Friday, March 21, 2003

Iraq Spinning out of control sent by Helen McLaughlin

My immediate concern about this war is about how it will affect civilians in Iraq. But I have a deep concern about the long term consequences of the US and UK going against the will of the UN. It has been bad enough to watch Tony Blair act as the palatable, smiling "reasonable" face of the monkey in the White House. It has been bad enough to watch them falling over themselves to start a war. But the thing that concerns me most of all is the way in which the US and UK have turned the blame for all of this on the UN itself for a failure of process. The UN has a process for agreeing military action, and all members of the Security Council agree that it is important for a veto option to be in place for permanent members, precisely to temper action in controversial situations. Indeed, the US has used the veto itself on at least 34 occasions (largely to block resolutions against Israel). I did not hear the US or UK declare this to be a failure of the UN process, but I am quite sure that on the contrary, the US welcomed the opportunity to block actions it could not support. Other members of the Security Council may well have been frustrated by the US veto on many occasions, but the process was upheld as one that they had all agreed to. Now, when France exercises its democratic right to veto, it is spun by the UK and US as a failure of the UN process. The spin says that because France threatened a veto, this forced them to take military action - surely the opposite is in fact the case - that a veto from a respected permanent member of the security council required them rather to back away from military action, and to seek alternative solutions. While France has its own case to answer for supplying weapons to Iraq along with US and UK in the past, this spin against France is entirely cynical. I have been dismayed and disgusted by the way this has been spun - the better Tony Blair & co get at spinning words around to suit their own ends the more certain I become that they are not to be trusted. It must equally dismay the Security Council to be told that Resolution 1441 constituted an approval for war, when the US ambassador, in order to cajole members into supporting the resolution, described it as having no "automaticity" or "trigger" for military action. Words are spoken, then the spin is applied with hindsight to render them lies at worst, meaningless at best. It is difficult to trust what you hear these days. The war on Iraq is wrong.