

It was not clear from the article if the views expressed there were of an 
individual or as an official of the East Timorese Government. Prominence is 
given to the fact that Mr Horta is a Nobel Prize winner. So he is. But so 
is Nelson Mandela who called the proposed war a holocaust.

A group of American Nobel Prize winners was one of the first to oppose the 
war. In short, I for one will be taking part in the next peace 
demonstration against the war.

Sandy Short
Glenelg, SA

Crowded classrooms
A recent State Government survey of class sizes in our schools confirms 
that well over 50,000 Queensland students are learning in crowded 

This is disturbing news that supports the call by teachers for immediate 
Government action on the class size issue.

The survey shows schools state-wide have at least 2500 oversized classes 
and that a large number of other classes are "full" and can't take any more 

Amazingly, Education Minister Anna Bligh has taken comfort from the 
findings of her survey and is ignoring the needs of tens of thousands of 
school students.

The Minister must abandon her head-in-the-sand attitude and urgently move 
to reduce numbers of oversized classes.

She must also realise the Government's 20 year-year-old maximum class size 
targets are outdated and ill-suited to the demands of modern schooling.

Steve Ryan,
Vice President,
Queensland Teachers Union
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