Third World resistance and western intellectual solidarity
- 7th April 2004
Third World resistance and western intellectual solidarity
Falluja, Baghdad, Ramadi, Nasiriya - an entire people has risen to confront
the colonial occupation army, its mercenaries, clients, and collaborators.
First in massive peaceful protests, they were massacred by US, British,
Spanish and Polish troops: Bare hands against tanks and machineguns. The
armed resistance, in the beginning a minority now indisputably the most
popular force, backed by millions. The colonial armies, fearful of every
Iraqi, shoot wildly into crowds and retreat; they encircle whole cities,
fire missiles into crowded working class neighborhoods, helicopters pour
machinegun fire into homes, factories, mosques. In the eyes of the colonial
soldiers, the enemy is everywhere. For once they are right. The resistance
resists, every block, every house, every store rings out with gunfire, the
resistance is everywhere. Every house takes hits, the resistance fight on.
The people aid the wounded fighters, wash their wounds. They provide water
to the thirsty to quench their parched throats and cool their hands - the
automatic weapons are hot.
And where are the western mercenaries? The $1,000 dollar a day hired guns
with their flak vests, dark glasses -- their swagger and insolence have
disappeared. They too have seen the charred bodies of their ex-partners of
Hundreds of Iraqis have been killed, thousands have been injured, many more
will die but after each funeral tens of thousands more, the peaceful,
apolitical, "wait and see" ones have taken up the gun.
'It's a civil war', brays the bourgeois press. This is wishful thinking.
Shia and Sunni are in this together, brothers and sisters (yes, women street
fighters) in arms, each covering their comrades' backs as they confront the
tanks. And the resistance is winning. Never mind the "proportions" -- five
or ten or twenty Iraqis for each colonial soldier. The Iraqi Resistance has
won politically: No appointed official has any future. They exist as long as
the US military remains but they will flee from the rooftops of their
bunkers as the US withdraws.
Militarily, the US and the mercenaries are taking thousands of casualties --
scores of deaths and wounded everyday. In Washington, the civilian
militarists, the architects of the destruction of Iraq are panicking. "Send
more troops!" say Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and the would-be president Kerry.
>From his Texas ranch, Bush proclaims the resistance leader Moqtada Sadr a"killer". Far from the fire, the mayhem, the massacres, his television
doesn't show the child with the mangled face. Bush once again is far from
the killing fields -- Vietnam and now Iraq. Now he can claim a draft
deferment -- he is nominally the President who unilaterally declared the end
of the war in May 2003. Now, April 2004 there are more than 600 dead US
soldiers as the Iraqi resistance rose to meet Bush's challenge "Bring them
on" and took the streets from the colonial army, then they came on and
conquered the cities and with sheer courage and absolute determination they
hold their ground.
The "Arabs" resist, while the overstuffed cabbage Sharon is silent. His once
loquacious agents, Wolfowitz, Feith, Abrams and their underlings are
strangely silent. Are they worried that there might be a mass backlash
against those who cooked the data to get the US into a war in which
thousands of US soldiers will die and be maimed -- in order to "protect"
Israel's undisputed claim to dominance in the Middle East?
In the early spring of 2004, in April to be exact, the dreams of a new
colonial empire came crashing down on the masterminds of the New World
Order, an undisputed, unilateral Empire. The end of the
Sharon-Wolfowitz-Blair-Chaney "Greater Mid-East Co-Prosperity Sphere". The
Iraqi resistance has turned the Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz dream of a series of wars
against Syria, Iran, Cuba, and North Korea into a nightmare of bloody street
battles on every block in Falluja and Sadr City, Baghdad.
The heroism, the valor, the inspiration, the mass resistance is all the more
so as the Iraqi people draw on their resources, their own solidarity, their
own history, their belief that they will be free or take down every colonial
soldier as they fight to the death. The phrase "Patria o Muerte" takes on a
special and very specific meaning in Iraq: It is not a slogan of a leader, a
vanguard, to arouse and inspire the people -- it is the living practice of a
whole people. Patria or Muerte comes out of the mouths of teenage street
fighters as well as street venders and widows with black scarves. The "Iraqi
April Days" are a lesson for the whole Third World and other would-be
imperial colonialists: Mass armed resistance cannot be politically or
militarily defeated. The heroism of the Iraqi resistance stands in stark
contrast to the cowardly self-styled Arab leaders: The Jordanian and Saudi
monarchs, the garrulous corrupt "President for Life" Mubarak, the Iranian
Ayatollah collaborators. Not one has moved a finger to aid the Iraqi
national liberation struggle. They fear the example of the successful Iraqi
resistance will light a fire under their ample buttocks.
And the Western intellectuals? Since the resistance began a year ago not a
single US intellectual, of the dozens of progressive, critical thinkers
("Not in My Name") has dared to declare their solidarity with the
anti-colonial struggle. They have "problems", I hear, "about supporting Arab
fundamentalists, terrorists, anti-Semites etc." Echoes of the French
intellectuals who also opposed the popular armed resistance movements
against the Nazis because the "Communists had taken over" or later because
the 'colons' in Algeria also had a "right to be in Algeria" (Albert Camus).
In his book "Listen Yankee", C. Wright Mills challenged US 'progressives'
who balked at supporting the Cuban Revolution in the early 1960's. "This is
a real blood and guts popular revolution", he said. "You can make a
difference, you can be part of the solution or part of the problem."
The Western intellectuals are a problem. They are not ordering the troops,
even less are they (or their children or grandchildren) pulling the triggers
murdering Iraqi school kids. They are sitting on their hands. "But", they
protest, "we oppose the war" while they scramble to endorse candidate Kerry
who does support the war and even calls for 40,000 more troops to pour
missiles into crowded neighborhoods, under UN auspices to be sure. So where
are the Western intellectuals in these days when the Iraqi people have risen
arms in hand to resist the US military juggernaut? There are two sides: An
entire nation fighting a colonial occupation army and US imperialism.
Serious and consequential political intellectuals must make a choice: To
refuse to take sides is tantamount to complicity, intellectual complacency
is a luxury for intellectuals in the empire which doesn't exist in Iraq.
Over 1000 Iraqi intellectuals and professors have been murdered during the
occupation. The issues are not obscure or complex. One side demands free
elections, a free press, and self-determination while the other, the
colonial officials, ban newspapers, appoint puppet rulers and murder their
The paralysis of the US leftist intellectuals, their inability to express
solidarity with the Iraqi resistance is a disease which afflicts all
"leftist" intellectuals in the colonial countries. They are fearful of the
problem (the colonial war) and fearful of the resolution (national
liberation). In the end, the comforts and freedoms they enjoy, the
university applause and adulation they receive in the colonial motherland
weighs more heavily than the mental costs of a straightforward declaration
of support for the revolutionary liberation movements. They resort to phony
"moral equivalences", against the war and against the "fundamentalists", the
"terrorists", the 'whoever' who is engaged in their own self-emancipation
and has not paid sufficient attention to the self-appointed guardians of
Western Democratic Values. It is not difficult to understand the absence of
solidarity with liberation movements among the progressive intellectuals in
the imperial countries: they too have been colonized, mentally and
Thousands of humble people in Iraq are giving these erudite intellectuals a
practical lesson in solidarity: on April 4,2004 in the midst of hostile
tanks and helicopter gunships, thousands marched from Baghdad to Fallujah
carrying food and medicine to the embattled and encircled people in that
city which will forever be remembered as the cradle of emancipation. Will
our intellectuals take note? Can they at least circulate a statement "In Our
Name" in solidarity with the Iraqi resistance?
In the meantime, the mass popular resistance in Iraq takes on the well-fed,
over-armed armies of occupation in hand to hand warfare. They do not ask if
their neighbor, friends or comrades are Sunni, secular, Shia, Baathist or
Communist, they do not stand aside when a mosque, a school or a housing
project is bombed or machine-gunned. They have made a commitment to engage
in the struggle, to join in one national movement to oust the invader, the
oil thieves, the murderers at hand and afar. It's a pity, more for
themselves than for any material contribution they could make to the
historical struggle that the US progressive intellectuals have chosen to
abstain and once again demonstrate the irrelevance of the Western
intellectuals to Third World Liberation.