Why people should say no to US war
Fateh Sheikh

I am not speculating about how inevitable or preventable the US war against Iraq is; I am rather addressing those opposed to it to not bow to the inevitable. The US war is not about Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction as supporters claim, nor is it for the sake of the liberation of the Iraqi people from the yoke of a despotic regime or to establish freedom and justice in Iraq as defenders claim. Nor is it primarily about oil, as some 'anti-American' protesters repeat. Instead it displays the need and greed of the far-right Bush administration to impose, by military means, US supremacy on the world and to make US military intervention everywhere into the "norm" of future international relations. It is a sharp warning to Europe, Japan, Russia and China that after the Cold War the US will no longer allow a bi-polar or multi-polar world order. It will have the last word. Other powers, whether or not they have been "convinced" in the UN Security Council, have to be subordinate to the US as the lone super-power for the years or even decades ahead.

Irrespective of its goal, this war cannot in itself be "a smaller war" justifiable by comparing it with "a far worse war later" which must be avoided "pre-emptively". It can by its atrocious human catastrophes be the worst horror ever produced by the US military machinery if we bear in mind the high complexity of the existing political atmosphere since September 11. Unlike the war on Afghanistan which took place in an almost remote insignificant part of the "Islamic World", the upcoming war will take place, if at all, in the Middle East, which is the main battlefield of the confrontation following September 11 between two poles of global terrorism - the US, Nato and Israel on one side, and political Islam, Islamic regimes and groups on the other. This war, once triggered, will create a chain of far worse wars ahead, putting the entire region ablaze and hence giving a new lease on life to both political Islam and Arab nationalism, which are now facing their historical and political decline.

The rise of far-right policies in the US by G.W. Bush's gaining power has helped the subsequent rise of the far-right Sharon in Israel. After the atrocious terrorist crime of September 11, the world has witnessed a spiralling race of terror in the Middle East. Israeli state terror against the Palestinians and Islamic suicidal terror organised by Hamas and Jihad against civilians in Israel have been growing and taking victims from both sides on a daily basis. The peace process has gone with the far-right wind. The US war on Iraq is going to worsen the situation even more, just at a high time when Middle Eastern societies need to undergo profound changes and developments in their attitude towards, and relations vis-à-vis, the West.

So let's offer another perspective. The integration of Middle Eastern societies into the modern world spearheaded by Western societies during the last three-four centuries has been a crucial question in the politics of both Western powers and local political entities and movements during the past century. As far as people's attitude, it is clear that a large part of the urban citizens of the region have always experienced a growing enthusiasm to bring home the western lifestyle. As a result, a vast social challenge and struggle has been continuously launched by the enthusiastic modernistic attitude of ordinary urban citizens, against the resistant backwardness of Islamic and nationalistic "anti-West" trends. It has been a significant part and parcel of the region's material history. Although this aspect of the region's social history is rooted into the post World War I era, it has been almost neglected by both Western and Middle Eastern scholars.

While it is beyond the scope of this commentary to go into details of this history, I will nevertheless briefly state that the very process of integration of Middle Eastern societies into the modern world has passed through several stages in which Western powers, the Soviet Union, pre-modern and modern local states and powers including contemporary movements such as modernism, nationalism, socialism, and Islamism (in particular in recent decades political Islam as a far-right political movement) have played their particular parts throughout the century. But the fall of the Soviet Union was an unprecedented historic juncture in this regard. What happened after that juncture of potential transition was not destined and prescribed. The extremely negative part played by the Gulf War in deteriorating the situation was crucial. An even more destructive part in a new round of the spiral of events and in a more critical time than the Gulf War can be played by the US war on Iraq and can deteriorate the complex explosive situation of the Middle East, for the second time in a loop of a decade or so. It must be therefore prevented by all means. It must be stopped.

Lastly, it is crucial to distinguish at the end of the day between states and people both in the West and the Middle East as elsewhere. Western civilization is represented by various segments of people of Western societies and the Western States represent nothing but the ruling trends of oppression and exploitation in the respective societies and all over the world. In the Middle East as well, people's attitudes towards Western civilizations and values is substantially different from the states' and reactionary movements' policies and attitudes. We live and act in an era that Nasserism, other versions of Arab nationalism, "Arab Socialism", as well as their correspondent trends in non-Arab countries have left the political scene, and various trends of Islamism including contemporary political Islam are in demise. It is therefore high time to raise a totally different voice, the voice of worker-communism, the voice of modernism, secularism, universalism in all spheres of human rights, opposite to all kinds of backwardness, narrow-mindedness, nationalism, traditionalism, ethnicism, tribalism, Islamism, third-worldism and reversed Orientalism in order to get rid of imperialist interventions as well as of local obstacles to progress in order to build up a real base for freedom, justice and the well-being of the civilized people of the Middle East in accordance with the civilized people of the West and the rest of the world.