On a few key issues, the anti-war
movement seems either divided or uncertain. This briefing has
been produced in order to help crystallise positions and move
the debate forward. Unlike previous JNV Anti-War Briefings, it
puts forward some specific political positions for the movement.
It also contains some relevant information for discussing these
issues. We hope you find it useful. (Please note: This has been
produced by JNV the campaigning group, not the new grassroots
anti-war network supported by JNV.)
US/UK OUT OF IRAQ: UNITED NATIONS
The demand End the occupation of Iraq is being interpreted
in different ways within the movement. Straw polls at recent meetings
in Bridgwater, Colchester, Ipswich, Brighton, Oswestry and Bangor
showed substantial majorities in favour of a UN transitional authority;
while one in West London, went the other way.
Furthermore, most people in the UKand
in Iraqdo not seem to support an immediate and unconditional
withdrawal of US/UK forces from Iraq. According to a poll in the
Daily Mirror, only 29 per cent of Britons favor a withdrawal as
soon as possible. 32 per cent want British troops to pull
out gradually, with a date set for a final withdrawal, while another
32 percent felt they should remain in Iraq for as long as possible.
Most people seem to believe that an immediate
withdrawal of US and UK forces without an alternative externally-supported
political and security framework would run an unacceptable risk
of social chaos. We in Justice Not Vengeance agree. We believe
that there should be a UN Transitional Authority to assist
Iraqi political groupings as they transform Iraq.
We believe that there should be immediate
transfer of command and control of foreign military forces
in Iraq to a UN command; a rapid US/UK military withdrawal
from Iraq, and a simultaneous deployment of a UN military
presence (which excludes US and British forces).
HOW DO THE IRAQI PEOPLE FEEL?
In a poll conducted in Aug. by Zogby International for the American
Enterprise Institute (AEI), only 31 per cent of people polled
in four Iraqi cities wanted US/UK troop withdrawal within the
next six months. (FT, 11 Sept., p. 11) A total of 65.5
per cent of Iraqis demanded withdrawal within a year. What
does this mean? Probably that the Iraqi people are so frightened
by the current levels of social chaos, violence and crime that
despite the fact that they dislike the US/UK occupation they want
some form of international intervention.
The AEI is a very right-wing US group. Why
should we trust the poll results? Because they are such bad news
for the US. Asked whether in the next five years the US
would help Iraq, 35.3 per cent said yes while 50
per cent said the US would hurt Iraq. (FT,
11 Sept., p. 11)
These results are consistent with an earlier
poll for the Spectator/Channel 4 News, published in the Spectator
on 19 July. This poll, conducted in Baghdad, found that if forced
to choose between living under Saddam or under the US occupation,
7 per cent chose Saddam, 29 per cent chose the US, and 46 per
cent expressed no preference. 67 per cent feared being attacked
in the streets; 50 per cent feared being attacked at home or at
work. 75 per cent of people said Iraq was more dangerous than
before the war (54 per cent said much more dangerous).
This earlier poll found that only 13 per
cent wanted the US and British troops to leave immediately.
As many as 76 per cent want them to stay for the time beingwith
a majority, 56 per cent, wanting them to remain for at least
12 months. The greater impatience in the later, Aug. 2003,
poll (65.5 per cent of people wanting withdrawal within a year)
is probably explained by the growing frustration and anger of
the Iraqi people.
THE NEED FOR THE UN
The Iraqi people seem to want some outside military presence,
for security reasons. But US and UK military forces should still
be withdrawn rapidly. They are not a benign force, as demonstrated
most forcibly by the US massacre in the western town of Falluja,
where 15 unarmed Iraqi civilians were shot dead at peaceful demonstrations
at the end of Apr. 2003. (See Briefing
47 After Falluja)
However, there are a lot of concerns about
the UN in the movement.
Dont the Iraqi people hate the
UN after 12 years of murderous sanctions? Apparently not.
Only 18.5 per cent of people polled in Aug. said the UN would
hurt Iraq over the next five years, and 50.2 per cent
said it would help. (FT, 11 Sept., p. 11) The exact
opposite of the figures for the US.
Isnt the UN just a tool
of Washington? It will
be if the French plan for Iraq proposed on 12 Sept. is adoptedthis
calls for US/UK forces to remain in Iraq, under US command, alongside
a UN Transitional Authority with no military role. But the UN
isnt always slavishly obedient. Thats why the US had
to undermine and finally collapse the UN weapons inspectors in
March. Thats why the US and UK failed to get a second Resolution.
the UN just incompetent? Lots of UN missions have
been badly run. But the problem generally has been the funding,
staffing and restrictions imposed by the Member States of the
UN. (See Linda Polmans We Did Nothing: Why the truth doesnt
always come out when the UN goes in for some gruesome examples.)
the Iraqi people do it by themselves?' But the Iraqi people
seem to want outside security assistance (see earlier polls).
Also, an unbiased external facilitator is going to be needed to
negotiate agreements over oil revenues and federalism, between
the Sunni, Shia and Kurdish communities. The UN did manage to
hold the closest thing to free elections Cambodia has ever seen.
The UN did assist the East Timorese (also in pretty violent circumstances)
in drawing up a constitution, holding free elections, and establishing
JNV believes that the presence of UN peacekeepers,
and political support from the UN, can help to save lives and
make the best of a very dangerous situation. The UN needs reform,
but right now Iraq needs the UN.
STOP RE-NAZIFYING THE SECURITY FORCES
JNV believes that another central demand of the anti-war movement
should be to demand an end to the restoration of Saddams
spies, thugs and torturers to positions of power and influence,
particularly in the security forces.
Iraq desperately needs a competent,
effective police force which has some integrity. Its not
getting it. Even British troops are unhappy about re-hired police
officers, many of them former Baathists. Theyre
all murdering bastards, said one lieutenant at a police
station in Basra, where military police officers withdrew to leave
the former police in charge. (Telegraph, 16 May, p. 16.) Thats
not all: Iraqs newly-appointed interior minister will
recruit a paramilitary force composed of former Iraqi army
special forces troops to pursue guerrillas, terrorists and
saboteurs who are undermining the countrys stability...
After having dismantled Iraqs army in the spring, the United
States is apparently now trying to retrieve the cream of Iraqi
military forces to help battle anti-occupation fighters.
(Washington Post, 2 Sept., p. A10) (Please see JNV Briefing
48 Iraq Renazified
for more details.)
Furthermore, American forces have launched
a covert campaign to recruit former officers of the Mukhabarat,
Saddam Husseins infamous secret police, who were responsible
for the deaths and torture of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis.
(Sunday Times, 21 Sept., p. 26)
Local police forces must come under the control
of local elected Iraqi authorities, not the US and UK. In many
places, effective security is only being provided by militias
linked to the anti-Saddam resistance, or to the mosques. In the
absence of anything better, they deserve support, training and
FOCUS ON BLAIR? OR ON BUSH?
Everyone in the anti-war movement believes that those who took
us into this illegal and brutal war against Iraq should pay a
political price for their criminality. But does that mean that
we should focus on the demand Blair out?
JNV believes that while this is a legitimate
demand, it is more important to focus on the roots of war,
and to resist President Bushs war on terror,
than to promote the illusion that replacing one Prime Minister
with another will change British foreign policy very much. It
The idea of trying to re-direct the anti-war
movement into a broader assault on the whole New Labour agenda
also seems wrong-headed. What unites the global anti-war movement
(unprecedented in its breadth) is fear and revulsion at the aggression
and recklessness of President Bushs war on terror.
This opposition was summed up in Nelson Mandelas words:
One country wants to bully the whole world.
(BBC News Online, 18 Sept. 2002)
For the sake of millions of people threatened
by US violence, the anti-war movement here must stay focused on
its historic task of pulling the British government out of its
slavish commitment to President Bushs endless war.
We nearly did it this time. Just a few days
before the war was due to start, on 11 Mar., the Ministry of Defence
had to frantically work up contingency plans for withdrawing British
forces from the invasion force, and holding them back for postwar
peacekeeping dutiesbecause of our campaigning pressure.
(Sunday Telegraph, 16 Mar., p. 18) This would have been a logistical
nightmare and a major political defeat for the US war machine.
(More details in Briefing 40
US/UK OUT, UN IN. NAZIS OUT, ELECTIONS
IN. NO WAR.
38.2 per cent of Iraqi people polled in Aug. said democracy could
work well in Iraq. 50.2 per cent said democracy is a western
way of doing things and it will not work here. (FT, 11 Sept.,
p. 11) In the earlier Baghdad poll, multi-party democracy was
chosen by only 36 per cent of people; 50 per cent opted for one
of the five variants of Islamic, presidential or single-party
rule. (C4, as above)
Its for the people of Iraq to determine
their own future (through some kind of free elections). JNV believes
the best support we can give is to say: stop the re-nazification
of Iraq; pull out US and UK troops; form a UN transitional authority;
hold elections; and stop Britain from supporting any more US wars.
[For further information on US & UK policies
in post-war Iraq please see Regime Unchanged
by Milan Rai (Pluto, September 2003).]
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