US-led invasion of Iraq
Madam, - The anti-war protesters have demonstrated the blatant hypocrisy of the Irish people. For over 30 years we allowed terrorists to be based in the Irish Republic and commit heinous crimes in the North. Now, when the Governments allow the US military to use Shannon, we are indignant and apparently ashamed to be associated with the actions of the US.
For over 30 years, the approach of the Irish Republic was to be grossly ineffective against terrorists. How many times did court proceedings fail, extraditions get cancelled on a technicality? Many of the serial murders along the border counties can be traced to a few terrorists. The murders stopped when they were jailed for a few years, and started again when they were let out, and so on.
There was never any real attempt to crush these terrorists. No Irish government attempted internment or other serious measures to remove these murderers from our society. Of the 2,139 murdered by the IRA, 636 were civilians. The relatives of these dead must be really pleased to know that we are much more concerned about the Iraqi people than we ever were about the Northern Irish people.
There are plenty of protests and organisations against the Iraqi war, yet there were never any mass protests against the senseless slaughter committed repeatedly by terrorists using the Republic as a base. There were no groups of lawyers against the IRA or doctors against the IRA, as there are now against the Iraqi war.
At least the Government is consistent. It never had the courage to take really effective action against a group planning to kill others. It was ambivalent about the loss of life in the North, and is apparently ambivalent about the loss of life in Iraq. Regarding the hypocrisy of Sinn Féin and their new-found appreciation of the sanctity of human life, its just too bad that they didn't realise this years ago.
After over 30 years of indifference to the deaths in the North, and failure to take action against the terrorists, we have no right to be indignant about the US. - Yours, etc.,
Madam, - It is lost on many people (notably Howard Brittain, April 11th) that the US will not enter a war unless it is in its interests to do so. One can speak of liberation because that is the net result of the conflict. But its primary aim was the elimination of the Iraqi threat to US national security.
The removal of Saddam can only be a good thing for the Iraqi people but let's not be so blind as to think their liberation was the sole aim of the US when it decided to attack Iraq. It was not. - Yours, etc.,
Madam, - Gearoid Kilgallen (April 9th) states that when George Bush visited Belfast he was in "our country". News to me. I rather thought Belfast was in the United Kingdom, something Sinn Féin has also noticed.
He might also notice that the troops of that "unprincipled warmonger," George Bush, are being ecstatically welcomed in Iraq by the Iraqi people, happy to be released from the fascist "unprincipled warmonger," Saddam Hussein. - Yours, etc.,
Madam, - If President Bush and Mr Blair believed that a quiet village in Northern Ireland would provide them with a place to plan for war in peace, without criticism or protest, they were wrong.
The Women's Coalition was among other political representatives who took advantage of the opportunity to meet the premiers to make clear in person our opposition to the war. Our exchange with the president was heated and may not have changed his mind, but it sent a clear message that many in Northern Ireland had serious concerns about the justification and effectiveness of this war.
Putting parties in the position of choosing between their dedication to the peace process and their concern at the war in Iraq was insensitive. To do so in what had the potential to be a historic week for the peace process was a disruptive distraction. - Yours, etc.,
Madam, - While I am happy that the nasty, vicious regime of Saddam Hussein has come to an end, I cannot help but notice that US and UK spokesmen are now making hardly any references to his chemicals and weapons of mass destruction - the things that prompted the attack on Iraq in the first place and gave it a veneer of legitimacy in US and UK eyes, if not elsewhere in the world. The talk has subtly turned to "liberating the Iraqi people" - a welcome goal in itself, but not the primary one that we in the West were asked to support.
I am rapidly coming to the belief that Saddam's Iraq was attacked not because the US and UK knew it had these weapons, but because they knew it hadn't. - Yours, etc.,
A chara - Kevin Myers is quite correct in saying that we are a "violent species" (An Irishman's Diary, 10th April). Our human nature has indeed always compelled us to war.
This apologia for the conflict in Iraq recalls the fable of the scorpion and the frog, wherein the scorpion fatally stings the frog as he crosses a river safely as a passenger on his back. "Now we'll both die," cries the poor frog. "What did you do that for?" "Because I'm a scorpion" is the reply.
This is all very well, provided it is used as no more than a cautionary tale for children. But we adults know better. We realise that we are superior to beasts in at least one important respect: we possess the sophisticated faculty of reason. It is because of this that Mr Myers is wrong to cite human nature in his justification of modern warfare.
To do so discounts the possibility that we might ever move away from this state of affairs. It decries any attempt to even try to find an alternative, to struggle against ourselves and against our nature. Surely it is as much a part of human nature to learn new ways? Human nature is our ultimate challenge. It is exactly what we struggle against every day and it is what we must learn to master if we are to progress at all. The fall of Baghdad is not a victory. It is at best poignant, a reminder that we have utterly failed to find any alternative. - Is mise,
South Circular Road,