Lee on Iraq; 5th Anniversary Rally in Sydney

17 Mar

The senior statesman of Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, recently wrote an article, commenting that American troops cannot afford to leave Iraq now as it would leave a power vacuum which would be filled by lawless private militia who will cause societal disorder and sectarian violence. Just in case Mr Lee is in the dark, Iraqi society is already in tatters and is on the brink of a civil war (though some might argue that it already has happened). He further argued that America needs to continue having a presence in Iraq but that they ‘clearly cannot stay in Iraq alone’. Instead, he suggested a ‘multilateral approach’ in the form of a ‘coalition force’.

The solution that is proposed by Mr Lee, not only smacks of arrogance and ignorance, but also blatant disregard for the human rights and sufferings of the Iraqis. By suggesting that the Americans and a coalition force be stationed in Iraq, he is not only disregarding the astronomical and tragic cost and destruction of the invasion, but also implying that Iraqis are incapable of sovereignty.

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In the Troops Out Now of Iraq and Afghanistan Rally and March, organised by the Stop The War Coalition in Sydney, commemorating the 5th anniversary of the Iraqi Invasion, as many as 200 people are reported to have turned up for the protest.

The rally which started at Belmore Park, near Central Station, around 1 pm, and saw a few prominent activists took to the stage to address a wide range of issues in the Middle East. Primarily on the political, social instability and turmoil in the region which be chiefly attributed to the grand American imperialist project.

Federal Greens Senator Kerry Nettle quoted statistics from Jospeh Stiglitz, former Chief Economist of the World Bank, who calculated that the Iraqi Invasion has amounted to three trillion dollars. She also related personal accounts from war veterans who said that they acted differently in the presence of the press.

Peace and non-violent Christian activist, Donna Mulhearn, reminded Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, of the significance of Palm Sunday. She lambasted Rudd on various issues including him for leading a motion to honour Israel’s 60th anniversary Day of Independence as an affront to the sufferings of the Palestinians. She also reiterated that it is time to bring all the troops home; and that Australia should boycott the Olympics in China for their grave human rights violations, especially, with regards, to its violent suppression of the peaceful Tibetan uprising.

Kathy Black from US Labour Against The War, spoke of the detrimental effects of the war not just to Iraqis, but also to the poor in America and the faltering US economy. Keyser Trad from Islamic Friendship Association related the personal anti-Islamic experience he faced and the climate of Islamophobia whipped up by the war on terror.

After the speeches, the protest march began to make its way to the Department of Defence to drive home the point of protesting against the war, before making a loop back to Belmore Park. The march was made more theatrical with the presence of three protestors, who had their faces painted white, dressed suitably, in white t-shirts, each with one of the words, ‘Stop The War’. Along the way, they pretended to drop dead or climb onto structures to draw attention to themselves and their message of protest.

Overall, it was an informative and highly charged rally. The fervour and passion of the protestors shows that there are still enough people out there who care enough to take it to the streets to protest against the disastrous American foreign policies in the Middle East.

===

References:

1. The Cost Of Retreat In Iraq, Washington Post, 8 March 2008, Lee Kuan Yew

2. Sydney rally calls for Iraq withdrawal, Sydney Morning Herald, 16 March 2008

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