Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Scahill Uncloseted at Socialism Conference

Gadfly Blackwater critic Jeremy Scahill let his hair down at the Socialism 2008 conference in Chicago last month. In remarks published by Socialist Worker, Scahill lashes out at the Iraqi government, the Democratic Party and Senator Barack Obama, in addition to his predictable diatribes. His comments show that he is far from the detached observer he purports to be when criticizing Blackwater and the private security industry.

Among Scahill's comments:

  • The elected government of Iraq is an American "puppet regime."

  • The Iraqi prime minister is nothing more than a U.S. stooge: "this is a government that the United States put in place, and there's no such thing as independence in this Iraqi government. They tell Nuri al-Maliki to jump, and he says how high. They tell him to do jumping jacks, and he says how many."

  • Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA), who has led two congressional hearings against Blackwater, is a big disappointment and is not doing enough.

  • There is no real difference between Democrats and Republicans; in Scahill's words, they are "really one party."

  • Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) has sold out to the warmonger establishment: "people who were at the center of a brutal and violent foreign policy during the Clinton era. . . . are now the top folks at Barack Obama's campaign. Once he sewed up the nomination, the old guard comes right in, and it's back to being the same Democratic Party. So much for change."

  • The only legislation Scahill endorsed was authored by Capitol Hill's only openly avowed socialist, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and by Scahill's fringey stalking horse in the House, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

  • The U.S. presence in Iraq is has no just cause, but remains "a war of aggression and occupation."

  • The American Embassy in Baghdad "was built largely on slave labor."

  • Private security companies aren't the real problem in Iraq. The real problem is the United States itself: "This is the sort of dirty open secret: that Blackwater has done exactly what it's supposed to do in Iraq. Blackwater's number one job--their only job--is to keep alive the most important people in Iraq by any means necessary, and the most important people in Iraq are not Iraqis. They are U.S. occupation officials."

  • The U.S. must abandon Iraq completely: "The reality is that Obama has painted himself into a corner with his Iraq plan. The only solution and the only way to stop using these companies is the only way to stop the violence in Iraq. The U.S. needs to pull out completely - all of its soldiers, all of its mercenaries, all of its contractors. Short of doing that, business is going to be very, very good in Iraq, not to mention elsewhere in the world."
  • The war on drugs is really a plot to oppress poor people of color: "This isn't any more a war on drugs than it was a war on communism. This is a war against people's right to self-determination and the right of nations to independence. That's what it always has been, and that's what it is now."

The tone of Scahill's presentation is one of class struggle - a staple in extreme socialist and Marxist rhetoric for more than a century. Blackwater, he claims, hires poor people from poor countries as "cannon fodder." (He gives no examples, and we can't find any.) As Scahill puts its, "This is the internationalization of war, and using the poor of the world as cannon fodder to occupy a country that has been systematically targeted by the United States and whose economy has been destabilized."

Nowhere in his lengthy comments did Scahill express a desire to help defend Iraq against al Qaeda or Iran, or that there is any justification in doing so.

He seemed to feel at home at Socialism 2008.

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