"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Dear Madam,

Patrick D Goggin of the so-called "Anti-anti-war Movement" has had the chance to make his views abundantly clear in yesterday's Irish Times, in doing so he has insulted those who oppose the invasion and occupation of a foreign country for several valid reasons, even excluding the very obvious moral one, which he describes as the "the universal abhorrence to war." This, however, touches only the surface of what makes war so repulsive. Mr. Boyd-Barret's search to inform readers of information that they may not have been privy to, was wrongfully described as a hunt for applause. A mean feat for any writer, especially in these esteemed circles.

From here on in, Mr. Goggin aims, actins as lead prosecutor, to put the case forward that, Mr. Boyd-Barret is not just an attention seeker, but a traitor to his country. An unusual claim to make in these circumstances, although it may be simpler to make this charge against Mr. Goggin...

In recent un-free and un-fair elections, Iraqis took to the violent streets in an attempt to gain independence through a democratic vote. In this vote, which excluded a large proportion of the electorate, they voted in huge numbers for a party which made the promise to expel the occupying forces. This promise has subsequently been rescinded. This "first" step towards democratic government, under the watchful eye of the US and it's partners is not, however, the very first step. Towards the end of the first Gulf War, people across Iraq initiated a large uprising, in the belief it was supported by the US. The reality was that no support was given and the rebels were viciously crushed by the "venegeful despot".

In the lead up to the present, and on-going, war Colin Powell made a famous, although forgotten in the mainstream media, speech to the world. In this speech, he made a case for war based on solid, unquestionable evidence that Saddam possessed stock piles of WMDs, which he could and would use against the west. This has been found to be emphatically false.

If one was to study the testimony of every weapons inspector involved in Iraq's disarmament one would find the idea that Saddam possessed WMDs about as likely as a grown man suffering severe facial injuries as a result of eating a pretzel.

The real traitor is the man who knowingly allows his country to participate in a program that predicts the death of thousands of innocent people.

Yours sincerely,

In response to:

Madam, - Having joined in celebration with an Iraqi family friend, glad that Iraq has taken its brave first step on the road to democratic government, I found it galling to see the so-called "Anti-war Movement" still looking for applause (Richard Boyd-Barrett, again, March 14th).

The anti-war case rested on two pillars, one sound and one rotten. The sound pillar is the universal abhorrence of war. There is simply no Kantian categorical imperative that in all places and at all times war is not an option. Yet the more light we see at the end of the Iraqi tunnel the harder the anti-war movement has to dig for dirt to throw at the American effort, as in "book reviews" where the books seem to have been chosen by smell.

The other pillar, despite repetition, is founded on a lie. It is a lie to say that Bush or Blair lied to their people on the decision to go to war. They did exactly what they were elected to do, to take that awesome decision on the basis of available intelligence. Their duty was to ensure the security of their people. How much time could they allow Saddam before he became a lethal threat to the West? They were not fools, nor criminals.

Intelligence is never 100 per cent, and there can always be disagreement at different levels within the intelligence community (ignorantly offered as "evidence" of the "lie"). Information is processed into intelligence over six stages including evaluating sources, collating with known pieces and assessing operational value. It is not military accountancy, adding up "facts" to arrive at a mathematical bottom line. The jigsaw is never complete. Intelligence is not a science; it is an art calling for a judgment.

Saddam was a key factor in the intelligence estimate. All 15 members of the UN Security Council believed him to be a danger. He had WMD, which he had used against his own people and over 12 years failed to co-operate with the UN. He could easily have hidden chemical or biological WMD in a desert country as big as France. (In this small island 10,000 gardaĆ­, who speak the language and know the people and places intimately, cannot find large arms dumps over 30 years). He also used terrorism, giving fortunes to the families of suicide bombers. The simplistic idea that secular Baathists and religious Jihadis could not co-operate has since been exploded in numerous suicide bombings. His previous "form" as a mass murderer and his unbalanced, bitter, anti-Western mind burning with desire for revenge after the first Gulf War made him a ticking time bomb.

The democratic leader has to live with uncertainty and accept his unavoidable responsibility to provide an operational decision based on the available advice of his military and political staffs. This is in full awareness that he might be wrong. If there was no danger of being wrong, then it would not be a problem and anyone, including Mr Boyd-Barrett, could have taken it. But this awesome responsibility is the political leader's alone, not the media or street agitators, however much entitled they are to their opinions.

However, once his country is at war, is a reporter who provides comfort for the enemy and undermines the morale of his own army in the field, a traitor, a 21st- century Lord Haw-Haw? - Yours, etc.,

Glenageary Woods,
Dun Laoghaire,
Co Dublin.