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Shrubbyist Deceptions, America's Credulity, and the Betrayal of Iraq
I have heard wealthy, and by inference presumably intelligent, folks in Marin Co., California, suggest that such a thing as a "benign empire" of the US might exist - this by way of 'rationalizing' the Shrubbyist "foreign policy" of perpetual war. I was, to be sure, unable to visualize such a beast, and do not know what the standard for "benign" they had in mind was. I half hoped these folks were indulging in the delusory vision offered to us by talking heads on our TVs; that the Shrubbyist assertions that they were defending democratic virtues had some substance.
Such hopes are at best credulous. They are contradicted by the actual conduct of the Shrubbyist government in so many ways I will mention only these:
Saudi Princes, Radical Islamists, and Shrubbyist Oil Barons
Some have voiced the forlorn hope that the Shrubbyist drive for control over Iraq's oil is motivated by a desire to free the US from dependence on Saudi Arabian oil, and thus allow the development of democratic, pluralist, and tolerant Islamic regimes in the Mid East and elsewhere. Some have speculated about the possibility that a liberal, constitutional Hashemite monarchy would be restored in Iraq, to counter the Saudis. Folks, it aint gonna happen.
In all truth, it is impossible to believe that the ancient ties between the Saudis on the one hand and the Shrubbyists' oil baron supporters and Anglo-US oil interests on the other would allow such a result. Combined with these long-standing parallel economic interests is the Shrubbyist temperamental and ideological sympathy for anti democratic, contra enlightenment and anti pluralist religious fundamentalism. Shrubbyists have supported the Sharon regime and its religious extremist base in Israel, and they have strongly supported the BPP in India, with its base of Hindu religious extremism, the RSS -- they will do so in Saudi Arabia as well.
Together, these factors will lead the Shrubbyists to both continue to support the Saudi regime and undercut the possibilities for democracy in a post war Iraq. In the end "Halliburton's VP" and this government "of, by, and for Enron and Texaco" will fail to disentangle themselves from the Saudi regime. They will continue to ignore Saudi involvement in fomenting Islamist religious extremism and will fail to take action against wealthy Saudi princes who fund the fundamentalist Islamist (Wahabbist) schools which have been instrumental in radicalizing Islam throughout the world. These are the "Madrassas" which have provided the local base of support for terrorist organizations in Pakistan and the Taliban in Afghanistan, and which continue to provide a world wide recruitment source and operational base for Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda and its terrorism.
A "Final Solution" in Palestine?
A more likely scenario is that the occupation of Iraq after the war, coupled with its demoralization and depopulation by the war, will provide the Sharon/Shrubbyist axis of evil an opportunity to execute a "Final Solution" to the "Palestinian Problem" -- forced relocation of the Palestinian people from the West Bank and Gaza to Jordan and the reconstituted Iraq.
Despite the nominal "secular" nature of the Iraqi dictatorship it is in fact an empire of Biblical proportions, and based on Biblical social and political principles - the rule of the Tribal Patriarch, the subjugation of all peoples not members of the ruling tribe, and the capital punishment of any who question the authority of the Patriarch and his family. This is the very embodiment of the drive behind religious fundamentalisms (and the Mafia) -- the desire to project forward in time and human history a form of social organization which predates the invention by humanity of both agriculture and the city -- rule by a tribal Patriarchy of herdsmen and hunters. (Thus the "horsemen" of fearful tale and legend among peaceable agricultural and urban peoples - bringers of fire, pillage, rape, and death - Philip and Alexander, Mongols, armored Knights, Cossacks, cowboys and Indians, the Cavalry, Black Helicopters and stealth bombers - the whole sorry bit!)
Clearly, neither Saddam Hussein himself nor his government, of an entire nation by one tribal group, can be left in place in Iraq. In "secular" Iraq, Saddam is the new God King - anathema to both the Shrub and his unnameable alter ego, ObL. Saddam's family and his tribe, from the district and city of Tikrit, both dominate the military and hold the most significant political offices and power. The anti war movement has to face up to the fact that Iraqi exiles all over the world as well as Iraqi's within the country fervently desire the overthrow of his regime.
A failure to rid the nation of Saddam and his government will be a betrayal of tragic proportions in most Iraqi eyes. Kurds, Marsh Arabs, Chaldeans, Assyrians, and to a great extent the Shia Muslims have been economically disadvantaged and oppressed by Saddam's regime. (These injustices, however are not innovations by Saddam's regime, and in fact have long historical antecedents which will present significant difficulties in establishing a stable "future ... based on the three principles of democracy, federalism and community rights." "Declaration of the Shia of Iraq")
But the Shrubbyists are not to be trusted to bring the relief - democracy, tolerance, and pluralism - that the Iraqi peoples want and deserve. And Shrubbyist policies and strategies are neither designed, nor apparently intended, to do so.
This is all the more tragic because policies and strategies that could free all the Iraqi peoples and do so without the politically motivated drumbeat for the immediate use of overwhelming force ("Shock and Awe") are not only available, but are being advicated by our allies - while actively opposed by the Shrubbyists.
The Kurds - Betrayed by the US, Yet Again?
I am not sure whether I am more amused or distressed when I see Public Television's Charlie Rose (Real Audio Link) visibly struggling to understand why Europe is so suspicious of "American" intentions with respect to Iraq and the rest of the world "considering America's contributions in the past". Sorry, Charlie. The Shrubbyists are not to be, and absolutely must not be, confused with the America of Lincoln, Wilson, and Roosevelt. The Europeans understand this fact - it is just that simple.
As Paul Krugman pointed out in his open letter to Alan Greenspan, published in the New York Times on February 14,
"these guys are users: they persuade other people to squander their hard-won credibility on behalf of bad policies, then discard those people once they are no longer useful. Think of John DiIulio, or your friend Paul O'Neill. It's happening to Colin Powell right now. (A digression: The U.S. media are soft-pedaling it as usual, but the business of the Osama tape has destroyed Mr. Powell's credibility in much of the world. The tape calls Saddam Hussein an "infidel" whose "jurisdiction . . . has fallen," but says that it's still O.K. to fight the "Crusaders" — and Mr. Powell claims that it ties Saddam to Al Qaeda. Huh? All it shows is that Al Qaeda views a U.S. invasion of Iraq as an excellent recruiting opportunity.)"Much has been made by apologists for Shrubbyist war plans of the flowering of democratic institutions, culture, and the economy in Kurdistan under the umbrella of the UN imposed 'no-fly' zone since the 1990 Iraq war. But, we now see indications that the Kurds, or at least democracy in Kurdish Iraq, may no longer be useful to the Shrubbyists and are being discarded.
Last week, despite the supposed importance of the Kurds, one of the leaders of the Kurdish resistance was assassinated. Surely, with CIA teams operating in Iraq, and after the tragic loss of the great and beloved leader of the Afghan United Front, Ahmad Shah Massoud, only days before the 9-11 attack, simple 'due diligence' would have CIA or Special Forces protection in place for the Kurdish resistance leaders on whom we supposedly place so much hope.
And now we hear that the US is abandoning plans for democracy in Iraq 'after the war'. Surely by now even Americans who have been misled by Shrubbyist protestations that they are bringing democracy and freedom to the Iraqi peoples can see that there is no reason to support a strategy of that only brings perpetual war and destabilization.
An article describing the latest moves by the US follows - here are responses to these moves by Kurdish leaders:
"Conquerors always call themselves liberators," said Sami Abdul-Rahman, deputy prime minister of the Kurdish administration, in a reference to Mr. Bush's speech last week in which he said US troops were going to liberate Iraq.Read it and weep. We may not have elected the Shrub, but he is our burden to bear, for now at least.
Hoshyar Zebari, a veteran Kurdish leader, said: "If the US wants to impose its own government, regardless of the ethnic and religious composition of Iraq, there is going to be a backlash."
Mr. Zebari ... spoke scathingly of any attempt by America "to bring in an Iraqi from the United States who has not seen his country for years and impose him by armed force".
The Kurds fear that a US-led war against President Saddam might be the occasion for a Turkish effort to end the de facto independence enjoyed by Iraqi Kurds for more than a decade. One Kurdish leader said: "Turkey has made up its mind that it will intervene in northern Iraq in order to destroy us."
May god forgive us all.
February 17, 2003
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The US is abandoning plans to introduce democracy in Iraq after a war to overthrow Saddam Hussein, according to Kurdish leaders who recently met American officials.
The Kurds say the decision resulted from pressure from US allies in the Middle East who fear a war will lead to radical political change in the region.
The Kurdish leaders are enraged by an American plan to occupy Iraq but largely retain the government in Baghdad. The only changes would be the replacement of President Saddam and his lieutenants with senior US military officers.
It undercuts the argument by George Bush and Tony Blair that war is justified by the evil nature of the regime in Baghdad.
"Conquerors always call themselves liberators," said Sami Abdul-Rahman, deputy prime minister of the Kurdish administration, in a reference to Mr Bush's speech last week in which he said US troops were going to liberate Iraq.
Mr Abdul-Rahman said the US had reneged on earlier promises to promote democratic change in Iraq. "It is very disappointing," he said. "In every Iraqi ministry they are just going to remove one or two officials and replace them with American military officers."
Kurdish officials strongly believe the new US policy is the result of pressure from regional powers, notably Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
The US appears to be quietly abandoning earlier declarations that it would make Iraq a model democracy in the Middle East. In Iraq, free elections would lead to revolutionary change because although the Shia Muslims and Kurds constitute three-quarters of the population, they are excluded from power in Baghdad by the Sunni Muslim establishment.
Kurdish leaders are deeply alarmed by US intentions, which only became clear at a meeting in Ankara earlier in the month and from recent public declarations by US officials. Hoshyar Zebari, a veteran Kurdish leader, said: "If the US wants to impose its own government, regardless of the ethnic and religious composition of Iraq, there is going to be a backlash."
Mr Abdul-Rahman accuses the US of planning cosmetic changes in Iraq. "This is to give the government on a platter to the second line of Ba'athists [the ruling party]," he said.
The US appears to be returning to the policy it pursued at the end of the Gulf War in 1991. It did seek to get rid of President Saddambut wanted to avoid a radical change in Iraq. The US did not support the uprisings of Shia Muslims and Kurdsbecause it feared a transformation in Iraqi politics that might have destabilised its allies in the Middle East or benefited Iran.
The two Kurdish parties the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which rules western Kurdistan, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan are at the heart of the Iraqi opposition. Together they rule four million people in an area the size of Switzerland that has been outside President Saddam's control since 1991.
The change in American policy means marginalising the Iraqi opposition which has been seeking to unite. In response to the US decision, the Kurds and their allies have accelerated moves to hold a conference of opposition parties in Salahudin, the headquarters of the KDP, now scheduled for tomorrow. "We want to know if we are partners in regime change or not," Mr Zebari said.
He spoke scathingly of any attempt by America "to bring in an Iraqi from the United States who has not seen his country for years and impose him by armed force".
The destabilising impact of the impending war is already being felt in the mountains of northern Iraq. Turkey has demanded that its troops be allowed to take over a swath of territory along the border inside Iraq. The ostensible reason is to prevent a flood of Kurdish refugees trying to flee into Turkey, but the Kurdish parties say they are quite capable of doing this themselves. They say the Turkish demand, to which they suspect the US has agreed in return for the use of Turkish military facilities, is the first step in a Turkish plan to advance into Iraqi Kurdistan.
The Kurds fear that a US-led war against President Saddam might be the occasion for a Turkish effort to end the de facto independence enjoyed by Iraqi Kurds for more than a decade. One Kurdish leader said: "Turkey has made up its mind that it will intervene in northern Iraq in order to destroy us.
• Peace activists who want to be "human shields" arrived in Baghdad yesterday. The activists, who had 18 Britons among them, left London on 25 January in three double decker buses. They will deploy at likely bombing targets.
Patrick Cockburn is a visiting fellow at the Centre for Strategic
and International Studies in Washington and the co-author of 'Saddam Hussein:
An American Obsession'.
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