Derry City Council to Vote against War

D OC donaloc at
Wed Jan 29 09:29:00 MST 2003

Cllr Gerry MacLochlainn Address to Derry City Council
28 January 2003
For Immediate Use

We meet tonight to discuss a range of matters that have a direct effect on
the quality of life here in the Derry City Council area. This motion may
appear to be beyond that scope and arguably pointless if we consider the
size of the forces lining up for this imminent war.
But I think it is not just right but timely and highly relevant that Derry
City Council adds our voice, on behalf of the people of this City Council
area, to the growing peace movement in the hope that this headlong rush to
war can be halted.
It is right to do this because the case for invasion has not been made and
it is relevant because the needs of our community cannot be considered in a
vacuum as if this war and its aftermath will not affect the health, safety
and wealth of our people for generations to come.
President Bush and British Prime Minister Blair are pressing the case for
war with breathtaking dishonesty. We are served a mixture of lurid tales
about Al Qaeda, September 11th, asylum seekers, evil and rogue states acting
in defiance of the United Nations, supporting and being supported by a
network of terrorists all over the world just waiting to release dangerous
chemical or biological weapons on us all if we do not prosecute this war
without mercy.
The dishonesty is breathtaking – as I said – because a cursory examination
of the history of the Middle East over the past number of decades tells a
sorry story of the world’s major powers playing favourites among various
corrupt and unrepresentative regimes and brutal dictators at the expense of
local people there.
The predictable consequence of playing fast and loose with people lives is
the spiral of violence and counter-violence in the Middle East, which has
struck out beyond that region on occasions.
Whether it is the hijacking of planes in the 1970’s by Black September or
the kidnap and murder of Israel’s opponents by that country’s intelligence
forces, or the growth of Islamic fundamentalism and its atrocious September
11th massacre, the end result is the same increasingly cruel and unstable
conflicts while the West plays favourites among a range of savage and brutal
Saudi Arabia – the incubator for Osama Bin Laden and his followers is a
long-term ally of the United States and Britain despite its brutal human
rights record, including the torture and murder of political opponents who
dare to criticise the medieval monarchy there or commit the crime of being
Pakistan, the base for the infamous Taleban as it launched attacks on the
Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan, remains a close ally for the US despite
its ongoing nuclear programme and atrocious human rights record. Even Osama
Bin Laden was armed with strategic weapons from western stockpiles in
defiance of international law when he fought the Soviet Union. Of course
once the Soviet Union collapsed the Taleban regime, now surplus to
requirements, was cast aside by its former allies.
Throughout this whole time Israel continued to openly and blatantly defy
United Nations Resolutions, (more than 130 at the last count), continued to
pursue a nuclear, chemical and biological programme, going so far as to
kidnap one of its own citizens in Italy and illegally transport him back to
Israel for daring to spill the beans on its illegal arms programme.
Israel remains in occupation of Palestinian territories and as recently as
this weekend the Israeli military killed 12 Palestinians as they invaded
Gaza. Settlers continue to grab Palestinian land and natural resources with
the full backing of the Israeli regime which is bankrolled to the tune of
billions of dollars every year.
So it is clear that it is not illegal weapons of mass destruction that is at
issue, it is not the abuse and murder of political opponents and ethnic or
other sections of a population that is at stake nor is it the invasion of
your neighbour’s territory or defiance of the United Nations. If you are on
the side of the US you may do any and all of these. Indeed, the US and
Britain may even help you.
Iraq’s problem is that it is the home of the second largest oil reserves in
the world today. Iraq has at least 112 Bn barrels second only to Saudi
Arabia’s 256 Bn barrels.
We all know that this war is about Western control of oil and that it has
nothing to do with Saddam’s alleged possession of weapons of mass
destruction. Quite apart from the fact that the bulk of all this was
supplied to Iraq by the west for use against Iran after the fall of the Shah
we are advised that Saddam has little if any of this left since the last
Speaking in San Diego last Monday, Scott Ritter, a former Marine
Intelligence Officer and Chief Weapons Inspector for the UN Special
Commission from 1991 to 1998, made clear that nearly all of Iraq’s chemical,
biological and nuclear weapons were accounted for and destroyed four years
ago and that the discovery last week of empty warheads by U.N. inspectors in
Iraq is minor and is more of an accounting question than a threat. He
resigned his UN post, in part, because he said weapons inspectors were being
used to justify the Desert Fox bombing campaign against Iraq.
The same scenario appears to be repeating itself. The threatened invasion
has nothing to do with the treatment of the Kurds who can be sure of at
least one outcome of this war that they will not be getting their right to
national self-determination. The US and Turkey have already agreed that the
territorial integrity of Iraq will be maintained in the aftermath of the
war, so no Kurdish state.
This is a squalid grab for wealth more in keeping with 19th Century
Imperialism than any attempt to build a consistent and just world order. It
is wrong and we should make it clear that we want no part of it.
Here in Ireland we see a huge groundswell against war, in line with our
tradition of opposition to involvement in military blocs and taking sides in
international conflicts. But the Irish Government, despite its promise to
uphold this principle, has allowed US military personnel and equipment to
pass through Shannon in transit to the Middle East. This is unacceptable and
we should express our opposition to this and in support of Irish neutrality.
In this we are not alone. Opinion throughout the world is deeply hostile to
this adventure. In the US it is evident that Opinion Pollsters have been
unable to find more than 15% in the US prepared to give a carte blanche to
the Bush administration. Throughout Europe, including Britain we can witness
huge mobilisations of people attempting to stop the invasion.
The Northern Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has reaffirmed
its opposition to a unilateral decision by the US, or a bi-lateral one with
the UK, to go to war in violation of International Law.
The Northern Committee is encouraging its affiliates and working people
across the North of Ireland to attend the Anti War Rally in Belfast on
Saturday 15 February 2003 coinciding with rallies in major cities throughout
the world.
I appeal to everyone to support this call and join that demonstration in
Belfast to oppose this military action.

“That Derry City Council opposes the drive towards war on the Iraqi people,
a war that now appears imminent.

We call on both US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony
Blair to reverse their military build-up in the region so as to allow the UN
arms inspectors to carry out the job they were mandated to do.

We call on the Dublin Government to cease the practise of allowing US
military personnel to land and refuel at Shannon Airport. This is in direct
contradiction to their stated policy of remaining neutral at a time of
international conflict.

We call on all those involved to co-operate fully with the United Nations so
as to avoid a war, which will further destabilise the Middle East.”


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