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Under the Nuclear Shadow

Nuclear madness is killing our planet
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The Observer
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In this section

~This week's Observer International section
~World Latest: international news from The Guardian and Observer

~This week's Observer Comment section

Under the nuclear shadow

Nuclear neighbours teeter on brink of Armageddon

~Britain in war zone rescue mission

The only question: when do you leave?

'The people suffer in a dispute they cannot control'

My lost country

Madmen think the unthinkable

Special report: Kashmir

Another false dawn for Africa?

~More World Today Essays

Bono who?

Don't wag your finger at us, Mr Bush

Why Bush's deal with Putin doesn't make the world safer

~Worldview highlights: debating American power

When Uncle Sam meets 'Stan

~Worldview highlights: best of Jason Burke

'We are already dead. This is the cemetery of the living'

Huddled masses and muddled asses

Britain needs immigrants now

Asylum: myths and reality

For the good of the game

Send off Blatter

~Sport Uncovered: Fifa special

Permission to panic please, Sir

Mugabe 'starves' opponents' children

Report extract: the politics of hunger in Zimbabwe

My night in Mugabe's stinking jail

I don't care if they beat me. I'm going to vote for change'

~Geoffrey Nyarota on the fears of Zimbabwe's free press

~Where journalists who disagree are 'terrorists'

~Witch-hunt as Mugabe strikes back with new terror

~Africa on Mugabe

Press freedom campaign

Why Israel's 'seruvniks' say enough is enough

~Worldview highlights: Peter Beaumont in the Middle East

Italians' last action hero

'How IRA bombers trained guerrillas'

A bad call?

~More on the War on Terror

~More on Bush

Tell us, Mr Bush

'Secret' war prevents us from learning the truth

~More on the War in Afghanistan

'I don't think anybody thought much about whether Agent Orange was against the rules of war'

~Observer Worldview: More from Mark Leonard

Tariq Ali vs Christopher Hitchens: The war of words

Sudan's last fighting season?

~Unseen Wars: More on Sudan

Why the earth summit matters

~Earth Summit risks ridicule over grandiose preparations

A safer world?

How a British coup ended siege

~In Jenin: Brutal, yes. Massacre, no

~Leader: A call to arms

The warning shot

~Simon Kuper: Grieving Dutch will back Fortuyn's heirs

~The Europe Pages: Observer special

A matter of death and life

~Comment highlights: best of Mary Riddell

~Debate the Columnists

Europe's true colours?

One free in Burma, fifty million to go

The Burma star

War at the top of the world

Raped Pakistani mother to be stoned to death

If we ruled the world ...

~Aids fear as Bush blocks sex lessons

~Bush promotes virgin values to curb teen sex

People's revolt challenges Castro

Cuba libre

Castro's men pour into Havana

~Cuba after Castro: Observer special

A question of faith

~Comment highlights: best of Nick Cohen

Fighting Islam's Ku Klux Klan

~Islam and the West: special report

Our enemy's enemies

~Investigation: Should we go to war against Saddam?

~Mary Riddell: Let go of Dubya's coat-tails

~Will Hutton: Time to stop being America's lap-dog

~David L Mack: Iraq after Saddam

Inside a vile republic

Justice denied

Oil fuels US army role in Georgia

New York held to ransom

The path to destruction

~Return to Islamabad

The myth of the good general Musharraf

How to solve the Middle East crisis

War-weary Palestinians losing faith in Arafat's leadership

Reason with your heart, Mr Sharon

America must see that Sharon is the problem

~Leader: Sharon must listen

An end to Israeli occupation will mean a just war

~Leader: Bush must go the extra mile

The roots of Palestinian despair

Let there be justice for all, Mr Bush

Journalist sows the fragile seeds of peace

~Could the Saudi peace plan work?

Two wronged peoples

Is anti-Zionism anti-Semitic?

~Israel and anti-Semitism: more responses

~Peter Beaumont: The new anti-semitism?

Europe squanders billions spoiling MEPs

Europe can defeat fascism

~Comment highlights: best of Will Hutton

Danger doesn't stop at Dover

Freedom of expression is imperative to democracy

The risk of being a journalist in Colombia

Syrian Jails: a Hell on Earth

Log cabin to White House? Not any more

~Extract: How Britain stays locked in the American bear hug

~WIll Hutton column: If we forget history, fascism will flourish

The day Jean-Marie Le Pen opened a Pandora's box of bigotry

Who can the French left blame?

~Leader: Lessons from over the Channel

No racism here please, we're British

How to save the western alliance

Iraq and the Bush doctrine

~Tony Colman: Funding a global war on poverty

~Paul Rogers: If it's good for America, it's good for the world

Why law beats war

Venezuela coup linked to Bush team

If you want a free vote, ask nicely

Britain's most wanted

Al-Qaeda's bombers used Britain to plot slaughter

How the perfect terrorist plotted the ultimate crime

Bin Laden's men wait to take bloody revenge

~The making of the world's most wanted man: Part 1

~The making of the world's most wanted man: Part 2

~Bin Laden and son: the grooming of a dynasty

First shots in Labour's European civil war

Will the euro be a casualty of Blair's Iraq war?

Tamil Tigers hide their claws

Imperialism may be out, but aggressive wars and colonial protectorates are back

Why we still need empires

The new liberal imperialism

Can we escape the colonial past?

Why military power is no longer enough

Russia's bogus 'email brides' break the hearts - and wallets - of Western men

$100,000 bounty on Westerners

Afghan girls seize chance to learn

Turkey unmoved by sacrifice of hunger strikers

Bushmen victory over drug firms

~Timeline of Iraqi history

~Key sources: who to believe?

How anti-Americanism betrays the left

How to deal with the American goliath

~David Rose: The doves are wrong - again.

~Nick Cohen: Blair's just a Bush baby

OK, George, make with the friendly bombs

'Bombing Saddam is ignorance'

Trading insults

Blair's mission possible

The dam buster

~The globalisation debate: special report

Arms to Africa scar Britain's conscience

~British arms sales to Africa soar

Anti-Blatter candidate has powerful allies

~Blatter denies claim he bribed his way to football's top job

Will Fifa vote for a clean-up?

~Can Blatter survive?

Inside FIFA: the making of a President

Six months that changed a year

Terror's march backwards

9/11: George Bush's day

~Leader: Yes, the world has changed

Bin Laden's men wait to take bloody revenge

~Focus: Battle for Gardez

New York: Big, bad and back to its ballsy best

~Special report: View from America

America gears up for a new kind of war

New world, but the same old disorder

Why America isn't listening

Americans are masters of destruction

My world changed forever

Has the US lost its way?

Armed to the teeth

Is America too powerful for its own good?

~David Rose: Why the doves are wrong - again

Why should Bush take Europe seriously?

What Bush got right

You need friends

The triumph of reason

American cant

~Terrorism Crisis: Observer Comment in full

This dangerous patriot's game

~Liberty Watch: special report

Western troops are vulnerable too

Focus: The future of War

Victory in Europe

Japan's economy needs You!

~World Cup 2002

Face to face with the victims of his horror

We saw him as a solution. In fact, he was the problem

Justice is on trial

~Milosevic on trial: Observer special

The forgotten people of Sudan

If Europe takes on too much we will all lose

If Europe fails to enlarge, we will all lose

Old friends hold key to peace in Cyprus

David Astor's Suez leader

The Forgotten Prisoners

The rout of the Taliban: the inside story

~The rout of the Taliban (part two)

When our world changed forever

~When our world changed forever (part two)

~When our world changed forever (part three)

The making of the world's most wanted man

~The making of the world's most wanted man: Part 2

The suicide bomber who changed his mind

Dead man talking

~'Dear Tracy' - by mass killer Timothy McVeigh

Kosovo: the untold story

~Kosovo: the untold story (part two)

Kosovo's killing fields

The graduates of Robben Island

A chance to save the world

The Guardian
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Story index

Under the nuclear shadow

Arundhati Roy, Booker prize-winning author, looks at the conflict over Kashmir from her home in New Delhi

Observer Worldview

Sunday June 2, 2002
The Observer

This week as diplomats' families and tourists quickly disappeared, journalists from Europe and America arrived in droves. Most of them stay at the Imperial Hotel in Delhi. Many of them call me. Why are you still here, they ask, why haven't you left the city? Isn't nuclear war a real possibility? It is, but where shall I go? If I go away and everything and every one, every friend, every tree, every home, every dog, squirrel and bird that I have known and loved is incinerated, how shall I live on? Who shall I love, and who will love me back? Which society will welcome me and allow me to be the hooligan I am, here, at home?
We've decided we're all staying. We've huddled together, we realise how much we love each other and we think what a shame it would be to die now. Life's normal, only because the macabre has become normal. While we wait for rain, for football, for justice, on TV the old generals and the eager boy anchors talk of first strike and second strike capability, as though they're discussing a family board game. My friends and I discuss Prophecy, the film of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the dead bodies choking the river, the living stripped of their skin and hair, we remember especially the man who just melted into the steps of the building and we imagine ourselves like that, as stains on staircases.

My husband's writing a book about trees. He has a section on how figs are pollinated, each fig by its own specialised fig wasp. There are nearly 1,000 different species of fig wasps. All the fig wasps will be nuked, and my husband and his book.

A dear friend, who is an activist in the anti-dam movement in the Narmanda Valley, is on indefinite hunger strike. Today is the twelfth day of her fast. She and the others fasting with her are weakening quickly. They are protesting because the government is bulldozing schools, felling forests, uprooting handpumps, forcing people from their villages. What an act of faith and hope. But to a government comfortable with the notion of a wasted world, what's a wasted value?

Terrorists have the power to trigger a nuclear war. Non-violence is treated with contempt. Displacement, dispossession, starvation, poverty, disease, these are all just funny comic strip items now. Meanwhile, emissaries of the coalition against terror come and go preaching restraint. Tony Blair arrives to preach peace - and on the side, to sell weapons to both India and Pakistan. The last question every visiting journalist always asks me: 'Are you writing another book?'

That question mocks me. Another book? Right now when it looks as though all the music, the art, the architecture, the literature, the whole of human civilisation means nothing to the monsters who run the world. What kind of book should I write? For now, just for now, for just a while pointlessness is my biggest enemy. That's what nuclear bombs do, whether they're used or not. They violate everything that is humane, they alter the meaning of life.

Why do we tolerate them? Why do we tolerate the men who use nuclear weapons to blackmail the entire human race?

This was first broadcast on Radio 4's Today programme.

Kashmir crisis
Observer Worldview
02.06.2002: Britain in war zone rescue mission
02.06.2002: Nuclear neighbours teeter on brink of Armageddon
02.06.2002: Luke Harding in Delhi: The only question: when do you leave?
02.06.2002: Arundhati Roy: Under the nuclear shadow
02.06.2002: Leader: Madmen think the unthinkable
26.05.2002: 'If it kicks off, we will see fighting in Britain'.

View from Kashmir
10.02.2002: Muzamil Jaleel: My lost country
12.05.2002: The regional crisis: War at the top of the world

What the papers say
26.05.2002: World press: on the brink of war?
The weblog: more Kashmir comment

Special reports
Observer Worldview
Special report: Kashmir
Special report: Pakistan