excerpt from Iraq: the Logic of Withdrawalby Anthony Arnove
We find ourselves in a remarkable situation today. Despite a massive propaganda campaign in support of the occupation of Iraq, a clear majority of people in the United States now believes the invasion was not worth the consequences and should never have been undertaken. A November 2005 _Washington Pos_t–ABC poll found that
P(indent1). Bush has never been less popular with the American people. Currently 39 percent approve of the job he is doing as president, while 60 percent disapprove of his performance in office—the highest level of disapproval ever recorded for Bush in Post-ABC polls. . . . Nearly six in ten—58 percent—said they have doubts about Bush’s honesty, the first time in his presidency that more than half the country has questioned his personal integrity. . . . Iraq remains a significant drag on Bush’s presidency, with dissatisfaction over the situation there continuing to grow and with suspicion rising over whether administration officials misled the country in the run-up to the invasion more than two years ago. Nearly two-thirds disapprove of the way Bush is handling the situation there, while barely a third approve, a new low. Six in ten now believe the United States was wrong to invade Iraq, a seven-point increase in just over two months, with almost half the country saying they strongly believe it was wrong. About three in four—73 percent—say there have been an unacceptable level of casualties in Iraq. More than half—52 percent—say the war with Iraq has not contributed to the long-term security of the United States. . . . The war has taken a toll on the administration’s credibility: A clear majority—55 percent—now says the administration deliberately misled the country in making its case for war with Iraq—a conflict that an even larger majority say is not worth the cost.
Likewise, people strongly disapprove of the foreign policy of Republicans and Democrats in Congress, particularly their position on the war in Iraq.
In a September 2005 New York Times–CBS News poll, support for immediate withdrawal stood at 52 percent, a remarkable figure when one considers that very few political organizations have articulated an “Out Now” position.
The official justifications for the war have been exposed as complete fallacies. Even conservative defenders of U.S. empire now complain that the situation in Iraq is a disaster.
Yet many people who opposed this unjust invasion, who opposed the 1991 Gulf War and the sanctions on Iraq for years before that, some of whom joined mass demonstrations against the war before it began, have been persuaded that the U.S. military should now remain in Iraq for the benefit of the Iraqi people. We confront the strange situation of many people mobilizing against an unjust war but then reluctantly supporting the military occupation that flows directly from it.
In part, this position is rooted in the pessimistic conclusions many drew after the February 15, 2003, day of international demonstrations—perhaps the largest coordinated protest in human history—failed to prevent the war. This pessimism was exacerbated by some of the leading spokespeople for the antiwar movement, who misled audiences by suggesting that the demonstrations could stop the war. As inspiring as the demonstrations were, it would have taken a significantly higher degree of protest, organization, and disruption of business as usual to do so.
The lesson of February 15 is not that protest no longer works, but that protest needs to be sustained, coherent, forceful, persistent, and bold—rather than episodic and isolated. And it needs to involve large numbers of working-class people, veterans, military families, conscientious objectors, Arabs, Muslims, and other people from targeted communities, not just as passive observers but as active participants and leaders. We will need this kind of protest to end the occupation of Iraq. But we will also need to be able to answer the objections and concerns of thoughtful, well-meaning people who have been persuaded by one or more of the arguments for why U.S. troops should remain in Iraq, at least until “stability” is restored. Below, I outline eight reasons why the United States should leave Iraq immediately, addressing common arguments for why the United States needs to “stay the course.”
1. The U.S. Military Has No Right to Be in Iraq in the First Place.
The Bush administration built its case for invading Iraq on a series of deceptions. The rhetoric about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and the imminent threat Saddam Hussein posed was meant to justify the nullification of Iraq’s sovereignty and to explain why the United States did not need further United Nations authorization to invade Iraq and topple its government. The war in Iraq was sold on the idea that the United States was preempting a terrorist attack by Iraq. But Iraq posed no threat. The country was disarmed and had overwhelmingly complied with the extremely invasive weapons inspections, even after it was proved that the United States was illegally using the inspections to gather intelligence it would use in its military campaign against Iraq. “I would say that we felt that in all areas we have eliminated Iraq’s capabilities fundamentally,” said Rolf Ekeus, the UN executive director of weapons inspection from 1991 to 1997. In a rare moment of honesty, Vice President Dick Cheney told CNN in March 2001,“I don’t believe [Saddam Hussein] is a significant military threat today.”
As the case for war has crumbled, so has the case for occupation, which also rests on the idea that the United States can violate the sovereignty of the Iraqi people and all the laws of occupation, such as the Hague and Geneva Conventions, which clearly restrict the right of occupying powers to interfere in the internal affairs of an occupied people.
2. The United States Is Not Bringing Democracy to Iraq.
Having failed to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq—the first big lie of the invasion—the United States has turned to a new big lie: George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, John Negroponte, Condoleezza Rice, John Bolton, and their friends are bringing democracy to the Iraqi people. Democracy has nothing to do with why the United States is in Iraq. The Bush administration invaded Iraq to secure long-established imperial interests in the Middle East—the same reason Washington backed Saddam Hussein as he carried out the worst of his crimes against the Iraqi people, the Kurds, and the Iranians (crimes that were later used to justify going to war against him in 1991 and removing him from power in 2003).
The United States has recognized for decades that control over Middle Eastern energy resources is a prerequisite for U.S. global hegemony. The centrality of oil to U.S. imperial calculations has only increased since the United States first sought to replace the British and French as the outside power controlling the region’s energy resources in the period after World War II. U.S. economic, military, and political competitors in Europe and Asia, particularly China and India, need to greatly increase their energy imports from the Middle East and, in fact, are proportionally far more dependent on oil from the region than is the United States, which gets most of its oil from its own reserves, as well as from Canada, Venezuela, and other sources closer to home. Thus there is increasing competition over control of oil, oil pipelines, and oil shipping routes.
As the Bush administration document The National Security Strategy of the United States of America clearly laid out in September 2002, the United States will not allow the emergence of any potential competitor, seeking to preserve the massive gap between itself and other powers.
By invading Iraq, Washington hoped not only to install a regime more favorable to U.S. oil interests. It hoped to use Iraq as a staging ground for further interventions to redraw the map of the Middle East. Several U.S. bases have been established in Iraq and are likely to remain long after U.S. troops are expelled. The largest U.S. embassy in the world today is in Baghdad.
All of this has nothing to do with democracy. In fact, the United States has long been a major obstacle to any secular, democratic, nationalist, or socialist movements in the region that stood for fundamental change, preferring instead what is euphemistically called “stability,” even if it meant supporting the most reactionary fundamentalist religious forces or repressive regimes. This led it to align not only with an expansionist Israel, to defend Israeli occupation and settlement of Palestinian lands, and to allow Israel to develop nuclear weapons, but to support the overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran in 1953 and to arm and befriend the repressive regime that replaced him. Washington has historically backed—and continues to support—the royal family of Saudi Arabia. In the words of the New York Times, the two countries have greed to a “basic compact: the Saudis deliver oil, the Americans delivers the weaponry that protects the oil.” As one Bush official put it, “Oil runs the world and the Saudis are the linchpin of oil production.”
The U.S. government opposes genuine democracy in the Middle East for a simple reason: if ordinary people controlled the region’s energy resources, they might be put toward local economic development and social needs, rather than going to fuel the profits of Western oil companies.
Despite all the hype about Iraqis deciding their own future, an examination of the U.S.-sponsored elections of January 2005 shows how hollow the claims of supporting democracy are in practice. The United States was forced by popular Iraqi pressure to hold elections far earlier than it had hoped, particularly given that its own hoped-for proxies, such as Ahmed Chalabi and Iyad Allawi, had so little actual support among the Iraqi people. Having succumbed to popular opinion and called an election, the occupation authorities then worked to gain control of the process and to turn events to their own advantage. Iraqis were not given actual candidate lists until the day of the vote. Meanwhile, the leading parties campaigned by raising popular slogans calling for withdrawal of occupation troops, but officially dropped this demand under U.S. pressure in the days before the election.
Many Iraqis thought that by voting they would bring about an end to the occupation, but the reality was quite different. As Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies wrote, the elections were designed “to provide a veneer of credibility and legitimacy to the continuation of U.S. control of Iraq,” helping to establish a “U.S.- friendly government that will welcome the U.S. military bases in Iraq.”
Finally, it is important to raise a larger point. Democracy cannot be “installed” by outside powers, at gunpoint. Genuine democracy can come about only through the struggle of people for control over their own lives and circumstances, through movements that are themselves democratic in nature. When confronted with such movements, such as the 1991 Iraqi uprising, the U.S. government has consistently preferred to see them crushed than to see them succeed.
3. The United States Is Not Making the World a Safer Place by Occupying Iraq.
The invasion of Iraq has made the world a far more unstable and dangerous place. By invading Iraq, Washington sent the message to other states that anything goes in the so-called war on terror. Though the defenders of American exceptionalism insist that such rights “are not universal,” other countries will not necessarily accept this argument. After September 11, India called its nuclear rival Pakistan an “epicenter of terrorism.” Israel has carried out “targeted assassinations” of Palestinians, bombed Syria, and threatened to strike Iran, using the same rationale that Bush did for the invasion of Iraq. “You don’t negotiate with terrorism, you uproot it. This is simply the doctrine of Mr. Bush that we’re following,” explained Uzi Landau, Israel’s minister of public security.
The danger of the Iraq war precedent should not be underestimated. Dozens of countries around the world have the potential to develop weapons of mass destruction. Other countries, such as Israel, India, and Pakistan, have proven nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons capacities, with the complicity and protection of the United States.
Furthermore, the invasion of Iraq is spurring the drive for countries to develop a deterrent to U.S. power. The most likely response to the invasion of Iraq is that more countries will pursue nuclear weapons, which may be the only possible protection from attack, and will increase their spending on more conventional weapons systems. Each move in this game has a multiplier effect in a world that is already perilously close to the brink of self-annihilation through nuclear warfare or accident.
Meanwhile, the invasion has also quite predictably increased the resentment and anger that many people feel against the United States and its allies, therefore making innocent people in these countries far more vulnerable to terrorism, as we saw in the deadly attacks in Madrid on March 11, 2004, and London on July 7, 2005. Despite the denials of politicians, the two cities were targeted because oftheir role in the Iraq occupation, as the majority of people in both countries understood.
The United States is reviled not because people “hate our freedoms,” as Bush suggests, but because people hate the very real impact of U.S. policies on their lives. Global opinion polls show a precipitous drop in public approval of the United States, with increasing resentment at a range ofU.S.policies. As the British playwright and essayist Harold Pinter observed, “People do not forget. They do not forget the death of their fellows, they do not forget torture and mutilation, they do not forget injustice, they do not forget oppression, they do not forget the terrorism of mighty powers. They not only don’t forget. They strike back.”
The invasion of Iraq has made us all far less safe. The longer U.S. troops stay, the more they will create opposition.
4. The United States Is Not Preventing Civil War in Iraq.
Perhaps the greatest fear of many antiwar activists who now support the occupation is that the withdrawal of U.S. troops will lead to civil war. This idea has been encouraged repeatedly by supporters of the war.“ Sectarian fault lines in Iraq are inexorably pushing the country towards civil war unless we actually intervene decisively to stem it,” explained one U.S. Army official, making the case for a continued U.S.presence. As veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk points out, though, colonial powers have long used the rationale that they cannot withdraw, lest the natives collapse into civil war. “In 1920,[British prime minister David] Lloyd George warned of civil war in Iraq if the British Army left. Just as the Americans now threaten the Iraqis with civil war if they leave.”
But Washington is not preventing a civil war from breaking out. In fact, occupation authorities are deliberately pitting Kurds against Arabs, Shia against Sunni, and faction against faction to influence the character of the future government, following a classic divide- and-rule strategy.
Taking this idea to its logical extreme, New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman argues, “We should arm the Shiites and Kurds and leave the Sunnis of Iraq to reap the wind.” Such arguments are not just the fantasy of keyboard warriors like Friedman, however. As the journalist A.K. Gupta notes, “the Pentagon is arming, training, and funding” militias in Iraq “for use in counter-insurgency operations.” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said such commandos were among “the forces that are going to have the greatest leverage on suppressing and eliminating the insurgencies.”
In addition, the Iraqi constitution, drafted under intense pressure from occupation authorities, essentially enshrines sectarian divisions in Iraqi politics. As Phyllis Bennis argues, the constitutional referendum was “not a sign of Iraqi sovereignty and democracy taking hold, but rather a consolidation of U.S. influence and control,” which “could transform the current violent political conflict into full-blown civil war between ethnic and religious communities.”
P(indent1). Instead of balancing the interests of Iraq’s diverse population by referencing its long-dominant secular approaches, the draft constitution reflects, privileges and makes permanent the current occupation-fueled turn towards Islamic identity. . . . In historically secular Iraq,the shift in primary identity from “Iraqi” to “Sunni” or “Shia” (although Iraqi Kurdish identity was always stronger) happened largely in response to the U.S. invasion and occupation; it does not reflect historical cultural realities. The draft constitution promotes not just federalism as a national governing structure, but an extreme version of federalism in which all power not specifically assigned to the central government devolves automatically to the regional authorities—setting the stage for a potential division of Iraq largely along ethnic and religious lines.
Not coincidentally, the Sunnis have the most to lose under this arrangement. Iraq’s oil is concentrated in the Kurdish regions of northern Iraq and the Shia regions of the south, rather than in central Iraq, the location of Baghdad and the greatest concentration of Sunnis. This creates the basis for internal conflict over the distribution of earnings from Iraqi oil. Bennis points out that
P(indent1). the federal government will administer the oil and gas from “current fields”with the revenues to be “distributed fairly in a [manner] compatible with the demographic distribution all over the country.” But that guarantee refers only to oil fields already in use, leaving future exploitation of almost two-thirds of Iraq’s known reserves (seventeen of eighty known fields, forty billion of its one hundred and fifteen billion barrels of known reserves), for foreign companies. . . .That means that future exploration and exploitation of Iraq’s oil wealth will remain under the control of the regional authorities where the oil lies—the Kurdish-controlled North and the Shia dominated South, insuring a future of impoverishment for the Sunni, secular and inter-mixed populations of Baghdad and Iraq’s center, and sets the stage for a future of ethnic and religious strife.
P(indent1). In addition, despite all of its rhetoric about confronting Islamic fundamentalism in Iraq, the United States has in fact encouraged it, bringing formerly marginalized fundamentalist parties such as the Dawa Party and the Iranian-backed Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq into the Iraqi government.
5. The United States Is Not Confronting Terrorism by Staying in Iraq.
Iraq has never been the center of a terrorist threat to the United States. Each month further evidence emerges that the Bush administration went to great lengths to suppress facts that undermined its case for war, while touting bogus evidence in its support. As the New York Times reported in November 2005, “A top member of Al Qaeda in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to newly de-classified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document.” The detainee, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, was not alone in providing dubious “intelligence” that was then trumpeted by the Bush administration. In February 2002,DIA reported that al-Libi was most likely “intentionally misleading ”U.S. officials and noted that Saddam Hussein “is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements” and that Baghdad “is unlikely to provide assistance to a group it cannot control.”
Al-Qaeda made its first appearance in Iraq only after the invasion, a predictable outcome of the U.S. occupation. In reality, the United States engaged in state terrorism under the pretext of fighting a terrorist threat that did not exist in Iraq, and in the process greatly increased the likelihood of individual and organizational terrorist acts targeting the United States or its proxies abroad. Even more circular is the idea that the United States has to stay in Iraq until it “defeats” the resistance to the occupation. The occupation itself is the source of the resistance, a fact that even some of the people responsible for the war have been forced to acknowledge. The Los Angeles Times reported in October 2005 that some
P(indent1). U.S. generals running the war in Iraq [had] presented a new assessment of the military situation in public comments and sworn testimony. . . : The one hundred and forty-nine thousand U.S. troops currently in Iraq are increasingly part of the problem. . . .
The generals said the presence of U.S. forces was fueling the insurgency, fostering an undesirable dependency on American troops among the nascent Iraqi armed forces and energizing terrorists across the Middle East.
6. The United States Is Not Honoring Those Who Died by Continuing the Conflict.
One of the most cynical reasons for staying in Iraq was advanced by President Bush in response to the growing public criticism over the mounting deaths of U.S. soldiers and the deliberate campaign by the administration to suppress images of the returning coffins. Speaking to a carefully targeted audience in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he fled to escape the protest of Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son, Casey, in Iraq on April 4,2004, Bush made a rare public acknowledgment of the number of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We owe them something,” he said. “We will finish the task that they gave their lives for. We will honor their sacrifice by staying on the offensive against the terrorists.”
Sheehan herself had the best response to this attempt to manipulate people into supporting continued occupation, asking, “Why should I want one more mother to go through what I’ve gone through, because my son is dead?. . . I don’t want him using my son’s death or my family’s sacrifice to continue the killing.”
The soldiers in Iraq have not died for a “noble cause,” as Bush claims. Whatever personal motivations may have brought them into the military, they died for oil, for empire, for power and profit. As Sheehan says of Casey,“ My son is a war victim, not a hero. What is noble about what he’s done? Going in and invading a country that’s not a threat to the United States—that is not noble.” More deaths and injuries of Iraqis and of U.S. soldiers will only compound the tragedy of the numerous lives already lost.
7. The United States Is Not Rebuilding Iraq.
The contractors now in Iraq are not there to help the people of Iraq but to help themselves, drawing on their close ties to influential politicians to secure contracts and profit from what Pratap Chatterjee rightly calls the “reconstruction racket.”
The reality is, Halliburton, Bechtel, and the other companies in Iraq are looting the country far more than they are rebuilding it. Iraqis have been forced to pay elevated prices to import oil, benefiting corporations like Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root, while ordinary Iraqis have to stand in lines sometimes for days to buy gasoline. Project after project remains unfinished.Hospitals are in shambles.Electricity is still at woefully inadequate levels.
As the journalist Naomi Klein eloquently observes, “The United States, having broken Iraq, is not in the process of fixing it. It is merely continuing to break the country and its people by other means, using not only F-16s and Bradleys, but now the less flashy weaponry” of economic strangulation.
The Iraqi people are perfectly capable of rebuilding their own society, in fact far more so than foreign soldiers or contractors. To the extent that there have been any social services or security in the last two years, it is primarily Iraqis who have provided it. During the years of sanctions, Iraqis also showed their immense resourcefulness in holding together their badly damaged infrastructure. Iraqi engineers, teachers, and doctors have long been among the most educated and best trained in the Arab world. It is ultimately a racist worldview that believes Iraqis cannot rebuild or run their own country.
8. The United States Is Not Fulfilling Its Obligation to the Iraqi People for the Harm and Suffering It Has Caused.
Understandably, many opponents of the war now believe that the United States has an obligation to the Iraqi people and therefore has to stay to “clean up the mess it has created.” MoveOn.org, which grabbed headlines and signed up millions of online members with its anti-Bush campaigning, refuses to call for withdrawal of troops from Iraq because, in the words of its executive director, Eli Pariser, “There are no good options in Iraq.” Using this same logic, leading antisanctions and antiwar groups such as the Education for Peace in Iraq Center have formally adopted positions in support of occupation, if somehow a more enlightened occupation, and therefore against immediate withdrawal.
“Iraqis are paying a horrendous price for the good intentions of well-meaning conservatives who wanted to liberate them,” writes New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. “Our mistaken invasion has left millions of Iraqis desperately vulnerable, and it would be inhumane to abandon them now. If we stay in Iraq, there is still some hope that Iraqis will come to enjoy security and better lives, but if we pull out we will be condemning Iraqis to anarchy, terrorism and starvation, costing the lives of hundreds of thousands of children over the next decade.”
Kristof can’t imagine for a moment that the neoconservatives were not motivated by good intentions or ideals of liberation, but by baser motives of power projection and profit. But even if we set aside the question of motives, always subject to dispute, we must confront the bizarre logic of saying that the people who have devastated Iraq, who encouraged and enforced sanctions that cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in the last decade, who have failed at even the most basic responsibilities as an occupying power, who are the source of the instability in Iraq today, are the only ones who can protect Iraqis from hunger and anarchy. In no other area of our livesdo we accept such logic, but when it comes to the crimes of empire, we are supposed to continually ignore history. The “doctrine of good intentions” exculpates all crimes.
The reality, however, is that the U.S. occupation, rather than being a source of stability in Iraq, is the major source of instability and ongoing suffering.
Kristof is knocking down straw men when he argues that a “surgeon who botches an operation should not walk off and leave the patient on the table with a note: ‘Oops. This didn’t go as planned. Good luck, but I’m outta here.’” As Howard Zinn has noted, the United States today can be more aptly characterized as a butcher than a surgeon. But even if we accept Kristof’s terms, we do not look to a surgeon with a long history of medical malpractice who grievously harmed a patient to undo the harm he or she caused, especially if the doctor’s efforts to repair the initial damage have only made things worse. A doctor’s first obligation is to keep patients “from harm and injustice,” an oath the U.S. violates daily by its continued presence in Iraq.
Moreover, those calling for immediate withdrawal do not advocate a position of isolationism and of simply walking away from any obligation to the Iraqi people. Does the U.S. government have an obligation to the Iraqi people? Absolutely. An obligation for the crimes Washington supported for years when Saddam Hussein was an ally. For arming and supporting both sides in the brutal Iran-Iraq War. For the destruction of the 1991 Gulf War. For the use of depleted uranium munitions, cluster bombs, daisy cutters, and white phosphorus. For the devastating sanctions. For the humiliation and deaths caused by the 2003 invasion, and for the great damage the occupation has caused since.
But the first step in meeting this obligation is to withdraw immediately.
If there were any genuine justice for the people of Iraq, not only would the politicians responsible for this unjust war face prosecution for their crimes, but the U.S. government would be required to pay reparations to the Iraqi people and to the families of U.S. soldiers who have been maimed and killed by its criminal actions. International justice groups will also need to find other ways of showing solidarity with the people of Iraq, much as they did during the years of sanctions, often in violation of laws preventing humanitarian assistance. This will entail, whenever possible, extending financial and political support to Iraqi trade unions, women’s groups, and independent media—as some internationalist groups have already done in the post-invasion period, often at great personal risk.
It will also entail supporting projects to eliminate the deadly legacy of land mines and depleted uranium munitions left behind by the United States and the United Kingdom. And it will mean supporting Iraqi efforts to fend off interference from outside powers, most notably the United States but also Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iran, all of which would be threatened by independent political struggles in Iraq; from the multinational oil companies, which will seek to undermine any efforts to limit their access to Iraqi oil; and from international financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, which will try to punish Iraq if it takes an independent economic course.
In demanding an end to the U.S. occupation, we do not need to call for some other occupying power to replace the United States. The United Nations, the most likely candidate in such a scenario, has shown through the years of the sanctions it imposed, the buildup to the war, and its endorsement of the U.S. occupation that it is not able or willing to confront U.S. power. On November 9, 2005, the UN Security Council voted yet again to extend the mandate of the occupation until December 31, 2006, in a unanimous vote on a resolutionncosponsored by the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Denmark, band Romania. Among those voting for the resolution were Brazil, France, and Russia.
Indeed, the United Nations has repeatedly allowed the United States to use the organization as a way of dressing the projection of U.S. power in multilateral clothing. The UN either serves U.S. purposes or it is declared “irrelevant,” a situation that no nation or group of nations today is able to reverse. The Bush administration has a new message to the world. Washington is no longer simply saying, “You’re either with us or against us,” notes New York Times correspondent Serge Schmemann, but “something far more shrewd.” The new position is: “Either you’re with us, or you’re irrelevant.”
Any outside power will not be accountable to the people of Iraq. And the United States is hardly alone in bearing responsibility for the suffering of the Iraqis. The United Nations is deeply implicated. The Arab League countries did nothing to protect the people of Iraq. Indeed, a number of its member states provided support for the invasions of Iraq in 1991 and 2003 while seeking to profit from the war and from the sanctions. Many countries besides the United States also supported Saddam Hussein, armed him, and protected him.
We should allow the people of Iraq to determine their own future. This means, as Naomi Klein has argued, that in addition to calling for an end to military occupation, we should be calling for an end to the economic occupation of Iraq and the cancellation of all debts that Iraq still owes from the previous regime (many of which still have not been forgiven). If the Iraqis ask for outside assistance, that is their prerogative. But it is their decision, not ours, to make, and that decision can only be freely made if the United States, United Kingdom, and other occupying armies withdraw completely and end their economic, political, and military coercion of Iraq.
© 2006 by Anthony Arnove. This excerpt is taken from Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal published in April by The New Press. Reprinted with permission of The New Press. To purchase this book, visit www.powells.com
Anthony Arnove is a freelance literary editor, agent and activist based in Brooklyn.