Irish Government’s Role In Iraqi War

Reprinted from The Common Good, No 31, Advent 2004
By Ciaron O’Reilly

As thousands of U.S. troops pass through Shannon on a monthly basis to maim and kill – to be maimed and killed – the pacifist movement, Dublin Catholic Worker, have called for a Halloween multi-faith/no faith vigil for peace to take place at Ireland’s welcome mat for the U.S. WAR MACHINE, Shannon Airport.

So far 360,000 U.S. troops have passed through Shannon Airport in the past three years alone since the War on Terror (War is Terror) was declared by the Bush Administration. U.S. military and civilian airlines contracted by the U.S. military to deploy troops and weaponry have been landing, refuelling, using Irish airspace, catering and duty free facilities at Shannon & Baldonnel in their preparation to wage war, engage in invasion, maintain occupation, orchestrate and defend exploitation, and sanitise imperialism; all in the name of ‘democracy’.

The Irish government’s decision to lie about Ireland’s role in hosting a belligerent force was made transparent by the work of a few dedicated peace activists who monitored the incoming aircraft from October, 2001. Aer Rianta made €15 million from this arrangement in 2003, while up to Sept. 2004 they (now Shannon Airport Authority) have already pocketed €14 million in blood money.

The Irish government’s treatment with contempt of the will of the vast majority of the Irish people to end Irish complicity in the War on Iraq, etc. fell on deaf ears. Modern economics deemed the arrangement too profitable for morality to play a part in their overall decision.

War being the terror of the rich, it was recently definitively proved the premise(s) under which war was sold and employed was false. No WMD’s were found. No link between Al-Qa’eda and the secular Hussein regime was found. The alleged ’45 minute’ potential strike on Britain was recently ruled out. The U.S. and U.K. Intelligence communities (are)were politically influenced to support an internationally unpopular and according to Kofi Annan, U.N. Secretary General, an illegal war. So where do Irish people stand in all of this?

While the war on Iraq is ongoing and increasingly disastrous, with the fear of a Bush re-election and the reality that the same unelected officials in the Pentagon and CIA will orchestrate Kerry’s foreign policy, it seems like Ireland’s participatory role is more likely to increase rather than dissipate in the near future.

Indeed, with 114,803 U.S. troops having landed from January-September (a 17% increase on the same period last year), and a record monthly toll of 22,000+ in September ’04, Shannon Airport’s purpose as a vital pit stop for U.S. Imperialism is certain to increase in the coming months and years. Recent revelations have also all but confirmed that Shannon is a transit point for illegally detained Muslims being imprisoned in the Guantanamo gulag, Cuba. This all seems too big and powerful to protest against, unless you decide to be a part of the first demonstration at Shannon Airport initiated by any sector of the Irish peace movement in 2004. This is only the beginning of what we hope will be a resurgence of grassroots activities against war and for non-violent peace and justice.

Encourage friends to join our movement. Don’t be discouraged that this will not be a mass protest. From little things big things grow. And remember how effective a mosquito can be in a dormitory full of people without safety nets.

Let’s start building from the bottom-out in an attempt to nurture non-violent resistance/civil disobedience, in the spirit of the Nuremberg Demand’s obligation on us to prevent war crimes and crimes against peace and humanity.

You will recall, 100,000 pairs of feet didn’t work when Irish people took to the streets. And 150,000 signatures won’t work either.

The only time the U.S. Military have been taken out of Shannon was in the 3-month period after two disarmament actions at Shannon in January and February 2003. Three U.S. ‘civilian’ airlines contracted by the U.S. military to transit troops and weaponry for a theatre of war illegally and immorally employed moved out of Shannon referring to lack of security as their main concern.

The U.S. Embassy in Dublin also admitted that the Mary Kelly and the subsequent Catholic Worker decommissioning of a U.S. Navy C-40A plane at Shannon led to a 3 month temporary withdrawal by these vital components to the war machine It would have been a permanent withdrawal if non-violent resistance continued to be a tactic of the peace movement. The U.S. Embassy, the Foreign Affairs dept., and the U.S. military contracted airlines knew it was safe to return and carry on ‘business as usual’. Thus we lost – they won.

By acknowledging that we, as a Peace Movement, were defeated by the powers that be, is surely the first step in getting over the grieving process and passive form of our dissent. Spending 3/4 hours in Shannon, naming it as a quintessential part of a conveyor belt for death, will be far more empowering than reading another newspaper article or watching Sky News.

Our sorrow and empathy for all those made vulnerable for the sake of the comfortable needs to be enfleshed with a public witness

You are certain to meet like-minded folk who want to do a little more to prevent our ongoing complicity. Now is the time to strike up new/renew old contacts and begin to be actively anti-war, pro-peace.

The only piece of U.S. military hardware which passed through the West en route to ‘Operation Enduring Freedom/Occupation’ not to assist the theatre of war and the spread of imperial cancer was the afore mentioned US Navy plane.

Peoples from all faith/no faith and all ethnic backgrounds are invited to come together in a common human voice against Irish complicity in war making and join a fresh move of non-violent resistance to the this immoral war and Ireland’s role in it.

Ciaron O’Reilly, one-time member of the Christchurch CW, lives in Dublin.

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