The Neocons' Unlikely Bedfellows
Even with mainstream reports that American troops are slaughtering Iraqi civilians, there are still plenty of lefties in the United States who cannot unify behind a call for an immediate and unconditional withdraw of occupation forces from Iraq. Fortunately, the majority of Americans understand that US presence in region is only contributing to the violence, not restraining it.
Chris Toensing, writing for In These Times this month, insists, The Shiite religious parties, in particular, prefer that the U.S. military stay until they consolidate their grip on the security apparatus. But even independent Iraqis, like Isam al-Khafaji, fear the intensified sectarian violence and the multi-sided mele'e of militias that might follow a U.S. pullout.
At some point -- whether sooner or later -- U.S. troops will leave Iraq. I have spent much of the occupation reporting from Baghdad, Kirkuk, Mosul, Fallujah, and elsewhere in the country, and I can tell you that a growing majority of Iraqis would like it to be sooner ... Before the January 30 elections this year the Association of Muslim Scholars -- Iraq's most important Sunni Arab body, and one closely tied to the indigenous majority of the insurgency -- called for a commitment to a timely U.S. withdrawal as a condition for its participation in the vote. (In exchange the association promised to rein in the resistance.) It's not just Sunnis who have demanded a withdrawal: the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who is immensely popular among the young and the poor, has made a similar demand. So has the mainstream leader of the Shiites' Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, who made his first call for U.S. withdrawal as early as April 23, 2003.
Marc Cooper, contributing editor to The Nation, along with a few other lefties has long plucked through the neocon playbook to justify a prolonged occupation of Iraq, and even recently signed the erroneous "Euston Manifesto", which, among other things, calls for a continued occupation of Iraq. According to it:
So, like President Bush, the signers of this document believe the Left and others should pressure Iraqis to succumb to the US version of democracy. Sounds pretty imperialistic. Other "Euston Manifesto" supporters include Dissent magazine editors Michael Walzer and Mitchell Cohen, Dissent editorial board member Paul Berman, and Kanan Makiya a Dissent contributor.
In The Washington Post last week Nir Rosen continued by writing, Under the reign of Saddam Hussein, dissidents called Iraq the republic of fear and hoped it would end when Hussein was toppled. But the war, it turns out, has spread the fear democratically. Now the terror is not merely from the regime, or from U.S. troops, but from everybody, everywhere ... Today, the Americans are just one more militia lost in the mayhem.
Working to end the occupation of Iraq from within the belly of the beast will not be an easy thing to do, especially with folks like Marc Cooper attempting to hold us up. If the US were to leave tomorrow, violence in the country would not end abruptly. No antiwar activist I have spoken with has ever stated anything to the contrary. But if Nir Rosen is correct, and occupation forces are just one more militia in a country of many -- wouldnt exiting that militia at once be a step in the right direction?