We had to wait a little bit but I think that some people have made some sense of the Iraq elections. Chomsky’s blog, Mahajan’s blog, Tariq Ali’s column, Linda McQuaig’s column, and no doubt others I’ve missed, all made the point that the Iraqi elections were not a victory for Bush, but for Sistani, who forced elections on the US.
Chomsky goes farther and says it was a victory for nonviolent resistance. The US has been able to use the most brutal actions of the Iraqi armed resistance as a pretext for their counterinsurgency, but have had a much more difficult time containing the mass protests that Sistani called. It reminds me of something Eqbal Ahmad said (in a book called ‘Confronting Empire’) about anticolonial movements – the task of an anticolonial movement is to achieve the moral isolation of the colonizer, to out-organize, but ultimately to delegitimate the colonizer (As an aside, I liked Mandisi’s short note about decolonization).
Eqbal Ahmad was talking about Palestine when he made those comments. And it’s worth talking about Palestine today. The sham of ‘hopes for peace’ is kicking into high gear and will soon drown everything else out (maybe it has already). A cease-fire has been declared. And yet if you watch the wire at IMEMC.org, or read StoptheWall.org, you’ll see that the ceasefire offers the Palestinians nothing, not even relief from invasions, arrests, detentions, checkpoints…
In order to push all this through, the whole model for what is happening has to be misrepresented. Instead of colonization, the model is two warring sides, who need to figure out a way to live in peace. So long as that’s what Israelis think and what people think in the West, from where pressure could be brought on Israel to stop the ongoing ethnic cleansing, the Palestinians will never get any real relief, let alone a just peace.
It is colonization. It is ethnic cleansing. It is not two warring factions. It is the world’s only superpower and its client against a defenceless population. There are no ‘painful concessions from both sides’ and no deal brokered by the colonizer’s arms dealer that can stop an organized project of colonization, especially if no one is willing to name it as such. Nor can such deals stop the resistance to colonization, though such resistance can be crushed. Everyone in the world knows by now that Palestinians will not be crushed without a fight. But it gets later and later in the day, and the rest of the world is rapidly losing its chance to tell the Palestinians that they are not alone.