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Third World resistance and western intellectual solidarity

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  • T K Wilson
    7th April 2004 Rebelion http://www.rebelion.org/petras/english/040411petraseng.htm Third World resistance and western intellectual solidarity by James Petras
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 14, 2004
      7th April 2004

      Third World resistance and western intellectual solidarity


      James Petras

      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.



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