A little over two years ago, anti-war demonstrations of unprecedented magnitude rocked the globe and the New York Times termed the anti-war movement “the world’s second superpower.” Unfortunately, no one could mistake the anti-war demonstrations that took place this spring for the “world’s second superpower.”
On some level this fall-off from February 2003 was inevitable. Opposition to war then was a no-brainer, while the current occupation raises tough questions: now that the United States government has devastated Iraqi society, what should be done? Some of those who argue that the U.S. needs to stay in Iraq are unreconstructed imperialists, but some make this argument out of a genuine sense of concern for the Iraqi people. But however sincere they may be, those who take this position are wrong in their belief that the occupation can help Iraqis, and the anti-war movement needs to explain to them why this is so.
Aren’t U.S. troops protecting Iraqis from awful violence, many ask? There is indeed gruesome violence in Iraq today, but U.S. forces are not keeping this violence in check. On the contrary, the brutality of the U.S. occupation is a major incitement to the violence.
Can anyone doubt that the tortures at Abu Ghraib — with their emphasis on humiliation — have created thousands of hostile, even violently hostile, Iraqis?
Or consider Fallujah. In the first assault, in April 2004, U.S. troops slaughtered hundreds in the city, a majority of whom, according to hospital officials, were women and children, with U.S. forces firing at ambulances, and blocking access to hospitals. Then in November 2004, the U.S. essentially leveled the city, with who knows how many casualties because the press was kept out.
Today in Fallujah we can get some real insight into how the U.S. provides security for the Iraqi people. U.S. officials claim that “Fallujah is now the safest city in Iraq,” but, as one resident noted, it’s the safest city “because it’s a prison.” More than two-thirds of the city’s inhabitants are still refugees, and “[t]here is a dawn-to-dusk curfew and a cordon around the city that only allows Falluja