One of my favorite lines from the recent news has to be this one that appeared in the Washington Post on April 7, 2006: Some (Iraqis) say flatly that American soldiers act like “cowboys in Western movies,” in Kamal’s words. Some U.S. commanders acknowledge the problem exists. But they blame it on insurgents who disguise themselves as (Iraqi) civilians.” My initial reaction to these commanders comment is that the insurgents are civilians. They are civilian Iraqis who live in Iraq that have decided to pick up guns to oppose the foreign troops that have occupied their country. The Iraqis belong there. The US troops don’t. It’s as simple as that.
On the same day, there was a report on the AP wires that described a speech George Bush gave in Charlotte, NC. the day before. In that report, there was no mention of the protest against Bush outside the event, but there was a quote from his speech inside. After telling the (mostly sycophantic) audience that he would willingly send more troops to Iraq if the generals told him they were “needed,” Bush continued, stating, “during the Vietnam War there was a lot of politicization of the military decisions. That’s not going to be the case under my administration.” Now, I don’t know what constitution Mr. Bush operates under, but it certainly isn’t the one I learned in school. That constitution–the one passed in 1789 at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia–very clearly puts civilians in charge of the military, not the other way around. No war on terror or any other (imaginary or real) enemy should change that.
But then, it’s been clear for a while that George Bush and his minions don’t give a damn about the Constitution anyhow. That much was also apparent in his remarks to an audience question in Charlotte that asked Bush if he would apologize for his warrantless spying on US citizens. “Would I apologize for it? The answer is absolutely not.” After all, if this administration is going to ignore the body of the US Constitution, then any amendments to that bady must mean even less. Not that they are alone in that, given the beating most of the Bill of Rights has taken over the years.
Meanwhile, that same day, General Robert Magnus, the assistant in command over at Marine Corps headquarters, was insisting that the Marines can maintain their troop levels in Iraq indefinitely. He lectured the press, clearly stating his opposition to a military draft because his military needed highly trained recruits to go fight US wars in “Port-au-Prince or Kandahar.” In other words, Magnus opposes a draft because it would allow people into the military that questioned their orders in a much broader way than is currently occurring in today’s military.
The general should probably have added Tehran to his shortlist. Rumors continue to swirl about US intentions for that nation. Despite the clear signal from most of the UN Security Council that it has no desire to antagonize the Iranian regime, Washington seems intent on provoking some kind of confrontation–the louder the better. As for those funds Condi Rice asked the US Congress to send to willing groups of Iranians in and out of their country who want the mullahs’ government deposed, it seems there are very few takers. In fact, according to an April 6, 2006 article from Radio Free Europe (definitely not a mouthpiece for the Iranian regime), “a loose affiliation of (Iranian) intellectuals at home and abroad has rejected such aid as “an insult” to the Iranian people.” A spokesperson for this group of Iranian dissidents went on record saying, “Democracy is not a product that we can import from another country. We have to prepare the ground for it so that it can grow and bear fruit — especially because independent and national forces, and also self-reliant forces, in Iran will never accept a foreign country telling them what to do and which way to take.” This sentiment is publicly shared by another prominent opposition group known as the National Council of Resistance for Iran (NCRI). The spokesperson enhanced his remarks, stating that any activists that accepted the aid would be immediately branded as US spies.
If the buildup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq is any indication, what this means for Iran then is that Washington will create its own “Iranian opposition” from less scrupulous individuals eager for US dollars and potential power in a future US-installed government in Tehran. At this point, the only opposition group known to receive any US funding is a group run by the non-Iranian US citizen and neocon writer Kenneth Timmerman. His group, the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI), is on record as having received funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a quasi-private agency that uses US government funds to support the subversion of elections in Central and South America and its machinations in concert with the CIA in various so-called popular movements in eastern Europe and the Middle East. Indeed, if one looks at the sidebar on the FDI’s website, they will find a listing of five or six Iranian opposition groups. Most of the groups appear to be composed of very few people and feature articles by US imperial cheerleaders like Henry Kissinger and Michael Ledeen, among others.
No matter what one thinks about the elections in Iraq and the West Bank and Gaza, the US reaction to them reinforces the view that underlies the sentiment that Washington is not truly interested in democracy as much as it is interested in empire. The Iranians are right to refuse Washington’s silver, no matter how it is packaged. Accepting it is the first step towards betrayal.
RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org