The Iraqi parliament has approved by a vote of a substantial majority of members the accord providing a legal basis for the continuing US military presence and a timetable for a US withdrawal. This is great news and puts another nail in the coffin of those who opposed the war. After the first federal election was held in Iraq, the numbers attending the anti-war demonstrations dropped dramatically. It went to show that the great majority were angry at having been lied to about the reasons for the war – WMDs rather than to overthrow a tyrant and create the foundations for democracy – but also had the best interests of the Iraqis at heart. They weren’t willing to march against a democratically elected government after the overthrow of a fascist regime. Only the die-hard pseudo-left leaders hung around to try and keep the movement going.
Where can they go from here? I think they have two options, both bizarre: first, some will try to turn it into their victory and, secondly, others will continue to beat their hollow chests from the sidelines calling the accord a sell-out and continuing the demand for an immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops.
And how wrong they were? Can anyone be more wrong? Just recall a few key items from what they said and let’s pat ourselves on the back for our left-wing pro-war position adopted back in 2002.
1. The national liberation movement – “embryonic” of course! – would grow and force the US out.
2. Democracy could not be established in Iraq because of tribal and ethnic differences.
3. The US would overthrow Saddam but install a new dictator.
4. The US would permanently occupy Iraq.
5. The Iraqi parliament and government are essentially puppets of US imperialism.
6. The war is about oil and the US will not leave until it secures control of Iraq’s oil resource through the draft national oil law that it (the US) framed.
7. Iraq had been plunged into civil war.
Perhaps not since the infamous Oxford University Union debate on appeasement in 1933 has a pseudo-left position been so delightfully exposed.
The ‘national liberation movement’ remains a joke, about as non-existent as something can be.
The main ethno-religious groups resolve their differences politically rather than by force, in the main, and the sectarian violence has diminished greatly as more and more Sunnis enter the political process. Armed attacks on the occupying forces have also declined greatly (as we said they would). The accord allowing for the US military presence to continue until the end of 2011 was supported across the ethnic divisions and expresses their united view that the time is not yet right for a complete and immediate withdrawal of foreign troops. In keeping with the spirit of the new democracy, the parliament voted for a national referendum to be held before 30th July to allow the people to express their view directly on the accord.
The accord has been applauded by President George W Bush and the Iraqi government and represents the long-stated policy of the US leaving only when the Iraqis ask them to, when the internal security situation and external threats are able to be dealt with by the new Iraqi forces.
That the Iraqi parliament and government are sovereign and not puppets to anyone has been demonstrated by the stridency with which the government negotiated with the US over this accord, over many months.
Remember all the talk by Fisk et al about how Iraq had plunged into civil war? I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard that phrase on Australia’s public broadcaster. Hey, what happened?! Maybe the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will let us know when the civil war ended and why its end went unannounced. Of course, it never ended because it never happened.
The US has agreed to a timetable for withdrawal under conditions of democratic progress. The oil issue remains unresolved for Iraqis, as the draft national oil law is still held up by factional wrangling. If it was a puppet government, it would have done what the ‘blood for oil’ brigade asserted throughout 2006 and 2007 and jumped to its supposed master’s alleged orders to pass the law.
It will be fun to see how the diehards try to make sense of this new development. No doubt it will be seen as some sort of victory for them: a victory for the (largely non-existent) anti-war movement around the world and for the (largely non-existent) Iraqi armed resistance. It has been, in reality, a victory thus far for the Iraqi people and their allies.
The accord will further isolate the enemies of Iraqi democracy. They too will be increasingly drawn into the political process as the prospect of the national referendum scheduled to take place prior to 30 July draws nearer.