Left Was Right
By Jack Rabbit
year ago this weekend, an estimated ten million human beings
marched world wide against Mr. Bush's planned invasion of
Iraq. They marched in major cities such as London, Madrid
and Canberra, capitals of Mr. Bush's military and diplomatic
partners in what passed for a broad coalition; they marched
in Paris, Berlin, Tokyo and other major capitals of the world;
they marched in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and other major
cities of the United States, including San Francisco, where
this writer marched with an estimated 200,000 others.
The message was clear: on one side stood George W. Bush,
presumptive President of the United States, his aides and
PNAC think-tankers, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and
his aides and a small handful of other world leaders, set
to invade a sovereign state with no provocation; on the other
stood the people of the world, a teeming mass of humanity,
led by the political Left to oppose them.
They said that Saddam needed be overthrown because he was
a brutal dictator. We knew all about Saddam and made no apologies
for him. We knew that he had plunged Iraq into two senseless
wars, one with the blessing of the US government and one with
its active opposition. We knew that he had used poison gas
on his own people. We knew that he murdered thousands of Shiites
in the aftermath of the 1991 war. We knew that he was one
of the great criminals of modern history.
And still this did not excuse war. If Saddam was a criminal
in 1991, we could have and should have brought him to justice
in the aftermath of the war; President Bush chose not to do
so. In February 2003, there was no immediate humanitarian
crisis in Iraq for which Saddam was directly responsible;
he was not a threat to his weakest neighbor; and he had no
associations with the terrorists who attacked the United States
on September 11, 2001.
They told us that Saddam possessed a dangerous arsenal of
biochemical weapons and maybe even nuclear weapons. They told
us Iraqi commanders could launch a biochemical attack within
45 minutes of Saddam ordering it. They told us Saddam has
links to Osama bin Laden and the al Qaida network.
We of the political Left who marched knew very well that
there was no stopping Bush. He would have his war. We knew
he would dismiss us, which he did, arrogantly calling us a
"focus group." A focus group of ten million people. However,
we could show him our contempt. We could show him that we
were wise to lies. We could show him that we knew that Saddam
did not have anything like the arsenal that Bush and his fellow
prevaricators claimed; that we knew that the ongoing weapons
inspections were working; that we knew the invasion had nothing
to do with fighting terrorists; that intelligence was being
cooked; that the war would be nothing but a crass colonial
invasion, gunboat diplomacy with cruise missiles.
We of the Left knew that what was about to take place was
one of the major crimes of modern times.
One year later, we have every right to hold our heads high.
We of the Left were right.
The left was right on all counts. As it turns out, Saddam
was a paper tiger; there was no imminent threat. Insofar as
he was a threat, Saddam was contained; for twelve years since
being expelled from Kuwait, all his saber rattling was nothing
but bluster. Saddam had no ties to al Qaida, let alone any
part in the September 11 attacks. What Islamic fundamentalist
terror organization operated in Iraq operated in Kurdish regions
beyond Saddam's control. The left said there was no justification
for the war, and there was none. The left was right.
The left said talk of the Iraqi people welcoming the invaders
with open arms and roses was nonsense. The Iraqi people know
the difference between liberation and colonial occupation.
They are resisting occupation. Also decried as nonsense was
talk of going into Iraq to democratize the Middle East. Bush
loses an election and seizes power, tramples on the Bill of
Rights and human rights treaties, operates what should be
an open government in secret and sends troops into combat
after giving false justifications for the act. The idea that
such a man would be interested in bringing democracy and the
rule of law to Iraq is ludicrous. The colonial regime represses
freedom of the press, the right to assemble and the right
to petition for redress of grievances. The Iraqi Governing
Council is a group of quislings handpicked by the US colonial
viceroy, not a body representative of or responsible to the
Iraqi people. The invasion has not brought democracy to Iraq.
The left was right.
The left said that Bush's cronies would profit from the
invasion. Halliburton and Bechtel received contracts to rebuild
Iraq's infrastructure without having to bid competitively.
The left was right.
The left said the occupation following the invasion would
become a quagmire. Since the invasion, Islamists have come
to Iraq to fight Americans. They weren't there before, but
they are now. Half of the US army's combat divisions are in
Iraq on occupation duty. They are not protecting Americans
from terrorists; they are protecting Halliburton. Once again,
the left was right.
It is Bush who threatens to use nuclear weapons as a first
strike. It is Bush who threatens to launch "pre-emptive" (actually
preventive) attacks on other nations. It is Bush who arrogantly
casts aside any treaty, convention or agreement that stands
between him and his loot. Bush, like Saddam, is a tyrant.
As dangerous as was Saddam at his worst, Bush is far and away
the most dangerous man on earth.
One year later, there is still work to be done. The American
occupation of Iraq continues. It must end for the benefit
of both nations. The Iraqis must be free to choose their own
destiny and control their own resources; the Americans must
free their military resources to make them safe from the real
threat posed by Osama bin Laden and his al Qaida network.
Bush still sits in the White House. He must be removed for
the safety of Americans and the world. Once removed, Americans
must act to restore the good name of this nation, the good
name tarnished by Mr. Bush, and to restore trust in American
leadership. A new president must re-establish the confidence
that when American leaders speak, they speak the truth and
not some lie aimed at achieving a nefarious, imperial goal
too foul to be named. When an American president says it is
time to go to war, the people of the world must know that
every other avenue has been tried and has failed. There is
no such thing as a war of choice that can be justified.
We must not fail in our goal. Bush must go in order for
American democracy restored at home and trust in American
leadership to be restored abroad.