Columban Father Shay Cullen is a parish priest and director of the Preda Institute in the Philippines, which runs projects for street children and families. He ha been nominated for the Nobel Prize several times fo4r his campaign against sex tourism. The New Year came in with little hope that salvation would come and the peace would reign on earth. We have to work harder for that. There have been positive developments in the past year in the Congo and elsewhere but much more has to be done. The hanging of Saddam Hussein solves nothing but inflames even more violence in the Middle East. Pope Benedict bravely appealed to Muslims to abandon all violence especially violence in the name of religion and yet Western nations who have rejected true Christianity are just as violent. Extreme fundamentalist so-called right wing Christians see a holy war as justified to defend Israel and the Holy Land claiming it was bequeathed to them alone by God. The history of the past thirty years has sad tales to tell. In Iraq, Palestine, Darfur and many places where aggression, war and death is the brutal response to disputes between humans Western nations have had a hand. The western nations are the greatest weapons traders of all time. Corruption, bribery and skulduggery in trading blood diamonds for guns and grenades causes the death of millions of innocents. Britain has covered-up a bribery scandal over selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. Today, despite the welcome end of the cold war the nuclear weapons are still at the ready. Britain is planning to renew and upgrade its Trident submarine based nuclear missiles. Now Iran is determined to have their own nuclear bomb. North Korea is developing theirs further. The West is a provocative and prolific sower of poisoned political seeds. The masters of the multinationals want to control everything and everyone through their chosen political puppets. The Iranian bitterness at the West especially the United States administration of neo-conservatives (supported by the religious right) is not so much based on the fear of a Christian Crusade but because they instigated a coup and deposed a nationalist leader who nationalized the oil industry. In his place they installed the Shah who tried to establish a non-Islamic secular state. This infuriated the deeply religious clerics and devout Muslims and led by Khomeini they took power and held hostage the US Embassy staff. They still hold political power today. Their leader is constantly vowing to wipe Israel off the map and actively supports Islamic militants around the Middle East. When Saddam Hussein, the brutal tyrant and dictator of Iraq declared war on neighbouring Iran the West rushed to support him. He was lavishly armed and supported with deadly Western arms. The British arms industry supplied toxic substances, know-how and with German help built factories to make chemical and biological weapons. A German company provided the deadly poison gases as they supplied the Nazi gas chambers during WW11. Saddam used them against his own people, and the Kurds. The Bell corporation of the USA supplied the helicopters to Saddam Hussein to spray the clouds of death on the hapless Iranians. Little wonder the Iranians want to arm themselves with nuclear weapons. Saddam Hussein was wrongly and immorally supported by the West until he invaded Kuwait and threatened the Western industries oil supplies then he was declared a monster and a threat to world peace and stability. The Western powers claimed but never proved he possessed weapons mass destruction (ironically chemical weapons given by the West). That was the artificial and paper thin justification of the invasion of Iraq. It was naked aggression for the sake of getting cheap oil, and a chance to plunder billions of the good American taxpayers money through corrupt reconstruction projects that were paid for but few implemented. It was illegal and a violation of the UN charter. It's now a quagmire and 3,000 young American men are needlessly dead, 25,000 wounded and as many as 300,000 Iraqi civilians dead too as the slaughter goes on. Western forces can't get out so President George Bush is going to send in more. Will they never learn that violence leads to more and greater violence? Each of us can start in our own lives by sticking to a new year resolution for 2007 to put aside aggressive words, attitudes and behaviour toward our family and all others and resolve to be supportive, understanding, compassionate and develop a strong will to see justice done and peace and goodness prevail.
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St Prosper of Reggio
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