Archive for the 'Iraq' Category

Chomsky Drowning not Waving

Admin note:

It is now a decade after the 2005 series of elections in Iraq disproved Chomsky’s original narrative and the struggle against tyranny across the whole region is raging; so the following compilation article (comprised of newspaper articles, interview transcripts and blog comments etc.) is here updated and rewritten to place on record a more thorough repudiation of the Znet /Chomsky approach to the Iraq war, both at the time and currently. 

Chomsky himself is now reduced to rambling greenie mush.

For most of the intervening years the usual suspects have managed to just shrug their shoulders and point to the ongoing war as THE disaster, and that has very often sufficed (in their eyes) for an argument against launching the liberation.  But the 2015 fight against ISIS/Daesh has exposed that method. This fight is but one more example of the first fight and the attitude to this fight is demonstrating yet another level to the depth of head turning treachery that pseudolefts must resort to in the face of such a vicious enemy of progressive humanity.

The war for the transformation of the entire region is now focussed on Daesh and is thus widely accepted as unavoidable for the west by western peoples including a majority of reluctant working class ‘voters’. Neverland thinking is – in WW2 manner – once again isolated in the face of united efforts that are now required (obviously I would have though) right across the region. People like Steven Hawking and Geoffry Robinson are speaking out and those like Chomsky that remain opposed to ‘imperialist meddling’ gone a bit quiet. IMV the masses have grasped that western countries are and ought to be at war.

Progressive forces across the Islamic regions are seeking western military assistance and the pseudoleft ‘anti-imperialists’ have now split over every incident where the western ruling elites are in anyway involved.  The Syrian revolution has shattered what remains of the western anti-war masses that were on the streets in their millions prior to the destruction of the heavy weapons systems of the Baathists and the liberation of Iraq by the Coalition Of the Willing.

“Well, of course revolutionary war is illegal. Legal systems are created by revolutions, not revolutions by legal systems”, is the take home point from the criticisms of Noam Chomsky’s position on the Iraq war outlined below.

One further point.

The article when first published had a flavor of ‘naive’ optimism over the entire Iraq modernity project. In the writers defense – we were ‘younger’ then and just how deadly such ‘swamps’ are for any type of democratically minded reformists was not yet on full and daily display.  But nevertheless this more sober view from someone ‘older and wiser’ is still an overwhelmingly optimistic perspective because frankly history gives progressives good cause to be optimistic and ‘if you don’t  fight, you lose’ is a useful maxim to live by whatever history throws at us. 

Internationalists take what we call the mass line.  The entire approach to politics of always taking the mass line and uniting the many to defeat the few is the foundation for realistic optimism right across this planet whatever local events and temporary setbacks we confront. 

The winds of progress still blow whatever the tides are doing in the ‘backwaters’ of the world.

Noam Chomsky – Drowning not Waving.
first published at Lastsuperpower
by Patrick Muldowney 01/09/2006

The U.S. ruling-elite forgot to install puppets, is the stunning inference we are obliged to make from the following interview of Noam Chomsky given back in December 2005. 

Obviously the US military did not install puppets. The US ruling elite undoubtedly intended to remove the Baathists regime and disband the Baathist army and state structure because that is what they did. Restructuring the same tyranny with a US friendly as ‘their’ son of a bitch was not even possible in the 21st C. Once the heavy weapons were gone from the Baathists the Kurds and the Shia could never be put back in ‘their place’. There would have to be a new regime and elections were the only viable option.

For many years after the removal of the Baathist regime in 2003 (right through the required period of occupation and beyond) there were attempts to portray the Iraqi political forces as puppets by some western pseudoleftists and these lies and distortions was tolerated by many others in the anti-war milieu even when know to be rubish.

To rip off the Iraqi peoples (oil or whatever) puppets would have been required not independent nationalists and such an instalation as had often been installed in say central America in the early parts of the 20th C was predicted but when it did not happen the anti-war crowd discraced themselves. They abandoned theory and valid forms of argument. so nothing else makes sense; and as that inference doesn’t either we are thus dealing with a senseless argument from Chomsky who is far from being a senseless individual.

The point is everyone knows all these years later that his reasoning at the begining of 2003 left him only 2 years later dead in the water when the COW didn’t follow his purported imperialist ‘game book’ and people turned a blind eye to this rather than face up to the required corrections.

Noam on the People

In this interview Chomsky tells us how things were done by the old time imperialists, people like the Japanese in Korea, and the British in India.  These were imperialists that really knew their business not like what he is implying are the incompetent bunch of Neo-Cons then comprising the Bush Administration.  He is laughing at the current crop because he beileves they don’t even know what they HAVE to do!

In reviewing events ranging as far back as his youth Chomsky however gets himself lost and confused. The obvious though unstated conclusion is that the U.S. ruling-elite is not behaving rationally. Don’t misunderstand me, he would never say this directly. Quite the reverse, but it is nevertheless the only legitimate conclusion that can be drawn from his interview.

Citing various examples he points out that the U.S. in reality has always been opposed to democracy in the Middle East. He points out that they have done so while always proclaiming the opposite rhetorically. Chomsky maintains that after 9/11 the U.S. has not changed policies, and the current talk amounts to the same as it ever was.  For Chomsky the Bush administration is as opposed to the spread of bourgeois democracy as have been all other U.S. administrations since WW2!

Meanwhile, Bush maintains there is a new policy.

Chomsky is no longer just arguably wrong, but on the results of the Iraqi elections demonstrably wrong in this crucial example.

Clearly the election in Iraq produced genuine representatives with mass support. These Iraqis are no puppets of U.S. imperialism and to think otherwise is ludicrous. Yet the moribund section of the ‘peace movement’ would have us think just that.  Their position is unsustainable.

Chomsky knows the elected representatives are not puppets, so he creates a diversion and argues instead that ‘democracy’ has to mean something other than the establishment of a bourgeois representative democracy.  A modern representative democracy with proportional representation is a desirable and supportable advance on the absolute tyranny of the Baathists and he knows that.  But instead of accepting this and arguing that the Iraqi masses (just like we in the west) will have to move beyond that level of progress at some point, he fudges this issue of moderate and reasonable negotiated progress.

While anti democratic bombing in Iraq’s markets and schools etc is almost daily still going on in this war between those who are agreeing to a constitutional government and proportional representative bourgeois democracy Chomsky dumps a mish mash of anarchist ideas on us that effectively concludes that unless they (the representatives) hold the ‘apparent’ views of the masses, (established by secret British polling no less) and demand that the Coalition withdraw forthwith, then the Iraqi political forces are just political elitists no longer representing anyone except themselves!  The Ballot barely counted and the newly and in most cases re-elected politicians are to be ignored once more by Chomsky, they being nothing but political elitists!

That is a pathetic slight of hand.  The perfect is here put forward to be the enemy of the good.

On top of that distortion Chomsky is not interested in pondering what is in the imperialists interests in the here and now for this century as they planned and implemented this war- a war that was sure to lead to this or a very similar democratic political outcome.

Instead, in what is a deliberate diversion, he tells us that we must never believe declaratory policies, no matter what or who the political leaders are as if we have to take a course in understanding class society 101 from an anarchist viewpoint. But this diversion into the obscure anarchist land of direct democracy is vital a little later when a patently deliberate sleight of hand is pulled.

Chomsky talks endlessly about how he thinks the will of the Iraqi people ‘apparently’ (the word is deliberately used on several occasions) is that the coalition forces should withdraw immediately and leave it to the Iraqi people to sort out. Yet the vast majority of the political forces that stood for election don’t think this and said so during the election campaign.

Thus for Chomsky the ‘apparent’ will of the Iraqi people was not just determined by free and fair elections (that delivered a proportional number of elected representatives of the Iraqi people).  Rather the will as Chomsky implies all through this interview is to be determined by a representative poll conducted in secret by the British, and with questions what’s more that we currently do not have clearly before us!

For the decrepit ‘peace movement’ all the election did was enable the imperialists to establish a political elite (leaders and a government) that all good people can now ignore because;  ‘No rational person pays the slightest attention to declarations of benign intent on the part of leaders, no matter who they are. And the reason is they’re completely predictable, including the worst monsters,…’

So, those who just ran for election with their platforms and so forth right up front, who are daily risking their lives in the cause of the liberation, can be ignored by Chomsky as speaking for no-one when they again ask the coalition to remain in Iraq and continue assisting to fight the jihadists and Baathists and to build the armed forces etc..

Make no mistake; once ignored, these openly campaigning politicians can then be called collaborators and understandably attacked by the ‘resistance’.  Noam and the rest can then shrug with a ‘what do you expect’ exasperated expression.  These political leaders will be physically attacked over the years with no solidarity from Z-net types until the attacks in the new Iraq are so blatantly fascist that Noam will have to fall silent.

The concept of a resistance will have to at some point vanish from the narative.

For anyone remotely attracted to democracy in any form Noam has led them into a dead end.

The violent elements of this ‘noble’ resistance will become ‘the monsters let loose’.  A mass non-violent method of resistance led by no-one really – because those leaders would have had to be ignored as well one supposes, will have sprung de novo fully formed and in control of a country fighting undemocratic monsters.  Actually you can get away with these leaders (like Chomsky himself) all you do is call them a ‘sort of figure head’ for the mass movement (non violent to be sure).  Just don’t look back because there will be no ‘lawful’ trail to follow.  A revolutionary transformation will be unavoidably real and will have been fatherless.  ‘Not in my name!’ was the banner carried by the confused left and the pseudoleft all marched behind it.

Having plunged this far into Z net thinking we can now see that there is not even a veneer of open inquiry to be found.  We are confronted with blatant anti-American shibboleths.   There is no ‘seeking truth from facts’ over what has been happening in Iraq.

History was being used by Noam not to guide us forward but to block inquiry into unacceptable areas. It is as if we are in a church service being preached at and not involved in any political analysis. Now we are firmly in the realm of the pseudoleft where theory trumps practice; cultures are fixed and relative; and the ‘struggle against western imperialism’ has regressed to the point where even norms of the basic bourgeois democratic revolution are abandoned before our very eyes.

I have at least one thing in common with Chomsky: I didn’t accept the declaratory policy of the Coalition before, during, or after the war in Iraq*. Nevertheless, I do NOT believe the leaders are ‘completely predictable’ and as evidence for this view I offer the fact that Chomsky admits that he did not predict what they would do once they had overthrown the Baathist tyranny of Saddam Hussein.

Chomsky – as did all the usual suspects – got it dead wrong and he openly admits this. He believed it would be business-as-usual.

Yet a very few dissident left-wingers with a long history of campaigning against imperialism got it right.

For instance, people at Lastsuperpower.net predicted that the US administration, would push for elections that everyone knew islamist parties would win and the Shia would dominate and that this push for democratic elections was in stark contrast to Vietnam where because the democratic result was going to be the election of communists they simply refused to hold them.

In the example of the Vietnam War, left-wingers predicted that U.S. imperialism would be crushed by people’s war and thrown out of Vietnam, and they were. We didn’t apologise for the armed-struggle, we supported it. ‘One side’s right, the other’s wrong; victory to the Vietcong’, was one of the demonstration chants of the time.

No mass non-violent movement threw the imperialist forces out they were defeated by the armed-struggle of the Vietnamese in conjunction with a supportive political struggle on the streets of the Western world. The Vietnamese were engaged in a justifiable armed-struggle just as they engaged the French and Japanese before and leftists around the world supported that armed-struggle!

The current war in Iraq is being waged by Baathists, reactionary Islamic jihadis, and Arab national chauvinists of a mostly Sunni persuasion, but also a very few Shia chauvinists. All are opposed to democracy in any form and can only be described as the enemy of all potential democratic revolutions in Iraq, whether non-violent or armed. They are the enemy of all modernity as the U.S. was in Vietnam and ought be as firmly opposed.

There is thus no comparison between the two wars just as there is no comparison between the war in Vietnam and WW2.

The warring opponents of democracy constitute but a minute [I would now correct this expression to small] portion of the Iraqi population and deserve no support or understanding whatsoever from any descendents of the Enlightenment. They ought be fought by a united-front of all: just like the vicious medievalist Islamists invading from other countries in the region. These Islamists are reactionary, ‘crusader’ types and the irony is not lost on those suffering from their ‘Kamikaze’ and head lopping activities.

The surrounding countries that the Islamists come from are still very deeply mired in the swamp of Middle Eastern reaction, and that ongoing problem is exactly what we ought to be discussing now and not the defense of the Iraqi masses from their vicious attacks.

This is exactly what Noam Chomsky did discuss way back on September 10 2002, and it was raised by Last Superpower author Albert Langer in his article published in 2003 in the mainstream Australian press.

May Day – it’s the festival of the distressed

by Albert Langer

THE AUSTRALIAN 01 May 2003

‘The war in Iraq has woken people everywhere – and the pseudo-Left has really blown its chance’.

Millions who marched in mid February stopped marching two months later, as soon as the argument shifted towards democratising and liberating the Iraqi people. Those millions still agree that George W. Bush is an arrogant bully, but they no longer believe the peace-mongers have got it right. People want to figure out what is going on and are joining the debate at websites such as Last Superpower.

For months, the argument was about weapons of mass destruction and the role of the UN. If the demands of the US, and the UN, had been fully met, Saddam Hussein could have lived happily and the Iraqi people miserably, for ever after.

But look at what happened next! Suddenly we were hearing a different song. Bush has been making the argument not for disarming Iraq but for liberating Iraq. Stripped of the “God bless America” stuff, the US President’s case now goes like this:

“If we devote our resources to draining the swamps, addressing the roots of the ‘campaigns of hatred’, we can not only reduce the threats we face, but also live up to ideals that we profess and that are not beyond reach if we choose to take them seriously.”

Actually, those words are from Noam Chomsky two days before Bush’s UN speech on September 10, 2002.

But if Bush had adopted Chomsky’s position so early, that would have prevented congressional authorisation. Such a position threatens to destabilise despotic, reactionary regimes everywhere. But those in the US foreign policy establishment have devoted their entire careers to supporting the most corrupt tyrannies in the Middle East, in the name of “stability”.

For Chomsky, “draining the swamps” apparently didn’t include killing people and blowing things up. Fortunately, Bush is made of sterner stuff.

Both Bush and Chomsky know the US cannot be secure from medievalist terrorist mosquitoes while the Middle East remains a swamp. But Bush also knows that modernity ‘grows out of the barrel of a gun.’

That is a genuinely Left case for a revolutionary war of liberation such as has occurred in Iraq. The pseudo-Left replies: “That’s illegal.”

Well, of course revolutionary war is illegal. Legal systems are created by revolutions, not revolutions by legal systems.

The next logical step for the new policy is to establish a viable Palestinian state. Bush has put himself in a position where he can and must take that step. Naturally, he will not admit to the enormous strategic and policy retreat that such a step implies, so he has preceded it with enough triumphalist rhetoric to make even the Fox News team look queasy.

The revival of the Left in the ’60s only began once it was widely noticed that the remnants of the previous movement were reactionaries obstructing progress. After it tried so hard to preserve fascism in Iraq even after Bush Jr had wisely given up on Bush Sr’s policy of keeping the Iraqi dictator in power. Can anyone deny the pseudo-Left is reactionary?’

END Albert Langer

As things stand, one could be forgiven for not noticing that a reasonable parliamentary democracy has been agreed upon by the Iraqi masses via a mass vote. The Constitutional Referendum in October does not get a mention – yet it was this document that formally establishes how the Iraqi ‘will’ is to be determined, and replaced the Baathist tyranny. And note to Chomsky it’s not a secret poll conducted by the British military with god knows what wording!

Chomsky goes on at length actually condemning the most democratic election ever held in Iraq and ignoring the proportionally elected representatives. He wants no part of an Iraqi Government because he wants to continue to classify these representatives as collaborators, as does Robert Fisk, whom he praises.

The Iraqi people have gone to the polls three times in twelve months yet their representatives are to be called collaborators and ignored? Something of a card trick; in the end you have been told the will of the Iraqi people so often that ‘apparently’ there is no need to talk to any representatives. In the end you are forced by the card sharp to choose the ‘withdraw at once’ card.

The old-time anti-democratic imperialist practices were the standard practices of the preeminent imperial powers just prior to their crushing defeats. Chomsky is referring to a period so long-ago now that one can speak of a different era.

The US ruling-elite tried the same old policies in Indo-China and met with utter defeat almost 35 years ago. The Vietnamese war of National Liberation is what a war of liberation looks like when imperialists are really trying to prevent elections. But Noam Chomsky insists that the US ruling-elite went into Iraq with no genuine plan to hold free and fair elections.

Could anyone in the year 2006 imagine British imperialists re-colonizing India (And through local Indian puppets to be sure) ruling India for the benefit of the English ruling-class? Could the Japanese elite run Korea via Korean puppets? Of course they couldn’t. Why on earth would anyone think that ‘the great Satan’ could achieve this result in Iraq?

Chomsky then admits to having got it wrong about what the US government intended for Iraq at the time of the invasion. From the transcript;

Andy Clark: “With the war in Iraq, it seems we are viewing the US’s engagement in some bold, in your face, strategic geopolitical chess. In your opinion, what is the US’s next likely international move?”

Noam Chomsky: My own guess frankly, was that the invasion of Iraq would be over in about three days and that the US would install a stable client regime. It should have been one of the easiest military victories in history. But they did turn it into a catastrophe. My guess back at that time was that the next place the US would move would be the Andes in the Western Hemisphere.

End transcript

This is not only admitting that he didn’t have a clue that this was not business-as-usual but that the experienced imperialists didn’t even know how to do the old policy. (That the U.S. had been following since WW2) Chomsky gave example after example of how it is done – and then he says the Bush Administration bungled it.

Unbelievably Chomsky does not concede even the possibility that the U.S. is following a different policy he just blurts out that they blew it and turned what should have been a cake-walk, into a ‘catastrophe!’ This admission comes up, about halfway through the interview after he has gone beyond mere foolishness to ‘explain’ the real reason for the war by no more than chanting the believers mantra; ‘I mean, let’s be serious. Of course it’s oil.’

Naturally there is no analysis of exactly how the imperialists of 2006 are to achieve the long sought mythical holy grail of stealing oil without the old imperialists ability to install puppets.

No blood for oil placards

That is what it would have to be, a miracle without rational basis.

Either you have the puppets and you can steal the oil or you don’t have the puppets (As the U.S. elite clearly don’t have) and the oil revenues stay with the Iraqis. It is not done by magic so let’s really be serious because whatever the reason for the war of course it’s not about oil!

From the transcript

Miguel’s email: “Forget about the US and EU governments: they’re hopeless. Where to for ‘the people?’ How can the insanity be stopped? Or will it have to run its course and get much worse before it can get better?”

Andy Clark: What’s your take on that?

Noam Chomsky: The violence in Iraq is a serious problem for the Iraqis and I tend to agree with, apparently the majority of Iraqis, that it’s the occupation forces that are stimulating the violence. The fact that an insurgency even developed in Iraq is astonishing. I mean it’s an amazing fact that the US has had more trouble controlling Iraq than the Germans had in controlling occupied Europe or the Russians in controlling Eastern Europe. After all, the countries under Nazi or Russian occupation were run by domestic forces, domestic police, domestic armies, and domestic civilian forces. The Nazis and the Kremlin were in the background and if needed, they came in, but mostly it was domestically run. There were partisans in Western Europe and they were very courageous, but they would’ve been wiped out very quickly if it hadn’t been for enormous foreign support and, of course, Germany was at war.

Well, in Iraq none of these circumstances prevailed, there was no outside support for the resistance. The little support that has arisen, and it is very slight, is mostly engendered by the invasion. But there’s no outside support. The country had been devastated by sanctions. The US was coming in with enormous resources to rebuild it and they have turned it into a total catastrophe. It’s one of the worst military catastrophes in history. You look at figures for something like, say malnutrition; malnutrition is way up since the US took over, that’s unbelievable. It’s one of the few wars that can’t be reported, not because reporters are cowards, but because it’s too dangerous. Reporters are mostly in the Green Zone or else they go out with a platoon of marines. There are some, like Robert Fisk, Patrick Cockburn and a couple of others who are independent and brave it, but not many. This is an incredible catastrophe. But it’s very likely, and I tend to agree with apparent opinion of most Iraqis on this, that it’s the invading armies themselves that are engendering the violence. Well, they’re carrying out plenty of it, but the violence of the insurgents would probably decline if they left and allowed Iraqis to be on their own.’

End transcript

I read the above two paragraphs, gaping open-mouthed. This war can’t be reported ‘…because it’s too dangerous’! But not for the ‘brave’ partisan anti-coalition reporters – the outright apologists for the insurgents like Robert Fisk, and Patrick Cockburn, who rather than ‘brave it’ are best seen as a protected species of pro-war propagandists. They are not anti-war they are on the other side!

Fisk et al support the right of people’s under imperialist onslaught the theoretical right of resistance; they do not have to condone all the acts, indeed they don’t, after all it’s conveniently a mixed bag of sweets to pick from. As demonstrated these two ‘reporters’ are more properly called propagandists – having argued that the masses of Iraqis viewed the politicians that were elected last January and formed the interim government as nothing more than ‘collaborators’. I predict they will not retract from this position. They will absurdly say this again of the politicians elected in December, yet if they do, who will take them seriously besides Noam Chomsky?

Chomsky now has to face up to the nonsense of calling the once more, free, and fairly elected representatives collaborators. Or it may be time for the anti-war types to dissolve the people and elect a new set, because they keep electing – against all historical examples, one must add – ‘collaborators’.

‘This war can’t be reported?’ Au contraire, it is the most reported war of all time. This war is being fought in the era of instant mass-communications. Bombings and be-headings are often shown live. There are dozens of new and vibrant media outlets in Iraq from TV stations to almost every shade of newspaper. What Chomsky means is that western reporters have to rely more on Iraqi reports.

Then Chomsky stoops to outright deception. He starts out by agreeing that the elections are an important milestone event, then pulls a subtle word switch in order to maintain the ridiculously improbable notion that any democratic outcome was not the U.S. Government’s intention all along.

From the transcript;

Andy Clark:…After the vote, the President has called the elections an important milestone. Professor Chomsky, how do you see the elections? Do you see them as an important milestone for Iraq?

Noam Chomsky: Actually I do, but before talking about that, I should just bring up a kind of a truism. No rational person pays the slightest attention to declarations of benign intent on the part of leaders, no matter who they are. And the reason is they’re completely predictable, including the worst monsters, Stalin, Hitler the rest.’

What he would have us believe is that the U.S. ruling-elite under the leadership of the likes of Paul Wolfowitz were attempting in the 21st Century to;

‘…The US tried, in every possible way, to prevent elections in Iraq. They offered effort after effort to evade the danger of elections. Finally, they were compelled to accept elections by mass non-violent resistance, for which the Ayatollah al Sistani was a kind of a symbol. Mass outpourings of people demanding elections. Finally, Bush and Blair had to agree to elections. The next step is to subvert them and they started immediately. They’re doing it right now. Elections mean you pay some – in a democracy at least – you pay some attention to the will of the population. Well, the crucial question for an invading army is: ‘do they want us to be here?’…

Andy Clark: But isn’t this the start of a process that could see the occupying troops from America and Britain leaving? We’ve seen an awful lot of Iraqis taking part in the elections, two thirds, we’re told. The turnout was quite high…

Noam Chomsky: But hold on a second, … Now of course, there’s a conflict, the Iraqis have forced the occupying powers to allow some kind of electoral process. What the occupying powers are doing now is perfectly clear and very familiar, very familiar. … The way they want it to work – standard procedure – you want the local forces to run their own countries, so … the US-run state terrorist forces are the military, the civilians are local, and the US is in the background. If anything goes wrong, they move in, the same with the British in India, the same with the Japanese in South Korea.

Andy Clark: So you see this is a step to set up a sort of puppet government and not something that’s really representative of ordinary Iraqis?

Noam Chomsky: That’s what they are trying to do, but there’s always a conflict about that. Many of the Western backed or Russian or Eastern or other backed tyrants rose up. However, it is as clear as a bell that the US, and Britain behind it, are doing everything they can to prevent a sovereign, more or less democratic Iraq.’

End transcript

Saddam statue topples

So, Chomsky is saying that the U.S. went into a country with the intention of putting puppets in place, but, presumably, forgot how. Like, they had never done it before??

This is not analysis, this is a pseudo-analysis from a leftist that is now deeply mired in pseudo-leftism and who can no longer tell the real article from the shoddy fraud.

When you get it wrong as he admitted you really ought to pause to think; why did this error of judgment happen? But Chomsky dares not pause to genuinely analyse his errors, instead he rushes on with the explanation that the Bush Administration are just incompetent imperialists. He insists that it was the Neo-Cons that got it wrong by not doing what all competent imperialists do. So, he apparently only got it wrong because they did. SO, it’s not his error at all!

Anything but face up to the policy change that is now being implemented while Chomsky calls black, white. Unlike other analysts, he did not spot it coming before the war and he would not debate the issues when the analysis was pointed out to him, because to Chomsky it was an absurd, unworthy theory. He thought he didn’t have to think about any new issues but now reality is catching up and he is forced to think about the issues.

If the U.S. imperialists did not intend to install puppets after the Baathists were overthrown, and the Iraqi army disbanded then they were left with precisely what options? To honestly pose the question is to answer it.

Contrary to the Chomsky view, the liberating Coalition wanted an election right from the start and they could not possibly not have wanted one in this day and age. The only debate was what type of democratic election. The U.S. elite sought alternatives that empowered the other (Sunni) sections of the Iraqi population to a disproportionate extent, at the expense (necessarily) of the Shia majority. They were told NO, by Sistani who then called for a demonstration of resolve and the matter was thus decided in favour of Proportional Representation. (PR)

Chomsky’s version is a fairy tale. The world would not have tolerated the U.S. preventing Iraqi elections and everybody should have known this. The U.S. ruling-elite most assuredly did.

Iraqi girl U.S. flag

The only question was what was to be the election regulations etc.. This is why there is deliberate distortion by Chomsky because he understands that if they did not do what he thought they would do and ‘install a stable client regime’, then the outcome would be determined by the Iraqis in an election process.

Now we can ask a question again and this time hope to get a genuine answer based on what the Iraqi people think elections mean.

From the transcript;

Andy Clark: ‘Do you see them as an important milestone for Iraq?

Noam Chomsky: ‘Actually I do’.

End Transcript

Iraqi woman voter

Iraqi woman voter

Actually he does not see them as an important milestone in a genuine sense as to note the milestone properly is to take those elected seriously and to give some honour to those who have enabled their election Chomsky does neither and instead gives contempt and comfort to the enemy.

* The Iraqi election has ended the old war, irrespective of how it started and begun the new war. This war is deserving of support from all democrats, all leftists and all progressives world-wide.

• Results that Chomsky won’t notice.
(Posted at Last Superpower by Patrick Muldowney at 22/01/2006)

Of the 275 seats available from the December 15 election, the results have been announced as follows;

Shi’ites UIA Daawa & SCIRI 128

Shi’ites Risaliyun (Muqtada al-Sadr) 2

(Edited Arthur comment;  Not the only 2 seats for Sadr.  The party which won 2 seats was a faction of Sadr supporters who didn’t agree with joining in the dominant Shia islamist UIA ticket (Elites and Cadres group or some such “Life of Brian” type name). That dominant Shia ticket included candidates from SCIRI, Daawa, and Sadr supporters as well as others. A total of about 30 Sadr supporters was elected, mainly on the dominant UIA ticket.)

Whether Sadr supporters would have won more or less than the total of about 30 if they had not joined the UIA ticket cannot be determined from the fact that (some faction of them) won only 2 seats running independently. It is however highly likely that the total of 30 allocated in the ticket is a significant overestimation of their actual voting strength as an inducement to abandon their armed insurrection and rely on voting instead by joining the UIA mainstream.

Secular Kurds 53

Secular Shia al-Iraqiyah (Iyad Allawi) 25

Kurds (Sunni Islamist) 5

Sunni NAF 44

Sunni NFforND 11

Sunni, Mishaan Juburi liberal party (ex-Baathists) 3

Turkmen, oppose Shia fundamentalism (at least) 1

Christian, oppose Muslim fundamentalism. 1

Yazidi; oppose Muslim fundamentalism. 1

Mithal al-Alusi, a Western-style liberal 1

These 275 people are self evidently not U.S. puppets. This election result either destroys the theory that it was the intention of the ‘imperialist invaders’ to install puppets (to steal the oil etc., for which there is no evidence despite Chomsky’s ‘explanation’) or it firmly declares at the least that such a theoretical attempt has failed.

Legitimate Iraqi representative politicians are now in charge. This is undoubtedly a bourgeois revolutionary victory over the once all powerful Baathist tyranny. It was achieved in less than three years of struggle, and it has to be said that any other even vaguely realistic hypothetical effort to achieve the same result without a liberating invasion would have cost many more lives, and dragged on over a great many more years. And yes I know the war still goes on, but I am prepared to say right now that the strategic direction is clear. This revolution is going well.

Democratic forces can now hold political power in large areas of Iraq, and while the enemies of the Iraqi ‘peoples with purple stains on their fingers’, can still attack them with random bombings and so on, the Iraqi masses are now well armed and determined to remain on the offensive; and they continue to have very powerful allies.

Yet despite these revolutionary gains, some ‘opinion leaders’ among western political trends are prepared to call these newly elected politicians nothing but ‘collaborators with the occupation, from the point of view of the ordinary Iraqis’. (As Robert Fisk called the same representatives when they were last elected about one year ago) That is essentially what Chomsky and the Z-net types are stuck with. They will have nothing to do with the new reality. They will do their best to deny recognition to these brave politicians. They will fail to give them the due respect and support they have earned as the duly elected representatives. The Z-net types are trapped.

The western anti-war movement will have to split yet again over the issue of where too next. One section will continue to call the evident progress of this revolution ‘a quagmire’, and recommend that the U.S. ruling-elite should ignore the requests for on-going assistance and simply withdraw and leave it to the Iraqis to sort out their ‘civil-war’. Most of the remainder seeing the political dead-end, will just fall silent.

It reminds me of the behaviour of the China-line leftists in the late 1970’s. They went along en masse with the counter revolution of Deng and Co, and the nonsense that was being peddled by various CP (ML’s). When the pretense that this new direction was a continuation of the revolutionary struggle of Mao became unsustainable the people that had been taken in just drifted away. There was not much effort to say ‘I was wrong’. The actual result was rejection of the political tendency that had been proven correct, as well as that tendency which had led them into a dead end.

The current ‘peace’ campaigners; greens; liberals; conservatives; and ‘leftists’, will be objectively behaving as outright racists if they refuse assistance to the Iraqi People now. None of these tendencies belly-ached about their own government’s offering police and other military assistance to authorities in other countries such as Spain when they were dealing with mass-murdering bombers, or with the authorities in Bali; or London; or New York and so forth. Why would they reject the appeals of the Iraqi political leadership for assistance now?

Consider what a national unity government means.

“The UIA and the Kurds could form a government but in this period we have no interest in doing this and are leaning more towards a national unity government,” says Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq’s foreign minister.

As we saw with the negotiations over the Iraq Constitution; and the three months of negotiations to form the interim government elected last January this latest series of negotiations will go on for quite some time, and no doubt some seemingly peculiar compromise solutions will be worked out.

However, even though numerous issues have already been worked through with the formation of the interim government a year ago it is always possible that we could be surprised, and also that longer rather than shorter, negotiations are to be expected. In the end however, I don’t doubt that a national unity government will be formed even if some of the smaller political forces decide to remain outside of it.

These historic negotiations are intended to establish a country that has never before existed. A country where the majority of the population is no longer ruled by an ethnically privileged 20%. That 20% has some adjusting to do and they are not in a strong negotiating position. Those who can’t make enough of an adjustment will remain at war with the vast majority, but that is up to them, because I would be willing to wager that an inclusive democracy with ample power sharing; religious tolerance; and economic guarantees regarding proportional shares of the country’s oil wealth is on offer.

It would not make sense for the 80% to fail to protect the proportional interests of the 20%, because there is really nothing in it for them, as compared to the advantages of ‘living the good life’ in a rapidly developing peaceful and united Iraq.

Just as the U.S. could never steal the oil resources and did not go to war for oil, neither does it make any sense for the Kurds, and the Shia to try and take down the Arab Sunni people’s from their rightful share of the growing wealth. It is far easier to keep making a larger pie to share, than to fight over crumbs from a much smaller static pie. Peace will bring an enormous economic opportunity.

Insurgents will not improve their negotiating position with more time, and their opponents are definitely not going to send the large military ally home while those groups remain at war. Until such a time as the new Iraqi armed forces are massively more powerful than the insurgents, about the best that the ‘nationalist’ insurgency can face save for, (because this war really is lost) is a plan for a method to establish a time-table for the occupation troops to go home, or some such gobbledygook wording, because they will not be given a firm time-table. All this is on offer now so I would guess that most will grab it with both hands.

What ‘guarantees’ are to be given in terms of stopping military actions against both the government and Coalition forces and providing protection to economic assets as a result of inclusion in the government are the big issues. How is delivery of the guarantees to be measured? Cease-fires have to show up statistically. Areas have to go quiet, casualties have to fall, and discipline has to be enforced by the locals first.

The Government sending the Coalition home only arises in the context of having substantially built up the national armed-forces, and demonstrable demobilization of the insurgency. The Government must become far more powerful. These are hard-nosed negotiators requiring more than just promises of future peaceful behavior. There will have to be measured steps, on both sides, as the fighting reduces but inevitably goes on. This messy latter stage part of draining the Iraqi swamp can only be run by the locals.

The first of the steps, required of those entering the political process is the total isolation of the Al Qaeda type Jihadis, this is the bottom line starting point to the new negotiations.

The nationalist insurgents are now clearly drawn into politics, and thus separated from and fighting against these ‘enemies of all’. The huge bulk of the elected politicians will be obliged as evidence of their sincerity to publicly denounce the latter types as ‘enemies of all Iraqis’, and to make reasonable efforts to stand-down the former nationalist insurgents that have an honorable peace process before them. All are obliged into giving due allegiance to the national armed-forces and police-force, in due deference to not just majority rule but a substantially consensus rule.

Incidentally, the vote this time seems to me to be a good base for a rise in the secular vote in four years time as a big growth in young voters continues and more people drift away from religious style political representation under the influence of a vibrant mass-media as now exists in Iraq. If secularist politicians perform well they have every reason to be optimistic. After all, Iraqi politics has now opened up and progressives not only have a place at the table, but an electorate to win. They have space, time and enough people so could need little else to make good progress with this revolution.

But to get a flavour of what the anti-war luminaries make of the same developments see Juan Cole; Bay Area Indymedia

 

For a more up to date picture of Iraqi politics  “The Security Council reiterates that no terrorist act can reverse the path towards peace, democracy and reconstruction in Iraq, which is supported by the people and the Government of Iraq, and by the international community.” See here for more UN Security Council statements on current situation faced in Iraq

A review of The Wind That Shakes the Barley winner of Cannes film Festival 2006

 

Just one gem from the past to help Steve notice his present. 

Posted by  anita  in  2006-09-30

I just saw the Ken Loach film ‘The Wind That Shakes the Barley’ and what a splendidly made and politically-correct piece of pseudo-left propaganda (in the worst sense of the word) it is.

My partner is Irish Australian and quite familiar with this period of Irish history, but his first question was why would someone make this film now?  The answer was not long in coming as it quickly became clear that this film was made to make a, none too subtle, point about British involvement in Iraq.  When I came out from the film I picked up a leaflet and the message was crystal clear; ‘Speaking at the Cannes film festival Loach said: We live in extraordinary times and that has made people political in a way they maybe weren’t in the previous four, five, six years.  The wars that we have seen, the occupations that we see throughout the world – people finally cannot turn away from that.  It’s very exciting to be able to deal with this in films, and not just be a complement to the popcorn.’

This ‘historical’ film was made in order to tell a story that would be unacceptable to tell in the first-person.  This film was not really made to explain and explore Irish history from 85 years ago; it was made to encourage people to think negatively about the present British involvement in liberating the peoples’ of Iraq and Afghanistan.  Loach would not of course use the word liberation; he would speak of an illegal war and imperialist occupation forces etc.  Yuk!

From start to finish (in the current context) it’s a shameless film where the filmmaker hides behind the Irish people’s legitimate national struggle, to effectively promote the causes of Baathism, tribalism and the likes of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, as these scum hide behind phony nationalisms today; though once again Loach would as a matter of course deny that as well; he would assuredly tell all who’d listen that he is on the side of the Iraqi people no less.  He would be sure to hate Saddam and Al Qaeda and the Taliban but would have also proudly marched for peace when others were advocating war against them.  They would be in power today if it were up to Loach.

Loach and the rest of the pseudo-left ‘opinion leaders’ are leading little on the street, but they are in control of the vast bulk of the mass-media; they dominate cultural output throughout the western world.  This film would be awarded in any western film festival; so the west is overdue for a cultural revolution.

The Wind that shakes the Barley is about the harsh ‘reality’ of all ruling-class armies.  It was made to a formula, like shooting pseudo-leftist shibboleth fish in a barrel. Show innocent death; show brutality of imperialist rule; show arrogance of ruling-class types; show the noble resistance that was only brought into being by the occupation; show a resistance as both necessary and reluctantly brutal (yet clean compared to British); show that elections under occupation and threat are invalid and draw the conclusion that free and fair elections cannot be held under threat of the gun, and that therefore Iraq’s process and government is illegitimate!

In the end, having dragged the viewer through the realist muck of British imperial criminality in Ireland during a time where the British stood in the way of the democratic revolution, Loach had to crucially distort the relationship of the foreign troops to the democratic revolution and the issue of voting to make his big point.  IMV Loach’s position is on the spectrum of xenophobia and racism.  (That would have the unarmed peoples’ of Iraq liberate themselves from tyranny and not to shed the blood of other Mother’s son’s and daughter’s to secure an international solution).

The key question that he distorted (after all he was making this film when the triple election process was in full swing in Iraq) was; can there really be a free and fair vote in countries that have occupation troops on the streets that by his implication are making a threat to the population as clear as was the proposition put to Collins of ‘immediate and terrible war as an alternative to the Treaty’.  Loach stands with the ‘heroes’ that won’t sell out; won’t compromise and therefore go to their ‘noble’ death’s as delivered to them by the ‘collaborating’ majority, and sell-out leadership.  He implies that the current government of Iraq is comprised of sell-out collaborators.  Phleese.

I found myself fuming at this cynical and sick distortion of the issues involved in liberation, in the context of and to the basic level of the bourgeois democratic revolution in 2006 in Iraq and Afghanistan, let alone the Ireland of James Connolly’s generation.

The core questions raised in the Irish struggle for independence from Britain were not adequately highlighted by this film.  Specifically, did Michael Collins sell out by negotiating the Irish Free State?  What about the role of Eamonn DeValera?  ‘The Wind That Shakes the Barley’ answers unambiguously, Yes the movement was sold out, and engenders the film with a cynicism and fatalism that leaves me cold.

These sentiments formed the main part of the final dialogue spoken by Damien O’Donovan a hypothetical Irish freedom fighter and main protagonist of the film, who declined to save his own life by refusing to convey intelligence to his brother (a Commander of the Free State Army) after his capture.

I found this part most disconcerting as there was the feeling that in the character Damien refusing to ‘sell out’ his ideals and being prepared to die for his ‘principles’ there was a direct comparison being made with current fascist insurgents and suicide bombers?

This film doesn’t do justice to any of the important matters raised by either the Irish struggle of so long ago, or the Iraqi conflict of today, and also has nothing particularly credible to say about the personal aspect of the brothers in arms either.  The film was littered with false oppositions (pragmatist v idealist; internationalist v nationalist; socialist v nationalist) simplifying the subject matter down to caricatures, rather than un-raveling the complexity of the revolutionary experience of Ireland for the viewer.

Rather than ‘raise discussion’ this film contributes to a dumbing down of the subject matter; even obfuscation of the issues is not too strong an expression.

By contrast, the film Michael Collins was about the same period and done as a Hollywood block-buster in 1996 (before 9/11 and the liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq).  It too portrayed the British and their Irish collaborators as thugs and made clear that the Black and Tans were not there to help the Irish but to keep them down. But the treatment of the election process was very different and the empathy for the position of the negotiators of the Treaty was evident.

All in all, this highlights for me the need to adopt a dialectical approach to the world.  No truth can be found in establishing false dichotomies.  If Loach wanted to highlight how bad the war in Iraq is (it is after all fairly easy to portray death negatively) he ought to have just made a film about Iraq from a scared soldier’s perspective and exposed to the world how bad it is.

Ken Loach is apparently known for spurning the position of history from the great-man’s perspective, and specifically taking the position of ordinary people in his films. (As opposed to the film Michael Collins).  However, I think this was another real shortcoming with this film in that a real understanding by the audience continues to revolve around the main issues and players and the film really suffered for this one-sided approach. The dialectical approach tells us that light and dark are defined against each other, so too, ordinary people need leaders, and leaders cannot lead unless there are ordinary people willing to support them, anything else is pure fantasy and romanticisation and is not telling the complete story.

It’s just plain wrong to compare the struggle of Ireland’s freedom fighters with the current situation in Iraq and thereby engender corresponding sympathy for the so-called ‘freedom fighters’ currently bombing and disrupting the formation of a democratic Iraq.  The message of The Wind TSTB is if you kill people’s family and friends you’ve got to expect that there will be a reaction and that they will organize to kill you.  There is nothing debatable about this but this is not the real story because we all know that at times people and culture operate in a tooth for a tooth kind of avenge manner, but this is different to having the right political conditions present to unleash a real movement for national sovereignty as occurred in Ireland after the murder of the courageous leaders of the 1916 uprising.  (It was not so much that the people of Ireland necessarily supported the program of the rebels but that they reacted to the fact that many of the most prominent were all Court Martial-ed and shot)

Though Loach’s film makes it clear that the struggle for national rights was occurring alongside of the struggle for class rights it was again a superficial and opportunist handling of the question.  For instance, there is a scene where the courts of the Free State are hearing a case against a money-lender who is extracting extortionate levels of interest for a loan given to an old woman who is refusing to pay.

When the court finds against the money-lender ordering him to pay money to the old woman, a split amongst the people at the court develops and the members of the Army say “wait on”, we want him to give us money for guns…This part of the film could have been illuminating but was very superficial and the court decision was presented as extremely whimsical and showing that they were not really ‘fit’ to decide.

The brutality of this film had a stunning effect on the audience but it was a lecture from a coward.  In many ways it is this romanticisation of the idea of dying for one’s ‘principles’, Like a packet of Benson Hedges – where only the best will do – that renders the message of  The Wind that shakes the Barley as poisonous as smoking that packet of Benson and Hedges!

 

Posted by  owenss  at     2006-10-01Anita Im unsure from your Ken Loach movie review which side of the Irish Civil war you think progressive people should support. The side lead by Michael Collins or the side lead by Eammon De Valera?

 

Posted by     owenss  at     2006-10-01 02:57 AMAnita you claim that Loach and un named other anti war people have “….control of the vast bulk of the mass media…” poor old Ken produces a handful of art house movies and he controls the mass media?Yes now I see it The Wind that Shakes is the equivalent pro war Rupert Murdocks Fox News and Land and Freedom is the equivalent of the Sun newspaper or that film about a boy and a bird rivals Murdocks Australian newspaper holdings. Dont worry Im sure Barry is already preparing a piece to prove that Murdocks empire is minuscule.

 

Posted by anita at 2006-10-01 10:00PMLoach and the rest of the pseudo-left ‘opinion leaders’ are leading little on the street, but they are in control of the vast bulk of the mass-media; they dominate cultural output throughout the western world.  This film would be awarded in any western film festival; so the west is overdue for a cultural revolution.

Steve, I’m not suggesting conspiracies or anything like it.   I was trying to explain how if this film’s so bad, it won such acclaim.  First I thought this could only happen in France (anti-British and anti-Iraq war); then I thought wait on this would have happened in Australia.  My point was about my own world; I do not have Fox for example, so mostly the media I’m exposed to is the Australian ABC.

There is no presenter on the ABC Radio or Television who is for the Iraq war as far as I can tell.  I would be happy to be proven incorrect but take ABC 891 radio from Adelaide; Peter Goers the evening commentator who interviewed Tariq Ali and referred to him as the ‘Sage of the Age’; but at least Peter Goers deliberately has a pro-war commentator once a week in his guest right-winger Andrew Bolt each Tuesday night.

Bolt regularly looks like an intellectual giant up against the pseudo-leftist Goers on these issues.  But other than that, there is, to use the colourful expression of Mark Latham, a Conga-line of suck holes, pushing anti-Iraq war sentiment from morning til night.

It is wall to wall.

On the morning program almost every one of their guests except actual members of the government are anti-Iraq war.  The best they have done outside of that (that I have noticed) is an interview of the dopey right-winger Greg Sheridan.

Like employs like and over a period each organization develops a corporate culture.  The ABC is notoriously biased – of course it is mostly exposed by the right-wing in this country who criticize the ABC as left-wing.  BAH. It is pseudo-left mush.  Take the line it runs from morning to night on global warming; organic food; water crisis; plastic bags; peak oil; they go on ceaselessly with this pseudo-leftist green dribble.

The ABC gardening program is Gardening Australia; where the one time British soldier and peace campaigner Peter Cundall has a grand old time filling people with his composted thinking.  They push imbeciles like Tim Flannery, Roy Slaven, and David Suzuki.  The National Press club put on Peter Garret and the ABC ran and then later re-ran the program; but when Bjorn Lomborg was at the club the ABC did not even screen it!  The best he got was a quick and hostile interview on Landline!

I know you will remember the lies that Maxine McKew spread about Iyad Allawi and then never revisited.

Nationally on the TV the ABC have a show called the Insiders, again the balance they achieve is with the right-wingers Bolt, and Piers Akerman alternating on the show.  The mix is greater than three to one!  David Marr ex-Media Watch; Ian Henschke Stateline almost froth with the anti-war/green line; on and on it goes (throw some names in yourself, you won’t find it hard).  Consider that great organic beef producer Philip Adams how much more of a constant anti-Iraq war campaigner can you get?  Not the slightest attempt to hide the campaigning.

I recall ABC Adelaide’s morning commentators once going so far as to say that there is a serious possibility that the war could be about nothing (thus a GW Bush mad whim).  They employ as their international expert Keith Suter (full on pudding-headed anti-Iraq war and anti-Bush campaigner).  One of his recent great ideas was that if he had been President, rather than invade (liberate) Iraq like that dumbo GWB, he would be clever and offer a reward for OBL of $$$500,000,000 and that would interest the Russian Mafia and the Kazaks to get interested in rounding him up –just like the old US policy of handing a billion to the Al Qaeda sorts and getting the Saudi government to cough in another billion- handing over the reward to another international criminal group.  They have learned nothing.  Nobody even rang up to laugh at them.

In the News there is the constant barrage of terminology that is sympathetic to the insurgents, though I admit that referring to Iraqi Jihadi’s as the ‘resistance’ is no longer so evident.

We’ve also had Triple J using the ‘Don’t want to be an American Idiot’ song as its signature advertising jingle.  (Now if they were singing ‘don’t want to be a Jew idiot’; or ‘don’t want to be a Japanese idiot’; Indonesian; Aboriginal; etc then it would be clear what the sentiments are about.  Yet Australian tax-payers have funded the production of material on the xenophobic/ racist spectrum because anti-Americanism is perfectly acceptable in polite company).

Listen to today’s ABC News.  Or the national program AM.  Or the world at noon. Bob Woodward’s  book ‘State of Denial’.  I am sure you can get it from the net as a Pod Cast.  ‘Opinion poll today shows 80% think the war in Iraq hasn’t done anything to reduce terrorism.  91% think …85% …’ (The Lowy institute poll.)   ‘Doctors start campaigning to end Australia’s involvement in Iraq.’

The people are getting their views from somewhere.  They are not engaged in independent research but parroting back what the politicians and culture workers are feeding them.  Howard and Blair and Bush have been pathetic at selling the revolutionary requirement for this war against most of the ‘left and right’ intelligentsia.  But cultural food like this is breeding political cynicism, and paralysis not action- they all got re-elected – as the ordinary masses are much more sensible than the more ‘committed’ activists to the fact that the Coalition can’t just cut and run etc.

Now I think that I have been a little sloppy; but in my defense I’d been working on this for a while and wanted to get it published… but it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between the old right and the pseudo-left.  They are saying the same poisonous things.  Bruce Springstein; Neil Young; The Dixie Chicks; they all believe the same stuff, while some think they are leftists and some think they are rightists.  They are all like Green Peace; nasty right wingers, it’s just that the pseudo-left uses some strange terms and methods for hiding from their bottom-line; terms that are utterly meaningless when combined with the policies that they push.  They can sing the Internationale all they like, but they want Australian troops withdrawn from Iraq and not involved at all in draining the swamp.

Loach’s film explicitly promotes the position currently being pushed by media internationally, namely that the war in Iraq is increasing the terrorist threat… there will be more Damien O’Donovan’s due to the ‘occupation’ of Iraq, you share this belief and subsequent rejection of the Iraqi government’s requests for assistance.

The American Peace movement currently relies upon celebrities as a draw card to Marches and rallies, and even this has not been successful in sustaining mass support against the war and moaning about how the people are just not getting it.  The anti-war movement do not want debate, they want one sided agitprop material, songs/films etc to change consciousness; they can’t stand up to in-depth analysis and rigorous effort; like yourself over the oil issue when you resort to a claim that oil was just a form of short- hand.  The real clear point is that the lastsuperpower could not do what the anti-war campaigners were claiming it was doing, and or would do.

As to your question about whom I support…Well I don’t feel well read enough about the period to put forward a hard position on it but since you asked my quite tentative and uninformed opinion based upon the films is that I am on Michael Collins’ side.  I was deeply moved when I first saw the Michael Collins film, and I am not sure if it is because Liam Neeson is OK by me whenever he is on screen (we are talking animal magnetism here-he is not a Hollywood Star for no reason) or whether Michael Collins was really such an engaging and brilliant leader in reality.  I take to heart Eamon deValera’s comments when he was the President of Ireland in 1966 (I got the spelling wrong last time) saying in effect that history would be kinder to Michael Collins than himself.

Speaking of being kinder I think you were really nasty to Barry commenting about how he is off attempting to back me up.  What a lot of nonsense.  As well, I was not commenting about anything else Ken Loach has directed but Wind.

The view that has been consistently put at lastsuperpower is held by a minuscule number of people around the world and it is not to be found on the ABC.  The closest we get is Hitchens served up from time to time.  Rather than continue to nit pick, while determinedly avoiding the main thrust of the articles on this site, you ought to try to write a larger piece trying to bring the bigger picture together as you have now come to understand things five years after 9/11: as an example the impending Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria and the establishment of a Palestinian State.  Israel just pulled all troops out of Lebanon, having been strung out to dry by being unimpeded by Rice and Bush.  Have they not thus demonstrated Israel’s limited military and political envelope, to the world?  Almost forty years after launching its 1967 war to grab Greater Israel, the war is coming to an end in defeat and the mass media and the pseudo-left just don’t get it.  Perhaps they are too busy applauding the re-making of Irish history.

 

Posted by  owenss  at  2006-10-02 04:09 AMAnita thank you for stating that in the Irish Civil war you would give your support to the side lead by Michael Collins.My next question is to Patrickm. Patrick do you support the side lead by Michael Collins?As to my offense to Barry. Guilty as charged. When Barry stated that the Iraqi resistance was minuscule I couldnt believe that he would defend that statement rather than just admit that he had overstated his case.Anita you invite me to make a serious contribution to this site and I wish I had both the time and the intellegence to do so. However it goes against the way I have become involved. I first contributed in response to Albert who stated that the Iraq project was going well.  I was further stimulated to contribute when people stated that the way forward in Iraq was to ramp up the killing of Iraqis who resisted. Again I couldn’t resist when contributors characterise the resistance in exactly the same terms used by the Whitehouse as I think this characterisation is a gross oversimplification.I was encouraged to contribute when Bill posted about resistance figures being paraded on Iraqi TV at the same time that a US soldier was let off after clearly murdering a wounded Iraqi who had already surrendered.

I uphold the Iraqi government as being just that. Having said that I look on them with the same contempt that I hold for Michael Collins who used Brittish weapons to kill Irish Republicans.

The Sunni arab population has the right to resist the oppression that they are experiencing. The Iraqi governments duty is to protect these people a duty I think they fail in the same way Collins failed the Irish. The rejection by the Iraqi government of peace proposals from numerous resistance groups is in my oppinion a tragic mistake.

 

Posted by  patrickm  at     2006-10-08 01:01 AMWhile a revolution unfolds in the Middle East, the pseudo-leftist web site ‘Socialist Worker online’ had this to conclude of its review of The Wind that Shakes the Barley.
But by the end of the film you can’t help being reminded of the British army in Iraq today, and Loach is the first to admit this.He said, “I think what happened in Ireland is such a classic story of a fight for independence, to establish a democratic mandate and to resist an occupying army.“Yet it was also a fight for a country with a new social structure.“The British army in Ireland during 1920-21 did what armies of occupation do the world over – adopt a racist attitude towards the people they are attacking and occupying.“They destroy people’s houses, engage in acts of brutality and generally oppress the people – and in Iraq that’s exactly what the British army is doing.“In spite of the suffering depicted, the fact still remains that the British marched out of Ireland. There is an element of hope in that.”Loach knows that British troops liberated Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp in WW2 so why not show them?  But that would never do.  When trying to make his point about Iraq he had to skip WW2 and go back to British ruling class savagery in Ireland.  This film is only incidentally about the Irish.No liberation in Iraq folks; no elections; nothing to see but British brutality – move along and remember to chant no blood for oil, and later explain it away as a sort of metaphor when it turns out to make no sense whatever.
Anita thinks Michael Collins did the best he could; so did a majority of the Irish Parliament and so did a majority of the Irish people when the Treaty was put to a referendum.  The other side then brought on a fight and they lost that as well.  So there seems to be a pattern developing.

Steve ought to have a cover to cover read of Mao: losing is not a good idea.  The rejectionists were not sensible to fight and lose.  They ought to have not fought at all.  Mao often talks of avoiding fights unless you’re sure to win.  The blood was on their hands.  They had a way forward without slaughter and they chose blood instead.  History has yet to see the nationalist cause ‘victorious’ in all of Ireland, and I think interest is falling away in the context of being part of the reality of modern Europe; but history has, I think, recorded the civil-war in Michael Collins’ favor.

I can both appreciate the injustice of the Treaty and the decision of the negotiators to sign it and to trust to ongoing struggle to unfold further progress.  People both in the North and South were prepared to struggle for their rights, (in the long run they always are) and the civil-war in the Free State harmed that struggle.  History moves on and the Free State is ‘Gone with the Wind’.

The always required civil rights struggle in the North broke out again in the context of the same struggle in the U.S. in the sixties.  It was part of a world wide movement.   This struggle is now fully flowering (with power sharing; police force reform; anti- discrimination legislation enacted producing the inevitable demographic results and so forth).  All in the context of ongoing British ruling class decline in any ability to project imperial power.  The context of our reflections on the Irish Treaty is from this era of globalization and the rise of the Europe project.  Peace has broken out, and the continuity IRA, are a bad joke.  They are history repeating itself as a farce.  I am in favor of the IRA having ‘sold out again’.

 

Posted by  owenss  at  2006-10-08 06:29 PMPatrick so you think that you should never fight unless you are sure you will win.Well the Easter uprising never stood a chance, so they should not have done it?The provisional IRA could never defeat the British army, so they should have done what?You are also very kind to Michael Collins. Churchill put it to Collins either you attack the rebels or we will. I still lack respect for any Irish nationalist who will kill Irishmen at the behest of the British government

Turkey defers to Baghdad on oil from Iraqi Kurdistan

With hundred of thousands of barrels of its oil stuck in the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, unable to be sold on the world market because of its continuing row with Baghdad, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is discovering just how landlocked and boxed in it is in terms of utilizing the vast oil reserves under its control.

Summary
Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani has been conducting shuttle diplomacy between Baghdad and Ankara to facilitate an agreement.

From al-monitor

Author Semih Idiz
Posted February 18, 2014
Translator(s)Ezgi Akin

KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani shuttled between Istanbul and Baghdad again in the last few days in a fresh attempt at overcoming the problem, but with little apparent success. Baghdad appears determined to stick to its guns and prevent the KRG from selling oil from northern Iraq unilaterally, saying this violates Iraq’s constitution.

Baghdad also has support from Washington, where administration officials fear the energy cooperation between Turkey and the KRG will increase the risk of splitting up Iraq — already in the throes of sectarian strife — and are consequently putting pressure on Ankara over its energy dealings with the Iraqi Kurds.

Iraq’s constitution says oil revenues, regardless of where the reserves are located in the country, have to go through Baghdad and allocates the autonomous Kurdish region 17% of total revenues.

Nouri al-Maliki’s government argues that the KRG can only export its oil after an agreement is reached between Erbil and Baghdad on how to proceed in this matter.

Baghdad has also threatened to cut the KRG out of its share of Iraq’s vast oil revenues, should it go ahead and sell its oil unilaterally.

Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Luaibi told Reuters in January that the government would take legal action against Turkey and consider canceling all contracts with Turkish firms if Ankara enabled the exporting of KRG oil before an agreement between Erbil and Baghdad is reached.

Such an agreement, though, has been elusive because of Kurdish claims of sole ownership over oil reserves discovered in northern Iraq after the region gained political autonomy from Baghdad following the US invasion in 2003.

KRG officials are disappointed that a comprehensive package of agreements they signed with Turkey in November 2013 has not become fully operational yet.

The package includes an agreement on multibillion-dollar oil pipelines connecting northern Iraq with Turkey, which would enable the KRG to eventually export up to 2 million barrels of oil per day when fully implemented, making it an important regional energy player independent of the central government.

Currently the KRG is using the existing pipeline from Kirkuk — which technically remains under Baghdad’s control — to Ceyhan where Turkey has a storage capacity of 2.5 million barrels set aside for Kurdish oil. As of December, when the KRG’s connection to the Kirkuk pipeline was opened, the 425,000 barrels of Kurdish oil has been stored in Ceyhan waiting to be sold on world markets.

In the meantime, the KRG has been trucking small amounts of crude oil to Turkey for domestic consumption, but this is considered to be negligible compared with the potential that exists if the proposed system of pipelines is fully up and running.

There has been little love lost between the predominantly Sunni government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the predominantly Shiite Maliki government because of Turkey’s cooperation with the KRG in the energy field, as well as sectarian-based differences over Syria.

Ankara nevertheless appears reluctant to aggravate the situation with Iraq further given the increasing instability and turmoil in the region due to the Syria crisis, which has also left the two countries facing similar threats, especially from radical jihadist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

There is also the estimated trade of about $12 billion annually between Turkey and Iraq that experts say has to be factored in by Ankara. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu visited the Iraqi capital in November for talks designed to smooth the path for a rapprochement between the sides and to lay the groundwork for a visit by Erdogan to Baghdad and Maliki to Ankara.

Those visits have yet to occur, however, and this may be an indication that differences remain which still have to be ironed out. Meanwhile, Iraqi officials are said to be still suspicious of Turkey’s intentions.

“Turkey must now choose either to turn its back on Baghdad and go ahead with its deal with the Kurds, or suspend direct exports from the region until an agreement is reached between the central government and Erbil,” Reuters quoted an unnamed Iraqi official as saying in January.

“Unfortunately, facts on the ground show that Ankara eventually will go ahead with its deals with the Kurds at the expense of its relations with Baghdad,” the official added.

Iraqi suspicions increased after media reports in Turkey indicated that the first batch of KRG oil in Ceyhan, worth $90 million, had been sold through the Trans Petroleum Co. in Singapore without approval from Baghdad.

Ankara, however, has denied these reports. “Even if a barrel of oil had passed through Ceyhan, Baghdad would have been informed of this and a daily receipt would have been given to the central government noting how much of a sale was made,” Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told members of the Petroleum Platform Association in the city of Kayseri on Feb. 17.

“This is Iraq’s oil, not Turkey’s. Thus, Baghdad will be informed, because it is an issue related to Iraq’s income. So far, there has not been any oil that has gone through Ceyhan, but this does not mean it won’t be transferred in the future. We’ll share all information with Baghdad,” Yildiz added.

Barzani arrived in Istanbul on Feb. 14, where he held talks with Erdogan and Yildiz to see how the problem could be overcome. Two days later, he was in Baghdad for talks on the topic, which reportedly produced little, if any, results.

The KRG and the central government have failed to resolve their differences despite a US-sponsored “seven-point agreement” signed between Barzani and Maliki in April 2013.

Tellingly, though, the sides were not prepared to give the impression of a breakdown in talks after Barzani’s failed mission to Baghdad this week. “Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani emphasized the importance of reaching an agreement over the outstanding issues between the Kurdistan Region and Iraq,” a statement from Maliki’s office in Baghdad said later, indicating that the talks would go on.

Meanwhile, there are those who argue that the KRG and Baghdad are actually making progress. Reuters quoted Mehmet Sepil, the president of Anglo-Turkish firm Genel Energy, on Feb. 6 as saying, “We have never been this close to a deal.” Sepil added, “The issues that caused an impasse have been identified. There’s been quite a bit of progress made.”

While the KRG and Baghdad remain locked in tough negotiations, the Kurdish media are reporting that the KRG is ultimately relying on the presence in northern Iraq of giant international oil companies, including ExxonMobil of the United States, Total of France and Gazprom Neft of Russia, to alter the picture to the KRG’s advantage.

“These companies are so powerful that they can change national policies,” the English-language edition of the Kurdish daily Rudaw reported on Feb. 17, also indicating that “from the very beginning of the row (with Baghdad) it has been obvious that, one way or another, Kurdish oil will flow overseas.”

The Financial Times, in a report on Jan. 26 bound to have displeased the Kurdish leadership, indicated, however, that although Kurdish crude is now flowing to Ceyhan, where it is being stored, major oil companies are shying away from responding to the KRG’s call for bids for this oil.

“We will not be involved in KRG tenders until we have a much better understanding of the ramifications for our relationship with Iraq,” the paper quoted an unnamed senior executive from what it said was one of the world’s largest energy companies.

It’s “obvious that, one way or another, Kurdish oil will flow overseas,” as Rudaw put it, but it seems that this will not be exclusively on Kurdish terms if the emerging picture is anything to go by.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/02/turkey-baghdad-oil-kurdistan-region-iraq.html?utm_source=Al-Monitor+Newsletter+%5BEnglish%5D&utm_campaign=1f1e05ec4f-January_9_20141_8_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-1f1e05ec4f-93145129#ixzz2tp8sMNg8

America in Iraq: Dialectics of Occupation and Liberation

Saddam statue topples

Ed.note I republish this because of the recent theme of discussing dialectical perspectives and opinions of Iraqis just after the ‘occupation’. This not so new book, by Kurdish author Kamal Mirawdeli is nevertheless relevant today because of the examination of the ‘motives’ of the U.S. for undertaking to ‘liberate’ Iraq, and concludes despite the misgivings that we all understand, that the chance at ‘freedom’ was worth it. I think he uses the term ideology erroneously, but the insights such as of the Dinosaur left (pseudoleft) and nationalistic right achieving unity in their wrongness over this issue is a point correctly observed. Also, his observation that opponents of the task ‘merely play with words’ as opposed to having a care to bring about the best possible outcomes is largely correct imv.

America in Iraq: Dialectics of Occupation and Liberation

Kamal Mirawdeli

Book Review by keza 2005

From authorhouse (inexpensive electronic version available)

A collection of his articles spanning three years (May 2002 – November 2004). Many of these can be read at Kurdish Media by clicking here.

Here is a sample chapter (scroll below it to see the Table of Contents) :

US’s military forces should stay in Iraq

20 April 2003

KurdishMedia.com

Step by step, brick after brick, idea after idea, and institution after institution: the US should never leave Iraq until a new fully democratic modern society is well-established and the process of democratisation in the Middle East is well under way!!

It is too normal, vulgarly expected: Iraq’s neighbours, including Turkey, ask the US to leave Iraq. They are worried about Iraq’s independence. They want Iraqi people to choose their own rulers and govern themselves. Yes, only few weeks ago the same people did not want the US and Britain to intervene. They said the Iraqi people were happy with Saddam and if they wanted change they would change the regime themselves.

These people do not ever feel shame. They never learn. They never see and hear. They can never feel that the carpet under their feet has been pulled. The earth under their feet has shaken. The warm sun they are used to, does not shine on the same world.

They are worried about one thing and one thing only: Freedom. This word has been omitted from their pocket dictionary. It has been tabooed on their policy agenda. It could only appear from time to time in their nightmares. But it always existed in people’s dreams, hopes and aspirations. And these all came true. Thanks to the US.

No one in this age can be so ignorant or ideologically prejudiced as to claim that the US liberated Iraq as an act of charity to Iraqi peoples’. Of course the US has its own vital, yes imperial, interests in Iraq and the region. But what age in human history has been free of empires and empire-building? Why is Islam a religion in Indonesia, Morocco, Bosnia, and Malaysia as well as in Pakistan and Middle East? How did Christianity reach Europe and North and South America? Why is English a predominant international language? Why is globalisation an unstoppable historical process?

But it is wrong scientifically, logically and morally to measure the present with the yardsticks of the past, to let ideological prejudice corrupt pragmatic sense, to see the world with dark glasses and then claim that darkness covers the four corners of the world because the US is spreading its tyranny all over the world.

The prophets of doom and gloom, the messengers of distortion and deception, the forces of conservatism and old Europeanism, the dinosaurian Left and nationalistic Right, the selective hypocrites of peace causes – all those who, for one reason or another, are detached from reality, ignorant of the operation of history, incapable of understanding universal relativity of issues and inherent deficiency of ideas, filled the world with hue and cry: Don’t attack Iraq! Minimum 500,000 people will be killed. Two million children will die. Four million refugees will need to be supported. There will be a Third World War. There will be a repetition of Vietnam. There will be rage, wrath and revolution in Arab streets. Fundamental Islamism will sweep the Middle East and vengeful Islamist terrorism will visit every home in US and Britain. Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera.

No one of this motley mix ever said some people in Iraq would be happy. Some tyrannical structures would be dismantled. Some hope would be regained to 25 million enslaved souls. Hope of freedom and democracy would afflict and affect the slavery system of the Middle East.

I was reading all this rubbish coming from famous Middle East experts, revitalised retired politicians, visionary Leftist imams, reactionary Islamic ideologues, Middle East rulers, think tank analysts- with pain, anger and often contempt. These people had learnt nothing from Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. They had refused to move to the 21st century: the age of technological liberation, the age of globalisation of information and universalization of the values of freedom, democracy, human rights and individualism. They wanted UN to be the saviour of fascists in the name of sovereignty and be an absurd undertaker for the denied funerals of millions of the victims of genocide in the name of international law. They were to coin a word: ideo-fascists.

At this moment when I am writing this, I see and hear on my TV screen a paradox. A group of Iraqis in Baghdad are demonstrating against America. Some people from the same group ask the Americans for jobs! The BBC commentator finds this a strange contradiction.

It is not. It is only superficially contradictory. Ordinary people are NOT demonstrating against the US. If they do it is because they do not have jobs and opportunities now. If the US can create an Iraq in which there will be jobs, opportunities for self development and freedom, then there will be no demonstrations by ordinary people.

But still, like the die-hard Leftists of Europe who are still operated by the 19th century Marx’s Manifesto of the Communist Party, there will be people who will be ideologically exploited and operated by interest groups inside and outside Iraq, who will be demonstrating against the Americans because of ideological indoctrination not moral conviction. This act of protest will be facilitated by the very prospect of emerging democracy but also will eventually be neutralized and marginalized by the process and practice of democracy. Once people know that ideologies like Ba’ath or its factional fictional religious alternatives have nothing to offer but death and destruction, in the name of independence and martyrdom, then people will be able to choose rationally and determine their lives as individuals freed from all shackles of totalitarianism, dogma and demagogy.

I also heard and read a lot about the phenomenon of looting in post-Saddam Iraq?

Some people asked: why do Iraqis destroy their own country?

Sorry, mate! Wrong question. Faulty language.

If the questions are wrong, what hope are there for correct answers?

Iraqis do not destroy their country. This has never been their country, their government, their institutions, their wealth, their resources and their opportunities.

peshmerga01woman

Everything belongs to the sole leader and his clique. The rest are dispossessed underclass: deprived, degraded, dehumanised, exploited, abused, and indoctrinated. They are the Leaders’ people. The party’s people. They do not own anything. They do not own themselves, either. They do not own their bodies, their dignity, and their freedom.

But like all other human beings in the world, the Iraqis have basic human needs. They also have hopes and dreams.

Iraqi girl U.S. flag

Their basic needs have necessarily been materialistic. They always knew, thanks to globalisation, that they lived in a materialistic world. The Iraqi people also wished to have good homes, food, fashion dresses, beautiful furniture, new cars, TVs and fridges. They also wanted to have good jobs, happy families, and well-educated children. Then they had dreams: to be a part of this globalised world. To have access to information. To have mobile phones, satellite TVs and computers. To have opportunity to learn languages, to travel and enter international labour market. Above all to be free individuals. To think freely and express themselves freely. But all these basic and higher human needs were denied and suppressed by the apparatuses of the despotic regime.

That is why there was this wide-spread looting spree: as expression of alienation from what supposed to be their country, heritage and culture. As a revenge from a system and a culture which enslaved them. And as expression of their long-suppressed desire to be part of the modern materialistic world. That is why taking a vase, a chair, a piece of wood, a window handle, a useless piece of metal, a double-deck bus, etc all had the same psychological and historical effect. It was a show to allow the Iraqis to see each other, feel each other, loot together to feel that what the end of slavery and dictatorship was not a dream. It was really the end of the nightmare, of tyranny, of despotism. This deep-rooted frustration for lack of material needs was important to find an outlet even if it took criminal proportions. Obviously there were also organised criminal gangs. But this will be a short-lived phenomenon. It will soon be over. Every thing wills settle down. Sorry again, the prophets of doom!

However, the satisfaction of the higher need of understanding freedom and how to achieve it democratically will come much later and need a long time. It should not be rushed. The US should stay put in Iraq until Iraq would really and practically join the front of free democratic nations. This can only be done if the US stays in Iraq and pursue its agenda of liberation and democratisation in the Middle East for the following reasons:

1. Reconstruction of Iraq and reconstruction of Iraqi peoples’ psyche and culture:

It needs a lot of time for Iraqi people to realize who they are, what world they live in, what have they gone through, what has happened to them and to what extent they can be themselves. Iraq throughout its history has known nothing but the culture of violence, despotism and killing. Saddam is only a duplication of Iraq’s various Hajajs. It is the whole culture which needs to change and the psyches of Iraqi individuals, which have been conditioned to fear democracy and freedom and worship oppressors and tyrants, need to be reconstructed. Without achieving this there will be no hope for democracy and real freedoms. And to achieve this Iraq needs decades not years.

2. Stability and conflict in Iraq and the region: Anti-freedom fascists lament destabilisation in Iraq and Middle East if the US stays. Do you remember Arab League’s claim that the gates of hell would open if the US attacked Iraq? But is there a grain of truth in this?

In fact without the presence of US’s forces, Iraq will degenerate into anarchy and civil war. Already Saudi-backed Wahabiis are attacking the Shi’a in Baghdad. Syrian-backed Saddam’s non-Iraqi Fedayeen are doing the same. Iran will definitely support Badr Shiite army. This will draw other countries into the conflict. These developments will cause destabilisation of Iraq and the region and not the presence of US forces. Perhaps some cynics say: But it is the presence of US in the first place which has created this chaotic situation. This situation, first, is not chaotic. It is a natural process of readjustment after thirty years of a fascist minority Sunni rule in Iraq and the brutal oppression and enslavement of the Shiite and other non-Baathi Iraqis. Second: Was the region safe with Saddam? Does any one imagine that there will be genocide of Kurds, eight years of Iraq-Iran war and the invasion of Kuwait with the presence of Americans? But why didn’t Arab League and Arab and Islamic states intervene to stop the carnage of eight years of the Iraq-Iran war? Why did all Arab states especially Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states pour billions of dollars to support Saddam’s racist Qadissiya war against Iran? Was this for the stabilisation of the region and the progress and prosperity of Iraqi people?

In fact what the tribal dictatorial regimes of the Middle East are afraid of is freedom and democracy. These words will sooner or later enter the daily usage of Arab street language and this will be more dangerous to the regimes than Saddam’s Scud missiles or American bombs.

3. The protection of Kurdish people: The Kurdish leaders took a great risk by allying themselves unequivocally and courageously with the US and putting their army under the American command. There was always the risk of Saddam’s retribution including the use of weapons of mass destruction. But it seems that there was a secret agreement between Turkey and Saddam by which Saddam’s regime left Kurdistan and the Kurds to Turkey to deal with. Information published by the Sunday Times (13 April 2003) from secret papers of Iraq’s general security in Baghdad indicate that Iraqi authorities were certain that Turkey would invade Kurdistan “as soon as the US attacks Iraq.” Also Iraqi information minister comic Sahhaf in reply to a question about the Kurds said, “We are not worried about the North. We have a special plan for the North.”. It seems that the special plan was a secret coordination with Turkey.

However, the Kurds now are in a very sensitive and serious position. They remain in a great danger as long as the dictatorial anti-Kurd regional governments stay in power. Pan-Arab nationalistic media are already conducting an ongoing campaign of racial hatred and aggressive disinformation against the Kurds. Iran has “sleeping” armed Islamic groups in Kurdistan which it can provoke, arm and use to destabilise and undermine Kurdish administration in Kurdistan. Without the US’s presence Turkey will find no difficulty in creating a crisis and find an excuse to attack liberated Kurdistan. Even within Iraq, Kurdish secular government will be greatly suspected, despised and even threatened even by Shiite groups calling for an Islamic state or at least a great role for religion in the running of the affairs of the state which, in the last analysis, means abolishing democracy, human rights, free thoughts and rights of women.

In fact the new situation and the role of Kurds in overthrowing dictatorship in Iraq has mapped out the reality and size of the Kurdish nation in the Middle East. Worried about the impact of Kurdish freedom in South Kurdistan on their colonised and enslaved Kurds, the states of Turkey, Syria and Iran will use any means at their disposal individually and collectively to undermine Kurdish freedom and roll back the wheel of history. But this is no longer the history of Kurdish people alone. It is also the history of the US’s project of liberation and democratisation in the Middle East. Will the US betray the Kurdish people and thus belie its own ideas and ideals? Will it leave alone the people who with great courage, commitment and dignity fight side by side with American soldiers for liberation of their land and democracy in the Middle East? The US should be true to its mission of liberation and democracy. Then it will find in the Kurdish nation, not only the six millions of South Kurdistan but also the whole 40 million Kurdish people in the Middle East as well as Kurds in Diaspora, the most reliable and courageous long-term allies and friends.

4. Protecting Iraqi democracy from regional intervention and influence:

Would it have been possible to liberate Germany alone from Nazism if the rest of Europe had been already Nazi states? Wouldn’t these states do everything in their power to undermine Germany’s freedom again? This is a hypothetical question for the benefit of comparison. The US’s project of liberation and democracy in Iraq will collapse as soon as its forces leave Iraq. Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, other Arab countries as well as Iran and Turkey will do everything in their power to influence, buy, blackmail and undermine any democratic government not protected by foreign forces. It would not be impossible to cook a coup and reverse the wheels of history to the Saddamite old order. There were supposedly seven million Baathist members. Even if ten per cent of these were really indoctrinated and committed, it would be possible with outside support to regroup them. Perhaps Saddam or his sons, if they are still alive, would have another chance to be this time resistance fighters with the help of Arab regimes!

In short it would be extremely foolish for the Americans not only to leave Iraq but not to pursue their democratisation project in the Middle East.

5. Political correctness and realpolitik: Many people still out of residual ideological anti-imperialism and fashionable anti-Americanism call irresponsibly, without understanding historical reality and globalisation process, for the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq claiming that the existence of US’s forces will harm Iraqi people and their independence, self-government and progress.

Of course the Americans are not so naïve as to listen to preachers of doom. Realpolitik means the American army will stay. If some people think this means endangering Iraq’s independence, they should not just play with words. We should analyse and understand essences and realities. What is independence? What did Iraqi independence under Saddam and previous dictatorial Arab regimes mean? Whose independence was that? Was Iraq really independent of world imperialism? Who installed Saddam and transformed him into a monster?

On the other hand the concept of independence on a small planet crowded with interdependent states has always been a relative one and never a real one for any country including the US. Is Britain an independent country? Aren’t there US military bases here unapproved by British parliament? Aren’t there US bases in Japan, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, etc.? Does this mean these countries are not independent? So why shouldn’t there be US’s bases in Iraq. Definitely there should be US’s military bases in Kurdistan. That is the only hope of survival and freedom for Kurdish people.

Iraq’s real independence and prospect of progress and prosperity depend on the long-term existence of US’s military forces. An additional positive outcome of this will be ensuring peace and stability associated with prospects of democracy and freedom in the whole Middle East.

6. The national security and interests of the US: The US cannot afford to start all this process and military operations all over again as a tragic farce once, for example, Syria will act as a rogue state seeking weapons of mass destruction and indulging in the oppression and genocide of Kurdish people, or when Iran joins North Korea in the production of nuclear weapons and oppression of non-Persian nations or when Saudi’s Wahabism continues to supply ideology, money, weapons and training to terrorists such as Ansar al-Islam all over the world.

Mr Donald Rumsfeld called France and Germany old Europe. This, in a sense, is true. But there is also old America and new America. There was old America of Kissinger, Ford and Reagan who supported fascism, dictatorship and persecution and genocide of minorities all over the world in a way that contradicted all the values of freedom, human rights and democracy which US is proud of and aims to propagate in the world. In this article I mean new US: a great superpower that does not hesitate to topple dictatorships and fight fascists and terrorists for a world in which the values of freedom and democracy will be universal and non-compromising.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION ……………………………………………………………….. vii

PART ONE THE UNITED STATES AND THE KURDS ………………1

The US and the Kurdish nation in the Middle East: Old games

or new horizons? 1 ………………………………………………………….3

The US and the Kurdish nation in the Middle East: Old games

or new horizons? 2 ………………………………………………………..11

PART TWO AFTER SEPTEMBER 11 ……………………………………23

Is there really a war in Afghanistan? What is it for? …………….25

Who is Bin Laden? And what is Mr Blair’s Mission? ………….. 29

Tony Come Home, the kids need you and America is kidding

you? …………………………………………………………………………… 38

The New War Order ……………………………………………………….42

The tale of two Talibans: Afghanistan & Turkey ………………… 46

The moment of truth: Who rules the world? …………………….. 50

US after September 11: Towards a workable international

doctrine for a new world order! ………………………………………. 54

US after September 11: Towards a workable international

doctrine for a new world order! ………………………………………..59

US after September 11: Towards a workable international

doctrine for a new world order! Part III ……………………………..62

Do you really want to stop the war? ………………………………….72

Culture and Repression: the case of the Middle East sociopolitical

order ………………………………………………………………..78

PART THREE AMERICA IN IRAQ ………………………………………..87

The real Kurdish view! ………………………………………………….. 89

The story of a war dictated by foe friends: the spoiled child

who stabbed America in the back! …………………………………102

There is nothing wrong with a prolonged war of liberation! .. 113

No to the United Nations! Yes to the United Democratic

Nations! …………………………………………………………………….. 115

With friends like these, will anyone need enemies? ………….. 118

Tip of the iceberg, but will the pro-Saddam mob ever feel

ashamed? …………………………………………………………………..120

US’s military forces should stay in Iraq …………………………..122

American policy in Iraq: the dialectics of occupation and

liberation – I …………………………………………………………………131

American policy in Iraq: Dialectics of occupation and liberation

– II ……………………………………………………………………………..141

American policy in Iraq: Dialectics of occupation and liberation

– III …………………………………………………………………………….150

American policy in Iraq: Dialectics of occupation and liberation

– V ……………………………………………………………………………..163

Did BBC kill David Kelly on behalf of Saddam? ………………..167

Paul Bremer’s Interview with Asharq Al-Awsat 31 January

2004. …………………………………………………………………………172

Will Paul Bremer be allowed to turn Bush’s liberation mission in

the Middle East ……………………………………………………………178

From massacre in Madrid to carnage in Qamishli: Fact and

fiction …………………………………………………………………………183

President Bush should not leave Iraq an unfinished business

again! …………………………………………………………………………188

The two state solution: Divide and democratize! ………………195

Paul Bremer: A man living in a cloud-cuckoo-land ……………202

Death in Darfur, Decadence in Democracies! ………………… 209

De-liberation: Bremer’s legacy and post-Bremer choices ….217

President Bush and the World War Four of liberation? …….. 225

Earth Calling Planet Peace Movement 2005

This piece is edited 2014, and presents the interim argument made over the war in Iraq in 2005 after it became clear that the initial bleatings of anti-war opponents was proving to be wrong.

by Patrick Muldowney

struggling to be green

Reprinted from Lastsuperpower 2005

All ‘left’ opponents of the illegal liberation of the Iraqi peoples’ have reasoned from the first that the war was really about oil (one way or another)and so the war was to be opposed because of this obscene reason. Every peace activist seems to know ‘viscerally’ that oil has something to do with the U.S. decision to go to war in Iraq. But none, of this blood is for oil!

In the west we have observed via the usually anti-Bush mass-media the Iraqi elections and the period of negotiations in the process that formed a government. It became clear that the major political parties in Iraq were and are unmistakably ‘stand alone’ forces, free from any suspicion of being U.S. puppets. It was always clear that any puppets could not be elected in any free and fair process.

Yet western anti-war activists, who (like me) generally knew nothing much about Iraq have been basing their analysis on the proposition that the U.S would be installing puppets. This is now demonstrably not the case. This is not a straw-man argument it is fundamental to all the carrying on about oil. Now only people on planet peace movement could think this, unless one thinks that U.S. war aims have failed and been abandoned already.

The vast bulk of ‘peace activists’ are sophisticated enough to realise that in this century the U.S. could not directly seize the oil and place it under direct U.S. ownership or control. If the U.S. was to keep actual control of the oil, despite formal Iraqi control, independent Iraqi politicians serving the national interests of Iraq would be anathema to such an undertaking. Yet that is who is running Iraq now, independent Iraqi politicians serving interests internal to Iraq.

It is now also widely known, that the parties constituting the interim government want to be rid of Coalition forces ASAP. (despite being grateful for their current assistance). Iraqi leaders are openly talking about the final withdrawal and scheduling the draw down of front line troops, region by region. What is possible, or more accurately optimal for that withdrawal, given the Iraqi military requirements for soldiers, technicians, trainers etc., is apparently thought to be about two years time.

The Iraqi political parties that were ever going to draw any size of the popular vote were never going to be puppets. The Sunni political forces that have as yet remained outside the electoral process, now want in on the next stage will of course further compound the problem the peace movement faces. The current government is not a U.S. puppet and the next government that will contain some of those who did not participate this time will be even more clearly independent.

Thus we can conclude that the U.S. will not be setting up bases in Iraq. (even bases comparable to those in Germany where the politicians are not puppets either) The U.S. may have some sort of presence in Iraq, but a bourgeois democracy in Iraq implies suspicion of the U.S. and these Iraqi parties will be both grateful for the help, and distanced from the great friend of Israel, America.

Most western anti-war campaigners (excusing any genuine pacifists that I simply can’t be bothered arguing with) would have at least theoretically supported Iraqis taking up arms to overthrow the Baathists but could not support the actual war launched by the U.S..

Apparently the anti-war campaigners would overwhelmingly have supported a revolution from below to overthrow the law and order that existed in Iraq. Well my question is; when will you admit that something is worth defending now, and is MUCH better than what went before?

An illegal war was launched against a lawful tyranny and this tyranny was unlawfully overthrown. Then along came the world’s international law making body, the UN Security Council (NB the victors of WW2), and after the fact they declared that the occupation was then the lawful authority. Naturally, ‘the revolution made the law, the law did not make the revolution’. That is what revolutions do! Now an election process has been conducted under the new lawful authority and it is not seriously disputed as to who the Iraqi interim government now is.

This brings about a massive problem for leftists who say that they would have supported a civil-war to overthrow the fascist Baathists. For leftists, there is such a civil-war going on now! Fortunately there are a couple of hundred thousand heavily armed soldiers that are on the Iraqi peoples’ side and they will definitely win.

“Those wishing to make the “more lives ultimately saved”, argument will need to make their comparisons with the number of civilians likely to have been killed had Saddam Hussein’s reign continued into 2003-2004, not in comparison to the number of deaths for which he was responsible in the 1980s and early 1990s…”

No we don’t! This regime was entirely variable in kill rate until overthrown. Trying to overthrow such a regime from an essentially unarmed position would have amounted to having been set up for mass slaughter. Leftists are about winning and overthrowing tyranny not about gloriously laying down our lives in the interest of any juvenile theory that requires people to overthrow their own tyrants unarmed and single-handedly.

Let’s look at some trends in Iraq and around the world. Western, society does not have such an awful death toll as is currently occurring in Iraq. Nor was any period during the reign of Saddam comparable to what we have in the west. That’s why the term tyranny is applied and why everyone worth talking to wants it overthrown. So the important question arises: Is Iraq now moving towards modernity and the lower death toll implied or away from it? Will more elections be held, and will the Coalition eventually withdraw?

Reflect on WW2. Did the U.S. occupy Germany to steal German coal? Did they withdraw? Is Germany (let alone Japan and Italy) part of the modern world again? What would make people think that sixty years later the people of the world would put up with U.S. imperialists nicking Iraqi oil at the cost of two endless sets of body bags?

The old regime was overthrown by an illegal invasion, yet is anyone not supportive of Saddam or the Jihadists now under the impression that the new Government of Iraq is itself illegal? The Interim Government is the body set up to generate a constitution and hold a referendum to approve that constitution, and then hold an election for a further even more representative legitimate government. Are they legitimate revolutionary goals and thus the interim Government worthy of support and assistance?

Humpty cannot be put back together again, so what’s to be done other than acknowledge the revolutionary transformation from a political system run by a lawful tyrant to a new system that runs via a new (for Iraq) electoral system? That’s not any sort of evolutionary transformation it’s a revolutionary transformation.

How should we think about moving ourselves and the heroic people of Iraq further along the path of the bourgeois democratic revolution? Would the situation be improved if all coalition troops were withdrawn now? The colonial era has “Gone with the wind” and it requires determined blindness not to see it. Yet we are still fed what amounts to an endless stream of the war is all about oil.

I wrote the following notes to an anti-war acquaintance just before the U.S. elections.

“I am glad that my side is on the offensive and gearing up for major battles once the U.S. elections are over. It may well be that Osama Bin Laden bombs polling booths or whatever during the U.S. elections. Whatever the outrage next perpetrated my side should remain on the offensive, as standing on the defensive loses wars. All the descendants of the enlightenment and forces of modernity are not about to lose this one!

Just sticking my neck out for a moment, I think Bush will win now that Bin Laden has intervened to try to cause another Madrid effect. The Yanks will do the opposite, and allow Bush to continue. We will know soon enough who is to do the gnashing of teeth. Anyway Kerry is locked in on the main game.

It is time to accept that Saddam’s regime would never have changed organically and evolved from within, so there was always going to be a war.

9/11, ten years on: how the arab spring is rebirthing a genuine left

Old Yobbo said:

‘Come to think of it, yes, the situation isn’t that different from Saddam’s Iraq, just on a more compressed time-frame. Which, if anything, makes me a bit more disposed towards the US invasion of Iraq (Christ, I never thought I would ever think that) …..’
http://larvatusprodeo.net/2011/03/12/libya-the-left-and-the-no-fly-zone-debate/#comment-267941

September 11th 2011 ought to focus left-wing minds on what has become of the internationalist left, that ten years ago stood gob-smacked with everyone else, as humanity watched the unimaginable horror of those attacks.

Naturally all the old categories of leftists are still around and plenty of the recognized leaders too, but via the twists and turns of the intervening years those that started as self declared leftists and internationalists have reached a destination that is, as is usual for all political journeys, places that none of us really set out for. The numbers have dramatically changed after all that experience and it’s worth looking at the how, the why and the what of it.

Early in 2011 a small number of leftists joined in the call for the U.S. and the rest to impose a No Fly Zone (NFZ) on the Libyan tyranny, with the clear understanding that this meant starting with bombing. Most of these leftists then went quiet when it was blindingly obvious that NATO was not imposing a NFZ on the basis of any doctrine of the responsibility to protect, (R2P) but rather acting as the artillery (that conquers) for the Libyan revolutionaries who would occupy. This is a huge leap forward from a decade ago. These leftists in their silence were advocating war. They were only hiding behind R2P, and the pseudo-left didn’t hesitate to point this out. Those that went silent as the war was fought and won wanted more than just the democratic revolutionaries protected against their heavily armed tyrannical opponent. They wanted results. They wanted victory for the rebels across the entire country.

The previous decade ending at 9/11 was one of obvious collapse for the left and that requires no discussion here. But IMV a significant genuine left is now capable of arising from the fresh shoots now emerging from this last decade.

Going back to late 2002 we said that the US had altered their policy by 180 degrees from supporting dictatorship in the Mjddle East to supporting democracy in the Middle East.

The following six sub-periods provide some structure as to how peoples thinking has changed over those past 10years:

2001-2003: 9/11 atrocity; US invades Afghanistan; Iraq invasion / liberation.
This represented a disaster for the realists who wanted to maintain stability in the Middle East. This was the end of business as usual. The invasion and liberation of Iraq from the fascist minority Sunni based Baathists was an indirect but strategically vital response to the 9/11 attack. This response surprised Al Quaeda.

2003- 2005: US policy has good and bad features but three elections demonstrate their policy of supporting democracy

2005- 2007: The going gets tough.

2007- 2009: Bush initiates The Surge. Iraq proceeds to a normal election cycle

2009- 2010: Elections result in a delayed formation of an Iraqi Proportional Representation government

2011: The glorious Arab Spring breaks out

Incidentally, I also think that nothing potent remains of the former completely dominant political thinking of the U.S. ruling establishment from 2001. Realist policies of maintaining the status quo of autocracies are effectively dead in 2011, and for those that carry on as the zombies of that defeated school of thinking there is essentially nowhere in the ME to deploy their policy prescriptions. Anyway only governments do things and oppositions of all descriptions are free to talk and offer opinions that like assholes are common to all but no future U.S. government can revert to the old policies.

Support for the ending of the Libyan tyranny was widespread across the spectrum of what is known as the left but opposition to any ‘imperialist’ intervention was also almost exclusively to be found in this milieu as well, so a great debate was had this year and the pseudo-left was one issue that received great ventilation. Those who are stuck in the old ‘hard left’ paradigm that imperialism is the main enemy actually stand for all things conservative when it comes to ridding the ME of tyranny. They have been wonderfully exposed as useless dogmatists throughout this year of the Arab Spring and once more on the wrong side of a fire fight with the tyrants. Who is the main enemy then? All those who oppose the democratic revolution in the autocratic regimes.

The forces that had been involved in the anti-war movement in relation to the looming war in Iraq back in 2002 essentially divided in the lead-up to the war that is now concluding in Libya. My view is that at least 2 out of 3 and possibly 3 out of 4 supported action over Libya or went silent and took no stand or are now on reflection glad it happened. This group wanted western governments to do something to save the imperiled democratic revolution rather than allow Gaddafi to crush it with his superior firepower. I guess the figure for Iraq was more like 5%

But the action in the lead-up period was framed in a manner that sounded very different to just taking sides in a civil war. The reality was taking sides in a civil war. The reality was unity with western bourgeois governments who could supply the effective ‘artillery’.

Concerning the western imposition of a NFZ and other measures under the rubric of an international responsibility to protect civilians (R2P), before the actual war was launched, Guy Rundle said:

“All that matters is whether the request comes from legitimate leadership, is strategically viable, and can be limited in scope. Those conditions appear to have been met.”

What a joke. The rebels were being defeated by the tyranny until they united with various western governments and war was declared on the tyranny! There was never only a NFZ and R2P civilians ‘limited scope’ and the appearance of one was created as a deliberate lie to conceal the war fighting scope of the intervention.  Guy Rundle was happy to be lied to.

The Libyan tyranny has now been all but ended with the two last towns hopefully surrendering to the rebels this very weekend. The Rebel leadership is clearly going to hold the elections that it has sought and promised

Well, those same factors have been met in the case of ending the Iraq tyranny! The Coalition Of the Willing (COW) is going home and leaving behind a democratically elected government. Eight years is all it took to smash the reactionary heart of the ME and set the region wide revolution running.

the further shrinkage of anti imperialist purists

Both of the authors below opposed the US led war in Iraq. Both of them support imperialist intervention in Libya.

An Open Letter to the Left on Libya by Juan Cole

The United Nations Security Council authorization for UN member states to intervene to forestall this massacre thus pitched the question. If the Left opposed intervention, it de facto acquiesced in Qaddafi’s destruction of a movement embodying the aspirations of most of Libya’s workers and poor, along with large numbers of white collar middle class people. Qaddafi would have reestablished himself, with the liberation movement squashed like a bug and the country put back under secret police rule. The implications of a resurgent, angry and wounded Mad Dog, his coffers filled with oil billions, for the democracy movements on either side of Libya, in Egypt and Tunisia, could well have been pernicious.

Libya: a legitimate and necessary debate from an anti-imperialist perspective by Gilbert Achcar

The left should certainly not proclaim such absolute “principles” as “We are against Western powers’ military intervention whatever the circumstances.” This is not a political position, but a religious taboo.

Many of the comments to these articles express dismay at Cole and Achcar for questioning the one true way of anti imperialist consistency. We are witnessing a repeat of the process whereby anti-imperialist purists condemn and cast out those who refuse to remain true believers. See this supportive comment on the Juan Cole thread:

AMEN, JUAN! AMEN! Thank you so much for this. I’ve been an active demonstrator and vocal, obnoxiously-sanctimonious railer against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with railing against Obama’s weak health-care “reform,” his subservience to Wall St., his perpetuation and expansion of W.’s oppressive national security state and military budget… I’ve made lots of “comrades” in that time, and I’m split from nearly all of them in supporting this intervention in Libya …

UN adopts “the freedom agenda”!

The UN Security Council has voted for military intervention to facilitate regime change in Libya!

When Bush was president this was illegal

UN Resolution 1973 which authorizes “all necessary measures” to protect the Libyan people from being crushed by Gaddafi’s army is an historic event. It’s been put in terms of a humanitarian intervention aimed at preventing atrocities against civilians (which it is, on one level), but in reality it goes far further than that. It’s actually a resolution aimed at ensuring the success of the democratic revolution in Libya.

No way is it just a No Fly Zone, already the new COW has begun destroying Gaddafi’s military infrastructure, and the resolution has clearly been worded to allow attacks on ground troops, if required. And although it rules out occupation, it doesn’t specifically rule out on-the-ground operations.

About time!!

As I write this I’m listening to interviews with Egyptians who are at this very moment casting their votes in a referendum on constitutional reform. The euphoria is palpable. Democratic revolution really is sweeping the Middle East . The tyrants and autocrats of the region are all under threat now.

With the passing of UN resolution 1970, suddenly “regime change” is ok , is becoming legitimate. So far in all the interviews I’ve heard, the question “Is this really about regime change”? has been dodged. Instead the talk is all about Gaddafi “killing his own people” and the need to stop this. But it’s pretty easy to join the dots.

And it was France which spearheaded the push in the UN. What a change from 2003!

Alain Juppe’s speech prior to the resolution talked of “a wave of great revolutions that would change the course of history” .

But it was under the dreaded Bush regime that the “democracy agenda” was actually launched.

Continue reading ‘UN adopts “the freedom agenda”!’

Videos from Monthly Argument debate on Iraq and Afghanistan

(I’ve been told that a transcript of this debate will soon be available at the Monthly Argument website. That could kickstart a useful discussion here, so I’ll post it , once it appears)

Debate Topic: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: Can our participation be justified?

A Monthly Argument debate held in Melbourne, Australia. December, 9 2010.

Speakers:

Major General Jim Molan
Retired senior officer in the Australian Army, author of Running the War in Iraq, Chief of Operations, Headquarters Multinational Force in Iraq (MNF-I) 2004-2005

Adam Bandt MP
Greens member for Melbourne in the House of Representatives

Professor Richard Tanter
Director of the Nautilus Institute at RMIT

Jeff Sparrow
Editor of Overland magazine

Arthur Dent (previously known as Albert Langer)

Chaired by Darce Cassidy

For more info about The Monthly Argument go to: themonthlyargument.wordpress.com/​

Iraq/Afghanistan debate (part 1of 2) from Monthly Argument on Vimeo.

Iraq/ Afghanistan debate (part 2 of 2) from Monthly Argument on Vimeo.

Iraq/Afghanistan debate (10 minutes of highlights) from Monthly Argument on Vimeo.

a puzzle for some

Wandering Earl, a recent traveller to Kurdistan reports his impression of the people of a whole region who love George W Bush:

The Kurdish people are incredibly fond of foreigners, especially Americans, and not an hour goes by without a Kurd telling you how much they love George Bush and the USA. The Kurds benefited immensely during Bush’s eight year presidency, as the take down of Saddam led to a safer, freer and more autonomous Kurdistan.
How safe is travelling to Iraq

Postone’s analysis of the malaise of the “left”

History and Helplessness: Mass Mobilization and Contemporary Forms of Anticapitalism by Moishe Postone (pdf 18pp)

This article is an analysis of the reasons behind the malaise of the Left which has in common some of the themes discussed at this site as well as raising some new angles

For example, the following quote outlines the superficiality of the reflexive anti-Americanism of many on the “left” in response to the 9/11 attacks:

“Let me elaborate by first turning briefly to the ways in which many liberals and progressives responded to the attack of September 11. The most general argument made was that the action, as horrible as it may have been, had to be understood as a reaction to American policies, especially in the Middle East. While it is the case that terrorist violence should be understood as political (and not simply as an irrational act), the understanding of the politics of violence expressed by such arguments is, nevertheless, utterly inadequate. Such violence is understood as a reaction of the insulted, injured, and downtrodden, not as an action. While the violence itself is not necessarily affirmed, the politics of the specific form of violence committed are rarely interrogated. Instead, the violence is explained (and at times implicitly justified) as a response. Within this schema, there is only one actor in the world: the United States.

This sort of argument focuses on the grievances of those who carry out such actions without engaging the framework of meaning within which those grievances are expressed. The actions that flow from those meanings are taken simply as expressions of anger, however unfortunate. Such arguments neither interrogate the understanding of the world that motivated this violence nor critically analyze the sort of politics implied by violence directed intentionally against civilians. Consequently, such arguments can become implicitly apologetic rather than political; they make little attempt to understand the strategic calculations involved — not so much of the bombers as of their handlers — and ignore issues of ideology. It is a serious error, for example, to interpret the felt grievances underlying a movement like al-Qaeda in narrow terms, as an immediate reaction to American policies and Israeli policies. This ignores too many other dimensions of the new jihadism. For example, when Osama bin Laden speaks of the blow inflicted on the Muslims eighty years ago, he is not referring to the founding of the state of Israel but to the abolition of the caliphate (and, hence, of the purported unity of the Muslim world) by Ataturk in 1924 — long before the United States was involved in the Middle East and before Israel was established. It is noteworthy that the vision he
expresses is more global than local, which is one of the salient features of the new jihadism, in terms of both the struggles it supports (transforming them into manifestations of a single struggle) and its driving ideology. And an important aspect of the global character of that ideology has been anti-Semitism.

Addressing anti-Semitism is crucially important when considering issues of globalization and antiglobalization, even if it can be subject to misunderstandings because of the degree to which the charge of anti-Semitism has been used as an ideology of legitimation by Israeli regimes in order to discredit all serious criticisms of Israeli policies. It is certainly possible to formulate a fundamental critique of those policies that is not anti-Semitic, and, indeed, many such critiques have been formulated. On the other hand, criticism of Israel should not blind one to the existence today of widespread and virulent anti-Semitism in the Arab/Muslim world. As I will try to elaborate, anti-Semitism poses a very determinate problem for the Left.”

Continue reading ‘Postone’s analysis of the malaise of the “left”’

debating the wars

The next Melbourne  Monthly Argument looks like being a ripper!

Topic: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: Can our participation be justified?

When: Thursday December 9 at 6.30pm for 7.00pm start. Free admission. No need to book. Meals available from 6.00pm.
Where: The Function Room, The Dan O’Connell Hotel, 225 Canning Street (corner of Princes Street) Carlton. ( Melway 2B J4)

Main speakers:

Panelists:

Chaired by Darce Cassidy

“All I know is that I am not a Marxist.” (Karl Marx)

A few days ago Arthur, David Mc. and I went along to a Socialist Alternative event at Trades Hall.  It had been advertised as a panel discussion on “Australian militarism

The general position  was that WW1, WW11, the Vietnam War, the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan were/are all pretty much the same war.  Not much to think about really. It’s all just imperialism and racism, capitalists grabbing resources , expanding markets, seizing territory, seeking strategic superiority.  I was initially surprised about the attitude to WW2, but realised after a while that it was necessary for consistency.  They have a simple theory about how the world works, and everything must fit it. No need to analyse any particular world event, the position is just given.
(For the record though, I should mention that Harry Van Moorst  (who was on the panel) actually gave an interesting talk about his experience in the anti-Vietnam war movement, and although he didn’t mention WW2, I’d say that he’d be unlikely to agree that it was just another imperialist war. His talk was lively and lacked the contrived tone of the other talks. )
I don’t usually pay much attention to the various revolutionary sects which continue to exist on the fringes of the pseudo-left because they are largely politically irrelevant. However it’s worth popping in to one of their “events” once in a while, just to remind oneself of what can happen when “Marxism” is embraced as a religion.  (I hesitated to use the word “Marxism” in that last sentence, but I couldn’t quickly think of a better way to put it. Clearly, calling oneself a Marxist  and peppering everything one says with references to  “class struggle”, “imperialism” , “capitalist crisis” and so on, has very little to do with  Marxism.  It brings to mind what Marx apparently said (to Lafargue) in frustration  about the French “Marxists”:   “All I know is that I am not a Marxist“.

Iraqis vote in Shepparton

Nice little video of Iraqis voting in Shepparton (Victoria, Australia).

Fukuyama treading carefully

An article that’s worth discussing is Fukuyama’s  What Became of the Freedom Agenda?.  It’s based on a United States Institute of Peace working paper which was released on January 21.

Fukuyama withdrew his support for the war in Iraq as soon as things became difficult,  yet at the same time he continues to  acknowledge  the reality that the  US can’t afford to keep cozying up to the autocratic regimes   in the Middle East.

He manages to quote Bush (2003) with approval:

“Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom . . . did nothing to make us safe. . . . As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment and violence ready for export.”

But he continues to oppose what he calls ” return(ing) to the loud trumpeting of promises for support of regional democracy that we cannot keep” and    ignores the fact that in Iraq, the US has kept exactly that promise. Instead  he tries to argue that the overhrow of Baathism in Iraq can only be seen as a setback for “democracy promotion”  because it “undercut (the) credibility” of that policy, and in his view increased Arab hostility toward America.

He rightly points to the way in which the autocrats of the region continue to get away with justifying the repression of opposition groups by saying that this is necessary to keep militant Islamists out of power and then goes on to call on Obama to “recommit the United States to peaceful democratic change”

What he wants the US to do now is to follow a policy of  “working quietly behind the scenes to push friendly authoritarians towards a genuine broadening of political space in their countries through the repeal of countless exceptional laws, defamation codes, party registration statutes and the like that hinder the emergence of real democratic contestation.”

The article is quite extraordinary in the way it makes no attempt to analyse the impact of the changes in Iraq, apart from maintaining that it damaged US credibility in the region.  I don’t know how anyone can purport to be writing a serious article about the prospects for democratic change in the Middle East, without writing in some detail about the one country in which democratic change has actually happened!  The thing which will do most to force (not gently “push”) the autocrats of the region out of power, is the move from fascism to democracy in Iraq. Fukuyama may disagree with that, but he doesn’t even address the issue.

Continue reading ‘Fukuyama treading carefully’