Ignorance is Strength!
Tomorrow, I'm going to be out there again, on the streets of Edinburgh. This will be a smaller march - it's not been publicised as well - but we don't want to let the pressure drop. This time we're going to be surrounding the Scottish Parliament in an effort to persuade them not to support the impending war in Iraq. Signs have sprung up all over the city - in shop windows, on churches, in bus shelters and on lampposts - with the simple slogan "don't attack Iraq". This is a country dead set against the war, despite warnings from the Prime Minister that we will have blood on our hands. His assertion is that war is peace; George Orwell would either be proud or spinning in his grave. (This may be an interesting solution to the oil crisis: perform cultural atrocity after cultural atrocity and attach the world's dead artists and thinkers to a generator. Justin Timberlake on his own might be able to power the west coast.)
Right now, I'm either preaching to the converted, in which case you've seen far better written, more concisely laid-out justifications for the peace movement, or you're rolling your eyes and complaining about the bloody liberals. We're a bunch of peaceniks, hippies who don't really understand the world situation and don't see far enough into the future. These are accusations that have been pointed at me just recently, and I think the anti-war movement hasn't done enough to dispel them. At least, not in the right places.
Therefore, I'd like you to listen to me for a minute. Hear what we have to say, because we hold the following to be truths. If you would like to respond, please send me a message or post something to the discussion board. We would love to listen to your point of view, and we would love to debate with you.
We are not in league with Saddam Hussein; he is, doubtless, an evil man. Apparently, one is either pro-war or pro-Saddam; this is the kind of thinking we've been subjected to recently. This is a black-and-white, blinkered vision that suggests these are the only two possibilities. They're not - I'd like to hold that regime change can be effected without actually bombing his country into lots of little pieces. Apparently we're attacking the people of Iraq in order to stop Saddam from attacking the people of Iraq, which is a genius piece of logic. I suggest that once this war is over, we derail the neo-Nazi movement by rounding up the Jews, or stop North Korea from starting a nuclear war by nuking it. Or, we could find a way to remove the regime from power without killing the people we're supposed to be protecting.
In case you've forgotten, America later admitted that the so-called precision bombing in the first Gulf War didn't live up to its name; orphanages, hospitals were blown up. Since then, sanctions have ensured that the sick can't get the medicine they need and are essentially left for dead.
Many Americans apparently believe that Iraq is a very real threat to their own soil. This is bollocks of the highest degree; the infamous al-Samoud missiles, which admittedly do exceed the allowed range of 93 miles, still only have a maximum distance of approximately 115 miles. This is not enough to hit the United States or even Israel - and the entire stock of missiles is being destroyed regardless. (Kuwait is within range.) The only real threat is from a terrorist carrying a suitcase bomb or similar onto British or American soil, or from an action similar to the events of September 11th 2001, and a military action isn't going to prevent these. It may, in fact, provoke them, particularly as these are likely to be undertaken by fundamentalist groups rather than national governments - and the only short-term solution is to be vigilant. A long term solution might be to remove the provocation for these acts to begin with; it might be worth actually being a responsible member of the international community. Yeah, we'd like that.
It should be pointed out that for the most part, we're not peaceniks or even pacifists. It's not like no war ever is going to be acceptable or justifiable; many people were in favour of even the Falklands War and actions in Afghanistan. These aren't hippies or crazy students out on the streets, these are everybody. On February 15, I was walking alongside elderly women, young professionals, bus drivers, writers, celebrities, taxmen, civil servants. People from all walks of life were out there, and even if you discount the views of the Hollywood stars or the musicians who are speaking out against the war, you can't ignore the wide range of people or their sheer numbers. We're not just unconvinced that this war should go ahead, we're adamant that it shouldn't.
Perhaps our minds could be changed by some actual facts. Nobody has managed to prove a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda, which is ostensibly the reason for attacking the country in the first place. In fact, a tape apparently from Bin Laden himself appears to discredit the Iraqi regime; this has so far been unexplained. Very little has been explained - ignorance, apparently, is strength. Another Orwellism.
Until then? We're on the streets. We're on the TV, in the radio, we're singing songs and reciting plays. We're dancing, we're shouting. Anything to keep our cause current, to keep it in the air, at least in the backs of everyone's minds. In Edinburgh, we're surrounding the Scottish Parliament tomorrow. We'll be back, in Glasgow, in London, in Washington D.C., in New York and in San Francisco. You won't be allowed to just switch off the TV or log off the Internet, make yourself a cup of coffee and forget. Not this time.
Benjamin is, once again, not feeling satirical.