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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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
FW: A call to action. Fillibuster. Please read this
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:
email@example.com 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
From: Chris Nelder Sent: Tuesday, October 08, 2002 4:24 PM
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!
Monday, October 7, 2002
Thousands in Seattle Protest Bush Policy on Iraq
ASSOCIATED PRESS & KIRO 7 EYEWITNESS NEWS
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
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
“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
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.”