Staying True to Resistance

By Malik, Laila | Herizons, Summer 2003 | Go to article overview

Staying True to Resistance


Malik, Laila, Herizons


"What good did all those protests do?" one of my relatives wants to know, referring to the millions of people around the world who demonstrated against the recent US-led invasion of Iraq. "The US did exactly what they set out to do anyway."

These words come from a woman born and raised in a British colony, who was forbidden to speak any language other than English in her 100 percent non-Anglo-Saxon school, barred from public jobs and from spaces reserved for white people and who lived through the heady Third World independence movements of the 1960s only to watch newly-formed nations dissolve into corrupt, self-serving puppet governments.

"Just think," I respond feebly, "how much further they would have gone if we hadn't hit the streets."

But for a moment, I am not so sure.

In fact, many of those on the receiving end of imperialist exploitation were less shocked and awed by the columns of steel advancing across the Iraqi desert than we were chillingly confirmed in our worst expectations.

Two months before the invasion, Indian writer and activist Arundhati Roy delivered a speech, "Confronting Empire," to an assembly of international activists in Porto Alegre fighting neo-liberal globalization. She described the impending war on Iraq as a "fishbowl of the US government's excesses."

It's a textbook case. The United States has had economic interests in the Gulf since the 1930s. US military intervention in the region dates back to the 1980 creation of the Rapid Deployment Force (now known as Central Command, or CENTCOM), a US combat force trained in the Gulf region to repel any attempt by another force to gain control of it. Then-president Jimmy Carter declared the region a "vital interest" of the United States. Over the years, the US forged alliances with regional regimes, some of whom had cemented their own political alliances with local religious elites by heavily curtailing women's rights and mobility. …

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