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(en) Workers Solidarity #76 - Iraq war aftermath

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sun, 3 Aug 2003 08:19:59 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

> Slaughtering democracy
While most people understand the word democracy to mean
that the people hold power, there is another meaning.
According to the second meaning of the word, democracy
means that the super-rich make all of the decisions while the
people's job is to do what they're told, and to put a piece of
paper in a box every few years. This 'democracy' is extremely
hostile to any notions of popular involvement in politics. The
US/UK war against Iraq, trumpeted as a war for 'democracy',
illustrates what this 'democracy' means in practice.

Instead of being driven by public opinion, Bush and Blair
decided to go to war at a time when there was no public
support for a war. They then launched an enormous
propaganda effort to convince their own public, which started
by largely opposing the war. In Britain, it was only after the
war had actually started that opinion polls showed a majority
supporting it. In 'convincing' the public, Bush and Blair
deceived them massively as to the scale of the threat that
Iraq posed. They used fake evidence, and deliberately
produced inaccurate dossiers to build up a sense of danger. It
succeeded to the extent that, by the time the war broke out, a
majority of the US population believed that Iraq was behind
9-11 (up from 3% after 9-11). And, although the US army
were able to invade Iraq and pulverise their army in a matter
of weeks while Iraq was unable to hit the US with so much
as a single bullet, a majority of the US population believed
that Saddam Hussein posed a real and imminent threat to the
US! So, according to this version of democracy, the rulers
decide what to do and then manipulate the population into
backing them by using deliberate lies.

While the US and UK were able to succeed in terrifying their
populations to a certain extent, public opinion in the rest of
the world remained massively opposed to the war. Bush and
Blair's response to this tells us a lot about their conception of
democracy. They applied every available pressure to
persuade governments around the world to defy their
populations and support the war. In their efforts to garner the
support of the UN Security Counsil, the US talked openly
about massive payments in return for votes and was even
caught bugging the apartments of diplomats on the council.
When that failed, those governments that did actually follow
the will of their people were systematically attacked and
vilified in the media. When Turkey's parliament finally sided
with over 90% of the population and refused to allow the US
to use their airbases, they became a target of US
denunciation. The government lacked "democratic
credentials," according to former US Ambassador Morris
Abramowitz, now a distinguished elder statesman. The
government is "following the people," he wrote, instead of
following orders from Washington and Crawford Texas. That
is plainly unacceptable in this new version of democracy.

Another feature of this democracy is that, by no means must
people be allowed to rule themselves. Even before the war
started, the Bush junta were making it clear that the Kurds
would not be getting independence. Recently Donald
Rumsfeld stated that "an Iranian-type government with a few
clerics running everything in the country" "isn't going to
happen." Not even if the majority want it. They also
emphasised the importance of preserving the territorial
integrity of Iraq, without even pretending to care if that is
what the Iraqi people want. It seems that in this form of
democracy, the people get to choose neither the form of the
state, nor the content of its government.

Once the invasion had succeeded, we had another chance to
see what this democracy - or liberation - meant in practice.
After destroying the country's infrastructure and killing
thousands of people, the US was surprised to find itself still
opposed by many Iraqis. This opposition has been shown in
frequent demonstrations as well as an escalating campaign
of assassinations and ambushes against the occupying army.
The US response to this has been to attempt to crush it with
overwhelming force while dismissing it as "terrorist groups
seeking to spread chaos" and "foreign fighters" linked to
al-Qaida. Yet, the overwhelming message from the scene is
that hostility to the occupying forces is growing for the most
simple and compelling reasons. In the latest of many
examples, Amnesty International has documented the
inhumane treatment handed out to young Iraqis picked up by
US forces. Being tightly bound with plastic handcuffs, and
denied access to water and toilets, is not the best way to win
hearts and minds.

Britain's failure to account for some 4,000 prisoners-of-war
who are entitled to the protection of the Geneva conventions
is also most disturbing. US troops have fired into crowds of
demonstrators, killing dozens, and every time that a US
soldier is killed, scores of Iraqis, selected almost at random,
are slaughtered in response. Therefore, in this democracy,
opposition is to be crushed by massive use of force.

Then there is the question of how Iraq is ruled under this
'democracy'. Currently the country is ruled by appointed US
administrators without any mechanism whatsoever for
consultation with the Iraqi people. The US has put no
timescale on this direct, military rule and, despite the fact
that they initially talked about a brief occupation, Bush
recently referred to it as a "massive and long-term
undertaking ahead". It is clear that, however long it turns out
to be, the decision to end the occupation will be taken by the
US alone, and the Iraqi people will have absolutely no say in

What next for Iraq?

Although they now seem settled in for a long occupation, it is
likely that the Bush administration will try to install an Iraqi
government at some stage. From a PR point of view, it would
look much better to have a native government and some type
of formal democracy. However, it has already been made
abundantly clear that the Iraqi people will have no say in this
government. The various departments of the US government
will be the electors and will install a government that will do
their bidding. We have already seen their attempts to build up
Chalabi as a future Iraqi ruler. His backing comes entirely
from branches of the US government, while being virtually
unknown in Iraq. Whatever government is finally picked, it is
certain to be a puppet of the US.

So, the Iraqi people are facing a situation where they have no
say in how their country is governed, and certain political
groups are to be absolutely excluded from power (like
Kurdish leftists and pro-Iranian Shi'ites). Their country is
subject to an occupation of indefinite length and all
opposition is to be crushed with overwhelming force.
Meanwhile their oil is taken over by US multinationals and
their cities lie in ruins. At some stage in the future, they will
probably be given a government carefully selected by the US.
This is what they mean by democracy. A world run by the
powerful where every step must be taken to systematically
exclude the people from having any say whatsoever in the
running of their affairs.

Chekov Feeney

More at

* Anarchism and the fight against Imperialism
* Stop refuelling at Shannon warport
* Stopthewar

This page is from the print version of the
Irish Anarchist paper 'Workers Solidarity'.

Print out the PDF file of this issue

Print out the PDF file of the most recent issue

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