Student Heading to Iraq

Dan Rowlands The Cambridge Student, 23 January 2003, page 2

A Cambridge student is heading to Iraq this week to act as a "human shield", in the face of the increasing threat of military strikes on the troubled Gulf state. Shane Mulligan, a PhD student in International Relations at Jesus, is part of a peace mission aiming to deliver supplies to the sanction-hit Iraqis and to occupy possible military targets ahead of any bombing campaign.

The inspiration for Mr Mulligan's decision is the example of direct action set by Ken O'Keefe, the former US marine and Gulf War veteran responsible for organising the mission. The 'Truth Justice Peace' Action Human Shield Iraq Project, which is funded entirely by voluntary contributions, has currently raised enough money to transport around 100 volunteers to Iraq by bus.

Shadow Defence Secretary Bernard Jenkins MP has been quoted as describing the human shields as "useful idiots" who will "simply be serving the propaganda interests of an evil dictator", a view Mr Mulligan refutes. "What's my choice? I can't bear to stay at home and be a useful idiot for Tony Blair. Hopefully we will get enough support from people to create a wave of opposition in the UK and prevent the war."

Whilst acknowledging the possibility of being used for propaganda purposes by the Iraqi regime, Mr Mulligan feels there is already a form of propaganda at work in the West, with the inactivity of opponents to the war being interpreted as consent to the Government's actions. His advice to Cambridge students or academics opposed to the war is unequivocal: "If you really want to stop the war then you have to give something of yourself, give some effort. Think of the cost of being here at university or of how much you pay in tax each year - give some money to an organisation that's trying to make the Government listen. The Government interprets inaction as consent. If you want to stop the war you've got to put yourself out there. Make the effort!"