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War is not a game

Dear Mr. Behan:

President Clinton talks of destroying Iraq’s capability to produce "weapons of mass destruction." Prime Minister Chrétien talks of "cleaning up that mess over there." And Mr. Nault, our elected member of Parliament, says he is "disappointed that we didn’t finish the job last time by ‘permanently removing’ Saddam Hussein (Kenora Daily Miner and News, Feb. 11, 1998).

While Mr. Clinton tries to whip up public hysteria, forgetting to tell us that the real "weapons of mass destruction" are nuclear weapons, and that he has the monopoly on them, Mr. Chrétien and Mr. Nault soothe the tired conscience of Canadians talking of the impending war as if our government is planning to hire some rug cleaners to take care of a carpet stain.

Our leaders attempt to hide their true intent, which is to bring destruction and death to Iraq and its people once again.

To Mr. Nault I ask what job is that we did not "finish"--the job of killing Saddam Hussein? Mr. Nault says: "Hussein should have been permanently removed and replaced by a democratic party." Is there such a party, or is there at least a guerrilla movement within Iraq ready to take up arms against Hussein? There is nothing to suggest that either exists.

Are, perhaps, the neighbouring states, in whose interests Mr. Nault suggests we must bring war, backing the United States’ call to arms? The answer is no.

This fact alone should give Mr. Nault and others cause to pause. For Mr. Nault, an elected member of Parliament and a voice for the government of our country, to suggest that a "limited" military strike, which does not have the support of the Arab states, a strong and viable opposition movement within Iraq or the support of several Western powers, including France and Germany, would succeed in overthrowing Mr. Hussein is both reckless and irresponsible.

Putting aside the rhetoric of war, let us look at the proposed military offensive in terms of logic. First, will such an attack eliminate Iraq’s capability to produce weapons of "mass destruction?"

Military analysts, more knowledgeable than Mr. Nault and Mr. Chrétien, doubt it. Sites for manufacturing chemical and biological weapons can be easily concealed. To destroy such weapons is not as simple as firing a missile at a building or a tank.

Second, have all other alternatives to war been explored?

Diplomatic measures have not been exhausted. Why do we not encourage the United States to work through the United Nations? Why do we ally ourselves in the use of unilateral action which the nations of the world have not approved of?

Is there not a way to tie the end of economic sanctions to Iraq providing more complete opportunities for weapons inspection?

Third, do the ends justify the means?

Are we prepared to have the blood of innocent civilians on our hands? Do we want to further alienate Arab and Muslim states and peoples? Are we indifferent to the citizens of Iraq because of their religion and dark complexions?

Finally, are we prepared to accept all of the consequences of armed conflict, including the ones we cannot predict or do not intend? In the first Gulf War, some of the Arab states were in support of the United States initiative and the western powers were united. This is not the case now. Some analysts suggest that even if a military strike could eliminate Mr. Hussein, a wider conflict in the Middle East, and possibly other parts of the world, may ensue.

We should not pretend that war is a game or a laboratory experiment, the consequences of which can be planned out and controlled.

Fortunately, the younger generation will not go softly or without protest down our government’s path of war. Recently, Winnipeg high school students greeted Mr. Chrétien with a protest against the war.

Let us hope that the older generation joins in.


Peter Kirby

Kenora, Ont.

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