Meanwhile, a young woman journalist, reporting from Iraq joined the talking heads by saying that most Iraqis have no faith in the government they elected to do much of anything and that the present situation, with U.S. forces recruiting arming Sunni Muslims to fight against the Sunni Al Qaeda forces in the North (more, the journalist noted, a result of Al Qaeda's abuses than the U.S. military winning hearts and minds) presents a new developing horror with the U.S. supporting armed forces of the Sunni minority(the mainstay of Saddam's regime) against armed forces of the Shia majority, backed by Iran, and the Sunni Al Qaeda forces, as a "wild card" in a conflict that is destroying a country and people without much pretense today of saving it (the following are my interpretations, not necessarily the journalist's).
That was yesterday. Today a Shia governor was assassinated in a Southern province. Fighting between Sunnis and Shias and fighting among Shias and Sunnis is growing, along with conflicts between government police and militia forces and private groups. Much of the "middle class" has fled the country and is living in the region as best it can. American and British generals talk like old fashioned colonial imperialists as they announce that the "mission" in Iraq may take decades to complete and come forward with plans that make no sense in the contemporary world, where the only thing that is really certain is that change is rapid and that colonialism which means armies occupying regions for long periods of time and controlling governments in order to obtain natural resources, labor pools, and captive markets, is dead even as an imperialist strategy.
The New York Times reports a demonstration in Baghdad today against this horror at the office of Moktada al-Sadr, the warlord Shia cleric referred to in U.S. media as a radical. While I and I don't think anyone on the left should have any sympathy for al-Sadr (one might remember that the U.S. military paid him a sort of compliment and showed its contemptuous attitude toward the people by referring to a large Shia slum area in Baghdad that is a center of Sadr's organization as "Sadr City") one of the demonstrators said something that goes to the very heart of the matter and that anyone, especially progressives should seriously evaluate.
"The government which we elected," the demonstrator, who gave his name as Muhammad Hassan said, is the cause of all this suffering. They are watching us being bombed every day without doing anything Nobody is trying to save the city from the daily attacks. We know that the Americans don't need permission from anybody and Maliki (the Prime Minister has no authority to stop this. The Americans will do whatever they want."
What American citizen or citizen of any nation as against a colonial subject would tolerate this sort of government. What American citizen or citizen of any nation would not despise the soldiers of a foreign power that were pursuing such policies, whatever propaganda was used to justify their acts. What American citizen or citizen of any nation would not understand that they do not matter, are essentially invisible, as they are being killed and maimed every day and decisions and policies are being put forward in the interests only of the foreign power, its collaborators, and its internal and regional enemies and rivals. What American citizen could live with this for long without either withdrawing, escaping, or fighting back by demonizing the foreigners and everything about them, making them invisible as human beings just as they have made the people being colonized invisible.
That is the history of European imperialism in much of the world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and that is where the Bush administration war and occupation of Iraq is leading.
Let me conclude by saying that I just finished a Summer Course at Rutgers University in the History of Imperialism, which was, given the quality of the students, one of the best courses that I have ever taught. One of the books the students read was Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth, which addresses some of these questions in terms of their longterm destructive effects on the colonized peoples. I would recommend that the Democratic presidential candidates read it to gain some insight into what they are creating in Iraq so they can learn from history instead of re-repeating it Iraq, which bore the wounds of colonialism in the past only to bear new wounds from a "neo-colonialism" that isn't even so neo today.