The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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Dear "Blue Pilgrim' and list Thanks for the response to my mail. With regard to Saddam Hussein and 'crisis managment' (meaning managing by creating crises) it seems to me that he took two major crisis-creating initiatives of his own free will: the war on Iran and the war on Kuwait. In both cases - whatever his motivation - he would have had reason to think he could gain a quick'n'easy victory. Iran was in a state of turmoil. In particular, its army must have been in a state of turmoil. And by invading it he was doing the US a favour. In the case of Kuwait, there was clearly no military problem and he had reason to think it had been cleared with the US. So although you're probably right to say that he used sanctions to his own advantage, I still think that the crimes he may be charged with have to be placed in the context of imminent destruction of the state, and that this context was imposed on him - albeit as a result of catastrophic errors of judgment - not willingly created by him. But the main thrust of your mail is to do with the present resistance to occupation and the extent to which the violence contributes towards justifying and therefore prolonging the occupation. One wonderful thing that has been achieved by the invasion is that now 'the Iraqi people' has emerged as a major player on the stage. And being people they are multifarious. And having among them large numbers who are passionately committed to conflicting political and religious ideals the question arises if some sort of civil war might not be inevitable. I for one am immensely impresseed. I had assumed that after suffering so much for so long, 'the Iraqi people' would accept the new US imposed 'order' and try to make the best of it. Thus Iraq would be converted into a US army base and become (what it wasn't under Saddam Hussein in the 1990s) a 'threat to its neighbours'. This was also, of course, the calculation of the American Neo-Conservatives. Instead, under the form of the largely Sunni resistance on the one hand and, on the other, of the largely Shi'i refusal to give the occupation any moral credibility, the Iraqis are showing themselves to be a people, or peoples of spirit (I don't think one can reasonably count the Kurd separatists as 'Iraqis - though the Kurds who supported the Ba'ath government may be another matter. It would be nice to know more about them and how they are faring at the present time) You suggest that the violent resistance would give the US an excuse to prolong their occupation, but at present the Bush administration seems to be showing the spirit they denounced in Clinton's abandonment of Somalia. When they arrived in Iraq they were talking about a ten year period of hegemony but now its an accelerated timetable for withdrawal. And though they will presumably still leave bases those bases will probably be as problematical for them as the ones they have abandoned in Saudi Arabia. It is far from obvious that Iraq could be used as a launching pad for an invasion of Syria and/or Iran. Even the IGC could only approve this if its only remotely representative element - SCIRI (I'm again not counting the Kurds, not for any want of respect but just because they are a separate problem) - was removed. We obviously can have no influence on how Iraqi politics evolves, including the great question whether the resistance should be violent or non-violent. It isn't in our hands and as a citizen of one of the two most aggressive states in the world (I am British) I'm not in a position to indulge in a purely moral condemnation. What seems to me quite remarkable is that, although the armed resistance has killed many Iraqis, including many bystanders, and is largely responsible for the oil shortages with all their consequences, popular anger (including Shi'i anger) is still largely directed against the occupation. The recent demonstrations against terrorism were on a much smaller scale than the half million claimed by Yasser. They seem to have been mainly the work of parties represented in the IGC, notably the Communist Party and SCIRI, and they certainly didn't express solidarity with the forces of order in their non-Iraqi guise. I think the main thrust of our political activity here in the West should be elections based on universal suffrage and the establishment of a government with the moral authority to take control of the economy and of security policy. This is obviously a demand on which people who suported the invasion (on anti-Saddam rather than pro US imperialism grounds) and people who oposed it can agree. Everyone indeed claims to want it. The differences turn on questions of the timetable (as soon a possible, I say) and of the rights accorded to any interim government (as little as possible, I say). CASI, with its wide diversity of opinion, is a good forum in which such matters can be discussed, with the analysis list as the best place for it, focussing on immediate practical questions and the welfare of the Iraqis (its getting off to a good start). There is, however, still room for a wider political/historical and even, I would suggest, theological discussion (the question of the role of Shari'a for example). And the continuing discussion list wuld be the best place for that. 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 email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk