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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

the ways of empire « Previous | |Next »
December 10, 2004

Whilst US soldiers in Iraq are up-armoring their vehicles with scrap metal for protection to help make the country safe for fair and free elections, U.S. veterans from the war in Iraq are beginning to show up at homeless shelters around the US. Such are the ways of empire.

Fallujah is now a city of broken streets strewn with corpses, crumbling houses and fallen mosques. The city has been liberated. The only way to root the insurgents out is to destroy everything in your path. Hence the US air war against urban areas.

Fallujah as a wasteland means that thousands of Iraqi's now have no place to go and seek shelter in temporary camps, schools, mosques and vacant commercial buildings in Baghdad and surrounding cities.

This kind of planned destruction from the skies is meant to bring democracy to the region. Can you bring about democracy through the use of military force? One answer.

Fallujah was deemed to be a turning-point for the United States. Fallujah was herald a “success” with the insurgents in retreat. If you believe the Washington spin the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq is still going well. The main strategic threat to "the West" has been contained.

How does the ban on US embassy staff taking the 10-mile-long road from the capital to the airport, because their lives cannot be assured on it, fit into Washington's success story? How come we still have this kind of news?

Some are thinking otherwise to the Washington spin:

Martin Rawson

Many will dismiss this cartoon's satirical critique of the empire's Orientalism and the larger discourse of imperialism as too extreme. However, have a read of Riverbend. She writes:

"Elections are a mystery. No one knows if they'll actually take place and it feels like many people don't want to have anything to do with them. They aren't going to be legitimate any way. The only political parties participating in them are the same ones who made up the Governing Council several months ago- Allawi's group, Chalabi's group, SCIRI, Da'awa and some others. Allawi, in spite of all his posturing and posing, has turned himself into a hateful figure after what happened in Falloojeh. As long as he is in a position of power, America will be occupying Iraq. People realize that now. He's Bush's boy. He has proved that time and again and people are tired of waiting for something insightful or original to come from his government."

As I understand the situation is one of a struggle over Iraq's election date which has divided along sectarian lines.

Sunnis, whose religious authorities have largely disdained the elections, want a delay.They are using the election boycott in an attempt to regain something like their former political ascendence. It is a strange strategy.

Shiites, whose powerful religious leaders pushed hard for the poll, won't budge from the scheduled election date of Jan. 30. The stalemate is exacerbating tensions between Iraq's Sunni minority and its majority Shiites, who are keen to take power after years of rule by a Sunni elite. So the Shi'ite majority in the country looks set to take power. Sistani will use the elections as a step towards Iraqi independence.

I have lots of questions.

What happens to the secular parties in the scenario of Sistani's theocracy? Wil it be a theocracy? Where do the Kurds fit in? What happens if the Sunni majority boycott election and are not represented in Parliament? Civil war? How are the Americans going to work with an Islamic theocracy? What if Shiite Baghdad and Shiite Tehran form a new axis?

It would appear that the neoconservative commitment to pluralistic democracy in Iraq has been dumped. See John Quiggin for the way the neocons are in retreat. But the neocon view of a centralized Muslim civilization---- one Muslim civilization--- that has failed to adapt to modernity remains in place. Their Orientalism lives on.

We should remember that the neocon conception of the world is based on the United States being the unipolar center of world power. On this account the United States is the unchallenged superpower.The inference is that the US is in Iraq primarily because of Iraq’s immense geopolitical importance to US security, not to impose democracy on the region.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:10 PM | | Comments (2)


Good points.

I always wonder what would happen if the newly elected government decided that all industries should be nationalised and all foreigners expelled immediately.

What would the US do?

After all, this owuld be their 'democratically' elected government calling the shots.

Of course, it won't happen because the deck is being stacked, but it would be the true test of the US's intentions.

I've taken the following comments from this article by Michael Hirsh in The Washington Monthly.

Although U.S. officials have a tendency to see Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most prestigious figure in Iraq, as a clueless medieval relic, it is more than likely his political grouping will win the forthcoming election.

The new Iraq is looking less and less Western, and certainly less secular than it was under Saddam.

It would appear that Iraq's political future is now largely out of American hands even if the U.S. military may continue to play a stabilizing role in order to squelch any move toward civil war). Iraq is not going to be America's showcase in the Arab-Muslim world … a fairly liberal democratic secular society in Iraq.

The best-case scenario for Iraq may well be some kind of representative government dominated by religious parties.

Whatever emerges in Iraq and the Arab world will be Islamic. And it will also be anti-American, beginning with the likelihood that any new Iraqi government is going to try to boot out U.S. troops as soon as it possibly can.