Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Why I opposed the war on Iraq

After calling me a tosser and then accusing me of going along with fascist movements because I'm an anti-democrat - see the post immediately below - Nick Cohen badmouths me further for good measure:

'... if you were anything other than a fraud and a poseur you would tell me why I was wrong, but you don't, so I assume you can't.'

OK Nick, this is why you are wrong.

I did not oppose the war because I supported Saddam Hussein. I don't have the slightest hesitation in rejoicing that he has gone. I have strongly detested the Iraqi regime since the 1980s. At the time of the Halabja atrocities, I was working in the press office of what was then called the British Refugee Council, and arranged for some of the victims to be interviewed by a Sunday newspaper. The Observer, in fact, Nick. Of course, at this time, the people you consider to be the 'liberators' of Iraq were actively selling weapons to Saddam.

I did not oppose the war because I hate America. I'm a blues fan and visit Chicago whenever I get the chance. Love the place. But I am against its reactionary, bloodthirsty rightwing Christian fundamentalist-influenced imperialist government. That should be common coin for anybody who describes themselves as somehow 'on the left'. It doesn't seem to be a position you hold.

I did not oppose the war because I think the Muslim world is unready for democracy. As a political activist - not simply as a writer - I have undertaken solidarity work for progressive forces in the region for nearly two decades now. As I mentioned, some of this has been conducted on the spot, at personal expense and at personal risk. What have you done, other than write about things? I'm more than happy to compare track records with you on this one. Then we'll judge who is and who isn't a poseur.

I did not oppose the war because I believe the left should align with political Islam on the spurious grounds of anti-imperialism, or shout 'Victory to the resistance!'. You can see some of what I have written on the subject here. You can read my criticisms of the Respect project here, and in several other articles that are not online. But I know from previous face-to-face conversations with you that you know all this already.

I opposed the war because I believe war is an ultimate act that should never be engaged in lightly. I opposed the war because I believed that US motives were base, materialistic and imperialist, as evidenced by the lies about weapons of mass destruction and Iraqi links with al Qa'eda that had to be told to justify the attack. It's interesting to note that neoconservatives like Francis Fukuyama now say they share those very reservations. Sadly, the neoconverts such as yourself do not.

I opposed the war because I believed it would damage the relationship between the West and the Islamic world, that it would bolster terrorism - as it certainly has done - and that if you really want to make the world a better place, the way to do so is through international co-operation and international law, and not aggression.

And please note, I am not accusing you of supporting the invasion because you deliberately wanted to bring about what now looks like becoming a brutal civil war. But that will be just one unintended consequence of the course the neoconverts counselled.

You can, if you like, counter that you consider my arguments incorrect. What you can't do is brand me a tosser, a crypto-fascist, a fraud and a poseur for honestly holding them.


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