Iraq’s Right to Resist



Many antiwar leaders blamed John Kerry’s defeat on the antiwar movement’s failure to connect with America’s conservative “heartland”–and have since followed Democratic Party liberals as they tack rightward to orient to this target voting base.

Indeed, liberal commentator Geov Parrish leveled harsh criticism at March 19 antiwar protesters in the Seattle Weekly, belittling antiwar rallies as “a pep rally for activists.” Parrish argued, “Opposition to this war should be rooted in what is best for this country.”

But this reasoning can easily backfire on the antiwar movement, since “this country” is the U.S. Empire. Already, the antiwar Web site MoveOn.org has pandered so far to the “we can’t cut and run” crowd that opposition to the Iraq occupation disappeared from its site.

Outright hostility to the Iraqi resistance now reaches far inside the antiwar movement, undermining the notion that Iraqis have the right to determine their own future, free of U.S. intervention.

This hostility was on display at the Washington, D.C., United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) national teach-in on March 24. During the discussion, audience member Jeff Skinner mildly suggested, “The antiwar movement should take up…Iraqis’ right to resist the occupation.” He added that his argument “is definitely not a glorification or a hope that American soldiers continue to die in Iraq,” offering the parallel of the alliance between the Vietnamese resistance and U.S. troops as an example of the common interests between the two.

Nevertheless, the panelists responded indignantly to Skinner’s suggestion. Global justice activist Naomi Klein chastised, “We shouldn’t get involved in offering blanket cheerleading for the resistance…There are dueling fundamentalists in Iraq…and [some] are enemies of the Iraqi people.”

But shouldn’t Iraqis themselves decide who are “enemies of the Iraqi people?” So far, Iraqis have identified their main enemy only as the U.S. occupation. UFPJ staffer Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou replied to Skinner, “For [supporting the resistance] to be the primary point of unity…would disintegrate us,” although Skinner never suggested that as a primary point of unity.

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) member Patrick Resta asserted angrily: “I really can’t let that come and go about being a cheerleader for the insurgency…” (as if answering Skinner, rather than echoing Klein’s caricature of Skinner’s question). “[T]o advocate that as a way to end this war is really disgusting and morally repugnant…Most of the troops dying are dying from roadside bombs, mortars and rockets that are fired from up to a mile away.”

The Bush administration has long reduced support for Iraqis’ right to resist occupation to welcoming the killing of U.S. soldiers. Antiwar leaders should know better.

As author and activist Tariq Ali argued recently, “How could a resistance be pretty when the occupation is so brutal and ugly. The senseless violence inflicted upon the Iraqi people by the occupation results in a violent response.” Ali also points out, “The left is weak in Iraq because the Iraqi Communist Party backed the occupation and served in the puppet government.”

Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar, a long-time opponent of both Saddam Hussein and U.S. intervention in Iraq, told Kevin Zeese in an upcoming interview for DemocracyRising.us: “It’s not the Mussabu Al Zarqawi and Abu, I don’t know who, or the terrorists coming from the outside of Iraq. It is the indigenous Iraqi resistance. While we were told that Saddam Hussein was torturing us, we are finding after 22 months that the Americans are torturing us…and now we discover that the Iraqi forces, the ING is torturing us.”

“Troops out now” is a demand that encompasses the interests of both U.S. troops and of Iraqis fighting to determine their own future. Yet in the heart of U.S. imperialism, Iraqis’ right to resist occupation has unnecessarily divided the antiwar movement. While a broad-based movement must be the goal, this cannot be the excuse for diluting the politics of the antiwar movement so that its principles become indistinguishable from those of the apologists for U.S. occupation.

SHARON SMITH writes for the Socialist Worker. She can be reached at: sharon@internationalsocialist.org






November 24, 2015
Dave Lindorff
An Invisible US Hand Leading to War? Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet was an Act of Madness
Mike Whitney
Turkey Downs Russian Fighter to Draw NATO and US Deeper into Syrian Quagmire
Walter Clemens
Who Created This Monster?
Patrick Graham
Bombing ISIS Will Not Work
Lida Maxwell
Who Gets to Demand Safety?
Eric Draitser
Refugees as Weapons in a Propaganda War
David Rosen
Trump’s Enemies List: a Trial Balloon for More Repression?
Eric Mann
Playing Politics While the Planet Sizzles
Chris Gilbert
“Why Socialism?” Revisited: Reflections Inspired by Einstein’s Article
Charles Davis
NSA Spies on Venezuela’s Oil Company
Michael Barker
Democracy vs. Political Policing
Barry Lando
Shocked by Trump? Churchill Wanted to “Collar Them All”
Cal Winslow
When Workers Fight: the National Union of Healthcare Workers Wins Battle with Kaiser
Norman Pollack
Where Does It End?: Left Political Correctness
David Macaray
Companies Continue to Profit by Playing Dumb
Binoy Kampmark
Animals in Conflict: Diesel, Dobrynya and Sentimental Security
Dave Welsh
Defiant Haiti: “We Won’t Let You Steal These Elections!”
November 23, 2015
Vijay Prashad
The Doctrine of 9/11 Anti-Immigration
John Wight
After Paris: Hypocrisy and Mendacity Writ Large
Joseph G. Ramsey
No Excuses, No Exceptions: the Moral Imperative to Offer Refuge
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS Thrives on the Disunity of Its Enemies
Andrew Moss
The Message of Montgomery: 60 Years Later
Jim Green
James Hansen’s Nuclear Fantasies
Robert Koehler
The Absence of History in the Aftermath of Paris
Dave Lindorff
The US Media and Propaganda
Dave Randle
France and Martial Law
Gilbert Mercier
If We Are at War, Let’s Bring Back the Draft!
Alexey Malashenko
Putin’s Syrian Gambit
Binoy Kampmark
Closing the Door: US Politics and the Refugee Debate
Julian Vigo
A Brief Genealogy of Disappearance and Murder
John R. Hall
Stuck in the Middle With You
Barbara Nimri Aziz
McDonalds at 96th Street
David Rovics
At the Center of Rebellion: the Life and Music of Armand
Weekend Edition
November 20-22, 2015
Jason Hirthler
Paris and the Soldiers of the Caliphate: More War, More Blowback
Sam Husseini
The Left and Right Must Stop the Establishment’s Perpetual War Machine
Mike Whitney
Hillary’s War Whoop
Pepe Escobar
In the Fight Against ISIS, Russia Ain’t Taking No Prisoners
Ajamu Baraka
The Paris Attacks and the White Lives Matter Movement
Andrew Levine
The Clintons are Coming, the Clintons are Coming!
Linda Pentz Gunter
Let’s Call Them What They Are: Climate Liars
Nur Arafeh
Strangling the Palestinian Economy
Paul Street
Verging on Plutocracy? Getting Real About the Unelected Dictatorship
Patrick Howlett-Martin
The Paris Attacks: a Chronicle Foretold
Vijay Prashad
Rebuilding Syria With BRICS and Mortar
Brian Cloughley
Why US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is the Biggest Threat to World Peace