Nothing to lose but their chains (???)

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Posted by andreas from ( on Tuesday, October 01, 2002 at 5:00AM :

A typical psy-ops/propaganda piece fitting especially the mindset of Assyrian warmongers.

After all fabricated pretexts for a war against Iraq seem to crumble down, they're going to play the "liberate the suppressed" card.

Didn't I mention before that a staged massacre against Assyrians would be now a good chance for them to sway the world opinion in favour of the Bush vision?
Playing the devil's advocate I'd heavily suggest it ....

The basic fault of this whole torted war discourse and its fake rationales, however, can't be surgically eliminated:

It was the Western powers who brought in Saddam, pampered him on chemical & biological weapons, supported & steeled his regime etc., so it's bascially them who are responsible for the oppression of minorities. They never gave a damn about minority rights. There never was any palpable protest to stop him.

But would Assyrians ever dare to think of this equation:
"USA (adminstration of course) = Enablers and abetters of Assyrian oppression" ???



The Spectator [UK]

Nothing to lose but their chains

A war against Iraq might destabilise the Middle East, says David
Pryce-Jones, but that is precisely what the region needs

Iraq may soon be liberated. The Americans are building bases and runways in
the Middle East, airlifting men and supplies, and passing the resolutions
in Congress necessary to take military action. Regime change is what
President Bush has set his heart on. Condoleezza Rice goes further: she
calls for democracy, not only in Iraq but also in the wider Muslim world.
From the reaction all over Europe, you might think that Washington was
insisting on the sacrifice of the first-born.

In Britain, the Sir Andrew Aguecheeks and Sir Toby Belches, after long and
calamitous careers in the Foreign Office, are bombarding the press with
fictions about Arabs and a coming jihad against the West. The Left
everywhere tries to set the moral tone with sniggers about cowboys. It’s an
adventure, according to the Germans. Simplistic, according to the French.
Mustn’t make Iraqis suffer; that would be wrong, according to Clare Short,
as if all were otherwise milk and honey in their land. For people of their
kind, it was never the right time to trouble Herr Hitler or Monsieur
Stalin, and it is not the right time now to upset Saddam Hussein,
destabilise the Middle East and see oil at $100 a barrel.

The expedients to which free people are reduced in order to avoid facing up
to totalitarian tyranny are always a wonder. Any Iraqi in a position to
utter his opinion without being tortured and killed has no doubt at all.
Kanan Makiya, Iraq’s leading equivalent of the Soviet dissidents of old,
asks America to ‘think big’. Iraq, he writes, is the best example of why
the United States ‘should carefully excise the cancerous growth of
extremism from the region’. Here’s a journalist, Hamid Ali Al-Kifai:
‘Saddam Hussein has destroyed my family and effectively sent me into exile.
’ He goes on, ‘The West has always sought to befriend dictators and despots
in the Middle East in the past; now it has an opportunity to gain the
friendship of a whole people, for a change.’ There are tens of thousands of
such people, but the Alice Mahons, George Galloways, Harold Pinters and
other bishops of our cosy little world are not equipped morally or
intellectually to hear them.

South America, Russia and central and eastern Europe, and parts of Africa
have all democratised in recent years. Arabs and other Muslims are almost
alone in standing outside this profound historical transformation, and as a
result they are increasingly unable to deal with today’s world. Islam in
practice tends to absolutism but it has a vision of justice and equality
consonant with political democracy. What is missing in their legacy is any
mechanism for enlarging separate ethnic and religious identities into a
unitary nation-state.

Iraq is a case in point. It is a country in name alone, one of the many
created out of the thinnest air in the aftermath of the first world war.
The principal local elements are Sunni and Shia Arabs, and Kurds, a
separate people who are Muslim but not Arab, with their own language. The
Ottomans were Sunni, and the Sunni Arabs were therefore accustomed to
seeing themselves as natural rulers of everyone else, although they
comprised less than a fifth of the population. Three separate provinces
corresponded more or less to these divisions, but there were numerous other
minorities, including Turkmen, Jews, Chaldaeans and Assyrians. Driving out
the Ottoman Turks and becoming the dominant power in the region, the
British had no plans for the next step, but improvised a regime as they
went along.

To look at portraits and photographs of the British officials who created
Iraq is to see types no longer recognisable: tall angular men with
weather-beaten faces and a military bearing. No doubt they thought they
were acting in the best interests of the local people, but their
imagination was limited by the imperial experience. The High Commissioner
had as Oriental Secretary the improbable figure of Gertrude Bell, a lady
with good social contacts and much sentimental illusion. In November 1918
she was writing, ‘It doesn’t happen very often that people are told that
their future as a state is in their hands and asked what they would like.’
More than anyone else, T.E. Lawrence settled the issue. During the campaign
against the Ottomans he had come to know Faisal, one of the sons of Sherif
Hussein, the hereditary Hashemite ruler of Mecca. Lawrence persuaded
everyone to make Faisal king of Iraq, and to the end of his life he boasted
that he was a ‘foundation member’ of the kingdom, and ‘so proud of it’.
This was the achievement, he believed, for which he would be remembered.

A few officials — for instance, the much-maligned Sir Arnold Wilson —
warned that the Shia formed a majority of the population, and that the
imposition of a foreign Sunni king over them was bound to lead to a revolt.
In his writings, Lawrence does not pause for reflection on this stumbling
block. Sure enough, Sir Arnold was right and the Shia rose. The British
were not squeamish about suppressing them, pioneering the use of aircraft
to kill desert tribesmen. A plebiscite was rigged to approve Faisal, who
one hot August day in 1921 arrived for his coronation in Baghdad. ‘We swear
allegiance to you,’ realistic tribal sheikhs declared, ‘because you are
acceptable to the British’.

Faisal had to try to hold together the strange conglomeration that the
British had bundled up for him. His main strategy was to become popular by
intriguing against the British, who duly caved in and granted Iraq its
independence in 1931, in effect leaving the Iraqis to make of it what they
could. Shortly before his death in 1933, Faisal described with painful
truth the people he had been jobbed in to rule over as ‘unimaginable masses
of human beings, devoid of any patriotic idea, imbued with religious
traditions and absurdities, connected by no common tie, giving ear to evil;
prone to anarchy, and perpetually ready to rise against any government

Here was a laboratory in which to grow a culture of tyranny. General Bakr
Sidqi in 1937 staged the first of the coming series of military coups, and
massacred the Assyrian minority. Rashid Ali Gailani seized power in 1941,
and there was a massacre of Jews. In 1958 Abdul Karim Qassem butchered the
Iraqi Hashemite dynasty, and was himself soon murdered. In due course
Saddam Hussein consummated the chain of brutality. In one perspective he
looks psychotic, but in another he is only doing what a tyrant has to do to
retain his absolute hold on power in circumstances which at any moment
might degenerate into anarchy. Pernicious and inhuman as all these tyrants
have been, there is a sense in which they are the creatures of inherited
ethnic and religious rivalries.

The imagination of the British Foreign Office and the American State
Department is limited by the bureaucratic experience. These institutions
are staffed by office-bound paper-shufflers with much less experience than
the imperial military men who preceded them. So terrified are they of the
implications of destroying tyranny that they are leading resistance to
regime change, proposing instead to replace Saddam with another Sunni
strongman of the same type. Somebody must hold together the Iraqi bundle of
ethnicities, otherwise the country might break up with dire consequences.
They warn that the Shia might link up with Iran, and separatist Kurds might
threaten Turkey. Were the bureaucrats to have their way, some future tyrant
would hear his Iraqi subjects swearing allegiance to him because he is
acceptable to the Americans. That is how to aid and abet the culture of
tyranny to perpetuate itself.

What happens after the American invasion is a justified question. President
Clinton passed the Iraq Liberation Act. A hundred million dollars was voted
for the purpose, but only a small proportion of those funds has been made
available to the main body of the Iraqi opposition, the Iraqi National
Congress under Ahmad Chalabi. Secretary of State Colin Powell and his
department see the INC as fragmented and lightweight, the vehicle for the
personal advancement of its members. Yet it alone offers the one proper
alternative to tyranny, namely democracy. Ahmad Chalabi comes from an
influential Shia family (Gertrude Bell used to visit some Chalabis in the
country near Baghdad). A banker by profession, he is a politician by
vocation. He repudiates with indignation the idea that the Iraqis are not
capable of democracy. They are sophisticated, well-educated; they know what
they have suffered, and that there must be an end to it. He thinks that
those on the Left who oppose war with Saddam are ignorant, prisoners of
racist stereotypes about Arabs. Better policy bureaucrats are required,
with a vision of the Arabs and the Middle East that allows scope for
freedom and democracy.

Cornered, Saddam may use weapons of mass destruction, Chalabi fears, even
though such weapons are likely to harm Iraqis as much as allied soldiers.
The campaign will be short, he believes, as Iraqis will no longer even go
through the motions of fighting for their oppressor. They will defect. Then
the INC’s task begins. The Iraqi future must be in their own hands, this
time without Gertrude Bell’s vapours and Lawrence of Arabia’s fantasies.
The American presence will ensure that there is no blood-letting, no
revenge of the Shias and Kurds on the persecuting Sunnis. Saddam and
perhaps two dozen others have to be brought to account in the local
equivalent of the Nuremberg trials. Chalibi likes to compare the
reconstruction of Iraq to that of Germany and Japan in 1945.

A constitutional convention has to meet, and decide exactly what kind of
regime to erect, whether a presidential or a parliamentary democracy, or
perhaps a constitutional monarchy. At a recent assembly in London of some
200 members of the Iraqi opposition, Crown Prince Hassan, of the Jordanian
branch of the Hashemites, arrived unexpectedly, signalling that he was
willing to serve as a symbol of unity and reconciliation.

Iraq is not about to be broken up. The nation-state has its outlines by
now, its boundaries. But if the Kurds and Shias wish for some form of
autonomy, then a solution has to be reached on federal or confederal lines.
That is the missing mechanism for converting all the different identities
into a unitary nation-state, for finding that ‘common tie’ which escaped
poor King Faisal and all his successors. No other way exists to eliminate
violence from the system, and to keep the country from ending up with
another thug choking everyone in the blood of yet more communal massacres.

Chalabi is a moderate and modest man, who disclaims any personal ambition.
Time will soon show whether or not his slightly nervy optimism about the
overthrow of Saddam is justified. He doesn’t draw up visionary plans, but
offers the only practical alternative to tyranny. The objection to this
campaign focuses on the probable ‘destabilisation of the Middle East’; and
yet that destabilisation is an essential prerequisite for progress.
Countries like Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran may have the good fortune to be
similarly destabilised. This could be the moment when the Arabs and Muslims
take their place in the modern world.
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