the Occupation, the United States and its allies - military and
ideological - referred to the Iraqi resistance as 'foreign elements'
'terrorists' or 'former loyalists of the Saddam regime'. This phraseology
has now become redundant and U.S. military spokesman are now referring
to the guerrillas as 'anti-Iraqi forces' as if to suggest that the
U.S., British, Spanish, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Italian, Japanese,
South Korean and Polish troops represent Iraq but the Iraqis who
resist the occupation are anti-Iraqi.
It's a strange
When the lies
utilised by Bush, Blair, Aznar and Berloscuni were publicly discredited
as no weapons of mass destruction emerged, the propaganda units
in all these countries and their favoured journalists changed their
line and argued: 'Well, perhaps there are no weapons, but we have
got rid of a tyrant and have brought democracy to Iraq.' Really?
the several thousand Iraqi civilians who died and those who are
still being killed, all talk of a meaningful democracy has faded.
The old imperial ideologue Samuel Huntington now talks of the 'democratic
paradox'. What is this beast? When democracy does not deliver what
the West wants it to deliver, it becomes a 'paradox'. And for capitalist
democracy today any challenge to the neo-liberal economic order
is a paradox. The Iraqis who don't like their health and education
system being privatised are 'living in the past'. The Iraqi traders
who despise the corporations that entered the country after the
Occupation are 'backward elements'. When foreign businessmen are
targeted, Iraqis of all social classes (excepting the collaborators)
rejoice. The foreign companies are perceived as a plague of locusts
arriving to devour an occupied country.
the lies utilised by Bush, Blair, Aznar and Berloscuni were
publicly discredited as no weapons of mass destruction emerged,
the propaganda units in all these countries and their favoured
journalists changed their line and argued: 'Well, perhaps
there are no weapons, but we have got rid of a tyrant and
have brought democracy to Iraq.' Really? Democracy?
that if Iraq were ever permitted democracy, the elected representatives
would insist on the removal of all Iraqi troops, Iraqi control of
Iraqi oil and possibly a long-term peace treaty with Iran. None
of this would serve imperial interests. And Henry Kissinger and
other vultures are suggesting the Balkanisation of Iraq. Hence the
talk of an impending civil war. Hence the provocation of blowing
up the pilgrims at Kerbela (a crime denied by every group in Iraq).
Neither the Sunni nor the Shia clerics or the secular forces of
Sunni and Shia origin are talking in terms other than the unity
of Iraq against the colonial occupier. Ayotollah Sistani has had
meetings with Sunni leaders to stress his belief in a united country
and in private he has insisted that the Iranian model of clerical
rule would be a disaster for Iraq. Moqtada Al-Sadr speaks of liberating
Iraq, not the Shia.
Over the last
two weeks it has become clear that with the exception of the Kurdish
leaders, the rest of the country is against the Occupation and wants
to end it immediately. Within the Shia religious groups there is
now an open struggle for the support of the masses in Southern Iraq.
The decision by the Occupation to provoke the citizens of Fallujah
(two days before the U.S. mercenaries were attacked and brutally
killed, there had been a marine assault and civilians had died).
Why was al-Sadr's
newspaper banned by the Occupation? When words are disallowed, bombs
What we are
witnessing in Iraq is the logic of a colonial occupation. Listen
to the bells tolling in Fallujah and Basra. They toll for those
liberal and left-liberal journalists in Italy who denounced the
resistance as 'terrorists' when Italian occupation personnel were
targeted. They were there for 'humanitarian' purposes we were told.
Well the mask is now off and the elected leader of the Italian people
has said that Italians in Iraq will fight for Bush and die for Bush
and kill for the Empire.
was al-Sadr's newspaper banned by the Occupation? When words
are disallowed, bombs replace them...
And in this
situation, the Democratic Socialists voted for war credits in Parliament.
Against the war, but for the Occupation? This desperation to be
seen as a party of the Centre puts them on the right of the Spanish
socialists. Quite happy to defeat Sergio Cofferati and disappear
him, but reluctant to seriously challenge Berloscuni's involvement
in the war. And then the DS leaders are surprised when antiwar demonstrators
express their anger and disillusion.
Iraq and its citizens continue to suffer. The poet Sinan Anton recently
read a poem in Baghdad which evoked the current atmosphere:
a long procession
Cities pat its shoulders
as palm trees weep
by al-Sadr and his supporters to join the resistance has brought
hundreds of thousands of people on to the streets, posing a new
challenge to the Occupation. It's no use for Westerners to shed
hypocritical tears for Iraq or to complain that the Iraqi resistance
does not meet the high standards of Western liberalism. Which resistance
When an Occupation
is ugly, the resistance cannot be beautiful, except in a Hollywood
movie or an Italian comedy. And if the religious parties dominate
the South of Iraq it is partially due to the fact that the U.S.
and Britain have been supporting some of them with money and weapons
for the last 12 years.
according to many on the Centre-Left is to hand over the country
to the United Nations. This happened in 1924 when the British ruled
Iraq via a League of Nations Mandate, which they had organised.
The United States could easily get a similar mandate from the Security
Council and thus hope they can keep their military bases in the
country for another 20 years.
But what if
this time-honoured solution to maintain control while pretending
to the world that the locals are in charge of their own country
does not work? Then back to the bombings and the collateral damage
(civilian lives that do not matter to the West as we have seen in
Iraq and Afghanistan)? Yes, a good liberal might argue, but isn't
the UN better than the US? Depends on who controls and determines
what the UN does?
And who will
an Occupation is ugly, the resistance cannot be beautiful,
except in a Hollywood movie or an Italian comedy.
For the citizens
of countries whose governments and leaders have supported the war,
the priority must be to punish the warmongers, to follow the Spanish
example. If Aznar is followed to Valhalla by Berloscuni, Blair and
Bush it will be an important victory.
Then we will
have to mount a campaign to demand that their successors end the
Occupation. The only use of the UN could be as a face-saving device.
published in Italian in il manifesto.
latest book, Bush in Babylon: The Re-colonisation of Iraq, is published
by Verso. He can be reached at: [email protected]
In Babylon: The Recolonisation Of Iraq, Tariq Ali lays out the history
of the new imperialism and the resistance against empires. In this
article, he discusses the unprecedented US domination of the world.