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April 26, 2004 | by  | in News |
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Flying the Flag

There is no moral high-ground for the war in Iraq (WIR). Laws do not equal morals. To be within the bounds of law doesn’t make action or inaction right, wrong, moral, or amoral; it makes them legal. The same can be said for when one acts outside of legal boundaries.

Bush may have perpetrated a war upon claims now found to be false, but that doesn’t make him evil. It may put him in violation of laws and it may make him less trustworthy, but it doesn’t make him Hitler, as suggested by Down-with-Bush (Salient Issue 5) letter.

As a citizen of the USA and a student at Victoria I feel ill served by Salient when it comes to discussion of the WIR & Bush. Those that write on the subject are all of the same opinion. That the truth lay somewhere between the extremes of opinion and that the “right” moral stance doesn’t exist, are realities of most situations.

Before stating that the WIR was/is right/wrong we may want to decide what perspective we wish to view it from. From the International Law perspective the presuppositions for the WIR are questionable at best. From the perspective of a Kurdish mother of six who is now a widow thanks to Saddam, they are acceptable. From the perspective of devout socialist the WIR is American Imperialism at is worst. From the perspective of an Iraqi man who is now able to find out what happened to his father after he was abducted by Saddam’s men, it is a blessing. Intelligent and informed discussion cannot be based on anything less than open-minded examination of all sides of an issue.

When you live in a country that hasn’t been targeted by violent political groups/governments, it is easy to think that the people of such countries overreact. When you realise that you are marked for injury or death simply because of your skin colour or your country of origin, your views of the world and politics change. Can we all agree that the targeting of the civilians of any country (Spain, USA, and Iraq for example) for violent action is an unacceptable way to voice a political stance? Can we agree that it is not just to kill or maim individuals that you have no quarrel with because you feel they are inferior or because you are marginalised or silenced? If we can agree on these things, how about these:

Was it legal/ethical/moral for the USA to take no action when we knew that Hitler was marching across Europe conquering other countries and exterminating the Jews in the world’s largest ethnic cleansing campaign? Was it legal/ethical/moral for Europe and the UN to take little/no action during the ethnically fuelled killing in Serbia and Kosovo? Was it legal/ethical/moral for the world to do nothing as thousands were slaughtered in the ethnic cleansing in Rwanda? Was it legal/-ethical/moral for the world to allow apartheid to continue for so long in South Africa? Is it legal/ethical/moral for us to sanctimoniously wring our hands and say that there is nothing that we can legally do for the many oppressed and abused people of the world? Isn’t it lopsided to loudly proclaim the faults of India (the “world’s biggest democracy”) and to hang posters that support socialist militias that oppose foreign governments while simultaneously ignoring the violently oppressive policies of Saddam Hussein and blasting Bush & the USA for removing him from power?

Salient seems to pride itself on being independent, fresh, and new and those that read Salient appear to think of themselves as informed. Those of you who write, edit, and publish Salient should talk to people who are morally and ethically unsure about the WIR and Bush. These people may have different perspectives and opinions that may cast issues in a new light. Those who read Salient should not ignore or marginalise opinions of others because they break from popular student opinion.

As a student at Vic and the US citizen who is conflicted on these issues, I beg you to examine your political issues (especially US policies of the last three years) from multiple sides. Please encourage opinions from all sides of issues and don’t alienate those in the middle. Don’t succumb to the angry militant attitude of the extremists who fuel the conflicts of the world.

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About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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