By Ben Cohen
I've written about CNN's Michael Ware on The Daily Banter before, disagreeing with his stance on the invasion of Iraq, but respecting his integrity as a journalist. Ware's stance on the American occupation is that the invasion has virtually destroyed Iraq, but troops should remain there to prevent further blood shed.
In his blog on ZNet.org, Chomsky answers a readers question on Ware, giving his own stance on the morality of withdrawing troops from Iraq. Read the exchange below:
ZNet Sustainer: Michael Ware who is the pointman for CNN in Baghdad, was on television explaining how surge isn't working and that Iraq is actually a "horrorshow," but that we can not pull out any time soon, because if we did the violence would "soak Iraq in bloodshed." Sunni's and Shiites would kill each other and country would be destroyed.
Ware wants us to stay until Iraq is at least able to govern itself, which may take many more years, but that we have no choice, because our occupation destablized it and we have reponsibility to not let it go into anarchy.
Your take, what would happen if we left, and what could morally and legally be done to insure that the bloodshed Ware talks about will not happen.
I say this because Ware tends to be the only mainstream journalist who is actually in the streets of Iraq and sees what is actually going on, and at least to me, he seems trustworthy. Give me and others your take, if you can? Thanks.
Noam Chomsky: I doubt that Ware has anything like the direct experience in Iraq of Nir Rosen, Patrick Cockburn, and the few other journalist who actually know the country well. But put that aside.
The country already has largely been destroyed by the US invasion and its horrendous aftermath -- which Iraqis, rightly, blame on the invasion, as Pentagon studies recognize. I don't doubt that Rosen, Cockburn, and other knowledgeable observers would agree that the withdrawal of the occupying army would be followed by bloodshed, but according to the consistent judgment of Iraqis, repeatedly found in Western-run polls, their presence is a primary instigator of such violence. The longer they stay, the worse it is likely to get.
There's a good article on the "surge' in the current issue of Foreign Affairs by Steven Simon, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, formerly on the National Security Council, no leftist critic. His quite plausible conclusion is that by its very design, the surge is "stoking the three forces that have traditionally threatened the stability of Middle Eastern states: tribalism, warlordism, and sectarianism," and is sowing the seeds of future disaster for Iraq, quite likely laying the basis for rule by a military junta not unlike the Saddam regime. Furthermore, it is sheer jingoist sentimentality to believe that the US has any interest in allowing Iraq to govern itself. There is nothing in history or logic to suggest that, nor in current planning, with bipartisan support: the construction of the huge "Embassy," a city within a city, and the enormous military bases around the country, all designed to be permanent, surely. History, logic, and what is going on before our eyes indicate clearly enough that Washington has always intended to establish an obedient client regime in Iraq, and still does, and will do what it can to achieve that, whatever the further cost to Iraqis.
An independent Iraq could be a nightmare for US geostrategic objectives in the region. Nir Rosen is right to conclude that there is no "solution" to the disaster caused by the US invasion, and that we can at most hope to contain the damage. That means withdrawal of the invading army in a manner that is likely to cause the fewest additional blows to the society we have wrecked, while providing it with enormous reparations -- not aid, but reparations -- and holding the guilty accountable for their criminal acts.
It would be interesting, in this connection, to check back to see how much concern there was in the US over Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan, with the likelihood that it would lead to massacre and destruction by the US-backed terrorist forces -- as it did.