Iraq rocks on!

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.

THEY said:

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.


82 Responses to “Iraq rocks on!”

  1. 1 melaleuca

    Well I’m a lefty who originally supported the war but later regretted doing so when it became clear Bush, Rumsfeld etc were essentially incompetent.

    The situation has now improved ( although we shouldn’t forget the 300,000 to 400,00 dead, flight of most of the professional classes and 3 to 4 million displaced persons), but your triumphalism is absurd.

    Iraq will almost certainly rip itself apart in the same manner as the former Yugoslavia once the CoW is gone.  In fact the job is already half done with minorities being almost entirely ethnically cleansed throughout much of Iraq, and a constitution that provides for a weak central government.

    The relative peace in Iraq today is of course in large part due to the “success” of ethnic cleansing.

    Nonetheless, much of the “left” criticism of the war has been pathetic- that includes soft left critics like the Larva Prodeo crew as well as “far left” critics.

  2. 2 byork

    Hi melaleuca,
    I must say that I think the future is brighter for Iraq than you suggest, though on reflection I was possibly too ‘triumphalist’ and didn’t acknowledge how difficult things still are for the Iraqis. I’m aware that things can go backwards and that is why I said “thus far” in “a victory thus far for the Iraqi people and their allies”. 

    There are a couple of reasons why I don’t think the Iraqi federal system will collapse when the CoW leave. By then, the Iraqi security forces will be even more advanced and I believe the Iraqi government is genuine in its commitment to reconciliation. The forces will include more Sunnis by late 2011. More to the point, I think the federal nature of the constitution, its ‘weak’ centre, is a strength. The experience under the extremely strong central government of the old regime hardly brought the different ethnicities together. It just maintained central control over them via Saddam’s preferred group.

    The thing that will make all this work in practice, for a long time into the future, is the position adopted in the draft oil law relating to the equitable distribution of oil revenues by population. Passage of the oil law is essential to this bright future. 

    As for the refugees, and ‘ethnic cleansing throughout much of Iraq’, a quick check of UNHCR and other sites reveals the extent of this continuing significant problem but the figures I have seen on refugees do not support the idea that an ethnic cleansing has occured ‘throughout much of Iraq’. Perhaps you have some data on this that you can share? I want to make time to look into it, and will post back on it.

    One puzzle for me is that, prior to the war, the estimates of Iraq’s exiled and refugee population were only a bit less than what they are now. Does this mean that many have returned, only to be replaced by new people fleeing the country?

    In the meantime, I stand by my sense of victory, of a big step forward worthy of celebration.

    What do you think of the accord?


  3. 3 Dalec

    Your triumphalism over the wanton destruction and killing in Iraq reveals more about your character than perhaps you might realise.
    On the question of ethnic cleansing in Iraq perhaps you might like to look at these two maps. The associated comments by one of your heroes are also illuminating.

  4. 4 melaleuca

    Byork,See this for example:

    The ethnic cleansing that has taken place in the Kurdish north has been well reported although it is worth noting that much of this is a reversal of Saddam’s ghastly Arabisation policy.

    A range of horrible scenarios could play out when the CoW leave.

    For example Turkey might occupy the Kurdish north, especially if it continues to be used by Turkish Kurd separatists. 

    Moreover, Al Qaeda have apparently cemented themselves quite nicely in Somalia and may well use this beach head to stage a resurgence in Iraq post-CoW. The Sunnis may be receptive especially given the probability that the Kurds in the north and Shia in the south will endeavour to monopolize Iraq’s oil wealth.

    At the end of the day the Middle East and central asian Islamic areas (Aghanistan, Pakistan etc ) are a viper’s nest.  Trying to work out a strategy to deal with these people is no more possible than working out a stragey on a three dimensional chessboard- it’s impossibly complicated. We should simply wash our hands of them.

    We can do this and at the same time  “drain the swamp” by depriving them of money, which means weaning ourselves off their oil (and opium in the case of Afghanistan).

    Don’t forget the Iraq/Afganistan adventure has already cost the West 2-3 trillion US dollars.

    Imagine if that sought of money was ploughed into renewable energy development (yes I know you folk hate greeny ideas but oil supplies must run out sooner or later any way).

  5. 5 byork

    melaleuca, I could never agree with this: “We should simply wash our hands of them”.

    That would mean leaving them to the fascist, autocratic and clericalist regimes rather than overthrowing and undermining them.

    On oil revenue distribution, are you familiar with the draft oil law? It suggests the opposite of what you say about the “probability” of Kurdish and Shia monopolization of oil wealth. The sticking point with the law is not the stipulation that revenue be distributed on a population basis. All sides agree with this, including (of course) the Sunnis.

    I think the vast sums were well spent in the cause of liberating the Iraqis from a tyrant and the contextual struggle to democratize the middle east.

    The overthrow of Saddam’s regime probably averted a real civil war in Iraq, which would have led to a regional conflagration with much greater loss of life.

    But, whatever the case, give me freedom and democracy over wind-mills any day.

    By the way, you didn’t respond to my query about what you think of the recent accord.

  6. 6 Arthur

    The problem with both Dalec and melaleuca’s position is that they are in fact advocating policies that would result in not merely ethnic cleansing but massive bloodbaths, while piously washing their hands of it (and with more than a mild hint of racism in washing their hands of “these people”).

    Obviously if the coalition had been more competent it would have responded earlier and more vigorously when the lack of Sunni opposition to the Baathist-Jihadi alliance for mass terrorism against Shia and Kurds succeeded in unleashing ethnic cleansing and moving towards civil war.

    Equally obviously it was the pseudo-left along with the anti-war right that favoured letting the blood run free.They like to pretend to themselves that if there had been no invasion, the bloodbath when Sadaam’s regime finally collapsed would be “somebody else’s problem” and they could at least argue that “we didn’t know” or “it’s too late, there’s nothing we can do” or at the very least “we are not directly responsible for solving this since we did not cause the situation”  (while simultaneously denying that they supported maintaining Sadaam’s regime of “stability”).

    But faced with the hard fact that there was an invasion and subsequently more troops were required to prevent ethnic cleansing, both the anti-war right (for traditional conservative reasons) and the pseudo-left (for exactly the same reasons) opposed doing what had to be done.The fact that the reasons are the traditional conservative ones, is made fairly explicit in complaints about how much it has cost and how much more profitably those funds could have been invested.

    Bizarrely a reference to the alternative investment to preventing bloodbaths being in “renewable energy development” is supposed make the position sound “left”. This is characteristic of the pseudo-left.

    Equally characteristic is the vast strategic insight in “sensibly” advocating stability and imagining that only incompetenc, rather than the demonstrated consequences of the old imperial policy of stability could explain a US administration departing from that wisdom. (But its already obvious the new “competent” administration faces the same realities and will not be able to escape the same conclusions, though benefiting from “lessons learned”).

    On the specifics, Turkey certainly would have occupied Kurdistan in the aftermath of any plausible scenario following the collapse of Sadaam’s regime. The US would have supported it doing so.

    The invasion was the alternative to that policy. It is no longer even a plausible option for Turkey (though they still shout about it much the same spirit as the US and Israeli shouting at Iran).

    As for a beach head in Somalia leading to a resurgence of Al Quaeda in Iraq, what can one say and why would one bother?

  7. 7 GuruJane

    What has been particularly satisfying has been watching the development of the Iraqi parliament.

    Iraq’s democratic constitution contains onerous checks and balances on executive power. This was the result of the original drafting. At the time the liberated Kurds and Shia were determined to ensure that any future executive would be compelled to govern by consensus. The Sunnis involved in the drafting also supported this position as they were aware that the demographics would ensure that shia parties would win a plurality in any democratic election. For these reasons of self interest all parties ended up supporting a democratic electoral system based on proportional representation, which would ensure coalition governments, and gave the parliament the power to return legislation for further discussion, debate and amendment.

    In essence, the Iraqis buried Baath “winner takes all” for all time. As a result the Iraqi parliament has emerged as a constant headache to the government, and no doubt a source of frustration to the CoW, as the smaller parties use their constituional powers to force more debate and more compromise. The SOFA agreement is but the latest example. It happened with the Provincial election law and indeed every other piece of legislation the government has put forward. But in the end the parties argue to a consensus position, the laws are passed with overwhelming majorities and reconciliation proceeds apace.

    What has been very funny about this is that the pseudo-left bloggers like Marc Lynch at Abu Aadvaark, Badger at Missing Links, Juan Cole at Informed Comment, Eric Martin at American Footprints etc, have taken to relying on sensationalist news reports (from Arab media (!) on the activities of the democratically constituted Iraqi Parliament to  “demonstrate” that the Iraqi democratic political system is a failure. They seem quaintly unselfconscious of the contradiction. Marc Lynch is particularly delicious in this regard, as his alarmist prognostications on the failure of the Iraqi democracy are often juxtaposed with his lamentations on the persecution of the Muslim Brotherhood at the hands of the “dictator” Mubarak and his demands for democracy in Egypt!

  8. 8 melaleuca

    “That would mean leaving them to the fascist, autocratic and clericalist regimes rather than overthrowing and undermining them.

    “It is a mighty big assumption to think that we have any say in the matter. It is arguable that  the progressives in the middle east would gain more traction if we simply left the region to its own devices as this would eliminate a grievance that fuels the Islamist movement.

    As to this or that accord or whatever, I’m reluctant to provide a running commentary on events in Iraq since I, like most other pundits, get it wrong more often than not. As I said before, it’s like a three dimensional chessboard.

    I also think you need to consider the argument that putting additional resources into Iraq has been at the expense of resourcing the war in Afghanistan, which almost every serious commentator thinks is going nowhere.

  9. 9 Arthur

    Hi GuruJane, long time no see!I haven’t been able to follow either the pseudo-left bloggers or much about Iraq at all (been there, done that – summary “we won”, now focussed on Nepal).Nevertheless I feel I have an immediate grasp of what you mean about how deliciously the pseudos “seem quaintly unselfconscious of the contradiction”.

    This (like everything else they think) seems to be a direct reflection of the quaintly unselfconscious contradictions in ruling class ideology generally.The media is still celebrating the imminent departure of the hated and despised Bush (who they also cheered as a hero immediately after September 11) and wetting themselves over the historic significance of the messiah while at the same time mentioning that the new administration is expected to stay the course in Iraq and escalate in Afghanistan. No self-consciousness at all, one has to wonder about whether they even possess sentience.

    Its hard to imagine any of the autocracies surviving democracy in Iraq. Who is “secular” autocrat Mubarek to turn to for sympathy in putting down the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Certainly not the Shia islamists dominating the Iraqi government, nor their more progressive Kurdish Sunni allies. Perhaps the Arab Sunni leaders in Iraq would be more understanding. Oh dear, they (the Iraqi Islamic Party) ARE the Muslim Brotherhood!

    Meanwhile the “hard” pseudos are girding their loins to pursuade the softer pseudos in the remnants of the defunct anti-war movement, to mobilize in defence of their last hope – the Taliban in Afghanistan. Quite unselfconscious that nobody is paying the slightest attention either to their girded loins, or what they have left ungirded.

    The Israelis seem equally unselfconscious about their great national decision as to whether Benjamin or Tzipi would be better at extricating them from the West Bank.What bugs me is the smugness of the right in all this. They unselfconsciously get the credit for belatedly rejecting their own past stupidities, while preening themselves about not being as stupid as the pseudos. But the genuine left gets no credit for having always advocated what is now becoming “common wisdom” democratic change.

  10. 10 Dalec

    The sad thing about Arthurs position is that it relies entirely on a postulated alternative history that never happened.

    “On the specifics, Turkey certainly would have occupied Kurdistan in the aftermath of any plausible scenario following the collapse of Sadaam’s regime. The US would have supported it doing so.”

    That’s just an assertion – not backed at all by any evidence. The entire set of posts from Arthur and Byork are full of such fantasy.

    BTW I have not used the phrase “these people” or talked about “alternative energy” your debating trick of conflating your opposition statements is just sad.

    However while we are on the question of racism what was that about Obama being a “lucky boy” ? The sad thing is that you are all so insular an cosseted that you don’t even know how offensive it is to call an American male a boy, especially a black one.

  11. 11 byork

    In reply to dalec’s previous post, I said in my article “It will be fun to see how the die-hards try to make sense of this new development” but I couldn’t have imagined a response like dalec’s. He is clearly flustered by the Iraqi people’s success.

    On the Obama point, I have never used the words “lucky boy” and if an individual did use them then refer to that person not us “all”. I must say though, with an African American about the take over the White House (and basically maintain the current foreign policy strategy) the context of that formerly abusive term changes somewhat. I just wish Muddy Waters was around to see it. His great blues song, “I’m a Man”, need no longer be sung as a protest song. With “the Man” in the White House, things are different.  

    I would have thought “Lucky boy” derives from “Who’s a lucky boy, then?” and is not racist in intent.  Anyway, dalec, is that really the best you’ve got? And if it sems like i’m rubbing your face in it; well……..  


  12. 12 Dalec

    Barry, the US Imperial agenda will continue regardless of who is in the White house. Iraq is still an occupied country, the Israeli style walls between the various ethnicities and faiths have been erected and the Bantustans are in place. Next Afghanistan will cop the rape and pillage program from the US storm-troopers and mercenaries plus a good dose of ethnic cleansing. No doubt to the loud cheers of the toady’s. Well done. 
    Your problem is that you now support the US Imperial program that you once opposed. There is no way forward (or back) for you and your tiny band, despite your pathetic triumphalism and your desperate attempts to seek allies on the right.

  13. 13 keza

    It was me who referred to Obama as a  “lucky boy”, in my post “He’s not the Messiah, he’s just a very lucky boy”

    I find it hilarious that dalec is so ready to call it a racist slur!   It’s a reference to a well known line from Monty Python’s “The Life of Brian”:

    “He’s not the Messiah. He’s a very naughty boy!” (spoken by Brian’s mother).

    It’s probably not a movie that someone like dalec could appreciate,  if his posts here are any guide to the way his mind works. Obama, on the other hand is a sophisticated Harvard-educated guy who would at least get the reference. The real racist is the one who assumes that Obama would be incapable of appreciating it.

    Even more offensive to dalec would be the following bit of dialogue from that movie:

    We’re giving Pilate two days to dismantle the entire apparatus of the Roman Imperialist State, and if he doesn’t agree immediately, we execute her.
    Cut her head off?
    Cut all her bits off. Send ’em back on the hour every hour. Show them we’re not to be trifled with.
    And of course, we point out that they bear full responsibility when we chop her up, and that we shall not submit to blackmail!
    No blackmail!
    They’ve bled us white, the bastards. They’ve taken everything we had, and not just from us, from our fathers, and from our fathers’ fathers.
    And from our fathers’ fathers’ fathers.
    And from our fathers’ fathers’ fathers’ fathers.
    Yeah. All right, Stan. Don’t labour the point. And what have they ever given us in return?!
    The aqueduct?
    The aqueduct.
    Oh. Yeah, yeah. They did give us that. Uh, that’s true. Yeah.
    COMMANDO #3:
    And the sanitation.
    Oh, yeah, the sanitation, Reg. Remember what the city used to be like?
    Yeah. All right. I’ll grant you the aqueduct and the sanitation are two things that the Romans have done.
    And the roads.
    Well, yeah. Obviously the roads. I mean, the roads go without saying, don’t they? But apart from the sanitation, the aqueduct, and the roads–
    Huh? Heh? Huh…
    COMMANDO #2:
    Yeah, yeah. All right. Fair enough.
    COMMANDO #1:
    And the wine.
    Oh, yes. Yeah…
    Yeah. Yeah, that’s something we’d really miss, Reg, if the Romans left. Huh.
    Public baths.
    And it’s safe to walk in the streets at night now, Reg.
    Yeah, they certainly know how to keep order. Let’s face it. They’re the only ones who could in a place like this.
    Hehh, heh. Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.
    All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?
    Brought peace.
    Oh. Peace? Shut up!

    Thanks for the opportunity dalec! You and Clive Hamilton should go on a preaching tour together. There are a lot of people in our community who need  a bit of guidance from sensitive guys like  you.

  14. 14 Dalec

    Yep, and I once heard a guy quote the Merchant of Venice to excuse his anti-semitism. Tell you what – go to the States – walk up to a street corner in Harlem or in Chicago, hold up a photo of Obama and say in a loud voice to a group of Black men “who’s a lucky boy then” – better have an ambulance standing by. Maybe if they have all seen the “life of Brian” you will survive.
    Er Keza, the Life of Brian is a comedy and a satire and one of the best I have ever seen. It is not a lecture on the benefits that Imperialism brings to the world. In real life the barbarians won – remember that. If you are basing your philosophy on the Life of Brian you are going to be deeply disappointed.

  15. 15 byork

    I was in magnificent New York for the month of May and met a few African Americans. I reckon the ones I met would have enjoyed the truth in the idea of Obama not being the messiah and just a lucky boy and would have appreciated the Monty Python connection. (Hey everyone, notice how dalec purposely expunges the “not the messiah” bit?)

    As for Harlem, how could I have not gone there? Black families everywhere, bustling through 125th Street and Martin Luther King jr. Boulevarde. However, there were a few nasties – racists – who set up on the sidewalk to preach race hatred. Some were followers of Farrakan, others I couldn’t identify politically but they were waving the Old Testament in the air while haranguing everyone else about the ‘white devil’, etc.

    The great majority just ignored them, preferring to get on with the day’s shopping. Like dalec, these guys are fairly humorless and out to save the world from ‘the great Satan’ and, in common with dalec, they operate on the basis of racial stereotyping. Like dalec, they would have ignored the ‘Life of Brian’ connection and just focussed on the “lucky boy” bit, as further “evidence” of racism. Fortunately, African Americans in general have moved rapidly beyond that kind of crap, even if the dalecs haven’t.Can we return to the point of this thread now?

  16. 16 melaleuca

    Dalec is spewing out the sort of nutty left wing drivel that makes me think the Strange Times Crew are worth taking seriously.

    Unfortunately Arthur is engaging in nutty “mission accomplished” triumphalism of the kind we saw from some on the Right when Saddam’s army fell.  Arthur, old boy, the “war on terror” is only its in second or third chapter. We have at least seven chapters to go, so put away your champagne and cigar box and stay tuned!

    I hope it turns out as rosily as you and Byork think it will but I suggest you don’t bet your house on it.

  17. 17 Arthur


    1. We are agreed that Dalec’s stuff is both nutty and drivel. Could we also agree that it is not “left wing”?

    2. I’m not convinced the concept of a “war on terror” makes much sense at all, let alone that there are several chapters to go. The way I see it, that phrase was (and to a lesser extent still is) pushed by the pro-war right along was a focus on “weapons of mass destruction” because it demobilized the anti-war right and pseudos.

    They have difficulty opposing, and can reluctantly support, a “war on terror” (as you mentioned that you initially did before it turned out to be badly led) with pre-emptive “defence” against (non-existent) WMDs because they were conservatives are driven by fear. They could not have supported (and still won’t admit to having ended up supporting) a revolutionary war of liberation aimed at destabilizing the whole region and overthrowing all the tyrannies that have been (and still are) their “traditional allies”.

    3. What I support is democratic revolution in Iraq and throughout the region (and the world). Certainly that has many chapters to go. I specifically mentioned Egypt and Israel. Iraq also has many chapters to go (just as Australia will also have many chapters to go after consolidating democracy).

    But the swift mission of toppling fascist regime in Iraq was indeed “mission accomplished” by May 2003 as claimed, and that was worth celebrating against the anti-war right and pseudo left’s fear mongering about “siege of Baghdad”, “bloodbaths” and humanitarian catastrophe.

    Likewise the longer mission of consolidating democracy in Iraq has basically been achieved despite both incompetent leadership and desperate difficulties. Reversals are still possible and battles are still being fought, but basically both those within Iraq who tried to stop it, and those outside who insistently demanded that we not attempt the absurd folly of siding with the people against the old order, know that they have lost.

    They realise that the old order is gone for good, and are now adapting themselves to conservatively supporting the status quo once again, but a different status quo, which now includes a popularly elected regime in Iraq which is entirely incompatible with the way the rest of the region is governed, and hence not a status quo at all . It’s something that conservatives can never celebrate and will to obscure: a revolution.

    4. Opponents of the invasion of Iraq have every reason to be as pessimistic and gloomy as they are.

    Why shouldn’t supporters be cheerful about the prospects now opening up for the further chapters still to be written?

  18. 18 melaleuca

    Arthur, do you agree that the CoW has dropped the ball in Afghanistan?  BTW, I get most of my info on Iraq from the Brookings Institute as they seem to be a calm and measured bunch with a centrist outlook.

  19. 19 GuruJane

    Meleuca: The conventional wisdom that it was ethnic cleansing that caused the drop in violence is completely belied by the facts. The drop in violence happened dramatically in September 2007. It had nothing to do with the cessation of ethnic cleansing against the Sunnis which took place in 2006. This had been stopped by the Sadrists at the beginning of 07 and only after Hussein had been executed for his war crimes against the Shia and Kurds.

    Contrary to the conventional wisdom, the violence reached its peak from January to August 2007 when the ethnic cleansing had abated  and the surge troops were arriving and being deployed. In those months, the average civilian/ISF casualties were 2075 per month. (In the previous year of ethnic cleansing, the average had been 1700 a month.) The turning point came at the end of June 07 when the last of the surge troops was in place.

    In July and August the MNF along with the “surging” Iraqi army conducted multi directional, simultaneous operations against the insurgency havens and supply lines/depots on the southern outskirts of Baghdad. The operations continued relentlessly for two months. The insurgents were either killed, captured, fled north to Diyala province or rushed to put themselves on the US side.

    In the September, civilian deaths dropped suddenly to less than 700 from that monthly average of 2075, ie by about two thirds, and have continued to drop ever since. US military deaths also dropped dramatically from the September onwards.

    The reason why the violence increased, rather than decreased, after the cessation of the Shia led ethnic cleansing is very telling. In 2006  after the bombing of the Samarra mosque (which was insurgency effort  to reverse the two democratic elections and constutitution  referendum) the Shia finally retaliated against the Sunnis by (a) moving them out of their strongholds and (b) killing every military aged Sunni male they could get their hands on. While civilian casualties, partic. Sunni, went UP as a result, the % of Iraqis, mainly Shia, being killed by suicide bombings actually went down significantly, demonstrating to the Shia that their tactics were working.

    After Hussein was  executed Dec 30/31 2006, and in light of the forthcoming surge, the Sadrists pulled back. Immediately the number of deaths being caused by ethnic cleansing went down. But these were way outnumbered by  the deaths via suicide bombing sky rocketing again as the insurgency was no longer being constrained. The mayhem continued until the end of August when the offensives imploded the insurgency.

    So – the violence only (largely) ceased when the insurgency had been (largely) militarily defeated. This was made possible by a “surge” from the Iraqi army as much as the US surge. Also by the new tactics and strategy devised by Gen Petraeus, which I guess will now be applied by President Billary-Obama in Afghanistan.

  20. 20 Arthur

    Melaleuca, My view on Afghanistan was one of “benevolent neutrality”.

    Invading Iraq necessarily implied a strategy of democratic revolution and destabilizing the whole region which I  naturally supported, since it made strategic sense.

    Replacing the Taliban with a reconstructed and tamed warlord  regime, was merely a stop gap thing, without much strategic significance – essentially the sort of stuff “sensible” corporate liberal imperialists like the Brookings institute have done from time to time with client regimes, thus earning US imperialism its well deserved reputation…

    So while one couldn’t oppose getting rid of the Taliban (or get in the way with pointless critiques), I don’t think the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan actually picked up the ball to be able to drop it.

    Initially, they had just let Pakistan’s ISI inflict the Taliban on a country they just weren’t very concerned about, then when the warlords became insufferable, they only did the absolute minimum to restrain the warlords when helping them back to power after the ousting of the Taliban, became insufferable.

    Hopefully they will now get serious and unleash some real social change, as the only way to avoid worse problems in Pakistan ( with forces now available as the far more stragically significant situation in Iraq permits).

    But I haven’t been following it in enough detail to be sure.Certainly Afghanistan is a living example of the policies that both the old guard of the US foreign policy establishment and the pseudos advocated for Iraq: Put a more friendly regime in without unleashing the region-changing chaos of actual democratic revolution.

    Naturally that classically Brookings institute approach hasn’t worked (though it’s better than leaving the Taliban in charge).

  21. 21 melaleuca

    “Afghanistan is a living example of the policies that both the old guard of the US foreign policy establishment and the pseudos advocated for Iraq: Put a more friendly regime in without unleashing the region-changing chaos of actual democratic revolution.”

    I’m sorry but I think this is exceptionally naive. In Hollywood movies John Wayne may be able to move into some wild and dusty town full of outlaws and a crooked sheriff, sprinkle around some Hollywood stardust and make everything wonderful but the real world isn’t like that.  America doesn’t  possess a magic wand that will allow it to transform Afghanistan – which is far more backward and fractured than Iraq- into a modern liberal democracy. 

    Afghanistan will have to make that transition in its own sweet time- probably after it has developed a significant, educated middle class.Anyway, time will tell …And thanks for that POV GuruJane. I sincerely hope your optimism is warranted.

  22. 22 Arthur

    Love that line “Afghanistan – which is far more backward and fractured than Iraq”…Remember the old days when it used to be “Iraq – which is far more backward and fractured than …”

  23. 23 Arthur

    PS just noticed that editing of appearance of my convoluted earlier thoughts on Afghanistan may have convoluted them beyond intelligibility.The sequence was:

    1. US supported warlords and, with Saudis, imported jihadis to provoke Soviet invasion.

    2. Soviet imperialists took the bait and occupied Afghanistan.

    3. Warlords and jihadis defeated puppet regime with US aid.

    4.Warlords fought each other. US uninterested since only interest was in weakening Soviets (Brezinski still proud of the mess).

    5. Warlords wrecked Kabul and became insufferable.

    6. Pakistan ISI replaced warlords with Taliban.7. Taliban allied with jihadis (now known as “Al Quaeda” – “the base” from the base of “Afghans” ie jihadi veterans imported to Afghanistan by US and Saudis).

    8. Jihadis attacked US (9/11) and became insufferable (“blowback”).

    9. US and NATO replaced Taliban with coalition including reconstructed and tamed warlords under more restraint.

    10. They (US and NATO) seemed to be following a (Hungarian) salami strategy of slicing off the worst warlords from the coalition one by one with the expected buildup of a “middle class”.

    11. Hasn’t worked. Taliban feeding off oppression of people by warlords. Pakistan embroiled.Needs liberation of the people from oppression by both warlords and Taliban. Also needs democratic revolution in Pakistan.Democratic revolution in Pakistan needs democratic revolution in India.There’s interesting things happening in Nepal which may affect India and hence Pakistan and Afghanistan.

  24. 24 melaleuca

    Don’t be absurd. It is widely known that Iraq has a well developed, reasonably secular middle class. I don’t recall any prominent commentator denying that. 

    As neo-Marxists who accept that late feudal/early industrial Russia could never transform directly into a socialist society owing to its material and class relations, you should also recognise that the material and historical circumstances of Afghanistan make a contemporaneous  liberal democratic transformation highly improbable.

  25. 25 Steve Owens

    Barry you cant keep that MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner in a drawer can you.

    The position that you and your friends have been presenting for a number of years is your “draining the swamps ” theory.

    Under this theory the US ruling class aim to reduce terrorism by promoting democratic revolution in the Middle East.

    To get democratic revolution started you have argued that Iraq was the first step and your friends have urged us to give particular attention to Israel and Egypt (even to the point of nominating who Israel would release from prison and the date plus the time by which a democratic Palestinian state would be created).

    So you tell me has this process which is now years old lead to a reduction in terrorism?

    Has any country beyond Iraq made any progress towards democracy?

    I think things in Iraq have turned out much better than I expected, but I think things in the region have turned out worse that you thought they would.

    ps I would love to respond to a lot of the content or non content in this thread but a lot of it is really weird

  26. 26 Arthur

    Melaleuca,I don’t completely agree with a (retrospective) Menshevik position on Russia (others here might). But that’s a separate issue.

    Certainly Afghanistan won’t be moving directly towards socialism.

    As for liberal democracy, I’m not much of a fan. Worst possible system except for the others…Iraq won’t be a particularly liberal democracy and far from secular, though probably more so than Cromwellian England.

    Afghanistan’s democracy will be even less liberal and far less secular than Iraq’s. Democratic revolution is what creates the conditions in which both a middle class and a proletariat emerge as significant at the expense of other classes. Neither of those classes is a precondition but both are a consequence of uprooting pre-capitalist social relations.

    What existed in Iraq before and what still exists in Afghanistan now had/has not made the first step of revolutionary overthrow of the previous social order.

    Afghanistan so far has just been another regime change, unlike Iraq.

    As for Steve’s point to Barry, I would say that things have taken, and are continuing to take longer than I expected. They have not “turned out worse” as history has not ended. There is no possibility of “stability” returning to haunt that region. The Israeli occupation is still “all over bar the shouting” but unfortunately, and contrary to my expectations, they are still shouting. Ditto for Egypt, Saudi Arabia et al.

  27. 27 tom

    Hi Melaleuca,You are half right – the real world is  not like a Hollywood portrayal and desires that it be so are indeed naive. The “region changing chaos of actual democratic revolution” – for example. Think English, American and French revolutions, the 1848 revolutions – all messy, violent and protracted upheavals.

    The kind of chaos that characterised all of them was the active participation of broad sections of the people who, because they had been previously denied access to involvement in the political processes of the time, decided to break down the barriers. No Hollywood stardust or John Waynes; no Panglossian (or Hollywood) happy endings either.

    In each revolution the transformation was always compromised leaving succeeding generations with the task of pushing forward change and attending to the numerous loose ends left by each advance. This will also characterise the situation in Afghanistan when the US and its allies decide to stop fine tuning (the real politic of old guard machinations), and instead throw it open as they were forced to in Iraq.

    Then the Afghani people will be able to engage in the transformative process under their own steam and in their own way and we have every reason to be optimstic about their chances.

    BTW for a pretty decent Hollywood or Hollywood like take on the complexities of revolutionary struggle in a colonial setting, try looking at “Burn”, an early 70’s film starring Marlon Brando. Strictly no wands or stardust.

  28. 28 byork

    Arthur’s reference to Cromwellian England reminded me of just how long progress can take.
    Some people are assessing the extent of democracy in Iraq by very harsh and unreasonable standards.

    I would say things are on track – our side has won against the old regime and the people have established the foundation for democracy – but there’s a long way to go.

    In England in 1649, the parliament abolished the House of Lords. Way to go! But then in 1660 with the restoration of monarchy, the House of Lords was assembled again. Fast forward 339 years and there were still more than 700 hereditary peers in the House of Lords. Tony Blair reformed the situation for the better with the House of Lords Act 1999, but there are still 92 hereditary peers in the House.

    Gawd, these things can take so long. No wonder revolutionaries who want to speed things up as much as possible, come into being.

  29. 29 melaleuca

    Exactly Byork, and that is why the smug triumphalism in your post is unwarranted. Progress in the Middle East will take decades, if not a century or two, and be marred by countless set backs.

  30. 30 byork

    melaleuca, early 2003: Iraq under a fascistic tyrant, with no democratic institutions. Late 2008: freely elected government of Iraq negotiates agreement with US for eventual withdrawal of troops, as security situation is much improved. Progress has already happened, over five years. I just can’t help feeling triumphant as I backed the democratic side all along rather than just go along with the knee-jerk anti-Americans as I did at the start of the first Gulf War. I was actually accosted on occasions by former comrades who assured me that the current degree of democracy could never be attained. The significance of the democratic foundation that is in place is that it allows for further progress which, we can agree, will happen over many decades. However, you seem to be implying that progress hasn’t yet happened there.

  31. 31 keza

    hi melaleuca,

    In you first comment, you wrote:  “Well I’m a lefty who originally supported the war but later regretted doing so when it became clear Bush, Rumsfeld etc were essentially incompetent.”

    Hardly anyone “on the left” supported the war at the beginning.  Clearly you  didn’t allow your anti-fascist instinct to be overwhelmed by simplistic, knee jerk  anti-Americanism.  Good on you for that!

    The doubts which set in when things began to look really bad, and just about everyone (including those who had supported the war from the Right) began declaring the whole thing a “disaster”, “a monumental blunder” etc, is understandable.

    But… it has always been a “which side are you on?” situation.

    And as Barry pointed out above,  after 5 years in Iraq we have seen real progress.  Sure, there’s a long way to go and set backs are possible, but it seems to me that there has been change in Iraq at a fundamental level in only half a decade.  Your talk of  “progress in the Middle East taking “decades, if not a century or two”, doesn’t reflect  the reality.

    The region as a whole is still a swamp, but the infant democracy in Iraq is not only a clear  example of progress in Iraq itself ,  but an event which will undermine the tottering autocracies throughout the region.

    Unlike the democratic revolutions of the 17th and 18th centuries, current democratic revolutions are occurring in a world which is already substantially modern and democratized.    No matter how hard the rulers in these places try, they can’t prevent the spread of modern ideas and aspirations to their own populations.   This is a huge difference.  The first democratic revolutions took so long because they were first. They forged the path.

    So I think your pessimism is unwarranted. 

  32. 32 Arthur

    The english revolution led by Cromwell was rightly celebrated then, and is still rightly celebrated now. The “restoration” was unable to restore the old feudal order but only took a step backwards in the forms, and prepared the way for a second “glorious revolution” (which did much less, because it had far less left to do).

    The American revolution was rightly celebrated then, and is still rightly celebrated now. A second revolution, the civil war, was required before bourgeois democracy was fully established. That too was rightly celebrated then and now, though it was followed by “reconstruction” and required a civil rights movement in the sixties, before the right of blacks to vote was consolidated.

    The only people who don’t celebrate victories of the people, but moan about the costs and difficulties are the losers on the side of reaction.

  33. 33 Steve Owens

    Arthur I think that the American revolution as progressive was a myth.The leaders of the revolution were slave owners who were rebelling against the English oppression that was moving to abolish slavery.

    Popular support for the revolution came from people who wanted to steal Indian land as King George  had forbade settlement beyond the Appellations. He had the temerity to demand that settlements be dismantled. All the pish about liberty was just a cover for what was really happening.

    The phrase Life, Liberty and happiness originally read Life Liberty and Property. Property at the time being the code for owning slaves.If you don’t believe me ask the slaves. Runaway slaves flocked to the British army for protection not the Continental. When free blacks formed Sons of Liberty groups, the revolutionaries forced them to disband.

    Liberty was clearly misunderstood by the black Sons of Liberty.

  34. 34 Arthur

    Like I said Steve “The only people who don’t celebrate victories of the people, but moan about the costs and difficulties are the losers on the side of reaction.”

    Thanks for providing the illustration of how the pseudo-left position on Iraq is entirely consistent with a pseudo-left position on the American war of independence or any other progressive historical event.

    Simply throw in some sneering based on unfavourable comparisons with what has already been historically achieved as conservative common sense general wisdom at another time and place, and you can help convince people that no forward movement is ever possible or has ever occurred.

    Sneer “militantly”  and “oppositionally” enough, and people will assume you must be left wing even when what you are actually saying is an explicit defence of something obviously reactionary like British imperial rule over the North American colonies, or fascism in Iraq.

    Its so easy too these days, given widespread ignorance of elementary historical facts like the British slave trade and when it actually ended. No need for consistency either. As a pseudo, you can also cheerfully oppose British troops fighting fascists on the grounds of the British slave trade.

    Completely effortless and in fact mindless. That’s why its called “pseudo”.

  35. 35 byork

    Thanks from me, too, Steve. What more could one want as an example of pseudo-leftism than someone claiming to be of the left yet supporting George 111 against the American revolutionists, and even using the same means of attempting to discredit them (ie, because they owned slaves). On Arthur’s point about the widespread ignorance of basic history, readers may be interested in my contribution to this site called “History that looks forward“.
    Another similarity between the American regime change and the Iraqi one is that the americans established the world’s first republic that was democratically elected (well, since ancient Rome, if you count that). Steve, we all know the actual limits of that first US republic, but, like Iraq, the American republicans provided a model for many other oppressed peoples around the world. The new regime in Iraq will do the same in the middle east. By the way, US revolution, Declaration of Independence: 1776. British recognition of US sovereignty (acceptance of defeat): 1783. Abolition of slave trade by the British: 1833 (though still permitted in areas under the East India Company). There was an earlier, much celebrated (last year) Slave Trade Act in 1807 that sought to abolish the trade but only penalized ships’ captains who imported slaves. The captains would toss the slaves overboard to minimize the fines.

  36. 36 Steve Owens

    Thanks guys, yes Barry the very savvy. Slave owning aristocracy could tell that the slave trade had decades to go before the British brought it to an end.(just like in Cromwell’s time the writing is on the wall but those damn Brits move so slow) By leading the revolutionary war they extended slavery in America for almost 100 years, and if they had won the civil war they could have made it last longer.

    My point is.. what motivated the slave owning aristocracy to lead the revolution? Maybe it was the tax on tea or a profound belief in democracy. When democracy failed them and Lincoln was elected about 100 years later they were happy to try and over throw democracy with their preemptive counter revolution.

    Barry you chide me for supporting George 111 but if George says something useful like stop stealing Indian land then I’m happy to support the old tea pot.

  37. 37 Steve Owens

    Arthur makes a point that my position is historically inaccurate basically because the revolution was in the 1770s and abolition of the slave trade didn’t occur until 1807. Therefore I’m using peoples ignorance of basic historical facts to sell my argument.

    Well my argument is that the slave owning class were proactive in defending their interests and did not wait till legislation was enacted to fight back.

    Just imagine yourself as a wealthy slave owner you would be aware that by the mid 1700’s abolition sentiment in America and Britain was a growing force. You would be painfully aware of the Somerset decision where prior to the revolution an English court had freed Mr. Somerset and declared that slavery has no legal basis in English law.
    You would also be aware that the future of slavery lies in opening up new land to the west for new plantations.
    So you would want a government that would open up land and a court system that would protect your property rights. The English government was failing on both these counts therefor a new revolutionary government was needed by the slave owning class a class that was the dominant class in pre and post revolutionary America.

  38. 38 Arthur

    My point was not that Steve’s position was historically inaccurate, but that it was perfect illustration of the pseudoleft mindset.

    As for the historical inaccuracy, in fact most of the British ruling class sided with the slaveowners nearly a century later in the American Civil war. Not to be outdone, pseudoleftists will sometimes cite their polemics against yankee hypocrisy to “expose” the fact that Lincoln was a racist and the civil war was not about freeing the slaves but establishing the rule of the northern industrialists that enabled American imperialism.

    Steve’s siding with the British in the war of independence clarifies the underlying essence of pseudoleftism more sharply than the common “critique” of the north in the civil war, or the 1930s trotskyist and pacifist opposition to war against fascism, or the contemporary opposition to the liberation of iraq. The essence is to strike an ahistorical moral pose (with or without some reinterpretation of both history and morality).

    Since chattel slavery is no longer upheld by anyone much, but was once a serious issue between left and right, the pseudo can pretend to be a leftist simply by denouncing slavery more extravagantly, militantly and oppositionally than the common sense general wisdom already opposed to it, accusing others of supporting it etc.This contributes absolutely nothing to any struggle against slavery but is purely and simply to establish the fake credentials of the pseudo as some kind of “leftist”. The extravagence and irrelevance helps discredit the left as extravagant and irrelevant, while concretely the pseudo’s militant oppositional stance is always directed against actual progress whether historical or contemporary.

    There is no point arguing with pseudos about history. When confronted with obvious absurdity, they are delighted to try and turn the discussion into one about historical inaccuracies, proceeding with subjective idealist speculations about motives and expectations of the future, held by people from the past.

    The  point they wish to make is that there never has been and never could be any progress. They want Leftists to isolate themselves in time and space and should join in this pseudo-left moral posturing, instead of actually attempting the hopeless task of changing the world.

  39. 39 Steve Owens

    Arthur if the American colonists want to kick the British out of America then good luck to them. If you want me to believe that the struggle is over anything higher than base self interest then your mistaken.

    During the war of Independence the colonists made a great deal about slavery but what they meant was they saw themselves as slaves of King George and they were leading a slave rebellion. I wonder what the real slaves made of this?

    My bottom line is that I support the colonists right to rid themselves of foreign domination but I can do this whist being opposed to the myths and aware of the reality that a colonial victory was bad news for slaves and Indians.

    Can I be clearer I support the policies that were restricting the expansion of slavery whilst upholding the right of people to rule themselves, even if I don’t like the decisions they make.

    Yes it is a bit like Iraq.

  40. 40 patrickm

    Given that Steve, in common with a whole political trend, says:

    I think things in Iraq have turned out much better than I expected, but I think things in the region have turned out worse that you thought they would.’

    It is not too late for reaching a level of unity with this political trend for the next stage of developments in the Middle East and other 2nd and third world countries.  There would then be consequential unities possible, even in the most advanced industrialized countries and (even within and toward) what used to be called the first world of the Russian and US superpowers. 
    Read correctly, the above statement is not the opening up of Pandora’s box, and releasing all the troubles and miseries of the world, but is the second opening that allows hope.   
    After all, the level of unity possible in the struggle against Baathists, Jihadism and sectarian death squads ought (according to those of us who advocate for the broadest possible unity)to encompass upward of 90+% of all humanity. 
    So in this spirit, we can all dispense with any triumphalist approach because on ‘my side’ the only theory that is still standing is not widely known, and it is important to the future direction of rapidly unfolding areas of struggle that it is widely known and APPLIED to these unfolding events.  With a bit of humility and good will, this unity ought not to be beyond us.  After all, look what the Iraqi political forces are achieving through focused and respectful negotiation, which is far more difficult.  
    In Iraq there is a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) produced after detailed negotiations (on a largely consensus basis on the Iraqi parliament side).  This comes years after elections that even comrade Chomsky recognized as a significant milestone at the time.  So we can take it as settled that Iraq has produced political representation that has the differentiated Iraqi interests at the centre of its activities, and that from this progressive process we other progressives (desiring for them the very best outcome that is possible) are at minimum obliged to recognize the government as the legitimate voice of minimum progress in Iraq. 
    We all give more ‘complete’ solidarity and support to political forces in Iraq that more closely resemble our own views, but unity and support is extended far beyond that to all forces that remain part of the people.  Solidarity and support extends to all who are helping Iraq turn out better, and our fight focuses on those that would make things worse.  Who are our friends and who are our enemies? This is the base question that only arises in the current context of Iraq turning out much better than people had thought it would.
    We can thus move on, having dealt with the issue of political recognition of the Iraqi government, at least till the next Iraqi election, as the leading Iraqi agent of these recognized improvements.
    Western progressives ought thus to respect these leaders, although they are politically far different from us.  We ought to modestly recall that we do this from our safe location on the other side of the planet.  We must accept them as the ‘experts’ thrown up by the Iraqi political process, who are in charge of the war that is turning out much better than Steve expected. 
    IMV, in recognition of their successes, progressives ought to give them more of what they had wanted in the past because the complete package is working and it would be presumptuous for non expert outsiders to constantly second guess and micro-manage our support.   
    The Iraqi government wanted what Mr Rudd the Australian Prime Minister that heads the new Australian Labor Party government was not prepared to give them.  They wanted further military assistance from the COW, and systematic handover province by province in the manner negotiated with the US in the SOFA.  Rudd is not a progressive, and so rather than give the Iraqi government further assistance in response to the achievements that Steve is referring to, has just abandoned the Iraqi people to their fate, maintaining an election promise demanded by the ‘troops out now’ opponents of the liberation of the Iraqi peoples often as the price of their support.
    Only those who are not prepared to join the united front of all progressives would call these Iraqi politicians ‘collaborators’ in the same manner as those German Nazis, Italian Fascists and Japanese militarists called those involved with the democratization of those countries after the end of WW2. 
    These Iraqi political forces are by definition engaged in making democratic revolution.
    It is to be expected that those Iraqi politicians are afforded respect for their efforts in the face of deadly violent opposition as they advance this revolution that Steve accepts is doing better than he had thought.  
    Can we all agree that they are deserving of at least some measure of support when, and as they ask for it, rather than give ‘forms of support’ that they do not require?     

    I fear that Steve could be gearing himself up to continue to sit on his hands from the American Revolution onwards and off into the future, while chanting ‘no blood for oil’ in a deep and meaningful way, and will actually end up effectively supporting forces to the right of GWB.
    Steve, in exposing the lack of perfection in the American Revolution (in this thread on Iraqi progress), essentially claims a high point from which he can shut ‘himself’ out of the current work in Iraq. He can, and will if he is not careful, effectively disown the Iraqi liberation and ongoing revolutionary effort, while offering only meaningless theoretical support for the concept of wanting to see the Iraqi people make improvements on the evolutionary path of human political development. 
    For example, if the unarmed Iraqi masses had overthrown the Baathists and then fought off the Jihadis and sectarian death squads then Steve would be in deep solidarity, but Steve to this point cannot forgive the Iraqi people uniting with the COW to do it.  If he could forgive them for this, in my view quite forgivable ‘sin’, he would then be forced to declare open support for the Iraqi government in a united-front manner against the enemies of all progressive humanity. Then we could just all agree that we are on the side that is draining the Middle Eastern swamp of tyranny and oppression, and we could unite against the forces standing in the way of human development and conduct sensible discussions on the way forward. 
    With some committed pseudolefts ,unity is not possible because they feel obliged to never unite over the issue of Iraq with Maoists, or Neo-Cons or the Dawa party etc. These pseudolefts can smugly stay as pure as their non involvement enables.  They will not get dirty and repudiate their current failed policy of ‘a plague on both your houses’.  They will provide no support for the forces fighting for the liberation of the Iraqi masses.  They usually simplify the whole process with the substitution of the one word ‘imperialism’. 
    Their opposition to US imperialism forbids any united-front for any progress in Iraq. 
    Indeed it prevents any recognition that it is happening, even after the event.  But Steve is recognizing progress, and that is what progressives continually strive for.  
    When it comes to making united-front agreements and sharing the actual work to bring progress, to bring change and boring things like respect for each other, under a constitution, progressives can’t refuse to share the actual danger, or even the offer of nothing greater than political support for those that are! 
    For pseudos, the revolution is not worth fighting for, not worth bothering with, nothing can be done-except to complain that those fighting for it are not as saintly as they, and people who used to think that the Iraqi people would not conduct their own politics, nor even control their own oil while COW troops continued to assist in the provision of such boring events as elections, or providing such mundane services as security for University students and market place shoppers. 
    Steve could tell us at length how the males of the Middle East are hardly developed western liberals such as that good and kindly self promoting Harvard Lawyer who, had he been a US citizen, Steve would have backed in the same manner as ‘the party of millionaires and yuppies’ under Rudd, got the nod, using the lesser of two evils argument (as usual) in Australia. 
    But then the most curious things happen (on the way to democracy and  progress that pseudos would not be going to, or even trying to get to from here when it comes to Iraq).  When it comes to Iraq, pseudos will not offer the lesser of two evil arguments for supporting the current government against the facsist and Jihadists.  The arguments that Steve accepts in Oz and the US, are abandoned by pseudos in Iraq.
    I recognize the abandonment of the defence of progressives and the troops that serve that revolution and keeping the hands clean as the forces of reaction are defeated.  But everybody knows it’s not in the name of the pseudoleft, and not the policy that Obama would have chosen.  We all know that history can be cursed, that the revolution was not made by the perfect angels to which Steve could have offered support, and joined with in a broad united-front.

    Now pseudoleftists might well say ‘if I was going to democracy I wouldn’t start from here’ , but reality is a funny old thing, and in the end I vote to uphold the American Revolution and am not the slightest bit surprised to find that less ‘pure’ people, with less historical experience to draw on than me, actually made it.   Revolutions as Mao would later explain, are not a dinner party, and the forces involved come with warts and all. So there just has to be unity and struggle, with the unity being relative, and the struggle absolute.  But the question is as always, “does one take sides, and either make revolution or uphold the tyranny, or stand on the sidelines complaining of the lack of perfection of the revolutionaries available to make it ?‘ How can one claim the title of progressive, if the revolution is progressive, and yet made without you?  Truth is you can’t.   
    What further revolutionary efforts one makes is quite separate to the question of where one stands in relation to the revolutionary demands being made, and the unity struck to achieve those revolutionary demands NOW.



  41. 41 GuruJane

    Must say it’s great to see everybody firing again (especially Arthur!)

    Steve, I started with some sympathy towards your argument, but in the end it was hard to imagine that the Poms would have liberated slaves and protected Indians for reasons of morality or even Imperial benevolence. Much more likely they did so because they were in desperate need for some fire fodder to throw against the Revolutionaries. That being the case, I think history shows that the War of Independence probably hastened the abolition of slavery because of the “liberated” slaves that the defeated Poms had to take back with them to England.

    As for the slave-owning Revolutionaries: sure, their interest was in property, but the victory of the revolution carried within it the seeds of the civil war that came to fruition a hundred years later.I think to take a moral and censorious view of a discrete slice of history is mistaken. The one great advantage historians have in their discipline is the benefit of hindsight, and the ability to take a macro view and see how A led to B led to C led to D along with all the myriad little pathways along the journey that always seem to end up in progress.

    Those who react to current events only on the micro level are doomed to spend their lives misunderstanding what is going on, even though it probably makes them feel better. Iraq was the convergence of a series of pathways that started (in modern times) in the 20th century. In the past 60 year timeframe, I would say  the establishment of the state of Israel by the UN was  (A); the Iranian Islamic Revolution was (B), the Salafi 9/11 was (C)  and the overthrow of the Baath by the US and its replacement with a representative democracy was (D).

  42. 42 Steve Owens

    Guru Jane I don’t ascribe any motive to English imperialism other than base self interest.

    Prior to the revolution, the English government had a number of treaties with the Indian nations which both sides generally honoured. I think that the Indians understood their interests, and as a result many Indians fought on the side of the English, and many remained neutral. Some Indians fought on the side of the colonists.

    In the Declaration of Independence, the authors accuse King George of unleashing “merciless Indian savages.” You are correct that the English offer of freedom to any male runaway slave who donned a red coat was purely a device to fill the ranks, however during the revolution, the English were objectively promoting slave revolts (the English were ambiguous in adopting this tactic as the idea of promoting slave revolt was not popular amongst loyalist slave holders.)

    Now I’m completely open on this topic. I think that the revolution was driven by the interests of the slave owning class, they wanted a government that would open up new plantations to the west, and a court system that would recognise slave owning as legal.

    Just ask yourself what happened to slave numbers after the revolution? Ill tell you that a few decades after the revolution, slave numbers had doubled. (mainly through breeding rather than importing).

    But as I said I’m open on this topic if you know a more reasonable explanation for why the colonists would take on the crown, I want to know. During the revolution, democracy was up for grabs but so was slavery and the survival of the Indian nations.

    Generally Indians and slaves supported the Crown, whilst democrats supported the colonists. Is there a democracy that I wouldn’t support I like to think not but this one gets pretty close.

  43. 43 GuruJane

    I think that the revolution was driven by the interests of the slave owning class, they wanted a government that would open up new plantations to the west, and a court system that would recognise slave owning as legal.
    But as I said I’m open on this topic if you know a more reasonable explanation for why the colonists would take on the crown, I want to know. During the revolution, democracy was up for grabs but so was slavery and the survival of the Indian nations
    . ”

    Surely the test is what kind of government the revolutionaries set up?  What kind of constitution did they adopt? A junta? Dictatorship? Autocracy? Nope. Once they proclaimed “all men are equal” the US constitution meant that slavery was doomed in the long run.To go back to Iraq: it wasn’t the US removing Saddam and the Baath that was significant, it was its choice to install a representative democracy instead of handing over to a US puppet shiite or ex baathist strongman. Overturned three decades of Kissingerism. As Arthur says, the representative democracy, constitution and parliament accountable to the people is now the new status quo in Iraq, along with free speech, free media and an independent judicial system. And yet the pseudo left would abandon it?

  44. 44 Steve Owens

    Guru Jane your point about outcomes is a good point

  45. 45 tom

    Yes Steve, (re Guru Jane’s point), it is.

    Outcomes, and the possibilities they open up for further outcomes are precisely what it’s about. That’s one of the interesting and very good things about capitalism- no matter what the subjective position or intent of ruling class figures may be, it is what they are forced to do/support/allow, to ensure the ongoing development of their business/the economy that matters.

    The horrors of the Industrial Revolution have been well chronicled in literature, (think Blake, Dickens etc), but the possibilities for change and development – including personal development, have been enormous. While damning the former Marx waxed lyrical about the latter.

    Iraq under fascism may well have been somewhat secular for the Sunni elite and for those who were able to find a narrow and rather weak ray of sunshine in which to grow, but the kind of material, personal, and even spiritual development that we in the west take for granted, remained the property of the privileged few. The pseudo left, amongst others, have been seduced by this and it simply did not represent where the great majority of the people were at.

    The current make-up of the democratically elected government gives a much closer approximation – socially conservative, strongly religious, keen for the economy to develop, and embracing a form of bourgeois democracy. In consequence, the development and unfolding of contradictions in the field of social relations for example, will play themselves out in ways similar in their essentials to how they have here. They may not know it yet ,but the patriarchs and the stick-in-the-muds need to strap themselves in for a wild ride.

  46. 46 Lin Bao

    Sounds great Barry! Let’s hire an aircraft carrier, put a big banner saying ‘Mission Accomplished!’ on it and have a party!

    We can celebrate the permanent establishment of sharia law in the Iraqi constitution, and the effective disappearance of women’s rights, among other things. After all, we’ve got a country with three ethnic groups, two of whom are in permanent minorities. There’s no chance that a parliamentary system will slide into conflict once the US lockdown has vanished.

    I mean what do you think this is, Lebanon? Or Ireland. Or Yugoslavia.

    Or….Why not a bit more analysis of what’s happening and a bit less barracking.Oh and when we have the party, let’s invite that lucky nigger Obama. What? Don’t like the n-word? But they use it in movies all the time! 

  47. 47 Arthur

    So naturally, with an “analysis” that expects withdrawal of US troops to result in disaster for Iraqis, we can simply take it as read that anyone “left in form, right in essence” will “militantly” demand withdrawal of US troops and “indignantly” denounce support for their presence.The original Lin Biao was less transparent.

  48. 48 Steve Owens

    Guru Jane, just one more kick of the can. I agree that outcomes are important and the out come of the American revolution was to eventually give the world its greatest democracy. It also had a down side, as Ive already mentioned the number of slaves doubled after the revolution and slavery lived on in America for another 30 years after it had been abolished in British colonies like Jamaica. As to Indians the revolution was a disaster, when Thomas Jefferson became president he made many fine speeches extolling the virtues of Indians while at the same time he was issuing secret instructions for Indian tribes to be removed from all land East of the Mississippi.

  49. 49 Steve Owens

    Ive been reading up a bit on Thomas Jefferson. Funny old guy. Apart from supporting French efforts to win back the liberated colony of Haiti, he had a plan to disposes the American Indians. He set up trading posts where the Indians were encouraged to buy more that they could afford. When they couldn’t pay in cash well land would just have to do. At least Jefferson was head and shoulders above my civil war heroes Grant, Sherman and Sheridan. When they wanted to take Indian land the just staved the poor bastards into submission.

  50. 50 Arthur

    Steve, you have already made the point that your opposition to the liberation of Iraq is entirely consistent with your opposition to the American revolution.Endless repetition will merely make people suspect you are some kind of fictional character invented to illustrate the nature of the pseudoleft.

  51. 51 Steve Owens

    Patrick, You accuse me of not supporting progress in Iraq and of looking for reasons to sit on my hands. Well after having read your piece several times I am at a loss. I just cant see that you read what I write or listen to what I say. As to Arthur hey you can always count on me as a negative example I’m sure you wont be the last.

  52. 52 GuruJane

    T’is indeed a pity Tom Jefferson did not have a Tardis at his disposal. By such means  he could have transported himself to the 21st century for a period of re-education by the pseudo left. After which  he would have returned a far wiser man, and used his talents to persuading his fellow colonists to free their slaves, abandon their property and return to whence they had come. If only ….  (sighs, wrings hands)

  53. 53 Steve Owens

    Tom didn’t need a Tardis he could have gone to the battle at Kemps landing. At that battle there were hundreds of ex slaves in British uniforms. Across their uniforms was embroidered the slogan “LIBERTY to SLAVES” These slaves kicked the arse of the Virginian militia who were enraged at the sight of blacks bearing arms. A preemption of the right to bear arms me thinks. The pseudo left dont need to re educate Tom his slaves were capable of doing it in real time.

  54. 54 Steve Owens

    Guru Jane it gets better, at the battle of Kemp’s landing one of the militia leaders was captured by one of his own ex slaves. Get your Tardis out I want to hear the conversation between those two.”mornin massa. Morning boy. What you fightin for massa? Liberty boy Liberty. Those English treat us like slaves. Whoa massa you must be sorely oppressed. Yes boy they have placed a completely unjust tax on tea. Whoa massa what happens if I return to slavery? Well don’t talk stupid boy we’ll  hang you from a tree of coarse.Thankyou massa thats all I need to Know”

  55. 55 byork

    Thousands of Iraqis have taken to the streets in support of the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George W. Bush. The journalist apparently has a broken arm and rib – the security guys came on him heavily – but the protestors in the streets are completely free to demonstrate. Imagine what would have happened to someone who did that to Saddam Hussein. Ya reckon there’d be mass protests in the streets in support of the individual who dared to do it? For Saddam Hussein, substitute Castro or the head of the Burmese junta. The same point applies.

  56. 56 Steve Owens

    You are correct Barry. Iraqi people, especially Iraqi Kurds enjoy freedoms that were unthinkable under the previous regimen or many others like it.

  57. 57 GuruJane

    Has indeed been an illumination of the advancement of Iraqi democratic process. For eg the claiming of Muntadahii al Zeidi as both a Sunni rejectionist hero or as shia Sadrist rejectionist hero. ..when in fact al Zeidi is neither putting himself up as a suicide bomber nor alternatively as a shiite power-driller of Sunnis but as one who expresses his feelings  by throwing shoes. Very reminiscent of tales of the US Congress in its early (and  also later) days.

  58. 58 byork

    I had this letter published in The Australian newspaper today. The Age published only the first half of it. The Australian has received several comments on its site in response to my letter – all hostile, I think.

    Anyone interested in joining the fray can do so here: 

    Oh yes, and here’s my letter:

    “THE thousands of people who have marched in Iraq in support of the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at GeorgeW. Bush are proof of Iraq’s advance along the road to democracy. Imagine what would have happened to a reporter who tossed his shoes at Saddam Hussein? It’s even more difficult to imagine people being allowed to march peacefully but militantly in the streets under the old fascist regime. Counter-intuitive though it may be, the war really was about overthrowing tyranny and establishing the foundations for democracy.
    Barry York” 

  59. 59 Steve Owens

    Just returning to the myths of the American revolution, I must say that when you read the accounts of ex slaves trapped at the end of the war fearing that the British will give in to the revolutionarys demands that they hand over their property, and that slave owners start entering the defeated cities, dragging slaves from their beds, its hard to see the revolutionaries as progressive.

    When you read that Washington, unable to get free people to volunteer to fight, develops a plan to buy slaves to fight in the Continental army, only to have South Carolina threaten to leave the revolution if he does so, I wonder what their objection to a slave army fighting for democracy was?

    Ok my point is that the American revolution was a very complicated affair and in this respect it is like Iraq.

    Iraq was headed to hell in a handbag and only didn’t fall into this because of the good judgement of the Iraqis themselves. The question for the bloggers here is was this good planning or good luck?

    No matter what spin you want to put on it ether by minimising casualties or by denying the refugee problem or by denying the ethnic cleansing. In the end the “mission accomplished” banner can only go up because of a lucky break.

    Well excuse me but I cant see how you can expect to rally people to a cause that needs to be saved by a lucky break.

    Ps where’s Dalek these days?? I thought that I would at least get an apology for his comment that China and India’s booms were insulated from an American crisis because they were self sustaining.

    Come on Dalek self sustaining Capitalism, Id like to see that.

  60. 60 byork

    Arguing about Iraq via the analogy of the American revolution is becoming boring.

    ‘Mission accomplished’ was achieved with the defeat of Saddam’s forces and now the more protracted struggle to develop democracy is on the right track.

    In saying that “the mission accomplished banner can only go up because of a lucky break”, Steve Owens is at least acknowledging that the mission was accomplished. And for that reason – because the basic overthrow of fascism and establishment of a democratic foundation have been achieved – I’m not so interested in persisting with this thread.

    The Iraqi victory thus far has not just been a blow to the reactionaries in the Middle East but to the pseudo-left world-wide.

    Happy New Year!

  61. 61 Steve Owens

    Barry I haven’t been arguing that the American revolution is analogous to the invasion of Iraq. The only similarity I was drawing is that both situations raise questions of some complexity.

    Since studying the American revolution at school I have held the opinion that the conventional explanations of causes didn’t make much sense. I have enjoyed the opportunity to flesh out a few ideas about the revolution despite other peoples reluctance to engage.

    You were correct in arguing that things would improve in Iraq at a time that I was arguing that things would get worse. What neither of us saw coming was the Awakening movement (basically the insurgency changing sides) this is why I acknowledged that events had fallen your way but not by good planning but by a measure of good luck.

    Iraq remains a very dangerous place, but all major sections of Iraqi society now have expressed a commitment to a democratic future. This is clearly a good thing.

    PS Patrick you argued that I was against Thomas Jefferson because he owned slaves. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ancient Athens was a slave owning society and that didn’t stop them from developing democracy. Thomas said and did a lot of great democratic things. My point was to object to the conventional wisdom about the American revolution and put forward a more believable explanation.

    Happy new year to all

  62. 62 byork

    Steve said:

    “What neither of us saw coming was the Awakening movement (basically the insurgency changing sides) this is why I acknowledged that events had fallen your way but not by good planning but by a measure of good luck”.

    Please speak for yourself, Steve.

    As a perusal of my contributions to the old lastsuperpower site will reveal, I always knew that the ‘insurgency’ was very small and would shrink into oblivion. I never doubted that the Sunnis would move increasingly toward the new democratic institutions because the powers-that-be wanted those institutions to be inclusive and federal from the beginning, and I knew the Sunnis would end up preferring political means to military ones.

    Also, who likes to be blown up in markets? When the Sunnis ended up needing US support against the illegal Shia militia (again a small minority), then the writing was on the wall that only the die-hards would continue their ‘struggle’.

    The reality in the new Iraq is that any grouping (except for the die-hard fascists) can form a political party and stand for election. (This has come about through a course of action you opposed from the beginning).

    The many have been united successfully against the few in Iraq and, as you said, “all major sections of Iraqi society now have expressed a commitment to a democratic future. This is clearly a good thing”.

    At this site, please note, there is no need for you to add “This is clearly a good thing”. It’s what we’ve been supporting for many years now.


  63. 63 Steve Owens

    How can I argue against a man who knew everything from the start?

  64. 64 byork

    Well, Steve, you could try to find evidence to disprove my claim that “I always knew that the ‘insurgency’ was very small and would shrink into oblivion. I never doubted that the Sunnis would move increasingly toward the new democratic institutions because the powers-that-be wanted those institutions to be inclusive and federal from the beginning and I knew the Sunnis would end up preferring political means to military ones”.
    Disprove me on that claim and you will have effectively argued against me. See ya,Barry

  65. 65 Steve Owens

    No  Barry I’m not arguing against you, in fact I’m conceding on every point.

    You knew from the outset that the war was for democracy, not only in Iraq but for the whole Middle East.

    You knew that the insurgency was minuscule and would eventually come over to the democratic side.

    You knew that the casualty figures were completely overstated and that the refugee problem was no greater post war than it was pre war.

    You knew that ethnic cleansing in Iraq was a myth.

    No Barry you have been proved correct on every point.

    Even on the American revolution, how dare those slaves and Indians stand in the way of progress.

    You still have a few points to be proven correct on, but I’m sure that those Israeli troops massing outside the Gaza strip are just there to ensure that a Palestinian state is created as you have predicted.

    You have asked us to look towards change in Eygpt. Why only the other day the BBC reported that a leading opposition figure was being beaten to a pulp, rather than killed outright. What more evidence do we need to see that as you predicted Eygpt is on the democratic revolution path.

    No, Barry I have given up my futile opposition to you. I am Orwell’s Winston to your O’Brien.

    As long as you are in charge my mind is at ease.

  66. 66 byork

    Anyone who has followed my posts on Iraq here and at the old site will know where Steve is misrepresenting me.
    As for Palestine and Egypt, yes, I think Palestine will achieve statehood and Egypt will adopt a democratic constitution and institutions like Iraq’s. I’ve never made predictions about this, and freely acknolwedge that I tend to think change will happen quicker than it usually does. But, happen it will….    Barry

  67. 67 Steve Owens

    My apologies Barry I have conflated your claims with other people who are arguing in support of your position. I think it was Arthur who suggested that we look towards progress in Israel and Eygpt as proof of the general position put forward on this site. I also think that it was Patrick who set a date by which he thought a Palestinian state would be up and running. I don’t mean to mislead about the positions you put forward but sometimes its hard to remember who said exactly what, in the past you have responded to me when in fact you were responding to Cyberman so Im sure you understand. 
    Just on democratic revolution in the middle east hows that going?

  68. 68 patrickm

    Steve the following article may help you answer that question for yourself, 

    The example of a man throwing his shoes at a press conference demonstrates that this change (in Iraq) is a radical change. For thousands of years no Babylonian or Egyption would have thrown their shoes at the ‘king’ or his guests. They may as well have thrown their feet for they would have had no more use for them minutes after the event. Even as little as seven years ago the man would have been insane to have done so and would have been taken out and shot immediately.

    Today security guards tackle him and arrest him and he will be brought before a court and charged and he will be judged by a separate branch of the government (the judiciary), and (given that the evidence of assault is quite clear and on film) receive a sentence for his actions in line with all the factors that are taken into consideration by the judge. This is almost a textbook definition of living in a bourgeois democracy.

    The revolutionary transformation from tyranny to bourgeois democracy (dreamt of for thousands of years) has occurred. If it had not succeeded and had instead a figure like Moqtada al Sadr come to power, then any similar shoe throwing event would have concluded with his supporters beating the individual to death in the grand old manner.

    Now rather than focus on that revolutionary transformation, and celebrating the launch of the bourgeois democratic revolution that the event heralds, people are focused on guards being too rough arresting the man and rumours that he is being ill treated under arrest.  He shouldn’t be badly treated, period.  But if he is, it would harm the interests of both the Iraqi government and the US government, so we ought to be at least confident that such wrong-doing will be ended swiftly and that he be treated as a normal assailant.

    Steve, thousands of years of tyranny have come to an end before our very eyes! 

  69. 69 Steve Owens

    Patrick even the worst tyrants know that public opinion matters. The Japanese called off the execution of the US prisoners on Wake Island, why public opinion. Stalin allowed Victor Serge (writter and personal friend of Trotsky) to be released from imprisonment, why public opinion of course.
    Even Saddam would have given it some attention. I dare say that Saddam’s goons would have dragged al-Zaidi into the next room and then broken a few bones, Oops if you listen to Bush joking about it immediately after you can hear al-Zaidi’s screams from the next room.
    I think Saddam would have made up some story about al-Zaidi being part of a wider plot. Oops Maliki has announced that al-Zaidi was in league with an unnamed throat slitting terrorist.
    I think Saddam would have paraded al-Zaidi to the media to show that he had not been tortured when his apology was extracted. Oops the judge had to see him in his cell rather than in a court room apparently because the media would have kicked up a fuss at the bruises and alleged cigarette burns. Hey maybe hes a clumsy smoker.
    Maybe Saddam would have killed him outright or sent him to prison for some absurd time say 10 years. Ooops hes facing 15 years. Really a thousand years of tyranny has come to an end before our very eyes. Well I’m in favour of tyranny disappearing. Some clown accused me of being against the liberation of Iraq. My position was that I opposed people who argued that Iraqis couldn’t run their own democratic revolution. Ive always opposed the notion that they needed Americans to do it for them. Funnily enough I’m in agreement with the then leader of the SCIRI who said words to the effect , we don’t need an American invasion we just need the Americans to stop saving Saddam every time we try to kill him.On another matter hey Dalek what happened to the self sustaining booms in India and China. Bloody India and China.

  70. 70 byork

    I still think the emphasis should be on the large demonstrations that were able to take place, rather than solely on the shoe-throwing journalist. I made this point in a letter to The Australian (below). I sent it to The Age as well but they edited out the references to the large demonstration. Interesting that here the same thing is happening: total emphasis on the journalist while the fact that thousands freely marched in his support is not discussed. Having said that, I feel little need to keep debating Iraq’s new democracy with people who would have kept the country under the old regime that governed dictatorally rather than through the popular will as expressed at competitive multi-party elections.  
    Proof of Iraq’s progress 29 comments | Permalink
    Thursday, December 18, 08 (12:02 am)
    THE thousands of people who have marched in Iraq in support of the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at GeorgeW. Bush are proof of Iraq’s advance along the road to democracy. Imagine what would have happened to a reporter who tossed his shoes at Saddam Hussein? It’s even more difficult to imagine people being allowed to march peacefully but militantly in the streets under the old fascist regime. Counter-intuitive though it may be, the war really was about overthrowing tyranny and establishing the foundations for democracy.
    Barry York 

  71. 71 Steve Owens

    I agree both with Patrick and with Barry, there is a hierarchy of importance. Patrick pointed to the new judicial system. Human Rights Watch said “torture and abuse of prisoners before trial appeared common,….” They go on to state that the current Iraqi judicial system in Iraq is very similar to the one that operated under Saddam.Barry pointed to the large demonstrations in support of al-Zaidi. It is truly good that the occupation forces no longer fire on demonstrators as that did at the beginning of their occupation. It is truly good that the US soldiers gave up trying to stop the al-Zaidi protesters when they saw that their were so many.A man who calls Bush a dog, throws his shoes on behalf of all the widows and orphans. He reaches the hearts of the Iraqi people and is immediately embraced by them, while the man who gave them liberation remains a dog. Go figure.

  72. 72 GuruJane

    “I feel little need to keep debating Iraq’s new democracy with people who would have kept the country under the old regime that governed dictatorally rather than through the popular will as expressed at competitive multi-party elections. “It is fantastic, Barry York. Simply fantastic. But don’t discourage Steve. I yam rivetted awaiting his  analysis of the comparative evildoings of the late T.Jefferson and S Hussein. Over to you, Steve. For eg: was Saddam ever known to fuck black slaves?

  73. 73 patrickm

    Steve; there was a famous case of a shoe bomber trying to bring down an airliner so I suppose this shoe’s heel could have been filled with semtex and been a hand grenade. But the whole point is that the security guards would have reacted as swiftly and forcefully as they did because this is a country where people get blown to bits quite regularly by reactionary elements even when they just go into the market place.  (Yet still you will not unite with others to stop that slaughter).
    This guy was not protesting he was engaged in an assault. He chose not to disrupt the press conference with a protest in which case he would have been more civilly removed from the scene. He brought on a perfectly predictable crush of security, as all hell breaks loose in response to his assault, and the unknown and unknowable what’s coming next factors that security must account for kick in.  Is this a diversion for the real attack? etc.
    Try something like this with 3 or 4 burly security guards present and see if you don’t get injured as they ram their knees (etc.) into you and force your arms behind your back I guarantee you will be injured.  His reported injuries at the time would seem consistent with this.
    The point is when in history would the tyrant not have killed the assailant? This guy will go to trial, and he will see the light of day again (to be cheered as a hero by his supporters) because it is in the interests of both governments.
    The bourgeois democratic revolution in Iraq requires that he both be dealt with for the crime, and also professionally through the Journalist Association and to emerge after serving his time.
    Note that his brother Dargham ‘said he did not know whether the injuries happened when Muntazer was being overpowered at the press conference or later.’
    And neither do we, so we ought to focus on what we do know.
    1 We know that this was not a protest but an assault that would have become a battery but for the ducking. Therefore we ought to not falsely portray it as a ‘protest’ and make it seem an innocent prank that others ought to emulate. We can leave that fudging to his lawyers when it comes to trial.
    2 We know that security forces are going to go in hard in such a situation and that injuries are to expected including broken arms and ribs and bruised faces as they get shoved into the ground and that he is then going to be held in custody etc
    3 He chose to launch the attack and ought to be dealt with by his elected government for doing so. We know he deserves a charge and a trial because it was seen by the world, and he deserves to be convicted.
    4 He is a Journalist and should also be dealt with by his Association / Union for his unprofessional conduct.
    5 And we also ‘KNOW’ that this is not the way that things used to happen in Iraq. The Baathists would have just shot him.
    6 Our theory of how historical materialism unfolds requires that we name periods of history that are markedly different from the proceeding period.
    7 The name for this period is well known to us though not well known in the practice of the Middle East and is the name that MUST be concealed by our various ruling classes. That name is bourgeois democracy, and it has come to power through the barrel of a gun where all political power grows from. That transformation is by definition revolutionary, and the Baathists who were overthrown would have if they had won, rather than the current government of Iraq, dealt with the ‘criminals’ like GWB (who tried to overthrow them by launching an illegal invasion of a lawful tyranny) with a trial. But they didn’t win, so the revolutionary forces have now established the new law and welcome the man that brought their liberation about. The revolutionary forces conduct the trials.
    8 This new Iraqi form of a democracy may no longer be good enough for proletarians in the western world as capitalism speeds into another crisis of overproduction but this journalist owes his life to it being a reality in Iraq.
    If I were the judge hearing the case I would give him say four months with time off for good behavior and order that he not appear in public for the next four months without all his fingers covered in purple ink! However I am told by many that I ask that this is not a long enough term in prison. So I guess that it will be a bit longer.
    This is the way the swamp draining is revealed to people. Theory about what will happen is tested in practice and new theory has to unfold.
    The theory put forward by some was that a puppet regime would be installed and domination would be the new reality. But the reality was that an election was going to happen and the peoples of Iraq would never elect a government of quislings without backbones. A new era in Iraq is apparent.
    May this bourgeois revolution spread quickly to Palestine, and then the entire region as it is intended to. May all tyrants fall as quickly as the Baathists.
    Guru stop being so cruel! 😉

  74. 74 Steve Owens

    Guru Jane I never mentioned Thomas Jefferson’s behaviour of fathering people into slavery because I always thought that his personal behaviour was not the issue. I always argued what was at issue was the driving forces behind the revolution.Patrick why do you spend so many words on the injuries of one subdued individual when as I pointed out in my previous post that the nature of the Iraqi judicial system was the real question. I repeat in case you missed it. Human Rights watch find that it is common for people facing trial in Iraq to be tortured and that the system is similar to the system that existed under Saddam.As to Barry not wishing to debate people who opposed the US lead invasion well that means that hes unwilling to debate the majority of elected Iraqi representatives as well as the majority of the Iraqi population.

  75. 75 byork

    The Human Rights Watch report on Iraq’s Central Criminal Court, issued on 14 December 2008, may be read here:  The report was based on HRW monitoring of court proceedings and meetings with judges, attorneys and defendants. The report highlights what supporters of Iraq’s liberation already know: there’s a long way to go, many significant problems remain. However, it also shows how the basic democratic foundations are in place. The fact that HRW could gain access to courts, judges, lawyers and defendants and monitor pre-trial investigations and court trials shows the extent of the change in the new Iraq. Democratic Iraq allows people, including representatives of foreign human rights organisations (that incidentally opposed the initial war to topple the old regime), to reveal its serious problems. The HRW report speaks of Iraq’s “legal culture” as being in need of change. This will remain a big problem. It’s not enough to change institutions and structures: a ‘cultural revolution’ is also needed and is happening. The evidence for that latter claim is found in the fact, stated in the HRW report, that Iraqi judges “in many instances acknolwedged these failings (eg, lengthy pretrial detention, ineffectual counsel, confessions extracted under duress) and dismissed some cases accordingly, particularly involving alleged torture”. Imagine judges doing that under the old regime! Also, the Iraqi parliament passed the General Amnesty Law in February 2008, one aim of which was to speed up and clear out individuals awaiting trial for more than six months without an investigative hearing. HRW points out that implementation is lagging very seriously – but at least it is happening and this shows the intention and advance of the new Iraq. The HRW report offers recommendations to the Iraqi government. Perhaps Steve will monitor the situation and provide us with a link to the Iraqi government’s response to the report. Perhaps Steve will also provide links to reports he cites in future posts to save me doing it for him. Oh yes, and if you want proof that things are improving with Iraq’s judicial system, just check out HRW’s earlier reports, such as the one issued less than two years after the US-led invasion:  
    When the Coalition Provisional Government established the Central Criminal Court of Iraq in 2003 it did so in order to support Iraq’s development of a judicial system “that warrants the trust, confidence and respect of the Iraqi people”. This is something they didn’t previously have and which they are now building. As the history of other revolutions in the modern era reveal: this is not straightforward, will be marked by twists and turns and occasional set-backs, will be very dificult, but is happening right now. The trend is on course. I’m sick of arguing at this site about the rights and wrongs of the invasion with the same people who can’t let go of having been proven wrong. Years ago, I said it’s a matter of ‘which side are you on?’. Those who opposed the war but who had Iraq’s best interests at heart, tend to now say stuff like ‘Well, there’s some good things happening’. Those who opposed the war on pseudo-left quasi-religious anti-American grounds still hope against hope that democracy will fail, just to prove themselves right, and such die-hards can be expected to regularly celebrate examples of set-backs and serious problems. Meanwhile, the Iraqis will just continue to solve their problems under the new conditions of democracy. Barry

  76. 76 Steve Owens

    Barry thanks for the links. They show pretty much that the new judicial system works pretty much like the old system. After all the Iraqis have endured it must be gratifying to them that monitoring agencies can now come into their country and tell them this. I wonder how they would have worked it out by themselves?As to die-hards yeah that must be a terrible position to occupy luckily I’m sure that none of us are die-hards.
    I was surprised that you used the term “cultural revolution” in a post about legality. As I’m sure you know the famous “cultural revolution” in China was marked by the suspension of legal norms so that red guards were allowed to torture “enemies” without recourse to such unrevolutionary concepts as laws.

  77. 77 byork

    Steve apparently believes that under the old regime a foreign human rights group would have had access to judges, lawyers and defendants, and would have been able to scrutinize actual pre-trials and court cases. He seems to think that the judges of the old regime would have dismissed cases in some instances because allegations of torture were made. He really is far more favourably disposed to the old regime than he lets on. Steve, will you let us know how the Iraqi government responds to the HRW report – or is there no need for you to follow it up? After all, everything’s utterly hopeless, right?

    Iraq’s is a long journey but the course is democratic. A cultural shift will have to accompany the institutional changes but this won’t be too difficult as the Iraqis have shown they prefer democracy to dictatorship. It will be an uneven process, though. To quote a line from one of my favourite pop songs of the 1960s: “There’s a brighter world outside you, any time you realize!”


  78. 78 Steve Owens

    Readers who have followed any of my post will clearly identify Barry’s attempt to misrepresent me as someone holding a torch for the old regimen.
    I have always maintained that the USA was able to occupy a country and transform that country into a democracy. A clear example is Japan.
    What has mystified me is why the current (checks calendar) yes still current US administration has deviated from the successful model in Italy, Germany or Japan.
    When Japan attacked America the US government started an intensive language programme for US officers in preparation for occupation. In Iraq they got rid of Arabic speaking personnel.
    In Italy the US military immediately demanded that partisans hand over weapons. In Iraq the US military allied itself to militias aligned with the SCIRI (it was these militias that started the ethnic cleansing and produced that delightful TV programme where “terrorists” would confess and their next appearance was as a corpse delivered to their home.)

    With the rise of the Sunni awakening the US started (against the wishes of the Iraqi government) to issue weapons to the Sunni militias. So now the Americans are getting ready to leave, having armed almost all militias with the exception of the Mahdi army.

    The main party in government still views Iran as the model for democracy in the middle east.Well

    I’m glad your happy Barry, If I was an Iraqi I’d be checking that my passport was in order.Still things may go well provided that the militias are happy with their newly won turf and provided that there’s no looming crisis. Hell, Iraq’s a one commodity economy, what’s the chance that problems lie ahead? The price of oil’s stable isn’t it?

    Now I know that Barry will be all over my tendency for doom and gloom and I know I have painted a worse case scenario but am I, like Barry accuses willing the worst on Iraq.

    Well Barry wouldn’t believe me so I may as well indulge him. Yes Barry my room is adorned with pictures of Saddam and Obama, I always vote Green, I turn the tap off when I brush, I draw Hitler Moustaches on pictures of Mao. I secretly hope that Bin Laden wins the war on terror, I am currently hugging both a tree and a Harp seal, I hate progress I want to go back and live in a cave.

    Oh and to Guru no I wont bother.

  79. 79 Steve Owens

    Dear Barry thanks for all the discussion about Iraq over the years. My motivation has not to prove I’m right but to understand what the war was all about.

    There are some who “knew” what the war was about from an early stage, oil or democracy and funnily enough people Ive met who “knew”  at an early stage now are more confirmed in their view. Have they learnt much? Probably not. they just seem to have confirmed their previously held opinion.

    When the war started I didn’t know. I suspected that the WMD reasons were bogus and  I would explain it by assuming that there were lots of competing reasons.My current opinion is that the administration was true to it’s word, they really did perceive a threat and acted on it. As Feith says they always knew war with Iraq was coming the only question was at whose timing.

    Now I have discounted your idea that democracy was planned because the planning seems so poor. It’s hard to accept that what has happened was the result of planning. I’m much more inclined to the idea that they saw an opportunity to wipe Saddam and they took it rather than having democracy as the objective. (its clear that there have been democratic opportunities created and I support the Iraqi peoples moves in this direction)

    Any way that’s how my ideas have changed and I reserve the right to change them again in the light of new evidence.

  80. 80 GuruJane

    Oh and to Guru no I won’t bother.So no comparative analysis of T Jefferson and S Hussein? Ah well .. incidentally I was not expecting you to be too troubled about T Jeffesron’s personal life, recalling your insouciance expressed on other topics regarding dominant male sexual exploitation of subject adolescents and children of either sex? Very, very 70s, of course.But can you perhaps give Iraq a rest? Why don’t you take this lot on over Israel? That’s the subject where they are continually proved wrong.

  81. 81 Steve Owens

    GuruJane I have no idea what you mean by asking me to compare Jefferson and Hussein. I just get the feeling that its like your tardis comment, sort of a put down.

    As to Jefferson’s personal life, as I said owning slaves was not the question, impregnating slaves was not the question. The forces driving the revolution was the question. I addressed the question no one else felt the need.

    Arthur said I could only say the things I say because of the general level of ignorance, you said that it was results that mattered as did Tom, and as did, I but no one else ventured an opinion as to what drove people to revolution. Ive seen the Walt Disney version and its a tax on tea.

    As to Jefferson fathering slaves, I find the idea physically sickening. As to my insouciance about child sexual abuse I just don’t know where to start in putting you straight in fact I wont bother.

    PS I Would love to give up posting on Iraq and if me or Barry were just slightly less compulsive we could probably achieve this. As to Israel I feel that that no no I really cant be bothered.

  82. 82 patrickm

    The Iraqi elephant is in plain sight again. Being all for the liberation of Iraq in theory but when it comes to practice claiming the Iraqi people are just not good enough to unite with is bankrupt politics. The reality is, the Iraqi Government is united with COW forces and that is unforgivable in the eyes of the ever dwindling anti-war milieu.
    After Obama got elected the anti-war crowd world wide were ecstatic. Then they promptly split with ½ to 2/3 of them not prepared to continue further anti-war activities.

    The people that have left the streets believe that Obama is right in being amongst those fighting ‘the good war in Afghanistan’, and (to the extent that they even understand it) that he is also right in adopting the Bush/ McCain end strategy for the Iraq war, and make no mistake Obama really has adopted it!

    Now in Australia the Tweedledum party has also been elected and the end result is that Australia is still at war in Afghanistan and must still keep troops in Iraq to defend diplomats etc., and we are continuing to send the Navy to the region and to combat pirates around Somalia etc. The great ‘result’ for the anti-war camp after working for this end was that a small number of trainers and a political size force hiding away from the fighting in a quiet province of Iraq were removed, probably six months earlier than they otherwise would have been.
    The large demos like those before the Iraq war have long ago dried up, YET Australia is still at war in a country where we’re taking casualties and will take more before it is ended. The masses are not taking to the streets in support of the notion that our troops are in Afghanistan as poodles helping US imperialism to secure some oil pipeline route. (Or whatever the nasty imperialists are supposed to be up to according to the pseudo-left view of the world)
    Some people still see the world in a way that lead into such former stupidities as to even opposing the defense of the Kuwaiti people. Some people are forever defending their former indefensible position while the masses remain unconvinced that they had a clue then or have a clue now. The pseudo-left are lucky that the weather changes so that they can hide their dwindling numbers among the openly right-wing and pretend that they are growing in number and influence.
    Pseudos can claim to want to see a cultural revolution in the Middle East (what self proclaimed progressives wouldn’t) but the main job of anti-communist forces is to attack communists and all previous revolutions so that’s got to take priority. Anything but admit to having got the last thirty years wrong!
    I have recently delved into the thinking of similar pseudo-lefts who still think of themselves as revolutionary communists (‘Maoist’ refugees from the loopy RCP cult no less) over at a site called Kasama. In the end I was disappeared in the grand tradition of the Pinochet right by the moderator Mike Ely who told blatant lies about my explicitly stated position in an email to me when I inquired about why I was suddenly in moderation.
    Having lies told and being attacked and expelled from all sorts of things is not a new experience for me.   Real bad eggs are a tiny but often leading part of the so-called anti-war milieu and I have been dealing with them for many decades. We ought to have a thread and all the older comrades have a little write up of some of the stories to show younger readers what they can expect when they rock the boat and think outside of the herd religion.

Leave a Reply