Re: Exit Strategy
Mr. X writes on CL, "Jeez, just leave already!!! It doesn't matter how long we're there to babysit those people. You are dealing with two different factions who haven't gotten along in a thousand years and you seriously expect them to get along and adopt Democracy just because GWB said so and is force feeding it down their throats?? We could be there a hundred years and the day we leave they will be at each other like it was yesterday. Do you seriously expect a tribe of camel jockeys who still live in the 13th century to join the modern world? It ain't gonna happen in your lifetime, your children's or grandchildren's. You may as well piss into the wind for the all the good this is doing anyone."
#1 the US does not intend on allowing true democracy in Iraq.
#2 Iraq already had a democratic tradition, the U.S. and Britain crushed it. In fact the US was behind two coups that put the Ba'ath party into power in the first place.
Mr. X assumes Bush is "force feeding" democracy "down the throats" of Iraqis.
Mr. X, you have not done much research if you believe the Bush administration is actually intending on allowing real democracy.
Noam Chomsky: The US tried, in every possible way, to prevent elections in Iraq. They offered effort after effort to evade the danger of elections. Finally, they were compelled to accept elections by mass non-violent resistance, for which the Ayatollah Sistani [moderate Shi'ite leader] was a kind of a symbol. Mass outpourings of people demanding elections. Finally, Bush and Blair had to agree to elections. The next step is to subvert them and they started immediately. They're doing it right now. Elections mean you pay some - in a democracy at least - you pay some attention to the will of the population. Well, the crucial question for an invading army is: 'do they want us to be here?' Well, we know the answer to that. The British Ministry of Defense carried out a poll a couple of months ago, it was secret, but it leaked to the British Press - I don't think it's been reported in the US. They found that 82 percent of the population wanted the coalition forces, British and US forces to leave. One percent of the population said that they were increasing security.
The US and Britain announced at once, at once, we will not have a timetable to withdraw. So yes, you can all want us to leave, but we won't have a timetable for withdrawal.
How can it be Democracy if the Iraqi People's Wishes Are Ignored? You aren't supposed to think about that. The media and the officials talk about when WE want to withdraw, it isn't put in terms of "we will withdraw when the Iraqis want" So much for democracy! You hear "no timetable" all the time instead of what you should hear if Iraq really was allowed to be a sovereign and democratic nation. If Iraq really was allowed to be a sovereign and democratic nation then you should hear, "the timetable is what the Iraqis say it is."
Noam Chomsky: Suppose that the Iraqi parliament, instead of being an elite force, dominating the population, suppose the Iraqi parliament represents popular will, say the popular will of 80 percent of Iraqis who want the occupying forces to withdraw, according to the British Ministry of Defence. Suppose that happens? Well then the occupying forces should immediately initiate withdrawal and leave it to the Iraqis. Now there's a good reason why Washington and London are not contemplating that. It has nothing to do with the fate of the Iraqis, quite the contrary.
Just think for a minute. What would an independent Iraq be likely to do, an independent, more or less democratic Iraq? Think. I mean if you're going to have a Shi'ite majority. Therefore the Shi'ites will have a lot of influence in policy, probably a dominant influence. The Shi'ite population in the south, which is where most of the oil is, would much prefer warm relations to Iran over hostile relations to Iran. Furthermore they are very close relations already, the Badr brigade, which is the militia that mostly controls the south, was trained in Iran. The clerics have long-standing relations with Iran; the Ayatollah Sistani actually grew up there. Chances are pretty strong, they'll move towards a some sort of a loose Shi'ite alliance, with Iraq and Iran. Furthermore right across the border in Saudi Arabia, there's a substantial Shi'ite population, which has been bitterly oppressed by the US-backed tyranny in Saudi Arabia, the fundamentalist tyranny. Any move towards independence in Iraq is likely to increase the efforts to gain a degree of autonomy and justice. That happens to be where most of Saudi Arabia's oil is. So you can see not far in the future a loose Shi'ite alliance controlling most of the world's oil, independent of the US. Furthermore, it is beginning to turn toward the East.
Iran has pretty much given up on Western Europe, it assumes that Western Europe is too cowardly to act independently of the US, well it has options. It can turn to the East. China can't be intimidated. That's why the US is so frightened of China. It cannot be intimidated. In fact, they're already establishing relations with Iran and in fact even with Saudi Arabia, both military and economic. There is an Asian energy security grid based on Asia and Russia but bringing in India, Korea and others. If Iran moves in that direction, having abandoned any hope in Europe, it can become the lynchpin of the Asian energy security grid.
Andy Clark: And you say that this may be part of an attraction for the Shi'ite groups in Iraq as well to sort of join this movement away from the Western world influence as it were?
Noam Chomsky: Yes, they have every reason to. In fact it might even happen in Saudi Arabia. From the point of view of Washington planners, that is the ultimate nightmare.
Andy Clark: And that's why you say they won't be prepared to leave...
Noam Chomsky: That is why they're fighting tooth and nail to prevent democracy and sovereignty in Iraq. The Iraqi people have resisted and it's a very impressive resistance. I'm not talking about insurgency. I'm talking about popular, non-violent resistance under bitter conditions. There's a labour movement forming, which is a very important one. The US insists on keeping Saddam's bitter anti-labour laws, but the labour movement doesn't like it. Their activists are being killed. Nobody knows by whom, maybe by insurgents, maybe by former Baathists, maybe by somebody else. But they're working. There's the basis of a popular democracy being developed there, much to the horror of the occupying forces, but it's going on and it could have very long term consequences in their national affairs, which is why Bush and Blair have so desperately been trying to prevent democracy and any form of sovereignty and have been forced to back off step by step. This is also going on with the economic arrangements. The US moved in and immediately tried to open up the economy to foreign take-over by imposing outrageous and in fact illegal laws for privatisation. You know, Iraqis don't want that, they want to take control of their own economy and resources. There's a battle going on about that.
Mr. X wrote, "Do you seriously expect a tribe of camel jockeys who still live in the 13th century to join the modern world?"
Mr. X, you don't know anything about Iraq. Do you know what happened in the 1950's and 1960's in Iraq?
Noam Chomsky: Iraq has a long democratic tradition, goes back a century. It was crushed by the British invasion, but it continued to function in many different ways. There was some hope for it with the 1958 revolution, which was a kind of populist revolution which threw out the British and began to introduce social measures and so on and so forth. It introduced the constitution, which is far more liberal than the current one. Well the US and Britain couldn't stand that, so they backed and maybe initiated a coup, a military coup to put the Baath party in. That crushed Iraqi democracy for years." - On the Iraq Election