Paul disagrees with Maia who agrees with Lenin who disagrees with Katha Pollitt who disagrees with Alex Cockburn.
The issue at hand being whether the left should be supporting the Iraqi 'resistance'.
Cockburn - who I dislike in so many ways* - starts the whole thing off with the, um, intriguing argument that part of the reason why the anti war movement in the US is so lackluster and lacking public support is because they can't bring themselves to support the Iraqi 'resistance'. (No really...)
And on at least part of this Pollitt agrees: she can't bring herself to support "Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia? Shiites massacring their Sunni neighbors? Sunnis killing Shiites? Religious reactionaries who have murdered doctors, professors, working women, Christians, students, hand-holding couples?"
Lenin argues that she's got it all wrong, that by definition the resistance are people resisting the occupation. And that - conveniently - the term "excludes those who are undermining the resistance by trying to turn it into a sectarian civil war."
Lenin also links to a US military document that purports to show that the bulk of violent attacks in Iraq, that the US military is aware of, are on the US military.
Maia likes this, and - while declining to actively support the resistance - agrees with Lenin's point that:
A little humility would compel her [Pollitt] to recognise that the Iraqi resistance is doing far more to frustrate American imperialism than then American left is. The resistance is supporting us. It is their courageous insistence on combatting an enemy with immense death-dealing power, confronting them in the streets despite years of savage murder, despite the prospect of incineration and shredding, that is causing Bush's unpopularity.Maybe that's the case, but it misses the point if you ask me. The point being: shouldn't we, sometime about now, be supporting what's best for the people of Iraq?
And if you ask me, that's probably not increased activity from the 'resistance'.
I say this for three reasons.
The first being that, while the majority of violent attacks may be on the US military in Iraq at present, the majority of casualties are Iraqi civilians. (Something that Lenin manages to murmur halfway through his piece.) I, personally, would like to see fewer dead Iraqis - for this reason I'm all in favour of less, rather than more, violence.
Secondly, while Lenin and Cockburn may believe that there is a nice simple distinction between the resistance (aka the good guys) and the sectarian fighters, Baathists and violent criminals currently contributing to the hell on Earth in Iraq, I've never been able to spot one.
And, finally, if a speedy withdrawal from Iraq is what you want then, if you ask me, supporting the resistance is precisely the wrong strategy. This is because there is nothing that the US government would like more now than to be able to declare that Iraq is approximately peaceful, mission accomplished, now let's get the heck out of here. More fighting on the other hand, simply means a prolonged occupation as the US political establishment struggles on looking for a politically bearable time to withdraw.
Maia wants the Iraqi resistance to win, Paul wants them to loose. Me personally, I wouldn't mind if the Iraqi people won one for a change - that is, got to live in a more peaceful more stable country. And I honestly don't think that the 'resistance' is helping this happen.
* While I dislike Cockburn, I think that Lenin's blog is worth a read even if I disagree with a lot of it. Similarly, while I disagree with quite a bit of what Maia writes, I always read her blog: it's well written, smart, and, for a boring moderate like myself, thought provoking.