Life on the side in Tokyo

Friday, December 30, 2005

Why are we still in Iraq?

There is a lot of anger and many protests about the O.I.L (Operation Iraq Liberation) in the Middle East, Europe, North America and elsewhere, but not much noise here in Japan comparatively speaking (though about 70,000 in Tokyo gathered to protest). During the Vietnam War, university students, labour unions and other organized groups got out more people, but there is a different atmosphere today I think. The mainstream media, for one, is mostly an apologist for the government. The whole war campaign by the Japanese "Self Defense Force" has been sold as a humanitarian mission since they are there to help rebuild and are not part of the combat mission. Though not entirely incorrect, they are still one of the occupying armies supporting the US (actually the SDF is mostly hiding in its own fortified "green zone").

It may be a pragmatic decision by the Japanese government to protect oil interests and stay warm and cozy under the protection of America in case North Korea or China cause trouble. Still, no amount of pragmatics should silence a peace-loving people when they see all the images of the dead, dying and maimed and hear of the tourture of innocent people. We all are complicit and have to speak out. My adopted country, Japan, is at war with a people that has never attacked or caused us harm. WE ARE AT WAR! WHY? All the reasons for going to war have turned out to be lies, so why are we still at war, especially since it is unconstitutional?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

My life, at what cost to theirs?

The other day President Bush gave another speech and talked about the price of freedom. What he failed to mention was the cost of his war campaigns, in lost and damaged lives, torn social fabrics, increased emotional instability, damaged natural and built environments, shrinking faith (if there is any left) in leadership and government, in diminished human rights...the list goes on (For an analysis by economists).

Of course the real costs cannot be measured in numbers, though we can indeed count the mounting number of victims against the increased profits for the military industy. But how do we estimate in quantitative terms the pain on the faces of these people or, in more basic terms, the value of clean water, healthy food, safe shelter a decent upbringing and education and peace of mind? These things that most people take for granted in wealthy countries, must they come at a cost to others? To protect our freedom to live in dignity, must we strip such dignity away from the less powerful and less fortunate? My life, at what cost to theirs?