by By Dennis Rahkonen
July 21, 2003
During the Vietnam era, there was a considerable difference between the two major wings of the American peace movement regarding precisely which war- ending approach ought to be popularly adopted.
The People’s Coalition for Peace and Justice felt it was most practical to organize around calling for negotiations and a specific date for ceasing hostilities.
The National Peace Action Coalition, however, was very emphatic in its consistent demand of “Out Now!”
I worked with both tendencies, striving to build badly needed unity in an American Left infamous for its fratricidal factionalism.
While I was a local coordinator for the PCPJ, supportive of its assessment of how Nixon’s Indochina folly could best be terminated, I simultaneously plastered every available lamp post or bare spot of wall in our town with the NPAC’s blue and white “Out Now!” stickers.
A similar discrepancy exists among opponents of George Bush’s war against Iraq.
The dominant position -- except among categorical anti-imperialists of the true Left -- has been that the U.S. “presence” in Iraq shouldn’t too hastily or “recklessly” be brought to a close, for fear that Saddam Hussein would return or that “chaos” would ensue. Coupled with this opinion are calls for internationalizing the defacto occupation, allowing for our troops to be replaced by foreign “peacekeepers”
Among the announced Democratic presidential aspirants, for instance, this is the majority view.
But doesn’t that actually amount to Bush’s policy goals being implemented by proxy? Regardless which countries’ forces assume the final occupational role, the “peace” they’d try to impose would be an attempted quashing of valid Iraqi resistance to what would still be a neo-colonial thwarting of Iraq’s sovereign right to independent self-determination.
Washington would hardly tolerate an outcome that meant U.S. multi-national corporations (read Big Oil) wouldn’t get the fabulously profitable fruits that Bush’s aggression was designed from the very start to...steal.
Let’s not kid ourselves in any sense.
This wasn’t a war about weapons of mass destruction that were never found, nor was it a noble and needed ouster of a vile despot. The U.S. and Britain both have WMD of their own, and were not averse to providing Iraq such capabilities when it was in their former, Cold War interest to do so.
Furthermore, Saddam Hussein -- like Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan -- was essentially a creation of our self-serving meddling in Iraqi internal affairs. As a United Press International investigative piece disclosed this spring, he was plucked from obscurity by the CIA to practice barbaric repression against Iraqis deemed too dangerously leftist in Washington’s opinion, at a time when all politics everywhere were too readily infused with U.S. vs. Soviets overtones.
No, it wasn’t worry over weapons that we ourselves not only have but have used with horrific consequence over time (beginning at Hiroshima). And the U.S. corporate state would be thrilled to have Saddam as our henchman, no matter how brutal his techniques.
Dubya’s attack on Iraq was an utterly uncalled-for invasion to grab somebody else’s wealth, to achieve regional hegemony in shabbily disguised colonial form, and to assert America’s new, ugly presumption of being the sole ideological and economic decider of humanity’s affairs.
In other words, there’s entirely nothing good or worthy about what Bush did.
Likewise, there’s no actual righteousness or broad value in anything we’re doing in Iraq as our troops remain there. Our military doesn’t try to get the power back on in this Iraqi town or that to give the locals light to read the Koran by, but to undercut a basis for rebellion and to provide electricity for commerce and industry that Yankee monopolists hope to lucratively dominate.
That’s imperialism, folks. No decent person should have any truck with what is unequivocally humankind’s worst bane, especially in the subsequently-suffering Third World.
We need to get the hell out of Iraq, now, because there’s no morally defensible reason for us being there, period. America, under Bush, has absolutely no legitimacy, no basis for considered respect.
For most Americans, however, talk of imperialism is abstruse and arcane.
Years of conservative mind bending have assured that we’re not predisposed to widely delve into radical political analysis.
What it’ll all hinge on will be those recent high school graduates violently dying in Iraq on a daily basis in a guerrilla war that’ just the latest in a string of unpleasant surprises the American people have been dismayed by -- following blatant lies used to sell a dirty debacle that should never have happened in the first place.
As one who was personally radicalized by grim, inescapable truths about Vietnam more than thirty-five years ago, I can assure you our general citizenry is ready to make the quantum leap into defacto anti-imperialism.
They’ll do it from the overpowering emotional standpoint of no longer tolerating our youth being sacrificed in the distant, dusty heat for the sordid likes of Bush, Cheney and Wolfowitz.
It’s a no-brainer, really.
Build it (the movement), and they will come. Dare to say it, and America will agree:
Dennis Rahkonen, from Superior, WI, has been writing progressive commentary and verse for various outlets since the ‘60s. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org