Iraq and Population

16 November 2004 | The Universe (This was printed almost unchanged.)

Dear Editor,

The front page of the Universe on 12 November effectively expresses Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue’s strongly held view that coalition troops should leave Iraq. More quietly you note that Louis Sako, the Archbishop of Kirkuk, in Northern Iraq, takes a different view. Arguments about this war will go on for a generation, but when the case against it is put, it seems only right to put the case for it at the same time.

The good case for the war was simple enough: to get rid of a tyrant who had terrorised and impoverished his own people, who had invaded two neighbouring countries, and who – rightly or wrongly – was believed to be ready to do it again if he could get away with it.

There was a hope that by getting rid of this tyrant prosperity and freedom from fear could be brought to Iraq. This is difficult and may prove impossible. Blame for this lies not with the coalition troops, but with terrorist groups, many of them foreign, who do not want prosperity and freedom to come to Iraq.

It is worth emphasising these good intentions of the coalition forces because, for reasons of demography, our relationship with the Islamic world is going to be Europe’s most important political problem for the rest of this century. (Roughly, leaving aside Turkey, the Muslim population from Morocco to Pakistan was 130 million in 1950, and will be about 800 million and increasing in 2050. The population of Europe plus Russia was 550 million in 1950 and will be about 650 million and decreasing in 2050.)

There is now nothing we can do to prevent the increasing influence of Islam in Europe. Despite some Middle Eastern countries having developed effective family planning schemes, populations will continue to increase rapidly in Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, throughout this century. The resultant poverty and turmoil will force Muslims to emigrate in large numbers.

In the Europe of the future, peace loving Muslims and non-Muslims may be able to withstand those who seek power by terror, but it will be difficult. It will be a little less difficult, if we can help Iraq to become prosperous and free from fear.

Yours sincerely,

Gerald Danaher