June 29, 2005
-- by Thomas Leavitt
[Let me quote just one key part of this statement:
The principal obstacle to peace, stability, and the reconstruction of Iraq is the occupation. The occupation is the problem, not the solution. Iraqi sovereignty and independence must be restored. The occupation must end in all its forms, including military bases and economic domination.
Here's the "simple" version of the message we need to be pounding away at the media with: The occupation is the problem, not the solution.
Make this your mantra.
Every time you're confronted with a "stay the course" or "you break it, you buy it" argument, repeat this back to them: The occupation is the problem, not the solution.
You have it from the horse's mouth. Iraqi labor activists at the grassroots. The occupation is the problem, not the solution.
Sisters and Brothers:
What follows is an historic document, a joint statement drafted by the leaders of three of Iraq’s main labor organizations and leaders of US Labor Against the War. The statement is the culmination of a sweeping tour of the US by the Iraqis who spoke eloquently in opposition to the occupation of their country. They spoke to their audiences of the threat and likely consequences of privatization of their national resources and industries and the importance of establishing free trade unions in Iraq.
The tour inspired thousands of trade unionists in the US to intensify the campaign against the war and occupation in Iraq. It brought hope and encouragement to the Iraqis who recognized that they had genuine support among the people of the occupying power. The statement, in English and Arabic, will be distributed throughout the US and Iraq as well as internationally and will be posted to the USLAW website. We hope that it will encourage unions everywhere to take a stand against the occupation and in support of the courageous Iraqi labor movement.
The English language version of the statement is posted at HERE (PDF).
The Arabic language version of the statement is posted at HERE (PDF).
We encourage you to distribute this widely throughout your unions and organizations, and put it in your organization’s newspaper and on your web pages.
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Wow, resorting to bumper-sticker philosophy and simplistic mantras. That is not the way to a real solution, and neither is abandonment since the insurgency will just turn into a massively-out-of-control civil war.
Posted by: Pericles at June 29, 2005 2:50 PM
Jeeze I hate to agree with "Pericles" but I was going to comment that some of the very first people that the Islamists are going to get rid of when they seize power - which they will if we just leave - are the trade union members.
Posted by: Dave Johnson at June 29, 2005 3:55 PM
Well, it seems that the three leaders of the labor movement in Iraq who signed onto this declaration disagree with you, Dave (as, it seems, do most of the union activists in Iraq, from what I've seen elsewhere).
I also question the conventional wisdom that Iraq will simply fall into anarchy - the primary motivation of most of the insurgents is nationalistic - remove the occupation, you remove the excuse for most of the violence.
Sure, the Iraqi army may fall apart when faced with the task of confronting the insurgency directly - but are the insurgents capable of maintaining control of a large swathe of Iraq in the absence of provocation by the U.S. in the form of the occupation? (no) Are they going to occupy or govern the Kurdish areas (no, they've been essentially self governing since 1991)... the Shi'ite areas? (no) ... the Sunni areas? Maybe - but the task of governing an area is vastly different from simply attempting to destabilize an area or demoralize an occupying force. Moreover, without the occupation to incite them, the jihadists aren't likely to continue to flood into the country -- nor are the Iraqi nationalists likely to continue the Faustian bargain of hosting them in return for their willingness to blow themselves up on command.
The results of a withdrawl might not be pretty, and they might not include a united "Iraq" (an artificial construct anyway), but the only way to know is to do it. Moreover, we've tolerated a "stateless" Somalia for over a decade now, and it hasn't turned into Osama's new haven. The excuse that the place will turn into a "massively-out-of-control civil war" rings rather hollow, considering that we've tolerated exactly that in the Congo for many years now.
As for simplistic mantras - youbetcha. The simpler, the better. As the right has proven, these are the easiest and most effective means of political communication. That's why Pericles absolutely hates the idea of us using them - they get our point across, without the usual liberal dithering.
I'll repeat: "The occupation is the problem, not the solution."
Posted by: Thomas Leavitt at June 29, 2005 4:13 PM
This is from an assumption that the fighting in Iraq is about US. Most of it is about different elements of Iraqi society fighting each other. This would not be happening had we not invaded -- that's why the Baathist government was so brutal, to keep order there. And that is why it is OUR responsibility to bring things under control.
Many, many more Iraqis are targeted and killed by the fighting going on there. They are targeting Iraqi police and armed forces more than our own, and many more are dying. AND they are targeting Iraqi civilians in their attempt to start a civil war. Our forces there are all that is holding things together.
The solution is to get OTHER forces in place there until Iraq can form a stable and respected government. Probably through the UN. Of course, Bush would never allow this.
Posted by: Dave Johnson at June 29, 2005 4:42 PM
... it appears we have differing points of view about the underlying cause of the violence in Iraq, and the role US forces play. Rather than replicate the entire debate, I'll leave it at that.
With regards to the U.N., you'd first have to convince the member states to contribute a significant number of troops to the occupying force - I don't believe you'll find a precedent for this elsewhere. Every "U.N." peacekeeping force in Africa consists mostly of troops from neighboring countries, for example.
Posted by: Thomas Leavitt at June 29, 2005 5:07 PM
Very good post, Thomas. I agree with you; and it seems the center will not hold in Iraq, if that center is the American occupation. The war of aggression, the occupation, the not-so-hidden economic agenda--everything Bush has touched throughout this debacle--including the barbarous things like Abu Ghraib and Fallujah, keeps proving that the US is morally compromised in that country. And the orderly exit by the US would be best for America and Iraq.
You're right: The occupation is the problem, not the solution. If Bush's speech last night is any guide, the delusion-driven cabal has it's heart set on the status quo of US military presence in Iraq,--which is like a slow-motion train wreck.
There are prominent Democrats as well as Republicans, in the Senate, who have their teeth set for escalation. Senator Biden was on the Newshour today, expressing those sentiments. American dead are averaging three a day, now; but "fixing" Iraq with a heavy occupation will be much bloodier, and just as futile.
We have suffered a loss here; but it is going to be an uphill struggle to convince enough of our fellow Americans to mitigate this loss and bring our soldiers home.
Posted by: Copeland at June 29, 2005 8:08 PM
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