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Tariq Ali says the US is "Getting away with murder in Iraq"

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  • Tarek Fatah
    July 14, 2004 Getting away with murder in Iraq By Tariq Ali Green Left Weekly, Australia http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/2004/589/589p14.htm Before the war,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 11, 2004
      July 14, 2004

      Getting away with murder in Iraq

      By Tariq Ali
      Green Left Weekly, Australia
      http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/2004/589/589p14.htm

      Before the war, they said Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” that
      threatened the West. Those of us who opposed the war said this was a lie. US
      President George Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Australian PM
      John Howard thought that if they magnified the untruth people would believe
      it. They didn't. Now it's official. No weapons of mass destruction existed
      in Iraq.

      Then we were told the people of Iraq would welcome the “liberation”. Some of
      us warned there would be a resistance and were accused of living in the
      past. The resistance emerged and exposed the weaknesses of the occupation.

      US military leaders then said that the resistance was simply “remnants of
      the old regime” and was being led by Saddam Hussein, and that once he was
      apprehended, the problems would be manageable. We said that after the
      capture of Saddam, the resistance would grow even more.

      It is now obvious to all but the politically blind that with the partial
      exception of the Kurdish tribal leaders, the bulk of Iraqis want the West
      out of their country. The uprisings in southern Iraq last April showed how
      tenuous the grip of the occupation had become.

      Will the citizens of the warmonger states now follow the Spanish example and
      punish their leaders, or are memories so short these days that lies are
      either considered insignificant or forgotten? An alert, intelligent and
      vigilant citizenry needs to make sure its leaders do not get away with
      murder.

      The US has already lost the war of images. Saddam's statue being torn down
      by US military equipment and a handful of mercenaries in a city of several
      million people did not exactly recall the Berlin Wall. It is the photographs
      of torture (now referred to casually in sections of the Western media as
      “abuse”) that have become the symbol of the war and the colonial occupation.

      An alert, intelligent and vigilant citizenry needs to make sure its leaders
      do not get away with murder.

      Any people that has suffered colonial rule knows that torture has been part
      and parcel of imperial policy. When the news surfaced, Gerry Adams, the Sinn
      Fein leader, described in a newspaper article how he had been stripped and
      humiliated by the British. Numerous Palestinians described what was still
      going on in the Israeli gulags. It was the citizens of the West who were
      surprised. They had forgotten what their leaders had done for most of the
      20th century.

      The “transfer of sovereignty” to Iraqis is, of course, another whopper. The
      irony in this case is that, as all Iraqis remember, this is a farcical
      repeat of what the British did after World War I when they received a League
      of Nations mandate to run Iraq. When the lease expired they kept their
      military bases and dominated Iraqi politics. The British embassy in Baghdad
      made the key decisions.

      Now, after June 30, it is the US embassy playing this role and John
      Negroponte, a tried and tested colonial official, who watched benignly as
      the death squads created mayhem in Central America, is the de facto ruler of
      Iraq. The former CIA agent, Ayad Allawi, who worked as a low-level police
      spy for the Saddam regime and was responsible for handing over the names of
      numerous dissidents, will be the new “prime minister”. How can even the most
      naive camp-follower of the US empire regard this operation as a transfer of
      sovereignty?

      Allawi has declared that what is needed is a tough policy to restore order.
      And tame commentators are already beginning to parrot that Arabs prefer
      strongmen to democracy. If Allawi fails, as he will, then like the fallen
      fraudster Ahmed Chalabi, he, too, will be removed. Both men are time-servers
      who, at a single nod from the conqueror, will sink into primitive obscurity.

      The wealth and military strength of the US may enable it to buy the services
      and support of poorer and weaker states, but that will not stop the
      resistance in Iraq.

      It was the Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most senior Shiite cleric in Iraq,
      who first raised the demand for an elected constituent assembly to determine
      the future constitution in the country. His supporters argued it was no big
      problem to prepare an electoral register since the citizens were already
      registered for receiving food subsidies from the old regime. But this demand
      was rejected. It was too early for democracy. The people were traumatised.

      US ideologues such as Samuel Huntington now speak of the “democratic
      paradox”. The paradox is the fact that people might elect governments
      unfriendly to the US.

      And few doubt that the two key demands of any genuinely elected government
      in Iraq would be (a) the withdrawal of all foreign troops and (b) Iraqi
      control of Iraqi oil. It is this that unites a large bulk of the country,
      and I am convinced that the Kurdish leaders at present engaged in dangerous
      manoeuvres with Israel will be isolated in their own territory if they carry
      on in this fashion.

      Nothing has changed in Iraq after June 30. It is a make-believe world where
      things are made to mean what the occupiers want them to mean and not what
      they really are. It is the Iraqi resistance that will determine the future
      of the country. It is their actions targeting both foreign soldiers and
      corporate mercenaries that have made the occupation untenable. It is their
      presence that has prevented Iraq from being relegated to the inside pages of
      the print media and forgotten by TV. It is the courage of the poor of
      Baghdad, Basra and Fallujah that has exposed the political leaders of the
      West who supported this enterprise.

      The only response the US has got left is to increase the repression, but
      whether Negroponte will go in for the big kill before the US presidential
      election remains to be seen.

      It might be a risky enterprise.
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