1) Can you tell ZNet, please, what your new book is about? What is it trying to communicate?
War Plan Iraq tries to explain and document how the US has been hostile to both UN weapons inspectors and to real regime change in Iraq. It also sets out reasons why a war on Iraq would be immoral and illegal, including the likely catastrophic effects on the civilian population. The book is intended to give anti- war activists the ammunition they need to win the argument and persuade the uncommitted. Recent history demonstrates that the US has tried to achieve ‘regime stabilisation and only leadership change’ in Iraq (by denying support to the uprisings in 1991, for example), and has prioritised these goals over the disarmament/inspection process in Iraq (by collapsing the UN weapons inspection process in December 1998, for example). The idea of the book was that it should be possible to give it to someone who is solidly pro-war and for them not to be able to immediately reject it, but be forced to engage with the depth of documentation and the sober presentation. Very important to the book are anti-war observations by relatives of September 11th victims <www.peacefultomorrows.org, and images and photographs of young Iraqis by artist Emily Johns and professional photographer Kim Weston-Arnold, as well as an important chapter addressing 9/11 by Noam Chomsky.
(2) Can you tell ZNet something about writing the book? Where does the content come from? What went into making the book what it is?
The bulk of the book draws on four years of full-time anti-sanctions/anti-war campaigning as joint coordinator of Voices in the Wilderness UK, and fourteen years of writing and activism on these topics with ARROW (Active Resistance to the Roots of War). Quite a bit of the content comes from reading the British newspapers closely over the course of the last year. The idea of the images and photographs is to humanise the Iraqi people, who I have met, and found enormously hospitable on my four sanctions-breaking delegations to Iraq over the past four years.
(3) What are your hopes for War Plan Iraq? What do you hope it will contribute or achieve, politically? Given the effort and aspirations you have for the book, what will you deem to be a success? What would leave you happy about the whole undertaking? What would leave you wondering if it was worth all the time and effort?
What do I hope for War Plan Iraq? I hope that it will be a useful tool for the international anti-war movement (it is being translated into Arabic, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Norwegian, Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese and Korean) and that it will help to swing/shore up domestic opinion in the US and the UK against war. I hope that it will encourage and empower anti-war activists and persuade the uncommitted to raise their voices against war. I already feel that the book was worth all the effort, because it has already helped a lot of people to resist propaganda and to win arguments and to deepen their understanding of the depths of cynicism and brutality with which we are faced. I can’t say that I am happy with the book and its effects, because I wish that there was some way that cultural efforts (books) and political efforts (organising civil disobedience and so on) could be sure of preventing mass destruction in Iraq. I’m glad people have found the book useful, including people like George Monbiot and Tariq Ali and Martin Thomas (our version of Michael Moore) and left-wing Labour MPs. In some tiny way the book is increasing the chances of survival of children in Iraq, that is its purpose and I have to be content with that.