Archive for Saddam Hussein

Salon: Iraq foots the bill for its own destruction

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2011 by loonwatch

Some people have wondered why I focus so much on America’s many wars: isn’t this site about Islamophobia, not U.S. foreign policy? Although it is true that LoonWatch is primarily a site documenting and refuting Islamophobia, I strongly believe that there exists an intimate link between Islamophobia and America’s Endless Wars.

For one, America’s foreign policy is itself Islamophobic.  Our wars are launched thanks to Islamophobia within the most jingoist elements of American society, the neoconservatives, the Zionists (both Jewish and Christian), etc.  It finds an audience within the general public, which has a very poor opinion of Islam.  Our wars can only be sustained by ratcheting up fear-mongering and Islamophobia.  Our wars conveniently serve to complete the loop by feeding Islamophobia itself, as Muslims are Other-ized as the enemy.

Islamophobia operates under the assumption that it is Islam itself that makes Them Hate Our Freedoms.  They hate us (and some of them attack us) because we are the Infidels.  The reality, of course, is that they hate us not for our freedoms or the fact that we are infidels, but the fact that we bomb them, invade them, and occupy them.  As the article below shows, we also make them foot the bill for their own destruction:

Iraq foots the bill for its own destruction

By Murtaza Hussain

When considering the premise of reparation being paid for the Iraq War it would be natural to assume that the party to whom such payments would be made would be the Iraqi civilian population, the ordinary people who suffered the brunt of the devastation from the fighting. Fought on the false pretence of capturing Saddam Hussein’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, the war resulted in massive indiscriminate suffering for Iraqi civilians which continues to this day. Estimates of the number of dead and wounded range from the hundreds of thousands into the millions, and additional millions of refugees remain been forcibly separated from their homes, livelihoods and families. Billions of dollars in reparations are indeed being paid for the Iraq War, but not to Iraqis who lost loved ones or property as a result of the conflict, and who, despite their nation’s oil wealth, are still suffering the effects of an utterly destroyed economy. “Reparations payments” are being made by Iraq to Americans and others for the suffering which those parties experienced as a result of the past two decades of conflict with Iraq.

Iraq today is a shattered society still picking up the pieces after decades of war and crippling sanctions. Prior to its conflict with the United States, the Iraqi healthcare and education systems were the envy of the Middle East, and despite the brutalities and crimes of the Ba’ath regime there still managed to exist a thriving middle class of ordinary Iraqis, something conspicuously absent from today’s “free Iraq.” In light of the continued suffering of Iraqi civilians, the agreement by the al-Maliki government to pay enormous sums of money to the people who destroyed the country is unconscionable and further discredits the absurd claim that the invasion was fought to “liberate” the Iraqi people.

In addition to making hundreds of millions of dollars in reparation payments to the United States, Iraq has been paying similarly huge sums to corporations whose business suffered as a result of the actions of Saddam Hussein. While millions of ordinary Iraqis continue to lack even reliable access to drinking water, their free and representative government has been paying damages to corporations such as Pepsi, Philip Morris and Sheraton; ostensibly for the terrible hardships their shareholders endured due to the disruption in the business environment resulting from the Gulf War. When viewed against the backdrop ofmassive privatization of Iraqi natural resources, the image that takes shape is that of corporate pillaging of a destroyed country made possible by military force.

Despite the billions of dollars already paid in damages to foreign countries and corporations additional billions are still being sought and are directly threatening funds set aside for the rebuilding of the country; something which 8 years after the invasion has yet to occur for the vast majority of Iraqis. While politicians and media figures in the U.S. make provocative calls for Iraq to “pay back” the United States for the costs incurred in giving Iraq the beautiful gift of democracy, it is worth noting that Iraq is indeed already being pillaged of its resources to the detriment of its long suffering civilian population.

The perverse notion that an utterly destroyed country must pay reparations to the parties who maliciously planned and facilitated its destruction is the grim reality today for the people [of] Iraq. That there are those who actually bemoan the lack of Iraqi gratitude for the invasion of their country and who still cling to the pathetic notion that the unfathomable devastation they unleashed upon Iraqi civilians was some sort of “liberation” speaks powerfully to the capacity for human self-delusion. The systematic destruction and pillaging of Iraq is a war crime for which none of its perpetrators have yet been held to account (though history often takes[though history often takes time to be fully written] time to be fully written), and of which the extraction of reparation payments is but one component.

Christopher Hitchens: No “Arab Spring” If Saddam Still Ruled Iraq

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2011 by loonwatch

The Arab Revolutions are a unique moment in the history of the world for a number of reasons. Chief amongst these important reasons is the shattering of age old Orientalist myths that Arabs and Muslims are impervious to Democracy, the language of rights, etc. These talking points are usually further essentialized by the view that what is holding Arabs and Muslims back is the retrograde force of Islam.

Yet, there are attempts to steal these revolutions. Attempts to deny the indigenous, organic nature of the transformation happening before our eyes. “How could the natives rise against their dictatorships without our help,” the thinking goes.

Christopher Hitchens comes to mind. The militant atheist, morose humorist, man of letters, convert from the ranks of International Socialism to neo-Conservatism, who, terming the revolutions “Arab uprisings” believes they would never have happened if it weren’t for the Iraq War.

Hitchens was an early skeptic of the revolutions, he wrote that he “won’t be surprised” if the “exemplary courage and initiative of the citizens of Tahrir Square slowly ebb away.” The revolutions put him and others like him in a tough spot, he supported the Iraq War, claiming that Iraqis could only be freed from Saddam through Western intervention. He denied that the war was ever only about the threat of WMD’s, but rather about overthrowing a ruthless dictator.

He didn’t believe in the ability of Iraqi people, which is surprising considering the frequency with which Hitchens extols the founding fathers who wrote a document based on natural law that made the bold claim that liberty was an unalienable right for all mankind,

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Either we believe that all mankind is equal and thirsts to realize its unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness or we don’t. Either we believe that all mankind has the ability to throw off the shackles of oppression without dubious intervention, unending occupation or we don’t.

Hitchens writes,

Can anyone imagine how the Arab spring would have played out if a keystone Arab state, oil-rich and heavily armed with a track record of intervention in its neighbors’ affairs and a history of all-out mass repression against its own civilians, were still the private property of a sadistic crime family? As it is, to have had Iraq on the other scale from the outset has been an unnoticed and unacknowledged benefit whose extent is impossible to compute.

It is pitiful to see Hitchens try to cover his ass now. Such a great man of letters, reduced to writing like some glorified assistant to Donald Rumsfeld, justifying the unjustifiable.

Hundreds of thousands of people have died due to the conflict in Iraq. Many more lives have been upended, destroyed and ravaged, including the lives of many American soldiers.

Now, beaming onto our television and computer screens are the inspirational, brave, victorious people of Tunisia and Egypt, who proudly let it be known that they toppled their despots.

Instead of worrying about his legacy or what the obituary in the New York Times will read, can Hitchens overcome his hubris and polemical nature, and give credit where credit is due?