I welcome the queen, but not the president
THE visits by Queen Elizabeth and President Barack Obama pose a challenge for peace activists.
While some people have reservations about the royal visit, I welcome it because it is timely and a genuine effort to promote peace between Britain and Ireland and within Ireland itself. There is never a wrong time to promote peace and justice, while it is almost always wrong to promote war and violence.
The visit by President Obama falls into a more complex category. His election as President of the US was widely welcomed, given his status as an African American who had expressed his opposition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and who promised to close Guantanamo prison and end torture. While ending the Iraq war and promising to end the Afghan war are to be hailed, his failure to close Guantanamo prison or to unequivocally end all forms of torture are regrettable. More serious, however, is the US decision to substitute unlawful extrajudicial killings for the previous "extraordinary rendition" and torture policies. While the removal of Osama bin Laden as an international terrorist is welcome, this could have been achieved by his imprisonment and trial at the International Criminal Court. It is mainly for these reasons that I oppose Mr Obama's visit.