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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
Grace Blakeley investigates the curious case of Carillion: how the company’s slow decline and abrupt liquidation reveals the nature of modern capitalism.
The collapse of Carillion could be a watershed moment. Let's seize it to end economically disastrous outsourcing schemes. By Cat Hobbs.
Campaign groups highlight UK complicity in Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses.
Three founders of Momentum talk to Ashish Ghadiali about the two years that have transformed their lives and the fortunes of the British left.
Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade gives the run-down on one of the UK's most profitable - and most deadly - industries.
The real story behind the fire in Grande Synthe’s Linière refugee camp, Dunkirk. From 'Bordered Lives – How Europe fails refugees and migrants' by Hsiao-Hung Pai
Javier Pérez De La Cruz writes about the working class Berlin neighbourhood wrung dry by gentrifiers.
Across the world, thousands of protesters are taking on the planet’s biggest fossil fuel companies. We should support them – and if we can, we should join them. By Kara Moses
Students are suffering the effects of financial instability, stress, and slashed mental health services. Mark Crawford reports.
They're not defending free speech - they're just seeking to shore up their own power, writes Ilyas Nagdee
Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns