Thursday, October 07, 2004

Naomi Klein on Iraq

Naomi Klein answers her critics.
I was accused of making "excuses for the theocrats and misogynists" by Nick Cohen, in the Observer, and of being a "socialist-feminist offering swooning support to theocratic fascists" by Christopher Hitchens, in Slate.

All this manly defence of women's rights is enough to make a girl swoon.Yet it's worth remembering how Hitchens rationalised his reputation-destroying support for the war: even if US forces were really after the oil and military bases, he reasoned, the liberation of the Iraqi people would be such a joyous side-effect that progressives everywhere should cheer. With the prospect of liberation still a cruel joke, Hitchens now claims that this anti-woman, anti-gay White House is the Iraqi people's best hope against Sadr's anti-woman, anti-gay fundamentalism. Once again we are supposed to hold our noses and cheer the Bradleys for the greater good, or the lesser evil. There is no question that Iraqis face a mounting threat from religious fanaticism, but US forces won't protect Iraqi women and minorities any more than they have protected Iraqis from torture in Abu Ghraib or bombs in Falluja. Liberation will never be a trickle-down effect of this invasion because domination, not liberation, was always its goal.
Just a point, but what does Klein mean by liberation?
The Iraqi people are liberated from Hussein's fascist/Ba'athist tyranny. In that sense Hitchens's is right. Is there any sense in which he is wrong? Klein appears to be arguing that the occupation is a new tyranny from which the Iraqi people need liberating. In a country at war with itself (progressives versus reactionaries) where the reactionaries have most of the guns internationalist minded progressives need to support some independent policing action.
Klein goes on to argue
Progressives should oppose the attack on Sadr because it is an attack on the possibility of a democratic future. There is another reason to defend his democratic rights: paradoxically, it will help to stem religious fundamentalism's rise.
This is like supporting the democratic rights of someone who is likely to abolish democratic rights. No. No. No. Democratic rights are universal and permanent. Voting to abolish democracy is profoundly undemocratic - it denies democratic rights to future generations. Democracy is a good thing. Democracy is worth fighting for.

Harry's Place makes some more good points.

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