I'll say one thing for visits to the Grassly-Khalifehs: they always give me something to put in my 'Blog.
It was a baby-packed party to celebrate Maryam's first birthday—and excellent fun it was too, hanging out in a sunny Hampstead garden with a crowd of well-behaved children of ages up ten (I think). Maryam is so entertaining these days—mind you, I don't have to live with her full time.
On the way there I read a flyer from (the supposedly politically neutral) Amnesty International: a shopping list of "The Human Cost" of war in Iraq. I only got as far as the first item.
Apparently, 50 000 Iraqis are going to die. The U.S. and British forces will really have to go some if they are to meet the ambitious target Amnesty has set for them. Even the anti-war iraqbodycount.net, considered to be systematically overestimating the numbers, has the civilian deaths at somewhere between 900 and 1 000. We could add in the horrifying speed and scale of Iraqi military deaths and still keep the figure well under 10 000, never mind 50 000. That's still grim, but let's not allow the facts or any sense of perspective to interfere with such a compelling and detailed argument.
Perhaps the "Coalition" could get back on track by gassing civilians or depriving the vulnerable of essential medicines. Maybe they could kill political dissidents and their families. How about starting a war with Iran or invading Kuwait?
(If wildly exaggerated predictions of death and destruction are your bag you can always visit Cambridge's very own Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. They've got them all. I wonder what CASI are going to do with themselves once the war's over—campaign for sanctions on Iraq?)
Crying wolf doesn't exactly help your credibility as an independent campaigning organisation—especially when your agenda is dictated by reflex anti-Americanism. Amnesty's professed policy:
"is never to comment on whether the use of military force is justified or appropriate."
That particular print run must have been an administrative error then. Ironic that it reads rather like the propaganda of some of the governments it chooses to point its nicely-manicured finger at.
I am a user of Amnesty's Website (Britain's bombing in Iraq at the top; Cuba's simultaneous round up of dissidents at the bottom). I have even tried to join the organisation on two or three occasions, but they screwed up my application. Perhaps if they contracted their membership services out to some faceless multinational with a clue about customer service they might generate some less biased supporters…
Anyway, at the party itself, an Englishman told me that entering into Baghdad would be long and bloody. Meanwhile, around the planet, the Americans had taken a little trip into the city, to within gobbing distance of Saddam's command bunker.
Then I struck up a conversation with Moussa, one of Hind's many cousins. Here's where the layers of irony start piling up. Moussa is a thoughtful, educated Palestinian who moved from Jordan a few months ago. He now lives in Tunbridge Wells, working as a civil engineer for, none other than Halliburton. He had plenty of interesting things to say about the war. He also explained how much better he was treated by the British than the Jordanians and how much more equal British society was.
You can't appreciate how precious these simple things are until you understand what it is to do without them.
Do you think "Blood For Hope" is glib, shallow and simplistic enough a slogan for unreflective "anti-war" types to understand?