More great news from Iraq!!

“Negotiators have finalised a deal which will see the complete withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by 2011, ending an eight-year occupation, the top Iraqi heading the team said today.”  (from today’s “Age” newspaper)

This is a victory for the Iraqi people, the US, and for democratic forces throughout the Middle East.

The negotiations which led to this deal took some time and are yet another indication that Iraq is ruled by its own sovereign,  democratically elected government.  This is exactly what we wanted (and predicted). Now  we are seeing it.

I guess the full import will still take a while to sink in among those who opposed the war and predicted initially that its purpose was to install a US puppet government and then  sometime later, that Iraq had been tipped into an unwinnable civil war.   They were wrong on both counts.

Andrew Bolt wrote quite a good article on all this in today’s Herald-Sun: The War in Iraq has been won.

What we are seeing now is the beginning of the very first Arab democracy.  Currently it has an Islamist face and is not particularly pro-American (which confuses the conservative Right).  But this is exactly what is needed if we are to see a transformation in the region.

The Shia in Iran will be looking on for sure (and the Mullahs there will be feeling very threatened).  This will also be the case with the surrounding Sunni autocracies.  The Old Order in the region has been thoroughly disrupted.

The next thing to look forward to is a Palestinian State.  That is a necessity and I think that it may well be achieved by the end of Bush’s term.  If Marwan Bhargouti is among the Palestinian prisoners due to be released this coming Monday (August 25), I think it may be in the bag.

Links to some of what we have said about this on our old forum, when things didn’t look so bright:

Spelling out the “drain the swamps theory”

Draining the swamps in 2007

12 Responses to “More great news from Iraq!!”

  1. 1 Steve Owens

    Hi Keza,Yes there are some really good news stories coming out of Iraq, however whether Iraq develops into a shinning example of democracy or follows some other path is beside the point for your argument. Your argument has for a while now been that the US ruling circles had democracy as the primary goal of the invasion.Several members of the ruling circle have now left the administration a couple even writing books about the decision making process leading up to the war. I would appreciate you pointing out any statement by these war planners that supports the idea that democracy was uppermost in their thoughts.

  2. 2 youngmarxist

    Owenss: remember this thread from the old Last Superpower forum?:Bush planned “unnecessary” freedom for Iraq, accuses former aideFormer White House press aide Scott McClelland’s book “What Happened” has caused a major stir, for its attack on President Bush’s deception in the lead up to the Iraq War.While most of the media is picking up the story that Bush deceived people, they are ignoring McClellan’s own explanation of why that deception happened:

    McClellan says Bush’s main reason for war always was “an ambitious and idealistic post-9/11 vision of transforming the Middle East through the spread of freedom.”… “The Iraq war was not necessary” McClellan concludes.

    If you think the Middle East deserves nothing but the leaders and society it has at the moment, you too will probably agree that the violent overthrow of its vicious dictatorships is “unnecessary”. Former Bush political adviser Karl Rove has predictably attacked McClelland, saying that he sounds like a “left-wing blogger”. In fact, he sounds like a right-wing, “stability at all costs” reactionary – just like everyone else who disdains freedom and democracy.

  3. 3 Steve Owens

    Youngmarxist if you just want to defend your position you should cite McClelland (a person not in the war planning group) However if you want to pursue truth you should address the writings of people who were in the war planning group or the White House memo the put the promotion of democratic institutions as priority number 8 not Democracy as number 1 but vague democratic sentiment as number 8

  4. 4 Steve Owens

    Look if you seriously want to uphold the idea that the war is for democracy you would be better off citing Bush himself in his adress to the United States Army College  May 2004 (its better than relying on a press aid)

  5. 5 keza

    Read this Steve.

    Actually, I don’t really believe that you could be unaware that a major plank of neo-con policy was that the US should re-orient its policy in the direction of spreading democracy. 

    I think your previous view was that they didn’t mean it, rather than they didn’t say it.

    It’s true that in the lead up to the war, the Bushies relied almost entirely on false claims about WMDs and suggestions of a link between Saddam and al Queda.   This casus beli was necessary in order to rally the old foreign policy establishment and the American people.   Do you honestly think that the Bush administration could have won support for the war just on the basis that  it had decided that democracy in Iraq would be a good thing – even if they had put it in  terms of a necessary strategy for defeating terrorism??

    If they had been totally honest they would also have had to stress the hugeness of the undertaking and tell people that it wouldn’t be a short war.  They didn’t do this because it would have destroyed all possibility of winning sufficient support for the launching of the war.

    It’s totally clear however (and on the record all over the place) that the neo-cons were talking of the necessity to democratize Iraq well before the war.  

    You used to be able to argue that they didn’t mean it (that’s harder now)  but claiming that they also never said it, is just plain silly.  Are you now suggesting that the new democratic Iraq which is beginning to emerge is actually something that was unintended and not desired??

    Very shaky ground if you read the documents.

  6. 6 Steve Owens

    Keza I have no problem acknowledging that various neo-cons were arguing for a war for democracy prior to the war.I have no problem acknowledging that Bush has argued that the war was for democracy (see my advice to youngmarxist that he would be better off citing Bush than citing McClelland)The question however is “was the war a war for democracy” The sad reality is you don’t know and I don’t know (we can pretend we know but that’s a different matter)An indicator as to what the war was about come when the war planners tell us what they were thinking. So far most have kept their thoughts private. Feith has come out with his explanation and it goes something like Saddam was an enemy that we knew we were going to fight it was just a matter of it being at a time of his choosing or of our choosing. He says that he (Feith) and Rumsfeld barely mentioned democracy when they were planning the war.Soon Bush will be gone and everyone will be free to express their ideas about why they made war on Iraq.PS Have you heard that Cheney has declared (against all precedent and possibly the law) that he as Vice President is not part of the executive and therefor free to shred any document that he wishes. Jesus talk about open government. (after Nixon the US passed a law that all executive documents we the property of the people)

  7. 7 byork

    Steve, I think Feith goes further in his explanation than you indicate. He sees the reasons for going to war against the fascist regime as being about US “self-defense” and that “If that necessity drove us to war, the fighting might open the way for a new democracy to arise (as it did with Germany, Italy and Japan after World War 11)… But it’s one thing to try to ensure that your defeated enemy becomes a democracy atfer the war coming to an end and quite another to initiate a war for that purpose”. (p. 234, Douglas J. Feith, War and Decision)

    I don’t think anyone here or at the Lastsuperpower site argued that the war was undertaken for reasons other than to do with US neo-con perceptions of ‘self-defense’ or national interest. But we did, and still do, argue that these perceptions tallied with the interests of the Iraqi people in their struggle against dictatorship and for democracy. Moreover, the perceptions, the analysis, were correct.

    Feith represents that section of the neo-con opinion that genuinely believed the WMD stuff and also believed that there was a close working relationship between the Iraqi regime and Al-Quaeda, but he was cautious about those who wanted to go to war to spread democracy through the region. The latter, the true ‘democrats’, included George W. Bush and Paul Wolfowitz (who regarded the WMD falsehood as a ‘procedural convenience’). Feith’s caution was not based on opposition to the liberation of Iraq – indeed, he was prominent among the neo-cons pushing for the Iraqi Liberation Act, which was passed during the Clinton years in 1998. The Act declared that US government objective in Iraq was “regime change” and that its goal was to “establish a program to support a transition to democracy in Iraq”. 

    Feith believed that Bush’s talk about democracy was too unconditional and therefore creating a situation in which the whole rationale for the war would fail were democracy not to be established successfully. He was one of the neo-cons who wanted the President’s democratic rhetoric to be toned down and for the WMD claptrap to be highlighted.

    At page 492, Feith draws on his comments, kept in note form, on a draft speech by Bush in May 2004. Bush by this time had made a number of speeches, including to the UN in 2002   , that made it clear the reason for going to war was to topple the dictatorship that previous US admins had supported and that the objective was NOT to set up another dictatorship. Feith suggested that President Bush should talk of “‘building democratic institutions’ or ‘putting Iraqis on the path to democracy’ rather than ‘constructing a stable democracy’, a goal that will not be achievable for many years”. (p. 492) 

    Was the war a war for democracy? Given the stated objectives since the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act 1998, and given what Feith says, and given that Iraq now does have a developing democracy, I see no pretence in accepting that the war was waged to topple a dictator with a view to establishing a democracy – both of which, it was realized, would serve the national interests of the USA, its “self-defense” if you will.

    It’s also worth recalling Condoleezza Rice’s speech in Cairo in 2005, where she declared that:
    For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East — and we achieved neither. Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people.  

    Feith has a website for his book, where his primary sources can be viewed.  The above quotations from his book are taken from his site.


  8. 8 Steve Owens

    Barry prior to the war the probability of a democratic outcome in Iraq was a long shot. This was because the likely winner of any major reshuffle was and has been the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.(these guys at the time had zero democratic credentials) You paint a picture of a White House divided between those like Feith who believed in WMD and those Like Wolfowitz who perpetuated the WMD lie so that they could achieve the real agenda of democracy. So I can’t see why anyone outside the White House would support the war if the choices were falling in behind the WMD loons or the take a punt on democracy liars.My problem is even if democracy succeeds and I hope it does there’s no way I can convince myself that with the information available prior to the war such a long shot bet was worth risking hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives. Prior to the war my estimate of how many people would loose their lives was about 100,000. Sadly my estimate seems to be on the low side. PS every day I drive past a church that has a sign extolling the virtue of optimism every time I see it I smile and think of you

  9. 9 byork

    Steve, I think the reason the anti-war movement momentarily acheived such success in terms of mass mobilization was precisely because people objected to being lied to about the WMDs. But it collapsed once it became clear that democracy was the strategic objective. I reckon the vast majority of the millions who demonstrated around the world would, like you, hope democracy succeeds there. It surprises me that there are still people who support the war on the basis of the WMD lie. I never did. The hypothesis has been tested and the US didn’t overthrow one dictator just to establish another (as many of my anti-war friends insisted would, and could only, happen).It must have been very hard for Lincoln to have remain optimistic about the abolition of slavery in the US in the midst of the carnage his decision to fight it (on the basis of a ‘lie’ or procedural convenience) unleashed. Had Saddam not been overthrown by the US-led alliance with the Iraqi people, we would have seen real civil war and almost certain intervention by the neighbouring allies of the rival factions. And, of course, the murder and torture of the regime would have continued unchecked. As for the Kurds had the no-fly zone been undermined – I shudder to think. You strike me as someone who can argue, so what’s with the church reference? I’m an atheist – I derive my optimism elsewhere (eg, from my knowledge of history and from observation of all the advances currently happening in the world, from Iraq to Nepal, not to mention the advances in science and technology). I have many church-going friends and they tend to share the doomsday pessimism of the pseudo-left. Barry

  10. 10 Steve Owens

    Barry I to know optimistic religious people and optimistic political people and revolutionary people have explained their ideas of revolutionary optimism to me but as Bob Dylan said sometimes even pessimism wont put you through. Optimism during the American civil war was everywhere. Those in the north and south who were keen to fight did so in the optimistic and wrong belief that the war would be a bit of a walk in the park. So was optimism helpful I think not, it lead people into a terrible carnage. The people who won the decisive campaigns were pessimists as I have mentioned to you before Sherman was treated for depression at the commencement of the war while do you think that Grants drinking binges were expressions of optimism?Picket was an optimist and his famous charge at Gettysburg was a disastrous display of optimism applied to the battle field.Even Socialists arnt perpetual optimists. Lenin thought that he would not see a Russian revolution in his life time. Luxembourg contemplated suicide when the SDP authorised credits for the war.OK my point is that optimism and pessimism are but emotions and in my opinion pretty useless in deciding the way forward. The church reference follows from my belief that optimism is best left to those of a religious persuasion.Winston Churchill was a very pessimistic person, Hitler who thought he could conquer the world must have been an optimist. Would you prefer Hitlers optimism over Winston’s dour view?

  11. 11 byork

    We can agree that optimism and pessimism are ‘pretty useless in deciding the way forward’. The ‘way forward’ doesn’t come from an optimistic outlook but from investigation and study of reality as a starting point. I remain optimistic about Iraq because of the achievements: the overthrow of the old fascist (what’s his name?) and the gradual and careful process of building democratic institutions and a national armed force capable of defending them – not to overlook the genuine commitment to national reconciliation implicit in, among other things, the draft national oil law (with its equitable distribution of revenues). The pessimists said the US would merely overthrow one dictator to replace him with another. They said the ‘Arab world’ was not ready yet for democracy, that it was an ‘imposition’ from outside (i.e., the Iraqis didn’t really want it). They said, too, that the ethnic and tribal divisions could not be overcome. They said Iraq was ’embroiled’ in civil war, even though it wasn’t, and in this weekend’s Australian I noticed a reference in the book review supplement to Iraq being on the brink of civil way. (Say what?!) The pessimists are not so much unhappy about what they see as a dismal future but rather more upset with the fact that their world is changing.  My optimism is not something grabbed from thin air. I actually think it’s a necessary precondition for a progressive, and revolutionary, outlook. I can’t see how any of the progressive figures you mentioned could have been genuinely pessimistic. Otherwise, why would they have bothered? In my personal experience, I find people increasingly sick and tired of the constant complaining and doom and gloom stuff that is put forward via the mainstream media as being a quality of left-wing politics. Come on! We’re the optimists. Which doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy!

  12. 12 keza

    I’ve written something about optimism in a comment to YoungMarxist’s blog piece entitled “Optimism in the Arts”.  It is probably better to shift this discussion there.

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