Weapons of Mass Destruction

Dear Readers:

In 2003, Iraq was invaded by a self-proclaimed coalition of the willing, and Barbados took a firm stance against such coalitions invading a country without the sanction of the United Nations (UN).

There have always been coalitions of the willing who have felt compelled to act due to the offensiveness of atrocities committed by governments of other nations. Such coalitions have also been severely criticized by some non-coalition members who felt that a diplomatic solution should have been sought, and that the invasion of a sovereign nation was premature or wrong.

When the Grenadian army murdered most of the Grenadian cabinet ministers in 1983, Barbados participated in a coalition of the willing who felt compelled to take immediate action, without UN approval, and despite the objections of other Caribbean states. The UN should be a respected institution, however its bureaucracy does not always lend it to respond in a timely manner, and due to its structure, sometimes it does not respond at all.

One of the most horrific events in my lifetime was the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. UN peace-keeping forces were stationed in Rwanda, and they warned the UN about the impending slaughter. The UN did nothing. When approximately 10,000 Rwandans were being murdered every day, the UN forbade their UN troops from intervening, and the UN Security Council unanimously voted to withdraw most of their troops. After approximately 200,000 Rwandans were massacred, the UN Security Council passed a resolution condemning the killings.

This genocide continued every day for over 3 months while the UN Security Council debated the issue. Over 800,000 Rwandans were murdered and thousands of women were systematically raped and infected with HIV/AIDS. The world looked to the UN to intervene, the UN debated and passed resolutions, while innocent Rwandan civilians died, hoping in vain for a coalition of the willing.

The atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 killed approximately 105,000 Japanese and qualified as weapons of mass destruction. The hands who murdered 800,000 Rwandans, simply because they happened to be born into a different tribe, must also qualify as weapons of mass destruction.

In 1998, the Serbian army massacred tens of thousands of Muslim Kosovar Albanians. Once again the world looked to the UN to stop the slaughter. The UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for both sides to enter into a dialogue, while Muslim men continued to be massacred, and tens of thousands of Muslim women were taken to rape camps and gang raped. The victims hoped for a coalition of the willing, and a coalition responded by invading Bosnia without UN approval, and despite protests from other nations.

Some conflicts are internal, like the current elevated levels of crime in Jamaica and Guyana. However, when a government authorises its agents to torture and murder civilians, then it ceases to become only an internal matter. It becomes the responsibility of those nations with a conscience.

Were the atrocities that were committed in Grenada, Rwanda, and Serbia immediate threats to the world? Probably not. Are the atrocities committed in Iraq, Zimbabwe, and the Sudan similar threats? Probably not. However if I lived in one of those countries, and they came for me, then the pain inflicted by my torturers would pale in comparison to the disgust that I would feel for those trying to discourage any help from coming my way. I cannot image the horror that the Rwandans felt when they saw the UN soldiers leave, thereby condemning them to certain torture and death?

Let me state that I completely agree with our Prime Minister’s suggestion that the actions of the current coalition of the willing have no place in a civilized world. However, it is very easy for us to sit in a land blessed by God with relative peace, forget that the world is not yet a civilized place, and judge those who feel compelled to respond to the atrocities being committed by governments of other nations. We much prefer an academic debate on the sovereign rights of national governments, and refuse to acknowledge the greater human rights of individuals. We have become almost completely insensitive to the torture of civilians in other nations who desperately cling to the fading hope of a liberator.

The most horrific atrocity in my lifetime has been the senseless torture and killing of the most vulnerable among us. Our hands were designed, inter alia, to gently receive the next generation into our nations, and babies instinctively trust our hands. Rather than lovingly welcome them into this world, many who should know better betray that trust, and send them into the next world after inflicting upon them the most cruel and inhumane torture imaginable, simply because they happed to be conceived. With over 40 million babies tortured and killed in the USA alone, and thousands in Barbados annually, those hands must certainly qualify as the most deadly weapons of mass destruction to date.

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