Democratic Underground  

The Left Was Right
February 14, 2004
By Jack Rabbit

One 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.

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