Monday, 24 March 2003

I am burning with fury because my country has been betrayed

Aren't we all...?

If they elected a monkey as President of the United States, Tony Blair would ingratiate himself and do its bidding

by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown


Yasmin Alibhai-Brown At last, in this calamitous week when I am – like millions across the world – at my most helpless, pessimistic, enraged and incapacitated I finally understand what patriotism feels like. I am burning with fury; I cannot watch any of the coverage; I refused appearances on two broadcasts discussing the campaign. I didn't go on the London march at the weekend because I might easily have thrown stones or placards or myself on to the road.

I object to the war today, not as a woman, not as (an imperfect) Muslim, not even as a human rights warrior, but as a protective Briton whose country has been betrayed by one of the most devious and unprincipled Prime Ministers we have ever had. No realpolitik, national self-interest or the demands of office can excuse or explain the surrender we are experiencing. Our independence is one of the first casualties of this new world disorder.

On Saturday, the UCI cinema ticket I bought had dollar instead of pound signs on it. It captured – albeit unintentionally – the pervasive American domination over our land. Geoff Hoon, on television at the weekend, was robustly claiming he was in joint command, although he couldn't explain why the first day's action was decided on unilaterally by the US. And when asked about Turkey's entry into Kurdistan his answer was equally instructive: "Well, the US has told Turkey not to take this action."

At the RAF base in Fairford, Gloucestershire, razor-wired to protect US bombers taking off to blitz Iraq, signs say: "Restricted area... Use of deadly force authorised." America claims the right to shoot dead British subjects who enter this land. Our generals are now saying "Eye-rack" for Iraq. Meanwhile the Trade and Industry Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, is begging the Americans to give British contractors a few crumbs left from the reconstruction projects which have been given to US companies.

The most ardent pro-American Briton will find such subjugation unbearable as this war goes on and it is followed by others, equally illegitimate and already mapped out by the belligerent US regime. Trust me, I have lived under imperialism. It may bestow some advantages, and some keen new liberal imperialists, such as the journalist John Lloyd and the diplomat Robert Cooper, think this hegemony will be a force for immeasurable good; but not so, not at all. Another power controlling your destiny is hard to bear. Dollars cannot make up for freedom and self-determination being violated. And the proud people of this country, and of Iraq, will soon understand this.

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