People protesting in Baghdad May 19

Iraqis Say “No to Colonisation”
Its Official now. The US and UK have given up the charade of calling themselves ‘liberating army’, and have referred to themselves in the UN as “occupying powers”. The UN Security Council Resolution has endorsed their status as “occupying powers” till the establishment of an Iraqi authority. While France, Russia and Germany argue that the resolution actually gives a “central role” to the UN (US and UK must report at quarterly intervals to the UN), it is only too clear that these powers have been pushed a step backwards. With the lifting of UN sanctions, any remaining barrier between US-UK and Iraqi oil will soon be removed.
All this while, the US troops watched silently as organized groups vandalized the world’s oldest civilisational heritage. However, they did not hesitate to shoot Iraqis who dared to protest against the US occupation. On 27 April, US troops opened fire in Fallujah, on an unarmed protest. Most of the protestors were students, and of the 15 young people who were shot dead, there were at least three children under 11 years of age. The protestors were demanding that US troops get out of their school building so that classes could be held.
Since then, the ex-General, ‘Viceroy’ Jay Garner has been replaced by the civilian Paul Bremer. But the civilian ‘Viceroy’ has reportedly given the US military an even freer hand to murder Iraqis. There has been widespread outrage at the anarchy and the crime ushered in by the US occupation – not just looting, but lack of electricity, water, medicines, salaries and so on. In the name of ‘restoring law and order’, Bremer is prescribing naked repression. A member of his staff told the New York Times that Bremer had told the Army to “start shooting a few looters so that the word gets around”. Bremer has, since then, denied giving “shoot at sight” orders, but still, the same policy has been expressed in other words by Rumsfeld and the Pentagon as well. While Bremer promises that the Army will be allowed to be “robust enough” to tackle looters, defence secretary Rumsfeld has said, “the US forces there will be using muscle to see that the people who are trying to disrupt … are stopped and either captured or killed”. Whether “disrupting” will cover protesting against US presence in Iraq is tactfully not spelt out by Rumsfeld. The Pentagon has issued the following clarification on the New York Times report: “We are aggressively targeting looters, but we are not going to go out and shoot children that are picking up a piece of wood … or a bag of cement”.
But the swelling protests in Iraq say it all. Increasingly, huge protest demonstrations are being held that say clearly, “GET OUT” to the US. One banner said, “INVADERS GET OUT, WE CAN FORM OUR GOVERNMENT OURSELVES”, while another said, “NO TO COLONIALISM”. The US reconstruction brigade is trying its best to import discredited, unpopular Iraqi exiles to form a new puppet regime. But the likes of Chalabi, formerly convicted for embezzling a bank, do not cut much ice with the Iraqi people.
The US is now getting careless about using doublespeak to mask its real intentions. There are many openly “neo-imperialist” advisors for the US now. For instance, a New York University economics professor, Niall Ferguson, who describes himself as a neo-imperialist, told a US administrative think-tank: “The great thing about the American Empire is that so many Americans disbelieve in its existence … they think they are so different that when they have bases in foreign territories it’s not an empire. When they invade sovereign territory, it’s not an empire”. Similarly, Andrew Bacevich wrote in the Washington Post that the US needs to openly admit that it has an empire, and it needs to learn to behave like an imperialist. Among Bacevich’s prescriptions for correct imperialist behaviour is the suggestion that the US must “develop an imperial civil service”! Another Cambridge University professor has advised the US to learn proper imperialist behaviour from its great predecessor, Great Britain.
We must remember that the UN resolution has also cleared the way for India to get a share in the “reconstruction” stakes. The Bush administration has already suggested that India can play a role in military operations in the Gulf. Even as the international anti-imperialist movement salutes the defiant resistance of the Iraqi people, India must firmly thwart any attempts by the Vajpayee government to play any part in the occupation of Iraq.
— Kavita Krishnan