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Poll shows Iraqi view of U.S. vote is...
"Two guys who don't care about Iraqis"

By Nicole Colson | November 5, 2004 | Page 2

MANY PROGRESSIVES argued that we must vote for John Kerry this year--if only because it's what ordinary Iraqis, suffering under the yoke of Bush's war and occupation, demand.

According to this argument, it would be selfish and elitist for those in the U.S. not to vote for John Kerry. Code Pink and Global Exchange co-founder Medea Benjamin, for example, wrote in June, "We owe it to ourselves and to the global community to make sure that Bush is no longer allowed to speak in our name."

More recently, veteran anti-imperialist Tariq Ali lashed out at those on the left who resisted a vote for Kerry. "This is an argument you can have from the luxury of your sitting room or kitchen in the United States," he sneered in an interview with Left Business Observer's Doug Henwood, "but this particular regime has taken the lives of at least 37,000 civilians in Iraq. For them, it's not an abstract question."

Ali's right about one thing--the U.S. war on Iraq is certainly not an abstract question for the families of those killed in the war on Iraq. But Ali and Benjamin are dead wrong if they think that ordinary Iraqis have an overwhelming desire to swap George Bush for John Kerry.

In fact, it turns out that ordinary Iraqis are quite capable of seeing through the pro-war and pro-occupation policies of both Republicans and Democrats. An October survey of more than 1,200 Iraqis conducted by the Iraqi Center for Research and Strategic Studies found that nearly 60 percent thought that the result of the American elections didn't matter to them. Many said they believed that U.S. policy toward Iraq wouldn't change, no matter who won.

In the poll, just 20 percent of Iraqis said they favor Kerry--while 16 percent said they wanted Bush to win. "In the end," Sadoun al Dulame, executive director of the center, told Knight Ridder, "they regard the two American guys as people who don't want what's good for the Iraqis."

As grocery shop owner Hatam al Bawi said, "Nothing will change. I don't think Kerry will win. They have him there standing next to Bush just to show they are a democracy.''

Ordinary Iraqis are right not to trust the Democrats. After all, the idea that George Bush's bombs are somehow worse than the deadly economic sanctions upheld by the Clinton administration--which killed more than 1 million during the 1990s--is absurd. Not only did the Democrats overwhelmingly support Bush's war, but the policy of "regime change" in Iraq was codified during the Clinton administration--in the form of the Iraq Liberation Act.

As for Kerry, he not only voted for Bush's war, but pledged to continue the occupation of Iraq. He did nothing whatsoever to earn the trust of the Iraqi people--or progressives and antiwar activists here at home.

Yet many leading activists condemned anyone who dared to oppose a vote for a pro-war Democrat. They engaged in all kinds of wishful thinking and willful self-delusion to pretend that Kerry represented something other than what he was--a fixture of the Washington bipartisan establishment determined to carry out the U.S. imperial agenda.

And in the immediate aftermath of the vote, rather than face up to the consequences of their surrender, a few on the left drew the exact wrong conclusion. "With this election," activist Justin Podur wrote on the ZNet Web site, the Bush administration's right-wing actions "have been retroactively justified by the majority of the American people."

This is completely wrong. The real problem is that voices on the left like ZNet supported a vote for a pro-war candidate--and put the antiwar movement and other struggles on hold in the name of defeating Bush.

Standing up for an antiwar alternative like Ralph Nader would have been the way for the antiwar movement to show--to people in Iraq and here at home--that we are determined to build a real opposition to all of Washington's war makers.

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