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

Jose G. Perez jgperez at
Fri Jan 24 22:52:27 MST 2003

>>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.<<


Our basic disagreement is not about Saddam, it is about the pronoun "we."

But on Saddam, I really know very little about how he governs, apart from
that he amnestied all prisoners in Iraq a few months ago, something that
doesn't sound like such a horrible thing to me. But if the people of Iraq
want to overthrow him, unelect him, vote him out of office, impeach him, or
whatever, that's fine by me.

Pretty much everything else I hear about Saddam is like the standard
WWI/WWII propaganda about the Kaiser and the Huns and the Japs. And since I
DO know something about OTHER leaders who are treated the same way by the
press, like Fidel and Hugo Chávez, and know the picture the press paints of
them is a pack of lies, I am disinclined to believe them about Saddam.

Despite that, it would not surprise me at all to discover, were credible
sources to be available, that the guy is a total bastard. Most capitalist
rulers are.

But the idea that the people of the United States are called upon to be
arbiters of Iraq's fate, that "we" should place or remove presidents, hand
out report cards to various governments and "regime change" those who get an
F, is a profoundly racist one born of imperialism and imperialist privilege.

And viewed objectively, if one could make a list of countries that the world
community need to occupy by force because they represent a threat to world
peace, because their official institutions persecute minorities, and are
corrupt beyond any hope of reform, never mind redemption, the one I'd put at
the top of the list would not be Iraq even assuming everything that's said
about Saddam is true.

The country I'm thinking of spends more on war than then next 14 countries
*put together*. The structure of its military is entirely aggressive, built
around "force-projection,"  "carrier groups" and "expeditionary forces." It
has a huge deployment of missiles, but not short range ones for self
defense, but rather long range ones that can strike anywhere in the world.
It has military bases throughout the world, including a huge mechanized
force in the heart of Europe, 12 years after the disappearance of the Power
this force was supposedly defending Europe from.

That country has a massive and mostly undeclared, uninspected program of
producing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. It is the only country
ever to have used nuclear weapons, and used them over civilian targets,
major civilian population centers. It is the one country that is known to
have preserved stocks of smallpox virus, and the government is now trying to
impose the absurdity of a massive innoculation campaign against that virus
although it has been completely eradicated in the wild for two decades or
more. The most logical explanation is that this country has weaponized
smallpox and is innoculating its population in preparation for its use.

Another weapon drawn from the that government's biological weapons lab has
been used against its own people, including top leaders of the main
opposition party in the national legislature. The investigation of how an
ultra-secret stock of Anthrax, weaponized qualitatively more effectively
than is possible by the processes other countries are known to have, made
its way from ultra-secure top secret military bioweapons labs to editorial
offices and even the halls of the legislature has been forgotten by the law
enforcement, which is run by one of the President's cronies whose main claim
to fame is that he was so hated in his home region he lost re-election to
the national Senate when running against a dead man.

It has a president who lost the election by half a million votes and was put
in office by the barest 1-vote majority in a party-line split in the
nation's highest court, which gave him the electoral votes of the region run
by the candidate's brother. The point is dispute was whether the brother's
government had to count

This country's official policy --proclaimed to the world-- is to wage wars
of aggression, i.e., socalled "pre-emptive" attacks against other countries
that have made no move to attack it. It harbors notorious terrorists, such
as the mastermind of a plot that blew up a civilian airliner in mid-air; the
armed forces of its neighbors are full of torturers and assassins trained by
its military; its intelligence services have links with terrorists and
people who have committed crimes against humanity the world over.

It is a country that invented apartheid; where police kill hundreds of
people --mostly from the long suffering Black minority-- every year. It is
the country which has the highest prison population in the world by far,
fully 1% of the populaiton of prison age; which contrary to the standards of
even bourgeois civilization treats juvenile offenders as adult criminals,
making them even subject to the barbaric practice, repudiated by most other
"western democracies" of the death penalty, and, of course persecuted
minorities are the main victims. It is a country where the courageous action
of one governor, who overturned the death sentences of men convicted on the
basis of false confessions extracted by torture, instantly turned a popular
politician into a pariah said by the specialists of his own party to be

It is a country where the system of justice openly and routinely engages in
practices that anywhere else would earn its perpetrators long prison terms,
and that violate the plain reading of the country's law itself. I'm
referring to the routine subornation of perjury by prosecutors who give
accused criminals promises of lenient treatment in exchange for testimony
against supposed accomplices. It is a country that has a justice system
where prison terms and convictions in 90% of the cases are arrived at by
haggling between lawyers who submit the results of this plead bargaining to
judges who routinely rubber-stamp them.

Despite claims to have abolished its apartheid system, called "Jim Crow,"
its schools, housing and cities are as segregated as ever, and members of
persecuted minorities earn but a fraction of what others get. Millions of
people of one of these minorities are considered official non-persons, and
classified as "illegal."

It is a country that has been involved in more wars than any other in recent
decades; for more than half a century, none of these have resulted from an
attack on it by the country it is waging war on.

I could go on and on, but if "we" need to "get rid of" some country's
leader, or impose "regime change" from the outside by force, the place I
would start certainly would not be Iraq.

But on to the main point:

As far as I am concerned, there is NO "we" that includes working and
oppressed people and George Bush, the imperialist state, the imperialist
system, the United Nations and so forth and so on. "WE" should not get rid
of him, because whatever that false "we" is doing, it is in fact the doing
of U.S. imperialism and  not "we" at all.

Being Cuban, I know a little from my country's history about "humanitarian"
interventions to get rid of "evil." Cuba was graced with such an
intervention in 1898, and it took 60 years of struggle to get the damn
yanqui boot off the nation's neck. And when Cuba did, the U.S. got so sore
it is still a crime for Americans to go down there and see what's become of
the place. Puerto Rico, another afro-Caribbean Spanish speaking country, was
grabbed by the U.S. at the same time and remains a direct colony to this

So, no, whatever club you have in mind for this "we," leave me out of it.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Jeff Kinkle" <jeffkinkle at>
To: <marxism at>
Sent: Friday, January 24, 2003 7:32 PM
Subject: Re: Liberal imperialist Todd Gitlin witch-hunts antiwar movement on
Fresh Air

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