War: unlikely opposition + costs

The latest from Peace Movement Aotearoa


Kia ora,

Opposition to the invasion of Iraq is coming from unexpected sources
according to reports received this morning, with George Bush I warning his
warmongering son about the dangers of unilateral action - see "Bush Sr
warning over unilateral action"
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/printFriendly/0,,1-5570-605770,00.html

In Britain, the Guardian reports that Tony Blair is facing the opening of
floodgates to a catastrophic rebellion in his own ranks, as Clare Short
said she would quit the cabinet if there was no second UN resolution
supporting war in Iraq. "In comments which were frank even by her
standards, she said she feared the prime minister was being
"extraordinarily reckless" with the future of the government." See "Short
spearheads rebellion with threat to quit over war" at
http://politics.guardian.co.uk/foreignaffairs/story/0,11538,911064,00.html
Excerpts of an interview with her are at
http://politics.guardian.co.uk/foreignaffairs/story/0,11538,911126,00.html

This follows on from the reports last week that the British Attorney
General, Lord Goldsmith, may resign because his advice to the British
government is being ignored.

"Tony Blair's political dilemmas over a possible military attack on Iraq
increased today, with reports that the government's attorney general may
resign if Britain goes to war without clear authorisation from the United
Nations. Legal opinion varies on the basis for war under resolution 1441,
but yesterday Cherie Booth's own legal chambers, Matrix, advised there was
no authority for war without an unambiguous fresh resolution. Now it has
emerged that there are fears within the government's legal service about
the exact provisions of international law for a US-UK attack."

The full article "Fresh resolution 'gives no authority for war'" is
available at
http://politics.guardian.co.uk/foreignaffairs/story/0,11538,908157,00.html
The Matrix briefing is at http://www.cnduk.org/briefing/opinion2.htm See
also "War on Iraq not justified under international law " Gould" at
http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,2306614a8213,00.html

And the Independent on Sunday (9 March) published an editorial which could
not have sent a clearer message to Tony Blair ...

"You do not have the evidence. You do not have UN approval. You do not have
your country's support. You do not have your party's support. You do not
have the legal right. You do not have the moral right. You must not drag
Britain into Bush's unjust and unnecessary war." Independent on Sunday, for
full text see
http://argument.independent.co.uk/leading_articles/story.jsp?story=385308

Meanwhile, across the Tasman, John Howard returned to Australia to strong
criticism from families of people killed in the Bali bombing because of his
comments linking the Bali bombing with the case for war on Iraq - see
"Unrepentant PM won't budge" at
http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/03/10/1047144923204.html

While the British and US governments scurry about making "concessions" to
seek a "compromise" to achieve their aim of a pretence of Security Council
authorisation for the invasion of Iraq - see for example "Britain and US
spell out steps to avoid attack" at
http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,911070,00.html - the
Russian government announced yesterday it would veto any such resolution,
and this morning Chirac has said France would vote against any resolution
that contains an ultimatum leading to war ``no matter what the
circumstances.'' See "Ivanov delivers warning" at
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,911484,00.html and France Will
Vote Against Iraq Resolution at
http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-2470120,00.html
Pakistan has also announced it will not back such a resolution see
http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-2469844,00.html

The fraudulence of the US government's self-declared role as upholders of
peace, democracy and international law has been further exposed by new
reports of the torture of Afghani prisoners - see for example Duncan
Campbell's article "Afghan prisoners beaten to death at US military
interrogation base - 'Blunt force injuries' cited in murder ruling" at
http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,909164,00.html

The US military's plans to use CS gas and other chemical weapons in Iraq
have been condemned by the Red Cross in recent days, see
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/story.jsp?story=385283 And of
course the US government is not the only government guilty of gross
hypocrisy in their planned invasion of Iraq - last week the Guardian
revealed that the chemical plant which the US says is a key component in
Iraq's chemical warfare arsenal was secretly built by Britain in 1985 - see
"Britain's dirty secret" at
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,908426,00.html


* Costs of the war

As well as the the appalling human cost of this war on the people of Iraq
(and perhaps the region if it escalates), the threat to international peace
and security, and the damage to future prospects of resolving conflict
peacefully, the priorities of the warmongering governments are evident
through even a cursory look at the figures involved.

"With a war against Iraq perhaps days away, the world's richest governments
have given the United Nations barely a quarter of the funds its agencies
have asked for to deal with the expected humanitarian catastrophe. "We made
an updated appeal for $120m (75m) in February and have so far received
$30m (18.75m)," Elizabeth Byrs, the Geneva spokesperson for the UN Office
for the Coordination of Humanitarian Activities (Unocha), said yesterday. "
See "West's failure to donate humanitarian aid threatens catastrophe for
millions" at
http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,910816,00.html

Aside from the fact that "the expected humanitarian catastrophe" could so
easily be avoided; figures such as those above are a drop in the bucket
compared with just the US government's military expenditure -

"The Bush administration's war on terrorism and its proposed military
intervention in Iraq have sparked the steepest increases in military and
security spending in two decades:

Since September 11, 2001, the president has requested, and Congress has
approved, over $110 billion in increases in military spending and military
aid. The military budget has jumped from $329 billion in FY 2001 to over
$380 billion in FY 2003 (see Table I, below). In addition to these
increases in regular appropriations, the Pentagon has received over $30
billion in emergency and supplemental funding, and Congress has authorised
roughly $3 billion in new military and security aid for US allies in the
war on terrorism.

Spending on homeland security has doubled, from $18 billion to $38 billion
per year, and a new Department of Homeland Security has been created.

The cost of the war in Afghanistan is at $15 to $20 billion so far.
Independent estimates of the costs of a potential war with Iraq put the
price tag at $100 billion or more. ("War Without End? The Costs of the New
Military Buildup", William Hartung, February 2003. All figures are in US$. )

Recent articles on the Pentagon's "shock and awe" war plans talk of "3,000
Tomahawk missiles in 48 hours for Baghdad alone; Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's
birthplace and power base, to be razed; six kilos of ordnance for every
Iraqi". See for example "Allied bombs threaten a new generation of children
with trauma, disease and death" at
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=385533

In 2001, the unit cost of each Tomahawk cruise missile was US$2.5 million ...

And last week the Guardian reported the British Chancellor of the Exchequer
had signed a "blank cheque" for the invasion of Iraq - see
http://politics.guardian.co.uk/foreignaffairs/story/0,11538,907672,00.html

Strange how there's no limit on spending for maiming, killing and
destruction; and an apparent inability to link that, and the lack of
political will to spend anything even remotely approaching these sums on
real peace and security, with the root causes of "terrorism".


Links to more articles and statements are available on the "Stop killing
the people" of Iraq web page http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/iraqa.htm which
is currently being updated every Monday and Thursday.


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                             Peace Movement Aotearoa
                  the national networking peace organisation
            PO Box 9314, Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand
        Tel +64 4 382 8129, fax 382 8173 email pma@xtra.co.nz
              PMA website - http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/
Not in Our Name - http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/nionnz.htm
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