Bob Gould's position on Iraq

Jose G. Perez jg_perez at
Sat Aug 30 19:48:44 MDT 2003

Bob Gould has devoted a lot of effort and space to answering my --I will
admit-- very harsh criticism of his position condemning the attack on
the U.S. Ministry of Colonies (a.k.a. the "United Nations") in Baghdad.
Unfortunately, the nature of his arguments leave me no choice but to
describe his position in even harsher terms. 

The differences center on this:

For Bob Gould, like for Bush, the war is essentially over. It was a war
directed against the "Baathist regime" and that regime has been
overthrown. The "sporadic" military attacks U.S. and other forces face
are simply the twitching a corpse may undergo as rigor mortis sets in. 

The logical conclusion to this is that ALL of the military activity
against the occupation forces are (AT BEST!) ultraleftist individual
acts of terrorism isolated from and counterposed to what the masses
deeply desire (which, in Bob's view, is for Bwana Bremmer to get the
lights working). 

Bob is of course too clever to say that in so many big words, and
perhaps --I hope it is so-- he also can't bring himself to draw this
conclusion because it goes against every revolutionary instinct and
rebel bone in his body. 

But whether or not the targets would be "legitimate" ones in a war, or
even tactically advisable ones, is really quite besides the point
politically. Given his argument, the whole resistance must be considered
a totally reactionary, misbegotten effort on behalf of a hated,
totalitarian regime like the Nazi regime.

So, instead of arguing THAT -- stop the attacks, leave the Americans and
the Brits alone, accept the occupation, he confounds the question of
individual acts of terrorism, whatever the target, with the issue of
attacks against civilians in wartime. He shifts the argument. And he
says the lady that was trying to clear mines and all these other nice
people ought not to have been blown up just because they were
functioning as part of and under the auspices of the UN's efforts to
contribute to the occupation.

I would suggest that the appropriate response to such lamentable deaths
is for all the do-gooder QUANGO types that have been pouring into Iraq
to "humanitarianize" the bloody, military, imperialist occupation to get
out. And to DENOUNCE the United States, the Security Council, and the
leadership of the politico-diplomatic apparatus of the United Nations,
and its "humanitarian" agencies, as stooges of American imperialism who
are *responsible* for these well-meaning people having met this fate.

*  *  *

I believe Bob's position is a social-imperialist position. Socialist in
phraseology, in verbiage, imperialist in fact, on the ground, where it

He starts shopping for all sorts of white, European analogies, like
Germany in 1945 and so on, which are extremely telling. 

The revolutionary position in Germany in the Second World War was to
work for the defeat of Germany, even at the price of the Anglo-American
imperialists taking over. He instinctively reaches for THIS analogy, and
urges on the Iraqi people the *same course* as followed in Germany.

That course, vis-à-vis the interests of Germany as a *nation*, was,
stripped of all niceties, treason, and necessarily so, for Germany was
an imperialist nation. To advocate the same thing in Iraq is treason
towards the Iraqi people, the Arab nation, the Muslim world and the
class interests of the world proletariat. It is to abandon *completely*
a working-class standpoint and adopt instead a bourgeois imperialist
standpoint, like those of bourgeois imperialist Australian and British
"Labor" parties.

>From a working class perspective, Gould's position is preposterous on
its face. Iraq is not an imperialist country, it is a *victim* of the
imperialists. The revolutionary position in the United States, in
Britain, in Australia, starts from the recognition therefore that the
defeat of our "own" imperialism's war against Iraq is not a "lesser
evil" but a positive good. 

Gould calls on white Marxists to repudiate and attack the blows being
dealt to their OWN imperialisms by the forces that have rallied to the
struggle against the occupation. And to do this he uses the odiously
offensive and profoundly racist code word "civilized Marxists."

I am not, and I hope I will never be, a "civilized Marxist."

This is not a war against the Baathist regime or Saddam Hussein, but
against the Iraqi people, the Arab nation and the Muslim world. EVEN IF
this stage of armed resistance to the imperialist occupation forces
collapses and peters out TOMORROW, its character is fundamentally
different from the "werewolves" that Gould conjures up from the history
of white people. Even if defeated, humiliated, crushed beyond all
recognition, so that their names are never known and their acts excised
from every history book, deep in the heart of the Iraqi people and the
Arab nation the seed they are planting will grow, and one day blossom.

Because what the resistance is showing is that the power of the people
in greater than the man's technology, and that it is better to die on
your feet than to live on your knees. The peoples of the Third World, of
the global South, have no future, none whatsoever, except a life and
death struggle against imperialism. That is the only choice that has
been left them. 

I don't believe ANY of the (at bottom) tactical questions Bob Gould
*seems* to be raising are IN FACT posed for US on this list, and
especially not in the cartel of Anglo imperialist countries that have
banded together to invade and occupy Iraq. We are not in Iraq, we are
not part of the Iraqi people or the Arab nation. Those are THEIR

The question posed *for us* is the Harlan County question: which side
are you on?

They say in Harlan County
There are no neutrals there.
You'll either be a union man
Or a thug for J. H. Blair.

Oh workers can you stand it?
Oh tell me how you can?
Will you be a lousy scab
Or will you be a man?

Don't scab for the bosses,
Don't listen to their lies.
Us poor folks haven't got a chance
Unless we organize.

To be heaping all sorts of scorn, vitriol and condemnation on those
risking their lives to oppose the imperialist occupation is, as I see
it, scabbing. To demand a "humanitarian" immunity shield for good white
liberals who go salve their consciences by helping to "normalize" Iraq
under the imperialist boot is scabbing. To prettify the role of the
United Nations in Iraq as partly "humanitarian" and deserving of special
consideration by resistance fighters is scabbing. 

The whole history of white, European colonialism and modern imperialism
is filled with monstrous, genocidal atrocities. For someone to show up
now, in 2003, going tsk tsk the Iraqi resistance isn't fighting by
gentlemen's rules, is scabbing. As Malcolm X said after the Kennedy

"President Kennedy never foresaw that the chickens would come home to
roost so soon... Being an old farm boy myself, chickens coming home to
roost never did make me sad; they always made me glad."


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