[Marxism] Insightful interview with Patrick Cockburn

M. Junaid Alam mjunaidalam at msalam.net
Sat Dec 4 17:18:19 MST 2004

Alan Mass of the ISO did up a pretty useful interview with the leftish 
reporter Cockburn who's on the ground on Iraq and has been so for a long 
while. He has lots to say about the potential ramifications of Iraqi 
sectarianism, nationalism, and the nature of the resistance forces, the 
attitude of the Iraqis toward the occupation, Zarqawi's role, etc. An 
advance warning: this interview is going to be of absolutely no use to 
those grand "Marxists" who strike brave poses - "against Mullahs", no 
less - behind their computer screens, while on the streets of Mosul and 
Baghdad ordinary Iraqis carry on the struggle against imperialism.

full: http://counterpunch.org/maass12042004.html

  /An Interview with Patrick Cockburn/

  Reporting on the Ground from Iraq


>From the execution of unarmed civilians, to U.S. snipers planted in 
mosques, to raids on hospitals, the horrors of the U.S. invasion of 
Falluja continue to emerge in the media.

The international media, that is. It's almost impossible to learn the 
real story of the U.S. assault from America's corporate media--which has 
reverted to the same uncritical, cheerleading attitude it had during the 
weeks after the invasion of Iraq began.

But accounts of what actually took place when the U.S. attacked what it 
claimed was a small force of "terrorists" in Falluja describe a 
high-tech slaughter. The leveling of Falluja will only add to the fury 
of ordinary Iraqis--ultimately fueling opposition and resistance, 
whether in the so-called "Sunni triangle" in central Iraq, or among the 
majority Shias in the south, or in northern cities like Mosul once 
thought relatively stable.

Patrick Cockburn has been an invaluable source of information for anyone 
wanting to know what is going on in Iraq. As a correspondent for 
Britain's /Independent /newspaper, he has written regular reports from 
Iraq throughout the occupation. Many of these reports have appeared on 
the CounterPunch Web site. With his brother Andrew, he wrote /Out of the 
Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein 
of the best books on Iraq under Saddam's Baath Party regime.

Last month, in the aftermath of the invasion, he talked about what 
really happened in Falluja--and why Washington's "victory" in this 
battle won't help it win the war.

*THE U.S. claimed that they were targeting a small force of hard-core 
insurgents in Falluja, including "foreign" terrorists. What's the reality?*

THERE SHOULD be no mystery about the nature of the resistance in Iraq. 
The situation is very simple, as it would be in most countries of the 
world--when you have an occupation by a foreign power, you have 
resistance. And that's exactly what's happened in Iraq.

It's absurd to think that there are tiny groups either of foreign 
fighters or remnants of the former regime who are holding the rest of 
the population to ransom.

You can see this in Falluja, in Mosul. You could see this from the very 
beginning--from the summer of 2003. Whenever I went to a place where 
there had been an attack on an American patrol, and U.S. soldiers had 
been killed, always, the local kids were jumping up and down for joy. 
This was always an unpopular occupation with most of the population, and 
that majority has gone up.

Having said that, the resistance has always been fragmented. It's 
different in different areas. In places like Falluja, there was a very 
strong tribal element. In fact, in a place as tribal as that, it would 
be very difficult to have any movement, military or political, that 
wasn't tribal.

In the villages, often the resistance was really just the local young 
men. I remember in April of this year, I was caught up in an ambush on 
the road west of Baghdad, between Abu Ghraib and Falluja. The U.S. army 
hadn't realized that the road had fallen to the resistance, and I was 
caught up in an ambush of trucks carrying gasoline to U.S. forces.

We got out of the car and lay on the ground. And when we were escaping, 
it was very noticeable that all the young men were running with their 
guns from villages nearby, shouting to us and other cars, "Where's the 
fighting, where's the fighting?" This was very much a local militia in 

What happened in Falluja has been exaggerated in the newspapers and on 
television. You see these great satellite maps showing Falluja, as if 
this was Stalingrad or the Battle of Berlin in 1945.

Falluja is kind of a one-horse town--it's not that big. You could walk 
across it in about half an hour.

And just at the moment that the U.S. troops were moving into Falluja, 
suddenly, most of Mosul--a city in the north, which is at least five or 
six times the size of Falluja--fell to the insurgents. Most of the 
police went home or changed sides.

This is far more important in some ways than what's happened in Falluja. 
But Falluja was drummed up as a media spectacular, and therefore, what's 
happened in the rest of the country got much less publicity.


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