Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

How to Bring Down Saddam. (Alternatives to War)

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

How to Bring Down Saddam. (Alternatives to War)

Article excerpt

I am marching against war on Iraq but with feelings of ambivalence. The Stop the War campaign ignores Saddam's human rights abuses: detention without trial, torture, execution and the ethnic cleansing of Kurds and Shias.

While rejecting war, it offers no counterstrategy for overthrowing the "Butcher of Baghdad".

Even if the campaigners don't see it, there is a credible alternative to a western-engineered invasion. It is an uprising by the Iraqi people: an Algerian FLN-style guerrilla war in tandem with a "people power" campaign of civilian resistance, as we witnessed in Czechoslovakia during the Velvet revolution and in the Philippines in the 1980s.

Compared with invasion, this homegrown insurrection would be far more popular with the people of Iraq. Fiercely nationalistic, they rightly dislike the idea of a US-imposed regime. Saddam's troops are also more likely to defect to an internal revolt than to western forces.

Britain, the US and the rest of the international community should support a change-from-within strategy by helping the Iraqi opposition forces. This aid should include funding satellite TV and radio stations to break Saddam's censorship of the media and give the Iraqi opposition a means to mobilise resistance inside the country;

A campaign of civilian resistance would seek to undermine Saddam's ability to govern by means of workplace go-slows, mass sick leaves, industrial and military sabotage, and rent and tax refusals. …

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