Iraq and the U.S.

Julio Huato juliohuato at hotmail.com
Wed Jul 30 08:07:07 MDT 2003


This is something I sent to my friends yesterday. - JH

Iraq and the U.S.
Julio Huato
July 29, 2003

There is a serious objection that regular, fair-minded middle class and
working class Americans raise against the demand to bring the U.S. troops
back home immediately from Iraq.  Correctly, in my opinion, the antiwar
movement in the U.S. is calling for an immediate and total withdrawal from
Iraq.  But this movement needs to make a direct effort to respond to the
objection if it is to advance.

The objection is this: "Yes, Bush got us in a mess here, with lies and all.
But we are in Iraq already.  If we pull the troops back now, then there will
be a bloodbath in Iraq, a terrible civil war, or something.  That would be
an irresponsible way to compound our initial error.  Now we have an
obligation to make sure there is an orderly process of transition, by which
Iraqis gradually take control of their own affairs but in a climate of basic
peace, security, and stability."

In my opinion, as noticed by Ohio representative and Democratic presidential
candidate Dennis Kucinich, there are two separate questions here: (1) Is the
occupation of Iraq by the U.S. and its followers good for the U.S. and/or
good for Iraq?  The answer is no.  It is not good for the U.S. and it is not
good for Iraq.  And it is not good for the rest of the world either.  (2) If
we pull the troops back immediately as we must, could there be a civil war?
The answer is yes.  That scenario is not unlikely.

Regarding the first question, it was wrong to wage a war against Iraq.  That
was not an effective way to fight terrorism (a U.S.'s legitimate goal).  And
that was not an effective way to help the people of Iraq (one of the
excuses).  What representative force of the people of Iraq asked the
Americans to help them to overthrow Hussein?  None.  NYT's Judith Miller's
friend, Ahmed Chalabi, from the so-called Iraqi National Congress was in no
way representative of popular resistance to Hussein.  So, what legitimate
international authority granted the U.S. the right to overthrow Hussein?
None.  The U.S. circumvented the U.N. Security Council and didn't even try
to make a case before the U.N. General Assembly.  Therefore, the U.S.
invasion of Iraq was illegitimate and illegal and so is the current
occupation.  On top of that, the U.S. public was cynically bs-ed about the
WMD danger that Iraq posed and about supposed links to Al Qaeda.  So, if we
are consistent with our answer here, we must call for the immediate and
total U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

But, if the answer to the second question is 'yes,' shouldn't the U.S.
occupation of Iraq continue in order to prevent a civil war from happening?
Shouldn't the U.S. occupation continue to ensure an orderly transition to a
representative, democratic government in Iraq?  The answer is NO.  That is
impossible not only because the invasion was illegitimate and illegal as the
occupation is, but also because the U.S. occupation is unfit to carry out
this task.  In brief, the U.S. occupation is to a democratic transition in
Iraq as a rocket launcher is to bypass surgery.  Let me elaborate.

The story that, after the U.S. invasion and occupation, the Iraqis are
thankful to the U.S. is the U.S. government's purest wishful thinking.  If
we go past the propaganda in the media and scrutinize the stories, we see
that there are only scant or dubious facts to substantiate such claim.  Any
careful browsing of the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and Los
Angeles Times coverage of Iraq shows clearly that MASSIVELY Iraqis are not
thankful to the U.S. occupiers.  On the contrary, they want the U.S. out.

And what else could we expect?  The U.S. troops did not come to Iraq at the
request of the Iraqis, to support the Iraqi struggle against Hussein, and to
do it all under Iraqi command.  They are an entirely foreign invading and
occupying force.  Necessarily, they cannot elicit cooperation from the
Iraqis.  In fact, the American troops view themselves as in enemy territory,
surrounded by hostility, in the middle of a mess they are not fit to grasp
or handle, led by a cabal of Washington hawks that never faced direct combat
in their lives ("chicken hawks," they've been called).  No wonder the
overriding concern of the rank and file is to get out of there alive and
ASAP.  Check by yourselves the web sites that the families of the soldiers
are building on the net like mushrooms after a rain in spite of threats by
the Pentagon.  I recommend www.bringthemhomenow.org.

The U.S. can throw more money and bullets at it, as it is doing currently.
Yet, that is NOT the way a democratic government can ever emerge in Iraq.
Democratic governments cannot be imposed by an alien invading and occupying
force.  In fact, as the history of the United States itself shows, a
representative democratic government is a long historical creation that
emerges in opposition to foreign dependence, through a painstaking process
that builds up mutual trust among the citizenry based on commonality of
interests.  If we are fair and self-critical, we must admit that in the U.S.
itself this process is incomplete and perhaps even derailed (witness the
tendencies towards a worsening of social inequality, a de-facto curtailment
of civil and political rights, expanding powers for the government to police
us, etc.).

Thus, the occupation of Iraq can only delay that long process of building a
truly representative democratic government in Iraq.  The spokespeople of the
Pentagon declare that Hussein is not in control of the resistance to the
occupation, that he is too busy trying to escape persecution and death.
Well, then, what are the underpinnings of the resistance which is so
persistently bleeding the occupiers?  As noted by several commentators, if
the U.S. government is right, then this suggests that once Hussein is gone,
the resistance can only grow.  People in Iraq may not be joining or
supporting the resistance against the U.S. occupation because they don't
want Hussein back.  But once Hussein is gone, the objection will disappear.
The only and frontal enemy of the Iraqi people will be the U.S. occupiers.
There will be no excuse not to resist the occupation.

The New York Times shows pictures of smoldering cars riddled by U.S. bullets
resulting from a raid of a Baghdad home where Hussein was thought to be
hiding.  There is no indication in the NYT story that anybody resisted the
raid.  So, why were those cars destroyed and their passengers presumably
killed or hurt?  Well, apparently, by what one can glean off the (censored)
NYT's story, because they were unlucky, got in the way, or didn't stop when
cued by the U.S. soldiers.  But, hey, it is Iraq, it is their country!
Shooting at innocents for being unlucky or understandably passive aggressive
is not a way to elicit the cooperation and support of Iraqi masses (as if
the Iraqis needed to support the U.S. designs, and not the other way
around).  While the Americans killed in Iraq are in the hundreds, the Iraqis
killed are in the thousands.  One doesn't need a very rich imagination to
fathom what is really going on there.  And in another first page of the NYT
(whose editorial boss is now, by his own admission, a "hawk" that supported
the invasion of Iraq), there is a picture of a mass demonstration in an
Iraqi southern town against the occupation.  Why?  Because American soldiers
killed a fellow for no particular reason.  Way to go in the stabilization of
Iraq.

Bottom line, the U.S. occupiers are absolutely unfit to the task of aiding
the transition to a democratic, inclusive government in Iraq.  And the
longer the U.S. troops stay there, the more unfit they will be, the more
they will obstruct the real process by which Iraqis can build their own
democratic government.  The best the U.S. occupiers can do is get out of the
way of such transition.  Which leads us to the second question above.

How can a bloody civil war in Iraq be avoided once the U.S. rectifies its
error and IMMEDIATELY withdraws ALL of its troops?  What can Americans do to
fix a mess that the U.S. government has only worsened with the invasion and
occupation?  This is where we will miss dearly the international goodwill
that the Bush administration irresponsibly squandered with its go-alone
policy.  Because we urgently need international cooperation to help the
Iraqis prevent a bloody civil war and embark in an orderly process to
rebuild or build their representative institutions of government.

In my opinion, it is legitimate for the international community to be
concerned about the loss of life in other countries.  Let's admit it.  This
concern is not proportional or consistent.  If it were, the aid to fight
AIDS and preventable diseases that kill so many children in poor countries
would be flooding with American dollars.  So this concern is guided to a
large extent by the misplaced priorities of U.S. and European foreign
policies and media distortion.  Still, it's hard not to admit that the
concern is in and by itself legitimate and humane.  Civil wars and conflicts
occur in many countries, they take lives of innocents, and the international
community is concerned about preventing them.  Fair enough.

But let's be clear here.  It is very hard to successfully intervene in these
situations of civil war and domestic conflict in those countries without
having a thorough knowledge of the historical forces and interests in play
and without truly committed, disciplined forces.  The CIA, the State
department, and the Pentagon have often demonstrated they don't have a clue
as to what goes on in various parts of the world.  No wonder that, with the
news resources we regular people have, we lack such substantive and detailed
knowledge as well.  Reading a newspaper story or editorial about Liberia
doesn't fill the lacunae.  We have Chiapas here, Zimbabwe and Liberia there,
etc. and we simply may not have a handle on these problems sufficient to
ensure that a universal remedy (say, "peace") will work well under all and
any circumstances.  After all, as the U.S. history shows, sometimes the
dilemmas are complicated.  Imagine us preaching pacifism to George
Washington during the war of independence or to Abraham Lincoln during the
Civil War.

My point here is that we need to cooperate internationally to create a
system of international institutions that are legitimate, that are fair and
evenhanded, within a framework of balanced laws and jurisprudence, and
poised to intervene adequately in the midst of complicated internecine
conflicts to prevent massive loss of life, and to assist the people in those
countries to build representative and truly democratic governments under
their own lead.  That doesn't exist yet.  The U.S. government has virtually
eviscerated the U.N. system.  But we can begin to make up for lost time and
goodwill.  Of course, this requires that we get rid of Bush and change the
U.S. foreign policy as a first step.

There are examples of positive, legitimate, and successful international
intervention to solve regional conflicts, but those are cases that many
Americans ignore and the U.S. government is not very interested in
advertising.  For example, the Cuban intervention to help the Angolans,
Namibians, and South Africans under threat by Apartheid South Africa, acting
upon an Angolan plea to the U.N. and at least two U.N Security Council
decisions that the big powers that passed them ignored or sabotaged in
practice (Resolution 387 of March 31, 1976 on South Africa's military
activities against Angola and Resolution 428 of May 6, 1978).  Cuba's
military actions in the southern horn of Africa were a decisive factor in
defeating the Apartheid.  This is something that the U.N. General Assembly
as well as representative African organizations and leaders like Nelson
Mandela have publicly acknowledged.  Even a recent, virulent NYT's editorial
against Cuba partially recognizes this fact (Jorge I. Domínguez, "Goodbye,
but Not Farewell," 7/25/03: "Cuban armies did three times on African soil
what the United States could not in Vietnam, nor the Soviet Union in
Afghanistan: they won the wars they fought, twice defending Angola against
South African invasions and once defending Ethiopia against a Somali
invasion.").  We should remove our ideological blinders and build up on
Cuba's experience in Africa.

So, the best way to prevent a civil war in Iraq -- something that Kucinich
is proposing as well -- is for Americans to call for a U.N. (legitimate,
evenhanded, etc.) force to intervene and prevent a bloody civil war in Iraq
once the U.S. rectifies its blunder by IMMEDIATELY and COMPLETELY
withdrawing from Iraq.  Prolonging the occupation can only worsen things in
Iraq and in the U.S.

So, BRING THE TROOPS HOME NOW!

Let us join the Days of Action against the occupation organized by United
for Peace and Justice, August 6-10.  Details at:

http://www.unitedforpeace.org/

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