It is one thing to oppose the invasion or argue for withdrawing troops – notwithstanding the UN mandate and Iraqi government support. It’s another to be blasé about the fate of our Iraqi comrades. For example, Robert Taylor argued in Tribune for a troops-out timetable, while admitting a dodgy precedent: ‘The exit from India and that country’s partition in 1947 cost the lives of millions but it was a cruel necessity. The same can be said for Iraq.’
The west long treated the Middle East as a petrol pump and propped up its tyrannies. Now, in rhetoric at least, the emphasis is on democratisation. It is not a theme that should be left to the neo-cons but a natural value for social democrats who should assist democrats in the region. Professor Brian Brivati says: ‘There has been no greater abdication of leadership by the left since 1945 than its failure in the past decade to articulate how we should transform tyranny into freedom.’ He rightly says that ‘it is time for the left to take off the anti-American blinkers and see what voters across the Middle East want our help to build: freedom and democracy. If we don’t engage, these new states will have no idea that social democracy was even an option.’
Sadly, anti-war leaders are on the wrong side of the divide between those who wish to reinstate minority rule or even a medieval theocracy, and those who back social democracy. Success in Iraq could also transform the Middle East by tackling its economic and social backwardness – the main root cause of jihadist death cults.
Three years on, the STWC is a pale shadow of its former self, with less influence on debates on how humanitarian intervention should be conducted in the future. Galloway has become a big pussy-cat, but the poisonous rhetoric of armchair revolutionaries, who ignore or insult Iraqi labour voices facing great dangers from Islamists and Ba’athists, pollutes progressive politics. There is still not enough concerted emphasis on practical ways of helping our Iraqi comrades. It’s a basic question of solidarity. Are we up for it?
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Solidarity or the Cruel Necessity?
Some good paragraphs from a good essay by Labor Friends of Iraq's Gary Kent,