continue to grow between the United States, in particular,
and Iran over the suspected development of nuclear
weapons by the latter. Iran has flatly refused to
cease nuclear production, claiming it is for civilian
energy purposes only, and will not comply with directives
from the International Atomic Energy Agency or the
UN Security Council.
a recent twist, it has now publicly offered to share
its technology with, among others, the genocidal,
serial human rights abusers who wield power in Sudan.
The president of Iran has said that Israel should
be "wiped off the map".
threats and counter-threats have begun to fly, there
is an ominously familiar ring to it all. When the
US and the UK decided to invade Iraq, they told
us it was because Saddam Hussein had weapons of
mass destruction and posed a serious threat to stability
in the entire Middle East region.
the face of it, then, a similar case for invasion
could easily be made again - but only if we allow
justificatory line being spun by both governments
at the time of the Iraq invasion was that it was
warranted, alone, by the scale of human rights abuses
being committed by Saddam and his cronies.
foolish some of us were to believe that our governments
cared a jot about the ordinary people of Iraq. Or,
that it particularly mattered to them whether or
not Saddam posed a real threat to his neighbours.
all, there were, and still are, a whole host of
regimes around the world armed to the teeth, systematically
abusing their peoples and busy threatening neighbouring
countries, that are conveniently ignored.
which already is a nuclear power, is a prime example.
It exists in a constant state of tension with neighbouring
India, which also has nuclear capabilities. Though
Pakistan is an ally of the US, it happens, as well,
to have an appalling culture of abusing even the
most basic human rights of women and young girls.
killings of women by male family members are frequent,
as are forced marriages, female genital mutilation
and the gifting of young girls to other families
as a means of settling debts or feuds. Yet, there
is not a word of protest about any of this from
the US or UK governments.
the Darfur region of Sudan, at least 500,000 people
have been butchered by government-backed rebels
during the past few years. Hundreds of thousands
more have been driven from their homes or abducted,
tortured and raped. The UN Security Council, of
which the UK and US governments are leading members,
has done virtually nothing.
Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe poses little or no threat
to neighbouring countries in southern Africa. Even
if he was of a mind to, he probably wouldn't have
the time. He and his regime are too busy butchering
white farmers and imprisoning, killing, raping or
mutilating anyone who opposes them.
Mugabe seized power more than 20 years ago, Zimbabwe
was producing so much food it was known as the breadbasket
of the region. Now, he presides over a nation whose
economy is in tatters, where poverty and unemployment
are endemic and political repression commonplace.
northern Uganda during the past 19 years, an intermittent
civil war has raged during which about 100,000 people
have lost their lives, 20,000 children have been
kidnapped, and about 1.6 million people have had
to flee their homes. Most of the abducted youngsters
have been forced into service as child soldiers.
1999, the Ugandan government invaded the neighbouring
Democratic Republic of Congo and though its troops
officially withdrew in 2002, it has continued to
foment strife by covertly delivering large consignments
of weapons to insurgents based there.
the 1999 invasion, up to five million people have
died in the Democratic Republic of Congo because
of war or its direct consequences, half of them
children under five. The country and its people
have been plundered by neighbouring states for years
West has given only minimal attention to scores
of conflicts on the African continent. Indeed, there
are innumerable places around the world where the
plight of ordinary people suffering appalling brutality
under dangerous, heavily armed regimes, is ignored.
way has to be found where the UN can intervene to
prevent conflict and protect the sovereign rights
of hapless individuals. (Indicating a greater willingness
to do so would be a start.) But invasion and war,
even if logistically possible, are not the answer.
is it acceptable for governments to make bogus claims
on weaponry and use the suffering of others, as
the US and UK did with Iraq, as mere cover for military
adventures and post-colonial domination.
a western coalition does decide to go to war with
Iran, don't let them tell us it has anything to
do with negating a threat or protecting human rights.