Significance of Building Solidarity with Iraqi Civil Resistance

Sato Kazuyoshi, President of the Movement for Democratic Socialism

1. Views of Western activists

Here I will introduce to you views of two activists from among the Western anti-war movements. One is that of Ms. Caneisha Mills of the ANSWER Coalition in the U.S., who participated in the ZENKO Conference. The other is that of Mr. Eric Ruder of the Socialist Workers Party also in the U.S.

(1) Eric Ruder's view

Let me introduce Eric Ruder's view first. He emphasizes the significance of Iraqi armed resistance in his article 'The right to resist' written in July, 2004. [1]

He first asks: 'Who makes up the resistance?' U.S. officials blame the armed opposition in Iraq on 'freedom fighters,' 'Saddam loyalists' and 'Islamic terrorists.' According to Juan Cole, professor of Middle East history at the University of Michigan, there are roughly 25,000 resistance fighters, but at most, 400 to 500 fighters are from outside Iraq. Loyalists to Saddam Hussein are a handful, and if there are any al-Qaeda forces in Iraq, it is only because U.S. intervention created a fertile terrain for recruitment. Ruder emphasizes that the Iraqi armed struggle is being fought by Iraqis themselves.

Next, he asks if we should support Iraqis when they resist the occupation by means of armed resistance.

According to Ruder, Iraqis have little choice but to resist using armed force, because the U.S. military responds to unarmed demonstrations and other forms of political resistance with brutality. In Falluja, the U.S. troops opened fire on people chanting "No to Saddam! No to the U.S.!" killing 17 and wounding 70 more. And Ruder states that the right to struggle for self-determination using armed force is a part of international law and is widely recognized as a legitimate right for a people living under foreign domination.

And he stresses the significance of victory on the part of the Iraqi resistance. 'If the Iraqi resistance drives the U.S. out of Iraq, it would be a major setback for Bush's agenda and the agenda of the U.S. imperialism. This would be a tremendous victory for our side -- making it much more difficult for the U.S. to choose a new target in the Middle East or elsewhere in trying to impose its will.'

Thus, he concludes that 'the Iraqi resistance to the U.S. is growing in numbers and experience with every passing day. The only question is how long the U.S. will stay before the price is too high. … For the sake of the lives of Iraqis and U.S. soldiers alike, the time to end the occupation and bring the troops home is now.' In short, he finds a vista in the victory of armed resistance.

He also states in his article 'U.S. out of Iraq now!' as follows. [2] First, he criticizes the occupation by the U.S. 'U.S. officials played on divisions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Iraq to try to prevent a united opposition, and then claimed that only their forces were "maintaining peace" between rival groups.' Thus, 'the administration and its media mouthpieces have perpetuated the myth that civil war and chaos would be the result of a U.S. withdrawal. But chaos and the threat of civil war are the result of the occupation.'

Therefore, according to Ruder, 'all the talk about Iraq descending into chaos without the U.S. to bring stability amounts to a 21st-century version of the "white man's burden" -- the justification for early 19th and early 20th-century colonialism. At that time, every colonial power justified its domination of less powerful countries with claims that it was bringing democracy and civilization to "savages" who were "incapable" of self-rule.'

Based on this, he asserts that 'the U.S., the UN and all foreign troops should leave Iraq. Iraqis themselves should determine their political leaders, how to organize elections and how to rebuild the country. The U.S. government shouldn't be allowed to choose who runs Iraq. Nor should we in the antiwar movement make any demands about this. We may even disagree with the politics of those who do come to govern Iraq. But that's what self-determination means -- Iraqis get to decide. To demand anything else of the U.S. government other than its immediate withdrawal would give it the political justification to continue the pursuit of its war aims -- which it has always cloaked with lofty phrases about democracy, freedom and justice.'

Therefore, 'opponents of the U.S. war and occupation have a responsibility to do all we can to force our government to get out now. We don't want another U.S. soldier to die for oil and empire -- and we want the people of Iraq to have the right to self-determination, so they, and they alone, decide their future.'

In brief, the central point of his argument is that it is wrong to make demands other than the withdrawal of U.S. troops, such as secularism, freedom and egalitarianism, because it would violate the right of Iraqis to self-determination. It obviously is a criticism of the Civil Resistance.

(2) Caneisha Mills' view

Caneisha Mills of the ANSWER Coalition, in 'Socialism and Liberation', the organ of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, issued on November 9th 2004, published her article 'The antiwar movement and the Iraqi resistance,' in which she gives a sweeping criticism of the Iraqi Civil Resistance. [3]

She first points out that 'the biggest obstacle to U.S. domination of Iraq and the Middle East has become the armed resistance to the U.S. military occupation of Iraq,' and states that 'armed resistance, with all the suffering that goes along with it, is the inevitable response by those who seek to reject the neocolonial takeover of their country.' Thus, she declares herself in favor of the armed resistance.

According to her, '"civil resistance" becomes a code for acceptance of the U.S. imperialist project and its puppet regime.' She regards the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) and the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) which support the puppet government as another group of the civil resistance, and severely criticizes the Union of Unemployed in Iraq (UUI) and the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) for taking 'a more disguised approach' of being against both the U.S. occupation and the armed resistance, which position is more dangerous than the ICP, which supports the puppet government. She criticizes that the UUI demands the U.S.-backed administration provide jobs or $100 a month to unemployed Iraqis. According to Mills, 'the UUI's program accepts the central role of the U.S. military in providing jobs and resources.' She stresses, on the other hand, that armed resistance is supported by the mass of the Iraqi population. Furthermore, she says that 'the UUI's characterization of the Iraqi resistance as "remnants of the Baath regime, nationalist, and Islamic groups" mirrors the propaganda of the occupation forces,' and 'the UUI and its allies isolate themselves from the broad masses of Iraqis who want to drive out the imperialist armies.' During debates in the ZENKO conference, Yanar Mohammed of the OWFI asked, 'Do you want the Iraqi people to have a bright future or to live under a theocracy with no women's rights?' To Mills, this is also a 'disingenuous argument' which 'aims to sow confusion in the progressive movement.' Mills says that 'the Iraqi Communist Party or the Worker-Communist Party of Iraq act as collaborators' with the U.S. occupation, and 'discredit Marxism in the eyes of millions of Iraqis.' ICP and WCPI are said to do violence to the tradition of anti-imperialism shown by Ho Chi Minh, Kim Il Sung, and Mao Tse-tung.

She, moreover, points out that 'the UUI and OWFI would be embraced by those sectors of the antiwar movement in the U.S. that try to accommodate to the Democratic Party.' She criticizes that 'these groups oppose the tactics currently used by the U.S. government, but essentially they are only for a nicer, gentler occupation.'

Mills states, as a conclusion, that 'there are two sides in Iraq today [i.e. imperialism vs. armed resistance against it].' In short, Iraqi Civil Resistance is said to stand with U.S. imperialism.

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