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Noam Chomsky: Where's The Iraqi Voice?

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    Where s The Iraqi Voice? By Noam Chomsky http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article19409.htm THE US occupying army in Iraq (euphemistically called the
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2008
      Where's The Iraqi Voice?
      By Noam Chomsky

      THE US occupying army in Iraq (euphemistically called the
      Multi-National Force-Iraq) carries out extensive studies of popular
      attitudes. Its December 2007 report of a study of focus groups was
      uncharacteristically upbeat.

      The report concluded that the survey "provides very strong evidence"
      to refute the common view that "national reconciliation is neither
      anticipated nor possible". On the contrary, the survey found that a
      sense of "optimistic possibility permeated all focus groups ... and
      far more commonalities than differences are found among these
      seemingly diverse groups of Iraqis."

      This discovery of "shared beliefs" among Iraqis throughout the country
      is "good news, according to a military analysis of the results", Karen
      deYoung reports in The Washington Post.

      The "shared beliefs" were identified in the report. To quote deYoung,
      "Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S.
      military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among
      them, and see the departure of 'occupying forces' as the key to
      national reconciliation."

      So, according to Iraqis, there is hope of national reconciliation if
      the invaders, responsible for the internal violence, withdraw and
      leave Iraq to Iraqis.

      The report did not mention other good news: Iraqis appear to accept
      the highest values of Americans, as established at the Nuremberg
      Tribunal -- specifically, that aggression -- "invasion by its armed
      forces" by one state "of the territory of another state" -- is "the
      supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in
      that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole". The
      chief US prosecutor at Nuremberg, Supreme Court Justice Robert
      Jackson, forcefully insisted that the Tribunal would be mere farce if
      we do not apply its principles to ourselves.

      Unlike Iraqis, the United States, indeed the West generally, rejects
      the lofty values professed at Nuremberg, an interesting indication of
      the substance of the famous "clash of civilisations".

      More good news was reported by Gen David Petraeus and Ambassador to
      Iraq Ryan Crocker during the extravaganza staged on September 11,
      2007. Only a cynic might imagine that the timing was intended to
      insinuate the Bush-Cheney claims of links between Saddam Hussein and
      Osama bin Laden, so that by committing the "supreme international
      crime" they were defending the world against terror -- which increased
      sevenfold as a result of the invasion, according to an analysis last
      year by terrorism specialists Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank.

      Petraeus and Crocker provided figures to show that the Iraqi
      government was greatly accelerating spending on reconstruction,
      reaching a quarter of the funding set aside for that purpose. Good
      news indeed, until it was investigated by the Government
      Accountability Office, which found that the actual figure was
      one-sixth of what Petraeus and Crocker reported, a 50 per cent decline
      from the preceding year.

      More good news is the decline in sectarian violence, attributable in
      part to the success of the murderous ethnic cleansing that Iraqis
      blame on the invasion; there are fewer targets for sectarian killing.
      But it is also attributable to Washington's decision to support the
      tribal groups that had organised to drive out Iraqi Al Qaeda, and to
      an increase in US troops.

      It is possible that Petraeus's strategy may approach the success of
      the Russians in Chechnya, where fighting is now "limited and sporadic,
      and Grozny is in the midst of a building boom" after having been
      reduced to rubble by the Russian attack, CJ Chivers reports in the New
      York Times last September.

      Perhaps some day Baghdad and Fallujah too will enjoy "electricity
      restored in many neighbourhoods, new businesses opening and the city's
      main streets repaved", as in booming Grozny. Possible, but dubious,
      considering the likely consequence of creating warlord armies that may
      be the seeds of even greater sectarian violence, adding to the
      "accumulated evil" of the aggression. Iraqis are not alone in
      believing that national reconciliation is possible. A Canadian-run
      poll found that Afghans are hopeful about the future and favour the
      presence of Canadian and other foreign troops -- the "good news" that
      made the headlines.

      The small print suggests some qualifications. Only 20 per cent "think
      the Taleban will prevail once foreign troops leave". Three-quarters
      support negotiations between the US-backed Karzai government and the
      Taleban, and over half favour a coalition government. The great
      majority therefore strongly disagree with the US-Canadian stance, and
      believe that peace is possible with a turn towards peaceful means.
      Though the question was not asked in the poll, it seems a reasonable
      surmise that the foreign presence is favoured for aid and reconstruction.

      There are, of course, numerous questions about polls in countries
      under foreign military occupation, particularly in places like
      southern Afghanistan. But the results of the Iraq and Afghan studies
      conform to earlier ones, and should not be dismissed.

      Recent polls in Pakistan also provide "good news" for Washington.
      Fully 5 per cent favour allowing US or other foreign troops to enter
      Pakistan "to pursue or capture Al Qaeda fighters". Nine per cent
      favour allowing US forces "to pursue and capture Taleban insurgents
      who have crossed over from Afghanistan".

      Almost half favour allowing Pakistani troops to do so. And only a
      little more than 80 per cent regard the US military presence in Asia
      and Afghanistan as a threat to Pakistan, while an overwhelming
      majority believe that the United States is trying to harm the Islamic
      world. The good news is that these results are a considerable
      improvement over October 2001, when a Newsweek poll found that
      "eighty-three per cent of Pakistanis surveyed say they side with the
      Taleban, with a mere three per cent expressing support for the United
      States," and over 80 per cent described Osama bin Laden as a guerrilla
      and six per cent a terrorist.

      Amid the outpouring of good news from across the region, there is now
      much earnest debate among political candidates, government officials
      and commentators concerning the options available to the US in Iraq.
      One voice is consistently missing: that of Iraqis. Their "shared
      beliefs" are well known, as in the past. But they cannot be permitted
      to choose their own path any more than young children can. Only the
      conquerors have that right.

      Perhaps here too there are some lessons about the "clash of

      Noam Chomsky is a professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts
      Institute of Technology and the author, most recently, of Hegemony or
      Survival Americas Quest for Global Dominance.



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