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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Killer Peaceniks

No war in Iraq they said, but what about the murders here?

Henry McDonald • The Observer, 13 April 2003

Mid-afternoon on Wednesday the phone rang and a jubilant Iraqi started crying down the other end of the line. He was watching his fellow countrymen and American Marines pull down the statue of Saddam Hussein in central Baghdad.

It was Khalid Ibrahim on the phone, an Iraqi Kurd who has studied in Dublin since he fled his homeland in 1991. Khalid rang not only to celebrate the end of the Baath regime but also to tell me that the following day he and other Iraqi exiles would be marching in Dublin.

On Thursday this band made a small piece of Irish history. The Iraqis would head up the first ever parade through Dublin to the British Embassy in Ireland, not in anger but rather in deep gratitude.

'We are marching to thank the British and later the Americans for this liberation,' a breathless Khalid cried down the phone. 'Today our people are free.'

And then a note of anger entered his voice, not against Saddam and his thugs but rather towards those in Ireland whom he believes tried to prevent his country from being freed from tyranny. The Iraqi exile reserved most of his venom for the Irish anti-war movement.

How must this man have felt over the last few weeks and months when he strolled through the Old World charm of Trinity? What was he thinking when he witnessed the anti-war posters, the impromptu student demonstrations, the rantings and ravings of ageing leftists, veterans of other, older anti-war struggles, hanging out with people 30 years younger than them, drinking from the fountain of revolutionary youth? Sick no doubt and perhaps also a little despondent that Iraq's best chance for freedom since 1979 would be stopped; not by Saddam's reputed so-called elite Republican Guard but rather through the selfish force of Western public opinion.

Khalid needn't have worried. Bush and Blair, and more importantly, the Iraqi people themselves have paid no attention to the not-in-my-name narcissi.

No one with a heart could have taken any comfort in the prosecution of this short but bloody war. The sight of the young boy in Baghdad, in deep distress, threatening to commit suicide unless he is given new prosthetic arms is particularly heart-breaking. One hopes the Americans and/or the British spend as much resources looking after this young victim for the rest of his life, as they will with their own wounded and maimed.

But the official Iraqi figures for civilian casualties (that is the official figures of the ancien régime ) are interesting. They estimate that around 1,000 civilians were killed (1,000 too many) in this brief but conventional conflict.

Amazingly Northern Ireland's squalid little war, fought over a tiny piece of earth, prosecuted against a relatively smaller population, resulted in far more civilian casualties. It is worth remembering that some of those republican groupings allied to the Irish anti-war movement were responsible along with the loyalists for those totally unnecessary civilian deaths.

For those who don't get the irony of that, just recall that in one day alone 5,000 men, women and children were gassed to death by Saddam's forces in Halabja.

Another striking aspect of this three-week war to liberate Iraq has been the level of abuse heaped on those who supported ordinary Iraqis' right to be free. The violence of the language of the Irish peaceniks in print, on the airwaves and across cyberspace, has been in sharp contrast to their protestations of peace. The insults they hurled were often menacing and sometimes threatening. 'Pond scum' was just one label attached to this writer by these new proponents of peace, love and understanding - albeit peace, love and understanding only with dictatorships.

None of this really matters, particularly to those of us in this profession who have to face loyalist death threats on a regular basis and who witnessed at first hand the horror of war from Lebanon to Bosnia. The nasty jibes and name-callings of a few students and Trots will hardly inflict much long-term hurt.

It does matter, however, that the Irish anti-war movement has once again got it so wrong when it comes to the attitudes of ordinary Iraqis over their support for the invasion. They patronised Iraqis who supported military action and at times insulted them, as in the case of Tony Benn accusing one Iraqi woman who dared remonstrate with him of being a CIA stooge.

Like the Baath dictatorship, the Irish branch of the Saddam Hussein Preservation Society is going out of business, exposed as it has been for being morally vacuous and pig ignorant. To redeem themselves, even at the endgame of this conflict, they could issue an apology to Khalid Ibrahim and his fellow exiles. But given their arrogant dismissal of the facts on the ground in what was once Saddam's torture chamber, the chance of such an apology is hardly likely to be forthcoming.




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.
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Index: Current Articles

14 April 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Maghaberry Update


"We Won The Peace, Now Let's Win The War"

PRO, POWs, Maghaberry


"In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash"

Paul Fitzsimmons


Killer Peaceniks
Henry McDonald


Hillsborough and the Anglo-American Agreement to Wage War
Anthony McIntyre


An English View of the 'Ra
Eamonn McCann


In the Swim with Two Boys
Seaghan O Murchu


A Better World Without Him

Anthony McIntyre


Arrogant Propaganda
Paul de Rooij


11 April 2003


Critique of the Anti War Movement

Liam O'Ruairc


A Diversion from the Task
Eoin O'Broin


Bush and Blair Summon the Irish Contras...
Anthony McIntyre


Not Firm Ground But Wet Sand: Prevaricating for Peace

Paul Fitzsimmons


Irish Leaders Miss Chance to Speak Out Against War
Eamon Lynch


London Update


Baghdad: First They Cheered and Then They...
Anthony McIntyre


America's Dual Mission

M. Shahid Alam


War: It Already Started
Paul de Rooij


Lacking Credibility
Bert Ward




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