Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Duty of Solidarity We Owe the Iraqi People


Setting aside all the arguments and lamentations over whether it was right for an Anglo-American alliance to invade Iraq and smash the Baathist state there, the only really important question is: What do we do now?


Ever since the bombs started falling on Baghdad, that's the only question that has really mattered, and it's also the question that the mainstream "anti-war" movement has got wrong, by any standard recognizable in the traditional perspective of the progressive left. "Troops out" offers no effective solidarity with pro-democracy Iraqis, and offers far greater advantage to the "resistance" fighters who behead kafirs, put bombs in mosques and assassinate trade union leaders.

"Troops out" was wrong from the start because, as all the facts now show, it didn't make a difference. It will be the right answer eventually, of course, the way a broken clock is right, twice a day. Canada was right to say no to joining the American-led invasion, given the circumstances. And the hour will come when the circumstances will be right for the Yanks and the others to go home.

But that hour has not yet come. Not according to His Excellency Howar Ziad, anyway. Ziad is the Iraqi Ambassador, a senior adviser to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a brave patriot and a progressive liberal, unapologetically of the left, and his view of the world is the subject of my Tyee column today.

By nine this morning, the nutters were already at it in the comments. My previous Tyee column, the inaugural one, set off almost two weeks of it, non-stop. Turns out I'm a CIA agent, a secret advocate of Dershowitzianism, "evidence of just how deeply the Israel Lobby has infiltrated every aspect of our media" and a former girl named Teri who had a sex change operation who's somehow associated with the Rothschilds and the Bilderbergs. After that you get into favourable nods to Ernst Zundel, some references to the Freemasons and the Illuminati, and then: "The telephone lines are all bugged.The keystrokes are all recorded. We're all on secret lists accompanied by profiles."

Geez. And I was trying to be nice.

13 Comments:

Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

AHA! Sex change, the Rothschilds and the Bilderbergs.

Now I see it as it is. But why cannot I find you in our lists? Must recheck the archives...

Need to have a word with Illuminati too. The lazy SOBs are known to make a mess of the paperwork ;-)

1:27 PM  
Blogger tglavin said...

Box the Freemasons about the ears while you're at it, Snoop. I'm getting tired of running cover for those lazy eejits. Shriners is all they are these days. Not a decent putsch in ages.

tg

1:39 PM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

I'm sympathetic to the idea that the US troops are needed to protect the population, but I'm wondering about Ziad's assertion that the US forces are needed to defeat the Baathists, who are surely the least of Iraq's problems right now. Most of Baghdad is currently under militia control at this point, and the entire south is under the direct governance of Shia militias.

6:15 PM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

Crap, cut off the post. Continued...

Personally, I'm in no rush for US troops to be pulled out, but to tell the truth, with over 1,000 gruesome sectarian deaths a week, I don't think they're making much difference at this point.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Alcibiades said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:21 AM  
Blogger left, but not antizionist said...

Great article again Terry. As I wrote on the Popinjays blog: I'd love to invite you to my gulf island to give a lecture on Afghanistan, Iraq and the myopic, cynical and dogmatic orthodoxy of the anti-imperialism of idiots crowd in the West.

I also beg to disagree with double-plus-ungood's suspicion that US troops aren't making much difference at this point.

I think instead that more and more, the Shia and Baathist militias, the criminals and foreign Arab insurgents and their regional backers are increasingly losing legitimacy with Iraqis of all identities and the former are failing to make any meaningful political gains thanks not only to US and UK troops, but also thanks to Sunni tribal chiefs resisting them in Anbar province, thanks to a new and capable Iraqi Interior Minister who recognizes the poison resulting from the infiltration of the Iraqi police (under the former Interior Minister) by Sadrists and Mahdi militia extremists and has purged 1300 of them from the police forces and received Sistani's blessing for doing so, thanks to the Kurdish Peshmurga, thanks to the Iraqi National Army that is slowly, but steadily winning more victories over the forces of the nihilist insurgents in Mosul, Fallaja and and even in some parts of Baghdad, thanks to Iraqi Sunni and Shia religious authorities who courageously defied the insurgents and signed a concordat deploring and calling for an end to sectarian violence and thanks to Iraqi trade unionists, garbage collectors and University professors who each day go to work in spite of the terrorism.

Finally, when the hubris of the cheap and irresponsible ideas in 2002 and 2003 that Iraq would be a cakewalk once Saddam and his despicable regime were toppled has been exposed and recognized as ludicrous and adaptive steps on the ground are being taken to adjust to reality, ought not be the time to dismiss, discredit, belittle, or remain ambivalent about the idea of offering solidarity and assistance, including adequate security assistance, to help ensure the possibility that an independent, pluralist, non-totalitarian and democratic Iraq that is eminently capable of one day holding its own against its regional rivals, that can and one day will secure a monoply on the gun and provide security for its people and an Iraq that prefers development, compromise, horsetrading and national unity to a war of all against all and mutual assured sectarian destruction can take root and succeed.

2:57 PM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

I also beg to disagree with double-plus-ungood's suspicion that US troops aren't making much difference at this point.

I would point you to the recent ethnic cleansing of Balad, where US forces were essentially told to stand aside as Shia militia murdered scores of Sunnis and drove the rest from the town. The US forces complied. As another example, I'd point to the recent lifting of the siege of Sadr City and Karrada, where US forces complied with the wishes of al Sadr, and the Sadrists celebrated in the streets.

At any rate, I think the discussion is moot. As Canadians, we have little influence on US policies in Iraq, and I think it unlikely that Bush would wish to withdraw troops anyway. I just don't see them accomplishing much, nor do I see much reason to think that their presence will do anything to stop the collapse of what is left of Iraqi society.

4:24 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

I would respond by asking what US troops staying in Iraq would accomplish. What would it ever accomplish? Iraq is in a state of civil war right now, and the US seems powerless to stop it. Also, a lot of the violence seems related to anger over the US presence in Iraq. Obviously a withdrawal couldn't happen overnight. There would have to be a phased withdrawal and a coordinated transition. I really don't see how the continued US presence is helping matters though.

11:32 PM  
Blogger tglavin said...

Hey. There's actually respectful disagreement and civil debate here.

Thanks, folks.

DPU makes some good points, but the bit about "as Canadians, we have little influence on US policies in Iraq" - that may be an argument against "peace" rallies, but it doesn't absolve us of the duty of trying to make at least some small difference for Iraqis (i.e. Labour Friends of Iraq).

Stephen asks "what US troops staying in Iraq would accomplish," and the ambassador, I think, answered that question fully and convincingly.

So I guess that means I'm with Leftie/BNA).

1:02 AM  
Blogger left, but not antizionist said...

The crises in Iraq and Afghanistan will not be solved if economically advanced Western countries withdraw or fail to commit sufficient political, economic development and military resources to stabilize their respective countries.

In fact that is the problem.

The thing is if you pay attention to what Iraqis and Afghanis say, it's that they want the world to commit more political, economic and yes military resources, to provide them with the security they lack the latter which is the foundation upon which civil society can prosper and ordinary people can hope for a better tomorrow.

Security is one of the vital prerequisites for economic development.

To take one example, farmers in Afghanistan who now grow and sell their opium to insurgents because insurgents can pay top dollar for their poppies will not consider either selling their opium exclusively to pharmaceutical corporations that provide pain alleviating drugs for hospitals or consider growing other crops which will benefit Afghanistan as a whole if they can't either be guaranteed security from criminal thugs and Al Qaeda and Taliban belligerents, nor hope to be paid well enough for doing so.

Check out the Afghan Women's Network web page (www.afghanwomensnetwork.org). They and their Afghani civil society affiliates recognize that development can't occur without security. It was the AWN that first called on NATO to help the Afghan government assert control throughout the country, and not just in Kabul.

Here's an Oct. 6 press release issued by the AWN:

Afghan Leaders Protest the Murder of Safia Amajan and Demand Security Reform

Kabul, October 5, 2006.

Representatives from civil society and the INGO and NGO community gathered, for the first time, at the AINA compound in Kabul at 9:00AM today. The demonstration was organized by four of the major coordination bodies in Afghanistan – The Afghan Women’s Network (AWN), Agency Coordination Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR), Afghan Civil Society Forum (ACSF) and the Foundation for Culture and Civil Society (FCCS) – to protest the murder of Safia Amajan and demand significant changes in security policy from national and international forces. Sheela Samimi, AWN Training Coordinator, read a statement jointly prepared by the organizers and respected leaders Mullah Fazil Ahmed Manewi and Fatana Gelani and renowned activist Nancy DuPree spoke on non-violence in Islam, women’s security and the need for security reform, respectively.

Though Afghanistan has witnessed many positive changes since the fall of the Taliban, including women being elected to, and serving in, Parliament and over 1 million girls registering for and attending school, the security situation around the country worsens daily. Acts of terrorism such as suicide bombs and politically motivated violence, tactics new to the Afghan political landscape, threaten the lives and work of all citizens. Especially vulnerable are the brave public servants, community activists and government officials working towards reconstruction and democratic reform. “Without security there can be no freedom and without freedom there can be no democracy. Without security women, men, girls and boys lack the ability to embrace their constitutionally mandated right to freely participate in the educational, developmental and structural growth of Afghanistan’s government and society,” said Samimi.

Participants were called upon to renew their commitment to action and to show the world that the people of Afghanistan believe in peace, demand protection and are willing to fight for the security of their country and families.

The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan along with relevant international actors were called upon to protect Afghanistan from neighboring countries who harbor, train and encourage terrorism; to financially support the families of the victims of terrorism; to ensure that concrete legal actions are taken to catch, prosecute and punish all men and women involved in acts of terrorism; to dedicate increased time, money and resources to uncovering the root causes of social insecurity and terrorism and to; increase the pressure on international governments and humanitarian organizations to enforce international legal standards.

A vigorous debate between the press, the audience and a six person panel of experts closed the event. Palwasha Hassan, renowned activist and NGO leader, summated the overall message of the event when she said, “while the security of everyone in the country is important, it is crucial to specifically analyze the complexity of women’s security needs. The security situation in Afghanistan forces women to stop actively participating in the rebuilding of this country.”

The Afghan Women’s Network is a non-partisan, non-profit network of NGOs working to empower Afghan women and ensure their equal participation in society. The members of the Network also recognize the value and role of children as the future of Afghanistan and, as such, regard the empowerment and protection of children fundamental to their work. The Network seeks to enhance the effectiveness of its members by fostering partnership and collaboration between members, undertaking advocacy and lobbying, and building their individual capacities.

AWN is the largest national women’s rights organization representing 96 NGOs and over three thousand individual members. For more information please contact Wazma Popal, Office Manager, at +93 (0) 220 0691 or visit us on the internet at www.afghanwomensnetwork.org

Zameray Faqiri (ANSO), Palwasha Hassan (AWN), Soriya Sobring (AIHRC), Mr. Meyer (ACBAR), Aziz Rafee (ACSF), Maky Siawash (KOO)

Read Joint statement by different NGOs
View Open Letter to President Hamid Karzai

Or listen to what Barnett R. Rubin, director of studies and a senior fellow at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, was the author of a Council Special Report on Afghanistan this year and has been an International Relations specialist on Afghanistan and the region for nearly 25 years has to say:

"There are two very positive elements here. One is that there is a very broad, global consensus that we want to support the current political structure and government of Afghanistan and stabilize it, defeat the Taliban militarily, though of course they can form a political party and join the Afghan system nonviolently if they want to do so. Second, the Afghan people still—even if they might be resigned to the Taliban coming back, or might be in despair over the corruption and incapacity of this government and its international supporters—wish this effort would succeed. So if we put those two things together, there still is something very important to build upon. But we have not given this the priority, the resources—military, economic and political—that it requires to succeed."

It's all so very sanctimoniously convenient that North Americans and Europeans who are insulated from appreciating the situation of people unlucky enough to have been subjected for decades upon end to excessively cruel, brutal, authoritarian and totalitarian regimes like the Baathists or the Talibanis, to dismiss any and all assistance that their own militaries can provide as far as providing security so that roads can be built, so that public servants can go to work, schools can remain open, passports can be issued, elections can take place, people can be free to speak and write, etc., because insulated and privileged North Americans and Europeans devalue their own country's militaries and politicians and view their own soldiers as trigger happy morons working for a corporate military industrial complex only interested in imperial conquest and who can do no good.

The other thing is that if Afghanistan and Iraq are abandoned, not only will the sectarian violence likely increase inside those countries, it will also be viewed by the nihilist takfiris who want to deprive Iraqis and Afghanis of pluralism and democracy and supplant those aspirations with the most repressive of ultraconservative regimes, as a divine victory and proof positive that they can export their thuggery abroad.

And for Stephen and double_plus_ungood who believe the US, and Iraqi national forces are powerless and accomplish nothing by remaining, may I recommend:

1. Fouad Ajami (http://www.cfr.org/publication/11109/conversation_with_fouad_ajami_video.html)

2. Nibras Kazimi (http://www.nysun.com/article/42234?page_no=1)

3. Amir Taheri (http://tinyurl.com/ylqjkp)

We ought to be telling Stephen Harper that his government must not only contribute more but also diligently campaign internationally with all of our allies to increase military, economic development and political resources for the Afghani and Iraqi people, not cut and run. We ought to be telling Harper that Afghani NGOs like the AWN ought to have meaningful input both into what projects should receive priority funding and meaningful input and measures to provide accountability for how those resources are allocated on the ground. We ought to be demanding that the Canadian government lobbies its allies and trading partners in the international community to help ensure Afghanistan has a viable and effective criminal justice system.

As for the allegation that US forces stepped aside to allow Shia militias to "ethnically cleanse" the Sunnis in Balad, the Voices of Iraq website (http://tinyurl.com/y6pfu3) tells a somewhat different story:

Balad-U.S.
U.S. army kills 17 gunmen, detain three north of Baghdad

Baghdad, Oct 29, (VOI) – U.S. forces killed 17 gunmen and detained three suspects in clashes near Balad town north of Baghdad, the U.S. army in Iraq said in a statement on Sunday.
“Coalition aircraft thwarted two separate ambushes as ground forces moved toward their objective early Sunday morning near Balad (80 km north of Baghdad),” said the statement received by the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).
The Coalition Forces encountered armed activity on two separate occasions along their travel route, it added.
“After positive identification by ground forces and with assistance from Iraqi police, coalition aircraft engaged the targets with precision fires, killing four (gunmen) in one engagement and in conjunction with ground forces killed an estimated 13 others in a subsequent engagement along the same route,” the U.S. army said.

The gunmen were armed with RPGs, machineguns and AK47’s and were planning to ambush the Coalition ground force but “the plan did not succeed. No Coalition Forces were injured during the attack,” the statement said.
Three suspects were detained in the operation."

As for the allegation that US forces complied with the wishes of al Sadr, and the Sadrists in lifting the siege on Sadr City and Karrada, American troops ended roadblocks only after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered them out. Granted, Iraqi Sunni Vice President Vice President, Tareq al-Hashemi and other Sunni leaders strenuously disagreed with PM Maliki's call, but double-plus-ungood, you've misrepresented the American action as compliance with Al-Sadr and the Mahdi militia when in fact the Americans were complying with the wishes of the Iraqi government and its head of state. If you want to blame a party for the lifting of the siege, you're pointing your finger in the wrong direction. Was that deliberate?

2:39 AM  
Blogger left, but not antizionist said...

Sorry, I meant to say:

The crises in Iraq and Afghanistan will not be solved if economically advanced Western countries withdraw or fail to commit sufficient political, economic development and military resources to stabilize Afghanistan and Iraq for Afghani and Iraqi citizens.

2:55 AM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

The crises in Iraq and Afghanistan will not be solved if economically advanced Western countries withdraw or fail to commit sufficient political, economic development and military resources to stabilize Afghanistan and Iraq for Afghani and Iraqi citizens.

I completely agree, and the fear that Afghanistan would be allowed to wither on the vine if Iraq was invaded was one of the reasons to oppose the invasion. And sadly, with most resources flowing into the black hole that Iraq has become, it is.

One could suppose that Afghanistan could be saved at his point, although signs seem fairly grim. Michael Yon, who has done some excellent reporting from Iraq in the last two years, had this to say a few days ago:

Early this spring, when I reported from Afghan farms about this year's bumper opium crop, people thought I was using that opium. Now it is common knowledge that the opium trade is fueling a Taliban comeback. Mark this on your calendar: Spring of 2007 will be a bloodbath in Afghanistan for NATO forces. Our British, Canadian, Australian, Dutch, and other allies will be slaughtered in Afghanistan if they dare step off base in the southern provinces, and nobody is screaming at the tops of their media-lungs about the impending disaster. I would not be surprised to see a NATO base overrun in Afghanistan in 2007 with all the soldiers killed or captured. And when it happens, how many will claim they had no idea it was so bad and blame the media for failing to raise the alarm? Here it is: WARNING! Troops in Afghanistan are facing slaughter in 2007!

Should that occur, I can only imagine that public support for the Afghanistan mission would evaporate overnight.

Regarding Iraq, I don't think that it can be saved. There are simply too many things that have gone wrong, and there is a real possibility of the eventual overrun of US forces there, particularly if the Bush administration proceeds with military action against Iran in the near future.

7:27 AM  
Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

As for the allegation that US forces stepped aside to allow Shia militias to "ethnically cleanse" the Sunnis in Balad, the Voices of Iraq website (http://tinyurl.com/y6pfu3) tells a somewhat different story:

I was referring to this earlier incident.

As for the allegation that US forces complied with the wishes of al Sadr, and the Sadrists in lifting the siege on Sadr City and Karrada, American troops ended roadblocks only after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered them out. Granted, Iraqi Sunni Vice President Vice President, Tareq al-Hashemi and other Sunni leaders strenuously disagreed with PM Maliki's call, but double-plus-ungood, you've misrepresented the American action as compliance with Al-Sadr and the Mahdi militia when in fact the Americans were complying with the wishes of the Iraqi government and its head of state.

Iraq's head of state governs only with the support of al Sadr and his party. And, of course, his militia. From the WaPo:

Maliki's decision exposed the growing divergence between the U.S. and Iraqi administrations on some of the most critical issues facing the country, especially the burgeoning strength of Shiite militias. The militias are allied with the Shiite religious parties that form Maliki's coalition government, and they are accused by Sunni Arab Iraqis and by Americans of kidnapping and killing countless Sunnis in the soaring violence between Iraq's Shiite majority and Sunni minority.

Sadr City is the base of the country's most feared militia, the Mahdi Army, which answers to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Sadr's strongly anti-American bloc is the largest in the Shiite governing coalition and was instrumental in making Maliki prime minister five months ago.

7:36 AM  

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