Tariq Ali on the occupation of Iraq

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Nov 3 06:35:19 MST 2003


Resistance is the first step towards Iraqi independence

This is the classic initial stage of guerrilla warfare against a colonial

Tariq Ali
Monday November 3, 2003
The Guardian

Some weeks ago, Pentagon inmates were invited to a special in-house showing
of an old movie. It was the Battle of Algiers, Gillo Pontecorvo's
anti-colonial classic, initially banned in France. One assumes the purpose
of the screening was purely educative. The French won that battle, but lost
the war.
At least the Pentagon understands that the resistance in Iraq is following
a familiar anti-colonial pattern. In the movie, they would have seen acts
carried out by the Algerian maquis almost half a century ago, which could
have been filmed in Fallujah or Baghdad last week. Then, as now, the
occupying power described all such activities as "terrorist". Then, as now,
prisoners were taken and tortured, houses that harboured them or their
relatives were destroyed, and repression was multiplied. In the end, the
French had to withdraw.

As American "postwar" casualties now exceed those sustained during the
invasion (which cost the Iraqis at least 15,000 lives), a debate of sorts
has begun in the US. Few can deny that Iraq under US occupation is in a
much worse state than it was under Saddam Hussein. There is no
reconstruction. There is mass unemployment. Daily life is a misery, and the
occupiers and their puppets cannot provide even the basic amenities of
life. The US doesn't even trust the Iraqis to clean their barracks, and so
south Asian and Filipino migrants are being used. This is colonialism in
the epoch of neo-liberal capitalism, and so US and "friendly" companies are
given precedence. Even under the best circumstances, an occupied Iraq would
become an oligarchy of crony capitalism, the new cosmopolitanism of Bechtel
and Halliburton.

It is the combination of all this that fuels the resistance and encourages
many young men to fight. Few are prepared to betray those who are fighting.
This is crucially important, because without the tacit support of the
population, a sustained resistance is virtually impossible.

The Iraqi maquis have weakened George Bush's position in the US and enabled
Democrat politicians to criticise the White House, with Howard Dean daring
to suggest a total US withdrawal within two years. Even the bien pensants
who opposed the war but support the occupation and denounce the resistance
know that without it they would have been confronted with a triumphalist
chorus from the warmongers. Most important, the disaster in Iraq has
indefinitely delayed further adventures in Iran and Syria.

full: http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1076480,00.html

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