Dr M: Criminalize war

Found this on BigDog’s blog, Dr Mahathir’s speech in Imperial College, London, touching on war issues. Good speech, in my opinion.

Expose War Crimes: Criminalize War

. It is heartening to be asked to speak on criminalizing war – a subject that needs to be taken up by all civilized people. How can we claim to be civilized when we condone and legalise mass killings of men, women and children, the old and the sick as a solution to conflicts between nations. We usually consider the most successful killers, the ones who do the most amount of damage as the winners and they are entitled to put thr losers on trial and punish them, including murdering them. The judges in these courts are nationals of the winning countries. There can be no impartiality.

. Yet at the same time we consider murder as a very serious crime which merit severe punishment. The more civilized countries claim to be so concerned about human life that they have abolished the death penalty, even for murderes.

. There is something wrong there. How can we object to the murder of individual when approve mass killing of innocent people. Yet that is what we do in war – we kill people, not always soldiers who may kill us but, now, more and more often, innocent civilians who can do us no harm.

. We would strive hard to raise money to treat one cancer patient for example. We are so human and humane. Yet we think nothing of killing healthy people by ten of thousands.

. That is what war really is – not a glorious struggle for democracy and human rights, but merely to satisfy the crazy ambitions of lying leaders of the powerful countries. In the old days leaders and generals lead from the front. The cowardly leaders of today stay clear thousands of miles from the front, sipping wine and gorging themselves on the finest food.

. The arms trade is destroying the economies of many poor countries. Yet the exporting countries are not benefitting either. They have to continue investing in research and development of newer and efficient killing machines. The cost will mount and keep mounting as the new technologies and innovative designs require even more sophistication and expensive material. And if the powerful countries go to war, as America has done in Iraq, the cost to the country is mind-boggling. The cost of the war in Iraq for the U.S. is estimated by Joseph Stiglitz the Nobel Laureate to be more than US$ 3 trillion dollars so far. It is going to go on gulping more and more money. Even the U.S. cannot afford to lose this amount of money, especially when victory has not and will not be achieved. Imagine what we can do for the poor and the sick of the world with just a fraction of the 3 trillion.

. And the whole world is suffering also. Everyone has to spend more money on security, air travel is no longer safe, and lots of money have to be expanded on checking the so-called Muslim terrorists. Far from war against Iraq resulting in the spread of democracy in the Middle East, it has brought about the spread of instability and insecurity to the whole world.

. The rich and militarily powerful countries should take note of this. All their money, weapons and tactical skills will avail them of nothing. They will lose fighting against the countries weaker than them, and they will suffer death and destruction if they fight against countries which can match their military capability. In the end, they would still achieve nothing.

. The rise in oil prices are connected with war. And oil prices affect the process of all goods. In other words, the increase in oil prices brings about inflation. The poor of this world will be the ones most affected. But the rich will suffer also. We are seeing this happening now.

. The wars will be clearly bankrupt the world. And yet the wars will solve none of the problems of humanity, none of the conflicts between nations. The cost in human lives and property is literally killing.

. Yet war between nations is actually duel on a grand scale. Seventy million people were killed in the Second World War. Property that was worth trillions of dollars were destroyed. The Allies proclaimed the winners. But what have the winners got to show for all these? Was justice served? Were the people killed brought back to life? Was the huge sums of money expended recovered? Was there any profit for anyone?

. The answer to all these questions must be resounding “NO”. No one gained anything from war. Everyone lost. And the cost in human suffering is inmeasurable.

. I say criminalize war and punish the leaders and the people who resort to war in order to settle disputes with other countries.

Read the full script here.


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