Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Some Comments on Iraq

For once, the Bush Administration is right on Iraq. Bush is arguing that Iraq is the focal point of the global war on terror. Putting aside the quibbles that the war is in fact a terrorist war and that a "war on terror" makes about as much sense as a war on hangnails (bite those damn things all you want, they'll just get worse), he is very much correct.

And, as terrorologists recognize, this is entirely his Administration's fault, as well as the Congress (both the Kerry Democrats and the Frist Republicans) that supported his drive to war in violation of the Constitution and international law. (Let me note that, while I have my problems with law in general and international law in particular, one of those problems is not that those laws constrain states from imperial aggression or make the world safer, and in any respect hypocrisy, such as the type evidence by "law and order" conservatives blasting law using the reasoning of any anarchist, should be opposed whenever possible.)

An NPR report today interviewed a number of people who were agreeing that Zarqawi and others are using the Iraq war to rally radical Islamist sentiment and demonstrate that the Western world is imperially and heavy-handedly attacking the House of Islam. In fact, allegedly Zarqawi wrote in a captured letter that his worst nightmare was in fact a withdrawal of US troops.

The questions that were being asked were, "Why is suicide bombing used? What is its intent in Iraq?" The answer to the first is fairly easy: Suicide bombing is overwhelmingly used by desperate people in a national resistance movement responding to the invasion of another country. It only becomes sectarian or religious when there is a difference between the two groups (and, I would say, when one is declaring a "crusade" on the other). The answer to the second is a little more contentious. Some say that the bombings are designed to foment civil war. Others point to the fact that 75% are targetted against the US or the government forces and 25% against civilians (mostly in Baghdad), believing this demonstrates that the attempt is to undermine confidence in the government and establish a "winner's win" trend for the insurgency.

Here's an article on the civil war pressures in Iraq: http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=8075

Now. Let me point something out. That, while these suicide bombers' acts are human catastrophes, so are the deaths of the suicide bombers themselves. If one cannot expand one's compassion to include that suffering, one should not be surprised when others do not extend the same compassion to one's friends and family. In any respect, these suicide bombing actions, while perhaps being done by extremists (often not), are acts of resistance to illegitimate occupations. One can oppose both the bombings and the occupation without being inconsistent, I believe.

This point was not made by the NPR pundits, but the

And before someone throws the charge that I'm supporting Iraqi fratricide, remember that the Israeli and American resistances, to pick two at random, also were highly fratricidal.

The amazing thing is the audacity that conservatives have in defending their ideological fantasies. They allege frequently that the Left is a cult that simply reaffirms itself. This could or could not be true, of course, and one that I'm afraid of (especially given that the information I get often comes from a very few sources, largely because other outlets don't cover the story). One test would be a prediction. I was predicting that terror would increase, WMDs would not be found, looting of suspect material would occur, and the entire endeavor would be a mask for globalization and colonization. Well, gee. Perhaps the insular and circular cult is the conservatives themselves? Read Horowitz and Chomsky side by side and I think you'll see a qualitative difference: on one hand, polemics; on the other, qualified and nuanced arguments. (Horowitz could be right and Chomsky wrong, but the first litmus test for cultishness, that it is deliberately written to piss off everyone of the "opposite camp" and appeal to preconceived sensibilities with little evidence, is passed pretty well. And I should point out that other conservatives are very much more bipartisan and rational, and many leftists are equally cultish and polemical).

On the colonization and globalization side of the question, here are some articles: http://www.ifg.org/analysis/globalization/IraqTestimony.html

And a resolution for the withdrawal of American troops:

(I have yet to find a good site listing the arguments between someone who believes the war is democratizing and others who do not).

I can also see some apologist for state violence argue that globalization will in the end benefit the people of Iraq. As Chomsky argued when Perle made a similar argument, that is not the decision of anyone outside of Iraq to make. We can have academic discussions about the political and economic path that Iraq should take, but overwhelmingly such discussions should only broach onto the policy choices that Iraqis make if they choose it. After all, even if corporate "globalization" was an appropriate economic choice in general (which I and others have, I think, fairly convincingly shown that it isn't, both according to its own theoretical models and its practical results which have nothing to do with the overblown theory), it may not be in Iraq.

Later on in the show, a RAND Corporation analyst came on and argued that democratization of the Middle East, while a lofty goal, should be foresworn in favor of stability moves. While as a Buddhist I would like less conflict, as an anarchist I would prefer freedom before stability. (This commentator alleged that "we" were trying to stop the genocide in Bosnia... the genocide that we caused and supported. Odd way to stop it.) He also argued that neighboring nations, right now supporting Sunnis or Shiites against each other, must be brought on board for a peace process.

The main reason I am receptive, with the appropriate caveats, to this proposal is that it involves power-sharing between ethnic groups; in short, the very federation that this country's democracy has been founded upon. Strange how selective this export of democracy is, hmm?

I will paraphrase a black man cited in the Progressive, whose one sentence is more eloquent than most of this post: You can't export what you don't got.


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