[lbo-talk] dev'ts in world economy and foreign ownership

Yoshie Furuhashi critical.montages at gmail.com
Wed May 30 06:21:36 PDT 2007

On 5/29/07, Doug Henwood <dhenwood at panix.com> wrote:
> > As for "people who'd been to Iraq and talked to actual
> > Iraqis," why couldn't they see what Chirac, and even Sarkozy, could
> > foresee _before_ the US invasion of Iraq began? Some people see only
> > what they want to see and talk to only those who tell them what they
> > want to hear, just like the Bush White House. There's nothing
> > "irrational" about it -- it's human nature.
> What the hell are you talking about?

What Chirac and Sarkozy tried to tell the Americans before they began embarking upon an illegal and immoral invasion (I hope it is not thought of as too moralistic to mention legality and morality here): the Iraqis were bound to turn against them and would try to kick them out. You can learn that from history, which is "something that counts" in France, they say.

. . . Mr. Sarkozy has long defended France's decision

to stay out of the war, citing the bitter lessons of his

country's tortured history in Algeria and Vietnam.

"We were kicked out of Algeria less than 50 years ago,

so don't tell us that we don't remember and that we don't

understand," Mr. Sarkozy told an audience at Columbia

University in 2004 in explaining France's decision to stay

out of the Iraq war. "We lived what you are living through

in America before you. We were in Vietnam before you,

and our young people died in Vietnam."

He added: "In France, history is something that counts.

Please don't be angry with us because we remember

what happened to us. Is there even a single country of

the world, at any time of history, that was able to

maintain itself in a sustained way in a country that was

not its own, uniquely by the force of arms? Never,

not a single one, even the Chinese."

That analysis of the Iraq war sounds remarkably similar

to the one articulated repeatedly by Mr. Chirac both

publicly and during private meetings with Mr. Bush.

"In Algeria, we began with a sizable army and huge

resources, and the fighters for independence were

only a handful of people, but they won," Mr. Chirac

said in an interview in September 2003. "That's how it is."

(Elaine Sciolino, "An Admirer of America Sets a

New Course for France," 8 May 2007, <http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60911F83D550C7B8CDDAC0894DF404482>)

Since many self-identified leftists such as yourself couldn't believe what Chiracs and Sarkozys were telling you based on history, however, it is no wonder that the US power elite and ruling class, as well as the US public, knew no better. I bet they believed in the same sort of polls and journalists you believed in, among other things, because that -- the Iraqis did not want immediate US withdrawal -- was what they wanted to believe. There is nothing strange about the behavior of the US ruling class and power elite seen in this context.

On 5/29/07, Carl Remick <carlremick at hotmail.com> wrote:
> >From: "Yoshie Furuhashi" <critical.montages at gmail.com>
> >
> >... I have no way of knowing lurkers' opinions, but for a longest time a
> >majority of people on this mailing list kept saying that Washington
> >couldn't and shouldn't just withdraw US troops, we must arrange for
> >substitute peace-keepers first (as if anyone wanted to go in!), we
> >must reconstruct Iraq first (as if we ever would!), we must support
> >Sistani, et al.'s call for elections first (God only knows why anyone
> >thought that was a good idea), and so on and so forth.
> This is pretty presumptuous, no? Do you have the actual LBO vote counts to
> back this claim? In any event, as a firm longtime proponent of cutting and
> running, I have never advocated any of the exit-delaying preconditions you
> cite.

You can look into the archive and find an abundance of postings by LBO-talk posters as to why the Americans can't and shouldn't demand immediate withdrawal of US troops without doing this, that, and other things. Here are a few rescued from the memory hole (see below). Since even many self-identified leftists thought that an immediate end to the occupation was inadvisable, it's no surprise that the White House and Congress have kept it up and that they have yet to make up their mind about withdrawing all the troops from Iraq or even renouncing war and regime change against Iran.

<http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/2003/2003-July/018105.html> Bring Them Home Now! Screw the Iraqis! Leave them to Starve! Protect Our Boys!

Why not, Demand UN administration! Democracy for Iraq! or something that is not so faux-populist isolationist? This is all the brain-dead sloganeering that failed in the first place.

<http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/2003/2003-July/018128.html> Quite apart from US "national security interests," I.e., imperialism, the US cannot ethically _merely_ walk out on the mess that it has created in Iraq and Afghanistan (as indeed, it_has_ in Afghanistan -- and, I'll add, Nicaragua -- remember Nicaragua?). Out troops don't belong there, we shouldn't be occupying the countries or installing puppet regimes. But we broke Iraq (and, to the extent that it was not already broken, Afghanistan), and it would be wrong to merely wash our hands of it and walk out.

<http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/2003/2003-July/018238.html> So Iraq must have an occupation until it gets a state. It needs an occupation in order to get a state. The only question is what sort of an occupation and what sort of a state. What we want ideally is an legitimate occupation in which Iraqis participate and which they mold. Which would be very different than this occupation.

So Iraq needs an occupation that's the opposite of what it's got: legitimate, democratic, effective, and which delivers the goods. And for that to happen, it has to be multilateral on a large scale, which is the only way to increase all those things. And for that to happen, the US has to give up major control.

<http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/2003/2003-July/018252.html> US loss of unilateral management, internationalization, an effective program for creating a functioning state for safety and infrastructure - is subtle and worthy of serious consideration.

It merges the apparently irreconcilable demands of those who want to 'bring them home' with the arguments of folks who insist that the US has a responsibility to rebuild.

<http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/2003/2003-July/018227.html> My imaginings at this point run as follows: We enforce the human rights that are incorporated in international declarations and treaties. Everything else is left to the Iraquis. Run immediate, universal suffrage elections for a constitutional convention. The convention can do anything it wants, but it must subscribe to the human rights declarations. It cannot therefore award men civic privileges over women or arrest people for political speech or persecute religious minorities. Non-Iraqui force/courts are available only to support human rights violations.

<http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/2004/2004-October/022333.html> How about handing over things in Iraq to "Muslim forces" as a transitional step (as Italians seem to be suggesting)?

>There's 40 pages of poll data from June over here:
>I don't know if that's recent enough.

Things have gotten messier since June, but there's still some interesting stuff there. There seems to be broad agreement that Iraq isn't ready for elections. There's support for democracy over the longer term, and a single strong leader in the shorter term. People want the occupiers out, but 2/3 disapprove of attacks on them - and 95% or more disapprove of attacks on the iraqi police, people working with the UN, attacks on the infrastructure, attacks on contractors, etc. 58% want a greater role for the UN in Iraq, though mainly for humanitarian aid. There's 30-40% support for the war and occupation, and 50-60% opposition. 33% want the U.S. forces out now; the remainder think they should stay from months to years. 54% thought the Abu Ghraib torture was the work of a few people, and 20% thought the whole USA is like this. 2/3s were surprised by the disclosure of the torture and 3/4 think it makes no difference to the future of Iraq. 85% think the U.S. should help reconstruct Iraq, and 15% think it should have no future role.

No explicit question about a transition via the UN or Islamic forces, though.

On 5/29/07, Wojtek Sokolowski <sokol at jhu.edu> wrote:
> These Third World patriotic and
> nationalistic heroes may blow up a few humvees and tanks today, but tomorrow
> they will be knocking on the American, French, or Russian doors asking for
> work or alms, or even begging their former enemies to come back to their
> lands - as they have done in the past. As uvj at vsnl.com informative posts
> show, the Vietnamese or the Cambodians are very keen today to welcome and do
> business with the imperialists whom they fiercely fought 25 years ago.

Your opinion here has the virtue of clearly spelling out the hidden assumption of social chauvinism -- without us, they are nothing -- that lurks underneath the preponderance of opinions in the North, on the left, the right, and the center.

On 5/29/07, Doug Henwood <dhenwood at panix.com> wrote:
> On May 29, 2007, at 2:37 PM, Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:
> > I'm not interested in the opinion of "someone who wrote you off the
> > list."
> Of course not. Self-awareness and self-righteousness don't live
> comfortably together.

People who are self-aware tend to think twice about venturing an opinion without owning it. But not to take note of that is vintage Henwood-Proyect. -- Yoshie

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