Tue, 25 Feb 2003

Bush and Blair against the world

Abdillah Toha, Executive Director,Institute for Socio-economic and Political Studies (In-SEP), Jakarta

History is being made. People in the world no longer entrust the making of important decisions that will affect their fate to a small group of elites. Especially so when those elites are arrogant and intend to sacrifice the interests of the majority for their own self-serving ideologies. Belligerence and war- mongering are no longer saleable.

The millions who turned out during the recent antiwar demonstrations throughout the world were not there to support Saddam Hussein. They would be happy to see Saddam and his notoriously wicked regime go, but not by way of endangering the life of millions of innocent people. They were there to demonstrate their dislike for unilateralism, arrogance, hypocrisy and greed behind the American plan to wage an immoral war in Iraq.

The antiwar movement is not intended and should not be interpreted as being anti-American. The people of America, who are gradually realizing the true nature of their president's intentions, are withdrawing their support from him.

The American people are the biggest victims of the war propaganda churned out by the American government as they are basically people who are not very aware about what is happening beyond their borders.

Many of these people think that the world consists of America and the rest, and the world outside America poses a threat to their way of life. They are also the victims of Bush and Co.'s bullying and scare-mongering based upon the prospect of terrorist threats. They were told unconvincingly of Iraq's connection with terrorism and that invading Iraq and replacing the current regime would greatly reduce the risk of terrorism.

People are tired of manipulation through lies and deceit by the few, including some American mainstream media that assist in shaping public opinion. Thanks to the advent of the internet, this biased opinionating has been countered and the world's largest peace movement ever has been made created. This is not a peace movement based on political or ideological motives.

People from all walks of life and various religious, ethnic, and ideological backgrounds were united in one voice. No more bloodshed. "No" to violent aggression, and "yes" to peaceful resolution. There is no longer such a thing as a "just war" when the strongest military in the world cowardly drops cluster bombs on a weak country from 50,000 feet above the ground.

The large turnout for antiwar protests in the U.S. over the last few months, culminating last week in the biggest ever antiwar protest since the Vietnam war, has finally moved some congressmen to speak openly against the war.

The noisy but peaceful antiwar voices have broken the silence in Congress among the Democrats. Two presidential aspirants, Dennis Cunnichi and a Congresswoman, are now challenging George Bush for the next presidential election in 2004 on an antiwar platform.

Politicians, who were earlier reluctant to voice their opposition to the war for fear of being dubbed unpatriotic, are now making their voices heard. Promoting peace is also patriotic. Bush's previously unprecedented high popularity ratings have now dropped to their lowest ever.

George Walker Bush, who so far remains adamant despite the worldwide protest, is now facing the dilemma of going it alone with all the risks of casualties, serious rifts with America's traditional allies, as well as wider and more decisive domestic protests, or withdrawing his troops from the Middle East and risking a loss of face after his frequent public boasts that Iraq would be disarmed by force.

Either way, he is risking his chances of reelection next year thanks to his shortsightedness and his being surrounded by advisers with imperial dreams of dominating the world.

Tony Blair has resorted to moral arguments in the face of the largest antiwar protest ever at home. He maintained that the war is morally justified because, otherwise, inaction would also mean risking million of lives under Saddam. He singled out Iraq as if it were the only government that oppressed its citizens and needed to be disarmed, despite the fact that dozens of other countries in the region and elsewhere are guilty of gross human rights violations.

The same could be said about the various talks on establishing a democratic state in Iraq after the war, to set an example for the region. This is clearly laughable when at the same time the U.S. government continues to support and protect dictators and tyrants as long as they are considered of use and friendly to the interests of the U.S.

Ironically, the desire to disarm and invade Iraq by use of military force unmatched anywhere else in the world on the one hand, and the soft position taken by the United States against those countries already possessing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) on the other hand, could and has been interpreted perilously in many parts of the world.

Countries that are not yet in the nuclear club will now think that the only way to stand up against the bullying of the big powers and to deter possible attack by them is by developing their own WMD and nuclear capabilities. If this trend continues and nuclear capabilities become widespread around the world, this will further increase the likelihood of a nuclear accident with unimaginable consequences.

The voice of the people of the world has been heard. It should now be heeded. Saddam Hussein must be disarmed. But so must Israel, North Korea, India, Pakistan, the United States, Russia and others. If the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Soviet Union could be made possible with hardly a bullet fired, why can't the world agree to disarm and save itself from devastation in a civilized manner.