My son sent me a video clip this morning. In spite of the seriousness of the subject, it made me smile. The speaker, Clare Daly – an Independent MP representing Dublin North – is making a speech to the Irish Parliament. Although she made the speech back in June, it is painfully relevant today, as the US hovers on the brink of going to war with Syria.
She spoke like I often write. The difference being that I edit myself several times to tone down my anger and rage when confronted with unbearable injustice. Clare Daly doesn’t have to deal with editorial censorship. She is obviously a gutsy woman and she speaks, I believe, for ordinary people the world over.
The occasion of her speech was President Obama’s visit to Ireland – and she had obviously had enough. She asked why a section of the Irish press and politicians were fawning sycophantically over the Obamas, focusing on what Michelle had for lunch rather than asking important questions about the critical and explosive political issues.
She hated Obama's hypocrisy. He had the gall to speak to Irish schoolchildren about how anyone who voted for peace would have US backing. Obama rubbed salt into her wounds. He had the nerve to tell an Irish audience ‘we will be the wind in your back.’
But Clare Daly pointed out that Obama is the peacenik who has increased the use of drones by 200 per cent, killing thousands of innocent people including hundreds of children. She asked ‘is this person [Obama] going for the hypocrite of the century award? Because we have to call things by their proper names, and the reality is that, by any serious examination, this man is a war criminal.’ Daly continued in mode j'accuse. She couldn’t abide Ireland being ‘showcased as a nation of pimps, prostituting ourselves for a pat on the head!’
Daly quoted Oxfam's warning against sending more arms into Syria.. Past conflicts show that violence and instability escalates and chaos takes over when intervention is armed. Oxfam makes the following plea: that Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama and the UN and Arab League Envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, use their political influence to get all parties involved around the table to find a solution to the crisis. For talks to be a success, they must include representatives of the peaceful majority of Syrians, including women's groups and refugees who want this nightmare to end. Moreover, the talks should be backed unequivocally by the international community, which must refrain from any acts or statements that risk undermining the process.
Americans have had enough of fighting futile wars. US credibility reached an all-time low when the world discovered that the Bush-Blair duo had lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Now when Cameron and Obama talk about conclusive evidence the world laughs bitterly and cynically. The majority of US citizens are sick of war. But will Obama, who went to the polls promising peace and progress, bomb Syria because he has to prove his credibility; because he has to maintain the image of the US as still all-powerful, under his watch?
The chemical attack on innocent civilians in Syria was terribly, terribly wrong. But making a bad situation worse will not help Syria. A political process is the only solution. Global grandstanding will only take the US into a deeper mess. It’s the last thing Syrian civilians need. It’s the last thing ordinary US citizens want.
So will Obama, Putin, the UN and other Middle Eastern players put together a plan for peace? We can only wait and watch. And join Pope Francis in his global prayer for peace.