Worker-Communist Party of Iraq

Paolo Chiocchetti tomjoad82 at libero.it
Thu Aug 14 03:03:02 MDT 2003


In reference to the current discussion about BTTH & Iraq situation, I would
like to post an appeal from the Worker-Communist Party of Iraq, from their
site http://www.wpiraq.org/english/

It seems to me very interesting because:
1. It comes from Iraqi comrades. In the peace movement who speaks is almost
always western comrades, or in the best situation Iraqi people living in the
west.
2. It points out to some problems in the common peace-movement position and
to a global solution to Iraqi problems (while we generally focus only on the
"troops out").

I would like it to be discussed, because the points it lifts are
controversial and little debated.

Ciao!
Paolo


*ISO on Iraq: Nationalist Isolationism or International Solidarity
By
Mahmood Ketabchi
mekchi at msn.com

            A few weeks ago, I read "Oppose the Occupation," an article in
the "International Socialist Review (ISR) Issue 29, May-June 2003, a
publication of International Socialist Organization (ISO).  Because this
article, in many ways, reflects the mindset of many anti-war activists and
leftists in the US, I felt it necessary to respond to it.  The anti war
movement unsurprisingly came to a stalemate after the defeat of Saddam
Hussein's regime and the occupation of Iraq by the US and British forces. In
an anti-war meeting at the Brecht Forum, I asked the speakers, "Where do we
go from here, now that the US-British Forces have occupied Iraq?  What is
the future for Iraq?"  One of the speakers told me that it was a $64 million
dollar question, but I never received an answer.
            The article in ISR tries to provide some directions for the anti
war movement.  Unfortunately, there is nothing innovative in its thinking
that can free the antiwar movement from its confusion, lack of direction,
and reactive mode.  The ISO says the US must get out of Iraq and the Iraqi
people should be left alone to determine their own future.  These
recommendations do not offer any new direction for anyone; they are simply a
repetition of what most of the anti war movement is already organizing
around.
            It is quite troubling to see people who don't seem to give a
damn about what happens to the people of Iraq except for the fact that Iraq
has been occupied by the US and Britain.  Their one and only concern is to
get the occupiers out of Iraq.  What happens after that is not an issue for
them.  Their focus is on "the liberation of Iraq from the US occupation,"
and nothing else matters.  I like to call such position Inverse Nationalism.
I say "Inverse Nationalism" because it is nationalism from a different end.
It is not the nationalism of the right-wing and flag waving crowd who
supported the US war on Iraq.  However, it is nationalist, in the sense
that, according to them, opposing the "Great Satan," (This name was devised
by the fascist mullah, Ayatollah Khomeini.) the United States, must become
the focal point of any political struggle. Other issues are secondary and
practically non-existent.
            Despite an internationalist posture, such a position is nothing
but a populist position and anti-imperialist isolationism.  A position like
this on the left to a large extent originates from a very simplistic version
of world capitalism. In this view imperialism is equated with the US and the
US to imperialism.  According to this view, the bourgeois nationalist
movements that represent "third world" capitalists are seen in opposition to
imperialism.  This view upholds that imperialism (the US) is the biggest
enemy in the world and whoever stands up to this enemy is a friend of people
or carries some progressive element.  It is for this reason that reactionary
Islamic groups in Palestine are portrayed as symbols of heroic resistance to
Israeli occupation and US imperialism, or that the Islamic regime in Iran
and murderous Taliban government in Afghanistan found some of its supporters
among the left. The fact that these criminal thugs are enemies of freedom,
civility, and human dignity does not seem to matter at all, even though the
rise of Islamism as a political movement was engineered by the US government
and western powers to fight against communism, progressive organizations,
and freedom-loving forces, a fact that should be of great import to those
who consider themselves anti-imperialist or socialists.
            Let me now deal specifically with the article.  First, I will
quote from the article (in bold), and then respond to each.
"When a racist warhawk such as the New York Times' Thomas Friedman argues
that Iraqi Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis cannot live together without the "iron
fist" of a strong U.S. occupation, antiwar activists rightly cringe in
disgust. But many of these same activists who defiantly took to the streets
and marched and built teach-ins to protest the war have been mired in
confusion and contradictions since the fall of Baghdad about what stance to
take regarding the occupation."
            It is true that Thomas Friedman is a racist war hawk. But it is
also true that Islamic fascist groups, Arab and Kurdish nationalists,
reactionary tribal leaders, etc. have been at each other's throats for many
years.  Animosity and division among them is so deep that even the "iron
fist" of the US could not bring them together to form a stable coalition.
Often they come together as vultures for they see something to feed on.
They are bunch of criminals who supported the US policy against the people
of Iraq all along.  They supported the 1991 war against Iraq, 12 years of
genocidal sanction, and the current war.  These groups lack any sense of
civic responsibility. They will tear Iraq apart into different pieces and
create a blood bath by ethnic cleansing and religious warfare.  If ISR
thinks these groups can work together and rebuild Iraq, they should make
their case rather than brushing aside an important issue by attacking
Friedman.  ISR needs to take a stand, not dodge the issue.
"Unfortunately, not just new activists, but many important leading voices of
opposition before and during the war have argued that while the war was a
terrible thing, a power vacuum and chaos would result if the U.S. pulled its
troops out now. Voices in the Wilderness, a group that has heroically defied
the deadly sanctions on Iraq for years and kept members in Baghdad
throughout the war, issued this statement in April:
'It will not serve the tremendous human need in Iraq for the U.S. military
to immediately withdraw without a legitimate international        presence
to take its place; from what we've witnessed, this would             create
a power vacuum that could precipitate the implosion of Iraq's civil society.
The U.S. military should be pulled back from its role as a foreign
occupation power into a protective role sufficient to allow for Iraq's
social and political concerns to be dictated by Iraqi parties.'

Many people now call for the UN to take over the occupation. This ignores
the reality that it was the UN that imposed murderous sanctions on the Iraqi
people and, according to recent reports in the New York Times, UN officials
hoarded billions of dollars in a slush fund accrued from the oil-for-food
program-money that belongs to the people of Iraq. An occupation that
includes other members of the Security Council would still be an imposition
of outside armies that are unaccountable to the Iraqis themselves. UN or
not, a colonial occupation of Iraq is still a colonial occupation of Iraq."

            To my knowledge, almost all anti-war groups are calling for the
withdrawal of US forces from Iraq.  Since the war started, the demand to
"Bring the Troops Home" is strongly voiced in all antiwar meetings and
actions.  So, I do not understand why the ISR is complaining that there is
confusion among anti war activists around this issue.   There is confusion,
but the confusion exists around other issues, a confusion which the ISR is
not free from.

Those, including the ISR, who limit themselves to the call for withdrawal of
US troops from Iraq need to explain what may happen after the US pulls its
forces from Iraq. Here is the mire that they are stuck in. Here is the
confusion. Nowhere in the article does one see any clear articulation by the
ISR that would shed some light over the future of Iraq after the US
withdrawal.

            I agree that the anti-war movement should demand the total and
unconditional withdrawal of US-British forces from Iraq.  But at the same
time, the concerns raised by Voices in the Wilderness are real and have to
be taken seriously.   Iraq's infrastructure has been destroyed and the civil
life of the country is on the verge of total collapse.  Three wars, 12 years
of genocidal sanction, in addition to downfall of Saddam Hussein's brutal
and extensive bureaucracy, looting and ravaging of the country and the rise
of ethnocentric, nationalist and fascist Islamic forces are confronting Iraq
with a bleak and dreadful scenario.   In such situation, what is the
alternative to the withdrawal of US forces?  What will take its place?  Who
will run Iraq?  What is going to happen to basic survival needs of people,
food, clothing, shelter, water, electricity, health, safety, etc., let alone
political freedom and equality?  What role will the countries surrounding
Iraq play in the future of Iraq?  These and many other questions are things
that need to be answered, and not one is dealt with by the ISR.  It is one
thing to say what you don't want, but it is different thing to say what you
want.  ISR does the first, but fails to do the second.
            Wishful thinking that once the US forces leave Iraq, the Iraqi
people will magically solve the existing problems, is not enough.  The
people of Iraq, at this point, are dealing with survival issues and the
basic necessities of life.  Socially and politically, they have very little
or no voice at all.  They lack mass, civic, and political organizations
through which they can represent themselves.  A bunch of murderous hooligans
(Islamic and nationalist) with guns and money from the USA, Iran, and other
reactionary governments are running amuck, claiming to represent the people
of Iraq.  Fetishizing "the people" and "the masses" is a populist disaster
that infects much of the US left.  It is great to have confidence in people,
but it is also important to analyze the situation specifically.
            The Iraqi people need a break for a period of a few months
during which they can meet their daily survival needs and can get sometime
to organize.  They need space from the violent and unsafe situations caused
by the occupation as well as by armed criminal organizations.  At this point
in time, a temporary administration of Iraq by the UN could provide the
Iraqis with some relief and opening.  Yes, it is true what the ISR says
about the UN.  But it is equally true, that under intense pressure from
world public opinion, the UN did not endorse the war against Iraq.
Reactionary governments and institutions under mass pressure can be forced
take positions that could be favorable to people and provide some opening
and space for organizing.
            Just imagine a different scenario-- one where the anti-war
movement continued with the same momentum they generated before the war, to
demand an end to occupation, to call for a temporary administration of Iraq
by the UN, to actively support freedom and equality for the people of Iraq,
by reaching out with full force to support progressive movements of women,
workers, etc., What if it demanded the rebuilding of Iraq with the money
coming from those who destroyed it, and so on.  Where would we be today as a
movement, in terms of power and effectiveness, in changing not only the
direction of Iraq but also combating the US murderous war machine and
militarism?  The core issue here is not United Nations intervention.  I have
no illusion about it.   The crucial point is organizing a massive and
consistent international support for political freedom for Iraqi people and
to build solidarity with progressive, secular and socialist movements in
Iraq.  This movement could not only force the US out of Iraq but also bring
about a humane life and a viable future for the Iraqi people.  Instead,
there exists this perverted mentality that as more US troops are killed in
military skirmishes, Americans will turn against war, and therefore the US
will be forced to leave Iraq.  As a result, many on the left are counting on
the hope that "military resistance" against the occupation will increase.
How many Iraqis die in the meantime? And what is this resistance? Who is
heading it? How does it impact mass movement by Iraqi workers, women, etc.?
Suppose the American troops are forced to leave Iraq, then what? These
questions do not seem to matter for ISO as long as the US is out of Iraq.
            While the US government is busy supporting and getting its
cronies together in Iraq so that they can determine the future of the
country, leftist and liberal/radicals in this country are standing on the
side lines saying, " let's leave Iraqi people alone so that they can
determine their future."  Such a passive position can only allow the US and
its Iraqi allies (fascist Islamic groups, etc.) to crush any hope for
freedom and equality in Iraq. (As I edit this article, today, the Workers
Communist party Of Iraq has issued a statement that armed thugs from various
fascist Islamic groups have attacked the party's office in Al-Nasriya and
clashed with party members.  The WCP succeeded in forcing the attackers into
retreat, but the Italian police in the city intervened and arrested four
members of party who were attacked by the Islamists.  These are the routine
activities of Islamic murderers acting like fascist squads.)
            The progressive movement in the US, if it intends to stay alive
and become effective, must take a pro-active role, intervene, and support
the struggle for freedom, equality, secularism, and a better world in Iraq.
This struggle is very much present and alive in Iraq.  The Worker-Community
Party of Iraq is courageously organizing this movement.  It is the voice and
the hope of Iraqi people.  It has been the only revolutionary party that
from its very inception opposed US policy against the Iraqi people, fought
against the fascist regime of Saddam Hussein, and adamantly exposed
reactionary Iraqi organizations that hand in hand with the US committed
numerous crimes against the people of Iraq.  They deserve our support and
solidarity.
"Lurking beneath these concerns that Iraqis cannot or should not determine
their own future, is fear of the possibility of an Islamic state in Iraq.
First, we must argue that the Iraqis, like any free people, must have the
right to determine the government of their own choosing-even if it means one
with Islamic clerics in power."
            This is where things get very sticky, because one can see where
ISO stands on the future of Iraq.  Yes, people should have the right to
choose their own system of government.  First of all, this right should not
stop us from voicing our concern about the type of decision being made.  For
example, if tomorrow the French people decide to put a fascist and right
wing party in power, what are we suppose to do, stand by and say nothing,
claiming that we are respecting French people's right to determine their
future?  In fact, the ISO correctly condemned Le Pen and his right wing
party in the last French Presidential election. What are we to say about
Germany where in the heart of the bourgeois democracy, the Nazi party came
to power through constitutional means?  Here too, one can argue, the Germans
had the right to bring the fascists to power.
            When in the year 2000, the Freedom Party of Austria (a right
wing fascist party) was coming to power, the whole world opposed it.  Should
we have sat aside and said, " let Austrians decide their destiny."?  Of
course not.  I will even go one step further, what if someone decides to
jump from a high rise building to commit suicide?  Are we supposed to sit by
and say we respect that person's choice? Or do we have to stop him or her
from doing that. I don't know what the ISO would do, but I personally think
we need to stop that person.  How far will we stretch the idea of self
determination?  Where do we stop?  Where and under what conditions might it
be a good idea?  Where is it harmful?  As I see it, there is no one answer.
There are many answers based on specific conditions.
            Moreover, any time there is a danger of right wing political
parties coming to power, for example, in Europe, everybody screams and
shouts.  But, if the same thing happens, for example, in the Middle East, no
one seems to raise any objection.  On the contrary, everyone becomes
non-interventionist and defenders of the right to "self-determination." Why
is fascism bad for Europe, but good for us?    Why do they deserve freedom
and liberty, but people in the Middle East have to suffer the most brutal
inhumane regimes?  What is so special about them, that they deserve a better
life while millions are suffering in Islamic stricken countries?    This is
a racist double standard. Freedom is universal; it knows no boundary; no
religion, and no culture.
            Finally, where does the ISO stands on the issue of political
Islam? They have to deal with this issue.  They can't just run away from it
and hide themselves behind anti imperialist and anti racist rhetoric. First
of all, I saw nothing in their article that makes me believe that they stand
against Islamic criminal regimes and murderous Islamic organizations.
Second, I just cannot understand how they can say that we have to respect
the Iraqi people's right to bring criminal Islamist organizations to power
without thinking that they either don't understand what Islamic regimes are
(which I doubt) or they think whatever Islam is-- it is better than the US
occupation of Iraq.  It was this kind of populist and reactionary mentality
that led most of the Iranian leftist organizations to view criminal Khomeini
and his fascist cronies as anti imperialist and progressive force.

            Islam today is more than the "opium" Marx once attributed to
religion. Political Islam in the contemporary world is an extremely brutal,
savage and medieval force against human dignity, freedom and communism. It
is the second largest capitalist backlash against communism after the rise
of fascism in the 1920s and 30s. Of course, only racism prevents western
intellectuals and leftists from viewing it in this manner. If it had
happened in the west, westerners would have no problem to see it the way I
described it.

            Without any doubt, the anti war movement in the US must struggle
and continue to mobilize public opposition to the US occupation of Iraq.
The war and occupation not only had brought immense misery for Iraqi people
but also because it is feeding into the flames of Islamism, nationalism, and
ethnocentrism. However, we must go a step further. We must not brush aside
the future of Iraq as if we has thing to do with us.  Nationalist
isolationism is a reactionary mentality that we must cast aside.    While we
oppose occupation, we must stand up clearly and openly for freedom in Iraq.
Freedom and human dignity have no boundaries.  To this end, we need a
platform on political freedom that enables and empowers the Iraqi people to
choose their own system of government freely.  Such platform has already
been produced by Workers-communist party of Iraq.  The anti war movement
must adopt these basic principles of freedom as presented in "WPI's
Declaration on Political Freedom" (see bellow) and organize solidarity
movement with secular, progressive, and socialist movement in Iraq.

*This article was written on July 8, 2003.  Later, on July 22, it was edited
for publication.




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