Liberal imperialist Todd Gitlin witch-hunts antiwar movement on Fresh Air

Jeff Kinkle jeffkinkle at home.se
Fri Jan 24 17:32:38 MST 2003


First, let me preface my remarks by saying that agree with 99% of what
Jose Perez wrote.  I actually had a class a few years ago with Gitlin
at NYU and as a starry eyed 17 year old pseudo-radical was continually
disappointed.  I don't know what he was like in the 60s but he wasn't
in the late 90s as I would have hoped.

Anyways, I do think the Saddam point is an incredibly important one.
Giltin's question, whether or not Saddam bears some blame for the
current situation in Iraq is a fair one (while I agree the context does
make it dubious).

> A fair question that deserves a fair answer. Did Saddam vote for the
> sanctions? Are his warships enforcing it? Are his warplanes patrolling
> iraqui skies to detect "contraband"? The answer is, no. Saddam is *not*
> responsible for this "humanitarian disaster," he has, on the contrary,
> been
> AGAINST it.

Is this the position which we should be pushing?  That Saddam is a
freedom fighter standing up to American hegemony?  Why attack the
cynicism behind France and Germany's decision to (at least temporarily)
come out against the war but then act as though Saddam has nothing to
do with the injustices suffered by the Iraqi people?

This isn't to say that one should support the bombings and of course it
is not to say that one should support the position of the Bush
administration.  To do so is to accept the 'with us or against us'
rhetoric of Bush.

> he
> *supports* the war against Irak and his differences with Bush are
> strictly
> tactical over HOW to wage that war, not WHETHER to do so.

I fail to see what is so ridiculous about such a position.  Isn't there
a way to fight a war against Saddam in a way which you would support?
Clearly none of us would support a massive bombing campaign but that
isn't (at least ideally) the only option is it?  (Of course diplomacy
should always be pursued first but there have been more than a few
armed revolutions over the past hundred years that I'm sure the
majority of people on this list look favorably upon.)

I think the problem is that you can't simply label the war in Iraq (as
you couldn't label the war in Afghanistan) simply as a normal
imperialist war.  It isn't as though Saddam is a popularly elected
leader who reflects the will of his people (as opposed to say the
Sandinistas or whoever).  He himself was put in place by the same
imperialists who now want to get rid of him.  The fact remains that WE
SHOULD GET RID OF HIM.  He's a horrible leader who has done horrible
things to the people of Iraq.  That has to be acknowledged.  One can
admit that yet still be against THIS war.  Personally, explicitly
accepting such a fact would give the anti-war movement much more
credibility than trying to posit Saddam as an innocent bystander.

I hope this will not label me as a red-baiter as it is clearly not my
intention.  I'll repeat that I agree with everything Jose wrote with
the exception of the points I've responded to.  I'm also exhausted so
sorry if some arguments don't follow as well as they should.

Jeff


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