Politicians have led us to believe that 9/11 changed the world irretrievably, requiring a maximal response to counter it.  Certainly, if the event itself did not change the world - history has seen acts of terrorism since time immemorial - the aggressive military campaigns undertaken by the West in response have indeed changed it. Ten years on, despite the two deadly wars fought on our behalf (with one still ongoing),  we live today in a world that seems more volatile and less secure, ruled more often than not by violent military action.  It is as if history has reversed its course, taking us back to the old days when armed conflict was a legitimate way to solve problems.

 

We watched in horror the destruction caused by the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  Here was an apocalyptic spectacle of devastation brought on by the uncontrollable forces of nature. While elsewhere, in Libya, we are witnessing yet another scene of man-made disaster unfolding. Yet again, Western political leaders are fueling the chaos by ill-chosen rhetoric and military aggression.  When will we ever learn?

 

My concern over the events immediately following 9/11 took the form of letters to the Editor of The Guardian (a UK daily).  Here is a selection, some published, most still just inhabiting my computer.   

 

 

LETTERS TO THE GUARDIAN

                                                                                            

10 September 2002

Letters to the Editor, The Guardian

 

Dear Sir,

 

Re: 11/09/01

 

The horrific images of 11/09/01 are still with us.  Looking back on the year, I can’t help feeling that the world leaders have let us down.  Confronted by such a catastrophic event, the prudent response would have been to pause and reflect on why this attack had come upon America.  Then to recognize that terrorism has existed since time immemorial in various forms and that it can never be eliminated totally simply by force, without eradicating the causes, the grievances that exist in many parts of the world, i.e., injustice, discrimination, poverty, to name a few.  With this insight, the world leaders could have launched a fresh, even-handed peace initiative in Palestine, stepped up pressure on oppressive regimes that enjoy a friendly alliance with the west, and sent out massive humanitarian aid for the needy parts of the world, coupled with intensified intelligence work to track down the terrorist cells.  This would have been a civilized enlightened response.  Certainly, they should have cautioned themselves, and the shocked world, against any instinct for retaliatory action.  But this did not happened.

 

The West missed a historic opportunity to demonstrate to the rest of the world what it takes to be a civilized and enlightened nation.

 

The war on ‘terror’ has since been destabilizing the world, compounding the grievances against America and the West, and breeding a new generation of terrorists.  Ironically, every political and military action America has taken since has signalled/shown that the grievances at the heart of the 9/11 attack might well have been legitimate. The US actions sent a message that America is unilateralist (the Kyoto Accord, the Earth Summit, the International Criminal Court, and now the war on Iraq) and would do practically anything to protect its own interests.  Ethical and legal considerations do not seem to enter this equation.  While ‘the war on terror’ in Afghanistan got rid of the Taliban regime (which was not its primary aim), the rhetoric of ‘terror’ gave license to some political leaders (Sharon and Putin to name two), to clamp down on their opponents by force.  The concept of ‘right to self-defence’ is overextended, and the use of disproportionate force is justified as long as you are ‘fighting terror’.

 

And now the US and UK political leaders claim that the war on Iraq is an act of self-defence.  Amazingly, war has now become a readily acceptable option.  War against Iraq?  Why not?  Saddam Hussein is evil; his deadly arsenal, a menace to world peace. Never mind that America has its own weapons of mass destruction and has used them often enough, although only in Asia.  And what of the killing of innocent civilians caught up in war?  Don’t even think about it; it’s an inevitable cost of war, acceptable collateral damage. 

 

When NATO air-raided Belgrade during the Kosovo war, they were selective about their targets to avoid civilian causalities. This time the war, if it happens, will be fought in Iraq.  Will there be similar consideration for the Iraqi people?  The rest of the world will be watching.

 

A. Horie-Webber

 

 

13 September 2002

Letters to the Editor, The Guardian.

 

Dear Sir,

 

To place too much importance on securing the UN Security Council vote to legalize the US proposed war on Iraq is to obscure the fundamental question of the legitimacy of such an ‘pre-emptive war’, with or without UN approval.

 

A. Horie-Webber

 

 

14 September 2002

Letters to the Editor, The Guardian

 

Dear Sir,

 

Re: Pre-Emptive Strike on Iraq

 

Did George Bush get the idea of a ‘pre-emptive strike’ from Ariel Sharon?  They seem to speak the same language.  Apparently, Mr Sharon is very keen on such a strike against Iraq.  This time, he has said, Israel will not stand idly by but fight Iraq alongside the US.   What a prospect!  Will Mr Blair join in?

 

While Mr Bush singles out Saddam Hussein, the rest of the world may well feel that the real threat to world peace is Ariel Sharon and George Bush, and the arrogant unfettered actions of their governments.

 

Mr. Blair insists that Britain must stand by its friend.  But a true loyal friend would dare to confront his friend if necessary and speak his mind.  It is telling that so far only Nelson Mandela has had the courage to stand up to America and speak the truth, denouncing the US as "unilateralist and a threat to world peace". 

 

A. Horie-Webber

 

P.S.  I would vote for Nelson Mandela for President of the World, and Bill Clinton as his deputy for his political intelligence and big heart!

 

 

25 September 2002

Letters to the Editor, The Guardian

 

Dear Sirs,

 

Re: Pre-emptive Strike against Iraq

 

Mr Blair wants to save the world by waging a pre-emptive war against Iraq.  Are the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to be destroyed during the course of the war?  With what deadly consequences?

 

Personally, I don't wish Mr Bush or Mr Blair to act on my behalf to safeguard my future, at the expense of thousands of innocent lives.

 

The world is not a perfect place and life is full of uncertainties.  I am content to live my life as it is, with a strategy of containment and evolution.

 

A. Horie-Webber

 

 

28 September 2002

Letter to Tony Blair

 

Dear Mr. Blair,

 

You needn't keep reminding us what a horrible dictator Saddam Hussein is.  We know that.  We know that he had done some horrible things, like gassing his own people.  We know the existence of mass graves.  We also know that, when he was committing these horrendous crimes, the West was his ally and was turning a blind eye.

 

A. Horie-Webber

 

 

1 March 2003

Letters to the Editor, The Guardian

letters@guardian.co.uk

 

Re: 'Final Push for Peace' (War on Iraq)

 

The U.N. Security Council should reject the proposed second resolution.  To endorse it is to sanction an illegal 'pre-emptive war', of the kind that Ariel Sharon has been conducting in Palestine to a deadly effect.  Would the rest of the world want to go down the same road, down to chaos and ever escalating violence?  The answer must be an emphatic NO.

 

It is false to argue that unless the U.N. can present a united front its credibility is lost.  On the contrary, it is only right that there should be a genuine debate and genuine disagreement on a matter serious as this; there should be no compromise, no ambiguity.  I hope the Security Council member states will resist the shameless US pressure, and vote against this second resolution.  The US may still go to war in defiance of the U.N., but the rest of the world will have upheld International Law.  With the U.N. integrity firmly intact, the ultimate worldwide chaos will have been averted.

 

As for Tony Blair, this is one initiative he cannot back down on. He more than any party needs the second resolution passed to justify and legalize his war.  But he should realize that by forcing this resolution by such shameful means, he is undermining the raison d'etre of the U.N. as a democratic humanitarian organization for peace.  The 'right thing' for him to do at this juncture is, as John Welford suggested (letter, 3 March), "to stand up against George Bush and withdraw the UK from this potentially disastrous war."

 

But does he have the courage or sense to do this?

 

A. Horie-Webber

akemi@horie.fsworld.co.uk

 

 

3 March 2003

Letters to the Editor, The Guardian

 

Dear Sirs,

 

Re: Last Push for Peace

 

Indeed, why the charade? (Guardian editorial, 3March) Tony Blair and his US allies seem to have made up their minds to go to war against Iraq, and what's more, believe fervently in the righteousness of their action.  So, why don't they go it alone? Why the charade of the weapons inspections?  Why bother to force the second resolution to get a U.N. mandate?  For the US, it obviously serves as a cover in case things go wrong. They can then count on other nations to share the cost of the war in the nasty aftermath.

 

The current "arm twisting" (and bribing) of the smaller member states of the Security Council by the US and the UK is shameful.  It illuminates the hypocritical conduct of the so-called leading 'democratic' nations, who preach 'freedom and democracy' to the rest of the world but cannot themselves uphold these principles when the crunch comes.

 

Does Mr Blair realize that his rhetoric of war means in reality 3000 US smart bombs and e-bombs on the first day of the war?  Is he aware what this really means in actual human cost? 

 

A. Horie-Webber

 

 

13 March 2003

Letters to the Editor, The Guardian

letters@guardian.co.uk

 

Re: "No Matter What" on Iraq

 

Yesterday in Parliament Tony Blair accused the French of intransigence, describing their position as: 'they will veto [the new resolution] no matter what'.  Notably he omitted the qualifying clause in the French argument: they will veto "any resolution that automatically sanctions war". The same 'no matter what' phrase was repeated by the British Ambassador at the UN.   Perhaps his 'cropped' phrase was a spin designed to make the French position appear unreasonable for the UK audience. 

 

But whom does Mr. Blair think he is fooling?  The rest of the UN and the world know the exact French position, which has been unambiguous and consistent. Today the French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin made it crystal clear again, in response to Jack Straw's attack on France's rejection of the amended resolution: "The issue is not a question of giving Iraq a few more days before resorting to war, but resolutely disarming Iraq through peaceful means.' (BBC World Service).  The vast majority of the world would endorse this position.  There can be no compromise between the war-now position of the US and peaceful disarmament through continuing inspection.  It's time for the Brits to recognize this; the Yanks do.

 

It is unedifying to witness the British Government desperately churning out the amendments for votes, and shifting the blame for its failure onto French intransigence.  From start to finish, Mr. Blair seems to have failed to see the wood for the trees.  Britain opted for this US led war without UN sanction, without a full consultation with its European allies, and apparently without a comprehensive appreciation of what this might entail.

 

Now Britain is committed to this war, 'no matter what' (Blair interview 1/3/03).  Meanwhile we know that the war has already started on the Iraq/Kuwait border and in the Iraqi no-fly zone.  I sincerely hope that Mr. Blair is prepared for the catastrophic consequences of some 3000 smart bombs and missiles raining on the Iraqi people in the first 48 hours of the war. (Newsweek17/2/03).

 

A. Horie-Webber

 

 

15 March 2003

Letters to the Editor, The Guardian

letters@guardian.co.uk

 

Re: The Israeli-Palestinian "road map" to peace

 

Ever since 9/11, the Israeli and US governments have made a point of referring to the Palestinian resistance, in particular, the suicide bombings, as 'terror attacks', equating the militant Palestinians with Al-Quaeda terrorists.

 

As long as the western leaders view the Palestinian resistance as "terror attacks", as Tony Blair did at the hastily assembled Friday press conference to announce the road map for peace, there can be no peace settlement in the Middle East.  His casual use of this phrase not only adds insult to the Palestinian injury, but also exposes his gross insensitivity to and lack of appreciation of the true plight of the Palestinian people.

 

A. Horie-Webber

akemi@horie.fsworld.co.uk

 

 

18 March 2003 

Letters to the Editor, The Guardian

 

Re: Bill Clinton's advice: Trust Tony's Judgement

 

Now that the war proper has started, it is worth recalling the speech Bill Clinton delivered at the Labour party conference last October. 

 

While appearing to support the US and UK stand against Iraq, Mr. Clinton subtly managed to convey where he really stood.   "I tell you this", he said casually, as if he was departing from the prepared text for a private chat, "Inspection had been effective, eliminating more arms than were ever destroyed in the Gulf War," running off with ease the list of hardware the inspectors had taken off Baghdad: 40,000 chemical weapons; 100,000 gallons of chemicals used to make weapons; 48 missiles; 30 armed warheads and a massive biological weapons facility equipped to produce anthrax and other bio-weapons (The Guardian report 3/10/03).   Inspections worked, he insisted, even when Saddam got up to his old tricks playing cat-and-mouse, while in war, no matter how precise or smart your bombs, "innocent people will die."  Nothing was more likely to prompt Saddam to use his weapons of mass destruction than certain defeat by a US-led attack, he said.  'Pre-emptive strikes', he warned, might bring unwelcome consequences in the future.

 

I wonder if Mr. Blair remembered that wonderful anti-war speech when he asked Bill to lend him a few words of support.

 

A. Horie-Webber

akemi@horie.fsworld.co.uk

 

 

24 March 2003

Letters to the Editor, The Guardian

 

Re: Iraqi Resistance 

 

Remember the people of Belgrade who defiantly challenged the allied bombing by displaying a 'target' mark on their chests during the Kosovo war?  It was only after the war that the people rose in a popular uprising and got rid of Slobodan Milosevic,

 

It is no surprise that the invading US/UK forces are meeting stiff resistance.  Hasn't it ever occurred to the US war leaders that the proud Iraqis might hate the American invaders for their arrogance and chauvinism, even more than their own leader, and would fight to death for their country?

 

A. Horie-Webber

akemi@horie.fsworld.co.uk

 

 

6 November 2003

Letters to the Editor, The Guardian

 

Dear Sir,

 

Why are the suicide bombers perceived as more terrible than the missiles, tanks, daisy-cutter and cluster bombs that kill far greater numbers of innocent civilians?

 

When the Israeli army is waging war against the Palestinians with all its military might, destroying Palestinian villages, assassinating their militant leaders, it would seem that suicide bombing is perhaps the only weapon left for the Palestinians to counter the Israeli aggression.

 

A. Horie-Webber

 

 

From: Akemi Horie <akemi@horie.fsworld.co.uk>

Date: 17 November 2003 

To: letters@guardian.co.uk

Subject: Mr. Bush's visit

 

Is Blair Bush's Poodle? Wrong. (Re. Mr Blair and his Visitor)

 

We got it wrong.  The chief promoter of toppling Saddam Hussein for 'freedom and democracy' turns out to be Tony Blair, not George Bush.   All along, it appears, Blair, along with Ariel Sharon, has been the mastermind of the 'pre-emptive' war on Iraq, with Bush as his faithful lieutenant.  Blair's messianic vision of achieving a new world order and peace (which Bill Clinton is said to have wisely brushed aside) happened to match with the neo-con agenda of Bush's friends strategically, if not the goal itself.  So the neo-con friends went along with Blair's grand rhetoric, using it as a cover for achieving their own goals.

 

For George Bush, searching for a way forward after the shock of 9/11, Blair was a god-sent mentor, clever and articulate.  George was mesmerized by Tony's brilliant rhetoric and still is, judging by the Frost interview.  So, really this has been Blair's war fought with the might of the US military, thanks to George. 

 

That is why, while Bush has expressed some doubts about the intelligence that led to the war, Blair has remained steadfast,  believing 100 percent in the righteousness of the war and Iraqi possession of WMD, despite the mounting evidence to the contrary.  Blair and his foreign secretary have often appeared to copy Bush's pronouncements on the war, word for word, for example on the terrorists' 'hatred of freedom and democracy'.  Perhaps these were in truth Blair's words copied by Bush, not vice-versa. 

 

This explains why George Bush was accorded the honour of a state visit by Blair at this juncture.   It was to be his reward for supporting Blair's war and his world vision with the zeal of a fervent follower.  Together they were to celebrate their historic victory wrapped in royal pomp and ceremony.  Only, so far, the war has not gone quite the way the master and his poodle had anticipated.  Blair's grand vision allowed little room for the complexities of reality.

 

A. Horie-Webber

akemi@horie.fsworld.co.uk

 

 

30 November 2003:

Letters to the Editor of The Guardian

 

Re: Pre-emptive strikes

 

Mr Sharon's pre-emptive strikes have not eradicated the Palestinian resistance, in particular suicide bombing, but have only strengthened their resolve.  Now the Israelis are erecting high walls to encage themselves in a siege mentality. 

 

Is this the ultimate end to which we all are heading? 

 

A. Horie-Webber

 

 

20 October 2004

 

From: Akemi Horie <akemi@horie.fsworld.co.uk>

Date: Wed Oct 20, 2004  1:41:15 PM Europe/London

To: letters@guardian.co.uk

Subject: Margaret Hassan

 

Dear Sir,

 

Margaret Hassan has lived in Baghdad for more than 25 years, safely, throughout the horrors of Saddam Hussein's regime, until now.  Doesn't Tony Blair see the irony?  Why should someone who is "immensely respected" (his word) and much loved by the Iraqi people (her friend's account) only now become a victim of the kidnapping rampant in the now 'liberated' Iraq?  As usual, Blair seems incapable of reflection.  It doesn't seem to cross his mind that his own action (the decision to go to war) might in part be responsible for this mayhem.  Instead, he spins this dreadful incident from his moral high ground: "It shows you the type of people we are up against, that they are prepared to kidnap somebody like this."  Such comments would only inflame the situation.  He should keep his mouth shut and stay out.  Let the Irish government deal with the situation.

 

A. Horie-Webber

 

P.S.  Margaret Hassan was an aid worker who devoted her life to helping the Iraqi people, in particular, Iraqi children.  She was murdered by her captors.  Her body was never found.