“When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases — bestial, atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder — one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy” George Orwell ‘Politics and The English Language” 1946
we believe that free peoples will always agree with us. ... and we're standing with them shoulder-to-shoulder in Afghanistan and in Iraq< a href="http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2006/67896.htm">US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice 2006
Nick Cohen claims in his new book ‘What’s Left?’ that “The anti-war movement disgraced itself not because it was against the war but because it could not oppose the counter-revolution once the war was over. A principled left ..might have remained ferociously critical of the American and British governments while offering support to Iraqis who wanted the freedoms they enjoyed.” Nick seems to be saying, like many other people, that the left should support coalition troops’ presence in Iraq to secure democracy there (correct me if you mean something else Nick and in practice what would that be?).
The trouble is that it’s not just the Bush administration’s motives that are suspect. If they wanted to provide real democracy in Iraq, even if their motives were wrong, we should have supported them if the results of their actions would benefit Iraqis. However their aims have never had anything to do with creating democracy or any interest in Iraqi’s lives. They are not doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. What they’re doing is plain wrong.
How can we support democracy and freedom for Iraqis by supporting the presence of coalition troops in Iraq whose aims and methods are decided by the Bush administration and the companies linked with it – people who have not the slightest interest in providing freedom or democracy – only in enriching themselves and using the same death squads and torture techniques Saddam used on Iraqis?
We knew already that Paul Bremer and the CPA had no accounts for massive amounts of money spent in Iraq and that reconstruction contracts were scams. Now Bremer and former members of his administration admit that they can’t account for between $8.8bn and $12bn of Iraqi money which they brought to Iraq after the invasion. (This was money held by the UN as part of the sanctions on Iraq). They simply handed bags of money to ‘private contractors’. As a result Iraqis , including children, who were and are short of food and medicine have died. Are Bremer and associates ashamed? No. Bremer’s ex-adviser Admiral David Oliver was interviewed on the BBC World Service:
Oliver “I can't tell you whether or not the money went to the right things or didn't - nor do I actually think it's important." .
Interviewer:“But the fact is billions of dollars have disappeared without trace." .
Oliver: "Of their money. Billions of dollars of their money, yeah I understand. I'm saying what difference does it make?" .
The difference it’s made is that thousands of Iraqis – including many children - are still dying because of the lack of basic medicines which that money could have bought. Paul Bremer himself reminded congress that the money involved was only Iraqi money – not American money. Could it be any clearer that the Bush administration couldn’t care less about Iraqis ? Bremerhired known fraudsters who took bribes to fix and overpay for contracts.
At least $4 billion a year is going missing in Iraq. We are meant to believe that all of this is being taken by Iraqis out of the control of the coalition – but with the people who ran Iran-Contra and fixed contracts to Halliburton and KBR in charge the chances are much of it is being taken by Cheney’s faction within the Bush administration and black operations run by them. The kindest interpretation of the fact that only 10,000 of the 370,000 guns sent to Iraq by the US had their serial numbers recorded would be incompetence. The other explanation would be that Cheney and friends didn’t want those guns to be trackable by their serial numbers so that if they were recaptured we wouldn’t know if he was having militias armed for a civil war that would keep the reconstruction and army supply contracts flowing to their firms.
No matter who this administration are fighting against it would be wrong support a war run by people with a long and continuing history of organising and presiding over theft , torture and death squads – especially when they are strengthening the same things they claim to be opposing – jihadist terrorist groups, fundamentalist groups , extreme nationalists and organised crime.
By making our troops die and kill in Iraq we will not be protecting anyone’s human rights or lives – only enriching a group of liars and thieves , undermining democracy by linking it in Iraqis minds with poverty, unemployment, war and death – and strengthening extreme nationalists or fascists like the Ba’athists and religious extremists whether sunni or shia . If we really support our troops, democracy , human rights or the majority of Iraqis the only option is to pull out now and hasten the end of the Bush administration’s endlessly greedy rampage before they do the same in Iran.
We can all support words and ideas like ‘freedom’ , ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ – and if we choose to take the Bush administration at their word they’ll be happy to let us while they continue fomenting the wars that are the distraction that allows them to rob American taxpayers in increased ‘defence’ and reconstruction spending – but we will end up very ashamed and regretful when we realise we’ve been tricked.
As the Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman, who was tortured by the Pinochet regime, said, torture is always in the name of some high ideal. The high sounding ideals in this case are “democracy” and “freedom”. Of course we know that as usual those organising the torture, like those carrying it out, couldn’t care less about the ideals – which are mere cover stories – and we know that no end could justify torture as a means.
George Orwell wrote “Many political words are …abused. The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable’. The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides.” (Orwell “Politics and the English Language” 1946)
Democracy , freedom and human rights are empty, meaningless words in the mouths of the Bush administration and the Blair government – Orwellian doublespeak in which theft is reconstruction , torture ‘freedom’ , “conditioning” or ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ , death squads ‘human rights’ and a 10,000 strong secret police force combined with a global torture network is announced with the words “the torture chambers and the secret police are gone forever”.
We are told Iraqis want us to stay yet every poll shows a majority of Iraqis want our troops to go home – and in every poll the majority increases.
There are many decent people in the British, American and Iraqi military, government and civil services who do care about Iraqi’s lives, democracy and human rights – unfortunately to the Bush administration and the corporations linked to them these are mere advertising slogans in an ad campaign to subvert taxpayers’ money into their profits – and the Bush administration, not the majority of soldiers, decide the role soldiers in Iraq will play. The admin’s motives will never be our decent motives and their aims and methods will never be ours either. We can’t rely on them to do the right thing for the wrong reasons.
As long as we take them at their word they will continue to take us for a ride in seats labelled ‘suckers’. It’s time to take back power for the majority – because if we don’t democratise power and use it for decent ends you can be sure they’ll keep using it for personal profit and power at any cost in our money and our lives – British, Iraqi, American and every other nationality.
copyright©Duncan McFarlane 2007
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