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Dear all I got an email from Daniel Grunberg, referring me to a piece by an Iraqi opposition group, 'Iraqi activists'. (http://members.tripod.com/iraq__questions/index.htm). With his permission I'm sending my reply to the whole list. Best wishes Peter Dear Daniel Grunberg Thanks for your email. I take it you're the same Daniel Grunberg who recently annoyed Dirk Adriaensens. I think you should have taken more care with your spelling and presentation, but the basic point you were making that those who are opposed to sanctions on Iraq should support the overthrow of S.Hussein since that is the only way sanctions will be ended deserves to be addressed. What I'm going to say in reply is entirely personal and I don't expect other people on the CASI list to agree with me. First, I think you're right that there is no, or little, chance of sanctions being lifted so long as S.Hussein is in power. It would be a too obvious defeat for the US; it would almost overnight turn Iraq into a very powerful country; it would put an end to the payment of compensation for the cost of the Gulf War. I myself favour what seems to be the current Iraqi government policy of using its (very considerable) economic pull to induce nations simply to disregard the 'law'. I think that the Security Council imposed 'law' has no moral credibility so long as the five permanent members are above the law. The problem I see with overthrowing the Iraqi government militarily is that the US is unfit to do it, because they are not (unlike the Romans, the Tatars, the Ottomans, the British etc) a proper imperialist power, one which is willing to take over the administration of the countries they destroy. They destroy the infrastructure of the country, then say that the forces that exist within the country have to put the pieces together again. But the governments they don't like are the products of the specific history of those countries; and that specific history reasserts itself, producing another government they don't like ... In the case of Iraq, what the Americans have wanted has been for a close associate of S.Hussein (ie someone very like him) to kill him and take power. That was the hope for the first few years after the 1991 Gulf Massacre, and it was for that frivolous end that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died of disease and starvation, under the benign gaze of Madeleine Albright as US ambassador to the UN. They have now, I imagine, given up this hope and have nothing else serious in mind, since the idea of a war launched by the INC seems rather fatuous. Perhaps you can persuade me I'm wrong about that, but I note it doesn't seem to be among the recommendations of the 'Iraqi activists' on the website you directed me to (they advocate lifting of sanctions on essential services under close UN supervision quite a good demand I think and a special war crimes court to judge S.Hussein. Not such a good demand since it just adds to the list of obstacles placed in the way of the lifting of sanctions. It could only be enforced by an invasion). As I see it, the Iraqi National Congress is made up of Kurds who most definitely don't want to launch a war against Saddam and Sunni Iraqi nationalists. I think it has very little Shi'i representation. The Shi'i are actually engaged in armed struggle without asking permission from the US. Under the circumstances their struggle necessarily takes the form of 'terrorism', and I am curious to know if the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution is on the US government's list of terrorist organisations. Although the Kurds claim to be in favour of a united Iraq, they are not 'Iraqis' in the Iraqi nationalist sense of the word, and have been engaged in a long struggle against the Iraq of the Iraqi nationalists a struggle that long predates the coming of S.Hussein. Their dependence on the US is therefore not as contemptible as the involvement of the Iraqi nationalists. But, as I say, I don't think they're enthusiastic about the INC. The Iraqi nationalists, on the other hand, have implicated themselves in the worst crime ever committed against their country. Their failure to condemn the sanctions and the bombing renders them unfit to be considered as a real alternative government. On the very best reading their position is analogous to that of General Vlassov, who thought to liberate his country from Soviet domination in alliance with the Nazis. They propose, if I understand aright, to operate in Southern Iraq, where I'm sure the local Shi'i population will want little to do with them. I assume they haven't proposed using the Kurdish north as their base because the Kurds, despite their nominal involvement, don't want anything to do with them either (their representatives were massacred in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1995 or 6, I can't remember, with the connnivance of the KDP). What is really being proposed, since the US is incapable of waging any other sort of war, is intense aerial bombardment, massacre from a distance, in the hopes that something might turn up. So I don't really see any desirable option, given that what I want return of Iraq, even under its present regime, as a full member of the community of nations won't happen because of US peevishness. And what you want overthrow of S.Hussein won't happen because of US cowardice. I am sometimes tempted to think that this US cowardice should be challenged that the solution to the problem of war and the horrors of weapons of mass destruction is that US military might will turn into a US monopoly of power and direct domination of the world of the sort Hitler is said to have enivisaged (though his ambitions seem to me to have been modest by comparison). The idea is that if you are living in a neighbourhood torn apart by a turf war between protection rackets you have an interest in one of them (probably the biggest and most vicious) coming out on top and subduing all the others. That would impose a sort of 'peace' after the manner of the other great Empires of history. I am deeply opposed to it, but it makes a kind of sense. Is it what you are working for? Best wishes Peter Brooke PS With regard to your Iraqi activists is there any significance in the fact that the main text, about Iraq and general political philosophy, is full of language errors, perfectly understandable if it is written by an Iraqi; while the quality of English in the whole section dealing with post Sept 11 is very good and, contrary to the earlier part, uses the word 'we' a lot, apparently encompassing both the Iraqi activists and the US? [With regard to the question I posed to Daniel Grunberg if he is working for a US monopoly of power in the world he replied that he doesn't have any fixed views as to how these problems should be resolved and is still posing questions rather than giving answers] -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org CASI's website - www.casi.org.uk - includes an archive of all postings.