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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

War in Iraq is a continuation of the past

A Crtique of Joel Rayburn's Article

Tugrul Keskin

The Raging Liberal

In his article, the last exit from Iraq(1), Joel Rayburn
argues that the US is not the first country who occupied Iraq and suggests that the US should take a lesson from the British experience. In the context of his analogy, unfortunately it is accurate information; however, he forgets to include a historical analysis of British colonialism at the beginning of this century and its relationship with the American occupation of Iraq. The American occupation of Iraq is a continuation of British colonialism and today is a reflection of the past. Iraq is an artificial state; it has an artificial national identity based on territoriality, as established under British imperialism. However, if we look at the other countries in the region, most of these countries are not different than Iraq. There is no difference between Iraq and Syria, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon. The differences between these countries are very similar to differences between Georgia and South Carolina or New York and Washington DC.

What are the causes of British colonialism and American occupation in Iraq? To me, there is a very simple answer to this question: divide and conquer; and exploit them as much as you can; make ethnic groups enemies to each other so that they can be used against each other and further exploited for Western-based capitalism.

The British occupied Iraq in order to weaken and divide the Ottoman Empire and to control its natural resources. Unfortunately, like everywhere else, some Arabs such as Sheik of Mecca and Medina, grand father of King Abdullah II of Jordan, Sharif Hussein Bin Ali(2) collaborated with the occupation forces and fought against their own people, like Iyad Allawi, the president of Iraq today. Lawrence of Arabia and the American colonel Noel were good friends of Hussein. However the first revolt against the Ottomans started in 1916 before the end of WWI, supported and financed by the British. There are many other small revolts that took place in the region between the late 1800 and 1938, such as the Kurdish revolts in 1886, 1924, 1929, 1936 and 1938; and other revolts such as that of the Greeks, Assyrians, Caldenians and Armenians (Christian minorities in the Ottoman territory) revolts.

Britain formed the Iraqi state in 1919 as a part of the League of Nations established under the British Mandate in 1920. Rayburn claims that the British occupation ended in 1932. Actually, the British occupation ended in 1947. In 1957, long before Saddam came to the power, General Kassim claimed that Kuwait is a part of Iraq as Saddam claimed in 1991; however, the British government warned General Kassim not to invade Kuwait. Soon after General Kassim’s claim, two important revolts erupted in Iraq, Kurdish revolt led by Molla Mustafa Barzani, the father of the current Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, between 1961-63 and 1968-70. These two revolts were also supported and financed by the US and British governments. In 1979, Molla Mustafa Barzani died at the Georgetown hospital. His personal doctor stayed in the US and became a member of the Iraqi National Council led by Chalabi. Today, they are playing a big role in the current puppet government in Iraq.

Occupation is a simple method of imperialism and puppet governments play a key role in the process. Today, the American occupation of Iraq destabilizes the entire region as the British did at the beginning of this century. This process of war is in this sense a continuation of the past. What they have done in Africa and South East Asia is not different than what they are doing in Iraq today. Unfortunately today they have power, but the future will not be bright for all of us in the Middle East. According to American politics, I don’t see any difference between Kerry and Bush, Democrats or Republicans; they are both supportive of the Iraqi occupation in different way, they both want to remove Saddam from power. We should remember Joseph Lieberman who is very progressive “according to some people.” He also supported the war in Iraq. Additionally, presidential candidate John Kerry said that I have a plan for Iraq. One must ask the question of Kerry, regarding what this plan is and involves; killing less people, or using more oil?

Some people argue that the Bush administration has no plan before the occupation of Iraq; therefore, these people are against the Bush administration and criticize him for this reason. If George W. Bush had a plan then does this legitimize the occupation? It is a silly argument; we are talking about the exploitation and enslavement of people in Iraq and they are talking about a strategic plan. I think we live in different dimensions.

Today, to answer the question of why the US is in Iraq, the answer is simple: the exploitation of the Middle East. They use beautiful words, such as democracy, freedom, and human rights; but to me, a person who is coming from the region, I cannot take their definitions of these concepts seriously. To me, democracy, freedom and human rights are equal to exploitation and colonialism, because their understanding and definition of these terms are different than what these terms really mean. In short, Rayburn claims that the US should stay longer In Iraq in order build a stable government and society In comparison to this perspective, I would say quit Mesopotamia, quit Iraq, quit the Middle East, and leave the people alone.

In order to understand the occupation of Iraq today, I would rather suggest to you that you read two articles rather than wasting your time with Joel Rayburn’s argument. The first one is Graham Fuller’s article, Redrawing the World’s Borders(3). And the second article is Daniel Byman’s article, Let Iraq Collapse(4). Imagination is a projection of imperialism. In short, the best description of this war is hidden in Nayna Jhaveri’s article, Petroimperialism: US Oil interests and the Iraq War(5). You will likely enjoy reading the articles, and will find clear examples with which to observe imperialism.

1)Joel Rayburn, The last exit from Iraq, Foreign Affairs, New York: Mar/Apr 2006.Vol.85, Iss. 2; pg. 29.


3)Graham Fuller, Redrawing the World’s Borders, The World Policy Journal, Spring 1997.

4)Daniel Byman, Let Iraq Collapse, The National Interest, Fall 1996.

5)Nayna Jhaveri, Petroimperialism: US Oil interests and the Iraq War, Antipode, 2004.


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