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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: « Good morning Bagdad »…

by Michel Guilloux

“Good morning, Baghdad...”

Translated Tuesday 25 March 2008, by Gene Zbikowski


Since the first day of the invasion by the U.S. and its allies, more than 4,000 soldiers from the United States have died amid the sands of Iraq. Five years after the beginning of the second Gulf War, which saw mainly U.S. and British tanks entering, Baghdad on the one hand, and Bassorah on the other, what has changed for the better? Saddam Hussein’s being flushed from the hole in the ground, and his hanging turned into an obscene media event? Thousands of civilians dying from the blind shrapnel of bombings? The on-going partition of a country which sees, on the one hand, Turkey crossing its borders to hunt down Kurdish separatists, and on the other, the “Great Satan,” Ahmadinejad, being welcomed to the Iraqi capital under the protection of the U.S. invaders?

To paraphrase Anatole France, you think you’re dying for democracy, and in fact you’re dying for Halliburton and the oil companies.

Five years on, Iraq has not become a stable country to which democracy has been spread – its people are more divided than ever, famished, terrorized and massacred; al Qaeda, which was the pretext for the intervention in Afghanistan, has found a new base for bloody confrontations in Iraq, and the whole region has been destabilized. “There is an understandable debate over whether the war was worth fighting, whether the fight is worth winning, and whether we can win it,” the warmonger George Bush said in a speech at the Pentagon on March 19, before adding: “The answers are clear to me: Removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right decision – and this is a fight America can and must win.” “Win?”

In the past, in Vietnam, that word had to be abandoned in the face of the power of popular national resistance. Iraq does not resemble that historic series of events only in the barbarism of the means used, foremost of which is the institutionalized torture, or in the juicy contracts racked up by a military-industrial complex whose blood brother is ensconced in the White House. With the unprecedented privatization of the conflict, with the loss of human lives and the billions in profits swallowed up by the war, Iraq differs from Vietnam in that, after five years, one does not see – and for good reason – the slightest beginning of an end to either the war or the occupation.

What is true of Iraq is also true of the region. Will Iran evolve towards the social emancipation for which it is ready? Its artificial demonization – which is no hindrance to handy little arrangements between “hostile friends” – is reinforcing the conservative camp in Teheran, as, alas, has just been confirmed by the last elections. Are things any better in Afghanistan? The answer is in the question: see the spread of the most murderous fundamentalism possible to Pakistan. Has the crisis in the Near East advanced one step towards pacification, if not dialogue? The mirror set up between the ultra-reactionaries in office in Jerusalem and Hamas’ grip on Gaza amounts to a rebuff to the question.

Are we to wait, as spectators, the outcome of the Democratic primaries and the results of the U.S. presidential election? Both will, certainly, exercise an influence, for good or ill, on the development of the situation. France, which won fame in March 2003 with its official opposition to the war, would win more honor if she continued on that road. But this is not, for the moment, the road taken by the French presidency and the French foreign affairs ministry, whether it be in Iraq, Afghanistan, or the Near East. Nicolas Sarkozy means to make the French presidency of the European Union a shining moment in his political action. Will he accelerate the French alignment on the most militaristic NATO positions, set up military bases in the Arabian emirates, and ease the bloody U.S. burden in Kabul? Or will he have France and the European Union playing a more dignified score? His political action, and that of the countries of the EU, will be judged by that yardstick.

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