Munich American Peace Committee (MAPC)
Radio Lora, 11. Dezember 2006
Irak: Die Logik eines Rückzugs
Sie hören heute ein Gespräch, das Amy Goodman, die Gastgeberin der preisgekrönten Sendung "Democracy Now!" im März 2006 mit Anthony Arnove, dem Autor von "Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal", führte.
Ich bin diese sogenannten Experten so leid! Sie wissen nichts, aber sie wollen alles erklären. Wenn z.B. Russ Feingold, der demokratische Senator von Wisconsin, einen Mißbilligungsantrag gegen den Präsidenten vorschlägt, dann fallen sogar seine eigenen Parteifreunde über ihn her, statt über den Mann, der uns alle belogen hat und dabei den mächtigsten Bundesgenossen der Welt hatte: die US Presse. Dagegen müssen wir uns wehren. Hier in dieser Sendung, genau so, wie in der Riverside Church, wo man gerade Rachel Corries gedenkt, die im Mai 2003, drei Tage vor Beginn des Irakkrieges, in Rafah von einem israelischen Militärbulldozer - Made in USA - brutal zu Tode gewalzt wurde, als sie versuchte, den Abriss eines palästinensischen Wohnhauses zu verhindern. Beim New York Theater Workshop im März 2006, durfte das britische Theaterstück "My Name is Rachel Corrie" nicht aufgeführt werden!
Wir brauchen Medien, die uns umfassend informieren und aufklären, über das geplante neue Einwanderungsgesetz genau so, wie über die Ereignisse im Irak, denn die Bush Regierung versucht gerade wieder, alles herunterzuspielen. Doch der Widerstand wächst. Viele Demokraten, Republikaner und Konservative sind gleichermaßen empört über den illegalen Einmarsch in den Irak und dessen Besetzung, sowie über die bereits mehr als 2 000 toten und Zehntausende verwundeter Soldaten, von denen man aus den Medien kaum etwas erfährt.
Als wir kürzlich Michael Gordon und General Bernard Trainor anläßlich des Erscheinens ihres neuen Buches "Cobra II" interviewten, hatten sie viele Argumente für den Überfall auf den Irak auf. Als wir aber fragten, ob die Invasion ein Fehler gewesen sei, erklärten sie uns, dass dies nicht der Ort sei, um ihre persönlichen Ansichten kund zu tun.
Wie hätten sie auch zugeben können, dass es ein Fehler war! Es waren doch Michael Gordon und Judith Miller, die den Amerikanern eingeredet hatten, dass Saddam Hussein über Massenvernichtungswaffen verfüge und so trotz des auch in höchsten Regierungskreisen vorhandenen Widerstands den Einmarsch in den Irak erst ermöglichten. Damals verschwiegen Times und die Abendnachrichten diesen Widerstand, genau so, wie sie heute nur selten über die Forderungen nach einem vollständigen Rückzug berichten. Deshalb ist das Buch von Anthony Arnove so wichtig! Er prangert nicht nur die Lügen der Bush-Regierung an, sondern er sagt, dass der Irak überfallen wurde, weil er keine Massenvernichtungswaffen hatte und dass dieser Krieg die Welt mitnichten sicherer gemacht und die Bedrohung durch Massenvernichtungswaffen keineswegs vermindert hat. Im Gegenteil, der Irak, der Mittlere Osten und die ganze Welt seien seitdem sogar noch viel gefährlicher geworden.
Ist es nicht erschreckend, wie sehr sich das, was wir in den USA in den Medien zu sehen bekommen, von dem unterscheidet, was die übrige Welt sieht? Nur deshalb konnte hier der Eindruck entstehen, dass es im Irak schon nicht so schlimm sein würde, wenn doch keine unserer vielen Fernsehstationen tote irakische Babys zeigt oder von Splitterbomben zerfetzte Frauen. Geschmacklos sind nicht die schrecklichen Bilder, die man uns vorenthält, geschmacklos ist der Krieg.
Ein Beispiel für guten Journalismus aus Sicht der Opfer war die Berichterstattung über den Hurrikan urrikaHurrikanKatrina, als auch die Reporter der Privatsender lange vor Präsident Bush nach New Orleans eilten und Bilder von im Wasser treibenden Leichen und von verzweifelten Familienvätern zeigten und dabei ihre eigenen Tränen nicht verbergen konnten. Aber auch hier es gab Ausrutscher: Wurden Weiße gezeigt, die in Geschäften nach Waren suchten, so versorgten sie ihre Familien mit dem Nötigsten. Waren sie schwarz, sprach man von Plünderern. Dabei sind die wahren Plünderer - von New Orleans wie im Irak - die Halliburtons und die Blackwaters.
Warum sind Reporter nur wütend, wenn man ihnen 24 Stunden lang verschweigt, dass Vizepräsident Cheney seinen Jagdfreund angeschossen hat? Warum sind sie nicht genauso wütend, wenn man ihnen verschweigt, dass Tausenden junger und alter Menschen im Irak Ähnliches und Schlimmeres passiert ist?
Bekämen wir nur eine Woche lang ehrliche Bilder aus dem Irak zu sehen, Bilder von Kindern, Frauen und Männern und von toten oder sterbenden amerikanischen Soldaten, dann wäre allen sofort klar, dass wir uns aus dem Irak zurückziehen müssen.
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Drei Jahre dauert nun schon die Besetzung des Iraks. Und es kam, wie es kommen musste und wie es die Kriegsgegner vorhergesehen hatten. In den Medien trommelten die "Experten" für den Krieg, während gleichzeitig auf der ganzen Welt Tausende auf die Straße gingen, weil sie nicht an das Märchen von Saddam Husseins Massenvernichtungswaffen glaubten und nicht an seine Verbindung zu al Qaida und weil sie wußten, dass uns die Iraker nicht als Befreier begrüßen würden.
Der Preis, den wir für diese Lügen bezahlen, steigt ständig. Mehr als 2 300 US Soldaten sind tot, mehr als 20 000 verletzt, viele davon schwer - verletzt an Leib und Seele.
Auf irakischer Seite zählte die renommierte britische Wissenschaftszeitschrift "The Lancet" schon 2005 bereits 98 000 Tote, die vielen zivilen Opfer der beiden US-Überfälle auf Falludscha sind in dieser Zahl nicht enthalten. (im Oktober 2006 schrieben Die Süddeutsche Zeitung und Die Zeit, dass The Lancet inzwischen von 650 000 irakischen Zivilopfern ausgeht Anm. Vera Rossner). Zu den vielen Toten kommen noch die Folteropfer, nicht nur die von Abu Ghraib, sondern von allen US-Militärgefängnissen. Mehr als 14 000 Menschen werden teilweise schon länger als zwei Jahre festgehalten: ohne Anklage, ohne Prozess, ohne Ermittlungsverfahren. Neben den Toten, den Gefolterten und den Inhaftierten gibt es noch all jene, die Tag für Tag Schikanen, Demütigungen, Rassismus und Beleidigungen ausgesetzt sind. Um die Strom- und Trinkwasserversorgung ist es heute schlechter bestellt als zu Zeiten der von den USA und Großbritannien unterstützen UN-Sanktionen. Und je länger die Besatzung dauert, um so schlimmer wird es. Trotzdem gibt es wieder neue Lügen, die diesen Krieg rechtfertigen sollen. Jetzt heißt es, dass die "liberale Weltmacht" den rückständigen, unaufgeklärten Irakern Demokratie, Zivilisation und eine neue Gesellschaftsordnung bringt und einen möglichen Bürgerkrieg verhindert. Doch genau das Gegenteil ist der Fall.
Herrschte im Irak echte Demokratie, hätte man die Besatzer schon längst nach hause geschickt Und - was für die USA, Halliburton und Bechtel besonders schmerzlich wäre - man hätte das Öl schon längst wieder verstaatlicht. Die Mehrheit der Iraker lehnt diesen Krieg und die Besatzung ab, weil sie nur den Interessen der USA und Israels dienen. Wie recht sie doch haben! Der Irak verfügt ja nicht nur über das zweitgrößte Ölvorkommen, sondern auch über das wichtige Erdgas, doch von beidem liefert er mehr an die Aufsteiger China und Indien als an die USA. Wer die Bodenschätze des Mittleren Ostens kontrolliert, beherrscht die Wirtschaft der Welt. Dieser schöne Plan ging für die USA nicht auf. Statt Demokratie und Menschenrechte für die Iraker, brachte der Krieg dem gesamten Mittleren Osten Chaos, Gewalt und Zerstörung.
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Ich habe mein Buch: "Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal" genannt in Anlehnung an Howard Zinns "Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal". Er schrieb es 1967 - noch vor der Tet-Offensive - als sich die USA angesichts des vietnamesischen Widerstandes schon längst hätten zurückziehen müssen. Aber viele Millionen Menschen mußten noch sterben, ehe Amerika seine Niederlage einsah, nicht ohne vorher den Krieg auch noch nach Laos und Kambodscha getragen zu haben. Heute steht im Irak noch mehr auf dem Spiel als 1966 in Vietnam. Laut "The Wall Street Journal" vom 16. März 2006 droht erneut die Ausweitung eines Krieges, und zwar auf Iran und Syrien. Angesichts sinkender Umfragewerte und wachsender öffentlicher Kritik ging Donald Rumsfeld sogar so weit, zu behaupten, dass ein Abzug aus dem Irak der Rückgabe Nachkriegs-Deutschlands an die Nazis gleichkäme! Man könnte über solch verzweifelte Rechtfertigungsversuche lachen, wenn sie nicht den rassistischen Versuch darstellten, die Iraker, die Muslime und die gesamte arabische Welt zu dämonisieren. Während man die iranische Einmischung in Angelegenheiten des Iraks anprangert, münzt man die eigene Intervention zum Schutz vor Chaos und Bürgerkrieg um. Dabei ist die Anwesenheit der US Truppen die Ursache für die schlimmsten Greueltaten, die geradewegs zu einem Bürgerkrieg führen könnten. Gemäß des alten Wahlspruchs "teile und herrsche" versorgen die USA schiitische Milizen mit Waffen, die diese brutal gegen Sunniten einsetzen. Und das in einem Land, in dem die Menschen jahrhundertelang friedlich miteinander und nebeneinander gelebt haben! Weil sie sich von ihnen Unterstützung versprachen, brachten die USA irakische Fundamentalisten und Reaktionäre an die Macht. Die Besetzung des Iraks ist nicht die Lösung eines Problems, sondern die Wurzel der irakischen Krise. Es gibt jedoch Hoffnung, denn die meisten Amerikaner glauben inzwischen, dass dieser Krieg ein Fehler war und nach einer sehr mutigen Umfrage unter den Soldaten im Irak wurde bekannt, dass sich die Mehrheit der Befragten für ein Ende des Krieges und die Rückkehr in die Heimat ausgesprochen hätte. Nur unsere Regierung und unsere ihr ergebene Opposition wollen diesen Krieg noch gewinnen. Denn der korrupten und bankrotten US-Regierung steht keineswegs eine friedliebende Opposition gegenüber. Erst kürzlich stimmten 29 Demokraten für eine weitere Erhöhung der Militärausgaben. Die Demokraten Hillary Clinton und Joe Lieberman sind eifrig bemüht, die Republikaner rechts zu überholen und fordern vehement mehr Truppen für den Irak. Bei den Kongresswahlen im November darf sich die Friedensbewegung auf gar keinen Fall wieder für die Demokraten einsetzen. Wir müssen jetzt unsere eigene Bewegung aufbauen. Wir haben dafür die Menschen und wir haben die richtige Einstellung. Alle spüren, wie sehr die Angriffe auf die irakische Bevölkerung Hand in Hand gehen mit den Angriffen auf unsere Arbeiter, unsere Armen, unsere Schulen, unsere Bildung, unser Sozialsystem, unsere Soldaten und unsere Veteranen. Die Soldaten sind Teil unserer Bewegung, genau so wie in Vietnam, als nicht allein der Widerstand der Vietnamesen, sondern die Rebellion der US-Soldaten und die Proteste der Studenten, der Arbeiter und all der Menschen rund um die Welt die Kriegskosten unkalkulierbar werden ließen und die USA zur Aufgabe zwangen.
Heute gefährdet die US-Regierung sogar das Überleben unseres Planeten. Ihre Gier nach Profit, Öl und Macht könnte den Untergang der Menschheit bedeuten. Denn auch in diesem Krieg ging es weder um Demokratie noch um Menschenrechte, sondern ausschließlich um die Wirtschaftsinteressen einiger Weniger auf Kosten aller. Nur wahre Demokratie, nachhaltiges Wirtschaften und gleiche Rechte für Alle können weitere Kriege verhindern und unser Leben lebenswert machen.
AMY GOODMAN, ANTHONY ARNOVE, HOWARD ZINN
Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
New York, NY 25 March 2006
Amy Goodman is the award-winning host of "Democracy Now!" Anthony Arnove is the author of "Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal." Howard Zinn, radical historian, is the author "A People's History of the United States."
Amy Goodman: I'm so tired of seeing the small circle of pundits on all the networks who know so little about so much explaining the world to us. The spectrum of opinion that is expressed reflects the spectrum between the major corporate parties in this country, between the Democrats and the Republicans. You have someone like Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, who is not calling for the impeachment of President Bush but simply calling for censure, and he sends senators scurrying in all directions. And I didn't say Republican senators, but the Democrats. I think they're more interested in censuring Feingold than they are in censuring the man who lied to this country, who said we were going to invade another country because that country had the weapons that could destroy us all. All proved to be untrue.
But, of course, most people would not have believed President Bush if he had simply had a megaphone on the steps of the White House and kept intoning "Weapons of mass destruction, weapons of mass destruction." Some people might have, a few people would have heard and believed. But he had something much more powerful-more powerful, in fact, than any bomb or any missile. He had the U.S. press, the most powerful institutions on earth, and they've been deployed by the Pentagon. And we have to take the press back. We have to take the press back.
These are very frightening times. These are times when we have to be able to hear people speak out. This today here. Like Riverside Church on Wednesday night, when a thousand people gathered to celebrate Rachel's words. That's Rachel Corrie, a young woman who also dared to speak out against U.S. foreign policy and Israeli military policy in Gaza. Just three days before the Iraq invasion, so most people almost paid no attention, March 16, 2003, she stood in Rafah in Gaza in front of an Israeli military bulldozer that came from right here in the United States, the Caterpillar Corporation. She was wearing a bright orange vest. And she was crushed by that military bulldozer, not once but twice, as it rolled over her and then rolled back over her, daring to stand up for a Palestinian family who lived in the home behind her which this bulldozer was about to demolish. Her words have now become very controversial, even to hear them. We're not far from the New York Theater Workshop, which was going to mount the play My Name is Rachel Corrie, put on by the Royal Court Theatre in London and, in a deal with this theatre, in New York. They were going to have an opening a few nights ago. But the play was cancelled. The theater expressed concern over the climate today.
These are dangerous times, which is why we need places like the building we're in right now, a sanctuary of dissent, because dissent is what will make this country safer. Dissent we have to make commonplace in this country. And that's the role of the media, to be a forum for people to speak out, to explain what is happening in their own lives, particularly immigrants. This weekend massive marches around the country against the immigrant crackdown, the bill passed in the House that could be passed in the Senate.
All of this is coming to a head right now because of what's been happening in Iraq, because the Bush administration is trying to clamp down on the tremendous dissent that is percolating up from the grass roots across the political spectrum, not just progressives, not just independents. Yes, there are Democrats and there are Republicans and there are conservatives across the spectrum who are enraged at what has happened right now. And that is an unjustified invasion and occupation with the number of soldiers, deaths, mounting, now over 2,000; the number of injuries, tens of thousands of soldiers. And yet the expression in the media right now, so small the level of real dissent.
We were just interviewing Michael Gordon, who came out with a book, Cobra II, with General Bernard Trainor, asking about the rationale for the invasion. And they laid out the problems with it: one, two, three, four, five. And that's a big deal for New York Times reporters. But when asked, "Do you think the invasion was a problem?" the authors said, "We're not here to venture our opinion." They gave their opinion on the other reasons that there was a problem, but not when it came down to the overall invasion. But how could they say it was wrong? It was they, Michael Gordon, Judith Miller who had laid the groundwork for the invasion by convincing the American people that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction even though at that time, before the invasion, within the establishment there was dissent to the highest levels of the U.S. government. It just wasn't being expressed in the pages of the Times or in the network nightly newscasts. Now it's a bit safer to do that.
But rarely do you see someone making the argument for a complete withdrawal now, which is why it is so important to pay heed to Anthony Arnove's words. Just the first paragraph. "Every single argument the Bush administration made to justify the invasion of Iraq has turned out to be false. Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, posed no imminent threat to the United States, had no connection to al-Qaeda or to the terrorist attacks of September 11. Iraq was attacked not because it had weapons of mass destruction but because it did not, a fact that has not been lost on other potential targets of U.S. intervention. U.S. soldiers were not greeted as liberators, and the occupation has not paid for itself or required few troops or been quickly concluded. Nor has the occupation made the world safer or reduced the threat of weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, it has made Iraq, the Middle East, and the world far more dangerous." That's just the opening paragraph.
It's very frightening when we are projected to the rest of the world through a corporate lens, the images, and the difference in the images that the rest of the world sees in the world's media and what we see at home. It's not that Americans are not compassionate. But when you have this plethora of channels, when you have hundreds of channels with the same sanitized images, you get this sense, well, it can't be that bad. If there were babies dead in Iraq, we would see them. If there were women with their legs blown off by cluster bombs, we would see them. We don't. When Aaron Brown was at CNN, we interviewed him for an hour on Democracy Now! and we asked him, "Where are the pictures?" He said, "It's matter of taste." Isn't it war that's tasteless and our job to show those images no matter how horrific they are.
I was struck by a role model presented, actually, by the corporate media after Katrina, a positive role the media played when it raced down to New Orleans. We watched something incredible on television, even on the corporate networks. It was a kind of side effect of President Bush not responding quickly to the catastrophe that hit the Gulf Coast. There were network reporters at the scene of a disaster and there were no troops to embed with. And so we saw on our TV screens reporters with bodies floating by. We saw on our TV screens a young woman reporter interviewing a man who was wading through the water holding his child saying, "I just let go of my wife's hand, and as she slipped away she said, 'Take care of our children.'" And then he waded off in shock through the water. And the reporter started to cry. This is what reporting from the victims' perspective looks like. The next step was when the White House was saying, "We're there, we're dealing with the crisis." These reporters, who were standing with the victims said, "You're not here, "and actually started to ask some questions, almost as angry as when they took on the shooter, Vice President Cheney. And the outrage was justified. If only we saw that expression of rage reporters had after being kept out of the loop for 24 hours when Vice President Cheney shot his friend in the face, if only we saw that level of rage with reporters at the White House questioning what was happening in Iraq with tens of thousands of old and young being shot in the face or blown up. If only we saw that, if there was a consistent rage. But the reporters did the right thing when it came to New Orleans. And the whole country, across the political spectrum, was outraged when they saw those images.
There was one part of it that was wrong. You saw the pictures of white citizens in New Orleans who were gathering their goods going into stores, and we understood they were getting the things they needed to take care of their families. When they showed black residents, they would talk about the looters. Of course, there were looters in New Orleans: the Halliburtons, the Blackwaters, the same corporations that make a killing off the killing in Iraq, coming to New Orleans.
But look at the effect that those images had. And if we only saw that for one week in Iraq-the true images of war, the babies, the women, the men, the American soldiers dead and dying, which we also rarely see. They bring home wounded soldiers under cover of night for that very reason. President Bush invoked the executive order saying you can't photograph, film, videotape even the flag-draped coffins of soldiers coming home, because he understands the power of the images. But if we saw those images for one week on our TV screens, you wouldn't have to worry about making the calls to the networks to ask that Anthony Arnove be interviewed, because it would be very clear to everyone that the only answer to Iraq is the logic of withdrawal.
Anthony Arnove: We're three years now into the occupation of Iraq. Three years. I think a few things have become painfully clear as we look back over this occupation. The first is that, as Amy pointed out, and as I start the book Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, on every issue that you care to look at in relationship to this war, the antiwar movement was right and the press, the politicians, and the pundits were wrong. We got it right and they got it absolutely wrong. But you wouldn't know that. If you hear now recognition that, yes, there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, there is no al-Qaeda, U.S. troops weren't greeted as liberators, they're being greeted as occupiers, that's presented as a complete mystery. Who could have known, who could have predicted, who could have thought?
And it follows from exactly the silence that Amy talked about in the corporate media and the mainstream media, which systematically excluded coverage of the antiwar movement in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting did a study of so-called experts, who were brought on to talk about the war in the build-up in the weeks leading up to the invasion of Iraq in March of 2003, and of roughly 400 people who were on the major networks and on PBS, only three of those so-called experts represented an antiwar position. And yet we know, on February 15, 2003, and in demonstrations around the world, on that day and other days leading up to the war there were many people presenting a different argument, saying that there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that there was no evidence that Iraq had ties to al-Qaeda, that there was every reason to suspect that the occupation would be resisted by people who would have every right to resist another invasion and occupation of their country.
As we now know, the price of those lies, the price of those mistakes continues to grow. More than 2300 U.S. soldiers needlessly dead. And for every one of those deaths, at least ten injured. And for every one of those injured, and many of them severely injured, because today, through a kinds of macabre fact of advances in medical science, some people are surviving war injuries today that would have killed them in earlier conflicts, but surviving them with their lives utterly shattered. We also know that the psychological scars of this war are growing, and that the consequences of post-traumatic stress disorder, the stress, the violence that people have experienced in Iraq, have led to an increased rate of suicide among Iraqi veterans.
We don't hear about this in the media, but the cost for Iraqis has grown even higher. The Lancet, which is a very respected medical journal, working with a team of epidemiologists, did a courageous study in Iraq. They went, they surveyed, they looked at the population, they interviewed people about mortality. They used the standard methods of epidemiological research to look at the situation in Iraq in the wake of the invasion. And they found, using conservative estimates, 98,000 excess deaths had taken place since the invasion. That was as of a year ago. And that figure excluded, very consciously excluded, Fallujah, the site of the worst U.S. attacks on the civilian population of Iraq, because they didn't want to skew the survey. So they excluded those numbers and they excluded deaths that could be attributed directly to the two assaults on Fallujah.
It's not just death, it's torture. And it's not just Abu Ghraib, it's all of the other detention facilities. There are now 14,000 people-the number has been increasing-in Iraq who have been detained, many of them for more than two years, without any due process, any trial, any procedure, any evidence being presented against them and any hope of being released other than at the whim of the U.S. military, which is holding them. And it's not just the tortured, it's not just the detained, it's not just those who have been killed. It's the people whose lives every day are subject to harassment, to humiliation, to the racism and abuse which is a byproduct of any intervention.
Today in Iraq, as bad as it was before the invasion with sanctions, there is less electricity and less access to safe drinking water than there was during the years of the U.N.- and U.S.- and U.K.-backed sanctions regime. I think if you take stock, if you look beyond the headlines, you look beyond the rhetoric of the Bush administration, and you look at just every six-month marker of this past three years, at every six-month marker you think it can't be worse, but it is worse. The occupation continues to create more havoc, more violence, more destruction. And it's only going to continue to get worse if the United States stays in Iraq.
But the thing is, now we have new lies. We had the old set of lies, and those have been discredited. Although they will keep trying to talk about weapons of mass destruction and al-Qaeda and terrorism, they have had to come up with new lies to justify the war in Iraq. And the new lie is that we're bringing democracy to the Iraqi people, that we're there to rebuild the society, that we're there to prevent civil war. In effect, what we've seen is the revival of a very old idea, the white man's burden, the idea that justified Britain's role in India, the Belgian conquest of the Congo, the French conquest of Algeria: the idea that the Iraqi people don't understand democracy, that the people of the Middle East are too backward and we need to enlighten them, we need to bring them democracy, we need to bring them civilization. And you have pundits and politicians talking openly now about the need to revive the idea of empire, to claim the idea of imperialism, and to very proudly defend the new white man's burden. A liberal imperialism.
I'll read you something that was written in The New York Times that sets out this argument. This is by a guy named Edward Rothstein. He says this: "The word imperialism still jangles with jingoistic echoes. And American neo-imperialism may yet turn tragic with frustrations as Rudyard Kipling long ago predicted in his misunderstood paean to the white man's burden. Yet this idea is bound to change character. After all, instead of exploitation, imperialism is now being associated with democratic reform, sometimes to the great satisfaction of its subjects. Maybe even 19th century imperialism will be reinterpreted and invoked by example, since many non-Western nations developed democratic institutions solely because of imperialist influence. Imperialism's exploitations often had a virtuous flip side." So his argument is we should revive the white man's burden. And certainly that's being done regularly in rhetoric and discussions about why the U.S. needs to stay in Iraq.
But as I try to show in this book, the occupation of Iraq is the very negation of democracy for the Iraqi people. It's the very opposite of self-determination for the Iraqi people. And this colonial occupation, like earlier ones in history, uses democracy only as a pretext, only as a way of selling conquest, only as a way of selling what is a project of controlling and dominating a people against its will.
If there were genuine democracy in Iraq today, the first thing that would happen is that the Iraqis would ask the U.S. to leave. That's been made perfectly clear by the Iraqi people. The second thing that would happen-and of course this is something that the U.S. would never want to see-is that the Iraqi people would renationalize their oil and say that this should be our resource, not the resource of Halliburton and Bechtel. Poll after poll that's been done in Iraq has shown that Iraqis see the occupation as illegitimate, that they don't see the troops as liberators, they see them as occupiers. The Gallup organization did a poll in Iraq and they asked Iraqis, "Why do you think the U.S. invaded your country?" 1% said it was to bring democracy. That was the expression. 5% thought it was to help the Iraqi people. And you look at those numbers, and it's telling. It reminds me of another recent poll that was done in this country in which they asked the Americans, "How many of you approve of the job President Bush is doing?" This in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the images of the horrors, the reality of racism and poverty in this country. And 3% of African Americans said that they approved of the job of President Bush, which is less than the margin of error in the poll. When asked the real reason they thought the U.S. was invading, most Iraqis said it was because the U.S. wanted to dominate the Middle East, wanted to advance the interests of itself and Israel, and wanted greater control over the oil reserves of Iraq.
In that view they're absolutely right. Iraq has the world's second largest oil reserves, and it sits in a region of two thirds of the world's oil reserves. And not just strategic oil reserves, but natural gas reserves, which the oil companies are realizing they also have to dominate. Because if you look around the world today, there is not as much oil as there once was. Each barrel of oil that's extracted from the ground gets more expensive than the one before it. In fact, the U.S. brings less oil into this country from the Middle East than many of the countries it considers economic and political rivals, like China, like India, like leading countries in Asia and Europe that import far more of their energy resources from the Middle East. So it's about the U.S. being able to use oil as a weapon, as a lever to control, to dominate other countries and prevent them from ever being able to use oil as a weapon against the U.S. So it's vital for the U.S. And it's been understood for decades that if you can control the Middle East, if you can be the hegemonic power there, you can be the global hegemonic power. So it's not just about dominating the Middle East, it's about dominating the world.
The reality is that the plan is backfiring. The plan is not working, the plan is blowing up in the face of the U.S. Rather than the invasion and occupation of Iraq leading, as they claimed it would, to democracy and the flowering of human rights in Iraq, rather than its leading to a wave of democratic struggle throughout the Middle East, it's leading to chaos, to violence, and destruction.
I was inspired to write Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal by a book Howard Zinn wrote in 1967 called Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal. In that book, he very clearly laid out in language that was powerful and so prescient why the U.S. needed to pull its troops out of Vietnam. He wrote that book in 1967. At that point it was clear that the Vietnamese people opposed the U.S. imperial project in Vietnam and would bring a defeat to the U.S. Shortly after that was the Tet offensive, which showed the power of the Vietnamese resistance against the armed might of the U.S. The enormous military might of the world's largest imperial power was brought to bear on this small country, and yet the resistance of the people, the opposition of the people in Vietnam, brought a defeat to the people of the United States. But how many more millions of people died before that conflict was concluded. It's not just that the U.S. realized that it was losing and retreated. They escalated and they spread the war to Laos and Cambodia.
Today we face the prospect of the war in Iraq spreading. And we have to recognize something very sobering, which is that in the geopolitical calculations of the U.S. today, Iraq is far more important in 2006 than Vietnam was in 1966, that the stakes are higher for us. And if you saw the new national security strategy of the U.S., which was released, I think, with a timing meant to get us focused on Iran, to take attention away from what's happening in Iraq, we see the threat of what the U.S. has in store.
This is from the front page of The Wall Street Journal, March 16, "A new White House national security strategy identifies Iran as the 'single country that may pose the biggest danger to the United States' and reaffirms preemptive military action as a central tenet of U.S. security policy. While the 2002 national security report mentioned Iran just once, and then only as a victim of Iraqi chemical weapons attacks in the 1980s, the new version uses some of its harshest language to denounce Tehran as a "ally of terror and an enemy of freedom.'" And then it goes on to say this: "The place of preemption in our national security strategy remains the same." So we see the saber rattling with Iran, we see the saber rattling with Syria. We also have the Bush administration officials coming out and saying, in the face of the polls showing that more and more people are speaking out against war and questioning this war, opposing the invasion and occupation of Iraq, we have to stay the course, we have to prevent civil war.
This week I think Donald Rumsfeld showed the most desperate version of that argument, when he wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post in which he said this: "History is not made up of daily headlines, blogs on Web sites, or the latest sensational attack. History is a bigger picture, and it takes some time and perspective to measure it accurately." So all you people who are seeing everything that's going wrong in Iraq, you're not looking at history through the right lens. But here's what the lens we should have. "Turning our backs on post-war Iraq today would be the modern equivalent of handing post-war Germany back to the Nazis." That is the desperation of an administration that is losing a war that has so much at stake in winning it.
On the one hand, it's easy to laugh at these arguments and the nature of this administration. But the reality is that there is a very conscious attempt to demonize the Iraqi people, to demonize Muslims, to demonize people in the Arab world, to whip up the kind of racism that can convince people that this occupation has to continue. And that ideology of Islamophobia, that ideology of anti-Arab, anti-Iraqi racism is at the heart of what this administration is trying to do to prop up support for the war. Every Iraqi who stood up against the U.S. has been characterized as a foreign fighter. We're not supposed to question for a moment the idea that the U.S. are the foreign fighters in Iraq. Every day we hear that Iran is meddling in Iraqi affairs, as if the U.S. were not the country that was most meddling in Iraqi affairs. But this effort to portray anyone who stands up as a foreign fighter or a Baathist or a member of al-Qaeda is an effort to convince people, to scare people into the idea that we have to stay in Iraq to prevent chaos, to prevent civil war.
But the reality is the occupation is the source of the greatest violence that is taking place in Iraq today. The second reality is that the U.S. is increasing the conditions in which civil war could take place. The U.S. is making civil war more likely. It is in the nature of colonial occupations to use divide-and-rule strategies. We've seen it over and over and over again in our history. And the U.S. today is doing that in Iraq. It is arming Shia militias, who have been carrying out horrific attacks on Sunnis and encouraging sectarian conflict between people who have not always lived in enmity and been at each other's throats but have lived together, intermarried, worked together, been a part of one another's lives for centuries in Iraq without civil war taking place. It has brought fundamentalists and reactionaries to the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Dawa Party into positions of power in the belief that they might be a better proxy for U.S. interests when the initial Iraqi exiles didn't prove to be the proxy force that the U.S. hoped they might be.
The occupation of Iraq is not the solution, it is the problem. It is the root of the crisis in Iraq, and we have to end it. And we can end it. A majority of people in this country now think the war was a mistake. A majority of Iraqis clearly do not want us there. A poll was done by the Zogby organization a few weeks ago, released but done a few months ago, in Iraq of U.S. soldiers, a very courageous poll, under very difficult circumstances, to go out, talk to soldiers in Iraq, find out what they're thinking. And the overwhelming majority of them want to come home and want to see this war end. So the soldiers oppose it, the people in this country oppose it, the Iraqis oppose it. But we face a problem, which is that we have an administration that, as I said, has so much at stake in this project. We also have an administration which has a loyal opposition party that also wants to win this very same war, that is committed to the very same ideals and project.
So it's not as if we have a corrupt and bankrupt administration and then we have an opposition party which represents the antiwar movement. We have two wings of a pro-war, pro-occupation party that are fighting over the tactics of how to make this unwinnable war winnable. This past week the Democratic Party provided the votes that George Bush needed to pass through another $90 billion for war and occupation. They couldn't have passed that bill, because 25 Republicans defected, 29 Democrats gave the margin of votes that were necessary to pass that bill. Hillary Clinton from New York, Joe Lieberman from Connecticut, their position is we should send more troops to Iraq. And they're seeking to outflank the Republicans to the right-to be more aggressive, more militaristic, and to stay in Iraq longer. They don't provide an alternative.
So we can't make the mistake that we made in the last presidential election for this upcoming midterm election, where the antiwar movement demobilized and threw its energy, its resources, its vital time into supporting John Kerry, a pro-war candidate, who demobilized our side, weakened our side, and had nothing to do with the interests of ending this war, ending the occupation, or changing the foreign policy of the U.S. We don't want to be here a year from now, two years from now marking another anniversary, the fourth anniversary, the fifth anniversary of this war.
If we don't want to do that, we have to build a movement. And we can build a movement. The numbers are there, the sentiment is there, and the costs of this war are coming home. It is not the case that people in the U.S. are not feeling the price of this war. This most recent spending bill comes after series after series of tens of billions of dollars more going to fund this war. And in city after city in this country-it's not just in Louisiana, it's not just in Mississippi, it's not just in Alabama, where we saw so graphically the reality of poverty and racism in this country-in cities and communities across this country people are feeling very clearly the attacks that the war abroad, the war on the Iraqi people, is going hand in hand with the war on working and poor people in this country: attacks on our schools, attacks on education, attacks on social spending, and attacks on soldiers and veterans.
Soldiers are a part of this movement. When you go back to the Vietnam War and you look at what brought an end to the Vietnam War, a central component of the defeat of the U.S. was not just the resistance that took place among the Vietnamese people but the resistance of soldiers, the complete breakdown of discipline of the U.S. Army, and the fact that the military rebelled, the people in the U.S. rebelled, students, working people, people around the world spoke up, mobilized, organized, protested, and raised the costs of the war so high that they changed the calculus of empire, they changed the calculations of power and forced the U.S. to leave Vietnam in defeat.
And I think we also have to say in a very serious way today that the direction that the people who are running the U.S. empire today calls into question the very sustainability of life on this planet. Their priorities-of profit, oil, and power-are threatening the extinction of the human species.
And they don't care. They will do it. Because all they care about is power and profit. They don't care anything about democracy, human rights, or any of the things they use to sell the lies of this war to the people. So there is a lot at stake for us today in ending this war in Iraq and, in doing so, raising the fundamental questions of what's at the root of this war, what are the economic roots of this war, why century after century, decade after decade, do we find ourselves, as Martin Luther King said, as he spoke in the Riverside Church, confronting the reality of empire. We don't want to be here ten years from now talking about another intervention. And if we don't, we have to talk about transforming the basis of empire, the economic, the political, institutional roots of that in a system based on dominating other people, controlling their resources, destroying democracy in the interests of the few, rather than what we want, which is genuine democracy, genuine sustainability, genuine participation. And the vast majority of the people in making this a livable, sustainable, humane world.
Howard Zinn: I think I'll tell you about an experience I had a few days ago in Philadelphia. I was invited for some reason to speak to the National Youth Leadership Conference. So they sent me the literature. They said, "You're going to be the keynote speaker Thursday morning to 2,000 people, who come from all over the country.
Have you ever gone to any of their things? It's interesting. I read their literature. And I thought, what am I doing here? I look at the other people they've invited. These are not my friends. But I dutifully went there. And before I gave the keynote address to these, yes, 2,000 people seated in the convention center of Philadelphia, before I gave my address-I don't give speeches, I give addresses-they had all sorts of things going on: lights flashing, choruses singing patriotic songs, flags waving, a Girl Scout parade through the hall. And the Young Democrats were there. That was really heartening. And I thought, they must have confused me with somebody else.
So I got up there wondering how they were going to react to what I was going to say. I said I said to them basically what I say to everybody when I'm trying to say something persuasive to them about what's going on now in Iraq and what's going on in the world. I said, "It's very important to have a historical perspective." Anthony quoted Rumsfeld, who believes in his historical perspective. Rumsfeld and I agree on that. We just have a different historical perspective, that's all. So I suggested to them, yes, you need a historical perspective, because if you don't know any history, it's as if you were born yesterday. If you don't know any history, how can you tell, when a president gets up before the microphone and says, "We've got to go to war for democracy, for liberty, to save these people," and so on, whether this is true or not if you were born yesterday and your mind is blank and it's being filled by the man who knows? He's the president of the United States. There are actually people who think that because he's the president, he knows something that we don't know.
I said, if you knew a little history-and by knowing a little history, I don't mean the history of Andrew Jackson, the Indian killer, who is a hero; Theodore Roosevelt, the lover of war, who is a hero. No, I'm talking about the history in which the working people and the rebellious women and the dissenters are the heroes of our history. If you knew some of the history, let's say, of presidents getting up before microphones, or even before there were microphones, presidents getting up and saying, "We've got to go to war for liberty, for democracy, to civilize these people," and so on. If you knew the history of the Mexican war and President Polk saying, "We've got to go into Mexico to civilize the Mexicans," President McKinley saying, "We've got to take over the Philippines so we can Christianize the Filipinos," or Woodrow Wilson saying, "We've got to go to war to make the world safe for democracy," and so on and so forth. And, of course, all the lies told in the Vietnam War by every president, Democrat or Republican, all of them: "We're going into Vietnam to save Vietnam from world communism, we're going to Vietnam because we believe in self-determination. That's always funny. "We're going into this country so that they can determine for themselves what will happen to them." If you knew the history of lies told by presidents in the past, and you heard the president get up there and say, "We're going into Iraq for liberty, for democracy," you would start throwing eggs at his image on television. You would know how many times we've been lied to and be suspicious. If you knew the history of how we have brought democracy to other countries by going to war, if you knew how many dictatorships we have supported in other countries, if you knew how many democratic governments we have overthrown in our history, you could not possibly believe a president.
And if you knew something about history, you would know something else, which is a very important thing to know, and that is, the interests of the government are not your interests, the interests of the corporations are not your interests. There is no such thing as a common interest, no such thing as national security. There is their security, or their securities, and our security. There is no such thing as national defense. Who is being defended? No such thing as the national interest. It's their interest and our interest. There is the interest of Bush and there is the interest of the GIs that Bush sends to war. They're not the same. This is a very crucial point for people to understand, because people grew up in this country thinking, we're just one family. Those people up there in Washington, they have our interests at heart. Very important. No, they do not have our interests at heart. Therefore, it's up to us to defend our interests.
In short, I gave them some history. I talked about the history of warfare. I had the advantage of saying I was in a war. I don't know if you know this. I was a bombardier in the air force. Not in the Spanish-American War, not in World War I. I was in World War II, the so-called good war. And I told them how eager a bombardier and how enthusiastic I was about we're the good guys, they're the bad guys, and how after the war I began to rethink the whole question of good wars.
This was presumably the best of wars, and 50 million people had died and we had killed 600,000 civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Tokyo and killed 600,000 civilians in German cities, ordinary people. They were not Hitler, they were not Göring. The people in Japan, the kids that died in Hiroshima, they were not the ones who bombed Pearl Harbor. Those were the people who died in this good war to save civilization.
I tried to tell them something about the promises made in wartime and what happens after the war, and the promises that were made to us. When I got back at the end of the war, I found a letter from General Marshall. He was the general of generals. And it was a letter addressed to me. Not exactly personal; it was sent to 16 million. But I considered it a personal letter. And it said, "Congratulations. We've won this great victory over fascism. The world now will be a place of peace and democracy." It didn't take long to find out that the world was not now a world of peace and democracy. Racism still existed, fascism still existed, militarism still existed, the nuclear arms were building up in the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and wars and wars and wars were still taking place.
I also talked about democracy, and how democracy does not consist of Democrats or Republicans or people up there in Washington. Democracy is not what they put on the blackboard in junior high school, the three branches of government. It's not checks and balances. They believe in checks, yes. They believe in balances. But they don't really believe in checks and balances. There are no checks and balances. When the president decides to go to war, the Congress does not check him. When the war is unconstitutional, the Supreme Court, which has the job of deciding what is constitutional, does not say anything or do anything. No checks and balances. Black people in this country found that the three branches of government were not going to enforce the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, they had to do it by themselves. That's what democracy is, not the three branches of governments. It is people, citizens, organizing, protesting, agitating, and bringing democracy alive. That's what democracy is.
I suggested to them that if we are going to stop this war, if we are going to change the nature of this society, if we're going to take the resources of our country and use them for human needs, if we're going to be one with other people in the world, if we're going to create a brotherhood and sisterhood of people all over the world, we're going to have to do it ourselves. We're not going to be able to depend on government. So it was our job, it is our job today, to bring democracy alive. I finished.
And these 2,000 got up and gave me this fantastic standing ovation. After all the Girl Scout parades and all the patriotic songs that had been sung, they actually had been listening to what I said and maybe even thought I said something that was true. That was encouraging to me. I think it explains why we now have, as Anthony pointed out, a great majority of the people who are against the war. Despite all the propaganda, despite the control of the media and so on, there is a certain power the truth has.
Therein lies our hope. People are basically decent, and people basically have common sense, and after a while the truth begins to make its way through. And I'm confident that if we persist in what we're doing, we continue doing what we're doing, our society will change and we will finally become at one with people all over the world. Thank you.
For more information - www.endthewartour.org
Other AR programs:
Tariq Ali - Imperial Hubris
Noam Chomsky - Targeting Iran
Robert Fisk - War, Journalism & the Middle East
George Galloway - Imperialism & the New World Order
Johann Galtung - Decline & Fall of the American Empire
Amy Goodman - Independent Media in a Time of War
Seymour Hersh - From 9/11 to Abu Ghraib
Dahr Jamail - Dateline: Baghdad
Zia Mian - Project for a New American Century
Scott Ritter - Iraq Confidential
Arundhati Roy - The Checkbook & the Cruise Missile
Cindy Sheehan - Not One More Mother's Child
Joseph Stiglitz - Iraq: A Trillion Here, A Trillion There
Howard Zinn - A World Without Borders
Howard Zinn - Air-Brushing History
Howard Zinn - A People's History of the U.S.
Zinn/Arnove - Voices of a People's History of the U.S.
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