From Socialist Voice, November 2004

The political establishment puts Irish lives at risk

The recent spate of kidnappings in Iraq and the beheading of some of the victims has been condemned by all right-thinking people across the globe. People have watched their televisions or read their newspapers in horror at the barbarism of these mediaeval obscurantists. These individuals or small groups are no more concerned about the liberation of the Iraqi people from the yoke of occupation than the Pope is in contraception. They have their own agenda; democracy, social progress, equality or national freedom are not included on that agenda.
     The beheading of hostages in Iraq, like the beheading of Soviet soldiers captured in Afghanistan, is their stock in trade. They learnt this trade in the chamber of horrors that is Saudi Arabia, where they studied the art of physical and psychological torture under their Saudi and American CIA masters. They used their training to good effect in their violent struggle against the progressive government in Afghanistan, which eventually resulted in its overthrow and the installation of the Taliban. The United States has always used the policy of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.” This has led to untold misery and destruction for millions of people, has left hundreds of thousands dead. Imperialism has learnt nothing and forgotten nothing; but democratic opinion should learn.
     The two Irish citizens kidnapped in Iraq, Kenneth Bigley and Margaret Hassan, as well as Annetta Flanigan in Afghanistan, are victims of this whole process. Margaret Hassan has lived in Iraq for a long time and has a family there. The other two victims were doing humanitarian work in Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively. Traditionally, Irish humanitarian workers have been well respected and were seen as non-belligerents, coming from a neutral country and from a people who fought a long struggle for national freedom and so must have some understanding of oppression. But not any more.
     We are increasingly seen as part of the problem and not among those working towards a solution. People and groups around the globe are not stupid. They know that Shannon Airport is used by the US Air Force to prosecute the occupation of Iraq. They know that Irish soldiers are in Afghanistan as part of the UN-mandated NATO occupation force; they know that our government is both politically and militarily implicated in Afghanistan.
     Our government cannot stand up and say that we have nothing to do with these conflicts, or that we play no role in them. This is patently untrue: we are now clearly on the side of America’s unilateral aggressive policies. As we pointed out, the “Partnership for Peace” was only the thin end of the wedge, part of the softening-up process to accustom public opinion to military alignment with imperialism.
     There is no such thing as a free lunch. Membership of the EEC and the European Union was always going to lead us to our present position, and our over-reliance on American investment would make us vulnerable to economic and political pressures. The current and all previous governments have always taken the road of least resistance; some have been openly enthusiastic and could not wait to get involved in military adventures. Just like the Redmondites when they favoured home rule, it was not about Irish independence but rather about sitting at the imperial table in London, and proper recompense for services to the empire abroad.
     The political establishment are putting the lives of Irish citizens at risk in their push to cosy up to the powerful elites within the European Union. We are now involved in what is called “peace enforcement”: UN-mandated battle groups. Politically, people still believe that we are neutral, and the government wants to maintain that pretence for as long as possible. But they cannot hide the fact that we are neutral no longer.

Home page  >  Publications  >  Socialist Voice  >  November 2004  >  Political establishment puts Irish lives at risk
Baile  >  Foilseacháin  >  Socialist Voice  >  Samhain 2004  >  Political establishment puts Irish lives at risk