junge Welt

May 24, 2004

Two Conferences, One Problem: Washington

By Klaus von Raussendorf

Two otherwise separate conferences, which recently took place in Paris, had, nevertheless, one thing in common: The decisive rejection of the policy of the US government.

On the 15th of May an International Congress called by Jaime Ballesteros (Spain), Georges Labica (France), Jean Pierre Page (France), Fausto Sorini (Italy), and Subhi Toma (Iraq) ended with an appeal to support the Iraqi Resistance and for the creation of an International Alliance of Solidarity. The organizers of the conference want to build up a worldwide alliance of solidarity with the Iraqi Resistance. With headquarters in Paris, organizational structures for solidarity with Iraq are to be built up in individual countries.

According to Fosco Giannini, the resistance of the Iraqi people has profoundly altered the international political situation. Giannini, the publisher of the Italian periodical L'Ernesto, named several factors: The Iraqi Resistance has strengthened the international solidarity of the struggle against imperialism. In the US itself, it has encouraged the mobilization against war and internal repression. At the same time, a clearer insight into the character of the new war has arisen. Also, the contradictions between the US and the European Union are becoming increasingly evident. Formerly hesitant sectors in the West are now demanding the immediate withdrawal of the occupation forces.

The conference participants agreed that, without the Iraqi Resistance, the American threat to countries such as Cuba, Syria, and North Korea would be even greater than it is. A representative from Cuba received strong applause when he spoke of the newly intensified sanctions against his country. He spoke point-blank of the "neo-fascists in Washington."

Abdulhabbar Al Kubaysi, chairman of the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance, called attention to the national dialog which is currently taking place in his country. The majority of Iraqis support the principle of citizenship in a republic. The multiculturalism of Iraq is generally recognized, said Kubaysi. No one is opposed to a constitutional state. The statement that civil war is threatened is false.

Other speakers were unanimous in warning against illusions regarding the "transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi people." Thierry Meyssan, the French author of two books on the complicity of the US government in the attacks of 9/11, asked, "Who are the possessors of this sovereignty and to whom will it be transferred?" Meyssan pointed out that the so-called Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) has no standing in either international or American law. For example, public contracts are awarded to companies that are connected to the officials of the occupation, a violation of the applicable standards in the US itself. In reality, the CPA is a construct in private law. In the 19th century, King Leopold II used the Belgian army to conquer the Congo and then set up a private company to exploit the newly won colony. US President George W. Bush wants to legalize such a situation through the creation of an Iraqi puppet government.

"There is no sovereignty that can be transferred," said Sabah Al Mukhtar, a London-based attorney and member of the "Arab Lawyers Network." It is conceivable that the "dirty faces" of the 25 collaborators of the provisional council will be exchanged for somewhat less dirty ones. Perhaps later there will be still another layer of "cleaner" faces. But this will have no effect on the basic character of the puppet government.

In parallel with the Iraqi Solidarity Conference, there was also a conference held by the initiative, "American Voices Abroad (AVA)." The AVA is an organization of Americans living abroad formed in Berlin in July of 2003. What unifies them is their opposition to the "Patriot Act," which infringes on constitutional rights, and opposition to the Bush doctrine of preventive wars. The participants in the AVA conference in Paris demanded the resignation of US defense minister Donald Rumsfeld, who is responsible for the use of torture by American soldiers.

According to a summary of the talk by Stephen S. Golub, "The Dynamics of US Global Dominance in the Bush Era and Beyond," there is the danger of a sharp and long-term swing to the right, both internally and externally, in the overall politics of the US. Golub is a Franco-American journalist for the respected journal, Le Monde Diplomatique. "Is Democracy Dying in the US?" was the theme of a talk by Steven Hill of the Center for Voting and Democracy. In the long run, the corrupt "winner takes all" electoral system in the US must be replaced by a majority voting system. In the expected close election in November in which the votes of Americans living abroad could play a key role and prevent Bush's reelection, Hill was optimistic.

Whether Bush or Kerry, it is important "for Americans to demand the revelation of the truth behind 9/11," said Nicholas Levis. What 9/11 showed is that far-reaching US policy questions are not decided by elections. Vice-President Dick Cheney and others have already talked of further terrorist attacks in the US, warned Levis. The campaign for an independent inquiry into 9/11 is much more than an attempt at a belated understanding of an event which, in retrospect, is of historic significance. Learning the truth about the 9/11 attacks is a fundamental question for the anti-war movement, its so-called "Ground Zero."