[Marxism] (no subject)

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat Apr 1 15:54:04 MST 2006

The key points in this analysis seem sound to me.  The key thought is
unchallengeably correct: "The possibility of civil war in Iraq is not
the result of mismanagement on the part of the Bush administration or
some inherent hostility in Iraq society; civil war, rather,k is and has
always been the favored alternative should the United States fail to
dominate Iraq politically.  The pirates of both the Right and Left side
of the establishment agreed before hand that if they could not steer the
ship they would sink it."

What we are seeing is a US drive to break up and destroy Iraq as a
nation because the US could not conquer it.  Washington's  ally and
militarized dependency Israel, has COMMON INTERESTS with Washington on
this matter, for reasons partly its own) 

The exposure and collapse of what the US is doing to Iraq is still quite
possible, and is the key to completing the defeat of the attack on
independent Iraq.
Fred Feldman


March 31, 2006

Iraq is Not in Civil War (Yet)

Iraq is Under Occupation


The inability to talk about Iraq in an appropriate context has been one
of the greatest setbacks to the anti-war movement here in the United
States of America, and to describe Iraq solely in terms of being in
civil war contributes to this problem. Iraq is under occupation and the
current rivalry between what are indeed Iraqi factions has to be
interpreted within this context. The possibility of civil war in Iraq is
not the result of mismanagement on the part of the Bush administration
or some inherent hostility in Iraqi society; civil war, rather, is and
has always been the favored alternative should the United States fail to
dominate Iraq politically. The pirates of both the Right and Left side
of the establishment agreed before hand that if they could not steer the
ship they would sink it.

As early as 2002 prominent Americans made civil war part and parcel of
the ideology leading up to war in 2003. As the Bush administration
prepared for war, figures like the Secretary of State Madeline Albright
and Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, both former members of the Clinton
administration, helped establish "acceptable" possibilities for the
war's outcome. Both Albright and Holbrooke belabored the point that Iraq
is an "artificial" country, a product of British colonialism, and as
soon as Saddam Hussein was toppled, the US would face the sectarianism
and racism supposedly inherent in Iraq's composition (it must be noted
that the assertion of Iraq's artificiality is simplistic). Implicit and
at times explicit in Albright and Holbrooke's analysis is that when all
was said and done Iraq should be broken up into three parts. After the
British (and French) plan to divide the Muslim world into small
dependent states after World War One was going to be adjusted by the
US's plan to divide Iraq into even smaller and more dependent oil rich
states, similar to the Gulf states, an irony apparently lost on all. Or
was it?

As soon it was clear that the Bush administration was going to invade
Iraq back in 2002, the voices of the mainstream Left were busy insuring
that the option to break up Iraq was firmly embedded in American
discourse rabout the war. The implication that Iraq is an artificial
country established the possibility that it could be broken up if things
were not to go as planned, i.e. if the country could not be dominated
easily. The breaking up of Iraq is useful in several important ways:
First, it is easier to dominate the oil of smaller weaker states than
larger ones and, secondly, Iraq has always posed the greatest threat to
Israel. The breaking up of Iraq would facilitate many of the long-term
visions of Israel, not to mention the most important one, which is of
course shared with the United States-the effort to definitively
eradicate the residues of Arab nationalism and put to an end the
emergence of Islamism.

Whatever the reader may think of these two overlapping political trends,
they share a common aspiration for Arab independence from Western
neo-imperialism and Iraq is the most important Arab-Muslim country in
this regard. Baghdad was seen, indeed up to the war, as one of the
cultural capitals of the Arab world, a perennial home to Arab
nationalism and an open minded Islamism. Whereas the American Left was
citing Iraq's diversity as a point of weakness, it has traditionally
been a matter of strength. Iraq is the only country in the Muslim world
that can speak to Sunnis and Shiites, Arabs and non-Arabs alike. Whereas
Saudi Arabia and Iran have produced little more than sectarian
ideologues, Iraq has always harbored a greater mosaic of intellectuals.
It is true of course that Saddam Hussein suppressed intellectual
freedom, but the predictable dictatorship of Saddam has now been
replaced by the capricious tyranny of mysterious government-backed death
squads and corrupt, US-backed, ministers. Imprinted on the rubble of a
ruined Iraq are the footprints of her intellectuals fleeing the
country-a brain drain of enormous magnitude. It is no accident that one
of the main targets of the death squads has been Iraq's professional
class, including scientists and professors. Iraq is not yet in civil
war; the violence we currently see in the country is, rather, an
indication that the option to destroy Iraq is constantly being
cultivated for activation.

With the dismemberment of Iraq's bureaucratic, economic and security
infrastructures, the practical experience of Iraqi civil society has
been rendered inaccessible and by extensions is brusquely being removed
from civil consciousness. With the infrastructures of Iraq absent, what
once held up a sense of civic society is now being replaced with of a
sectarian nature. The average Iraqi is no sectarian. What we have rather
is the importation of sectarianism along with ex-patriots, many of whom
had not been in the country for thirty years. Politicians such as
Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, Ibrahim al-Jafaari or even the secularist Ahmed
Chalabi had little to do with Iraq when they came in with the Americans,
without possession of any practical representative power they all took
recourse in the realm of abstract sectarianism.

As Mike Whitney has recently pointed out in an excellent piece in
Counterunch the discussion of civil war in Iraq has been a
"self-fulfilling prophecy." The American backed members of the current
Iraqi government have played a vital role in this self-fulfillment. By
continually emphasizing sect and ethnicity these politicians have
compensated for their lack of political experience and, furthermore,
sought to substantiate the political parties to which they belong. The
Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq had been operating
outside of the country for decades. The longer it remained in Iran, the
more it ascended towards abstract sectarian ideological polemic and the
further away from the more complex reality of Iraq. As we can see
Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the current leader of SCIRI, is one of the most
divisive figures in the country. Hizb'Dawa is a more complicated case,
begun in Iraq with the guidance of the great philosopher and theologian
Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr (an uncle to Muqtada as-Sadr), this party has
always been more inclusive of various legal schools; although largely
Shi'ite in composition, the Dawa party has boasted Kurdish and Sunni
members as well, including members who fought the Americans in Falluja.
The current split in the Dawa party can be traced along the historical
path of its members, the lower-level activists who remained and operated
in Iraq against Saddam Hussein continue to be staunchly opposed to the
US occupation and sectarianism. The higher levels of the party,
personified by figures like al-Jafaari (who fled to Iran), simply became
more disconnected from actual Iraqi society. Having little actual
political resonance, al-Jafaari, like al-Hakim, relies on sectarianism
to carry forth his supposed ability to represent a large segment of
Iraqi society.

This dynamic is replicated by the fighters coming in from across the
Muslims world who relate to the conflict in more purely ideological
terms rather than the simple instinct to defend one's land from foreign
invasion, an instinct readily evident amidst both Sunnis and Shiites of
Iraq. The mainstream media has focused on the closed circle of elites,
who are linked by an affiliation with the Americans, atop the current
Iraqi government or more fantastic figures like al-Zarqawi, a figure
whose actual influence is highly in doubt, at the expense of the many
nationalistic figures opposed to the occupation and who represent all
facets of Iraqi society. 

It is true that personal attacks of a sectarian type are now beginning
to emerge in the country, however these in no way, at least as yet,
represent a large scale social trend. When we consider the political
dynamic just described in conjunction with the menacing insecurity
introduced and perpetuated by the Americans it is perfectly natural that
the ideology of sectarianism will be affective, and effective, to some
extent. This does not mean, however, that it is inevitable. What we have
are two opposing ideological forces currently in operation, on the one
hand a government that depends on sectarianism for its justification and
on the other, non-Iraqi fighters who make up only 2 to 5 per cent of the
armed opposition anyway. In the middle is actual Iraq personified by
figures like al-Khalassi, as-Sadr, al-Dhari and al-Kubaysi, all of whom
command far greater respect amongst Iraqis, staunchly defend Iraq's
unity and are conveniently ignored by the media. 

Opponents of the war must be sensitive to what it means to say Iraq is
in civil war. It means that Iraqis are an enemy to themselves, not the
occupational forces. Until recently, every time the possibility of civil
war in Iraq has come up it has never been in conjunction with a
discussion about an American withdrawal, but rather as a reason for the
Americans to remain. So long as we describe Iraq in terms of civil war
we miss the more fundamental point that Iraq is under an illegal
occupation. The civil war premise can only elicit two possible political
outcomes: First, the premise asserts that the Iraqis are enemies of one
another, thus the US occupation must continue to keep the peace. This
absurd suggestion not only fails to acknowledge how we arrived at the
current level of violence but also actually absolves the Bush
administration of its heinous crime of invading Iraq in the first place.
The occupation is presented as more of a peace keeping mission that what
it actually was, a blatant act of greed and destruction. The other
political outcome is to suggest that Iraq should ultimately be broken
up, an option that has persisted beneath the surface of American policy
and also seeks to satisfy imperial ambitions. Dividing Iraq into three
countries helps eliminate a potentially independent Arab-Muslim state
and, I would argue, the most important such state, as greater economic
independence in the Middle East and North Africa could actually develop
around it.

Iraq is not in civil war; Iraq is under occupation. Some parties have
acquiesced in American dominance and cooperated with the American
authorities in an effort to gain power, others have not and have
violently opposed Iraqis who have. What there is in Iraq is a political
spectrum where at one hand there are those adamantly opposed to the
occupation and at the other those who support it, a tension that becomes
more entrenched the longer troops remain. With the increased emphasis on
a "civil war" in Iraq the narrative is taking a momentous turn and
casting a shadow on the continued presence of hundreds of thousands of
occupying troops; meanwhile casting greater light on the supposed
tensions within Iraqi society. Equally shaded by the new narrative of
civil war are the ideologues and politicians, lifted to power by the US,
who have been imposing a sectarian framework on the country from above
since the beginning. The dichotomy between continued occupation and
civil war leaves the anti-war movement speechless as neither alternative
is desirable. It must be remembered, however, that this dichotomy is as
much a fiction as the many others that have sought to justify the
American occupation. It must be remembered that the root of current
developments in Iraq is the illegal invasion and occupation of the
country; the occupation must be eradicated if one sincerely hopes to
keep the peace in Iraq.

Laith Al-Saud is a college lecturer in the social sciences.

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