Thursday, April 10, 2008

Empire's victory fails to repress foes' humanity

A US soldier secures the site of a car bomb in Baghdad. (AFP/Ahmad Al-Rubaye)

Who'd have thought it? Five years after the fall of Baghdad to "victorious" U.S. forces, Juan Cole sums up just what the United State's imperial adventure has accomplished.

Despite the curfew, hundreds came out Wednesday to protest in Fallujah, a city that Bush destroyed in a fit of pique. The Fallujans had held a city-wide strike on March 23, 2004, to protest the Israeli assassination of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, a quadraplegic and spiritual leader of Hamas in Palestine. A few days later, the Brigades of Sheikh Yassin, an Iraqi guerrilla group founded to protest his murder, killed 4 Blackwater security men, one of them a South African, and desecrated their bodies, as "a gift to the Palestinian people," claiming that they were CIA or Mossad (Israeli intelligence). (You would have thought the Israelis could have put off garish assassinations by helicopter gunship of Muslim leaders in wheelchairs for a while, since the US was in a delicate position in Iraq at the time; Ariel Sharon made things infinitely worse than they had to be).

Bush is said by Newsweek to have been royally teed off (I gloss the anger as that brown guys did that to white guys), and instructed "Heads must roll!" Bush ultimately made Fallujah his own little Carthage, in November of 2004. The Sunni Arabs were so angered that they boycotted the 2005 election. They had little representation in parliament. The Kurds and the Shiites crafted a constitution the Sunni Arabs rejected. And the country went to civil war, just as I predicted in December of 2004.

In many ways it all started with the killing in broad daylight of Sheikh Yassin in Gaza as he was leaving a mosque. Couldn't he have been arrested if he was wanted? It was not as if he could run away. And, you will note, that Hamas is still there in control of Gaza, and Ariel Sharon is now in oblivion.

On Wednesday there were still Fallujans chanting that the US should leave their country. I mean, they were chanting amidst ruins (the US damaged two-thirds of the buildings there), and many of their relatives are refugees living in tents in the desert, displaced from their living rooms by all the firepower a superpower can bring to bear. But there they were rallying. And Westerners engage in glib stereotypes about Arab fatalism. In fact, it is hard to keep some people down.

I've added some paragraph breaks to make it clearer what Cole is saying here.

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