Two opposite opinions from the Left

Is John Robb at Global Guerrillas “left”? I would say so…

Anyway, he has an interesting link to a leaked powerpoint slide from a US Central Command presentation showing how the US military views Iraqs slide from “Peace” to “Chaos”.

John advocates a quick pullout of Coalition troops.

Contrast that with Howar Ziad, Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq in Canada..

He is a party colleague and close advisor to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

The Tyee points out that his party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, is the New Democratic Party’s affiliate in Iraq, through the Socialist International.

His message? Don’t abandon Iraq to the extremists, fascists, militias and criminals.

“The question is, what should be done now?”

Ever since the bombs started falling on Baghdad, that’s the only question that has really mattered, and it’s also the question that the mainstream “anti-war” movement has got wrong, by any standard recognizable in the traditional perspective of the progressive left. “Troops out” offers no effective solidarity with pro-democracy Iraqis, and offers far greater advantage to the “resistance” fighters who behead Kafirs, put bombs in mosques and assassinate trade union leaders.


“The first thing is we must defeat the terrorists and the Baathists,” he said. “Without that, we won’t get anywhere. We have no guarantee that what we are doing in Iraq will be successful, but it is worth fighting for it. The alternative is to hand over the country to an alliance of the Baathist fascists and al-Qaida.”

So he’s not willing to have the Americans and British throw in the towel just yet. The problem is, I don’t think the Americans and British are willing to double or triple the amount of troops in-theatre in order to expedite the job. And without doing that, success certainly seems doubtful at this point.

Ziad says:

But what’s the role for progressives, then, outside Iraq?

“People should support Iraqi civil society institutions,” Ziad said. “Let the Iraqis determine their own future in their own way, but also engage Iraqis. Let them see what has happened in Canada, what a great country Canada is, in all its multicultural and diverse society, and how they are resolving their differences in a peaceful way.”

Ziad pointed to the recently announced $60-million joint venture between Canada’s federal government and the Aga Khan Foundation, establishing a new Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa, as an institution that could be of particular help to Iraqis.

“That would be a great school for the future of Iraq,” he said.

An interesting new angle to the ongoing debate on what to do with Iraq, thanks to the Tyee for bringing it forward.

Once the invasion itself became inevitable, my opposition to it has always been more about doing the right things to actually leave Iraq better off. Had those things happened (more troops, and a real post-war plan) I may still have sympathy for the US in Iraq.

Those things never happened. What’s more, over the last 3 years, the US Administration has not even indicated a willingness to come up with any plan at all.

Contractors (Bechtel) are leaving… these are the people to whom the work of rebuilding Iraq was outsourced. Is Halliburton far behind? OK probably not while Cheney is still VP.

My point, I want to help Iraqis, I really do. But what can we really do? We can’t suddenly send 100,000 Canadian troops to Iraq to put down the insurgency. We can’t even send 500, nor do we want to. We can’t send a merry band of carpenters and road builders… they’ll promptly get bombed.

At this point, unfortunately, it’s up to the US, the UK, and Iraq, to decide what to do about Iraq.

Canada can, and must encourage the best outcome. Must offer assistance diplomatically, morally, socially and financially. But at this point, that is all we can do and all I can justify us doing.

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