I’m a bit depressed. CNN is showing another bunch of Iraqis who seem to be cheering the arrival of the invading troops in their neighborhood. Of course, this bastion of the free press did not show the dead and wounded that came before the occupiers’ entrance. Nor have they shown the destruction the US troops are leaving in their wake. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not depressed because the regime of Saddam Hussein is apparently collapsing. Neither am I depressed that this most murderous phase of the illegal war on the Iraqi people seems to be over. After all, this should slow down the killing. After thousands of deaths and maimings, the Iraqi people may finally be able to sleep without the fear of explosives raining down on them
Are the Iraqis actually cheering the arrival of the invaders? Or are they just cheering what they hope is the end of the effect of war, Saddam, and the sanctions in their neighborhood? What about the looting and score-settling that is going on? How long will the invaders (now occupiers) allow this? What will they replace it with? If one looks at the most obvious model for the US occupation-Israel in the Palestinian Territories-those Iraqis better grab stuff while they can. In addition, they should keep their faces away from the camera lenses unless they want the new police forces to come looking for them after the films are confiscated and reviewed by the occupying authorities. After all, if the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is the US model (and most indications are that this is the case), then the Iraqi people have a future that doesn’t include a lot of democracy or freedom. Indeed, if that is the case, Iraq’s people will continue to see bloodshed, repression, and hopelessness. Unless, of course, they happen to be part of the new regime composed of white collar criminals, Shi’a clerics, Kurdish warlords, and others currently on the good side of Washington, DC.
It’s too bad the Iraqis won’t get the democracy Messrs. Bush and Blair have been promising them. They certainly have shed enough blood for it. The way I see it, the average Iraqi will be lucky if s/he even gets enough food to feed their family in the months and years ahead, much less a vote in who will run the country. One should look at media reports (other than CNN or MSNBC) on the current situation in Afghanistan to see why I say this. As for the profits from the oil under their sands, good luck. History tells us repeatedly that the only time the common people reap any those profits is when that oil is nationalized and the proceeds from its sales distributed by the local regime as in Nasser’s Egypt, Saddam’s Iraq, Assad’s Syria, or the sheikdoms of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Notably, none of these regimes are what one would call democratic.
But, say those who support the war and occupation, that’s going to change. The US troops will leave and Iraqis will finally get their democratic government that will serve as an example for the rest of the Arab world. Democracy will flourish throughout the Middle East and the will of the people will be represented. A simple response to this muddleheaded thinking is: read your history. In those texts you will discover that invasions do not bring democracy, corporations do not share their profits, and occupying armies do not usually leave on their own volition. If you read even closer, you will discover that oil companies are not interested in helping out the common people in Iraq or anywhere else in the world. If they were, why would they have encouraged the British occupation of Iraq in the 1920s and the CIA coup in Iraq in 1953? Or the first Gulf War or the overthrow of Saddam? Further reading of your history text will lead to another discovery: the United States army has invaded tens of countries in the name of democracy and not one of those invasions resulted in a democratic government. What in God’s name would lead you to think that this invasion and occupation of Iraq will be different?
I could go on and on but I won’t. However, here’s a couple more thoughts specifically related to Iraq and the current administration in Washington: why would the US government want democracy in Iraq? After all, if there were true democracy in that country, it is very likely that the legislature would consist mostly of Shi’a Iraqis whose allegiance to their religion is greater than any feelings they may have for the infidels in D.C.. In addition, if history is truly a guide to the future, then it would only make sense that the popular sentiment of Iraq would certainly include a desire to get the occupiers out of their country immediately. I find it difficult to believe that the US would go along with such a desire, even if it was voted on. Not that popular sentiment matters to this administration anyhow-didn’t Bush’s opponent in the 2000 election actually get 500,000 more votes than him?
Anyhow, back to my feeling depressed. I’m depressed because of the lessons our children may be learning from Bush and Rumsfeld’s power-drunk drive-by. What depresses me is that all the wrong lessons have been taught. Might does make right. Lying and deceit are the best ways to get what one wants. Greed is rewarded. Murder is okay. As a parent and some time youth worker, I am wondering why I bother trying to teach young people that there is value in values such as honesty, cooperation, truth, and compassion. After all, Mr. Bush and his media machine are telling them that the opposite is true. Since he stole the election in 2002, there has been one victory after another for the liar and thief in the White House. This isn’t an accident. If you have bigger guns and sticks, you can usually win the battle. Only time will tell if they have won anything more than that. In Iraq or anywhere else.
RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground.
He can be reached at: email@example.com