The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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Dear Marc and list Marc Azar, replying to my view that the discussion list should be open to proponents of torture, raises a very fundamental question that really needs to be addressed before we start discussing whose voices should or shouldn't be heard. He says: "A mailing list is not about freedo(o)m and democracy for all. It's about uniting people around a common purpose." Which raises the question: what is our common purpose? What are we campaigning for? If we are a group of activists discussing strategy, what is the end of our activism? What are we trying to achieve? It is probably safe to say that most contributors to the list as it stands are - as I am myself - deeply opposed to the United States' policy of world domination. But this wasn't the original aim of CASI. CASI was established to end the sanctions imposed on Iraq and, from the start, CASI pursued a policy of engaging seriously with the British establishment in all its different manifestations in order to achieve that end. CASI always attached more importance to achieving its end - lifting sanctions - than to preserving its own moral purity. And this meant understanding the arguments that were put up from the other side. Taking them seriously and treating them as if they were worthy of respect even when they were, as they generally were, quite contemptible. There is of course a distinction to be drawn between CASI as such and the discussion list. I am a contributor to the discussion list. I am not a member of CASI. As a contributor to the discussion list and as myself a moral purist, I can point out that the pragmatic approach of engagement with the establishment failed. Sanctions continued until something worse came along (and the US sanctions are still continuing). I have indicated my own strong disagreement with CASI's press statement welcoming the lifting of the UN sanctions, which amounted to little more than handing over the Iraqi economy and, in particular, the key of the UN escrow account to the invaders. Nonetheless I believed then and continue to believe that such engagement with the establishment is necessary. I don't have the stomach for it myself but am pleased that there are those who do. It is the pragmatic CASI, not the discussion list, that has gained the reputation for caution and objectivity, reliability, lack of hysterical rhetoric, which has enabled it to touch parts of the British political scene other campaigning groups cannot reach. So where are we now? I have said in the introductions to my news mailings that there is now a contradiction between the interests of the world at large and those of the Iraqi people. The Iraqi people (if I dare speak for them) need the fastest possible transition to peace, prosperity and democracy. The world requires a catastrophic failure for the neo-conservative project which will consign it and everyone associated with it to the dustbin of history. That in turn requires that the neocons persist in their ambitions and get bogged down in an ever greater spiral of failure - interethnic war, collapse of the infrastructure (or rather impossibility of re-establishing the infrastructure that has already collapsed), sabotage, soldiers killed, atrocities committed against the civilian population, that sort of thing. An even greater intensification of all the seemingly endless sufferings of the Iraqi people. We can observe that and point constantly to the moral responsibility of the British and American governments, but we cannot advocate it, we cannot campaign for it (unless it becomes unmistakeably obvious that the vast majority of Iraqis want it). The rapid transition to peace, prosperity and democracy, should it happen (which seems unlikely) will, however, be a vindication of the US war. Even if it occurs through a handover to the UN or to a broadly representative Iraqi administration. Even if Bechtel, Haliburton and the like are out of the picture. If, within three years, the situation in Iraq is appreciably better than it was prior to the invasion, and especially if it is much better, the US and UK will be perceived to have won. So who is going to campaign for that? CASI probably. It is entirely in line with CASI's tradition to set itself the aim of a rapid transition to peace, prosperity and democracy in Iraq. And that will once again require a critical engagement with the establishment - including the US establishment. It may be a very critical engagement but it will be an engagement nonetheless. And it will amount to this: advising the establshment as to what they should do in order to make a success of their invasion. That will probably mean a split between CASI as such and the discussion list as presently constituted. If this occurs I myself will have great difficulty deciding which side to choose. But I shall probably go with CASI, on the grounds that a policy of engagement, of offering good advice which will in all probability be rejected, is likely to be more subversive than a policy of booing from the public gallery. > From: Marc Azar <email@example.com> > Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org > Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2003 13:13:21 -0400 > To: SOC - CASI List <email@example.com> > Subject: Re: [casi] re: Cordesman: What is Next in Iraq? > > Received enough bullshit from that side for 5 years during > anti-sanctions campaigning, and it's not exactly like the OTHER side has > had difficulty making its "vision thing" known to the whole universe > either. Want it or not, I always get it poured down on me. Don't need to > extend this wasted space to CASI which should and did get me the other > side or hard to find pieces of vital information such as UN reports to > the Secretary General (when it use to matter). > > Case in point, today Paul Bremer admits that even with total oil flow of > Iraq unimpeded by UN sanctions, it will take tens of billions more to > reactivate Iraq to a functioning 'normal' state. > > "Oil for food works, oil-for-food works, it's all Saddam's fault, it's > all Sadddam's fault." > > So I don't want it. And I strongly disagree with Peter's relativist > premiss. A mailing list is not about freedo(o)m and democracy for all. > It's about uniting people around a common purpuse. Very different. If > you don't agree with the objectives of a said list then you don't have > any 'right' to join it. The freedom is in creating your own list > elsewhere with whatever objectives of your own. > > But I don't manage casi either. > > Marc Azar > > Peter Brooke a écrit: > >> Dear all >> >> Marc Azar says about the Anthony Cordesman piece posted by Nicholas Martin: >> >> "No proponent of torture should be allowed space on anti-sanctions lists >> such as CASI." >> >> Cordesman is an influential figure and it is important that we should know >> and understand what he is saying. Its also necessary to know all that can be >> said against him, so I'm all in favour of the rest of Marc's mailing. But if >> Cordesman (or Paul Wolfowitz. Or Izzat Ibrahim) were to come on the list in >> person I for one would be very happy. >> >> My own ambition for CASI has always been that its material would be so good >> that anyone seriously interested in the subject, whatever their own angle, >> would be obliged to refer to it. I'm sure this is already the case with the >> website. It ought to be the case with the discussion list as well. >> >> This may not be the best moment to say this in the wake of - or perhaps in >> the midst of - the Darin Zeilweger episode but so long as the language is >> courteous and we're not getting bombarded by spam, this list should, I >> believe be open to everyone. Including proponents of torture. >> >> Best wishes >> >> Peter >> >> >> _______________________________________________ >> Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. >> To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss >> To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org >> All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk >> >> >> >> > > > > _______________________________________________ > Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. > To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss > To contact the list manager, email email@example.com > All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk > _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk