donderdag, maart 31, 2005

The Universal Soldier

Interesting article by Sharon Smith, of the International Socialist Organisation, on the Counterpunch website today: 'Left Apologists for the Occupation' - in which she takes to task certain leaders of the anti-war movement for their equivocation or outright hostility to the Iraqi resistance.

If you are familiar with the writing of Naomi Klein or Christian Parenti - two of the best writers on the left at the moment and both regular contributors to the Nation and also both hardly apologists for US imperialism - you'll have read what are probably the most accurate assessments of the nature of the resistance. Obviously, neither author succumbs to the bullshit stereotypes of the resistance as a gang of Islamist and revanchist Baathists, but they are also careful not to paint them as the Zapatistas of the Middle East. Both Klein and Parenti have spent considerable amounts of time in Iraq, and, in Parenti's case, among the resistance.

Nonetheless, Smith goes after Klein for her words at a United for Peace and Justice (the main anti-war umbrella group in the States) teach-in last week, wherein she responded to an audience member who argued: 'The antiwar movement should take up...Iraqis' right to resist the occupation.' Klein responded by saying: 'We shouldn't get involved in offering blanket cheerleading for the resistance...There are dueling fundamentalists in Iraq...and [some] are enemies of the Iraqi people.'

Now, I think Klein is right to a degree. Plainly there are Baathist and Islamist elements involved in the resistance, but more than anything else, there are great swathes of illiterate lumpen petty criminals whose commitment to the resistance is contingent upon the level of remuneration they can squeeze out of their constellation of scattershot thefts, kidnappings and other violent delinquencies. Any 'blanket' cheerleading is indeed out of the question.

But this is not representative of the whole of the resistance, and, indeed, should Shiite expectations that the occupation will end in short order not be met, a much, much wider and more coherently organised resistance can be expected.

I would agree that tactically it does not make sense to have the anti-war movement adopt as principle solidarity with the resistance. The anti-war movement requires the maximum adherence for the minimum demand: Troops out now. Demanding that anti-war groups adopt positions of solidarity with the resistance would instantly exclude thousands of people who don't agree with such a standpoint but who are still opposed to the occupation. That said, there does need to be a strong, pro-resistance element arguing its case within the anti-war movement, and, more importantly, amongst the general population in the US and UK (and, um, Tongo).

I apologise for the repetition, but it must be said - the inhabitants of Iraq have the right morally and under international law to resist with arms. I may mourn every death amongst US and UK forces, the bulk of whose troops are there as a result of the economic draft of the working class and now, in the case of American soldiers who have already served their previously committed tour of duty, the back-door draft via unconstitutional stop-loss orders, but if the UK or US or any other country were occupied by anyone, they would have the same right and would anybody really care about the deaths amongst the occupiers? On the contrary, they would be cheered, no matter who they were.

Buffy Sainte-Marie was being a little ultra-left when she sang that The Universal Soldier is ultimately responsible for war:

And he's fighting for democracy,
he's fighting for the Reds,
he says it's for the peace of all,
he's the one who must decide,
who's to live and who's to die,
and he never sees the writing on the wall.

And without him, how would Hitler
kill the people at Dachau,
without him Cesar would have stood alone,
he's the one, who gives his body
as a weapon of the war,
and without him always killing can't go on.

He's the universal soldier,
and he really is to blame,
his orders came from far away, no more,
they came from here and there,
and you and me ain't brothers,
can't you see,
this is not the way we put an end to war.

Buffy went too far: Soldiers are indeed workers in uniform, unlike the pigs and the screws, they don't have a choice. Often the military is the only option out of the ghetto or rural wasteland, and we rightly mourn when any soldier from our side is killed, but we must be frank here: we are the occupiers and they will resist with arms. How else are they to defeat the occupation? With papier maché puppets and guerilla theatre?

We are beyond games here: this is war. They have the right to resist. It isn't pretty, and there are Islamists and Baathists within the resistance, but still they have the right to resist.

The racist hypocrisy of the liberals in the anti-war movement is breathtaking. If we were occupied, would they have such qualms? Would they really care so much about the deaths amongst the occupiers, even knowing that the foot soldiers would have been recruited from amongst the poor?

Without reservation, then: Victory to the resistance!