Good article by Tariq Ali
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Here's a good one by the Pakistani leftist Tariq Ali.
Whatever else he might have said or written, this is a
Business as usual
The UN has capitulated. Now let the north's plunder of
the south begin again
Saturday May 24, 2003
Unsurprisingly, the UN security council has
capitulated completely, recognised the occupation of
Iraq and approved its re-colonisation by the US and
its bloodshot British adjutant. The timing of the mea
culpa by the "international community" was perfect.
Yesterday, senior executives from more than 1,000
companies gathered in London to bask in the sunshine
of the re-established consensus under the giant
umbrella of Bechtel, the American empire's most
favoured construction company. A tiny proportion of
the loot will be shared.
So what happened to the overheated rhetoric of Europe
v America? Berlusconi in Italy and Aznar in Spain -
the two most rightwing governments in Europe - were
fitting partners for Blair while the eastern European
states, giving a new meaning to the term "satellite"
which they had previously so long enjoyed, fell as one
into line behind Bush.
France and Germany, on the other hand, protested for
months that they were utterly opposed to a US attack
on Iraq. Schr�der had owed his narrow re-election to a
pledge not to support a war on Baghdad, even were it
authorised by the UN. Chirac, armed with a veto in the
security council, was even more voluble with
declarations that any unauthorised assault on Iraq
would never be accepted by France.
Together, Paris and Berlin coaxed Moscow too into
expressing its disagreement with American plans. Even
Beijing emitted a few cautious sounds of demurral. The
Franco-German initiatives aroused tremendous
excitement and consternation among diplomatic
commentators. Here, surely, was an unprecedented rift
in the Atlantic alliance. What was to become of
European unity, of Nato, of the "international
community" itself if such a disastrous split
persisted? Could the very concept of the west survive?
Such apprehensions were quickly allayed. No sooner
were Tomahawk missiles lighting up the nocturnal
skyline in Baghdad, and the first Iraqi civilians cut
down by the marines, than Chirac rushed to explain
that France would assure smooth passage of US bombers
across its airspace (as it had not done, under his own
premiership, when Reagan attacked Libya), and wished
"swift success" to American arms in Iraq. Germany's
cadaver-green foreign minister Joschka Fischer
announced that his government, too, sincerely hoped
for the "rapid collapse" of resistance to the
Anglo-American attack. Putin, not to be outdone,
explained to his compatriots that "for economic and
political reasons", Russia could only desire a
decisive victory of the US in Iraq.
Washington is still not satisfied. It wants to punish
France further. Why not a ritual public flogging
broadcast live by Murdoch TV? A humbled petty
chieftain (Chirac) bending over while an imperial
princess (Condoleezza Rice) administers the whip. Then
the leaders of a re-united north could relax and get
on with the business they know best: plundering the
south. The expedition to Baghdad was planned as the
first flexing of a new imperial stance. What better
demonstration of the shift to a more offensive
strategy than to make an example of Iraq. If no single
reason explains the targeting of Iraq, there is little
mystery about the range of calculations that lay
behind it. Economically, Iraq possesses the second
largest reserves of cheap oil in the world; Baghdad's
decision in 2000 to invoice its exports in euros
rather than dollars risked imitation by Hugo Chavez in
Venezuela and the Iranian mullahs. Privatisation of
the Iraqi wells under US control would help to weaken
Strategically, the existence of an independent Arab
regime in Baghdad had always been an irritation to the
Israeli military. With the installation of Republican
zealots close to Likud in key positions in Washington,
the elimination of a traditional adversary became an
attractive immediate goal for Jerusalem. Lastly, just
as the use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and
Nagasaki had once been a pointed demonstration of
American might to the Soviet Union, so today a
blitzkrieg rolling swiftly across Iraq would serve to
show the world at large that if the chips are down,
the US has, in the last resort, the means to enforce
The UN has now provided retrospective sanction to a
pre-emptive strike. Its ill-fated predecessor, the
League of Nations, at least had the decency to
collapse after its charter was serially raped.
Analogies with Hitler's blitzkrieg of 1940 are drawn
without compunction by cheerleaders for the war. Thus
Max Boot in the Financial Times writes: "The French
fought hard in 1940 - at first. But eventually the
speed and ferocity of the German advance led to a
total collapse. The same thing will happen in Iraq."
What took place in France after 1940 might give pause
to these enthusiasts.
The lack of any spontaneous welcome from Shias and the
fierce early resistance of armed irregulars prompted
the theory that the Iraqis are a "sick people" who
will need protracted treatment before they can be
entrusted with their own fate (if ever). Such was the
line taken by David Aaronovitch in the Observer.
Likewise, George Mellon in the Wall Street Journal
warns: "Iraq won't easily recover from Saddam's
terror" - "after three decades of rule of the Arab
equivalent of Murder Inc, Iraq is a very sick
society". To develop an "orderly society" and
re-energise (privatise) the economy will take time, he
insists. On the front page of the Sunday Times,
reporter Mark Franchetti quoted an American NCO: "'The
Iraqis are a sick people and we are the chemotherapy,'
said Corporal Ryan Dupre. 'I am starting to hate this
country. Wait till I get hold of a friggin' Iraqi. No,
I won't get hold of one. I'll just kill him.' " No
doubt the "sick society" theory will acquire greater
sophistication, but it is clear the pretexts are to
hand for a mixture of Guantanamo and Gaza in these
newly occupied territories.
If it is futile to look to the UN or Euroland, let
alone Russia or China, for any serious obstacle to
American designs in the Middle East, where should
resistance start? First of all, naturally, in the
region itself. There, it is to be hoped that the
invaders of Iraq will eventually be harried out of the
country by a growing national reaction to the
occupation regime they install, and that their
collaborators may meet the fate of former Iraqi prime
minister Nuri Said before them. Sooner or later, the
ring of corrupt and brutal tyrannies around Iraq will
be broken. If there is one area where the cliche that
classical revolutions are a thing of the past is
likely to be proved wrong, it is in the Arab world.
The day the Mubarak, Hashemite, Saudi and other
dynasties are swept away by popular wrath, American -
and Israeli - arrogance in the region will be over.
� Tariq Ali's new book, Bush in Babylon: Re-colonising
Iraq, will be published by Verso in the autumn
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