Monday, February 23, 2009


The Iraq war was a sign that the world has lost the will to fight for true justice

Sometimes there’s truth in old clichés. There can be no real peace without justice. And without resistance there can be no justice. Today, it is not merely justice itself, but the idea of justice that is under attack.

The assault on vulnerable, fragile sections of society is so complete, so cruel and so clever that its sheer audacity has eroded our definition of justice. It has forced us to lower our sights, and curtail our expectations. Even among the well intentioned, the magnificent concept of justice is gradually being substituted with the reduced, far more fragile discourse of “human rights”.

This is an alarming shift. The difference is that notions of equality, of parity, have been pried loose and eased out of the equation. It’s a process of attrition. Almost unconsciously, we begin to think of justice for the rich and human rights for the poor. Justice for the corporate world, human rights for its victims. Justice for Americans, human rights for Afghans and Iraqis. Justice for the Indian upper casts, human rights for Dalits and Adivasis (if that). Justice for white Australians, human rights for aborigines and immigrants (most times not even that).

It is becoming more than clear violation that violatinghuman rights is inherent and necessary part of the process of implementing acohesive and unjust political and economic structure on the world.Increasingly, human rights violations are being portrayed as the unfortunate,almost accidental, fallout of an otherwise acceptable economic and politicalsystem. As though they are a small problem which can be mopped up with a littleextra attention from some non-government organisation.

This is why in areas of heightened conflict in ..Kashmir..and in Iraq for example- human rights professionals are regarded with a degree of suspicion.Many resistance movements in poor countries which are fighting huge injustice and questioning the underlying principals of what constitutes “liberation” and “development”view human rights non government organisations as modern day missionaries who have come to take the ugly edge off imperialism- to diffuse political anger and to maintain the status quo.

The illegal invasion and occupation of ....Iraq....will surely go down in history as one of the most COWARDLY wars ever. It was a war in which a band of rich nations, armed with enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world several times over, rounded on a poor nation, falsely accused it of having nuclear weapons, used the United nations to force it to disarm,then invaded it, occupied it and are now in the process of selling it.

I speak of ....Iraq....not because everybody is talking about it, but because it is a sign of things to come. Iraq marks the beginning of a new cycle. It offers us an opportunity to watch the corporate-military cabal that has come to be known as “empire” at work. In the new Iraq, the gloves are off.

As the battle to control the earth resources intensifies, economic colonisation threw formal military aggression is staging a comeback. Iraq is the logical culmination of the process of corporate globalisation in which neo-colonisation and neo-liberalism has fused. If we can find it in ourselves to peep behind the curtain of blood, we would glimpse the pitiless transactions taking place backstage.

Invaded and occupied Iraq has been made to pay out$US200 million in “reparations” for lost profits to corporations such as Halliburton, Shell, Mobil, Nestle, Pepsi, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Toys R Us. That’s apart form its $US125 billion sovereign debt forcing it to turn to the IMF waiting in the wings like the angel of death, with its structural adjustment program. (Though in Iraq there doesn’t seem to be any structures left to adjust).

So what does peace mean in this savage, corporatised, militaristic world? What does peace mean to people in occupied Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, Tibet, Georgia and Chechnya? Or to the aboriginal people in Australia? Or to the Kurds in Turkey? Or the Daltis and Adivasis of ....India? What does peace mean to non-Muslims in Islamic countries, or to women in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan? What does it mean to the millions who are being uprooted from their lands by dams and development projects? What does peace mean to the poor who are being actively robbed of their resources? For them, peace is war.

We know very well who benefits from war in the age of empire. But we must also ask ourselves honestly who benefits from peace in the age of empire? Warmongering is criminal. By talking of peace without talking of justice could easily become advocacy for a kind of capitulation. And talking of justice without unmasking the institutions and systems that perpetuated injustice is beyond hypocritical.

It is easy to blame the poor for being poor. It is easy to believe that the world is being caught up in an escalating spiral of terrorism and war. That’s what allowed George Bush to say, “You’re either with us or with the terrorists.” But that’s a spurious choice. Terrorism is only the privatising of war. They believe that the legitimate use of violence is not the sole prerogative of the state.

It is mendacious to make moral distinction between the unspeakable brutality of terrorism and the indiscriminate carnage of war and occupation. Both kinds of violence are unacceptable. We can not support one and condemn the other.

A. Roy

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