The Journal of Pax Christi
|Sanctions - Time to Choose|
“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”Dt. 30:19
“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Gn. 1:31
“Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden.” Gn. 2:8This garden is now a place of death for children - our children. (“He created from one stock every nation” Acts 17:26)
More particularly they are the children of the mothers and fathers of Iraq. No longer can it be said of this place “behold - it is very good!” It has become a place of pollution as the depleted uranium freely distributed by the US and UK governments, blows with dust, is carried by the wind, to deal death by cancer quite indiscriminately.
On August 6th sanctions against Iraq will have been operating for 10 years and have left, amongst other things, a health service devastated and reduced to primitive proportions, unable to cope with even the simplest demands made on it, and you have a scenario not of life but death. The US government has admitted privately that the sanctions policy it is operating has not achieved its goal but, because it is a presidential election year, it prefers to run with a failed policy rather than admit it and have it brought into the arena of election issues. The UK government also privately admits the failure of the sanctions policy but takes its lead from the US on this issue - one wonders what political debt is being paid by our government. The utter heartlessness, inhumanity, and cynicism of the present sanctions policy is deeply shaming especially when we consider that it is the price being paid to enable politicians to “save face” and to either maintain themselves in, or to gain, power.
“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour, for we are all members of one body.”Eph 4:25
Sadly, this is a precept that is not part of the stock in trade of our politicians. Certainly the statements made in the name of the Foreign Office, and in the name of the people of this country, are at odds with the statements and evidence not only of campaigning journalists such as John Pilger and Felicty Arbuthnot, but individuals such as Dennis Halliday, the UN Assistant Secretary General (also a Quaker), who resigned in protest at what he referred to as genocide in Iraq, and Hans von Sponeck, UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Iraq, and head of the World Food Programme in Baghdad, who also resigned in protest. When persons of this calibre and integrity resign and speak out we do well to listen.
The Pope has not been silent on this issue either. For example, in January 1998 he condemned the “pitiless embargo on Iraq” stating that the “weak and the innocent cannot pay for the mistakes for which they are not responsible.” On his visit to India the Pope, speaking about the Iraqi sanctions, called for a just solution “in order that an already sorely tried people may be spared further suffering and sorrow.” Archbishop Gabriel Kassab of Basrah, Iraq, said in 1997, “Epidemics rage, taking away infants and sick by thousands. Those children who survive disease succumb to malnutrition which stunts their physical and mental development. Our situation is unbearable. We appeal to people of conscience to end the blockade of Iraq.” The situation has not improved since then but rather deteriorated.
What can you do about this?
|The NPT Review 2000|
The nuclear states accepted, among “practical steps for the systematic and progressive efforts to implement Article VI of the Treaty”, a new “unequivocal undertaking... to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament to which all States Parties are committed.” While no timetable was suggested, nor any specific steps suggested (such as de-alerting, de-activation and separation of warheads from delivery vehicles), the new declaration is a sign that pressure on the nuclear states is beginning to be felt. Most informed analysts see the 2000 conference as a step forward, despite the obvious obstacles to nuclear disarmament that remain. Among these, the most dangerous is the American determination to go ahead with some form of “National Missile Defence” in clear breach of the ABM treaty. It is still not certain when a decision on this plan is to be taken; it may be postponed until a new President is in office. And it is even less clear what the Americans will do if the Russians refuse to amend the ABM treaty. A new nuclear arms race is threatened if the plan goes ahead without the agreement of Russia and China. “Missile defence” is a particular worry for the Chinese, who have fewer missiles and warheads than the Russians to overwhelm American opposition with, and will be strongly tempted to try to catch up. Part of the problem is “institutional nuclearism” among the strategic elites of the major powers. As Professor Michael McGwire pointed out, at a recent meeting in London, this tendency to think of nuclear weapons as merely normal parts of any major state’s defences, and as normal weapons for influencing policy, has become so ingrained that it is seldom challenged from inside the bureaucracies. Like “institutional racism” it is hard to get rid of because it is so little recognised by the people who can do something about it. Perhaps the long-term effects of the NPT Review, and of the work of the New Agenda coalition, will come in the form of a challenge to the “institutionalised nuclearism” within the decision-making elites of the nuclear states, rather than in the form of any spectacular moves towards nuclear disarmament itself.
|Spreading Pax Christi's work for peac|
July 16th will focus on models of peacemaking through dialogue, conflict resolution and dialogue.
August 13th will focus on nuclear issues and the 10th anniversary of the sanctions against Iraq
September 10th will focus on life-long education for peace and justice Here are examples of ways in which you might capitalise on the Supplement
Frank was really the centre of gravity of the Abolition 2000 movement in this country. He was there from the start and his quiet common sense, immense intellectual ability and willingness to work with others much younger on equal terms were all invaluable. He could be firm but not bossy, sensible about money but not mean and never had a sectarian attitude to other peace organisations. All are part of the whole was his philosophy. He was at much at home with Pugwash as he was with CND. His many letters to the Foreign Office were treated with the greatest respect. A most modest and brave man, in his time as a conscientious objector, his going leaves us without one of our best spokespeople. His example will continue to inspire all who knew him.
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