Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Journalist Robert Fisk Pokes Holes in Myth That U.S. Pullout Will Cause Iraq Civil War

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Journalist Robert Fisk Pokes Holes in Myth That U.S. Pullout Will Cause Iraq Civil War

Article excerpt

A new perspective of Iraq-contrasting vastly from the official U.S.version-was offered by journalist Robert Fisk during a Nov. 12 to 16 visit to Los Angeles. The correspondent for Britain's Independent newspaper was on a tour to promote his new book, The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East.

Speaking to an audience of more than 600 at UCLA, Fisk, whose appearance was hosted by Women in Black/Los Angeles (WIB/LA), pooh-poohed U.S. claims that civil war will break out if American troops are withdrawn from Iraq.

Fisk, who is based in Beirut and fluent in Arabic, said many Iraqis have told him theirs is a tribal society; many Sunnis and Shii'a have intermarried-so why would they kill each other?

"The map of the Middle East is being redrawn to weaken the Arabs," Fisk maintained, before dropping a mini-bombshell by saying that vast untapped oil fields may lie beneath the sands of Sunni territory.

"We are always liberating the Arab world-and then we stay," noted Fisk, who has been bestowed with more British and international journalism awards than any other foreign correspondent.

"The 3,000 to 4,000 Iraqis who die violent deaths each month remain faceless," he pointed out. "The death rate is as high as 36,000 in one year."

Fisk based this number on computerized statistics he has viewed in the Ministry of Health in Baghdad. Nor are all the dead insurgents, he stated. "I've been to Baghdad's largest mortuary, where nine bodies, many of them women and children, are stacked by 9 a.m. By noon, there are 26 corpses."

This is the work of death squads and militias, he explained. The audience murmured a collective gasp when Fisk said he doubted if the kidnapped social worker Margaret Hassan had been murdered by insurgents.

Fisk added that he wonders where all the suicide bombers are coming from. At first, he said, one might strike once a week. Now, however, in one day as many as seven are exploding themselves and everything around them.

The trial of Saddam Hussain, Fisk said, has been structured in such a way that the captured dictator will not be able to talk about his earlier connections with the U.S. government."The Butcher of Baghdad could become a martyr if he is hanged," Fisk commented, "but he is yesterday's man. Now the Iraqis have new worries."

Indeed, Fisk theorized, the resistance began in earnest after Saddam was captured. "Once Iraqis were assured he'd never be in power again," he explained, "the insurgency came out of the woodwork."

When one is in Iraq, a new perspective of the world is shaped, Fisk stated. Applause followed his remark: "The Iraqis are seeking a different freedom-a freedom from us. The Iraqis want justice before they want democracy.

"War is not about victory or defeat, but about the infliction of death," Fisk concluded. "As I reached the end of my book, and the narrative of suffering in the Middle East, I marveled at how restrained the Muslims have been against the Western powers who wrought this misery. If you could see what I've witnessed in the past 30 years, you would never support a war again."

Nan Pappe on Divestment, Boycotts

Prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians have never been more hopeless, averred Ilan Pappe at an Oct. 26 program sponsored by WIB/LA.

"Previously there was always some hope," said the senior lecturer in political science at Haifa University, "but now we are at a juncture where the Israeli consensus argues there is no problem, while the Palestinians complain there is no peace process.

Divestment is a fairly new notion for the Palestinian cause, Pappe said. The Haifa-born and Oxford-educated scholar cautioned that it took 21 years of apartheid rule in South Africa before the U.S. changed its policy and adopted divestment against the Pretoria government.

"Nearly 40 years of failing to liberate so much as one square inch of land means it is time to try something new," he argued. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.