January 14, 2003

Peace movement to Iraqis: you're not welcome here

Apropos to my post below is this article in the Daily Telegraph on how the so-called peace movement for Iraq is actually excluding those Iraqis that are presumably its focus of concern. For instance:

The anti-war movement is a private party. It has proved to be a remarkably fastidious friend of suffering peoples of the Middle East, and its doors are always open to non-Iraqi Muslims - but it's not at home to Muslims from Iraq.

As far as I can work out from the coalition's membership list, only two Iraqi organisations - one calling itself the Iraqi Network for Human Rights and a second called the Federation of Kurdish Community Organisations - have signed its manifesto. No Iraqi exile I have interviewed has heard of either.

The truth is that the overwhelming majority of Iraqi dissidents are an embarrassment to the Left. After enduring misery few of us can imagine, they have discovered that, without foreign intervention, their country won't be freed from a tyrant who matches Stalin in his success in liquidating domestic opponents. Only America can intervene. Therefore an American invasion offers the possibility of salvation.

There's a damnable logic to this that no amount of wriggling can escape. If you say to the Iraqi opposition that America is very selective in its condemnation of dictatorships, they shrug and ask why Iraqis should care. If you say that Iraq shouldn't be liberated from Saddam until Palestinians are liberated from Israeli occupation, they ask if the converse also applies. (It never does, incidentally.) They confront the anti-war movement with the disconcerting thought that there are worse things in the world than George W Bush and American imperialism, and Saddam Hussein and his prison state are among them.

They aren't fond of the idea of a democratic government in Iraq either:
When I put this programme to my democratic and secular comrades, they turn nasty. I hear that the peoples of Iraq will slaughter each other if Saddam goes; that any US-sponsored replacement will be worse. They may be right, although the second prediction will be hard to meet. What is repulsive is the sneaking feeling that they want the war to be long and a post-Saddam Iraq to be a bloody disaster. They would rather see millions suffer than be forced to reconsider their prejudices.
Who cares, it's only foreigners and Americans, eh?

(Via Damian Penny.)

Posted by Andrea Harris at January 14, 2003 02:29 PM

You know, I try to avoid the practice of divining other people's motivations. After all, that's how certain people get away with constantly smearing others as racists, sexists, homophobes, ad nauseum when they hear certain ideas expressed.

But still, I continue to wait for the rational explanations, and I continue not to get them.

Except, there is one group. The pacifists who simply object to all war under any circumstances, who believe you should literally allow yourself or your loved ones to die rather than fight--like the Quakers. But genuine pacifists of this nature appear to be few and far between.

Posted by: Dean Esmay at January 15, 2003 at 06:20 AM