Geopolitics

Occupations, Then and Now

By Ryan McGreal
Published June 14, 2007

Last week, the Iraqi government passed a resolution which they hope can bring about an end to the US military occupation of their country. Raed Jarrar and Joshua Holland from Alternet report:

The parliament today passed a binding resolution that will guarantee lawmakers an opportunity to block the extension of the U.N. mandate under which coalition troops now remain in Iraq when it comes up for renewal in December.

Defenders of the US occupation of Iraq are at desperate pains to draw friendly comparisons between it and the US occupations of Germany and Japan after the Second World War. Of course, one of the many differences between then and now is that the German and Japanese people wanted to be occupied.

They welcomed it. They had what Zbignew Brzezinski calls an "almost unbridled admiration for all things American" - mainly because sixty years ago, the US still represented something resembling freedom, democracy and the rule of law to the people of other countries.

The people of Iraq don't feel the same way. They hated being invaded illegally. They hate being occupied. They hate being dragged out of their homes, detained indefinitely without habeas corpus rights, tortured, and killed. They hate seeing their endownment of oil handed off to US oil companies with government connections. They hate naked pyramids of prisoners surrounded by jeering guards. They hate the carpet-bombing of "disobedient" cities.

Sixty years ago, the US spent billions of dollars to rebuild Germany and Japan after WWII, having learned the painful lessons of the punitive Treaty of Versailles, and those countries benefited materially from the US intervention. (The US, in turn, benefited materially from stable, prosperous allies and an automatic market for their surplus industrial production.)

Today, the US is spending hundreds of billions of dollars to subjugate Iraq, having forgotten the painful lessons of the stupid, immoral, destructive Vietnam War that came two decades later, and Iraq is suffering acutely from the US intervention.

So the occupied country, having been given a "democratic" government by the US, is attempting to exercise its democratic right to manage its own affairs in its own interests, based on what the Iraqi people want. What the Iraqi people want is for the Americans to get the hell out of their country.

The question is: after claiming to support and promote democracy, will the US listen?

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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