Sunday, May 07, 2006
Book: Anthony Arnove's IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal
BY NOW IT IS CLEAR that most Iraqis want the United States to leave. From mainstream media accounts, though, most observers could be forgiven for belieivng that only an isolated minority of senior Bathists, foreign fighters, and nihilists is standing up to the United States. "As if to underline their misunderstanding of the world, American military spokesmen call Iraqis who are resisting their invasion 'terrorists.' Who else on earth would call a man who fights a foreign soldier in his own country a terrorist?" the journalist Charles Glass wrote presciently only weeks after the invasion.
The term foreign fighters is a mantra at almost every U.S. press conference on the war. It is a sign of the level to which the propaganda for this war has been internalized by the establishment media that no one blinks at such proclamations. In the standard usage, however, U.S. troops, who have traveled thousands of miles to invade and occupy Iraq, knowing in most cases not a word of Arabic or a thing about Iraqi culture or society, are not foreign fighters and are not "interfering in Iraqi affairs" (the charge repeatedly leveled by the United States against Iran, Syria, and Jordan).
"We've made clear we would oppose any outside interference in Iraq's road to democracy," White House spokesperson Air Fleischer told reporters, without a trace of irony, in April 2003. In other words, the world should stand aside and let the United States determine Iraq's future.
So opens chapter five (pp. 55-56) of Anthony Arnove's IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal. It's a small book, 105 pages of text (plus a seven page introduction); foreword and afterword by noted historian Howard Zinn. (Zinn and Arnove have collaborated before). So those who pick Robert Fisk's most recent book (or Noam Chomksy's) and think "There's no way I have time to read all of this" have no excuses. (Both Fisk's The Great War For Civilization: The Conquest Of The Middle East and Chomsky's Failed State are recommended reading.)
What do you get? Eve Ensler says (on the back cover), "An impassioned, unflinching case for immediate U.S. withdrawal." That about says it all.
But we're dealing with a nation of elected officials and gas bag pundits who say that Bring the Troops Home isn't an option. They've said that for three years. Three years, they've waited for the turned corner never grasping that the occupation has no corners, it's one thin line straight to hell -- for Iraqis and foreigners.
Foreigners includes the US. A point Arnove makes that might even reach out to the ones who feel any decisions on changing course in Iraq should come from elected officials and/or The Council on Foreign Relations. That's only one of the many realities the author illuminates.
Special attention should be paid to the eight reasons for immediate withdrawal:
1) The U.S. military has no right to be in Iraq in the first place.
2) The United States is not bringing democracy to Iraq.
3) The United States is not making the world a safer place by occuyping Iraq.
4) The United States is not preventing civil war in Iraq.
5) The United States is not confronting terrorism by staying in Iraq.
6) The United States is not honoring those who died by continuing the conflict.
7) The United States is not rebuilding Iraq.
8) The United States is not fulfilling its obligation to the Iraqi people for the harm and suffering it has caused.
Our intended readers will nod along with those points and probably be able to offer support for many without reading the book. But for the unintended, if the above has blown your mind or caused you to blow your stack, you can read pages 67-83.
The war's not ending tomorrow. Or the day after, or the month after. The only thing that will end the war is the people. Arm yourself with knowledge by reading IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal. As politicians make noises to try to indicate that they are 'responsive,' they'll co-opt language to cloak continued occupation. This book can prepare you and arm you for the battle.