The Guardian 6 April, 2005

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Letters to the Editor

Telling the world

It's quite amazing really. Even Nazi Germany did not go as far in its quest for world domination as the US leaders are doing. Bush, Condoleezza Rice and other spokespersons are routinely telling other countries what they should do and what they should not do.

Just the other day the US was telling the European Union not to lift its embargo on the sale of weapons to China although, just as routinely, the US beefs up the military might of Japan, Taiwan, Pakistan and other "friendly" countries.

Then it was Pakistan's turn to get the stick. US leaders told that country that it should not be engaged in discussions with Iran about building a gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan very necessary for Pakistan's industrial development. Iran, of course, is part of Bush's "axis of evil" and no-one should even talk to THEM.

China is regularly told what it should and should not do about Taiwan which is part of China anyway a fact that has been accepted by the US on numerous occasions. Then the US is not backward in telling China that it should "restrain" the north Koreans and even that China should impose a trade embargo on the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Russia is told that it should "democratise" otherwise relations will "cool". Cuba and the DPRK are quite beyond any consideration at all. Cuba is still suffering a 40 years plus trade embargo imposed by the US and Korea is regularly threatened with undisclosed retaliation if it does not bow to American demands.

Iran is also regularly told of dire things that will happen to it unless it stops its efforts to build up its nuclear energy capacity. Without any evidence the US leaders assert that Iran is on the path to build nuclear weapons although the International Atomic Energy Agency hasn't found any evidence. It's just another case of weapons of mass destruction which did not exist in Iraq. But the truth is of little concern to the US leaders. They can manipulate much of the media to say whatever they are told.

Syria is being told to remove its troops from Lebanon despite the fact that a considerable section of Lebanese opinion wants them to stay. It would not be much of an alternative for Lebanon for Syrian troops to go and then to find their country again invaded by Israel or even occupied by US troops. It should not be forgotten that the US tried that game before and got its fingers badly burnt.

Is it any wonder that the US leaders have pushed the United States into the "most hated country" category? It may not be long before the posturing of the US leaders will bring them tumbling down. The sooner the better, I say.

Bruce Gillman
Sydney, NSW

Police exchange

Is now the time to start a revolution? Peter Beattie recently hinted that Queensland police will travel to the US on an exchange program for a few months to patrol the streets and learn new tactics. The LAPD will in turn patrol the streets of Brisbane. Not if but when it happens, who will save us from these terrorist tyrants?

Tony H

Some thoughts on the death of a Pope

Howard has praised the dead Pope as a champion of freedom and democracy. What hypocrisy!

Popes are elected by a conclave of cardinals who are all appointed by the Pope and Pope John Paul II has been for years stacking the conclave which is to elect the next Pope. Of the 117 Cardinals, 114 have been appointed by the Pope John Paul II. Talk about blatant branch stacking.

By this means the Pope ensured that the next Pope will be equally conservative. He intended that there be no change in the Vatican's religious or political policies.

There is nothing democratic about the Catholic Church or for that matter any of the church denominations. The priests, ministers, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, etc, are all appointed from top to bottom. None of them are elected by their flock. Telling the flock to be submissive and to accept their lot as "God's will" is one of the main objectives of the ideological brainwashing and PR spin of all churches. Pope John Paul II was a master of spin and PR. Even in his last days the PR campaign was put into top gear by the church bureaucracy.

The wall to wall media coverage of the Pope's death seems to suggest that the powers that be are intent on promoting the Catholic Church as a bastion of conservative politics even above other churches at least in Australia. Perhaps the conservatives see all sorts of threats to themselves gathering on the horizon and they want to huddle together to maintain their power.

A vain hope! You can fool some of the people all the time and some of the people some of the time but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

Eyes open

No beacon of shining light

While it may be true that shortly after a pope's death there will be a degree of pressure to emphasise the positive aspects of that person's life that does not mean we cannot have some balance about John Paul II. While he may have kissed the ground in many countries, his legacy of negativity in the church and the wider world will outlast those empty gestures.

He followed a very conservative agenda at all levels of the church and in the world. In essence he gave support to the US and its aggressive agenda against people. He destroyed the notion of a "fundamental option for the poor" of the church and converted it to an option for the rich.

In church terms he is to be likened to the little instrument that snuffs out the church candles. He really snuffed out a lot of positive features of the church when he took office. He set about to destroy "liberation theology", which had originated in South America because of the fierce oppression of various US-supported dictators. The church in South America was so supportive of people's liberation that a "Rockefeller Report" about South America of the Reagan era declared "the Catholic Church is no longer the friend of the US".

John Paul II quickly corrected that impression by creating Cardinals and bishops out of priests with right-wing sympathies. His work in South America was an early stage of his papacy but it set the scene for many more "snuffings".

If he were a "people's pope", he would have been more understanding of the plight of women. He denied birth control to the millions of women of the third world and failed to take a stand against AIDS.

John Paul II was a pope for the wealthy conservative minority of the world. Why else would President Bush be so fulsome in his praise of him?

Denis Doherty
Glebe, NSW

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