The live webchat is not usually a medium to produce much in the way of clarity or serious discussion but the Guardian Chat with Nick Cohen and Jonathan Freedland at least offered a look at the current thinking of one of Cohen, one of the left’s favourite columnists – who has been strangely quiet on Iraq of late but set out his stall back in August with this forthright piece.
Cohen is a passionate advocate of the Iraqi democratic opposition and has little time for what he calls “The Marxist-Leninists and religious fundamentalists in the Stop the War coalition” and condemns “the curious Left wing racism which denies a voice to democrats and secularists who have a right to demand a fair hearing…..I do not see how anyone can march on Saturday until they have taken on the arguments of the people they speak FOR but never listen TO.”
Cohen also deals with the claim of some on the left that the US will merely install another dictator and makes three very valid points:
There’s a battle going on from which the western left, in its insularity, has absented itself. There are three reasons to be optimistic.
1. The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 actually obliges the US president to support democracy in Iraq.
2. In liberated Iraqi Kurdistan, the Kurds have built a democratic state with jobs for women and a free press and all kinds of other shocking liberties – they have built it moreover under the protection of the imperialist RAF and USAF.
3. The Kurds in particular and the Iraqis in general will not accept a new dictatorship without a fight. Why should the West want to impose them. Support for tyranny in the Middle East bought it 11 September.
Cohen is right to highlight the views of the Iraqi democratic opposition but I think increasingly we will start to hear from them.
This letter to the Guardian from an Iraqi doctor in London is another voice that will have raised some uncomfortable questions for those who marched against international action.