The first casualty of war: truth

Feature story - 18 March, 2004
Last February, 30 million people took to the streets to oppose the invasion of Iraq. "Let the Inspections Work!" and "No War for Oil!" the banners read. Twelve months ago, the bombing started, the troops landed and the tragic story of the Iraqi people's suffering continues to this day.

25 activists climbed onto the famous Brandenburg Gate with banners saying 'no war' and 'old Europe says no war' .

Twelve months on, it seems there were no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, and that the US, UK and coalition forces misrepresented what they knew.

Greenpeace opposed the war, in part because it was illegal. US unilateralism was (and is) threatening to unravel 60 years of building the multilateral system and the rule of law internationally, and sets a dangerous precedent for future relations between states.

A war waged by the richest countries of the world, which hold massive arsenals of WMD, on a third world country was an ineffective, counterproductive and hypocritical means of dealing with international security and the proliferation of WMD. The war was more about settling old scores and securing Iraqi oil for the West than it was about making the Middle East a safer place, and the cost has been massive human suffering and environmental degradation.

After the war started, we appealed to governments who were members of the coalition to renounce the Bush doctrine of preventive war and consider their own legal position in a larger context.

Later, we sent a team to Iraq to assess what coalition forces were actually doing about the nuclear materials that had been secured by UN officials, and the results were shocking indeed.

Twelve months on, and with the latest evidence at hand, we again appeal to the coalition, asking them to renounce the doctrine of preventive war and unilateralism, and reinforce the rule of international law.

Weapons of mass destruction: found!

Greenpeace map of known nuclear weapons
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Twelve months on, it is clear that the real threat to global security arises from the massive WMD arsenals and weapons industries of the US, UK, France, Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan, and the failure of the permanent members of the security council to live up to their existing international disarmament obligations.

And now the Bush administration is threatening to start a new nuclear arms race by developing new, 'usable', nuclear weapons.

Twelve months on, we watch in horror the tragic events in Madrid, as well the continued violence in Baghdad and Basra, Gaza & the West Bank, Bali and Jakarta, Kabul and Kandahar and ask ourselves:

Has George Bush's 'war on terrorism' made the world a safer place?

A majority of people polled around the world believe the war has made the world more dangerous. It set a terrifying precedent. It continues to carry a terrible cost. The fact that it was based on a lie is what we, as global citizens, need to remember and hold our governments responsible for.

In the UK, we asked the government to show us the truth. Fourteen Greenpeace activists requested that the UK Attorney General's original advice on the legality of the war be submitted as evidence. The request was denied, and the advice remains secret. Why? There's speculation that Tony Blair was advised that in fact a pre-emptive war could not be justified under international law, and the government therefore lied when it said the war was legal. If that's not the case, why not produce the briefing? What is the Attorney General afraid of?

In Spain, the government lied about responsibility for the tragic attacks on its people, hiding evidence that the bombing was in retaliation for Spain's military contribution to the US-led coalition. The government had made the decision to go to war against the will of its people. A government desperate to defend the falsehood of a world made safer by war piled lies upon lies over the truth. But in the first victory for the " second superpower," the people spoke. The government fell. Truth won.

This Saturday, people will be marching again in protest of the war. As they did last year, people from all walks of life, from myriad nations, of many religions, with wide ranging demands and differing political agendas will be united by one wish: Peace. If you share that wish, please say it to the world this Saturday. All it takes is one step out the door.

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