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Against the Occupation
Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2003

Arab News via
10 April 2003

The images of Iraqi people in Baghdad dancing on the broken hull of a statue of Saddam Hussein yesterday were welcomed by all of the civilized world. Saddam was a dictator and accordingly was hated by most of his people. That they are rid of him is a good thing, and to argue otherwise would be not only foolish, but cruel. But some things remain as they were.

The debate surrounding this war got off on a false premise. It said that either you were with the US/UK forces and their bid to topple the Saddam regime, or you were with Saddam himself. This was false because the world and its problems can almost never be divided into simple black and white, right and wrong. Only totalitarians like Saddam think in such anti-human ideological terms, because that is the way their interests are best served. Back here in the real world, those who opposed the US/UK invasion of Iraq according to principles quite beyond the "with or against us" dichotomy have no reason to change their minds, celebrations or no celebrations in Baghdad.

It is important now, more than ever, to remain focused on what is really going on. The plan to invade Iraq was drawn up long before Sept. 11 by individuals who are now members of the Bush administration. They had, and still have, close ties with major energy firms whose chief concern is oil. Indeed, yesterday two Democrat members of the US Senate called for an investigation in just such a context of Vice President Dick Cheney and the awarding of oil contracts in post-Saddam Iraq.

For the Iraqi people to be rid of a tyrant only then to be vulnerable to exploitation by the conservative Zionist junta who have taken over the White House is merely for them to be thrown from the frying pan into the fire. The Iraqi people, like everyone else, deserve to be the masters of their own destiny. Arab News and other publications which took a largely anti-war stance did so in the belief that a US-led invasion of Iraq was not the best way of bringing liberty to the people who live in that country. As with all the revolutions in history, the easy part is getting rid of the regime. The difficult part is knowing what to fill the resulting vacuum with. The danger now is that, because the invaders offer something better than Saddam in the short term, they may be left in the dark as to those invaders' real long-term motives.

The Iraqi people should not settle for second best, namely being ruled by a quasi-democratic leadership propped up by a US administration which is itself propped up by those greedy for Iraq's oil and spurred on by their desire for a secure Israel. Baghdad has fallen, Saddam is on the run and his Baath Party has disintegrated. Good riddance to them all. But now those who were against the war must double their protests against an American occupation.

The Iraqi people now, after having seen one tyrant fall, are unlikely to accept a military occupation of their country. Yesterday, they rightfully celebrated, and we celebrate with them their newfound freedom. But today their challenge and ours is to make sure the spoils of their country are not stolen by their conquerors. It was in the fear that such looting would be inevitable that the majority of the world opposed the invasion, and it is for the same reason that it will continue to oppose any occupation or economic exploitation.

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