Monday 14 April 2003

Cheering crowds don't make an unjust war right

In 1970 I was in the streets with hundreds of thousands screaming for joy the day Idi Amin came to power

by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown It is not just the vulgar, premature bawdiness of pro-war triumphalists which I find revolting. It is that they accuse anti-war people of being uncaring about the people of Iraq, and the lack of concern that these proponents of war show for the bodies of the killed and those maimed and injured by their invasion.

No, I still don't believe we should surrender our independence and foreign policy to become an abject satellite led by the US-ruling cabal into killing thousands of Iraqis (we will never be told the true extent of the humanitarian disaster) to find no weapons of mass destruction and to replace a megalomaniac ruling elite with a megalomaniac, vainglorious Hyperpower. Yes, Saddam Hussein is gone and, for Iraqis (except the innocent families of his supporters), that is deliverance. But at what cost – present and future? And with what consequences – foreseen and unplanned?

Overexcited warniks (a great word launched by the incandescent, still anti-war novelist Julian Barnes) will not get the awe, shock and surrender they seek from me or the millions who still believe this invasion is a travesty. Most black, Asian and Muslim Britons I have spoken to feel this too. I said the war was "not going well" two weeks ago. Military victory was always assured – the sheer inequality of weaponry made that inevitable. But campaigners against this action did not believe we couldn't beat Iraq, rather we shouldn't.

I wrote that the Americans were receiving no "overwhelming welcome" and that is still true. That statue in Baghdad was pulled down by US troops with around 200 Iraqis as extras. Warniks feel vindicated and are foolishly cheering with all of Rupert Murdoch's outlets. But that is no reason to subscribe to such delusions.

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