IRAQ: Petras: 'a clash between barbarism and civilization'



According to UN estimates, more than 10 million Iraqis will be injured, displaced, traumatised or killed by the planned US war of aggression. It is highly likely that US military intelligence figures coincide with these estimates. Washington has a military plan that will involve hundreds of warplanes and a sea armada being directed to drop thousands of tonnes of explosives on Iraq's cities, towns, essential infrastructure and defence installations. US public officials speak openly of systematic destruction, plunder and a prolonged occupation of Iraq.

Genocide — the massive, systematic destruction of a people and a nation — is planned down to the last tactical detail. The minutely calculated costs of troop movements, bombings and population displacement is determined by economists who then estimate the war's impact on the US national budget, future oil revenues, the length of the occupation and its projected costs.

This is scientific, premeditated genocide, similar to what took place in Nazi Germany at the Wannsee Conference of January 1942, when the high command decided to exterminate the Jews. The major difference with the Nazi experience is that Washington's decision on genocide precedes the war and is widely publicised in public documents and in official speeches by its executioners.

The architects of annihilation come from a plurality of ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds: two are blacks, some are Anglo-Saxons, several are Jews and one is Hispanic American. With the exception of US Secretary of State Colin Powell, all avoided military service or any combat role during the Vietnam War. All have been involved in planning or supporting previous wars of aggression or military atrocities.

During the Vietnam War, Powell wrote a report justifying the My Lai massacre — the US Army's slaughter of hundreds of unarmed peasants. During the administration of President Ronald Reagan, US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld was a strong advocate of military intervention in Central America, Asia and Africa. This included covert support for terrorist surrogates.

Deputy US defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Pentagon adviser Richard Perle designed the strategy for the systematic destruction of the Palestinian state, when they were advisers to Israel's fiercely anti-Palestinian Likud party — a policy since put in place by the regime of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

What in the past were theoretical exercises in ethnic cleansing, planning, localised massacres and fabricated justifications are now fused into a systematic doctrine of international genocide. Each member of the genocide elite brings to bear their particular pathologies: Powell, his capacity to systematically fabricate "evidence" justifying massacres; US national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, her boundless embrace of power at any price; Rumsfeld, the frustrations of never having been anything but a mediocre non-combatant now posturing as the world's greatest military strategist; Wolfowitz and Perle, their visceral hate for Palestinians, Arabs and their unconditional embrace of Israeli ethnic cleansing and terror.

What matters to the genocide elite is not primarily oil or the interests of Wall Street, but unlimited power and world domination. They see no evil on the extreme right, only allies like Sharon. They see only evil and "obstacles" among critical NATO partners like French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. They patronise and promote their ignoble and servile vassals in eastern and southern Europe.

The beer hall bluster and insults of Rumsfeld, echo through the silent chambers of the United Nations. The tinny voice of US President George Bush seeks the complicity of the US people in order to proceed with his genocidal invasion of Iraq. Each with their idiosyncratic style, the militarist elite move in military formation toward the systematic destruction of an entire nation with a high sense of impunity and blind arrogance.

But their advisers and publicists have brought to their attention that the people are restless. Hundreds of thousands of citizens are out in the streets in all the major cities and many of the small towns throughout the US. The genociders at first dismissed them as the "the usual leftists". But then tens of thousands of others — including prominent writers, artists, former ambassadors and generals — joined their voices to those in the street.

The Bush gang now fabricate more audacious lies, give more press conferences, write more belligerent speeches and send Emperor Bush out to read them wherever a safe audience can be guaranteed.

The genociders are becoming more hysterical — their insults grosser as they face "obstacles" in NATO and the UN and growing opposition on the domestic front. They feel that they are running against the clock, the longer the Europeans delay the genocide, the greater the public awareness of the horror of the undertaking and its implications, the more likely that the opposition will grow to millions, beyond the control of the mass media and the police.

They want genocide now: they are obsessed that all their planning, their fantasies of world power and a Middle East under Anglo-Israeli power, free of Arab resistance, will go to naught. They fear that they personally will fail and go down in history as the genociders who were defeated by their own people and not by invading armies as their predecessors in the Third Reich.

At the cupula of power, the leaders of Europe and the US argue over the conditions and timing of war: the US mobilises the European satellites it has inherited from the former USSR, while the French, German and Belgian governments count on the vast majority of the voters opposed to war. Washington and London call up the military reserves and mobilise right-wing Christian and Zionist fundamentalists, while English, French, Italian and Spanish trade union confederations threaten strikes and mainstream Christian churches join with millions of citizens locking arms across nations in civil disobedience and public protest.

The coming war in the Middle East is not simply an attempt at imperialist colonial conquest — though it is that. It is a clash between barbarism and civilization: the outcome and consequences of which will not be limited to the military result in Iraq. We are looking at a historic confrontation between the advocates of genocide who believe in one, two, many Afghanistans and Iraqs and the burgeoning opposition of millions of humanity, their best writers and intellectuals, the noble and worthy among their religious and spiritual spokespeople and, above all, their natural leaders among the popular classes.

There can be no compromises, there will be no end, until and when, either the world embraces a civilization cleansed of imperialism, genocide and ethnic slaughter or we descend to an inferno of a world ruled by genocidal psychopaths who see war as a means for perpetual domination.

As Jean Paul Sartre once wrote, there is "no exit" — we all have to make choices and face the consequences. Wherever we live and work, we must become engaged because the empire is everywhere from northern Mexico to downtown Buenos Aires, from the oil fields of the Middle East to the banks in Jakarta.

So too the people's movement is everywhere. In the streets of Rome, London, Paris, Madrid, Athens, Seoul, Manila, New York and hundreds of smaller cities and towns, millions of workers, urban poor, peasants, retirees, members of the middle class and students are mobilised.

The great confrontation has been joined. We are living history. I believe we will win. Not from visionary faith, but from the conviction that what we are fighting for what represents the best of humankind.

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From Green Left Weekly, March 12, 2003.

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