War Drums

October 8, 2002 at 4:47 pm
Contributed by:

Hello Defenders of the Free World,

If you haven’t had a chance to catch up with the media of late, the war

drums are banging ever louder, but finally there appear to be at least a few

audible voices of dissent.

Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia appears to be leading the opposition.

Not only has he decried the Administration’s attempt to push a resolution

through the Congress, before the upcoming election, that would grant the

President anytime, anywhere control over the U.S. military, but he also has

raised some very cogent questions about the push to war with Iraq. (See his

comments at



Please, if you agree, let him know. Along with Jim McDermott and a notable

few others, they have been taking a lot of heat for holding fast against the

Administration right now, and they need to know that people are behind them.

Attached is a copy of the email I sent to Sen. Byrd, if you want to

paraphrase that, along with another well-written letter urging people to

support him, and an email about “Jihad Jim” McDermott’s efforts

Senator Byrd: senator_byrd@byrd.senate.gov or call his office at


Rep. McDermott: http://www.house.gov/mcdermott/contact.html

You can also use this form to send email to your Senators:


Also: a great article sent in by an alert reader, which I highly recommend.

“The president’s real goal in Iraq” by JAY BOOKMAN of the Atlanta



I thought it really helped to put this Iraq situation into proper


Finally, the attached article, Inside Iraq. It’s not the easiest

reading–there is a lot of stuff to absorb esp. if you’re not that schooled

on Middle East history, and a lot of discussion about “isms”…but it’s

informative, if nothing else.

At least in theory, we ARE the government. Let your people know!

Thanks as always to readers who sent me all this stuff!

[You are on my private Poli-spam list. If you don’t want to be on it, just

say so.]


—–Original Message—–

FW: A call to action. Fillibuster. Please read this

Dear Friends,

We are going to ask you to do something very important Tuesday morning,
something that might help stop a war.

We attended a meeting tonight in Seattle where Scott Ritter and Congressman
Jim McDermott spoke. There were approximately 1500 people there. We came
away feeling very much afraid for the people of Iraq and for the spirit of
our democracy that we have taken for granted. The evening started with
pictures of Iraqi children. There is absolute evidence that over 500,000
Iraqi children have died because of sanctions. Scott Ritter is a decorated
US Marine with 8 years of experience in intelligence work in Iraq searching
for weapons. He states unequivocally that Iraq was disarmed.

A war in Iraq will not be a video game war that we watch with interest on
TV. It will be a war fought on the city streets in Baghdad where American
military personnel, our children, will go house-to-house fighting a war that
will devastate the 5,000,000 people who live in Baghdad. There will be many
casualties. This war may spread all over the Middle East.

This letter is not defending Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal person and
should be brought to justice. But our government is lying to us in order to
prepare us for a war. This is not about getting rid of Saddam, or even
about weapons of mass destruction. This is about empire building by the US.
This is about the US controlling Middle East Oil and ruling the world as its
only superpower. Consider the fact that you have not heard the President
speak Osama Bin Laden¹s name since March 8th. He has disappeared and Saddam
has become the evil one who bombed our cities. They are using our fear to
create their agenda. This evidence has been printed in the press but you
need to search for it, as the Oliberal media¹ just ain¹t so liberal and does
not report much the other side of this story. We could file charges against
Saddam in the world court of justice recently set up for this purpose but we
voted against that. We don¹t want Americans charged before international
tribunals. People all over the world are demonstrating and marching against
our plans to go to war in the hundreds of thousands.

The military build up is already in full force. The House will vote next
week giving the President unprecedented power to maker war. The Senate will
probably vote the following week and then Congress will recess October 18th.
We may have one chance left to stop this war and that is to support Senator
Byrd from West Virginia in his plans to filibuster this power grab by the
President and the conservatives around him. Please!

Senator Robert Byrd is offering to
filibuster the proposal if he gets enough support from us. I implore
you to stop everything and contact him with your support:
senator_byrd@byrd.senate.gov or call his office at 202-224-3954. Next, call
your Senator¹s again and finally
forward this message on to everyone on your email list.

Thanks, everyone! Jeri & Scott
—— End of Forwarded Message

—–Original Message—–
From: Chris Nelder Sent: Tuesday, October 08, 2002 4:24 PM
To: senator_byrd@byrd.senate.gov
Subject: I support your stance against the Iraq resolution! Thank you for defending the Constitution!

Dear Senator Byrd,

I’m not a member of your constituency, being a California resident, but I want to give you a resounding voice of support for your recent efforts in keeping the U.S. from going it alone against Iraq, and for defending the balance of power as stated in the Constitution. Without an elder statesman like yourself to bring this resolution into historical focus, and to explain how it would grant a President unprecedented and unmitigated control over the use of American armed forces, our country could well be lost right now. You are one of the few Democrats who’s had the guts to stand up and decry the Emperor’s new clothes, and I am very grateful. Keep up the good fight! We’re with you!


Christopher Nelder

Monday, October 7, 2002

Thousands in Seattle Protest Bush Policy on Iraq


SEATTLE — U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, recently back from Baghdad, told about

5,000-plus peace activists at a rally Sunday that President Bush is out for

blood in Iraq and it will take their efforts to stop him.

“We can let the president know he does not get a free ride on this,”

McDermott, D-Wash., told the crowd at a downtown rally as the activists

cheered and waved signs that read “No Iraq War.”

During his five-day trip to Iraq, which ended last Tuesday, McDermott

suggested the president might mislead the American people about the need for

war, something the White House swiftly denied. Bush has said Iraq must be

disarmed to ensure the world’s security.

Conservatives criticized McDermott for his comments, dubbing him “Jihad Jim”

and accusing him of sympathizing with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

When he returned to Washington, D.C., McDermott qualified his remarks,

saying that he had perhaps “overstated” his case.

But the congressman showed no such contrition Sunday: “I meant what I said,”

he insisted in an interview with The Associated Press.

“We have a president who says … ‘I can do whatever I want in the world,”‘

McDermott said. “He must go through the United Nations. He must exhaust

diplomatic means. He’s trying to provoke the Iraqis. He wants a war.”

As for the nicknames bestowed on him, McDermott said, “It’s like in second

grade. When you call names it’s because you can’t think of anything

intelligent to say.”

McDermott used even stronger language in a town hall meeting at the

Jefferson Park Community Center on Beacon Hill, where he said Bush is moving

toward an imperial presidency by denying that congressional action is

required to authorize an attack on Iraq.

“And what we are dealing with right now in this country is whether we are

having a kind of bloodless, silent coup or not,” McDermott said.

“This president is trying to bring to himself all the power to become an

emperor to create Empire America,” he said. “If you go along like sheep,

that is what will happen.”

Sunday’s downtown rally was organized by a group called “Not in Our Name,”

and took place in conjunction with rallies around the country over the

weekend. Thousands protested Sunday in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and

about 5,000 protesters gathered in Portland, Ore., on Saturday.

“This war would be a huge mistake,” Seattle math teacher Jerry Gallaher, 49,

said Saturday. “We’d end up killing lots of innocent people. The diplomatic

solutions haven’t been explored, and we don’t have international support for


Across the street, a handful of pro-Bush protesters called McDermott a

traitor. Mark Muhlenkort, an electrical engineer from Poulsbo, held a sign

that read: “Jihad Jim loves Saddam.”

“Go kiss him,” it taunted.

Muhlenkort said there was nothing inherently wrong with McDermott’s trip to

Iraq, but there was something wrong with his comments there.

“It’s important that we defend ourselves,” he said. “Saddam might get nukes,

and I’m afraid he’d use them against us or against Israel. He’s got a

history of irrational actions, and he’s been supportive of terrorists in the


Interview / Vicious circles closing in

By Micha Odenheimer- h a a r e t z d a i l y

A journalist, human rights activist and intellectual, Thomas von der

Osten-Sacken is considered one of Germany’s leading authorities on human

rights in Iraq. He began traveling to Iraq in 1991, when he spent eight

months doing humanitarian work in the southern part of the country just

after Saddam Hussein crushed the Shi’ite uprising there. In 1992, Von der

Osten-Sacken co-founded an aid and advocacy organization called Wadi,

operating in Iraqi Kurdistan – the semi-autonomous safe haven carved out for

Kurdish refugees after the Gulf War – and on behalf of Iraqi refugees in

Germany. He spends part of each year in Kurdistan where Wadi has founded the

first shelter there for women in distress and is also involved in helping

the local government reform the prison system that has been left over from

Iraqi rule. In Germany, Wadi advises Iraqi opposition groups and works

closely with the Coalition fo! ! r a Democratic Iraq.

Von der Osten-Sacken, 34, publishes articles in German magazines such as

Jungle World and Konkret, and has co-edited a book on Iraq called “Saddam’s

Last Battle?”, which is due to be published next month. He is one of the

relatively few contemporary German writers and thinkers on the left who

consider themselves pro-Israel and have developed a left-wing critique of

the anti-globalization left in today’s Europe. Along with his other

activities, he is conducting research for his doctoral thesis on

German-language Zionist newspapers in the 1930s for the German literature

department at the University of Frankfurt.

This interview was conducted with him earlier this week.

When did you first realize that the Iraqi regime was not just another Middle

East dictatorship?

Von der Osten-Sacken: “When I first came to Iraq, I very quickly realized

that I could not compare the situation there to other Middle Eastern

countries I had been in, like Syria, Jordan or Egypt. This country was hell.

We were the only Europeans in a city called Amara in the Shi’ite area of

southern Iraq near Basra, and we arrived just a few weeks after the uprising

had been crushed. There was a belt of tanks around the city. The majority of

buildings were burned out. There was no food in the market. There was also a

terrible degree of malnourishment there.

“People in Iraq won’t talk freely, because they are terrified that their

friends are working for one of Saddam’s nine horrible security services.

Because of this atmosphere, it took us three or four months to learn some

details about the uprising. The Iraqis made people lie down in the streets

and then buried them alive under asphalt. They killed everyone who looked a

little religious, because this was a Shi’ite area. It was forbidden to take

the corpses from the street. All in all, 60,000 or 70,000 people were killed

in this area in 1991.

“The first thing that was done after the uprising was crushed was to repaint

the pictures of Saddam Hussein. People had riddled them with bullets. Not

one had been left. We were shocked at how neglected the south was, with open

sewage systems, even though it is rich in oil. Saddam said before smashing

the uprising that these Shi’ites were dirty people, not really Iraqis. We

left there in October ’91 when we felt we could not continue our work

without unintentionally helping the government.”

What was the atmosphere like in Baghdad then?

“Baghdad was 300 kilometers away, and we went quite often – for a good

dinner, to have a meeting with another organization or even to make a phone

call to Germany. The fear in Iraq, a BBC reporter said recently, is so

palpable you can eat it. It’s really indescribable. Syria is a dictatorship,

but the fear and control in Iraq reaches into your living room. If there is

no picture of Saddam Hussein in your living room, you might be arrested.

There is no privacy. The Iraqi government considers everything political. In

Syria, as long as you are not a member of the opposition, you can relax. You

know you will not be harmed. But in Iraq, if you are in the wrong place at

the wrong time, you may be arrested, tortured, killed.”

“When I was in southern Iraq in ’91, we had a lot of conversations with a

very nice, very sophisticated doctor. One day, he was watching television

and the Iraqi army was being praised for having won the second part of the

Gulf War [after the initial U.S. attack aimed at driving Iraq out of

Kuwait]. The doctor just said, `Well, it is a strange victory if daily

children are dying of hunger.’ That was enough. Someone heard him. He was

taken, tortured for three weeks and brought back a broken person. Letting

one sentence slip is cause enough for a person to vanish into an Iraqi

prison or even to be killed.”

You have said that estimates are that Saddam has killed approximately one

million of his own citizens since 1979.

“Yes, that would include Kurds, Shi’ites, Christians and Sunnis. There were

two huge massacres. There was the so-called Anfal campaign against the Kurds

at the end of the 1980s when 4,000 villages were destroyed, and about

100,000 to 150,000 persons were killed, some with poison gas. Up to a

million people were sent into internal exile. The other big massacre was in

the south in the 1990s, where the regime has killed about 300,000 Shi’ites

in the last 10 years. In addition, there have been enormous massacres

against communists over the past two decades.

“The estimate of one million killed only includes civilians. A million Iraqi

soldiers were killed in the Iran-Iraq war. A half-million Iraqis died of

hunger or disease because of sanctions on Iraq, and more were killed in the

Gulf War. Some 1.5 to two million people have been internally displaced, and

4.5 million Iraqi refugees are scattered across the globe. Ten percent of

the Iraqi population has been killed or deported during the rule of Saddam

Hussein. That is the essence of his regime. It is not an accident. It is


What is the ideology behind Saddam Hussein’s regime?

“The Ba’ath ideology mixes pan-Arabism with admiration of Mussolini and

Hitler, some ideas of state socialism and the notion of an Arab supremacy

which will be realized after the Arabs have liberated themselves from

foreign – that means mainly Jewish – influence and British and American

imperialism. Ba’athism is strongly anti-communist and anti-imperialist, and

it is anti- Semitic from its beginning. Everything in Iraq is explained

through this huge conspiracy theory against the Arabs, in general, and Iraq,

in particular. Iraq is thought to be the greatest Arab nation and the

natural leader of Arab unity.”

So Iraq sees itself as the center of the Arab world?

“Yes, the leader of Arab unity. Saddam Hussein dreams of ruling a united

Arab nation that would become a superpower confronting East and West. Iraqi

children are taught in kindergarten that they have to be strong Arab


Is Iraqi Ba’athism Islamist?

“Pan-Arabism has always said that Mohammed is the forefather of pan-Arabism

and that Islam was spoiled when it crossed the borders of the Arab world to

Iran and Turkey. The task now is to `re-animate’ the real Islam that was

taught by Mohammed as an Arab ideology. Especially during the Iran-Iraq war,

when Iraq had to face the Iranian revolution, they loaded their own ideology

with Islamic content. The Iranians and the Zionists, they said, are part of

a 2,000-year-old plot to smash Iraq and divide the Arabs. `We are fighting

for the real Islam’ the regime said, not the kind of spoiled Islam that Iran

represents. I think it was a mistake for the Americans to believe, as they

did, that Iraq was a stronghold against Islam.”

Is it conceivable that Al Qaeda and Iraq have cooperated?

“Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden share the same enemies, the same

conspiracy theories. They share the claim that they are fighting in the name

of the Arab masses. Both these men grew up in the same poisoned climate of

Arab dictatorships. Their ideologies are quite close, even if Saddam is not

an Islamist. And since he has been supporting many terror organizations, I

would not be surprised if there are close ties on the ground between Iraq

and Al Qaeda.

“I think that Osama bin Laden is trying to walk in the footsteps of Saddam

Hussein. At the same time, Saddam Hussein in the 1990s was trying to

strengthen the ties between Iraq and the Islamic movements. He put `Allah

Akhbar’ [`God is great’] into the flag of Iraq and also financed different

Islamic groups in Palestine and other places in the Arab world. There is a

terrorist education center in Baghdad called Salmanpak and according to the

Iraqi opposition, in the mid-’90s, terrorists from other countries were

being trained there in such skills as how to hijack planes and use chemical

weapons. They may be cooperating and even if they are not, these are two

trees growing in the same soil.”

So you would not agree with the idea that the war on Iraq is a distraction

from the war against terror that President George Bush has proclaimed.

“American policy in Iraq is a series of huge mistakes. Firstly, it was a

mistake to support that horrible regime in the 1980s knowing, for example,

about the massacres against the Kurds. Secondly, it was a huge mistake not

to let the Iraqi people topple Saddam in ’91. The Americans feared democracy

in the Middle East, they feared the breakup of Iraq because it would

strengthen Iran, so they allowed Saddam to crush the uprising.

“With regimes like the Iraqi one, there will be no peace in the Middle East.

You cannot contain a regime like Saddam Hussein’s. That was a mistake of the

West. So the question is: Is America ready to face up to the mistakes it

made in ’91 and in the ’80s? Are the Americans ready to support democracy?

Because people like Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden grew out of the

Middle East. They are not products of Afghanistan.”

What kind of influence does Saddam have in the Arab street, and what kind of

affect could it have to topple him?

“The most regressive and dangerous elements in the Arab and Islamic world

depend on Saddam Hussein. Really toppling Saddam Hussein means uprooting the

Ba’ath regime, with the help of the Iraqi people. This would give the final

blow to pan-Arabism in the Middle East. Syria and a lot of very radical

factions in Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt and the Gulf states would be affected.

These factions look up to Saddam Hussein as a pan-Arabist, anti-imperialist

hero – although he is anti-imperialist in the tradition of the Nazis, not

the left. Also, Saddam is financing organizations like the Arab Liberation

Front in Palestine, which is a Ba’ath organization. He is paying the

families of suicide attackers. He is directly and indirectly responsible for

a lot of terrorism in the Middle East.”

What is his relationship with Yasser Arafat and the PLO?

“Part of the Palestinian establishment has very close ties to Iraq since

1991 when the Palestinians decided to support Saddam, which was a huge

mistake. This includes some quite influential figures within the security

apparatus of Yasser Arafat and the PLO. There is a struggle within the

Palestinian establishment right now over whether these elements should be

isolated. I think that certain people like Abu Mazen and some of the

security forces who were trained by the CIA are struggling against others

who have very close ties to Baghdad, and who still want to join Iraq in the

next battle with terrorist attacks, or worse – with chemical or biological

attacks on Israel or somewhere else in the world. That, I think, would be

another terrible mistake for the Palestinians to make.”

What will have to be done, the day after Saddam is gone, to make the

distinction between merely switching Iraqi regimes and starting something

completely new and democratic?

“In 1991, the Americans feared the results of a public uprising. They hoped

to find someone within the military who could topple Saddam Hussein and rule

Iraq with some cosmetic changes, but with the same security apparatus. This

hope proved a failure because for 25 years, Saddam has been trying to get

rid of anyone that might pose a threat to him. Every influential general has

been killed. Yearly cleansing campaigns are carried out against high-ranking

members of the Ba’ath Party so that no one can threaten the position of his

family, which is more or less ruling Iraq. The hawks in the U.S., people

like Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney or Richard Perle, analyzed the situation

and realized that they cannot just change someone at the top. It is not like

a South American dictatorship. If they really want change, they have to

create a new Iraq.

“Iraq is so ruthless and cruel against any opposition that people cannot

rise up without an outside trigger. But the moment a possibility is created,

the vast majority of the Iraqi people will rise up. They will uproot the

Ba’ath Party and even take personal revenge on the ruling regime; you won’t

have any Ba’ath Party anymore. So you really have to think about what to do

afterward. The only alternative is creating a democracy, which is a real

experiment because nothing like this exists in the region. Iraq considers

itself an Arab country, but actually contains nearly all the different

minority and ethnic groups of the Middle East.

“So, if it is really done with heart, it is the first step to creating a new

Middle East. A democracy in the region will very much affect other

countries. It is a huge challenge and experiment. The question is: Do the

Americans know what they are going to do there? Because Turkey, Iran and

Europe will all try to impose their own policy. Iraq is an oil-rich country

and you don’t know if this great game will not lead to catastrophe.”

Does Iraq have a national identity that could come together as a democracy?

Or are these fears that the Shi’ites and Kurds will split off legitimate?

“Iraq is very unique in the Arab world. First of all, you already have a

very long tradition of opposition to the central regime. And you have a

tradition of a national identity. Even the Kurds in Iraq never wanted to

split off, unlike their brethren in Turkey. They want a federal Iraq with

strong Kurdish autonomy. I don’t think the Shi’ites want to split off.

Usually the minority is the one that wants to split off. The Shi’ite are the

majority in Iraq. What they want is more influence in Baghdad. From my

experience from living there, I don’t think the Shi’ites are attracted by

the mullah regime of Iran. You also have a strong leftist tradition, mainly

in places like Basra and Amara, and Iraq has one of the oldest and strongest

communist parties in the Middle East. This tradition has been strongly

repressed by the Ba’ath Party, but it still exists.

“I think the Kurdish autonomy is a positive example for Iraq. Kurdistan has

horrible conditions. It’s not recognized internationally. It is more or less

under double embargo: the international sanctions against Iraq and some

internal sanctions from the central government. Turkey, Iran and Syria are

all trying to destabilize the Kurds. But even under these dire

circumstances, the Kurds have been able to build up what is not really a

democracy, but a place which is, except for Israel, the most liberal and

free in the Middle East. There are a lot of newspapers, freedom of speech,

up to a limit – you are not allowed to insult the Kurdish political leaders

– but in comparison with central Iraq, you can really call it paradise. And

there is to a certain extent democracy. If the Kurds are able to do it, why

shouldn’t the Iraqis, with assistance from abroad?”

Are you in favor of waging war against Iraq?

“Let me say first that I am not in favor of war, especially until we know

how the Americans want to conduct the war. But one also has to consider that

what the Lebanese intellectual Fouad Ajami has said: that for 30 years, Iraq

has been conducting a war against its own society. Saddam Hussein is

conducting a war against his own people and it must be stopped. It is hard

to think of another people who have suffered in the last 20 years like the

Iraqi people have suffered at the hands of Saddam Hussein and because of

international policy aimed at containing him. If Americans are really ready

to topple him, it might be very good for the Iraqi people and very good for

the region. If the Americans start just another stupid war like the one in

1991, then I am against it, too.

“At this very moment there is a huge Arabization campaign against Kurds

living in Karkuk. People are systematically deported because the regime

wants to change a Kurdish city into an Arab one. Just now there are

tremendous prison cleansing campaigns. Every Wednesday, the security forces

come into the largest prison in Baghdad and say: You, you, you and you. Five

hundred people are taken out to be killed just because the prisons are

overcrowded. The Iraqi National Congress says that there are 600,000 to

700,000 political prisoners in Iraqi detention camps at present.

“So the question is: Are they really ready to support democracy in the

Middle East? In that case, I think the war is necessary and good. Or do they

just want to put some horrible general in instead of Saddam? Then I oppose

this war very much.”

During the Gulf War in 1991, Israel refrained from retaliating after the

Scud missile attacks. How should Israel respond if it is attacked this time?

“Seventy percent of the Iraqi people are allies of the Americans. If the war

is waged correctly, it will focus on the regime, on the leaders, on the

security apparatus and on this horrible Ba’ath Party, but not on the Iraqi

people. So if Israel is attacked, it should consider this point: This is a

war against the regime, and the Iraqi people are allies in fighting Saddam

Hussein. So it is very important to refrain from attacking civilians. There

has been a debate about Israel nuking Iraq if attacked with weapons of mass

destruction. That would be a disaster – the end of the democratization of

the Middle East. Everyone would be against the Iraqi opposition and against

Israel. If there is a need for Israel to strike back, it should only be

against military targets. Israel should openly declare that it is not

conducting a war against the Iraqi people, and that it is ready to support a

multi-ethnic democracy in Iraq, friendly to the Iraqi people and only

hostile to this govern! ! ment.”

What is the attitude toward Israel and the United States in liberated


“The United States created the safe haven in 1991 not for the Kurds, but to

protect Iran and Turkey from the influx of refugees. Still, people know that

they are protected by the U.S. and they have a positive attitude toward it.

I spent September 11, 2001 in Kurdistan in front of the television and the

next day, I crossed through Syria to Jordan. In Syria, people told me that

it was a conspiracy against the Arabs, but in Kurdistan, people were deeply

shocked and sorry for the victims of the World Trade Center attack.

“In regard to Israel, it’s astonishing: The Kurds were all taught in Iraqi

schools that the Jews and Israel are the main enemy, blood-suckers, part of

a huge conspiracy, but I did not find any real anti-Israel sentiments.

Critics of the occupation, of the settlements, yes, there are some, and I

think that is legitimate, but no anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. In fact,

people in Kurdistan are now starting to reflect on the mass immigration of

Kurdish Jews in the 1950s when 99 percent of the Jewish community left

mostly to Israel. Many times, I heard Kurds saying that it was sad that this

living together with Jews had stopped, and that the Jewish heritage of

Kurdistan should be kept alive.

“Also, you have to understand the dynamic. Nearly every week, Saddam Hussein

or a leading Ba’ath member declares that Iraqi Kurdistan is the Israel of

Iraq, or accuses the Kurds of being Zionists agents. The same thing is said

about every opposition party – be they Islamists, nationalists, communists

or Christians. People who are anti-Zionist themselves, such as Iraqi

communists, are put into prison, tortured and killed as Zionist spies. That

forces people to have a different attitude toward the whole Middle East

conspiracy theory. I think this is why intellectual Iraqis abroad are much

less likely to be anti-Israel than other Arab intellectuals. Iraqis oppose

pan-Arabism and Ba’athism much more than they oppose Israel. So, it may be

more possible to find a way to work with a future Iraqi government than with

any other government in the region. If the Kurds are strong in Baghdad, the

Jews will not face this irrational anti-Jewish sentiment.”

What do you think drives German policy against U.S. intervention in Iraq?

“Germany gains very good material benefit from Iraq. One should not forget

that German technology enabled Iraq to enlarge the range of the Scud

missiles so that they could reach Israel, that without German assistance,

Iraq would not have been able to gas Iranian soldiers or its own people in

Kurdistan or to threaten Israel. So there are deep relations. Iran, Libya

and Syria, but especially Iraq, have this relationship with Germany. German

policy has always put its eggs in Saddam’s basket and gained from trade with

Iraq, especially after ’91 when America and England were out of Iraq.

“Also, ideology is important, especially at such times as during the last

election campaign when the Social Democrats start to play on the

anti-American piano. There are very close ties between a certain German

ideology dating back to the 19th century, running through World War I and

escalating in World War II with the Nazis and continuing afterward, which

has close ties to pan-Arabism. One that shares the same enemies: America,

the Jews, Israel. Anti-American and anti-Israel resentments are very strong

in Germany and they have become stronger since 1989.

“Saddam Hussein is not usually seen in Germany as a horrible dictator

murdering his own people. People blame the sanctions and not him, and people

blame the Israeli occupation for the whole situation in the Middle East, not

Palestinian terrorists or Saddam for continually destabilizing the region.

Also, since 1945, many Germans have very strong anti-war feelings,

especially if these wars are conducted by the United States. The majority of

people opposed the second part of the Gulf War; there were tremendous

demonstrations against it. Now this opposition is stronger, because Germany

is stronger.

“Germany is now conducting its own independent foreign policy, which in the

last two to four years, has become simply to contrast itself to the U.S. If

the U.S. is supporting a government, we should support the opposition to

this government. In the Middle East, there is an attempt to tighten

relations with Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinians and Iraq. Also, the Germans

are quite afraid of the archives in Baghdad and what they tell about the

poison gas and other weapons deals that were made between Iraq and a lot of

German enterprises.”

So both the left and the right in Germany have strong anti-American feeling?

“Anti-American and anti-Israeli-anti-Semitic. At the moment, you can hardly

distinguish between the very far right wing and the very far left wing. The

far right openly supports Saddam Hussein, saying that he is fighting the

Jews and the Americans and thus supporting the German battle. And certain

left-wingers from an orthodox left-wing tradition think that Saddam Hussein

is anti-imperialist, anti-globalization, that he is fighting for the rights

of the Arabs to self-determination. Others on the left say that Saddam may

be horrible, but another American war will not solve any problems. The war

will just help Israel’s interest, so we should oppose it. This is also the

governmental policy at the moment.”

The European and Third World left have developed an ideology that unites

anti-globalization, anti-Americanism, anti-Israel feeling and, to a certain

extent, anti-Semitism. What is the internal logic behind this combination?

“This is not a very new phenomenon. In the German left, these attitudes

existed during the 1920s with the idea of `a shortened anti-capitalism’ that

distinguished very sharply between financial capital and productive capital,

and demonized financial capital. This idea was later adapted by the Nazis,

and is in itself anti-Semitic because Jews are identified with the

circulation sphere – with banks. Whoever does not criticize capitalism in a

Marxist way, but criticizes only the surface [aspects] of capitalism – the

huge banks or the monopoly capitalists – is automatically using an

anti-Semitic phraseology, even if he is not speaking about Jews or Israel.

This is what some of the anti-globalization rhetoric is about.

“These associations are so deeply written inside European and especially

German history, that you can be anti-Semitic without even mentioning Jews.

This way of thinking was kept alive in certain Leninist groups and in the

far right wing in the ’60s and ’70s, and now it is more or less unfolding in

the mainstream movements. It is always a question of whether these

resentments, which are quite common, are taboo or whether the government is

signaling that they can be voiced. Until 1989, anti-Semitism and

anti-Americanism were taboo in Germany. These views found space on the left

and on the far right. In the middle of society, they were hidden in the

signals and phrases communicated in the subtext. Now, due to the new

international constellation, the taboo has broken down and these ideas can

be found in the mainstream.

“So you have more or less the same idea that you had since the ’20s: There

is a global struggle pitting the `good’ people who are fighting against

colonialization against a conspiracy between the huge American trusts, banks

and the Jews, which wants to force the world to adapt a universal

capitalism. The Jews were also accused then of being the purveyors of the

global communist principle, but since 1989, that has been forgotten. These

old ideas were re-animated now due to the ethnic conflicts in the Balkans

and the conflict in the Middle East, and especially since September 11, when

the focus has been on the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel, and

the conflict between Iraq on one side and the U.S. and Britain on the


Leaving aside the overt anti-Semitism, what do you, as a Marxist, see as the

primary mistake of this ideology that is attacking the U.S. as the purveyor

of global capitalism?

“The moment this anti-globalization ideology brings together Hamas, Saddam

Hussein, Osama bin Laden, nationalistic movements in the Balkans, the

Zapatists in Mexico, and the neo-Nazi right wing, which is very active in

the anti-globalization movement, it means they are not fighting for

universal freedom, liberation and emancipation, but are reproducing

anti-universalist, anti-Semitic stereotypes that are only leading to

barbarism. Rosa Luxemburg once said that the question is socialism or

barbarism, and that question is still valid. But at the moment, I think the

fight is to defend the Western world against those who would like to be its

successors. These people are also, dialectically, the products of the

Western, capitalistic world. Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden grew out of

the bad politics of the U.S. and Europe in the Middle East. They didn’t fall

from the moon.

“But at the moment, I think one has to support the West, which means in this

case America, Britain and Israel, in its battle against its own creations.

Then you can think again of how to create a much better world. The questions

the anti-globalization movement raises are very important – issues like the

environment, world hunger and the enrichment of a very small minority of

people while the vast majority become poorer. But with the Ba’ath Party and

Hamas as your actors, you will not change anything. They are not the

historical subjects who are carrying the idea of emancipation.

“In extremis, you have a constellation that reminds one of the ’30s. On the

one hand, you have Britain, the U.S. and Israel – the Jews are always in the

metaphysical center of these conflicts. This side is fighting for a

capitalistic Western ideology. Then you have these National Socialist,

self-determination ideas, which are always led by the Germans. In 1939, the

Germans said that they were fighting universal capitalism and for

self-determination in the Third World. They had a very anti-colonialist

phraseology. You can find the same words and the same phrases as are being

used today in the ’40s when the Germans were supporting India’s and the

Arabs’ revolt against the British. Even France is again in the same position

– supporting Britain and the U.S. half-heartedly.

“Ten years ago, everyone thought Germany was a close ally of the U.S.,

supporting its policy. But no. In this conflict, Germany is signaling that

it is standing on the other side. Everywhere in the Middle East, in the

Syrian press, in the Hezbollah press, in the Baghdadi press, Germany is

being praised for taking the same side they did 50 years ago. So people

understand what the Germans are doing. And I think that that is quite

interesting – and quite horrifying.”

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