We are pleased to publish the following exchange on the politics of the U.S. occupation, the Iraqi resistance, and the antiwar movement. The symposium builds on a trio of articles — by Barry Finger, Wadood Hamad, and Glenn Perusek — that appeared in New Politics 38 (Winter 2005).
Symposium on Iraq and the Antiwar Movement
In this symposium:
The key challenge for the left today remains that of ending the occupation of Iraq, which did not end with the January 30 elections. A majority of people in the United States now thinks the invasion of Iraq was not worth the high price that has been paid as a consequence. Yet an enormous gap exists between this sentiment and the level of political activity against the occupation.
The Third Camp alternative is ultimately expressed by the potential of the Iraqi working class assuming the leadership of the anti- imperialist movement. We do not and cannot claim that this third camp is presently a conscious alternative on the part of those who will make it possible.
The current armed insurgency in Iraq, erroneously portrayed by some as "resistance" to U.S. occupation, does not — nor could it ever — represent a national resistance movement. While it is true that the medley of insurgents espouses "a mixture of Islamic and Pan-Arab ideas," it is inaccurate to insinuate that they "agree on the need to put an end to U.S. presence in Iraq." For if this were true, why are those elements not fighting U.S.
Wadood Hamad is correct that many today are "stuck between two inadequate visions" — either apologizing for U.S. imperialist actions or "cheering any misguided ‘apparent' resistance to imperialism." Avoiding these false alternatives is not only needed to develop a successful antiwar movement; it is needed to ensure that the idea of freedom is not forsaken by today's radicals.
The peace movement should call for the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq and the closing of all military bases there: no temporizing, no negotiations, no timetables — just bring the troops home, now. Peace activists should say to the American people that the occupation is part and parcel of an imperial U.S.
Barry Finger, Wadood Hamad, and Glenn Perusek all appear to demand the immediate withdrawal of United States forces from Iraq. (Finger, 26: "we demand an immediate withdrawal of occupation forces"; Hamad, 34: "We must demand a timely schedule for the withdrawal of occupation forces from Iraq over a fixed, limited period").
The antiwar movement needs to demand the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops and an end to the U.S. domination of Iraq, not because we don't care about Iraqis, but precisely because we do care. And while we support any people's right to resistance, we should not "support the Iraq resistance."