Reparation needed after Bush legacy and some Obama policies examined
(Welcome to the ambassador and a number of issues raised: Iraq during Bush and Clinton's US presidencies, Afghanistan. Pakistan, US military using Shannon, a critique of US policy vis-a-vis Israel)
Open letter to new US Ambassador to Ireland
To: Mr Dan Rooney
United States Ambassador to Ireland
4 July 2009
Dear Ambassador Dan Rooney
Welcome to Ireland.
I have been listening to a small bit of the interview you gave to RTE 1 this (Saturday) morning and as you will be hearing from me from time to time, I thought it would be appropriate to begin by saying Céad Míle Fáilte.
There are issues which I wish to raise but let me first say that whether or not President Barack Obama intends to come to Ireland on an official visit is not one of them. Of course, should he come there is no doubt that he would be welcome. But there are more important issues in the world than the US President visiting Ireland.
These are some of these issues:
1. The United States of America under George W Bush has brought itself shame and disgrace in its acceptance of the lie that there were "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq and the ensuing "shock and awe" massacre inflicted on that country's inhabitants. Reparation is overdue.
2. Even before Mr Bush's disastrous Presidency, Bill Clinton's USA administration had caused the deaths of a half million children under five, also in Iraq, through unjust and wholly unnecessary sanctions. Madeline Albright's infamous reply to a question on this matter was that she thought the price was worth it. Reparation is overdue.
3. The sympathy garnered worldwide because of the infamous bombing of the Twin Towers evaporated because of the actions of George W Bush.
4. The present policy of President Obama of "pursuing Osama Bin Laden" by bombing Afghanistan (January 23, June 18 and June 23 as well as several less well reported attacks) and Pakistan is wrong and counter-productive. It is more important to realise that it is wrong. All bombing should end.
5. Ireland's civil Shannon Airport is being used by the US military to wage this war in Afghanistan, which violates Irish neutrality. . On this question, the Irish Government is out of step with the people. 130,000 marched in Dublin against the war in Iraq, yet the then Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, granted George Bush the use of Shannon for war purposes. A Dublin jury acquitted five peace activists who prevented a plane from going to Iraq (and their decision was unanimous). The US should stop using Shannon as a military conduit now.
6. The US policy towards Israel has been disastrous, giving massive amounts of dollars without strings attached for military aid to a State (Israel)that occupies its neighbour Palestine, a State (Israel) that is guilty of flagrant human rights abuses against the people of Palestine, a State (Israel) that carried out a massacre in Gaza as recently as December/January last, a State (Israel) that violently attacks peaceful demonstrators on a weekly basis in villages like Bil'in and Nil'in, often wounding and sometimes killing unarmed and peaceful demonstrators at these demonstrations.
The US has not opposed Israel's secret nuclear arsenal and its disgraceful lack of inspection by the IAEA, at the same time that israel was denying liberty to speak or to leave Israel to Mordechai Vanunu, the whistle-blower who told the world about Israel's ugly secret. Vanunu spent 17 and a half years in prison, (eleven in solitary confinement), was freed from prison in April 2004 and has been confined to Israel since then under draconian conditions. It is sad that the IAEA were at that very time funking to examine Israel's nuclear stockpile in Dimona but were stalled in Tel Aviv plotting with the Israelis to keep tabs on Vanunu.
As you know, at present, the aid boat for Gaza, Spirit of Humanity, with its 21 international peace activists has been seized by Israel, all the passengers held in prison, including US and Irish citizens.
Among those peace activists, now prisoners, is Irish Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire who was herself, on a previous visit, gassed and wounded by a direct hit from an IDF soldier at a peaceful demonstration against the Wall in Bil'in.
The patent fear of all recent US Presidents to talk straight to Israel was at its peak during the Bush Administration but, in spite of hopes to the contrary, much has not changed since President Obama came to power. Particularly disappointing has been the failure of George Mitchell to enter Gaza and see for himself the devastation that has recently been visited on the people there.
President Obama has rightly spoken out against the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators in Iran but he has not spoken out against the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators in Israel. And isn't it ironic that the demonstrations in Iran were because of an election and election results that may not have been free and fair?
The President's recent speech in Cairo, while broadly welcome and unbiased, had one crucial element missing. It went along with the lie that no free and fair elections had been held in Palestine, that Hamas are not the legitimate rulers of the country since 2006, that Israel should not talk to Hamas not even in conjunction with the Palestinian Authority (Fatah), who were defeated by Hamas in the same elections.
The crucial paragraph in the President's speech was this:
"The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel's right to exist."
This was a de facto recognition of the Israeli and Bush position that fair and free elections in Palestine were not to be recognized - because of who won them. This is a total abnegation of the rights of a people and an attack on the democratic process. It was saying that Fatah (Israel's choice) rather than Hamas (the people's choice) are the legitimate rulers of Palestine - free and fair election results to the contrary notwithstanding.
It was also a one-sided and biased comment in that it called on Hamas alone to put an end to violence. Israel was not called on to renounce violence, nor Fatah. That was simply endorsing Israeli policy and parroting an Israeli tune.
The comment also ignored the fact that, on many recent occasions, Hamas has asked Israel for peace talks saying that it does recognise Israel's right to exist.
How can the President know of Hamas's point of view, unfiltered by an Israeli presentation of it, without engaging directly with Hamas?
In football parlance, Israel has not been playing according to the rules of the game and the US, as self-appointed referee, is not enforcing those rues, instead turning a blind eye to the Israeli foul play.
Is the United States afraid of Israel and if so, why?
The US should end its present blind policy of support for Israel no matter what heinous crimes she carries out. All military aid should stop and efforts towards peace and justice should be initiated with the full participation of Israel, Hamas and Fatah.
The above are by no means the only issues that concern me but I think you will agree that for the moment they are sufficient.
With best personal wishes for a long, happy and fruitful stay in Ireland
Pacifist and Human Rights activist