War, Real Estate and the Anti-War Movement
Today was a strange day. I found myself disagreeing with Chomsky, and in a peculiarly, twisted way, appreciating Thomas Friedman.
New York Times famed columnist Friedman is an interesting journalist. He comes out, often, as one who is simply presenting different scenarios in the US effort to invade Iraq, without a shred of subjectivity, but in reality offers no option other than war. It's a clever warmongering tactic.
Iraq could become another Vietnam, he tells us, only if we wish to make it that way once we occupy it. Otherwise, he asserts, it could become a pillar of democracy and economic achievement, the way we made Germany and Japan following World War II. This was the core of the man's presentation on the Oprah Show, which was dedicated to the subject of war on Iraq, on February 13.
What Friedman intentionally omitted from his talk was considering the moral and legal right to invade and occupy another sovereign country in the first place. Such disregard renders both of Friedman's options meaningless, even deceptive.
Needless to say, despite my lack of respect for Friedman's arrogant depiction of almost everyone else, except of the United States and his strong support of the ruthless policies of the US and Israel governments, I am glad that he spared us the time to rebut his potential argument that a war on Iraq is motivated by any other reason than oil.
I am still wondering why the big fuss over Friedman. But my lack of respect for the man's intellectual discourse was no reason for me not to appreciate the fact that he is open in thinking of Iraq as an oil field. "We will own Iraq", he kept on uttering, not only on the Oprah Show, but in other venues as well. Friedman has no ethical problem with "owning" someone else's country as cheap real estate, but his challenge is how can the United States consolidate such ownership in a way that could make the difference between Vietnam scenario on one hand, and Germany and Japan on the other.
With a related yet slightly different angle, Professor Noam Chomsky was interviewed by the British Guardian, an interview published on February 04, on the subject of the anti war movement. The leading American intellectual who is considered one of the leading forces that shaped the present time opposition of the United States governments' imperial foreign policies, surprised me a bit stating: "There's never been a time that I can think of when there's been such massive opposition to a war before it was even started."
Chomsky, like Friedman also resorted to the Vietnam comparison, again, with a different twist. If you compare the opposition to the Iraq war "with the Vietnam war, the current stage of the war with Iraq is approximately like that of 1961 - that is, before the war actually was launched, as it was in 1962 with the US bombing of South Vietnam and driving millions of people into concentration camps and chemical warfare and so on, but there was no protest. In fact, so little protest that few people even remember."
On a personal level, the opposition to war across the world, despite the prevailing fear that war is immanent is one of those reasons that gives me urgently needed hope in a time that I often cannot help but despair. However, with all due respect, the anti Iraq war movement, unlike the Vietnam War is overdue, by at least 10 years.
The Iraq war has never completely ended to start once more. The 1991 US-led allies war on Iraq continued, unabated using various forms of killing, focusing mostly on depriving the Iraqis from food and medicine. The United Nations' own studies testify to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis as a result of the genocidal sanctions during the last decade. Meanwhile, hundreds of air raids on Iraq have always satisfied the requirement of war from a traditional warfare point of view.
The fact that the world is now opposed to the unleashing of a newer stage of the US war on Iraq is a direct result of 10 years of devastating war. When people from across the world march in opposition to war, they don't carry abstract images of dying Iraqi children, but real photos of victims of the war on Iraq that has never ended.
I worry that over crediting ourselves for the anti Iraq war movement, over 10 years after the war began, might compel some of us to rest with the assumption that the war is yet to start. The only factor that is uniquely different between this stage of the war in comparison to the earlier stages, is that the coming stage involves the complete invasion of the country, the installing of a puppet government and the killing of many more people, at a much faster pace.
Needless to say, I am impressed and proud of the vigor of the anti war movement, all over the world, but in the United States in particular. Despite the fantastic "Showdown with Saddam" propaganda that assaults every American, all day every day, and despite the vicious attempts by the US government, in collaboration with the media, to instill fear in the heart of Americans to ease the way toward a "preemptive war" against an unreal threat, there are still millions of Americans who refuse to follow the US government's oil-motivated logic.
There are still millions of Americans that care for a nation that resides thousands of miles away; there are many Americans who see the tragedy of September 11 as a reason for compassion and peace, not endless wars and invasions; and thank God, there are still millions of Americans, who, unlike Friedman, don't want to "own Iraq", and who would rather pay a few more pennies to fuel their cars than to cut short the lives of almost an entire generation of Iraqis.
Two days ago, in a television interview, in New York, I had the honor of meeting a young man whose father was killed in the September 11 tragedy. The man is now a leader in the anti war movement and proudly advocates peace in response to the death of his father. The young man was a true inspiration, although he never made it at the Oprah Show; after all, unlike Freidman, he had nothing to do with the real estate business.
Ramzy Baroud is the editor-in-chief of PalestineChronicle.com and the editor of "Searching Jenin: Eyewittness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion 2002"
Topics: Conflicts And War, History, Iraq, Iraq War, Thomas Friedman, Vietnam
This being said, it is hard for me to complete agree with the author of this article. I present the following examples of countries that have attacked US interests and yet kept their complete autonomy after failing in their paths: German, Japan, Italy, Libya, and Russia (Cold War). Even countries rescued by the US have kept their autonomy, for example Kuwait, Panama, the Entire Continent of Europe, N. Korea, Bosnia and Serbia.
The US has not kept any of their territories or natural resources. Their religious freedoms have never being limited by the US. For this reasons I do not find his case persuasive but reasonably subjective to sensationalist audience.
We must leave speculation as the tool of the devil and start dealing with facts.
1. With the exception of the Iraqi missiles being 9 miles out side the UN Resolution allowed distance, the UN inspectors have not found any evidence of weapons of mass destruction.
2. Saddam is a very bad man that has killed thousands of humans (Muslims and Non-Muslims) and for this reason he posses a threat to its neighbors, just ask Iran and Kuwait, and to Global economies.
3. Bush is a cowboy looking for what his administration perceives as current or future threats that could be Islamic, N. Korean, or anything in between.
The U.S. is not always right, especially on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but if the Islamic Extremists think that they can persuade the U.S. by the use of force they are as ignorant of the US as they claim the U.S. is ignorant of the rest of the world.
The only reason you want this war on Iraq is for Israel continued hegemony of the region. The same Israel which is a terrorist state whose rap sheet is longer than that of all the tinpot Arab dictatorships put together.