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Letters to the Editor:
So, where are the weapons?
There is the collapse of the Iraqi Government, the mass bombings of the country, including the capital Baghdad, the looting of historical treasures, the death, the destruction. Yet after more than a month of war and occupation the stated reason for it all — the weapons of mass destruction — are nowhere to be found. I suggest they are not there at all. That they were a pretext for the US to implement its new approach to international relations — the pre-emptive strike. As Susan Wright, a disarmament expert at the University of Michigan, put it, "This could be the first war in history that was justified largely by an illusion." And surely, if the regime did have weapons of mass destruction they would have used them against the invading troops. Before the war US intelligence officers said they had a list of 14,000 sites where they suspected chemical or biological agents had been harboured, as well as the delivery systems to deploy them. So far, nothing. In fact, much of what has been unearthed is what we knew all along, that Iraq had a weapons program before George W's daddy conducted the first war in 1991. In February Bush announced that the Iraqi regime was hiding 25,000 litres of anthrax, 38,000 litres of botulinum toxin and 500 tonnes of sarin, mustard and nerve gas. Now, Bush and his cronies in the administration avoid mentioning weapons of mass destruction at all. In fact, Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld has stated that finding and destroying weapons of mass destruction is actually number two on the list of priorities, with "regime change" as number one on the hit parade. Weapons of mass destruction then got pushed further down the list by the Pentagon behind capturing and evicting "terrorists sheltered in Iraq" and "collecting intelligence on terrorist networks". Chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix, who spent four months trying in vain to get the US and Britain to give him tangible intelligence information about the whereabouts of weapons, has been forced to conclude that the war was based on other criteria, well before his inspection teams went back into Iraq in December. "You ask yourself a lot of questions when you see the things they did to try to show the Iraqis had nuclear weapons, like the fake contract with Niger", he said. The latest piece of deception being peddled by the usual unnamed administration sources in Washington is that the Iraqis have moved their weapons out of the country. To Iran? Or maybe they shipped them to North Korea. Nathan Barnes
The anti-war slogans equating Bush with Hitler were fully justified. A Czech-Canadian correspondent has sent me some remarks made by the Nazi leader on April 14, 1939, asking me if they sounded familiar. Speaking a few weeks after he ordered troops to invade Czechoslovakia, Hitler said: "We have no interest in oppressing other people. We are not moved by hatred against any other nation. We bear no grudge. I know how grave a thing war is. I wanted to spare our people such an evil. "It is not so much the country of Czechoslovakia; it is rather its leader, Edward Benes. He has led a reign of terror. He has hurled countless people into the profoundest misery. "Through his continuous terrorism, he has succeeded in reducing millions of his people to silence. The Czech maintenance of a tremendous military arsenal can only be regarded as a focus of danger. "We have displayed truly exemplary patience, but I am no longer willing to remain inactive while this madman mistreats millions of human beings." Ken Biggs
(former editor of Postmark Prague)
Prague, Czech Republic
Bob Briton's article "UTLC proposes alternative in SA" (Guardian 9/4/2003) unjustifiably paints a totally negative picture of the UTLC contribution to the state's economic summit. There is no doubt that the thinking behind sections of it are "a reminder of the Accord", but we shouldn't shut our eyes to its positive aspects. Bob claims that the UTLC's contribution "doesn't see any significant expanded role for the public sector". It isn't clear what is meant by "significant", but there is an expanded role which comes from the growth of the public asset base in the form of several major infrastructure projects. To carry out these projects the government is counselled not to adopt PPPs [public private partnerships], but to "foot the bill" and undertake the projects itself. In the present economic climate it is impossible to ignore the tremendous pressure from capital that will be exerted on Premier Rann to adopt PPPs exclusively to fund infrastructure needs. The UTLC rejects this option. The UTLC also proposes that one of the ways the State Government can make its contribution in helping businesses to grow is by purchasing locally. This is a practical proposal which would put the Labour Government into direct conflict with the rules emanating from the WTO and imposed on the states by the Federal Government. Both these UTLC proposals are positive aspects that reflect militant thinking since they are directed against Capital. The submission is also critical of the Howard Government. It must be said that the source of finance proposed for growing the SA economy — so-called strategic borrowing and venture capital mainly from super funds — to be acquired through issuing State development bonds — are totally realistic given the current thinking of the trade union movement. The UTLC proposals are sure to be opposed by big business and the Rann Government is more than likely to bow before the pressure. The struggle to have them adopted will result in a sharpening of the class awareness of workers and should have the support of The Guardian, the Communist Party and its supporters. It will also provide the opportunity for Communists to present their concrete proposals on how the SA economy can be run to create jobs and to protect living standards. Such a contribution will help forge closer links with the trade union movement. Bob Saltis
Bush, Blair and Howard "justified" their illegal war on Iraq by saying that its WMD were a threat to global peace and security and to Australia. Not only did UN weapons inspectors find nothing but Saddam did not use them when Coalition forces crossed the "red line" around Baghdad. If Saddam had WMD one wonders when he would have used them if not in defence of Baghdad and his home city, Tikrit. Now, when Coalition forces have the run of Iraq and Iraqis are no longer terrified of divulging information, we have former UN weapons inspector, Ray Zilinskas telling Rafael Epstein that: "We're talking about a potential (sic), not actual weapons" (ABC Radio National AM, April 23). What a tragedy and a crime that the collateral damage and the vast areas of depleted uranium contamination were not also "potential". Gareth W R Smith,
Byron Bay, NSW
The Kuwaiti National Archives disappeared during the US occupation of Kuwait; the Iraqi Museum of the origins of human civilisation has been vandalised and looted after the US invasion of Iraq; and the small presentations of Palestinian Art, Culture and History are regularly desecrated and destroyed by the Armed Forces of Greater Israel. Notice a trend? Denis KevansBack to index page
Wentworth Falls, NSW