But addressed equally to:

Polly Toynbee, Christopher Hitchens, Nick Cohen, David Aaronovitch, Melanie Phillips, Julie Burchill, Johann Hari, Thomas Friedman, Charles Krauthammer, et al.

From: Rhisiart Gwilym -

New Year, 2003

Dear Michael

I don't usually read the Times, or any other Murdoch property, but I ran across an old copy in the house of an acquaintance the other day, and in passing half an hour with tea and a bite I happened on your column. It was a gob-smacking experience!

You were urging the painful but necessary duty of making a full-scale military assault. On Iraq as it happens, but with the clear implication that there will have to be a whole string of other such attacks on other 'rogue' states, to follow in the near future.

You understand that quite inevitably this will kill many innocent, helpless citizens, including many children. But - like the infamous Madeleine Albright - you were reckoning that this is a sacrifice which they have to make, for the 'liberation' of their own countries and the greater safety of the world.

Or perhaps I should say: a sacrifice which they have to be made to make, since few will actually volunteer, I think.

From your measured and dignified tone in that piece I imagine that you will consider yourself a person of principle, honour and courage, Michael. So I want to offer to strike a bargain with you, which will require all that from both of us.

You are a voice of the influential mainstream media. So you carry quite a bit of weight in the media-drive to mobilise English public opinion to support - or at least to aquiesce in - England's active participation in the US aggression against, first, Afghanistan; now, Iraq; then on to the other victims lined up to be crushed and looted after Iraq.

This means, I suggest, that you will have a significant measure of personal responsibility for the deaths, maimings, mass destitution, and general grief and horror which are coming to all those suffering peoples - yet again - as they make their noble sacrifice for the higher good.

After all, Julius Streicher, who regularly cheered on the nazis in his papers Der Sturmer and Die Volkischer Beobachter, was deemed at the Nuremberg war crimes tribunals to have been a material accessory to their atrocities, and hanged for it.

It seems only right, then, for you principled people of honour and courage to dissociate yourselves from such comparisons by taking your places shoulder to shoulder with the Iraqis, and all the other peoples whose turns come soon.

You have to take on yourselves also the risk that you are proposing for the victims. It's a simple matter of honour.

And you have to accept your fate if it should happen that USuk munitions incinerate you too. Or, perhaps worse, don't actually kill you, but shatter your bodies and leave you in horrendous agony, staring lifelong maiming in the face (as will assuredly happen to many more innocent poor people of the world, if you get your way).

What I'd like to suggest is that, for the sake of your honour, all you pro-war commentators who are beating the drum so vigorously at the moment - from the safety and comfort of rich and peaceful Britain and America - should demonstrate your courage and honour, and the steadfastness of your principle of personal sacrifice for the greater good. You can do it like this:

Accompany me to Baghdad, so that we can place our bodies on the frontline of the killing zone, in solidarity with the enforced sacrifice of innocent, helpless, ordinary Iraqis. Or, after that piece of imperialist mass-murder has been 'successfully' concluded, you can come with me when the USuk shock-and-awe firestorm is threatening Tehran, or Pyongyang, or whichever capital city the Washington gangsters decide to bully into submission next.

I will if you will Michael!

Or Polly, or Christopher, or Nick, or Julie, or Melanie, or David, or Johann, or Tom on the NYT, or Charles-the-indescribably-noble-and-intellectually-awesome-hammer-of-the-krauts, or any one of you eloquent USuk hacks-of-war.

We could go companionably together. We could carry in some medicines and other basic necessaries, in defiance of the murderous 'UN' (read USuk) sanctions. We might even initiate a wave: an international brigade of journalists of honour and courage (that's not an oxymoron; I can name one or two) who are prepared to play American roulette (five loaded chambers, one empty) with the USuk bombs, alongside the suffering victim peoples. Rather like all those innocent and helpless Afghans who have recently been volunteered to make the supreme sacrifice for the greater good of us all (and for the upcoming US-controlled Caspian oil pipelines).

I feel that this is something which all you pro-war hacks ought to be willing to do, Michael, to preserve your honour, and to distance yourselves from the likes of Herr Streicher.

That's why I'm volunteering to go along too. To encourage you to hold firm to your honour, do you see?.

Because of course if we're freighted with what Adolf Eichmann during his tenure as an overseer of the nazi death camps called "the difficult work that we do here" (arranging for others to die appallingly, for the greater good of the world) then of course we must have the honour and courage to put our own lives on the line too, mustn't we? Or else we're no better than Adolf, are we? Adolf who tried to run and hide when it all went wrong for his gang of imperialist war-criminals, until decades later the Israelis finally nailed him for his crimes.(As eventually someone - a strengthened International Criminal Court, perhaps - may nail you)

Adolf was hanged too.

So what do you say Michael, and all you others? Shall we go and dare to put our lives on the line, alongside the latest wave of innocent human sacrifices to power-lust?

Say the word and we'll announce it, and see if anyone else will join us.

I'm deadly serious. Truly!

I oppose all war and preparation for war. I'm quite prepared to go to Baghdad when it seems that the USuk power-mafias - the morally-bankrupt imperialist gangsters and war-criminals in Washington and London - are finally about to convert their twelve-year genocide of the Iraqi people (around a million murdered already, half of them children) into a full-scale conquest.

Or if it's too late for you to get your courage up for Baghdad, then whichever place is going to be the gangsters' next target.

If public opinion in America and Britain can be conned into letting them get away with it, the USuk criminals intend to use their illegal war to puppet into power over the oil a more obedient Iraqi thug than Saddam has proved to be. Beneath their thick mantle of hypocrisy and lies, they have no more honourable purpose, of course. The pernicious virus of genuine democracy is absolutely not on the agenda, not ever, as long as they can prevent it. The shadow sure, to sell to the deluded, via pliant career-hacks. But the substance? Under no circumstances. Too much oil to control. Too much raw, addictive, overweening, imperial global power - lovely, precioussssss power! - for that.

But my quixotic trip to stand under the gangsters' murdering bombs is conditional: Can I find even one of their ripely-ridiculous apologists in the supine mainstream media who can summon up the guts, the genuine courage, to go with me.

Can you, Michael (or Polly, or Christopher, or Nick, or Julie, or Johann, or Melanie, or David, or Tom, or Charles, or any of the rest)? Dare you put your bodies where your mouths are?

I dare. Has even one of you got the honour and courage to match me?

You will know by now, I'm sure - well, if you're any good at all as real journalists you certainly should - about the Human Shields, who, despite some passing disarray, stayed in Iraq in significant numbers. The idea was launched by an ex-US marine who actually soldiered in the initial massacre of thousands of Iraqis during the first phase of the USuk state-terrorist assault on Iraq, in 1991. Having realised subsequently the enormity of US-state crimes, there and in many other places around the world, Ken O'Keefe repudiated US citizenship, applied for asylum in Holland, and went to Baghdad as part of the Human Shields volunteers. A man of genuine courage, honour, and intellectual honesty. One of the millions of decent common citizens of the US who detest and reject the crimes of the self-perpetuating gangster-imperialist plutocracy which, generation after generation, usurps their republic.

So, in a nutshell, I'm challenging you pro-war hacks to show courage to match the human shields. Some of them are as old as me. If we old gits can find the guts to do it, can't at least one of you?

Incidentally, if any of you can muster the moral integrity to look unflinchingly at the mountain of hard evidence which underpins the worldview I've outlined here, I'll be most happy to point you towards it. Though taboo to the adulators of power in both academe and journalism, it's all in the public domain, and ridiculously easy to access these days, with just a bit of digging. That's why so many of us common citizens aren't conned by the contemptible permanent bullshit blizzard coming at us though the mainstream media.

Anyway, I await you honourable, courageous, and intellectually-meticulous replies with great interest. Or your splenetic invective. Or your studious silence. Any of these responses will be very revealing to the onlookers of this challenge. In any case it will all be placed in the public domain.

Yours very sincerely,

Rhisiart Gwilym Cymru Rhydd am byth!