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IRAQ - The Aftermath. Prospects for Peace and Security

Report of a Day Conference, from Noel Hamel.

All speakers agreed the Iraq war was illegal, and there were inadequate preparations for restoring order and meeting the needs of the Iraqi people after the invasion.
Scott Ritter said the Iraq war was not an 'intelligence' failure; more an 'intelligence' success. War was arranged, and afterwards 'intelligence ' was coaxed to offer enough to construct a supporting fictional case. By 1991 disarmament was effectively achieved, but because of the secrecy of Iraqi security and diplomatic games on both sides, it took until 1995 to ascertain that there were no weapons, and no plans or facilities to make more. The cynical games played out at the United Nations were merely an attempt to give credibility to war plans. But the USA acts above the law, and went ahead despite opposition. He said the UN can never be effective so long as the US holds to that position and has the veto on the Security Council. He reminded us that Bush was 'elected' by about 17% of Americans - just less than VAT!
Glen Rangwala referred to Blair's Sedgefield speech advocating UN changes which would allow him to invade states as he deemed fit in the name of global security. Blair also insisted that decisive military action sends a stern message to the world of would-be terrorists, deterring them and enhancing the image of US and UK. Sampling opinion around the world after Iraq showed sympathy of around 40% for Bin Laden and 1% for Blair and Bush. Hardly a strong case!
Justin Alexander said that Iraq ran up debts to fund its weapons and wars which it was unable to repay. This was a trick by the rich and powerful: grant loans for armaments freely, knowing repayments would allow a controlling influence. Iraqi debt spiralled after Kuwait invasion and sanctions. Repayment deals now require 'opening-up' Iraqi assets for investment. Iraqis will have to pay for all Saddam's sins plus the US and UK's.
John Sloboda spoke of the outrageous disinterest in Iraqi deaths and explained Iraqi Body Count 's difficulties in piecing together information for accurate estimates. It is a tale of grisly, unrelenting carnage resulting from War, sanctions, protest and lawlessness. The deaths in one year alone amounted to more than 50 years of Saddam's 'terminations'.
Other speakers described the outrages of Belmarsh and Guantanamo, and of promises to Palestine in 1991 and 2003, of abuses, violence and killings of Iraqis by US and UK forces, and of the ruined chaos which is 'liberated' Iraq today. Iraq is bankrupt, and lacks basic amenities such as provisions for health and education, reliable clean water, electricity and petroleum, which latter Haliburton ships in from Kuwait at a good profit.
All expressed concern about prospects for Iraqi self-government and believe true democracy (which would oppose occupation and military bases) is unlikely at present.
Blair wants to draw a line, but the Iraq problem will not go away. For Iraqis it is not yesterday's news. Alice Mahon remarked that MPs who opposed the war are considered troublesome. Blair actually blames them for the unpopularity of the invasion!
At lunch a presentation described the World Social Forum in Mombai, India, where thousands attended in friendship to discuss the issues of poverty and deprivation, neo-liberal economics and globalisation. They concluded that 'another world is possible'. We all think so too.