Letter to Quaker-B, 7 Oct 2004.

Reading this correspondence (WMD, 45 Miniutes) and listening to Radio 4 this
morning where even Robin Cook is enmeshed in arguments about the truth or
otherwise of the threat of WMD angers me as I believe the entire issue is a smoke
screen that has been very effective in obscuring underlying issues. We knew, or we
feared, months before the attack on Iraq that it was probable. The assertion of
imminent danger to the west from WMDs came quite late in the discussion and
seemed to me at the time to be no more than a lame excuse. We now know for certain
that Bush and his cronies had decided to attack Iraq months before the WMD
story was dreamed up.

One of the underlying principles which need to be discussed is the Bush
doctrine of pre-emptive attack. Is it justified? Should the former principle that one
does not interfere in another state's internal matters (e.g. gross violation of
Human Right) to be abandoned?

Another underlying concern is what has been called the Likkudisation
enforcement of internal control and security. That is a policy in which the state
considers it justifiable to use overwhelming force and destruction on a massive scale
out of all proportion to that of its rebels / insurgents. This 'technique' can
be seen in Palestine, Chechnya and Iraq.

Another is whether the 'War on Terror' should be called a war, and whether
success is more likely from the Likkud technique or from attempting to understand
and alleviate the terrorists' concerns.

On 10/11, 11/11, 12/11 ... I was abroad and glued to international radio. (Much
to my partner's disgust - see her book 'Call of the Bell Bird' to be published
by Quaker Life on November 4th) Most commentators world wide were asking
questions such as why?, where have we gone wrong?.. what must we do?... But most of
the US media where simply calling for revenge. When can we start bombing them?
For a week or more there were no US magazines. On the bookstands were only last
week's copies of Time, etc. with cover stories critical of Bush, and of the
economy. After 9/11 such headlines were not seen. Suddenly it all becomes clear.
Claer for the military industrial complex to charge into action. And profit.

Another underlying issue is Blair's success in moving Britain to a presidential
style of Government, and the ineffectuality of M.P.s. allowing hard-won rights
to be eroded.

An even deeper issue is to try to understand why we are such a warlike nation.
Why our neighbours are willing to spend taxes on nukes and not on public
services. Why we are so violent to each other. Why so racist.

Under the cloak of the "war on Terror" the British government is bringing in
laws that give it enormous arbitrary powers, such as the Contingencies Bill now
in the Lords.

As Quakers we need to speak truth to power. To insist on what's right, as did
those brave jurors who refused the Judge's rulings and insisted on the Quaker
defendants' rights to a fair trial. It's not just a matter of civil and human
rights but of working to cease the ghastly obscene horror of the wars that are
part of our government's international policy.

Stephen Petter

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