Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Iraq 10 Years On

10 years on from Iraq and still Blair is a free man. No trial, no charge, not even an arrest. The invasion of Iraq has probably got to be the biggest crime my country has committed since my birth. Certainly the most straight forward case of war crimes and breach of international law. How can we expect people across the world to obey the rule of law when we flaunt it so frivolously?

And what legacy have we left Iraq? Some argue that although the motives may have been dubious, we have removed a tyrant and installed democracy, leaving the country in a better state than before the invasion. I cannot see this. I see a corrupt government using the banner of democracy to hide their wealth accumulation. I see constant sectarian violence terrorising the innocent and vulnerable. I see a lack of eduction and jobs. Saddam Hussein was a vicious dictator, few would disagree, I certainly wouldn't. But, are the normal citizens of Iraq generally better off now than before the invasion? With the exception of the Kurds, the evidence seems to suggest, NO.

It was wrong and immoral to attack and invade Iraq, and the mess we left the country in is a crime in its self. I do not feel good about belonging to a country that has committed such terrible acts. To see Blair, among others, on trial at The Hague, would go some way to addressing the injustices the Iraqi people have endured. It would also send a clear message to the international community and discourage any further abuses. Unfortunately this is unlikely to happen.

It looks quite a distinct possibility that Iran may be the next victim. Iran is constantly vilified in the media, and it's true that the regime there is brutal and oppressive, but they show no physical aggression towards their neighbours or beyond, they are not a threat to world peace, not like we, the US and Israel are. Hopefully, with much of the British population feeling let down by are exploits in Iraq, public opinion against any involvement in such an act will be strong enough to dissuade the government in participating. I'm sure the streets will see unprecedented numbers of protesters if the people are ignored.      

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Drug Test For Every Employee

There is a school of thought at the moment that as part of the fight against drugs, every single employee should be drug tested at their place of work. This proposition seems to have gained at least some popular support, although as far as I can tell no politician is pushing for this yet. Leaving aside any possible breach of human rights and invasion of privacy, which is not to be taken lightly, this seems to me to be an ill-considered proposal which would have deeply damaging social implications.

Of course, the idea is that employees who take drugs will reconsider doing so, due to the possibility of loosing their job through being tested positive at work. This may well be the case for some occasional drug takers, but what happens to those, for example, who are regular cannabis smokers and who are not willing to forgo one of their pleasures? Estimates of adult cannabis usage in the UK put the figures anywhere between 6% - 9% of the population. Even if we take a very conservative estimate, that's well over 3 million cannabis users of working age. That's potentially 3 million people, many of whom are good and productive workers, now unemployed and claiming benefits. And the perverse thing is that takers of harder drugs, such as ecstasy and cocaine, have a better chance of keeping their jobs as their drugs of choice take a much shorter period of time to work their way out of the body.

What a scandal this would lead to if passed in law. Employers would loose many of their best workers, those who lost their job would find it extremely difficult to find new employment, and the drain on our already very tight public funds would be immense. I'm not condoning anyone going into work under the influence of any drug, including alcohol, but as long as an employee is doing their job to a satisfactory level, is it really of any concern to the employer what they do outside of work?