OpenDemocracy.net ... consistently positive, lucid, balanced, and constructive
Two articles caught my eye in particular, but this site's general quality really deserves attention and notice.
After the Iraq war: planning the humanitarian response - To win a war in Iraq, the US has to win the peace. Its military forces as well as one of its leading independent humanitarian agencies, the International Rescue Committee, will have a crucial role. But can the military work with the United Nations and non-governmental organisations in ways that save lives, secure post-war order, and preserve the latter’s independence?
When President George W. Bush vowed in his January 2003 State of the Union message to bring food, medicine and freedom to the Iraqi people, he set an ambitious humanitarian action agenda after the likely war on Iraq.
Yet, how these tasks are handled – providing food, medicine and freedom – will be a key measure of the success of any military campaign. Anything other than a demonstrable success will engender new hatreds in the region, enlarge the risk of terrorism, and fuel criticism in Europe and America.
This has prompted the US administration to pre-position non-food relief supplies for one million persons in the region, and (with Iraq in mind) to organise a new Pentagon Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance.
Liberate Iraq on the world’s terms - So the world is split. ‘Yes, war now’ or ‘No, US, wait’ – we are polarising into one or the other camp, like the molecules of a magnet rearranging itself. But the north of that magnet is defined by the US, and the US alone.
“To liberate,” we ask, “or to conquer?” The people of the world believe, rightly or wrongly, that the US will liberate only to reconquer: no liberation at all. Meanwhile, we are more and more nervous. Saying ‘No to war, No to Saddam’ feels like rhetoric without an alternative – and more inspections alone do not do the job.
US unilateralists are served best by such a polarisation. The members of Bush’s posse, even Tony Blair, have little right of initiative: his opponents have even less influence on the ultimate outcome of the war to liberate Iraq.
For our part, we Europeans are caught between two disasters. Both a return to the failed policy of ‘containment’ and a unilateral action will lose the hearts and minds of the Arab world. Not alone – with others – we have missed the mirage of a chance to set the agenda (the opportunity there might have been, in 2002, to drive forward a real third option).