Archive for January, 2007

Good news from Iraq

January 21, 2007

Friends and fans of president Bush have frequently complained about media coverage of His Holy War Against Al Qaeda and For Democracy And Many Other Good Things, also known as the war in Iraq. Why, so goes the complaint, always focus on the bad news? Why doesn’t the press cover all the Many Good Things happening in Iraq?

Well, I know my civic duty as a world citizen, and I will not disappoint the president of the world (for that is what he appears to be, judging from his behaviour and his speeches). Here, then, some good news from Iraq.

Saturday, January 20, a high number of U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq. Four died in the rebellious province of Anbar; one got killed in Bagdad; 12 died when a helicopter crashed (or was shot down, as seems more likely, judging from an eyewitness accopunt in the LA Times on Januari 21, found via Today in Iraq) ; five in a confrontation in Kerbala; two in roadside bomb attacks elsewhere.

Why do I call that “good news” ? Not because I like killing as such. Thes 25 dead soldiers are victims – but the ones who shot or bombed them are not the guilty ones. The dead soldiers and the families are the victims of the ones who sent them there for no good reason – unless one things that invading and occupying a country to rob its oil counts as a good reason.

The death of 25 soldiers from the main occupying force is good news because it brings defeat ot the US plans in Iraq another step closer. The people fighting the occupation, the poeple attacking, wounding and killing American (and British) soldiers have justice on their side. Their successes weaken the will of the occupyer, they make it harder for  the US government to continue their war and occupation, and they may discourage them to do such hings anywhere else. They may be taken up as another argument for antiwar people to raise the pressure to end the occupation. That is why the killing of 25 US soldiers by resistance forces is, indeed, good news. The same stand applies, as far as I’m concerned, to the wounding of 5 Dutch soldiers, Friday, Januari 19,  , part of the NATO force in Afghanistan, another unjust occupation whose weakening through resistance is to be welcomed.

What also is encouraging is the geographical spread of resistance. Most attacks on the occupation forces occur in the cenlral and Western regions – in and around Bagdad, and in the province of Anbar wher the resistance has deed roots among the, mainly Sunni, population. But now, “Southern Iraqi Tribes Joining Armed Resistance” , wrote Dahr Jamail (I found this piece of information on Lenin’ s Tomb). He specifies: “Resistance in the southern parts of Iraq has been escalating over the last three months, leading to increased casualties among British and  other occupying forces.  In the last  seven months, at least 24 British soldiers have been killed in Southern Iraq, with at least as many wounded, according to the independent website Iraqi Coalition Casualties.”

 Not only do these casualties help to do the same kind of damage to the occupation as the 25 dead among the US military. Not only do they help to  put the same kind of pressure on the occupation. The spread of resistance to the mainly Shiite south brings the coming together of nationwide rebellion against the occupation closer. The deadly fighting in Kerbala points in the same direction. This widening of the anti-occupation revolt will make the occupation even hmore unsustainible than it already is. And because the occupation is unjust, I can only welcome and applaud ist further weakening.

There is more. “Kurdissh troops from north deserting” , I read in the Boston Globe, January 21 (found on Today in Iraq). The story: the government wanted to use a Kurdish militia force to subdue Shia resistance in Bagdad. This was only oen more example where a policy of divide and rule set different groups against each other. The relations between Kurdihs people(who have suffered terrible oppression from the Iraqi state under Saddam Hussein) and the Sia and Sunni Iraqis have not exactly been harmonious.. Sending Kurds to suppress Iraqi resistance would only add to the tensions and hostility. The fact that Kurdish soldiers  don’t want to go to Bagdad is understandable and encouraging as well. Ameen KareeM, one of the Kurdish soldiers who evade their repressive “duty” explains: “I joined the army to be a soldier in my homeland, among my people. Not to fight for others who I have nothing to do with. I used to fight in the mountains and valleys, not in the streets.”

Resistance becoming more deadly en more widespread, Kurdisch collaboration with the suppression of resistance collapsing… things are not getting any easier for the White House and its criminal Iraqi operation. And that, indeed, is no bad news at all.

Happy birthday Muhammad Ali

January 17, 2007

Muhammad Ali is having his 65th birthday, and I truly hope it is a happy birthay. The man is former world champion heavyweight boxing, the first time in 1960, the last time in 1978, and several times in between. But the man threw his heavy weight against the injustices of his day – racism and war. Those injustices are still around – and Ali’s attitude is to be celebrated, admired and, where possible, actively followed.

Celebratory articles in the mainstream media hardly mention the thouroughly subversive side of Mohammad Ali’s story. CNN writes 29 sentences in “‘The Greatest’ celebrates his 65th“; just five of them are about the political stand he took, especially the Vietnam war. AlJazeera manages to write two paragraphs on his confrontation with racist bigotry and his membership of the Nation of Islam, and one paragraph on his refusal to go and fight in Vietnam for the USA – in an 18-parapraph piece. Fortunately, the three paragraphs are rather big ones:-)

Yet it was his courageous defiance of war and racial oppression thet scandalized the Eshtablishmant. After het refused to be drafted in the US military, he was stripped of his gold medal and convicted (a conviction that was overturned in the early Seventies).

A beautiful article by David Zirin tells the story, of how boxing became an escape for black men like Ali. He shows how injustice, and the fight against against injustice, permeating the whole of society, does not leave the sports arena untouched. For me – not a sports lover at all – it broadened my view.

I never have been much into sports myself. Physical excercise at high school was a torment. Being small, clumsy in mu movements and awkward among people, I seemed to be an obvious target for humiliation and a moderate dosis of bullying. I still bear the mental scars. Physical excercise was a form of torture, with schoolmates in the role of torturers – a role imposed upon the by the whole context, a role played with various amounts of enthousiasm. Feeling physical attraction to other boys without being too conscious about it only added to the terror.

Later on, I began to see sports for what it is: a combination of war and competition, a pocket-sized edition of what makes capitalist society so sick and disgusting. But I also learned that the people involved – whether fans or the sportsmen and sportswomen themselves – sometimes took a stand against the wrongs of the society of which sports was such a symbolic expression.

And boxing? I don’t enjoy the spectacle of men beating the hell out of each other, not when they do it out of hatred, and not when they do it for money either. I much prefer them to touch each other sensually, lovingly. However, as Zirin shows, boxing was for poor Black men an escape – and throuhg a boxing match, some of them confronted racist society itself. Zirin mentions a match between Jack Johnson, a black man, and Jim Jeffries who announced: “I am going into this fight for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better that a Negro.” The crowd chanted “Kill the Negro”. Johnson won, crowds of white racists started riots in several cities. The year was 1910.

What goes for boxing applies to sports moge generally. Sports was and is not without its contradiction, not without ist spaces for defiance an resistance. The life of Muhammad Ali offers example after example, even though he ended up shaking hands with president Bush and helping him sell his war policy. The Zirin article deserves to be read and digested. It is called “Revolt of the black athlete – The hidden history of Muhammad Ali and can be found in International Socialist Review Issue 33, january-Februari 2004. Zirin wrote another valuable piece on Mohammad Ali: The Champ Meets the Chump: Bush and Ali”, on Znet, November 20 2005, after president Bush handed Ali a medal, a very sad spectacle. Here he quotes Ali’s stand against the Vietnam War and adds wrily: “If Ali said things like that about our current war, it would have earned him not a medal, but a one-way trip to Gitmo.”

More on Muhammed Ali, especially his confrontation with the US authorities about his refusal to go to war against the Vietnamesecan be found on a webpage “Mohammad Ali“, part of a website called “African American involvement in the Vietnam War”. And about a famous quote , widely, but without evidence atrributed to Muhammad Ali: “No Vietnamese Ever Called Me a Nigger“, on the weblog “Dean Rules”.

The last words go to Muhammad Ali himself , quoted from Zini’s article. The year was 1967, the place was Louisville, where he was to show support in a campaign for better housing in Louisville. Martin Luther King was also there.

“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people while so-called negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over (… ) So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”

What is going on here?

January 17, 2007

Once upon a time I started a little website, with political comments. Being a not very disciplined person, I dropped the thing after a few weeks, though it is still on-line. It is in Dutch; I live there, I speak that language, being an internationalist, I am not proud of the fact but neither do I apologise. It’s just a matter of fact:-)

Then, after half a year , and after a year of more or less enforced time-out and reorientation, I rediscovered an old truth: just as I have to eat and drink and sleep, I have to write. However, writing without even the possibility of being read never made much sense to me. In erlier days, this stopped me from writing as consistently as I actually want to do. But now there is the internet. So I started a weblog, in the early hours of December 28, 2004. After 19 months, I moved it to another location where I write, daily if possible. Never a lack of subjects, with this world convulsing with war and oppression, resistance and revolt.

Many of the things I write about and get excited about are international. The source of most wars is located in a courntry where most people speak English, many debates with which I feel connected and in which I want to participate, are being done in the Engklish language. Besides, being an internationalist, I refuse to accept the fragmentation that national states and borders impose. I have done a few articles in English after I moved to may current location, but I don’t find it a verye satisfactory solution to do it that way. An English-language weblog follows as a logical conclusion.

So here it is : RedRebelRanter, in Dutch known as the Rooieravotr. What to expect? If you read Dutch: check out my other weblog to find out. If you don’t (hopefully, most of my readers here will not be the ones that already know my Dutch-language blog): come back and find out… Or read my English-language pieces: “Random readings no. 1, no. 2 , no. 3 and “Saviours of Humanity” on Rooieravotr.blogspot.com. Be back soon here (I will, that is)

Coming soon…

January 17, 2007

More soon…