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Tuesday, 11 February, 2003, 19:06 GMT
For and against: The anti-war soldier
Iraqi soldier in front of a Saddam Hussein poster
The prospect of war with Iraq is looming
This week we ask Britons from a variety of walks of life for their view on war with Iraq. First up is ex-soldier John Berry, 54, of Edinburgh, who plans to march for peace this Saturday.

I'm no pacifist but I firmly believe that a war has to have a just cause.

John Berry, photo copyright of Scottish Viewpoint
John Berry served in the army for 14 years
The last Gulf War was a bit of a sham, as this one will be. Yes, Iraq did invade Kuwait in 1991, but America's reasons for throwing them out were questionable - so too are the reasons this time.

I hope to make it to Glasgow this coming weekend for the rally. But I really do despair, for no matter what, we all know the likely outcome.

I know in my heart that this rally will not make a jot of difference to the decision-makers. But come the next general election, when we next get a chance to make our voices heard, Tony Blair will be out on his ear.

Even as an ex-soldier, I find it incredible that we can commit so many servicemen and women to a conflict without the say so of an elected parliament.

Your anti-war protest pictures:
Gallery 1

I've no doubt that Iraq deserves a better person at the helm, but like it or not, it's a country in its own right. Toppling Saddam Hussein must be done democratically - it is up to the Iraqi people to decide who their leader should be, once Saddam's grip on the helm has been loosened.

Tank in front of flaming oil wells in 1991
John Berry's sons fought in the last Gulf War
That's not to say that the international community does not have a part to play.

Amnesty International is doing a marvellous job, and these are the people who should be to the fore. And I applaud France and Germany for refusing to toe the US line and instead pushing for inspections, not war.

I really do believe that the greatest threat to the UK still comes from dissident IRA groups rather than Islamic militants. A war with Iraq will surely change that - I fear it will unleash a dreadful storm.

God help and forgive us all, but most of all, help the poor children of Iraq.

Some of your comments so far:

Toppling a leader democratically in an undemocratic country is nigh on impossible. When was the last time you heard of elections in any country led by a dictator or military leadership?
Ali, UK

The last dictator I heard of getting voted out was Daniel arap Moi in Kenya a few months ago. There are numerous other examples of dictators being removed by the will of the people, whether by electoral means or other.
Rob Knell, UK

I don't think I've seen a bigger gulf between government policy and public opinion since the poll tax rallies that brought down Thatcher. I'm joining John Berry at the rally in Glasgow to try to prevent future atrocities in Iraq and the acts of terror they may provoke. I, like John, am not sure how much attention they will give to our opinions, but I've never heard of such a diversity and number of people willing to march to see if they do.
Katy, UK

Having a view similar to most Brits but living in the US, it is difficult to keep a tight lip. Those over here who do not agree with the war keep quiet as it's seen as being unpatriotic and VERY liberal if you do not support the president. It amazes me when the will to fight Iraq is under assumption of evidence, while North Korea is threatening a pre-emptive strike.
Mark, California

I say just keep the inspectors there - for as long as it takes. They may never find anything, but even if Saddam Hussein really is hiding weapons of mass destruction, he can't use them. If there is a war, he will have nothing to lose. The consequences of military action could be very grave indeed.
Richard, UK

We should not go to war unless there is a clear, identified threat to the governance and society of the UK (or maybe the US). If the US go to war, Britain (and Britons) will be targeted by yet more "terrorists".
Alastair Cowe, England

I too was in the British Army. However, I believe Iraqis must be helped militarily to topple Saddam to end their suffering. He is a menace to the region. I have no problem with sending our servicemen to war in the Gulf as it vital to take the battle to the enemy.
Neil Rubin, UK

With out doubt the people of Iraq are suffering. They need help, not war, and with the draconian trade restrictions in place they are only being made to suffer more. It should be remembered that much of the suffering is a result of starvation and lack of basic medical supplies and these essentials are being denied them by Western governments.
Andrew Crawford, UK

What we really need is a new International Order in which democracy, justice and peace prevails. This US-policed world goes nowhere. Ideally, a new and meaningful United Nations with more power is needed.
Mike, UK

There was an election in Iraq. Saddam "won" 100% of the vote. There are no opposition parties, no free press and no real political institutions of any kind. How then is he to be toppled democratically? War is vile, and warranted only as a remedy for things that are viler still, like regimes with track records of mass murder and torture.
Alan, UK

I couldn't agree with John more - a war has to have a just cause. It seems clear that: 1) Iraq isn't linked with Al Qaeda in any substantive way. We've had members living here, but no one suggests the UK backs them. 2) Iraq isn't imminently threatening us, or any of its neighbours. 3) No weapons of mass destruction have been found. 4) The British people or parliament have been given no say. I'm not a pacifist. Some of the people living in Afghanistan were a threat and we were right to take action. But this war is all about oil, and I don't want to see my country doing something for which we may have to pay the price for years to come.
Martyn Gay, London

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We ask Britons from a variety of walks of life for their view on war with Iraq

See also:

11 Feb 03 | Europe
11 Feb 03 | Talking Point
15 Jan 01 | Middle East
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