More Debate on Saddam Hussein
UPDATE: On 9/17/2009 the comrade who wrote this letter was killed in Attica Correctional Facility
[The writer who criticized MIM's article, "War criminals kill Saddam Hussein" responds to our criticisms of his letter below. Some parts of the original letter are left off in the interest of brevity.]
I am in receipt of your letter, entailing your response to my initial letter commenting upon the article featured in the April 2007 issue of MIM Notes entitled "War Criminals Kill Saddam Hussein." ...
The criticisms in your letter were both appreciated and mostly straightforward in style and language. However, they failed on a number of points which I will enumerate as follows:
1) Your statement, "... So the reader's claim that the author is not aware of Iraqi history is clearly due to his own poor attention to the original article..." was false. I never stated or meant to imply even that the author was not aware of Iraqi history in general. Rather, I suggested that the author's knowledge of the history of Hussein's Baathist regime's government specifically is insufficient. Otherwise, how could the author describe Hussein as a martyr for Third World independence- especially after admitting that Hussein killed thousands of communist-minded Iraqis (an admission for which I commend the author for here)? Research of the record of Hussein from the time that Hussein carried out those killings up until the time he himself was killed will reveal that he never renounced this act or any of his counter-revolutionary acts, held himself accountable to the people of Iraq for such acts, or sought to reform himself thereafter. Never. If you can find even so much as a quote of Chairman Mao whereby he at least insinuates the merit of eulogizing leaders who behaved and died as Hussein did, please do share it with me; otherwise, it is just bad "radical chic" propaganda.
Moreover he did not die in the struggle for the national liberation of Iraq. Remnants of his executive and military apparatus fought and perished (including his sons) while he took cover. The image of Saddam Hussein leading a heroic fight against the U$ and Brit invaders simply does not fit the real person or actual curse of events. If you fight an invading force that seeks to occupy and oppress your nation only so that you can re-establish a rule that is equally if not more oppressive, it is NOT a struggle for liberation- it is power struggle between two oppressive forces! Only those who fought and continue to fight against the occupation with the desire to establish a state that is just and beneficial for the people can be referred to as struggling for national liberation. He did not "stand up" to anyone- he was captured while cowering in a hole. He neither fought for nor died for the liberation of the Iraqi people. Stop calling him a martyr.
[MIM responds: Hussein died because he refused to allow u$ imperialism to determine Iraq's future. If he was willing and able to provide the imperialists with what they wanted they would not have waged a war to kill him. He stood up for Iraqi independence and was killed for it. HIs motivations are irrelevant to a scientific evaluation of history.
His status as a martyr is also an objective observation, not necessarily praise for the man. His martyr status was acknowledged by the BBC and New York Times as well, and they certainly don't support Iraqi liberation. See the discussion below of the Zogby poll indicating Arab perception of Hussein for more evidence that he was a martyr for the Iraqi people regardless of whether our writer or MIM likes it or not.]
2) Your statement, "What we're criticizing the stupid liberals for was failing to recognize that Arabs ranked Hussein as the fourth most respected world leader, tied with bin Laden..." is almost as confusing and troubling as the original statement in the article. I did not choose to ignore the "fact," but was simply stressing the point of Hussein's prior service as a U.S. lackey (who never reformed but simply reacted to circumstances he helped to create) excludes him from being considered a revolutionary or martyr for Third World independence. But the statement is as misguided as a Scud missile nevertheless. The article reads:
The stupid liberals on National Public Radio (NPR) said that Arab reaction to the hangings indicated the "confusion" of the Arab people, instead of the chauvinism of white liberals. According to Zogby, Egypt went from 74% negative opinion of the United States to 98% negative in the two years between 2002 and 2004, because of the u$ invasion of Iraq. (3) The overall survey of Arabs showed Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden tied for fourth as the most respected world leaders.
Now are you saying the NPR conducted the survey poll, or are you referring to the same Zogby poll that is cited by the Washington Post? Maybe I am just as stupid as those liberals and cannot comprehend plain English. I now that such survey results would have served the Bush administration quite well in whipping up anti-Arab fervor to keep the war machine going. And of course considering the rogue's' gallery of what constituted leadership in the middle east (or the world for that matter) back in '02-'04 - Mubarak, Jordan's Abdullah, Bashir al-Asad, and Ariel Sharon to name a few- one can hardly accept such a rating without some exasperation (wonder who ranked first).
I do not consider myself to be an American. I am a citizen of this country by birth, not by choice of patriotic allegiance (or even sentiment). Since I was not born in the 1960's, I was not afforded the chance to protest Hussein's murdering of the communists. But I can and will continue to use the fact that he was u$-funded against both him and the u$. In fact, I was using it against him and the u$ in debates before he died, even while he was still in power.
[MIM: All of the data cited is from the Zogby poll, which demonstrated the divide along the principal contradiction quite well. While most Amerikkkans see Hussein and bin Laden as enemies, they are largely admired by Arabs. So here we have science playing out again in facts. Not only was it a fact that Hussein fought for independence from u$ imperialism at the end of his life. That fact is reflected in the fact that he is admired by Arabs as a group; a group which happens to be oppressed by u$ imperialism. (Jacques Chirac of France, Gamal Abdel Nasser former nationalist leader of Egypt, and Hasan Nasrallah of Hezbollah in Lebanon were the top 3 leaders).
Our reader suggests that the results of this study play into amerikkkan anti-Arab sentiments. Well, yes, by definition they only reinforce the attitudes of amerikkkans, which are based on their opposition to the independence of the oppressed to begin with.
We too criticized Hussein as a puppet of u$ imperialism while he was such. But we attacked him for being an arm of imperialism, the number one enemy of the world's people. Once he was no longer serving his imperialist masters this changed.]
3) Your statement, "Clearly our reader has not done much research into the current conditions in Iraq nor compared them to Iraq in the past..." was inappropriate, a distraction from the real purpose for my mentioning that quote of Mao. I am very well informed and aware of the horrible and extraordinarily oppressive conditions created and perpetuated by the invading u$-led coalition/mercenary occupation forces, thanks to NPR, PRI (Public Radio International) and publications such as your own. Let me state first and foremost that I oppose vehemently u$ imperialism (and all imperialism and capitalists) and the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and that I support and commend the Iraqi (and Afghan) people who adopt armed struggle against the occupation forces.
My point in citing that quote of Mao was to outline the revolutionary principle of paying "close attention to the well-being of the masses." Mao was not referring to material aspects only. Nevertheless, it is a revolutionary principle and only a slain revolutionary can be regarded as a martyr for Third World independence. However, the fact remains that even before the first Gulf War Hussein used the distribution of resources in Iraq arbitrarily to oppress dissenting groups (including the communists, Shiites, and Kurds) and to consolidate his own power base while enriching his cronies. I agree the u$-led embargo and invasions have made conditions worse. But never forget that Sadr City was a festering slum prior to the invasions, and that before Abu Ghraib was used by the u$ as a torture factory in Iraq, it was used for the very same purpose by Saddam Hussein and his regime [MIM adds: who were at the time were also working for the u$].
[MIM: So our reader admits, h real purpose for quoting Mao was to draw a line of ideological purity rather than to assess the actual material conditions of the masses. We agree with Mao's revolutionary principles, but we are not assessing Hussein for induction into a communist party. Rather we are assessing imperialism as the number one enemy and killer of oppressed people. You think their fascist puppet states are bad, wait until they come in with their cracker foot soldiers and economic sanctions.
Our reader claims to support the liberation forces in Iraq but still wants to oppose Hussein and the Baathists. Would our reader have supported the Japanese imperialists against Chiang Kai-shek while supporting Mao's People's War. Because that wasn't Mao's line, nor would the communists likely have won the war of liberation taking the strategy our reader suggests.]
Now the MIM discussion that filled out and closed the letter really missed the mark. I cannot be classified in any of the components of the "wrong side of the contradiction" you describe. It appears that you made some very wrong assumptions about me due to your interpretation of aspects of my letter and your blinding desire to defend a statement in the article that was inappropriate. Also, my letter does not mention anything about Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, or the occupation of Afghanistan. Let me dispel some of those assumptions right here:
1) Your statement about "fake Maoists" seemed to be intended to include myself. Well, I am not and never have been a Maoist. Do I have to be a Maoist to respect some of the ideas or work of Mao, or of those who tried to implement his ideas (like the Black Panthers), or to quote Mao- even to debate with a "real" Maoist? ... I am a muslim who believes that muslims must strive to establish an Islamic government amongst themselves derived from the Islamic sources of guidance- to enforce the shari'ah (Islamic law) and preserve the safety and integrity of the muslim community. Moreover, I believe that muslims have a right if not a duty to wage armed struggle against anyone (especially the imperialists) who prevent them from accomplishing this.
[MIM: As explained in the article, it is addressing a much greater context of people trying to side against the oppressed (in Afghanistan, Iran, etc) and the imperialists at the same time; the class position of the petty bourgeoisie. Some of these people even call themselves Maoists.
The letter writer fit into this discussion as an example of what we referred to as "pushing a purity line." Our writer continues to push the same line in this letter. As we said, we'd rather ally with an admitted idealist than someone trying to pass idealism for Maoism. Our writer is a muslim, but h also seems to claiming a materialist analysis of history and class struggle in h letters. So we have criticized h positions from a materialist perspective. You do not have to be a Maoist to struggle for truth and liberation. ]
... If Mussolini did not have the finance capital to carry out his fascist agenda but still harbored and espoused the same fascist way of thinking does the lack of finance capital make him any less fascist? If so, enlighten me. The racist anti-Persian rhetoric Hussein used to influence Iraqis during the Iran-Iraq War of the '80's suffices for me as a reflection of his fascist tendencies, for now.
[MIM: Maoists use a scientific definition of fascism that includes finance capital and this debate is the perfect example of why this is crucial. There are many revolutionaries and internationalists who manage to fall into the trap of talking about fascism of the oppressed independent of imperialism (the writers renunciation of h amerikkkan citizenship indicates h might be in this camp).
During WWII the communists allied with the liberal capitalist countries to fight fascism, as that was perceived to be the principal contradiction. If we agree that fighting fascism is primary and we believe that fascism exists independent of imperialism, then we might ally with the u$ against a Saddam Hussein or the Taliban. MIM believes this is absolutely incorrect and that the principal contradiction is between the oppressed nations and imperialism at this time.
As stated in our previous response to the reader, we agree that the Baath regime could have been considered a fascist arm of u$ imperialism during the time in question when thousands of Iraqis were slaughtered for their beliefs in Iraqi independence. We would not call him an "Arab fascist" as the writer does, as this implies support for the Islamofascist line of the imperialists and their white nationalist allies. ]
...It is not opposition to descriptions of men like Hussein as martyrs that creates confusion and disunity amongst the various elements of the oppressed in this struggle. Rather it is the description itself tat causes such confusion and disunity and undermines the struggle overall.
The resolution of contradictions in achieving unity of the masses seems to lie in dialogue and practice. This is the ultimate purpose of my initial letter and this one. I am still very eager to learn more about Maoism and to discover the means of solidarity with other revolutionary-minded persons and movements. Despite my issue with the article aforementioned and discussed, I commend MIM for its courageous and poignant journalism and literature. I thank you for your persistent efforts to expose the oppression of prisoners here in the u$ and abroad. Please respond to this letter if you like, and provide me with a list of books you have available for purchase as well as the issue of MIM Notes that features the article that critiques my initial letter of commentary.
[MIM: The resolution of contradictions among the oppressed can best take place in struggle against the oppressor. That is why it is of primary importance to distinguish who is the oppressor and who are the oppressed we are trying to unite.
As the Maoist camp has been openly discussing for a long time now, there is great confusion in the International Communist Movement around this idea that we can forego alliances with the oppressed when they don't have a developed communist ideology. This isn't about Saddam Hussein and defending his honor. We take up this debate to push a scientific analysis of how to build United Fronts among the oppressed. Others would rather push alliances with the oppressor and call it communism or peace activism.
The Iraqi people will create much better images of resistance to follow than Hussein's Baath regime. Some already exist.]