print
memri
March 31, 2007 No.
1522

Liberal Algerian Daily Criticizes U.S. Anti-War Movement

In an opinion piece in the liberal Algerian daily Liberté, columnist Mustapha Hammouche criticizes what he sees as the simplistic populism of the anti-war movement in the U.S. He argues that the anti-war protests are primarily a result of nostalgia for the protest movement against the Vietnam War, and that they ignore the realities of the current war in Iraq – which, he says, has helped terrorism diminish Iraqis' hopes and has eroded their support for democracy.

The following are excerpts: [1]

"The Latest American Plan… is Aimed at Compensating for the Lack of Order Caused by the Sectarian Tendencies of Iraqi Policemen"

"Throughout the world, people are demonstrating against the occupation of Iraq, and especially in the United States, with an atmosphere of nostalgia for the mass marches of the 60s and 70s against the war in Vietnam…

"Four years after the invasion of Iraq, we see more fervor in condemning the American presence in Iraq than there was to keep it from intervening [in the first place]…

"In Iraq, the U.S. would not have to fight to remain if there weren't forces that are organized enough to force it into battle. The Iraqi government is not demanding the immediate departure of the coalition troops, and none of the parties present in Iraq, including those controlled or supported by Iran and Syria, have done anything to remove the American army's ultimate motive for remaining on Iraqi soil.

"The obscene behaviors that accompanied the execution of Saddam Hussein demonstrate that Iraqi institutions are incapable of guaranteeing the cohesion necessary for the country's stability. The bombings that strike the markets and places of worship express an irrepressible reciprocal aversion among the existing communities, and a desire to fight that the Iraqi state is not yet in a position to repress.

"The latest American plan, which aims to reinforce the military presence in Baghdad, is aimed at compensating for the lack of order caused by the sectarian tendencies of Iraqi policemen."

Terrorism is Aided by a Discourse that Promotes a Simplified and False Image of a War of Resistance

"In this war, which intertwines tribal score-settling, religious resentments, and foreign plans to destabilize [Iraq], the average Iraqi is aware of the fact that his immediate future is in jeopardy. He entertains no hopes – neither of reconstruction and quality of life, nor of political reform.

"He made this known in a poll recently conducted by American and British television, [which showed that] from November 2005-March 2007, the number of Iraqis supporting democracy fell by 14%, while the number of those who want a dictatorship or a theocracy increased by 8%. The violence has pushed more and more Iraqis to renounce the prospect of a democratic state and to express just the need for security. The same poll revealed that 86% of Iraqis fear for the security of their families, and want an authoritarian state.

"Terrorism has won, aided by a discourse that makes a multifaceted war – which intertwines religious civil war, clan war, transnational terrorism, and a war for influence – into a simplified and false image of a war of resistance.

"[Public] opinion likes simplification. Populism, which is becoming increasingly widespread, allows [public opinion] to avoid confronting the complexity of situations, and ignores those forces that entangle a coalition that should actually have gone home long ago.

"So, 'U.S. go home.' It's so simple! And [saying this] makes one 'with the weak and against the strong' – just like in the good old days of the Vietnam War, of non-alignment, of anti-imperialism, of balcony revolutionaries, of good music, and of hippies."

Endnote:

[1] Liberté (Algeria), March 20, 2007.