Write On: Letters to Green Left Weekly

Issue 

VPN and the 'Troops out' demand

Reading James Vassilopoulos article "Canberrans organise against Bush" (Green Left Weekly #555), I was very surprised at Socialist Alternative member Rick Kuhn's justification not to adopt the demand "All troops out" for the Canberra anti-Bush protest.

According to the article, he suggested that the Victorian Peace Network (VPN) did not support this demand and hence might not send buses to the Canberra protest. This is plainly incorrect.

After much discussion, the VPN decided at its last affiliates' meeting not to call a protest in Melbourne against the occupation of Iraq and Bush's impending visit but to send some buses to a national demonstration — without strings attached.

I would urge Rick Kuhn to check out the VPN web site and also familiarise himself with the VPN charter which supports "an end to foreign military interventions in these regions, including the withdrawal of Australian, American and other foreign military forces".

There is a healthy and an important debate within the VPN on what to do next in the anti-war movement, the role of the United Nations in Iraq and the question of a transition to democracy in Iraq, amongst other issues. Nowhere that I am aware of has a decision been made in the VPN not to support the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Margarita Windisch
Melbourne

What "truth", Kev?

Labor's Kevin Rudd has accused John Howard of being "loose with the truth" during his pathetic campaign to try and justify or legitimise the recent renegade action, instigated by the USA, in which they: A) disregarded and overthrew the authority of the United Nations and its apparatus in Iraq, which was effectively bringing incrementally increased scrutiny to bear on Saddam Hussein in a patient, civilised and non-violently reasoned manner, and B) declared war on, attacked and invaded Iraq with deadly and destructive military force, in total absence, on Iraq's part, of any move or behaviour to warrant or justify such action.

Rudd implies that, rather than Howard having been a willing, knowing participant and accomplice to a litany of deliberate and outright premeditated lies and deceit, he was merely being "loose" or liberally manipulative with this alleged "truth".

What truth or truths is Mr Rudd referring to?

Does he mean Saddam Hussein's (still alleged) huge, world-threatening stockpile of chemo and bio WMDs were not actually non-existent, just a little exaggerated? (Even so, can we call be shown just one of them?)

Is he saying that his claims relating to the degree of Hussein's immediate threat to the whole world, and his capacity to launch a reign of global death and destruction within 45 minutes, were more some kind of overstatements than the outright lies many of us have regarded them to be?

Perhaps Mr Rudd would be kind enough to enlighten some of us by expanding further to clearly frame and identify the particular truth(s) he claims Howard has merely been "loose" with because, if there is any truth existing in all this, it has damn-well evaded our perception and discernment of it thus far!

PM McVean
Darwin

Pirooz Davani

In recent years Iran has witnessed a new wave of terror and scrutiny launched on pro-democracy political activists. Chain murders and abduction of Iranian journalists and opponent political leaders, despite being a long tradition of the fundamentalist regime, has appeared under a newly reconstructed vigilante organisation supported by the conservatives inside the governing structure and most prominently the Iranian judiciary system controlled by the Islamic hardliners.

Pirooz Davani was a primary target for the regime's security forces as he openly vowed for deeper democratic reforms through his organisation, the Organisation of Left Unity for Democracy in Iran. He was last seen in August 1997 before an abduction allegedly carried out by the insiders in the Islamic regime. The abduction later became the first of a chain of murders in which five other Iranian intellectuals and journalists were killed. Through the media, the government ironically tried not to link the disappearance of Pirooz to the chain murders in order to marginalise the disappearance of a socialist figure.

Born in 1961, Pirooz Davani joined the Iranian revolution to overthrow the Pahlavi dynasty. He was arrested in 1981 for his alleged links to the communist opposition and was imprisoned for seven months. After his release from prison and under the regimes unprecedented pressure on left in early years of the revolution, Pirooz attempted to re-organise the socialist forces which lead to the necessity of a different approach and interpretations of socialism to enhance the compatibility of theories to new socio-political conditions of the country.

As a true philanthropist Pirooz maintained an ever lasting relation with the families of political prisoners. In 1988, following the mass execution of political prisoners, he launched a new campaign against the totalitarian regime by divulging their crimes. In winter of 1991, Pirooz was again arrested for his activities and after spending six months in solitary confinement, was sentenced to four years in prison. He was released from prison in 1995.

Following his release, and in the wake of promised reforms by the newly elected president Muhammad Khatami, Pirooz Davani established a cultural institute to publish and promote new interpretation of left's struggle for democracy in Iran. The attempt successfully gained overwhelming support from various political groups and intellectual circles and lead to creation of the Organisation of Unity for Democracy in Iran.

Pirooz Davani was last seen in late August 1998 while leaving his residence in Tehran. His family has been since trying to find traces of his whereabouts by appealing to various humanitarian organisations worldwide and also creating a web site (<http://www.piroozdavani.com>).

Ardeshir Gholipoor
Port Hedland immigration detention centre WA

End Israel's occupation

How can anyone be expected to seriously believe the repeated statements by Israel and its supporters that to stop Palestinian violence, Israel must build a wall, that Arafat has to go into exile or that the Palestinian Authority has to repress and disarm the militants. These are all Israeli distractions from the real crux of the problem.

The only effective way to decrease Palestinian resistance and resolve the Palestinian issue is for Israel to stop the occupation, withdraw from the Palestinian territories and stop building illegal settlements there. The Palestinian violence is a reaction to the Israeli occupation.

Any other so-called solutions that negate this central fact are just pathetic side issues and delays while suffering on both sides continues.

Steven Katsineris
Hurstbridge Vic

Miss University

I have read your article on your views regarding beauty pageants (GLW #551) and whilst I commend some of your ideas I think it is a rather extreme point of view.

I am a national finalist in the Miss University beauty pageant. I am proud to be involved in this pageant because it not only focuses on the physical beauty of the contestants but also on their intelligence and professionalism.

I understand that some modelling competitions such as Miss Indy portray some girls as a piece of meat, but from some young females' point of view this is a compliment and not a negative experience for them. Many girls dream of being famous/rich etc. and sometimes this is the best way for them to be recognised and to have a great time.

The prizes are great and for some uni students the prize money can help to pay tuition or to get your car serviced etc! Something else to consider is that these modelling competitions raise revenue for various charities, some of which are for women's and children's refuges for victims of domestic violence, drug problems and prostitutes who wish to turn their life around.

Rose McDonnell
Perth

Bjorn Lomborg

Bjorn Lomborg, high-profile author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and critic of many green views, will visit Australia soon. But will anyone challenge his irrational position on climate change?

Lomborg accepts that human activity is contributing to costly global warming. His (conservative) figures suggest that dramatically cutting greenhouse gas emissions may increase total wellbeing. Nevertheless, he opposes anything more than minor cuts.

His argument is that it is unfair to impose any substantial costs associated with reducing emissions on a current, relatively poor generation in order to save future, relatively rich generations from climate change.

However, any emission reduction costs will primarily fall on wealthier nations whereas climate change will mostly harm less affluent nations. And in a few decades, when climate change may really bite, citizens in poorer nations will still be worse-off than citizens in rich nations are today.

By his own avowedly internationally egalitarian standards, Lomborg should argue that large cuts in greenhouse gas emissions would bring benefits.

Brent Howard
Rydalmere NSW

Bacteriological warfare

John Howard assured us that the reason for fighting a billion-dollar war in Iraq was to combat weapons of mass destruction but so far none has been found.

Now that bacteriological warfare has broken out in Australia in the form of the meningococcal bacterium and mainly young lives are crippled or snuffed out, we are told that the government will not subsidise the $500 per vaccination cost. This is consistent with the Howard government's principles: that the children of the affluent are more worthy than those of the poor.

Gareth Smith and Maxine Caron
Byron Bay NSW

From Green Left Weekly, October 1, 2003.

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