No axis required
edited: Wednesday, March 19, 2003
By Glenn Brigaldino
Posted: Wednesday, March 19, 2003
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Refusing to take sides and asing hard questions in times of crisis.
A reflection on democracy, peace and war clouds.
No axis required
As the political confrontation around the US-Iraq situation is going into overtime, peace may still have a chance of witnessing a scoreless tie. The danger is far from over, that the US may still try to go for the kill, no matter what the international rules are. Already the no-fly zone has been unilatelally transifrmed into a "we-do-as we please" zone for the US air force.The stubbornness, with which the confrontation has been played out, has made it impossible not to take a stand on the issue of whether or not to go to war with Iraq. All other political issues, apart from the North Korean one, have virtually been relegated to the players’ bench. They are still there, but out of the media spot-light, only sporadically covered.
The vigor to compel everyone to take sides has turned allies into skeptics. It ahs infuriated people from entire regions, as they sense they are being black-labeled, in addition to being sidelined by the dynamics of globalization. A clear position to take in these times of black and white is to refuse to play the color game of the self-righteous. Anyone who is committed to democracy, social justice and human rights will clearly condemn the regime in Iraq. The same person will just as flatly reject imperialist agendas and the accompanying discouragement of independent thought, as currently practices in the US. Unimpressed by rhetoric that is void of sound reasoning, the independent mind will always be prone to read between the lines of propaganda and to hear beyond the sweet-talking of hollow speeches and slogans. Most of all, people with this mindset will ask hard-hitting questions.
In the midst of all the war-talk, many questions that are not being asked still cry out for answers. Although they may appear unrelated to the war threat, these questions can serve as mirrors, to be held up to both G.Bush and S. Hussein. A random and make-shift list might include questions like these:
- What is the proportion of military spending in relation to spending on child health? - How dependent is the economy on oil, compared to solar and other renewable forms of energy? - Is the size of the country’s prison population larger or smaller than five or ten years ago? - What percentage of the population is considered over- or underweight? - From what social class do most members of the political institutions come from? - How many democratic rights and civil liberties have been eroded or curtailed in the past ten years? - Are there larger social or ethnic groups in society who are discriminated against, or worse?
With little doubt, the answers to such questions may generate similar answers for both the “good” and the “evil” side of the Bush-axis. What’s good about spending over US$300 per capita on a war, while not even 25cents can be spared for international development aid? On the other side, what’s the point of Iraq having any military capability at all, if defending the country means keeping resources tied up at the cost of wide-spread dismal social development indicators and political repression?
This is not the time to take sides that are amount to nothing else than false choices. When hard questions are shunned, deflected, ridiculed, ignored simply left unanswered, it is time to look elsewhere for answers. Sadly such places are mostly confined to the alternative press, increasingly online (see last month’s featured article). Yet it’s not to late to try to create and strengthen places and voices of free democratic thought and to help them get on a broader popular footing. With or without the left or right side of any axis.
Glenn Brigaldino © 2003