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The abuses in Abu Ghraib prison reflect a policy of humiliation and intimidation that aims to subordinate Iraqi people to the will of the occupying forces. These are not isolated incidents. Nor are they merely the result of Donald Rumsfeld’s crass mismanagement. They stem from the nature of the occupation itself.
The occupiers are not accountable to the people whose land they occupy. The chain of command binds US and UK troops in Iraq not to Iraqis, but to the ruling elites in Washington and London, whose priorities have never included the welfare of Iraqis. This system of governance cannot be turned to benign purposes. It is anti-democratic at the core. There are racist assumptions lurking at the heart of this occupation. When these are allied to unaccountable power, the result is what we have seen in the photographs and videos.
The “handover’ scheduled for the end of June is merely a re-branding exercise. Nominal authority will be assigned to a group of Iraqis selected by the occupiers. Control over Iraq’s economy and military will remain with Washington, which will maintain a huge and heavily armed garrison in the country. It seems that “sovereignty’, like “liberation’, is to be redefined into its opposite.
What’s needed is the immediate withdrawal of British and US troops. Ending the occupation is the necessary precondition for real reconstruction and self-determination.
However, our responsibilities to the Iraqi people do not end there. We have to cancel (not renegotiate) the crippling debt acquired under Saddam Hussein’s regime. We have to pay reparations to the Iraqi people on a scale that reflects the damage we inflicted on them through two wars and a decade of sanctions.
The anti-war movement was successful in mobilising unprecedented numbers against an avoidable and unjust war. Now we have to mobilise the same broad and diverse constituencies against the occupation. We have to ask people to move beyond their anger over the lies that dragged us into war, and to understand the essential injustice and inevitable brutality of the occupation that resulted from that war. We have to explain that in the context of an imperial enterprise, “we’ – the US-British military presence – are not the solution; “we’ are the problem.
Much depends on how the Iraqi resistance (civil and political, as well as military) evolves. For the moment, the photos have brought the horror into the headlines, but the media agenda will shift. It may become all too easy for people in Britain and the US to accept the occupation as a fact of life. It’s our job to remind our fellow citizens at every turn of the horrors being committed in their names, to find ways of bringing the essential injustice of the occupation home, and to rouse the public to demand an end to it.
Last month Red Pepper, along with the National Union of Journalists, Tribune, the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, Ken Livingstone and former minister of culture Mark Fisher, launched the “Charter for the Minority Press’. The charter is a modest but essential set of demands: the right of minority publications to display in every newsagent, as in France, Italy and Greece; properly subsidised press postage, as in the US; and tax breaks for subscriptions to non-commercial publications, as in Scandinavia.
The alternative press has been vital in exposing the truth about the war in Iraq, the occupation and the Iraqi opposition. Without it we would be dependent on the restricted fare offered by outlets dominated by WH Smith, which is only concerned with profit. Rights to information and cultural diversity are too important to be left to corporations. We’ll be campaigning both in and out of Parliament around the demands of the charter. Can you help? Email us at: email@example.com
The Spanish state is seizing ballot papers and raiding meetings, write Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte – but it is being met with united resistance
The crunch executive meeting ahead of Labour conference agreed some welcome changes, writes Michael Calderbank, but there is still much further to go
Dipesh Pandya speaks to documentary film-maker Sanjay Kak, who for 30 years has been working outside the mainstream to tell a story rooted in the struggles of those excluded by India’s militarism and its narrative of neoliberal growth
Jeremy Gilbert on how radical Labour politics can be inspired by the utopianism of the counterculture
Disasters have unequal impacts – it's the poor and marginalised who suffer most. David Harvey writes on Hurricane Harvey
Survivors of the fire are still relying on thousands of community volunteers, writes Dan Renwick - but the failed council is plotting a comeback
What if it's not us who are sick, asks Rod Tweedy, but a system at odds with who we are as social beings?
The people could reach a democratic and non-violent solution if they were freed from US meddling, argues Boaventura de Sousa Santos
A decade after the start of the crash, economic power is in our hands – we must take it, writes Ann Pettifor
Flooding the cradle of civilisation: A 12,000 year old town in Kurdistan battles for survival
It’s one of the oldest continually inhabited places on earth, but a new dam has put Hasankeyf under threat, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
New model activism: Putting Labour in office and the people in power
Hilary Wainwright examines how the ‘new politics’ needs to be about both winning electoral power and building transformative power
What is ‘free movement plus’?
A new report proposes an approach that can push back against the tide of anti-immigrant sentiment. Luke Cooper explains
The World Transformed: Red Pepper’s pick of the festival
Red Pepper is proud to be part of organising The World Transformed, in Brighton from 23-26 September. Here are our highlights from the programme
Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it
The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going
A very social economist
Hilary Wainwright says the ideas of Robin Murray, who died in June, offer a practical alternative to neoliberalism
Art the Arms Fair: making art not war
Amy Corcoran on organising artistic resistance to the weapons dealers’ London showcase
Beware the automated landlord
Tenants of the automated landlord are effectively paying two rents: one in money, the other in information for data harvesting, writes Desiree Fields
Black Journalism Fund – Open Editorial Meeting
3-5pm Saturday 23rd September at The World Transformed in Brighton
Immigration detention: How the government is breaking its own rules
Detention is being used to punish ex-prisoners all over again, writes Annahita Moradi
A better way to regenerate a community
Gilbert Jassey describes a pioneering project that is bringing migrants and local people together to repopulate a village in rural Spain
Fast food workers stand up for themselves and #McStrike – we’re loving it!
McDonald's workers are striking for the first time ever in Britain, reports Michael Calderbank
Two years of broken promises: how the UK has failed refugees
Stefan Schmid investigates the ways Syrian refugees have been treated since the media spotlight faded
West Papua’s silent genocide
The brutal occupation of West Papua is under-reported - but UK and US corporations are profiting from the violence, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
Activate, the new ‘Tory Momentum’, is 100% astroturf
The Conservatives’ effort at a grassroots youth movement is embarrassingly inept, writes Samantha Stevens
Peer-to-peer production and the partner state
Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Kostakis argue that we need to move to a commons-centric society – with a state fit for the digital age
Imagining a future free of oppression
Writer, artist and organiser Ama Josephine Budge says holding on to our imagination of tomorrow helps create a different understanding today
The ‘alt-right’ is an unstable coalition – with one thing holding it together
Mike Isaacson argues that efforts to define the alt-right are in danger of missing its central component: eugenics
Fighting for Peace: the battles that inspired generations of anti-war campaigners
Now the threat of nuclear war looms nearer again, we share the experience of eighty-year-old activist Ernest Rodker, whose work is displayed at The Imperial War Museum. With Jane Shallice and Jenny Nelson he discussed a recent history of the anti-war movement.
Put public purpose at the heart of government
Victoria Chick stresses the need to restore the public good to economic decision-making
Don’t let the world’s biggest arms fair turn 20
Eliza Egret talks to activists involved in almost two decades of protest against London’s DSEI arms show
The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services
With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas
Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world
A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle
Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune
Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali
To stop the BBC interviewing climate deniers, we need to make climate change less boring
To stop cranks like Lord Lawson getting airtime, we need to provoke more interesting debates around climate change than whether it's real or not, writes Leo Barasi
Tory Glastonbury? Money can’t buy you cultural relevance
Adam Peggs on why the left has more fun