Iran and the Axis of Hypocrisy

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a new coalition of national unity, elections in the country have been pushed back by months, and suddenly the danger of an armed strike against Iran, by Israel, has become more acute.

It is now ten years since the January 29, 2002 State of the Union speech – the first since the 9/11 attacks on New York City – where then U.S. President George W. Bush announced to the world that the U.S. was up against an “Axis of Evil”, a label derived from the “Axis of Hatred”, coined by Canadian conservative journalist, David Frum (Noah 2003). These “evil, hated” states were Iraq, North Korea and Iran. But the real enemy is an Axis of Hypocrisy.

The world saw what happened to Iraq. The evidence for its “evil” status proved to be entirely false. There simply never were any Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) in the country. Yet the U.S. attacked anyway, and devastated the country. The very conservative estimates from Iraq Body Count put the death toll after just three years at just under 50,000, double that by 2012. Some put the figure far higher, The Lancet in 2006 estimating that already, 650,000 had died (Iraq Body Count (IBC) 2012; Oziewicz 2006). By 2007, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees estimated that 4.2 million Iraqis had been driven from their homes by the war, half right out of the country (MacKinnon 2007).

Ironically, North Korea – which does have at least one or two WMDs (it has twice detonated a nuclear device, once in 2006 and again in 2009 (Hecker 2010, 44)) – has not been attacked by the U.S. In fact, at the height of the Iraq war in 2006, it agreed to “return to nuclear-disarmament talks with its four neighbors and the U.S. in a deal brokered by China” (Ramstad, Batson, and King Jr. 2006). The issue in Iraq was not the presence of WMDs (which it didn’t have), but the presence of oil (which it has in huge quantities). North Korea has WMDs, but no oil whatsoever. So Iraq got a war, but North Korea did not.

This leaves Iran – a country that, like Iraq, is one of the world’s great sources of inexpensive, easy-to-access oil. The U.S. had attempted to sew up control of Iraqi oil, however this has not gone entirely according to plan. In the wake of the collapse of the Iraqi state, and years of destructive warfare, the most influential country in the region in the wake of the U.S. pull-out, has become … Iran. An attack on Iran by either Israel or the U.S. would be part of the “chess game” of pushing back Iranian influence in this oil-rich region.

Of course that is not the rhetoric that we hear. We are not told that Iran will be bombed for oil profits. Rather, Israel and the U.S., if they bomb Iran, will do so ostensibly to stop it from becoming a nuclear power. Since 2002, the CIA in particular has been flooding the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with “evidence” of Iran’s attempt to build an atomic bomb. But according to one senior diplomat at the IAEA, quoted anonymously in the Los Angeles Times, “since 2002, pretty much all the intelligence that’s come to us has proved to be wrong” (Drogin and Murphy 2007).

Throughout the early years of the Iraq War, the Bush administration and the IAEA were repeatedly at odds. One of the main justifications for the war against Iraq was the “fact” – pushed by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell – that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium from Niger. Then IAEA chief Mohamed El Baradei embarrassed Powell and Bush when he showed the UN Security council that the documents used as “proof” of this had been forged. The Bush regime responded by opposing El Baradei’s reappointment to his post (Pincus 2003; Hibbitts 2005).

In Bush’s rush to paint the WMD label on Iran, he showed himself willing to forge alliances with the most unlikely people. For instance, the National Council of Resistance (NCR) is a resistance group, based in Iran, which the U.S. has classified as a terrorist organization since 1997. On August 14, 2002, however, the NCR held a press conference where they claimed that Iran was constructing secret nuclear facilities near the Iranian cities of Natanz and Arak. In spite of the U.S. judgment that NCR was a terrorist organization, Bush seized on its press conference as “evidence” of Iran’s nuclear intentions. One year later, the same Bush administration “closed the NCR’s Washington office” (Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism 2008, 104; Squassoni 2006, 2; GlobalSecurity.org 2011).

Another piece of evidence seized on by the press was a report that Iran had stolen enriched uranium from Iraq before the March, 2003 outbreak of war. The report was later revealed to be a fabrication, the ultimate source being Fereidoun Mahdavi, former Minister of Commerce in the government of the Shah of Iran (History Commons 2012).

Mahdavi’s claims didn’t end there. He also suggested there were plans for Iranian-based terrorists to hijack a Canadian airliner and fly it into a nuclear station near Boston. He further claimed that Iran was hiding Osama bin Laden. But even the CIA, eager to portray Iran as a terror-state, concluded after interviewing him that he was lying (Leupp 2007).

There are WMDs in the Middle East. The US has used vast quantities of depleted uranium and hundreds of thousands of cluster bombs in its two wars against Iraq. Its main ally, Israel, as early as 2002, had between 75 and 200 nuclear weapons in its clandestine WMD program (Norris 2002). Most people, in particular the people of the region itself, support the removal of WMDs from the Middle East. But to accomplish that would mean a withdrawal of all US military forces, and an international campaign against Israeli militarism, including against Israel’s secret stockpiles of nuclear bombs and missiles.

A military strike against Iran, should it come, would provoke devastation for the people of the region. It would also be very risky for both the U.S. and Israel. Israel used to be able to count Egypt and Turkey as allies. But the Arab Spring broke its ties with the Egyptian state, and the barbaric assault on the Mavi Marmara soured relations with Turkey. Israel is now as isolated as it has ever been in the region. And Iran is a regional power in its own right, not without resources and influence.

But the fact that there are risks does not mean an attack will not come. Twice before, Israel has launched strikes against nuclear reactors under construction in the region – June 7 1981 against one southeast of Baghdad in Iraq, and September 6, 2007 against one in Syria (Jewish Virtual Library 2012; Follath and Stark 2009).

One unnamed Israel figure “with close ties to the leadership” made this very clear to a Reuters’ reporter. “I think they have made a decision to attack. It is going to happen. The window of opportunity is before the U.S. presidential election in November. This way they will bounce the Americans into supporting them” (Stott 2012). Such a strike would be an irresponsible and extremely dangerous action, posing the very real possibility of a wider, and very bloody war. It is in all our interests to oppose Israeli and U.S. military threats against Iran.

© 2012 Paul Kellogg

References

Drogin, Bob, and Kim Murphy. 2007. “U.N. Calls U.S. Data On Iran’s Nuclear Aims Unreliable.” Los Angeles Times Articles, February 25.

Follath, Erich, and Holger Stark. 2009. “How Israel Destroyed Syria’s Al Kibar Nuclear Reactor.” Spiegel Online, November 2.

GlobalSecurity.org. 2011. “Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK or MKO).” GlobalSecurity.org.

Hecker, Siegfried S. 2010. “Lessons Learned from the North Korean Nuclear Crises.” Daedalus 139 (1) (January): 44–56.

Hibbitts, Bernard. 2005. “IAEA Postpones Decision on ElBaradei Reappointment After US Voices Opposition.” Jurist: University of Pittsburgh School of Law, April 28.

History Commons. 2012. “Fereidoun Mahdavi.” Historycommons.org.

Iraq Body Count (IBC). 2012. “Iraq Body Count.”

Jewish Virtual Library. 2012. “Operation Opera: The Israeli Raid on the Osirak Nuclear Reactor.” Jewishvirtuallibrary.org.

Leupp, Gary. 2007. “A Chronology of BushCo Disinformation About Iran.” The Rag Blog.

MacKinnon, Mark. 2007. “The Growing Threat of a Displaced Nation.” The Globe and Mail, September 15, sec. A.

Noah, Timothy. 2003. “‘Axis of Evil’ Authorship Settled!Slate, January 9.

Norris, Robert S. 2002. “Israeli Nuclear Forces, 2002.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 58 (5) (October): 73.

Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism. 2008. “Terrorist Organizations.” In Country Reports on Terrorism, 92–129. Washington, DC: Department Of State. The Office of Electronic Information,
Bureau of Public Affairs.

Oziewicz, Estanislao. 2006. “New Study Estimating Number of Dead in Iraq Hotly Contested.” The Globe and Mail, October 12, sec. A.

Pincus, Walter. 2003. “CIA Didn’t Share Findings on Niger Link, Officials Say ; Handling of Key Evidence ‘Sloppy’ Case Reflects Larger Problems: [Ontario Edition].” Toronto Star, June 12, sec. A.

Ramstad, Evan, Andrew Batson, and Neil King Jr. 2006. “Politics & Economics: North Korea Will Resume Nuclear Talks; China Brokers Deal for Weapons Session, and U.S. Will Discuss Its Financial Strictures.” Wall Street Journal, November 1, sec. A.

Squassoni, Sharon. 2006. Iran’s Nuclear Program: Recent Developments. Congressional Research Service – The Library of Congress.

Stott, Michael. 2012. “Iran Attack Decision Nears, Israeli Elite Locks Down.” Reuters, May 17.

The challenge of George Galloway’s ‘Bradford Spring’

APRIL 4, 2012 – In the end, it wasn’t even close. Britain’s most prominent anti-war politician, George Galloway, is back as a Member of Parliament for his Respect Party, after receiving support so overwhelming that he had, in the words of a reporter for The Guardian, “annihilated the Labour vote”. As impressive as was his 10,000 vote majority in the by-election in his new constituency of Bradford West, even more so was the social movement feel which accompanied his campaign, replete with “first-time voters shimmying up trees to hang Respect banners” and “taxi drivers competing to see who could cancel their Labour party membership first” (Phidd 2012). Invoking the great mass movements in the Middle East from last year, Galloway called it the “Bradford Spring”. He will now, again, have an internationally recognized public forum from which to be tribune of the anti-war movement, and support the long struggle of the people of Palestine. Responding to him will be a real challenge for the pro-war Con-Dem Coalition, and the New Labour “opposition”. His victory also highlights challenges facing social movements in Britain and elsewhere.

For Con-Dem (the coalition of Conservatives and Liberal-Democrats) and New Labour, these challenges are obvious. All three major parties are deeply implicated in the bloody wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Galloway has been by far their most prominent opponent. He was suspended from the Labour Party in 2003, and ultimately expelled for saying that the U.S. and Britain had invaded Iraq “like wolves” and “urging British soldiers to disobey ‘illegal orders’” (Hall 2003).

Given the carnage which has happened in the years since, his position of 2003 looks prophetic. British casualties in Iraq, from 2003 until 2009, totaled 5,970 including 179 dead. In Afghanistan, the toll has been even higher. From 2008 through 2011, there were annually, on average, more than 2,400 British casualties. In total since 2001, 404 British troops have died (Casualty Monitor 2009; Casualty Monitor 2012). We have no idea about the civilian toll in the two countries – the U.S., Britain, Canada and the other coalition forces have shown no interest in keeping track. A very conservative figure puts civilian deaths in Afghanistan at 8,813 and the Iraq total at 100,000. Other figures go far higher – by one estimate 864,531 civilians killed in Iraq, part of 1,556,156 total casualties as of August, 2010 (Iraq Body Count (IBC) 2012; Unkown News 2010).

New Labour and the Tories both, of course, have this blood on their hands. New Labour was in office for the launch of both the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. It was only able to enter the one in Iraq when massive backing from the Tories fended off the anti-war votes from 122 Labour MP (Blitz 2003). The Liberal Democrats have played a more equivocal role. They made a name for themselves as “the mainstream anti-war voice” by coming out against the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But they supported going to war in Afghanistan in 2001, a war which has proven to be just as futile as the war in Iraq, and far more costly in terms of British lives lost (Russell, Cutts, and Fieldhouse 2007, 194). And now, of course, they sit side by side with the Tories, propping up the Tory-led, Con-Dem, pro-war coalition.

Galloway has consistently linked these wars to the ongoing occupation of Palestine. It was for his support of Palestine, and his criticism of what he called “the most extreme Israeli government in history” that Canada’s Tories banned him from Canada (a ban which Galloway and the anti-war movement in Canada fought and successfully overturned). Throughout the entire period of the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, Galloway explained how both wars were linked to the occupation of Palestine. “The price of peace” he argued “is justice for the Palestinians” (Galloway 2010).

The price of war and occupation has been horrendous. Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in the summer of 2006 “resulted in at least 1,109 Lebanese deaths, the vast majority of whom were civilians, 4,399 injured and an estimated 1 million displaced” (Human Rights Watch 2007, 4). During Israel’s assault on Gaza between December 27, 2008 and January 18, 2009, “the magnitude of the harm to the local population was unprecedented: 1,389 Palestinians were killed, 759 of whom did not take part in the hostilities. Of these, 318 were minors under age 18” (B’Tselem 2010).

In domestic politics, the most important issues facing Britain are the aftershocks from the Great Recession of 2008-2009. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Britain’s recovery from that slump has been short-lived, the economy having slipped back into recession (Inman 2012). But the domestic economic problems are in fact intimately linked to the three key foreign policy issues outlined here – Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. In Britain and elsewhere, the foreign wars and occupations in the Middle East and Central Asia, have served the domestic purpose of distracting the population at home by dividing people along racist lines. Islamophobia has become an ugly scar, cutting through community after community in Britain, even allowing the extreme right wing to begin to regain a foothold in British Politics. As Galloway was celebrating his Bradford Spring, the neo-Nazi English Defence League (EDL) was attempting to organize with similar groups from continental Europe in a racist “Stop the Islamification of Europe” event in Denmark (Norman 2012). This kind of racist Islamophobia cannot be challenged without simultaneously challenging the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the ongoing occupation of Palestine.

For clearly staking out his position against war, occupation and Islamophobia, Galloway has become the target for some pretty awful abuse at the hands of the pro-war media. Much of this involves hurling insults to avoid responding to Galloway’s cogent arguments. The late Christopher Hitchens – who had by the 21st century wandered far from his left-wing youth, ending up in the pro-Iraqi war camp – railed against Galloway, calling him a “hysterically extremist political thug” (Hitchens 2007). Others have simply short-circuited discussion by labeling him the “Saddam-supporting British MP” (Raphael 2004). Sometimes the insults took a racialized turn. The Business in 2003 attacked Galloway and one of his supporters saying both “look like well-fed sheikhs” (The Business 2003). Some of the most vociferous attacks came from figures associated with the British left. Nick Cohen, writing in the New Statesman, said that “Respect, the alliance between the Muslim Association of Britain and the Socialist Workers Party [SWP], shows how ugly the far left in Britain has become” (Cohen 2004, 26). When Galloway was elected to Parliament as a Respect member in 2005, Cohen called it the “worst result” of election night because “an alliance between the intellectually bankrupt Marxist-Leninists of the Socialist Workers Party and Islamic fundamentalists” had been behind the victory. “Let’s not mince words. George Galloway’s defeat of [the Labour Party’s] Oona King is a disaster for the democratic left. As the campaign was fought on communalist lines, it is a disaster for multiracial London” (Cohen 2005, 11).

In politics, the term communalism has different meanings. In certain analyses, it is used to express the “democratic and potentially practicable dimension of the libertarian goal” (Bookchin 2001). Cohen was invoking the much more common use of the term, one often deployed in the Indian sub-continent. “Communalism is a political trend dating from the late 19th century that takes India’s religious groups (or ‘communities’) as the natural components of political life. Communalists thus seek political mobilization along religious lines, with high-caste Hindus and wealthy Muslims as the ‘natural’ leaders–and members of other religious groups as the ‘natural’ antagonists” (Vanaik and Lal 2004). In a careful analysis in 1992, Achin Vanaik said that the communalist movements “harden the divisions between different religious communities and increase tensions between them” (1992, 47 and 50). Bipan Chandra deploys the term with effect to analyze the ideology of the Hindu nationalist, anti-Muslim RSS (National Patriotic Organization) in India. Chandra is very blunt in his analysis. “Communalism in India is a form of fascism” (Chandra 1990, 42). The label of “communalism” then, is not one to be lightly thrown around. When directed at Respect – a party campaigning in Britain against war, against imperialism and against Islamophobia – its use is completely out of context and clearly absurd.

But in spite of this barrage of near hysterical criticism, a massive anti-war movement was built, with “Respect: The Unity Coalition” as its political face. Galloway has been, along with Salma Yaqoob, the most visible public figure associated with Respect and the anti-war movement – Galloway as the one Respect candidate to win a seat in the House of Commons, Yaqoob, the massively respected woman from an Islamic background, who has become an internationally-known symbol of the fight against war, imperialism and Islamophobia, and who from 2006 until stepping down for health reasons in 2011, was an elected Birmingham City Councillor (Gibbons 2011). The coming together of Yaqoob and Galloway, along with most of the key organizations and individuals of the British “left of Labour”, was an accomplishment which achieved international recognition, and from which many of us drew inspiration.

Between Galloway’s 2005 election win in Bethnal Green and this year’s win in Bradford West, Respect had to navigate a severe internal crisis. In 2007, the SWP, linked so closely to Galloway by Cohen in 2005, suddenly became his harshest critic. Prior to 2007, SWP publications had very effectively challenged the “communalist” charge, used in such a perverse way by Cohen in 2005 (Middleton 2006). But by late 2007, things had changed. Respect leaders such as Yaqoob had to defend Respect from the communalist charge (Yaqoob 2007), this time being levelled by leading members of the SWP itself (Harman 2008, 35–36). The divide between the SWP and Galloway was portrayed as a “left-right” split, the right being Galloway and his supporters (Socialist Worker 2007). Three very prominent SWP members who refused to part company with Galloway, were expelled from the party. To outside observers, the dispute was almost incomprehensible, particularly when it became framed in the context of obscure stories about century-old disputes in the European left, including a divide in the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1903 (Socialist Worker 2007), and a divide between two rival groups at the founding of the Second International in 1889 (Harman 2008, 25).

Fortunately, Respect survived the crisis. Far from being on the right, leading Respect members such as George Galloway, Salma Yaqoob and Kevin Ovenden have played a prominent role as leaders of the Palestine solidarity movement in Britain. All three participated in the Summer University of Palestine in 2011 (Viva Palestina 2011a). Viva Palestina, which sponsored that university, has organized numerous aid convoys to Gaza, with Galloway playing a leading role. Ovenden, one of the three expelled from the SWP, was aboard the Mavi Marmara when it was attacked by the Israeli military in May 2010, leading to the deaths of nine Turkish citizens (Viva Palestina 2011b). And fortunately, the disputes of 2007 are no longer visible in 2012. There are now two organizations associated with those who led the SWP in 2007, and both of them warmly welcomed Galloway’s victory in Bradford West (Counterfire 2012; Bhattacharyya 2012).

Galloway is a complicated figure. He caused considerable embarrassment to the anti-war movement, with his strange 2006 appearance on the television show “Big Brother” (The Economist 2006). He is unapologetic in his support for the Soviet Union, calling the disappearance of that Stalinist state “the biggest catastrophe of my life” (Hattenstone 2002). More substantially, his position is very conservative and on the wrong side of history, when he argues that “abortion is morally and ethically wrong” (Cohen 2004).

But he doesn’t do international speaking tours about choice on abortion, or to be nostalgic about Stalinism. He does speaking tours to condemn the occupation of Palestine, to challenge politicians like Harper, Cameron, Blair, Bush and Obama who again and again and again, in the pursuit of state power and corporate profits, show themselves willing to sacrifice young people from their own country by the hundreds, and people of all ages from the Global South by the tens of thousands.

Galloway has demonstrated, over the last ten years, that principled anti-imperialism can be combined with an open challenge to rightward moving social democracy, and that opposition can move from the margins to the mainstream, finding an opening in electoral politics. Clearly this is of interest to the social movements in Britain. For those of us in Canada, faced with a rightward moving NDP under its new ex-Liberal leader Thomas Mulcair, those lessons are just as important. Stephen Harper, for one, is aware of the reality of this challenge. That is why he tried to ban Galloway from Canada.

Galloway, together with the anti-war movement in Canada, broke that ban, and November 25, 2010, I was one of an audience of hundreds in a packed auditorium at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, where he gave a magnificent presentation on war and empire. For one and a half hours, without notes, Galloway took the crowd on a tour through the Middle East and Central Asia, analyzed the dynamics of imperialism and national oppression, made the case for justice for the Palestinians and for an end to the war in Afghanistan – relating all of this to his own conflict with the current Tory administration in Ottawa. In his sum-up, he looked the audience in the eyes and said there were three words to take away from his presentation in the current period – “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions,” the three key words of the movement to build support for the people of Palestine (Palestinian BDS National Committee 2012).

Part of a marathon 10-city tour organized by a coalition of organizations – including the Halifax Peace Coalition, the Canadian Arab Federation, Toronto Coalition to Stop the War, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights and Independent Jewish Voices (Defend Free Speech 2010) – the Edmonton meeting was a magnificent example of how to convincingly present unpopular ideas to a mass audience. Galloway is an asset in the fight against war and imperialism.

© 2012 Paul Kellogg

Publishing history

This article has been published as Britain: The challenge of George Galloway’s ‘Bradford Spring’,” Links, 4 April; “Britain: The challenge of George Galloway’s ‘Bradford Spring’,” JK Alternative Viewpoint, 16 April.

References

B’Tselem. 2010. “Operation Cast Lead, 27 Dec. ’08 to 18 Jan. ’09.” B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, September 27.

Bhattacharyya, Anindya. 2012. “George Galloway Storms to Victory in Bradford West By-election.” Socialist Worker, March 31, online edition.

Blitz, James. 2003. “Blair Wins Iraq Vote but More MPs Rebel.” Financial Times, March 19.

Bookchin, Murray. 2001. “What Is Communalism? The Democratic Dimension of Anarchism.” Anarchy Archives.

Casualty Monitor. 2009. “British Casualties: Iraq.” Casualty Monitor.

———. 2012. “British Casualties: Afghanistan.” Casualty Monitor.

Chandra, Bipan. 1990. “Communalism and the State: Some Issues in India.” Social Scientist 18 (8/9): 38–47.

Cohen, Nick. 2004. “Saddam’s Very Own Party.” New Statesman, June 7.

———. 2005. “Weird – but Not in a Good Way.” New Statesman, May 9.

Counterfire. 2012. “Galloway Victory: a Landslide Against War and Austerity.” Counterfire.

Defend Free Speech. 2010. “George Galloway Announces 10-city Speaking Tour of Canada.” Rabble.ca.

Galloway. 2010. “As I Was About to Say …; … Before I Was so Rudely Interrupted by Jason Kenney.” The Ottawa Citizen, November 24.

Gibbons, Brett. 2011. “Respect Leader Salma Yaqoob to Stand down as Birmingham Councillor.” Birmingham Post, July 7.

Hall, Ben. 2003. “Expelled Galloway Could Exact Revenge on Labour at the Polls.” Financial Times, October 24.

Harman, Chris. 2008. “The Crisis in Respect.” International Socialism (117) (January): 25–48.

Hattenstone, Simon. 2002. “Saddam and Me.” The Guardian, September 16, sec. World news.

Hitchens, Christopher. 2007. “The Disgrace of George Galloway.” National Post, July 25.

Human Rights Watch. 2007. “Why They Died.” Human Rights Watch 19 (5(E)) (September): 1–247.

Inman, Phillip. 2012. “UK Is Back in Recession, OECD Says.” The Guardian, March 29, sec. Business.

Iraq Body Count (IBC). 2012. “Iraq Body Count.”

Middleton, Jacob. 2006. “Respect and the ‘Muslim Vote’.” Socialist Review, June.

Norman, Peter. 2012. “The English Defence League in Aarhus, 31 March 2012.” Searchlight Magazine, March 30.

Palestinian BDS National Committee. 2012. “BDS Movement: Freedom, Justice, Equality.” Bdsmovement.net.

Phidd, Helen. 2012. “George Galloway Hails ‘Bradford Spring’ as Labour Licks Its Wounds.” The Guardian, March 30, sec. Politics.

Raphael, Therese. 2004. “Saddam’s Global Payroll.” Wall Street Journal, February 9.

Russell, Andrew, David Cutts, and Ed Fieldhouse. 2007. “National–Regional–Local: The Electoral and Political Health of the Liberal Democrats in Britain.” British Politics 2 (2) (July): 191–214

Socialist Worker. 2007. “Editorial – Political Reasons for Division in Respect.” Socialist Worker, November 10, 2076 edition.

The Business. 2003. “Galloway’s Front Man in Iraq ; Fawaz Zureikat, the Jordanian Mr Fixit Who Had a Hot Line to the Regime in Baghdad.” The Business, April 27.

The Economist. 2006. “Britain: Big Blatherer; George Galloway.” The Economist, January 14.

Unkown News. 2010. “Casualties in Afghanistan & Iraq.” Unknown News.

Vanaik, Achin. 1992. “Reflections on Communalism and Nationalism in India.” New Left Review I 196 (November-December): 43–63.

Vanaik, Achin, and Ganesh Lal. 2004. “A Conversation with Achin Vanaik: The Politics of Neoliberalism in India.” International Socialist Review 33 (January-February).

Viva Palestina. 2011a. “Summer University of Palestine 2011: Booking Form.” Viva Palestina Arabia.

———. 2011b. “Viva Palestina – a Lifeline from Britain to Gaza.”

Yaqoob, Salma. 2007. “Challenges for Respect.” What Next?

The Gutter Press and the ‘War on Terror’

Letter to the Editor submitted to The Globe and Mail June 26, 2008 • George Bush is white. Stephen Harper is white. Tony Blair is white. So, I will now write about white terrorism as a plague covering the planet, given that several hundred thousand in Iraq and Afghanistan, as a result of the military actions of these white men, are dead, maimed and/or traumatized. I will use the term “honky.” Were I to do this, of course, and submitted it as an article to the very respected The Globe and Mail, it would be rejected as being inflammatory, crude and, well, just a little too “gutter”. The language of the tavern is not appropriate for Canada’s national newspaper. However, when Christie Blatchford applies the same technique to people from Pakistan, not only is her article accepted – it is featured on the front page.[1]

But I urge you not to stop at the front page. Read the article in its entirety. She goes on to write about a man whose mother was in the World Trade Centre September 11, 2001, but who managed to survive. But the son, to Blatchford’s surprise, does not sign up to fight for the United States but is “inspired to go to Afghanistan not to fight the guys who nearly killed his mummy, but to fight the dirty kuffar, or infidels.”

She then compares him to an elephant, likens Manhattan to “civilization,” Central Asia to “the jungle” and says that the fellow left Manhattan for “the wilds of northern Pakistan, and wanted all the more to blow civilization to smithereens.”

Rudyard Kipling would be delighted. Blatchford has “taken up the white man’s burden” complete with racializing the enemy (Kipling disgustingly called his era’s enemy “new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half-child”) all to prosecute our era’s “savage wars of peace.”[2]

It is a shame that 109 years after Kipling’s hymn to racism and imperialism, there are some who have not discovered a better hymnal. It is a shame that seven years after the launch of the “War on Terror,” Canada’s national newspaper could give pride of place to something as poorly written and racially provocative as this article by Blatchford.

© 2008 Paul Kellogg

References

[1] Christie Blatchford, “ ‘Down with the J,’ and out of their senses,” The Globe and Mail, June 24, 2008, p. A.1.
[2] Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden,” Literature Network, Rudyard Kipling, www.online-literature.com

The man who excommunicated Bush and Blair

The war in Iraq “indicates that leaders of the invading states did not listen to the church, and hence, we deem them excommunicates and perverted.”[1] These were the words of Father Attallah Hanna in April 2003. He was expressing the outrage of Palestinian Christians over the invasion of Iraq. As a result of this excommunication, George Bush, then Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Tony Blair, and Blair’s then foreign minister Jack Straw, were banned from visiting the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, one of the Christianity’s holiest sites. March 29, Attallah Hanna took his anti-war message to more than 600 people in a sold-out convention centre in Mississauga.

His 2003 excommunication of the Bush and Blair was hugely popular. Just two years later, the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church unanimously elected him Archbishop of Sebaste for the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, just the second Palestinian to hold this position.[2]

His appearance in Mississauga was organized by Palestine House, and was part of the marking of Land Day (or Youm Al-Ard) – since 1976 an annual commemoration of the struggle of Palestinians to win back their land from Israeli occupation. This year also marks 60 years since the Nakba – the Day of Catastrophe when the state of Israel came into existence pushing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians into exile as refugees from their homeland.

Attallah Hanna said, to stormy applause, “60 years of Nakba will never make us forget. … We won’t accept any [peace] plan that won’t agree to the right of return for all the refugees.” His speech was greeted with several spontaneous standing ovations. Every person attending was given a postcard advertising this year’s demonstration against the Nakba, Saturday May 10. Coming on the 60th anniversary, it is expected to draw a very large crowd, in Toronto and around the world. Information on events around the world May 10 can be found here.

© 2008 Paul Kellogg

References

[1] Yasser El-Banna, “Church Of The Nativity ex-communicates Bush, Blair,” IslamOnline.net, April 3, 2003, www.IslamOnline.net
[2] Maria C. Khoury, “A Rare Day for Orthodoxy in the Holy Land,” Orthodox Christian News, January 2, 2006, www.orthodoxnews.org

Ten years of PNAC barbarism

It is now a decade since the establishment of the Project for A New American Century (PNAC) – the neo-conservative think tank whose ideas formed the backbone for the two administrations of George W. Bush. The central legacy of PNAC will undoubtedly be the war on Iraq. It is, put simply, a legacy of barbarism.

Some of the signatories on the original PNAC “Statement of Principles” were hard to take seriously (remember Dan Quayle, the vice-president who couldn’t spell “potato” – or Francis Fukuyama who thought that history had ended?). But others – Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld in particular, would rise to prominence in the regime of George W. Bush, and cause nightmares for millions. By 2006 of these three, only Cheney remained in high office – Wolfowitz sent out to haunt the halls of the World Bank and Rumsfeld quitting to focus on writing his memoirs. The departure of these two PNAC advocates is not a coincidence. The entire PNAC vision has come crashing down around the heads of the U.S. administration, and Iraq is the poster child for its failure. But serious or not, disgraced or not, their advice provided the main justification for the attack on Iraq, and we are today living with the consequences.

The June 3, 1997 “Statement of Principles” by PNAC reads like a wish list for right-wing utopians. Its authors argued for a “Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity.” Such a vision “may not be fashionable today. But it is necessary if the United States is to build on the successes of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness in the next.”[1] When it came to Iraq, its goals were clear. In 1998 they urged then-president Bill Clinton to “act now to end the threat of weapons of mass destruction.”[2] Of course we now know that such a threat never existed. In the same year, in a letter to Newt Gingrich (remember him?) and Trent Lott, they warned of the consequences of not attacking Iraq. If the U.S. didn’t attack Iraq, then “We will have suffered an incalculable blow to American leadership and credibility” and “The administration will have unnecessarily put at risk U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf.”[3] Nine years later, the U.S. has followed their advice, and U.S. credibility is at an all-time low, and nearly 4,000 dead U.S. soldiers have been flown back to the U.S. In 2003, one day before the horrible opening of “Shock and Awe”, they wrote that “Regime change is not an end in itself but a means to an end – the establishment of a peaceful, stable, united, prosperous, and democratic Iraq free of all weapons of mass destruction.”[4] Again, the latter part was easy – the WMDs never existed. But “peaceful, stable, united, prosperous and democratic” – no one, anywhere can maintain that any of these goals have been achieved.

One estimate in November, 2006, said that 1.8 million Iraqis had fled to neighbouring countries, while at least half a million had been internally displaced since the 2003 invasion.[5] According to UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), by April 2007, there were more than 4 million displaced Iraqis around the world (including those displaced before 2003), 1.9 million of who were still inside Iraq. “By 2006, Iraqis were once again the leading nationality seeking asylum in industrialized countries.”[6] By September 2007, the situation was even worse, the number of refugees in the region rising by close to 200,000, the number of internally displaced by 300,000 so that there were an extraordinary 2,256,000 internal refugees inside Iraq.[7]

Those were the ones who lived. We have no idea how many Iraqis have been killed. Iraq Body Count, basing its statistics on “cross-checked media reports, hospital, morgue, NGO and official figures,” estimated as of December 2007, that between 78,743 and 85,813 Iraqi civilians had met a violent death since the 2003 invasion.[8] This is the low end of estimates for civilian deaths. An authoritative 2006 study estimated that “approximately 600,000 people” had been “killed in the violence of the war that began with the U.S. invasion of March 2003.”[9] And in September 2007, a British polling firm produced an estimate of a minimum of 733,158 deaths since the war began. But, ORB indicates, the actual figure could be as high as an unbelievable 1,446,063.[10]

That is the legacy of PNAC – a country in ruins, body bags by the thousands, and the U.S. more isolated internationally than at any time since the end of the Second World War.

Sections of the U.S. elite are bitterly aware of PNAC’s failure. December 2007 is another anniversary – the first anniversary of the publication of the Iraq Study Group Report.[11] With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that the report represented a watershed in U.S. ruling class thinking about wars in the Middle East and Central Asia, and the beginning of an attempt to find a way to retreat from the mess. But, as the Duke of Wellington is often quoted as saying, “The hardest thing of all for a soldier is to retreat.”[12]

This call for a retreat was not because its authors were converts to the cause of peace. James Baker, one of the two principal authors, was a high-up Reagan and Bush loyalist in the 1980s and 1990s, who “helped orchestrate the international coalition that opposed Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait” in 1991, and directed the campaign of George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential elections. [13] Baker is an empire loyalist from way back. His concern was the way in which the Iraq debacle was undermining the empire’s credibility.

The report’s authors said that their “most important recommendations call for new and enhanced diplomatic and political efforts in Iraq and the region, and a change in the primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq that will enable the United States to begin to move its combat forces out of Iraq responsibly.”[14] They warned against a policy of putting more troops into Iraq. “Sustained increases in U.S. troop levels would not solve the fundamental cause of violence in Iraq … adding U.S. troops might temporarily help limit violence in a highly localized area. However, past experience indicates that the violence would simply rekindle as soon as U.S. forces are moved to another area.”[15] They warned against a strategy of partition. “The costs associated with devolving Iraq into three semiautonomous regions with loose central control would be too high. Because Iraq’s population is not neatly separated, regional boundaries cannot be easily drawn. All eighteen Iraqi provinces have mixed populations, as do Baghdad and most other major cities in Iraq. A rapid devolution could result in mass population movements, collapse of the Iraqi security forces, strengthening of militias, ethnic cleansing, destabilization of neighbouring states, or attempts by neighbouring states to dominate Iraqi regions.”[16]

It is a little ironic, then, that Bush’s response to the report was to a) increase troop levels through the so-called “troop surge” which had the effect of b) accelerating the mass population movements, ethnic cleansing and de facto division of the country into three regions.

In the end, the U.S. will have to leave Iraq. The troop surge cannot last, the allies are withering away, and whoever is elected president in 2008 will be under tremendous pressure to “declare victory” and leave. But this could still mean years more of death, destruction and misery for the Iraqi people, while a divided U.S. ruling class decides how to retreat without losing face.

There remains only one way to begin the reconstruction of Iraq – an unconditional, immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops.

© 2007 Paul Kellogg

References

[1] Elliot Abrams et. al., “Statement of Principles,” Project for a New American Century, www.newamericancentury.org (account suspended – available at http://web.archive.org), June 3, 1997
[2] Elliot Abrams, et. al., “Letter to President Clinton on Iraq,” Project for a New American Century, www.newamericancentury.org (account suspended – available at http://web.archive.org), Jan. 26, 1998
[3] Elliot Abrams, et. al., “Letter to Gingrich and Lott on Iraq,” Project for a New American Century, www.newamericancentury.org (account suspended – available at http://web.archive.org), May 29, 1998
[4] Ronald Asmus, et. al., “Statement on Post-War Iraq,” Project for a New American Century, www.newamericancentury.org (account suspended – available at http://web.archive.org), March 19, 2003
[5] “Iraqi Refugee Crisis: International Response Urgently Needed,” Bulletin: Refugees International, www.refugeesinternational.org, December 5, 2006.
[6] UNHCR, “Statistics on Displaced Iraqis around the World,” April 2007, www.unhcr.org
[7] UNHCR, “Statistics on Displaced Iraqis around the World,” September 2007, www.unhcr.org
[8] “Iraq Body Count,” www.iraqbodycount.org
[9] Gilbert Burnham et. al., The Human Cost of the War in Iraq: A Mortality Study, 2002-2006 Bloomberg School of Public Health, John Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland,
[10] ORB, “More than 1,000,000 Iraqis murdered,” September, 2007, www.opinion.co.uk
[11] James A. Baker, Lee H. Hamilton, Iraq Study Group Report, United States Institute of Peace, Dec. 6, 2006 www.usip.org
[12] “Quotes of the Duke of Wellington,” Napoleonic Guide, www.napoleonguide.com
[13] “Baker, James Addison, III,” Encyclopædia Britannica, 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online .
[14] Baker and Hamilton, Iraq Study Group Report, page 6.
[15] Baker and Hamilton, Iraq Study Group Report, page 30.
[16] Baker and Hamilton, Iraq Study Group Report, page 31.

Was ‘troop surge’ Bush’s Cambodia?

By 1970, it was clear to most that the United States could not win the war in Vietnam. But a defeated imperialist power is not a power without teeth. Before it finally left in 1975, the U.S. twice escalated the war massively. The first was April 30, 1970, when then president Richard Nixon announced a joint, U.S./South Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia. The second was in late 1972, when Nixon ordered a horrendous bombing campaign against the North Vietnamese capital of Hanoi and its principal harbour, Haiphong.

The anti-war movement today has been bracing for our own “Cambodia”. We, like the earlier generation, know that the U.S. cannot win in Iraq. But how will it cover its retreat? Will it be an attack on Iran? Will it be an attack on Syria? Should either of these take place, the movement will need to get tens of thousands onto the streets as has been done again and again. We know what can happen when an outrage against war comes up against imperialist adventure. In May 1970, in the aftermath of the invasion of Cambodia, came one of the great student protests of all time. “Over one third of all the colleges and universities in the country simply shut down as faculty and students joined in protest.” This was the context in which six students were gunned down – four May 4 at Kent State, and two May 6 at Jackson State.[1]

But is it possible that we have already had “our Cambodia,” that the so-called “troop surge” of 2007 was George W. Bush’s last-gasp face-saving measure, and that he will not be able to get away with an attack on Iran? This is one of the conclusions that can be drawn from the extraordinary report from the Director of National Intelligence, released December 3. The report reads in part:

We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program … We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons. We continue to assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapon. … Our assessment that Iran halted the program in 2003 primarily in response to international pressure indicates Tehran’s decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic, and military costs. This, in turn, suggests that some combination of threats of intensified international scrutiny and pressures, along with opportunities for Iran to achieve its security, prestige, and goals for regional influence in other ways, might – if perceived by Iran’s leaders as credible – prompt Tehran to extend the current halt to its nuclear weapons program. It is difficult to specify what such a combination might be.[2]

Once you interpret the dry as dust prose of these Washington spies, this excerpt from the report is more fraught with tension than a Len Deighton spy novel.

The report was released on the authority of Mike McConnell, Director of National Intelligence (DNI), which “serves as the head of the Intelligence Community”[3] in Washington. For this Chief Among Spies to go public with a report which, in plain language, says a) that Iran does not have a nuclear bomb; b) has not been developing one since at least 2003; and c) that the Iranian regime makes decisions on a “cost-benefit” basis, and not on the basis of some unspecified fanaticism – this is the Chief Spy saying to George W. Bush: “go to war if you want to, but let the world know what we think – Iran is not a threat.”

This is the “WMD” scandal of 2003 coming back to haunt an increasingly isolated president. The war on Iraq in 2003 was justified by the supposed presence of WMDs – Weapons of Mass Destruction – in the hands of Saddam Hussein.

Two days before the launch of the war, Bush announced that:

Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised,” George W. Bush told The Nation two days before he launched the war on Iraq. … “We know for a fact that there are weapons there,” Ari Fleischer declared in January. A month earlier Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, “It is clear that the Iraqis have weapons of mass destruction. The issue is not whether or not they have weapons of mass destruction.[4]

But there were no weapons. And as the years went on, Bush again and again would cover his tracks by pinning the blame on the “intelligence” community, quoting among others former CIA director George Tenet as telling him that it was a “slam dunk” that Saddam possessed WMDs.[5] Tenet took the blame for a while, but early in 2007 went public with his version of events.

“[T]he hardest part of all this has been just listening to this for almost three years, listening to the vice president go on Meet the Press on the fifth year (anniversary) of 9/11 and say, ‘Well, George Tenet said slam dunk,’ ” Tenet says. “As if he needed me to say ‘slam dunk’ to go to war with Iraq.” Leaking the “slam dunk” quote, Tenet says, was the “most despicable thing that ever happened to me.”[6]

It was only October 17, 2007, that Bush told the press, “I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them [Iran] from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.”[7] But McConnell does not want to be 2007’s George Tenet. He has released a report, which completely undermines the position of the president.

This is a sign of a split in the U.S. ruling class at the very highest levels. Bush might still launch an attack on Iran. (Or for that matter, so might Hillary Clinton, if elected to office). But there is a growing fatigue in the U.S. public with the never-ending parade of dead coming from Iraq – a figure that is now approaching 4,000.[8] That fatigue has Bush’s approval rating sitting at extremely low levels, creating the conditions for the incredible split at the top, described in these paragraphs.

The first weekend of December, 1,200 delegates from 26 countries met in London, U.K., for a “World Against War Conference” and called for actions March 15-22 to the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.[9] With Bush in a weak position, but still seemingly committed to spreading his war, we need to, again, organize to put thousands on the streets against imperialist war in Iraq (and in Canada’s case, Afghanistan).

© 2007 Paul Kellogg

References:

[1] Marilyn B. Young, The Vietnam Wars: 1945-1990 (New York: HarperCollins, 1991), p. 248.
[2] National Intelligence Council (NIC), National Intelligence Estimate – Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities, November, 2007, www.dni.gov
[3] “About the ODNI”, www.dni.gov
[4] Editorial, “Missing WMD Scandal,” The Nation, June 23, 2003
[5] CNN, “Woodward: Tenet told Bush WMD case a ‘slam dunk’”, www.cnn.com, April 19, 2004
[6] Richard Willing, “Tenet: Bush administration twisted ‘slam dunk’ quote,” USA Today, April 26, 2007
[7] “World War III Threat?” http://abcnews.go.com, October 18, 2007
[8] “U.S. Casualties in Iraq”, www.globalsecurity.org
[9] “World Against War Conference, Dec 2007: A call for international demonstrations on 15-22 March, 2008,” Stop the War Coalition, www.stopwar.org.uk

End game in ‘Operation Iraqi Liberation’

The British are withdrawing from the province of Basra in the south of Iraq, and the occupation of that country is now clearly exposed as an almost completely U.S. affair.[1] When the Iraq war began in 2003, it was already considerably different than the earlier war in 1991. The “Coalition of the Willing” put together by George W. Bush was just a shadow of the massive force, which backed his father’s war. France, Germany and Canada were among the major powers that refused to participate in 2003. Now, this already weak coalition is starting to completely unravel – it is not just the Brits who are drawing down their troop numbers.

Just days after defeating Bush ally John Howard, newly elected Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced during a radio interview in Melbourne, that Australia’s “combat force in Iraq we would have home by around about the middle of next year [2008].”[2] Australia joins the now very long list of countries to have pulled out of the Iraq war. As of this writing the following countries had departed from this catastrophe:

1) Nicaragua (Feb. 2004)
2) Spain (late Apr. 2004)
3) Dominican Republic (early May 2004)
4) Honduras (late May 2004)
5) Philippines (Jul. 19, 2004)
6) Thailand (late Aug. 2004)
7) New Zealand (late Sept. 2004)
8) Tonga (mid-Dec. 2004)
9) Portugal (mid-Feb. 2005)
10) The Netherlands (Mar. 2005)
11) Hungary (Mar. 2005)
12) Singapore (Mar. 2005)
13) Norway (Oct. 2005)
14) Ukraine (Dec. 2005)
15) Japan (July 17, 2006)
16) Italy (Nov. 2006)
17) Slovakia (Jan 2007)
18) Denmark (August 10, 2007)

In addition, South Korean soldiers “will be withdrawn before the Dec. 19 [2007] presidential election” officials of the Defence Ministry were quoted as saying, and Poland’s new defence minister said that Poland’s troops would likely be gone by mid-2008.[3]

However, the really big story has been the end of the British role in the south of Iraq. Britain was the only one of the allies in the Coalition of the Willing to supply a militarily significant troop deployment to back up the U.S. But September 3, 2007, the last British troops remaining in the city of Basra – capital of the province by the same name, occupied by the Brits since 2003 – abandoned the presidential palaces in the city and withdrew to the Basra air station. They left under the cover of darkness, and this withdrawal took anywhere from 12 to 16 hours (depending on the reports), in spite of the fact that the air base is only five miles from the outskirts of Basra, ten miles in total from the presidential palace.

Why would they be so careful and slow about their departure? It might have something to do with the fact that they are, well, hated. A survey for BBC Newsnight showed that “more than 85% of the residents of Basra believe British troops have had a negative effect on the Iraqi province since 2003.” Putting the case the other way makes the situation even more transparent. “Only 2% of Basra residents believe that British troops have had a positive effect on the province.” Two per cent – that is the “margin of error” in many polls, so small as to be effectively, zero. Not surprisingly, given these figures, “83 % of those surveyed said they wanted British troops to leave Iraq, including 63% who wanted them to leave the Middle East altogether.”[4] This is the statistical profile of anger against occupation.

The government spin was working overtime in the wake of the September withdrawal from the city of Basra. “Let me make this very clear” said new Prime Minister Gordon Brown, “This is a pre-planned, and this is an organized move from Basra Palace to Basra Air Station,” this in response to a question asking if the move was a “pull-out in defeat … a retreat.”[5] In fact, “British soldiers effectively withdrew from the streets of Basra two years ago and have spent much of the time since hunkered down in their barracks,” according to Brendan O’Neill, editor of spiked.[6] While “hunkered,” the troops had to endure constant assaults. Among the troops withdrawn were the 4th Battalion, the Rifles Battle Group, who had held “the last British base in Basra against a huge rebel onslaught. In a three-month stand at Basra Palace, the Rifles endured 2,000 mortar and rocket attacks, 100 roadside bombs and 400 rocket-propelled grenade strikes … In total they had 11 killed and 62 wounded on tour – more than any other unit in Iraq.”[7] But defeat or not, the fact is that there are now no coalition troops in Baghdad’s second major city. All 5,500 British troops are in the air station – and they have company: the British and U.S. consulates are also based there.[8] If it wasn’t so serious it would be funny – the occupiers are so isolated and weak, that the two consulates and all the troops huddle together at the air station, with absolutely no presence in the city of 1.8 million.

But the British are leaving, and trying to avoid a “Saigon moment” – referring to the chaotic last hours of the U.S. retreat from Vietnam in 1975, where helicopters ferried the last remaining, terrified Americans out of the country, leaving thousands of Vietnamese supporters behind to meet their fate.[9] Gordon Brown’s plan is to reduce troop levels by half sometime in 2008, a plan challenged by some saying that “the 2,500 troops left will be unable to do more than defend themselves at their base in Basra”[10] something that would make a “Saigon moment” quite plausible.

What does that leave in Iraq as allies for the Americans? After subtracting the British, South Koreans, Australians and Poles, the list of allies is very short, and involves very few troops.[11]

1) Romania (865)
2) El Salvador (380)
3) Georgia (300)
4) Azerbaijan (150)
5) Bulgaria (less than 150)
6) Latvia (136)
7) Albania (120)
8) Czech Republic (100)
9) Mongolia (100)
10) Lithuania (less than 50)
11) Armenia (46)
12) Bosnia & Herzegovina (37)
13) Estonia (34)
14) Macedonia (33)
15) Kazakhstan (29
16) Moldova (12)

This is, to say the least, a very weak coalition. We are approaching the end game of this horrible imperialist adventure, which has cost so many lives. And for what – when the occupiers leave a city under a hail of bullets, and are visibly hated, this war has clearly had little to do with “liberation” – unless of course it had kept its short-lived initial name – OIL – Operation Iraqi Liberation.[12]

© 2007 Paul Kellogg

References

[1] Paul von Zielbauer, “British Hand Over Basra to Iraqis,” The New York Times, www.nytimes.com, December 16, 2007
[2] Barbara McMahon, “Rudd sets date for Iraq pull-out,” Guardian Unlimited, www.guardian.co.uk, December 1, 2007
[3] Information from “Iraq Coalition Troops: Non-US Forces in Iraq – February 2007”, www.globalsecurity.org ; “Rest of Danish forces withdraw from Basra,” Iraq Updates, www.iraqupdates.com, August 2, 2007 ; “S Korea announces to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan,” China View, http://news.xinhuanet.com, November 5, 2007 ; Associated Press, “Report: Poland could pull troops from Iraq in summer 2008 defense minister says,” International Herald Tribune, www.iht.com, November 27, 2007
[4] “Basra residents blame UK troops,” BBC News, www.bbc.co.uk, December 14, 2007
[5] Thomas Harding, “British troops leave Basra city,” Daily Telegraph, www.telegraph.co.uk, September 4, 2007
[6] Brendan O’Neill, “Basra withdrawal: a media stunt to end a PR war,” www.spiked-online.com, September 4, 2007
[7] Tom Newton Dunn, “Our lions roar back from Iraq”, The Sun, www.thesun.co.uk, November 24, 2007
[8] Thomas Harding, “British troops leave Basra city”
[9] Michael Smith and Sarah Baxter, “Army chiefs fear Iraq exit will be Britain’s Saigon moment,” The Sunday Times, www.timesonline.co.uk, August 19, 2007
[10] Mark Deen, “U.K.’s Iraq Pull-Out Plan May Not Work, Lawmakers Say (Update 1),” www.bloomberg.com, December 3, 2007
[11] Information from “Iraq Coalition Troops: Non-US Forces in Iraq – February 2007”, www.globalsecurity,org
[12] Ari Fleischer, “Press Briefing”, www.whitehouse.gov, March 24, 2003