This morning I wrote a letter to Nigel Griffiths, MP for Edinburgh South. Then, while we were out shopping this afternoon, I hand delivered the letter to his constituency office. Mr Griffiths himself wasn't there at the time, but his assistant assured me that he would get the letter when he was back in the office this afternoon, and that he would be writing to all concerned constituents who had contacted him. Sounds good. I'm interested to see what his position is.
I've attached the text of the letter below.
Dear Mr Griffiths,
I am writing to you to explain how I feel about the possibility of war with Iraq.
Along with many other people across Britain and across the world, I am dismayed at the idea of the US and Britain initiating war against Iraq. Saddam Hussein's regime is demonstrably brutal and cruel. This is not a reason to go to war, for otherwise Britain would right now be taking stronger action against Zimbabwe. Just because his regime may be developing nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, we should not go to war. Other nations have tried to acquire the same capabilities (and even succeeded in doing so), and yet we have not taken "pre-emptive action" against them. Saddam Hussein himself may even be "evil", yet how many dictators have been considered evil in the last fifty years, yet were not ousted by Western forces?
What Saddam Hussein is not, is stupid or insane. When his army invaded Kuwait, he did so for local political and economical reasons. When Western forces combined to repulse Iraq from Kuwait, we did so as a response to invasion and war. Nations start wars because they think they can gain political and economical advantage by doing so. Nations that start wars are considered aggressors, and are judged harshly by both history and their peers.
The US has many reasons to attack Iraq, but the threat of terrorism is one of the least significant of these. Vendetta, control over oil supplies, and a collective urge to lash out at someone are far more important to the US right now.
If the US really wants to stop terrorist attacks on its soil, it should address the root cause of these attacks. This is simply the answer to the question, "why do people hate the USA?"
Many Americans find it hard to even believe the fact that people hate them, and so are unwilling to think about why this is the case. Yet the reasons for this hatred are plain, and were highly visible again recently at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. The USA is an 800lb gorilla, and can do whatever it likes without consequences. It is so big that it doesn't have to co-operate with other countries, or even pay attention to what they think. There is nothing that other, poorer countries can do that would affect the USA, and so the USA does not have to listen to their grievances.
Correction: there was nothing that other countries could do to make the US listen. The terrorist attacks last year proved that there is something that can be done to make America sit up and take notice.
It is right and just that the perpetrators of these attacks be found and punished for their crimes. Bombing their homes, and killing their families and people who had nothing to do with the attacks, is not a measured response. It is not moral: it is evil. Do we lock up a man's wife because he has committed a crime? Does the US put a man's son to death because he has been convicted of a capital crime?
And it is not the only possible response. After all, did Britain invade Ireland during the IRA's terrorist bombing campaigns? What was it that eventually put a stop to virtually all the Northern Irish terrorist strikes? Was it the presence of British forces on the streets of Belfast, or was it the peace process, the Northern Ireland Assembly, and a consensus of reconciliation and justice?
If Britain had attacked Ireland, the international community would have condemned us and struck us down for crimes against humanity.
And now, the US is in a similar position. Mr Blair's rhetoric says that we must now support such an act of obscene violence. We must not support such an action: we must oppose. All our strength may not be enough to stop the US from going ahead with their military action, but we need not be a part of it. If one's brother is about to commit a crime, does one help him, or try to stop him?
Mr Griffiths, I urge you to oppose British military action against Iraq as part of the supposed "War against Terrorism". We cannot condone terrorism, but the way to end it is not through a vicious spiral of violence. Terrorists are extremists whose actions shout loudly, because they believe that the moderate voices cannot--and will not--be heard. The only way to end terrorism is to listen closely to those moderate voices, and to address their grievances through a consistent and considerate programme of social justice.