So I thought I'd use today's Weblog to push a personal agenda, but hey, I have a voice, and I figure I should use it the best way I can. As it happens, there is also a tech angle, so I reckon I might just get away with it. . .
As you probably know, today was the deadline for the brief from the Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), Hans Blix, on the last 60 days of weapons inspections in Iraq.
The report, as delivered to the UN Security Council, explained that while Iraq 'had decided in principle to provide cooperation on substance in order to complete the disarmament task through inspection', it was also critical of Iraq's disarmament programme, and 'drew attention to some outstanding issues and questions'. You can read the UN official press release on the brief here.
Now, as critical as the brief is, the question remains: would it justify a US-led unilateral attack on Iraq? This question will undoubtedly be answered for us in the next few days, and perhaps as early as Tuesday (US time) when George W. Bush gives his State of the Union address.
My personal feelings are that war, and all the terror, destruction, instability and cost it carries with it, is a last-last-last resort - and only the most extreme circumstances of national security justify it.
In the case of Iraq today, I can't see sufficient justification for an attack. If the UN Security Council deemed it necessary, I would revaluate my opinions, for I trust the principles behind the institution of the United Nations, while I don't trust the rhetoric of the United States Government and its agenda. The precise reason we have the United Nations is so we don't have to rely on a single country potentially acting in its own interests to the detriment of other nations' interests or security.
I am also an advocate for the total destruction of all weapons of mass destruction, and this applies to all nations that possess them - including the nation that possess the greatest number of weapons of mass destruction: the United States. Removing weapons of mass destruction from the international equation would surely shift the balance of power of several nations around the world, but again, that's why we have, and need, the UN to mediate in a fair way.
Finally, I do not dispute the point that Saddam Hussein is a brutal and despotic leader, with little compassion for his own peoples. I would welcome his replacement by a more moderate leader who chooses to spend the nation's oil wealth on the people, as opposed to himself, his family and the military.
Given all this, there are plenty of brutal and despotic leaders around the world, and plenty of nations that could do with a 'regime change', but I don't see that point alone as justification for a military invasion on our behalf.
Furthermore, I question the motivation of the United States in its apparent crusade against Iraq given that the US sold Iraq a great deal of weapons in the 1980s, and didn't seem to have much of a problem with it then. I also understand that Iraq is now more hostile to the West than in the '80s, but the question is: how much of a threat is it?
So, here you have some of my opinions on the matter - I would now encourage you to express yours. And here's the tech bit:
One of the incredible beauties of the Internet is that you have at your fingertips an unprecedented wealth of information and opinions - and you also have a vehicle to express your opinions to the world.
Possibly the most valuable site for me (and one I've mentioned before) is Google News. My favourite feature is taking a news headline, and seeing the different perspectives from around the world through the 'related' link.
If you want a more local perspective, try IRIB (Iranian Republic of Broadcasting) site, or Al Bawaba
If you want more information on the background to the conflict, try the United Nations site. If you just want to know more about the nations involved, check out the fabulous CIA World Factbook. Or for information about weapons of mass destruction and military in general, you must check out the Federation of American Scientists.
If you want to express your opinions, you can try many of the online