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Milan Rai Interview

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  • Dan Clore
    News for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo [Milan Rai is author of the excellent book _Chomsky s Politics_.--DC] Voices in the
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 7, 2002
      News for Anarchists & Activists:

      [Milan Rai is author of the excellent book _Chomsky's

      Voices in the Wilderness

      A Campaign to End the Economic Sanctions Against the People
      of Iraq

      Big Issue Scotland interview with Milan Rai

      Is conflict with Iraq inevitable?

      President Bush is absolutely determined to launch a major
      attack on Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein. He will do
      everything in his power to achieve this aim.

      He can be stopped, but only by considerable domestic and
      international pressure - and probably only if Britain
      deserts his side.

      What can people do to prevent it?

      Get informed so that you can refute the bogus arguments
      being put forward by the Government and its supporters.

      Use pressure on MPs, MSPs, on religious and other leaders,
      and campaign by extra-parliamentary means to force Tony
      Blair to disengage from the war effort and commit himself to
      the legal means available - negotiations and inspections -
      as a way of resolving the weapons issue.

      Pledge to carry out or support nonviolent direct action in
      the event of war (see http://www.banthebomb.org or
      http://www.justicenotvengeance.org ).

      Be confident - 56 per cent of people in the UK are opposed
      to war on Iraq, and that proportion is likely to be even
      higher in Scotland.

      What should the solution to the Saddam Hussein question be?

      The solution to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction is to
      re-establish the inspection and monitoring regime that was
      destroyed in 1998 when (a) the US ordered UNSCOM to leave
      and then bombed Iraq, and (b) the international community
      learned how US intelligence had used UNSCOM to spy on the
      leadership of Iraq.

      However the international community decides to solve the
      'Saddam Hussein question', we have to separate that from the
      question of sanctions and the humanitarian crisis they have
      created in Iraq. We must lift the economic sanctions now,
      unconditionally, to allow Iraq's children a chance to live,
      whatever we decide to do in relation to Iraq's leadership.
      The children of Iraq cannot be made to pay for policies they
      have no control over.

      Informed experts warn that the present leadership of Iraq is
      not the most angry or dangerous element of Iraqi politics -
      simply killing Saddam Hussein could just bring a more
      aggressive and hostile faction into power.

      Why should the British/Scottish public be sceptical about
      Blair and Bush's "incontrovertable evidence of weapons of
      mass destruction"?

      Because no hard evidence has been produced. Evidence from
      defectors is limited and in some cases suspect.

      David Albright, a former nuclear inspector in Iraq has lost
      faith in one Iraqi defector he previously sponsored: ‘If
      Hamza has become a monster, I partly blame myself. He had
      good information on what he knew about, but where we fell
      out was that I was concerned he was telling me stuff he had
      read elsewhere, including stuff he could have read in Time
      magazine.’ (Observer, 17 March 2002)

      Even if Saddam Hussein did possess such weapons, would it be
      an excuse for attacking Iraq?

      There is no legal basis for attacking a country because it
      has weapons - whatever kind of weapons they may be. The UN
      Charter only allows you to use force in self-defence against
      an armed attack across international borders.

      It may be possible to justify a pre-emptive military attack
      but only if the evidence is cast-iron that the enemy is
      preparing to attack you or your ally. In this case, the
      evidence is not only not cast-iron, it is non- existent.

      The only circumstance in which Iraq is likely to use
      whatever weapons of mass destruction it may possess is
      precisely in response to a US attack.

      The way to solve the weapons issue is to use the monitoring
      system of hundreds of cameras and inspections developed over
      seven years by UNSCOM to ensure that Iraq cannot develop
      these weapons. According to Scott Ritter, former chief
      weapons inspector for UNSCOM, as long as the monitoring
      programme is in place, Iraq is effectively disarmed.

      Do you think the 'leaks' from US sources about possible
      attack plans against Iraq are genuine or part of the
      propoganda war?

      The leaks are almost all genuine, but they represent
      different factions within the Administration, and the plans
      have not yet been amalgamated into a single agreed strategy.
      Incidentally, President Bush originally ordered this to
      happen by 15 April.

      Many of the leaks are also part of a propaganda war designed
      to bring about a coup in Baghdad by convincing the Iraqi
      military leadership that they are about to suffer tremendous
      destruction and defeat if they do not dispose of Saddam
      Hussein and his inner circle.

      What scenario is most likely in your eyes, and what would
      the results be?

      The course of events is completely unpredictable, and
      depends greatly on the strategy the US adopts. The worst
      case scenario would see

      (a) massive damage to the civilian infrastructure in Iraq
      once again, with the concomitant post-war deaths as a result
      of deteriorating water supplies, lack of power for
      hospitals, and so on;

      (b) a number of different civil wars inside Iraq;

      (c) Turkish and possibly other intervention into and
      occupation of Iraqi territory, increasing regional tension
      and the risk of further wars at some point;

      (d) a surprise massive defeat for US forces with a very
      large US death toll leading to the use of nuclear weapons;

      (e) the use of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction against
      Israel, triggering nuclear retaliation and a wider
      Arab-Israeli war.

      On the basis of the information available, and UNSCOM
      reports, it seems almost impossible for Iraq to retain or to
      have developed a functioning chemical or biological weapon.
      It is flatly impossible for Iraq to have a nuclear bomb.

      What are the benefits to US corporations (Bush donors) of
      continued regional instability?

      There is no benefit to US corporations in regional

      The idea of going to war is based on the assumption that
      regional instability can be crushed and contained at an
      acceptable level by US clients in the area.

      War on Iraq is designed in part to reinforce the aura of US
      domination and mastery of violence - 'credibility', in
      technical terms - which is supposed to reduce instability
      and increase US power and domination of the region's

      What are the real reasons that Bush and Blair want to attack
      Iraq? Is there an aspect of 'family revenge' for Bush, and
      for Blair is it because he seems to be losing some ground in
      the popularity stakes and the unions are being bolshy?

      Family revenge can be ruled out, in my view. Mr Blair knows
      this is an unpopular war - 56 per cent of British people
      oppose the war according to an April MORI poll in Time
      magazine - so that cannot be the reason.

      The US is committed to regaining control of Iraq's oil
      resources, and different factions within the US political
      mainstream have different strategies for achieving that.
      Currently the 'Prussians' are in charge, and they are using
      the 11 September effect to press for massive military
      intervention that would have been desirable (to them) but
      unachievable in the last twenty years.

      When President Reagan tried to mobilise the US for the
      invasion of El Salvador in 1981, he had to back off because
      of a large-scale, leaderless, spontaneous but highly
      committed popular opposition movement. That was called the
      Vietnam Syndrome (resisting war and aggression is a

      The hope among the Prussians is that this 'sickly
      inhibition' has now evaporated. The 'axis of evil' speech
      was entirely serious. There is a stream of candidates for
      annihilation, and President Bush means to destroy them all,
      one by one.

      The Prime Minister is caught in the traditional postwar
      British dilemma that Britain can only have Great Power
      status by attaching itself firmly either to the US or to
      some European bloc. For various reasons, Britain has always
      opted for Washington. The US and Britain are overdeveloped
      militarily and underdeveloped in terms of political
      strength. They will always seek to move international crises
      to the realm of violence where they can demonstrate their

      In America it seems there will be some semblance of 'public
      consultation' and congress debate over attacking Iraq -
      while in Britain the government has said there'll be no
      Commons debate; why do you think this is?

      It's a more democratic system.

      Is there anything you want to add?

      I've just finished a 240 page book called War Plan Iraq:
      Ten Reasons Why We Shouldn't Launch Another War Against Iraq
      It's due to come out mid-September and it will cost £12 in
      the shops, £10 direct from 'ARROW Publications', 29 Gensing
      Road, St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, TN38 0HE. Orders
      received before 11 September will be sent post-free in the

      Milan Rai is co-cordinator of Voices UK.

      Dan Clore

      Now available: _The Unspeakable and Others_
      All my fiction through 2001 and more. Intro by S.T. Joshi.

      Lord Weÿrdgliffe and Necronomicon Page:
      News for Anarchists & Activists:

      Said Smygo, the iconoclast of Zothique: "Bear a hammer with
      thee always, and break down any terminus on which is
      written: 'So far shalt thou pass, but no further go.'"
      --Clark Ashton Smith
    • Dan Clore
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo ZNet | Iraq The Occupation by Milan Rai UK Watch November 09, 2005 The following
      Message 2 of 2 , Nov 10, 2005
        News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

        ZNet | Iraq
        The Occupation
        by Milan Rai
        UK Watch
        November 09, 2005

        The following is an exclusive interview with long-time
        activist and writer Milan Rai. Milan is the author of 'War
        Plan Iraq' and 'Regime Unchanged' and a leading member of
        Justice Not Vengeance (http://www.j-n-v.org ). He is an
        advisor to UKWatch and a contributor to the UKWatch blog.

        UKWatch: The situation in Iraq appears to deteriorate by the
        day. The USAF have been carrying out bombing raids on Iraqi
        cities, and insurgent attacks occur just about everywhere
        outside of Anglo/American bases. Robert Fisk recently
        commented that Iraq is the most dangerous conflict there has
        ever been for journalists to cover. Some commentators argue
        that the "coalition" has already lost the war and that it is
        now a question of when the British and Americans withdraw
        rather than if. What is your reading of the current situation?

        Milan Rai: I don't believe that the US/UK have already lost
        the war. They may well lose the war, and be driven out by
        the scale of violence and chaos, but we are some way away
        from that right now.

        As various people have pointed out, success for insurgencies
        mostly consists of not being defeated and crushed. By that
        score the many-stranded insurgency is currently successful.
        It doesn't follow that it will continue to be successful, or
        that the occupation forces are being 'defeated'.

        What seems to be happening is that the actions of the
        occupation forces, and in particular the reckless
        pre-emptive violence of the US troops (under orders to
        eliminate any potential threat to their personal security),
        are steadily increasing the level of hatred and violence. At
        the same time there is growing sectarian and inter-ethnic
        violence, partly as a result of the policies of the
        occupation (using Kurdish guerrillas to assault Sunni cities
        like Fallujah, for example), and a very very high level of
        violent crime (which the occupation forces are unable to

        The current human, political and economic cost to the United
        States and Britain of the occupation is just about
        sustainable for the foreseeable future. So (ignoring
        possible pressure for change at home) we have three possible
        futures: go on like this for the next few years; a sharp
        rise in violence forcing the occupation forces out; or a
        decisive blow to the insurgency leading to a sharp reduction
        in violence, and a dramatic reduction in US/UK forces (what
        some people call an 'exit strategy' and what Donald Rumsfeld
        and Condoleeza Rice call a 'victory strategy').

        What's most likely out of those three options? At the
        moment, probably option 1: go on like this for the
        foreseeable future, with some political gains for the Iraqi
        people, growing discord, and unremitting violence. Hell.

        UKW: It is commonly argued by many press comentators that
        while the invasion may well have been wrong to withdraw
        troops now would be to subject the Iraqi population to the
        insurgents, who have certainly carried out many horrendous
        atrocities. What is your response? Should troops withdraw?

        MR: Let's distinguish first between the various kinds of
        insurgents and the different kinds of 'foreign troops' who
        might be in Iraq.

        Within the 'resistance', there is a division between the
        al-Qaeda element and the rest, and then divisions between
        other kinds of Islam-oriented militants, Ba'athists,
        non-Ba'athist nationalists, vendetta-pursuers, and so on. If
        all foreign forces were removed from Iraq, I think that
        there would almost certainly be an escalation in ordinary
        violent crime -- which is checked to a certain degree by the
        occupation and collaborator forces -- and a very serious
        risk of sectarian and ethnic violence on the scale of
        full-scale civil war.

        There would also be an attempt by the al-Qaeda elements to
        take control of the country along the lines of the Taliban
        takeover of Afghanistan. Would that be successful? Probably
        not, but the attempt would heighten the level of chaos and

        Should troops withdraw?

        Well, it is clear that US forces are part of the problem
        rather than part of the solution. British forces, by their
        direct and indirect support of US forces, because of their
        growing tendency to imitate the US approach, and through
        their own rather sordid record of abuse in southern Iraq,
        are also part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

        Iraq has not got a chance of a decent, viable society
        without withdrawal of these forces.

        On the other hand, Iraq may well need the presence of
        unbiased security forces, an international security presence
        in the country that is entirely free of US control.

        My own feeling (following to a large extent the thinking of
        Iraq expert Juan Cole) is that the least damaging way
        forward for Iraq is the total withdrawal of US/UK forces in
        a staged manner over several months, and their simultaneous
        replacement by UN forces (perhaps drawn from the Islamic
        Conference countries, from the Arab world, or from the
        uncontaminated countries of the EU).

        I stress that this is a replacement strategy. When the idea
        of UN forces is raised in mainstream discussion, it is
        generally in terms of a subordinate UN presence within a
        framework of continuing US control. This is a 'figleaf'
        strategy, and one that the UN, quite rightly, would not
        touch with a bargepole.

        UKW: Media reporting focusses on the crimes of the
        insurgents and largely ignores the violence of the British
        and Americans -- Medialens recently noted that the BBC
        devoted just nine seconds of coverage to the American
        bombing of Ramadi where, according to Iraqi sources, many
        civilians were killed. How do you view the current media
        coverage and is its depiction of the insurgents as by far
        the most dangerous force in Iraq accurate?

        MR: Media coverage of violence in Iraq is appalling, partly
        for the understandable reason that most journalists are
        terrified of doing the things that are necessary to really
        cover the story, but mostly because of ideological conformity.

        The depiction of insurgents as by far the most dangerous
        force in Iraq? Well, both Iraq Body Count and the Lancet
        Study published a year ago found that many more Iraqis
        were/are losing their lives because of military action by
        the occupation forces than because of military action by

        Then there is the huge toll of indirect deaths through, for
        example, the greater rate of fatal traffic accidents due to
        the high speeds and recklessness needed to avoid ambushes,
        hold-ups and curfew violations. These deaths are
        attributable to the ongoing occupation.

        UKW: Some on the left have argued that the Iraqi insurgents
        deserve our support since they are fighting an illegal and
        very brutal occupation. What is your view?

        MR: There is a right of resistance, whenever a country is
        occupied. This does not mean that every tactic is permitted,
        or that every vision of liberation is justifiable, or that
        every 'resistance' group is legitimate. In fact, many of the
        active groups are a serious problem for the Iraqi people.

        I do not accept, in fact I vehemently reject, the slogan
        'support the resistance' -- unconditionally.

        Secondly, what does it benefit anyone fighting in Iraq if
        someone here in comfort and safety says, 'I support the
        resistance' or 'We all should support the resistance'? If
        someone truly supports the resistance, they would be
        involved in directly assisting the resistance, or going to
        Iraq to fight. I find it distasteful to see, particularly,
        white people living in comfort urging brown people living in
        terrible danger to fight and die in the cause of
        'anti-imperialism'. If you really believe killing British
        and US soldiers is the way forward, then go and take the
        risks yourself, and do not rely on others to win your war
        for you.

        Thirdly, when someone living here and associated with the
        anti-war movement says 'I support the resistance', they do
        nothing to assist 'the resistance', but they do much to harm
        the cause of the anti-war movement and thus the cause of the
        Iraqi people, as people who might otherwise listen to us are
        less willing to listen to the arguments for withdrawal.

        UKW: Some anti-war activists and commentators have
        criticised the Stop the War Coalition for being
        undemocratic, overly centralised and for not helping to
        mobilise for direct action. Do you think this criticism is
        justified and what do you think the anti-war movement should
        be focussed upon now?

        MR: One can either criticise existing organisations, or one
        can try to improve them from within, or one can set up
        complementary/alternative organisations. The Stop The War
        Coalition has many achievements to its credit, and has also
        limited the movement in a number of ways. Those who are
        dissatisfied with it often accord it more power than it
        actually has or should possess.

        What should the anti-war movement be focussed on right now?
        Unlocking the majority opposition to the occupation, and
        turning the rather tentative and lukewarm discomfort people
        feel about the war into a powerful and angry force for
        change. I've got some ideas about how to do that, but I'll
        be writing about that at greater length in the next few weeks.

        UKW: There is much speculation that the United States is
        gearing up for an assault on Iran. Given how disastrous the
        occupation of Iraq has been and how deeply unpopular
        attacking Iran would be, (even Jack Straw has ruled out
        British support for such a move), how likely do you think it
        is that such an attack would happen?

        MR: I think it is extremely unlikely that there will be an
        invasion of Iran in the foreseeable future. Iran is big and
        its military is capable, unlike the poor state of sanctions
        Iraq. The US has learned from the Iraqi invasion of Iran two
        and a half decades ago.

        Might the US launch airstrikes and so on? Possibly.

        The most likely scenario, in my view, is another Orange
        Revolution-type situation, where the US appears to be
        backing youth, freedom, democracy, pop music, and other Good
        Things, as it tries to shake the establishment and secure
        the rule of thugs who will take orders from Washington.

        UKW: Some might argue that since the British presence in
        Iraq is so small our withdrawal would have little or no
        impact. What would be the impact of a unilateral British

        MR: Why was the US so desperate to have us in the invasion
        force? We were militarily insignificant in the original
        invasion plan, but politically we were critical to securing
        domestic acquiescence in the war -- Blair's on board, we
        have the backing of 'the international community'. Just so
        with the occupation. British withdrawal would set the alarm
        bells ringing in Washington and across the country.

        British withdrawal would help build pressure that might
        modify and restrain the US occupation forces. It would help
        to deter future wars.

        British withdrawal is crucial for the Iraqi people and for
        others under threat around the world.

        UKW: What are the Americans aiming for? What will they now
        settle for in Iraq?

        MR: Control. Residual US forces hunkered down in bases, tame
        Iraqi political institutions, obedient (often Saddam-era)
        military-intelligence-police-judicial formations that will
        enable US control of the country.

        UKW: You have written much recently on the governments
        response to the London bombings. How serious is the threat
        to human rights in this country? What should concerned
        people do about that threat?

        MR: The threat is very serious. The threat to freedom of
        expression is coming from many different directions, without
        much response. As freedom and human rights are eroded,
        alienation, fear and hatred increases, and national security
        is eroded. Doing the right thing is also doing the safe thing.

        What can we do? Everything we normally do to resist bad
        policies. Everything from education and lobbying to
        nonviolent civil disobedience.


        Dan Clore

        Now available: _The Unspeakable and Others_
        Lord Weÿrdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
        News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

        "Don't just question authority,
        Don't forget to question me."
        -- Jello Biafra
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