Occupation or Democracy by Force?
Twilight of Empire: Responses to Occupation, edited by Mike Davis (Santa Monica, Perceval Press, 2004).
Reviewed by Teresa Camacho
Blowing aside the smokescreen from mainstream US media outlets, Viggo Mortenson’s Perceval Press offers another view – a view of the truth through articles, eyewitness accounts, and journal entires by Jodie Evans, co-founder of Code Pink: Women for Peace. Many photographs included in this volume are both compelling and infuriating due to the daily dehumanization of Iraqis by the US military who have brought the American Empire into Iraq. It gives many misinformed Americans a personal view of what war is all about, even though US media coverage insists on a nightly basis that the war is being won.
The US attack against and occupation of Iraq was never about ousting a dictator but about gaining a foothold in the Middle East and its oil; it concerned opening up economic markets in order to further American interests in the region and maintain economic superiority in the world. That Bush and his cronies used Osama, 9/11 and the War on Terror as the basis for the attack is ludicrous. This book and all of the accounts in it provide further evidence that the attack and occupation have been a mistake since the beginning. US military casualties will continue as long as there is a US presence in Iraq and attacks will become increasingly more violent as time passes and resentment festers. The emancipation and democratization of Iraq will never be as the US government envisioned and their violence against Arabs will only bring more violence to US shores in the imminent future.
Tiosha Bojorquez Chapela contributes a chapter entitled 'Regarding How to Go About Combating Bomber Jets, Guided Missiles, and Other Ultramodern Technological Instruments of Mass Destruction.' Chapela is a Mexican Muslim who writes about the imminent attacks in Iraq through focusing on the quotidian existence that Bush sought to disrupt by his attack. She presents readers with images of merchants selling their wares, people moving about Baghdad’s hustle and bustle to wherever they need to go. Students continue with their courses, including students who are studying under Chapela and marvel at the umma found the world over who is with them during their trying time. Chapela ascribes the attitude that Iraqis have in continuing their existence to the belief in the saying, Inshallah – God willing - the belief in having faith that even under the gravest and most trying circumstances everything will resolve itself in a satisfactory manner. It is a beautiful chapter and a paean to Islam and the Iraqi people.
Amir Hussain, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at California State University, Northridge, adds another chapter on American Muslims and Iraq, calling for the importance of educating non-Muslims concerning Islam. He points out that more needs to be done between minority communities to strengthen and disseminate knowledge, particularly to those nations and their citizens who have been affected adversely by US foreign policy. This chapter is very much related to 'Iraq, or the Last Piece of the Mask' by Nadia Yassine, a Moroccan intellectual who links Islam to third world issues and the violence experienced on a daily basis in that world. The violence she identifies is now being visited on Iraq. She asks Muslims to act in a “socially-aware manner” to help educate and resolve issues of ignorance and violence. Both authors have solutions to educate mostly Americans concerning their lack of knowledge about Iraq and the Middle East. Only by this method can some reform come about, even though it will take much time to destroy stereotypes about Muslims and Arabs, particularly after 9/11.
'Resisting Empire: Lessons for Iraq from Palestine,' by Mark Levine, associate professor of History at UC Irvine, gives a profound account of the current Palestinian situation and how Iraq will be brought to the same reality in the imminent future because of the lack of economic opportunities for Iraqis since US economic interests are the most important. The leaders that the US will help put in place in Iraq will become symbolic without power, much in the manner that Yasser Arafat became in his latter years. An Iraqi leader like Arafat likely will not be exactly what happens, since there will not be such respect for an Iraqi leader as there was among Palestinians for Arafat.
The volume's contributors bring to life the fear and destruction of a war zone. The poverty, disease and crime become very apparent, almost palpable. Any perception that the US military has cleaned up and saved Iraq will need to be re-examined once the general public understands what is truly happening and that a people are suffering now more than ever.
Teresa Camacho is an independent researcher, critic and writer based in Los Angeles.