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July 01, 2004

How far can Anti-Americanism go?

Posted by Michael Mosbacher

In today's Guardian Seamas Milne argues that those attacking British and American troops in Iraq are not terrorists but resistance fighters - The Resistance campaign is Iraq's real war of liberation. As I show in British Anti-Americanism, Mr Milne has a record of making such intemperate comments. On September 13th 2001 - i.e. two days after the 9/11 attacks - in an article entitled They can't see why they are hated - he argued that 'for every "terror network" that is rooted out, another will emerge – until the injustices and inequalities that produce them are addressed.' On another occasion, in an attack on those raising concerns about Cuba's human rights record, Milne stated that:

'The historical importance of Cuba's struggle for social justice and sovereignty and its creative social mobilisation will continue to echo beyond its time and place: from the self-sacrificing internationalism of Che to the crucial role played by Cuban troops in bringing an end to apartheid through the defeat of South Africa at Cuito Cuanavale in Angola in 1988… Cuba will have to expect yet more destabilisation, further complicating the defence of the social and political gains of the revolution in the years to come. The greatest contribution those genuinely concerned about human rights and democracy in Cuba can make is to get the US and its European friends off the Cubans' backs.'

Seamas Milne has, however, somewhat further to go before he rivals Harold Pinter for his anti-Americanism. Pinter's considered opinion is that 'Blair sees himself as a representative of moral rectitude. He is actually a mass murderer…The US is really beyond reason now…There is only one comparison: Nazi Germany.' This begs the question, who is really beyond reason, the United States or Harold Pinter.

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Seamas Milne is certainly a sclerotic, diehard socialist of the old school – it almost beggars belief that there are still leftist ideologists who believe in Cuba as the root of all goodness. But as the old joke goes: no matter how hard you try to get everything wrong, you sometimes make a mistake and get things right after all. My point is that not every argument in Milne’s latest rant is total garbage. At any rate, I find it hard to doubt Milne’s claims that the ‘insurgents’ are “in fact a classic resistance movement with widespread support waging an increasingly successful guerrilla war against the occupying armies” and that “[t]he choice now in Iraq for the occupying states is whether to move quickly towards a negotiated withdrawal and free elections - or be drawn ever deeper into a bloody pacification war against the majority of the Iraqi people”. Whatever about Milne’s wacko political values, as statements of ‘the facts of the matter’, these assertions have the ring of truth, if not indeed the ring of truisms.

Or what do you think? Aren’t the rebels waging an ‘increasingly successful’ war, at least in their own terms? Don’t the occupying forces have to choose between getting out and getting walloped? Isn’t it just wishful thinking to imagine that Iraq has a radiant future in store for it? Isn’t this country just doomed to remain the basket case it always has been? The burden of proof lies with the optimists, not with the pessimists.

Posted by: Cathal Copeland at July 3, 2004 08:05 PM

Copeland misses the point so entirely that it suggests to me he is not really commenting on the article on this blog but rather just grinding some ideological axe of his own in reaction to some trigger words. The issue is really not about Iraq at all.

Posted by: Woman of Wessex at July 5, 2004 12:46 PM

How long will it take before people finally stop pointing at the numbers of civilians killed in the Iraqi war and declaring that the US is the real terrorist threat? The question isn't whether or not Iraqis are better off today than they were a year ago, but whether they'd be better off today with Hussein, or better off in five years?

People like Milne ruin it for the rest of us liberals.

Posted by: Alan at July 6, 2004 09:31 PM
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