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Year 2001 No. 181, October 24, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

War Is Not a Clean Business

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War Is Not a Clean Business

Calling the Taleban Order "Chaos" and Big Power Intervention "Order"

IRA Statement on Decommissioning Arms

Sinn Féin Welcomes IRA Statement

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War Is Not a Clean Business

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) in a briefing on Monday quoted Tony Blair when speaking in the House of Commons: "War is not a clean business." People could – and did – die during times of conflict. This is a harsh fact of life.

Such words encapsulate the politics of state terror and assassination writ large. "We are acting because we had to act." What is this but the justification for state terrorism? All the pious words about bringing terrorists to justice because they have no regard for the sanctity of human life come tumbling down about the heads of the aggressors in Afghanistan. This is not a proof that the cause is just, but the opposite – an apology for the end justifying the means.

What is the objective of the military intervention in Afghanistan? According to the PMOS, the campaign objectives are: "To bring Bin Laden to justice and to dismantle the Al Qaida network. Given the Taleban’s refusal to hand Bin Laden over, we had therefore had to take military action to achieve that objective." Tell that to Jack Straw who is already writing the future of Afghanistan under big power domination; tell that to President Bush who has signed an order that the CIA can carry out "lethal operations"; tell that to the Afghan people who are suffering a catastrophe of unbelievable proportions. But, officially, the British forces are conducting themselves "in accordance with international law", to bring those responsible for September 11 to account in the US. The "long haul" which may last several years until Anglo-US imperialism is entrenched in Central Asia is only the US acting on the grounds of self-defence.

These statements on behalf of the Prime Minister show how thin is the veneer of justice and high ideals under which the aggression is being conducted. The struggle to stop the war and for a just and peaceful solution is being stepped up, and the Prime Minister and the government have no coherent defence.

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Calling the Taleban Order "Chaos" and Big Power Intervention "Order"

The British government is announcing that it and the other big powers must again take up the "white man’s burden" and "civilising mission" of the imperialists of the 19th century. They will now take on the role of actually creating, or rather recreating, states in "distant and misgoverned parts of the world", such as Afghanistan, on the grounds that "terrorists are strongest where states are weakest".

This is what was immediately noticeable about the keynote speech of Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, delivered to the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London on Monday, October 22, a speech entitled "Order out of Chaos: The Future of Afghanistan".

For Jack Straw and the British government "terrorism" is presented as a consequence of "failed states" where the "monopoly on force is disputed". What is needed therefore, according to this logic, is more intervention by the big powers in order to establish strong states, because "the global system of states cannot function properly where parts of the system have broken down". This, Straw claims, is exactly what has been done in Sierra Leone, Bosnia, Cambodia, Mozambique and elsewhere. This, he says, is what is meant by an "active and engaged global foreign policy". And this is what the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, meant when at the Labour Party Conference he stated, "let us re-order the world this world around us".

Jack Straw is therefore at pains to show that the problem in Afghanistan is the Taleban regime who, it is said, are destroying Afghanistan and starving its people, while apparently it is Britain, the US and the other big powers who want to feed them and rebuild the country. So by turning truth on its head Jack Straw can argue that the bombing of Afghanistan must continue, using the Hitlerite logic that "a pause in the bombing would only prolong the suffering of the Afghan people".

But the British government is already planning for the future of Afghanistan when an economic and political system will be imposed on the country and it will become a mandate of the big powers acting though the UN. Straw even has the arrogance to announce the British government’s "Principles for the Future of Afghanistan" as if it were already the colonial power looking after its trustee. It is almost beyond belief that he can claim that the first principle is "that the future must be placed in the hands of the Afghan people", when everything is being done to make sure that the big powers can impose their will on Afghanistan and its people. Indeed Straw’s second principle "that we need an international coalition for Afghanistan’s future" completely negates this first principle. What is more it is clear that British government has played and is playing a leading role in creating support for the future Afghanistan amongst the big powers at the UN and Afghanistan’s neighbours.

While Britain and the US have largely ignored the UN in launching their "war against terrorism" they now find that it is a suitable vehicle to use to administer the new state in the future and mask their own predatory interests. So Straw’s third principle is that "the UN should play the leading role in any transition", although he is quick to add that he is sure the EU will also play an important role. It is clear to that the British government envisages an army of occupation, also probably in UN colours, in order to effect this transition. Straw’s fourth principle "that we must be prepared to devote the resources and the political will needed to complete the task" indicates that there are plans to invest heavily and occupy Afghanistan for at least 10 years on the grounds that this is necessary for its political and economic reconstruction.

Jack Straw and the British government are claiming that they have a duty to Afghanistan and that "bringing order out of chaos is one of the great tasks of foreign policy for the 21st century", and will be of benefit to all. But the current war and their plans for Afghanistan’s future show that they are totally opposed to the fundamental right of the Afghan people to live in peace and determine their own affairs. The so-called "war against terrorism" and the future occupation of Afghanistan will be used to further the big powers’ strategic and geo-political ambitions in Central Asia. Rather than fighting against terrorism as they claim, the actions of Britain and the US, based on the principle that "might is right" are creating the conditions for even greater instability and disasters for all the peoples of the world in the future.

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IRA Statement on Decommissioning Arms

This is the full text of Tuesday's IRA statement announcing that is has made an unprecedented move to dispose of weaponry.

The IRA is committed to our republican objectives and to the establishment of a united Ireland based on justice, equality and freedom.

In August 1994, against a backdrop of lengthy and intensive discussions involving the two governments and others, the leadership of the IRA called a complete cessation of military operations in order to create the dynamic for a peace process.

"Decommissioning" was no part of that. There was no ambiguity about this. Unfortunately there are those within the British Establishment and the leadership of unionism who are fundamentally opposed to change. At every opportunity they have used the issue of arms as an excuse to undermine and frustrate progress.

It was for this reason that decommissioning was introduced to the process by the British Government. It has been used since to prevent the changes which a lasting peace requires.

In order to overcome this and to encourage the changes necessary for a lasting peace the leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann has taken a number of substantial initiatives.

These include our engagement with the IICD [Independent International Commission on Decommissioning] and the inspection of a number of arms dumps by the two International Inspectors, Cyril Ramaphosa and Martti Ahtisaari.

No one should doubt the difficulties these initiatives cause for us, our volunteers and our support base.

The Political process is now on the point of collapse. Such a collapse would certainly and eventually put the overall peace process in jeopardy.

There is a responsibility upon everyone seriously committed to a just peace to do our best to avoid this.

Therefore, in order to save the peace process we have implemented the scheme agreed with the IICD in August.

Our motivation is clear. This unprecedented move is to save the peace process and to persuade others of our genuine intentions.

Signed: P O'Neill.

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Sinn Féin Welcomes IRA Statement

Speaking after yesterday evening's IRA statement on the arms issue, Gerry Kelly, Sinn Féin member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, said:

"Sinn Féin welcomes this development. It is hugely significant and will be welcomed by those who support the peace process both here and further afield.

"The IRA has taken a courageous initiative to save the peace process.

"This can only be seen as further tangible evidence of the IRA's commitment to the peace process and should be responded to in that manner. This initiative will, in my view, free up all supporters of the Good Friday Agreement to build momentum into the process.

"Peace making, we know, is a very difficult task but this initiative has the capacity to rekindle the hope, vision and expectation of the Good Friday Agreement. It is now up to those with the political responsibility to capitalise on this new situation and show conclusively that politics can work."

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