Joe Hendren

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Iraq can be a St Paddy's day issue

On Saturday I joined the anti-war march in Auckland. Scoop has a neat little video with extended coverage of the march here.

There was also the St Patricks Day parade on at the same time, so we had to wait until the paddy costumes had cleared Queen St. As I mulled over the possibility of us cheekly joining in the end of the St Patricks Day parade, even though it was going in the opposite direction, I began to consider the comparisons that can be made between centuries of English imperialism in Ireland and US imperialism in Iraq. The US controlled Green Zone of Baghdad is a modern equivalent of the Pale, the small area around English controlled Dublin in the 14th-15th century. The English phase 'beyond the Pale' has very anti Irish overtones.

The English policy of 'plantation' of Protestant settlers, now has its counterpart in the way the US is lining its multinationals up to take the oil, and the no bid contracts for 'services' in Iraq are nothing but a modern form of Elizabethan patronage. I might add that such practices are now considered corruption.

But then I made the mistake of thinking a St Patrick's Day parade had anything to do with a celebration of Irish Independence. A friend told me they specifically banned any 'political' floats some years ago - meaning the parade was only a 'celebration' of things Irish that have been co-opted by consumerism. So not very Irish at all.

While the Irish eventually got rid of the British in the South, the Americans arrived after World War Two as a brand new bunch of Normans.

The US also currently uses the Irish airport at Shannon to fuel its wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Terror (wherever country that is). This may endanger Ireland's claim to be a neutral power. In April 2003 the High Court of Ireland ruled that for Ireland to be a Neutral Power under international law, it must prevent "belligerents from making use of neutral territories and neutral resources for their military purposes". Wikipedia also reports:

On 6 December 2005, the BBC programme Newsnight alleged that Shannon was used on at least 33 occasions by United States Central Intelligence Agency flights, thought to be part of a US policy called extraordinary rendition, referring to the non-judicial transfers of prisoners to other jurisdictions, including those where interrogation routinely uses torture. The New York Timesreported the number to be 33, though referring to "Ireland" rather than Shannon, while Amnesty International has alleged the number of flights to be 50, a figure they published in response to Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern, who had pledged to investigate rendition if presented with evidence.

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