A reply to Ian McEwan

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Feb 19 08:04:52 MST 2003

Dear Ian McEwan,

Although I am pleased that your heart is with the peace movement, I 
can't understand why your brain would be with the warmongerers. The 
arguments that you find seductive on behalf of war in 
http://www.nyobserver.com/pages/frontpage5.asp are preposterous at best.

You state, "...I can’t say I’ve been much impressed by the arguments of 
the anti-war movement in Great Britain. Peace movements are of their 
nature incapable of choosing lesser evils, and it is at least 
conceivable that invading Iraq now will save more suffering and more 
lives than doing nothing. That possibility needs to be faced and 
reasoned through. The movement’s failure to take an interest in, or 
engage with, Iraqi exiles, or the Iraqi National Congress meeting in 
London recently, was a moral evasion. All the more shameful when a large 
part of the I.N.C. embraces the liberal or libertarian and secular 
values that much of the anti-war movement professes."

I am not sure who you are referring to in the INC with respect to 
liberal values, but the leader is one Ahmed Chalabi, who was a member of 
an extremely wealthy Shi'ite banking family. He was part of Iraq's 
ruling elite that was forced to flee when the king was killed in a 
leftist coup in 1958. I think that to a large extent Iraq's problems can 
be traced to the impudence of that revolution, which resulted in a 
nationalist and secular regime that diverted oil wealth to the poor and 
lifted the yoke of the patriarchy from women. In order to blunt the edge 
of that movement, the USA backed the most rightwing elements of the 
Ba'athist revolt. That's how we ended up with Saddam Hussein, who was 
our guy from the beginning. His main problem, it seems, is that he 
thought that his patrons in the USA had given him the green light to 
invade Kuwait, when in retrospect we now know that Washington's favorite 
type of state in the Mideast is a feudal monarchy that it helped to 
restore in Kuwait or pre-1958 Iraq.

You continue, "To the waverer, some of the reasoning from the doves 
seems to emerge from a warm fug of illogic. That the U.S. has been 
friendly to dictators before, that it cynically supported Saddam in his 
war against Iran, that there are vast oil reserves in the region—none of 
this helps us decide what specifically we are to do about Saddam now. 
The peace movement needs to come up with concrete proposals for 
containing him if he is not to be forcefully disarmed. He has 
obsessively produced chemical and biological weapons on an industrial 
scale, and has a history of bloody territorial ambition. What to do?"

Ian, the peace movement cannot be in the business of formulating 
blueprints for Iraqi society. That is up to the Iraqi people. No matter 
the benign rhetoric that accompanies imperialist interventions, the end 
result is a form of neocolonialism. You must be aware that the chemical 
and biological weapons that you allude to above were all supplied by 
imperialism. So why would you expect the same bestial warmongerers to 
create a more peaceful Middle East, especially when the USA turns a 
blind eye to Israeli invasions, torture, theft of resources and an 
ambitious nuclear weapons program.

You then state, "No one seriously disagrees about his record of 
genocide—perhaps a quarter of a million Kurds slaughtered, thousands of 
their villages destroyed, the ruthless persecution of the Shiites in the 
south, the cruel suppression of dissent, the widespread use of torture 
and summary imprisonment and execution, with the ubiquitous security 
services penetrating every level of Iraqi society. It is an insult to 
those who have suffered to suggest, as some do, that the U.S. 
administration is the greater evil."

The only problem with this is that we are bribing-recruiting a 
praetorian guard in adjoining Turkey, which also has the blood of the 
Kurds on its hands.

Frankly, I am disappointed that you have decided to launch a new career 
as a political commentator. You are much better at outright fiction than 
you are at this kind of inadvertent falsification.


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