is now near-universal agreement that the western occupation of Iraq
has turned out to be an unmitigated disaster; first for the people
of Iraq, second for the soldiers sent by scoundrel politicians to
die in a foreign land.
The grammar of deceit utilised by Bush, Blair and sundry neocon/neolib
apologists to justify the war has lost all credibility. Despite
the embedded journalists and non-stop propaganda, the bloody images
refuse to go away: the immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops
is the only meaningful solution. Real history moves deep within
the memory of a people, but is always an obstacle to imperial fantasists:
the sight of John Reid and the Iraqi prime
minister brought back memories of Anthony Eden and Nuri Said in
Downing Street just before the 1958 revolution that removed the
British from Iraq.
argument that withdrawal will lead to civil war is slightly absurd,
since the occupation has already accelerated and exacerbated ethnic
and religious tensions in Iraq. Divide and rule is the deadly
logic of colonial rule - and signs that the US is planning an
exit strategy coupled with a long-term presence is evident in
the new Iraqi constitution, pushed through by US proconsul Zalmay
This document is a defacto division of Iraq into Kurdistan (a
US-Israeli protectorate), Southern Iraq (dominated by Iran) and
the Sunni badlands (policed by semi-reliable ex-Baathists under
state department and Foreign Office tutelage). What is this if
not an invitation to civil war? The occupation has also created
a geopolitical mess. Recent events in Basra are linked to a western
fear of Iranian domination. Having encouraged Moqtada al-Sadr's
militias to resist the slavishly pro-Iranian faction, why are
the British surprised when they demand real independence?
argument that withdrawal
will lead to civil war is slightly absurd,
since the occupation has already
accelerated and exacerbated ethnic
and religious tensions in Iraq.
Iranian mullahs, meanwhile, are chuckling - literally. Some months
ago, when the Iranian vice-president visited the United Arab Emirates
for a regional summit, he was asked by the sheikhs whether he
feared a US intervention in Iran. The Iranian leader roared with
laughter: "Without us, the US could never have occupied Afghanistan
or Iraq. They know that and we know that invading Iran would mean
they would be driven out of those two countries."
there is the war at home. A war against civil liberties masked
as a defence against terror. In the face of terror attacks one
particular mantra, shrouded in untruth, is repeated: "We shall
not permit these attacks to change our way of life." But they
do. "Oh, may no more a foreign master's rage/ With wrongs yet
legal, curse a future age!" wrote Alexander Pope.
Three centuries later, we have Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib and
Britain's own state security prison, Belmarsh, in which some of
those held indefinitely without trial have been driven mad and
transferred to Broadmoor. Nor should one forget the public execution
of Jean Charles de Menezes and the attempted cover-up that followed.
be no progress towards peace so long as Tony Blair remains prime
minister. He was re-elected with only 35 % of the popular vote
and barely a fifth of the overall electorate - the lowest percentage
secured by any governing party in recent European history.
Britain is undergoing a crisis of representation: a majority of
the population opposed the war in Iraq; a majority favours withdrawing
British troops; 66% believe that the attacks on London were a
direct result of Blair's decision to send troops to Iraq. All
good reasons why we march and demand an end to war, occupation
and terror on Saturday.
Tariq Ali is a vice-president of the Stop the War Coalition, whose
peace and liberty demonstration will take place in London tomorrow;
his new book, Rough Music: Blair / Bombs / Baghdad / London /
Terror, is published by Verso next month. [email protected]
The above first appeared in The Guardian (Sept 23, 2005).
+ + + + +
Gore-for-porn swap by US soldiers in Iraq makes Abu Ghraib look
like kid stuff.
BRITAIN TO PULL TROOPS FROM IRAQ
confident withdrawal will start in May. Plan follows pressure
for exit strategy. The Observer article is here:
here to order Tariq Ali books.
Other articles by Tariq Ali:
A Viler Barbarism
The Price Of Occupation
The New Ultra-Imperialism Of The World
"They Think God Runs The IMF"
Imperial Delusions: "Domocracy Promotion" And Resistance
The New Model Of Imperialism: Saddam On Parade
The Importance Of Hugo Chavez: Why He Crushed The Oligarchs
Getting Away With Murder
The War Is Not Going Well For Bush