Response to Jeff K (Is Saddam a freedom fighter? Should "we" off him?)

LouPaulsen LouPaulsen at
Fri Jan 24 21:49:04 MST 2003

> First, let me preface my remarks by saying that agree with 99% of what
> Jose Perez wrote.

Jeff, unfortunately these points on which you disagree with José (and with
me) are VERY LARGE points, and weigh a lot more than the 1% that you assign
to it.  I am not going to call you a red-baiter or insult you, and I am
going to be patient.  There are people who are a lot older and more
experienced than you who say the same things with less excuse.

You ask José,

> 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.

> 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.)

Speaking for myself and I think practically all the Marxists on this list,
the simple answer is, NO, there is no way -for the imperialist government of
the US- to wage a war against Saddam in a way which we would support.  Not
with a bombing campaign, not with a Mission Impossible scenario, not with
putting a bomb in Saddam Hussein's bedroom, not with a CIA hit man, not with

If you are going to write on a Marxist list you have to accept the fact that
you are going to run into people who use a Marxist analysis.  Marxism is not
about individual men doing bad things, and getting them into or out of
power.  Marxism is about struggles of classes.  The Marxist analysis says
that the government of the US represents the capitalist class.  They are
imperialists (in the Marxist sense of the term, meaning that they extend
capitalist domination over the workers of the planet by use of economic and
military force).  They are not a tool which we can adapt to our own use as
an instrument of making a better world.  They are our ENEMIES.  They are now
attempting to conquer Iraq.  THAT is the issue in the current war crisis.
It is not about whether Saddam Hussein is a bad man or a good man etc.  As
socialists in the US, with a responsibility to the conquered peoples of the
world, we would oppose that use of imperialist power REGARDLESS of the
character of the Iraqi head of state, whether the government was elected,
not elected, popular or unpopular.

You seem to be scoffing at the idea that Saddam Hussein is a "freedom
fighter standing up to American hegemony."  Do you have the idea that you
have to be some particular type of person, some sort of hero of socialism, a
role model for the workers of the world, to qualify as "standing up to
American hegemony"?  It seems to me quite obvious that Saddam Hussein
ACTUALLY IS "standing up to American hegemony".  You might wish that some
other Iraqi with less Communist blood on his hands were standing up in his
place, and maybe on some alternate earth in a parallel universe there is an
Iraqi Castro standing up to American hegemony, but, like it or not, in this
particular Earth we have Saddam Hussein standing up to American hegemony.
He does not CEASE to be standing up to American hegemony just because you
don't like him.

To further clarify the issues: in the last few days people like Rumsfeld
have floated the idea that Saddam Hussein should be persuaded to go into
exile.  Would I be right in inferring that this an exercise of US military
power that you would support?  That if, under the guns of the Pentagon and
the threat of genocidal war, Saddam Hussein would agree to go into exile and
surrender Baghdad to an imperialist stooge, you would breathe a sigh of
relief and say that this was a good thing because war had been averted?  Am
I right in thinking that you don't understand how horrible the consequences
would be for the struggle worldwide?

Understand me, I am not trying to impose a "moral duty" on the Iraqis, or on
Saddam Hussein, to "stand up to U.S. hegemony" at the horrible cost which
the Pentagon plans to inflict upon them.  I am in no position to do that.
God knows they have suffered enough, and the historical process is not
showing them a shred of mercy by focusing the weapons of genocide at them
again.  I can say, though, that, as a matter of objective fact - as I see
it - if Saddam Hussein were to surrender at this point, it would be a
historic triumph for U.S. imperialism and a crushing blow to the worldwide
anti-imperialist movement.  It would expose the peoples of Iraq, Iran,
Palestine, the Arabian peninsula, and really the entire struggling world
from Colombia to Indonesia to the fury and power of a triumphal imperialism,
and cement the fortunes of the right wing here in the U.S. and in every
other imperialist country for the next period.

There is a global movement against this war right now which has every
possibility of leading to something greater, IF the current government of
Iraq does in fact continue to stand up to American hegemony.  If it
surrenders, the bubble will burst, Bush and Rumsfeld will be validated as
great and successful visionaries, the French and German capitalists will
crawl back to lick the American imperialists' feet, and every worker in the
world will be taught once again the lesson that U.S. imperialism CANNOT be

> 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

I would like you to state more clearly who this "WE" is who should get rid
of him.  Do you mean the "American people", you and me and Rumsfeld,
standing together in a big democratic crowd?  Even if there were any merit
in this liberal anti-Marxist dream of a democratic united people, on what
basis would it be the mission of "US" to go around the world, overthrowing
the heads of state whom "WE" decide are unworthy?  How does this differ from
the "white man's burden" in Kipling's poem?  Or, for that matter, from the
idea that it was a good thing that Africans were enslaved by Europeans,
because they were brought out of the dominion of brutal chieftains?

The Marxist concept which you are ignoring here is the concept of
'self-determination'.  The Iraqi revolution is the work of Iraqis, not of
New Yorkers and Chicagoans.

If we want to get bad men out of office, ought we not to concentrate on the
bad murderous man who is in office in Washington D.C.?  Why does not your
sentence, "WE SHOULD GET RID OF HIM", apply with a billion times more
correctness to George W. Bush than to Saddam Hussein?   (The only answer you
can give is that "WE" have a greater chance of getting rid of Hussein than
of Bush.  But this is only true if you believe that "WE" means "you and the
Pentagon".)  The great disease of the U.S. left has always been the sickness
of becoming "benign imperialists" - of surveying the other continents,
planning revolutions, dictating strategies, condemning dictators, etc.,
remaking the rest of the world in a mental fantasy,  in order to mentally
escape from the difficulties of fighting out the battles for socialism on
our own streets here.

Now, IF you would like to REALLY facilitate the Iraqis getting good
(socialist) government someday, then clearly the ONLY way that YOU can do
that is to join with me and the rest of the workers and progressives of the
world to relax the imperialist pressure on Iraq which, at the moment,
completely stifles the political situation there and makes it impossible for
them to have any kind of free and natural economic, social, or political

The only other way is Gitlin's way.

Lou Paulsen

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