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[casi] Sanctions: "Hypocrisy, thy name is Rahul Mahajan!"


Why the left-turnabout on sanctions? Hypocrisy, thy name is Rahul Mahajan!

Remember how the sanctions were the equivalent of "genocide" committed by
the Evil American Imperialists against the Oppressed Peoples of Iraq? Well,
that was then, according to Rahul Mahajan, writing on AlterNet, and
reprinted in Counterpunch and Commie Dreams, but this is now, and I quote:

"After five years spent working to end the sanctions on Iraq, I find myself
in an odd position. I'm opposed to the current U.S. plans to end the

Say what? So "genocide" is no longer genocide? Apparently so. As Rahul puts
it: "The new situation is fascinating."

Well, uh, yes, it is, in the same way that a car wreck or a heart attack is
fascinating: if only to observe how ugly reality can get. And how knee-jerk
anti-Americanism, and not concern for the Iraqi people, motivates a certain
section of the anti-war movement in this country and abroad.

Oh, but "actually, it's not so confusing," Rahul reassures us. You see, the
evil U.S. refuses to set up a puppet government in Iraq "under neutral UN
auspices rather than under those of an occupying power with clear plans for
increased regional domination." Instead of making Kofi Annan and the UN
bureaucracy the absolute dictators of Iraq, the U.S. is going to rule
directly, set up permanent military bases, and use this as a platform from
which to launch attacks on Iran and Syria.

While Rahul is right that Syria is definitely in the Bushies' sights, Iran
is a different story altogether. The Iranians were cheering on the U.S.
invasion, albeit not too loudly, which eliminated their deadliest enemy and
chief regional competitor. Now we learn that they were all the while
negotiating with the Americans in order to come to some kind of mutual
understanding. Power politics, it seems, is a bit more complex than the
"America, bad, everybody else, good" doctrine of the Third World Left.

The really telling example of U.S. perfidy, however, is Rahul's trope about
how those dastardly Americans are also plotting "to force the Palestinians
to acquiesce to the Israeli occupation through the latest 'peace plan.'"
Give me a break, willya? The Bushies are going out on a political limb with
this "road-map" business, which the Israelis are hopping mad about: "Force
the Palestinians to acquiesce"? That has got to be a typo! He must mean
force the Israelis to acquiesce. Or else why has their American amen corner
gone ballistic at the mere prospect that the "road map" may lead to the
creation of a universally-recognized Palestinian state?

The whole thing, avers Rahul, is a plot by the U.S. to "privatize, at least
in part," Iraq's oil wealth, and "pay off American corporations" while
planning the conquest of the Middle East. Military force can accomplish
these goals, is the contention, but
"Some problems are the kind that can't be solved by bombs. Existing UN
resolutions require Security Council approval for Iraqi oil sales and for
disbursement of oil money to pay for other goods. Other countries may be
leery of buying Iraqi oil without some clear understanding that what they're
doing is legal, so the United States cannot simply declare those resolutions
void by fiat, the way it declared war on Iraq."

What this boils down to is: who gets all that Iraqi oil? Rahul wants the UN
to get it, and the Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Dennis Miller cabal wants to reward
"corporations like Bechtel that are closely tied to current and past
administration figures in closed bidding processes with no foreign
corporations allowed." The war, it turns out, was mostly a scheme so that"
the United States will be able to use Iraq's money to pay off mostly
American corporations." And that's not fair! Why not let some of the other
nations - who, after all, just stood around and watched as the U.S. beat up
the schoolyard weakling - in on picking the victim's pockets? Why, those
greedy American imperialists!

What world do these lefties live in? Rahul complains that "the draft
resolution being currently circulated would give the United States very
open, explicit control over Iraq's oil industry and the money derived
therefrom." This is uttered in a tone of outraged disbelief, but why don't
"anti-imperialists" of the Left take their own rhetoric seriously? The U.S.
imperialists are acting on the "principle" of might makes right, a doctrine
well-known to their Soviet predecessors - and to Marx, one might add. Yet
poor na´ve little Rahul is shocked - shocked! Well, isn't that tough. The
question is, now what? Rahul's answer, incredibly enough, is . more
The whole campaign to lift the sanctions is a ploy by the U.S. to escape the
alleged "legal obligation it shares with the United Kingdom." What
obligation - what law? "Since they committed an illegal, aggressive war
(with no Security Council authorization) against Iraq," Rahul writes, "they
are financially responsible for the reconstruction. Iraq should not have to
pay for its own reconstruction, especially since for years to come its oil
revenues will be barely enough to meet the basic needs of its people."

First we are told that the evil U.S. is intent on building "permanent
bases," and then we are lectured that the Americans have an "obligation" to
rebuild an entire nation - yet how, exactly, will that be done without
setting up permanent American bases? Indeed, how will it be done without
Americanizing Iraq? The American conquerors of Iraq are supposed to pay for
everything, and control nothing - a proposal that could exist only in the
Bizarro World parallel universe inhabited by all too many leftists, where
reality is inverted and he who pays the piper doesn't call the tune.

There are apparently no limits to the illogic induced by anti-Americanism, a
delusionary doctrine in which Washington is - and must be - the root of all

What trips up the phony anti-imperialism of the pro-UN left in this instance
is that the U.S. invokes international law - embodied in UN resolutions - as
a rationale for the war with at least as much justification as the UN
fetishists of Rahul's sort invoke it to prove the war's illegality. The UN
Security Council approved Gulf War I, and imposed the sanctions, to begin
with. Indeed, it was an American President, the present Emperor's father,
who declared that the first attack on Iraq was the herald of a "New World
Order" - and made a point of his internationalist piety by going to the UN
Security Council before putting the question to the U.S. Congress.
The United Nations is itself an agent of foreign domination over subject
peoples; look at Bosnia and Kosovo, where the ethnic cleansing of Serbs and
the eradication of all political rights was ratified by UN overlords. The
big debate in the West is not between the proponents of an American Raj and
the defenders of national sovereignty, but over which band of bureaucrats
(or gang of profiteers) will have control of the loot. On the grounds that
anything is better than the Americans, the amateur anti-imperialists of the
Left side with the UN - but there is an alternative. Unfortunately, their
ideological blinders prevent many on the Left from seeing it.
The sheer absurdity of the left-turnabout on sanctions underscores the
inherently nonsensical internationalism that is the emotional and political
core of left-consciousness. Workers of the world, unite: militant idealists
who find such slogans attractive are likely to find irresistible a crusade
to "make the world safe for democracy." What is their chief concern? Not
America, not their home city, town, or state, but the world! The evil of war
requires a large canvas. Dangerous idealists are nearly always global in
their aspirations.

The pathetic rationalizations uttered by our friend Rahul - "the way that
the sanctions work is not the way they used to" - would be funny if the
issue wasn't serious. Yeah, they sure don't make draconian economic
sanctions the way they used to, if the Iraqi people really won't be harmed
at all by them, as we are assured. But then, was the anti-sanctions movement
dead wrong all along - did tens of thousands not die because of them?

"In the long run," writes Rahul,
" the sanctions must be lifted because they impose a highly inefficient
foreign control of the Iraqi economy, causing the collapse of local economic
activity and requiring money that should be spent internally to be spent on
foreign corporations. In the short run, there is no compelling reason to
lift them in the absence of a legitimate Iraqi government that has the right
to make choices about how Iraq's oil wealth is to be used for the benefit of
the Iraqi people."

"In the short run, f*** the Iraqi people - just as long as we get revenge on
the U.S. by any means necessary. Who cares if the Iraqi economy collapses,
the bad guys profit, and ordinary people suffer - none of these are
'compelling' enough reasons to stop pompous fools like myself from
determining what is best for the Iraqi people."

Anti-Americanism is the anti-interventionism of fools. And it is rooted in
anti-capitalism. Why are what Rahul describes as the "state oil companies"
run by Saddam Hussein and his mafia-like family sacrosanct? Why shouldn't
they be privatized? And why not allow foreign ownership? I'm shocked -
shocked! - at Rahul's "xenophobia."

Okay, that was a bit too easy, I know. Plenty of left-oriented activists,
notably the widely-respected Voices in the Wilderness, oppose this nutty
pro-sanctions position. Let's file this under "It just goes to show." - as
in "It just goes to show how crazy the Left can be if it takes some of its
more untenable principles too seriously" - and move along.

But one important point needs to be made. As the embodiment of the one and
only successful libertarian revolution in history, the United States is by
its very nature a potentially liberating force in the world. The idea that
no good could possibly come of this war is obviously wrong. But it is not
far off the mark, either, and needs only to be amended: Nothing good for the
U.S. can come of this war. All the benefits, such as they are, will be
reaped in Iraq, by the Iraqis, while we pay and pay, in human lives and
treasure looted from the private incomes of Americans. We spread liberty -
or some deformed version of it - abroad, and nurture tyranny at home: that
is the price of our rulers' internationalism, and we'll be paying it for
some time to come.

- Justin Raimondo

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