Who gives a damn for Iraq ?

IN THE run up to the US war on Iraq over three years ago there was a joke doing its rounds on the internet which went like this:

Bush Jr. and Colin Powell are sitting in a public park somewhere in the United States deep in conversation when a passing citizen stops and demands to know what his President and Secretary of State are discussing.

'The coming war on Iraq ' says Bush Jr. To which the citizen asks 'And how many people do you think will die in this war?''

'100,000 Iraqis and one bicycle repair man" says Bush Jr

A bit taken aback the citizen asks "But why the bicycle repair man?"

To which Bush turns to Powell and says triumphantly 'Ha! See I told you nobody gives a damn for those Iraqis".

On hindsight, given the mass murder the Americans have carried out in Iraq , this is a sort of sick joke indeed. But distasteful as it is the joke is also prescient about one thing – nobody in the world really gives a damn for the Iraqis.

Not the United States , of course, the man-eating monstrosity of a nation that it has become. Killing Iraqis for the rulers of the US is like swatting mosquitoes, a pursuit to be practiced in leisure time, a concept as American as apple pie. Between the actual wars and invasions initiated by the Senior and Junior Bushes and the long years of sanctions that Bill Clinton presided over successive US regimes have killed anywhere between 1 to 1.5 million Iraqis by now.

Not the United Nations – that global den of spineless nobodies pretending to be still relevant while stooping low to accommodate every whim and fancy of the United States . The US war on Iraq was the last blow to the little credibility the UN had or whatever potential it possessed to bring about world peace. There are those who still pin hopes on a 'reformed' UN but that would be a task as onerous as converting Abu Gharib into a kindergarten.

Not the European Union, which for all earlier noises of dissent by leading members like Germany and France has quietly settled down to accepting the global hegemony of the Anglo-Saxon powers. Or who knows maybe they are just watching and waiting for the US and UK misadventure in Iraq to collapse before moving in to pick up the pieces. That's called raptor diplomacy.

Not fellow Arab countries, each of them run by tin pot sheiks cuckolded long, long ago by Big Brother United States into complete submission. What the Kuwaiti, Jordanian and Saudi elites should not forget is that those who profit from the death of their neighbours end up making the entire neighbourhood a graveyard.

Not Russia , which is too busy calculating how many little massacres they will need in Chechnya to add up to the big one by the US in Iraq . That's only partly true of course as the Russians are also benefiting from the Iraq war not least through the huge oil price hikes it has brought about.

Not China , which too is busy counting the riches extracted from the US in return for their precious silence on Iraq . 'Lots of paper money and very few principles' has been the Chinese regime's motto for quite some time now – a funny little dictum in any other context than the tragic times we live in.

Certainly, certainly not the Indians who have shed whatever pretences of non-alignment they once had and are groveling at the feet of the US to take them on as a junior partner in their imperial conquests. The brown sahibs begging for entry into the white man's club, hankering after every shiny medal tossed at them by the West, the perfect colonial slaves climbing over the corpses of their own kind.

So who is it that gives a damn for the Iraqis?

The global anti-war movement, which though too tame and predictable in its actions, is still the only face of international resistance to the US/UK war on Iraq . In some countries, like Spain , at least the movement was able to change governments and force them to withdraw troops sent to Iraq . The sad fact is however that it has not really made too much of a difference to the US Imperial war machine. Being peaceful and pacifist should not mean the same as being passive and the time has come to do more than merely marching up and down the boulevards of Western metropolises shouting witty slogans. A real round of classical civil disobedience that paralyses places like London , Washington and Sydney is long overdue.

The Iraqi resistance, despite its diverse and disorganized nature, is certainly the only force right now countering US Imperialism on the frontlines. There are some in the antiwar movement who are shy of calling them a 'resistance' in any positive sense given the mix of nationalist and Islamic groups that make it up and the often indiscriminate violence it deploys while fighting the Americans.

Moqtada Sadr is certainly no Che Guevara and Iraq is still far away from producing a Ho Chi Minh but anyone who judges the Iraqi resistance by its ability to throw up recognizable icons should go back to the dim libraries they emerged from. The world having proved completely inept at preventing US aggression against Iraq has little right to prescribe etiquette and good manners to the colonized Iraqis.