the insurgency is presented as a David against the evil US Goliath, a heroic Robin Hoodesque band of revolutionaries seeking to return Iraq to 'the people'. ... [I]t is argued that the moment the last coalition soldier flies out of Iraq, people who currently cry out for Jihad and the creation of an Islamic State will suddenly metamorphose into calm, rational democrats.At least he gets one thing right:
[The anti-war left puts] forward the message that the only reason coalition troops are still in Iraq is to secure Iraqi oil reserves for a corrupt capitalist cabal, and that the Iraqi people are being denied the right to 'govern themselves'.Naturally, this position is patently ridiculous. It's notable that Standing does not give a single example of this fatuous straw man. He can't even be bothered to find some dumbass blogger with a single-digit readership to substantiate his position. One hopes that Butterflies and Wheels editor Ophelia Benson published this essay only to give a us an easy target.
The observation that we have invaded Iraq in part to secure its oil (the other part is to be able to project military power conveniently in the Middle East) is actually true and in no way entails that Iraq will somehow be a magical happyland if we end the occupation.
We have invaded a country, deposed its government, and continue to occupy it with hundreds of thousands of troops and
I read quite a lot of the anti-war left, and I have never seen any sort of illusion or fantasy about the wonders of the "insurgency". I have seen only the observation that resistance to foreign military occupation is not by itself a bad thing—which, of course, it is not.
The occupation of Iraq has nothing to do with making Iraq a democratic country. We already know that putting the issue to a vote would lead to a Shi'ite theocracy that would ally itself with Iran and perpetrate genocide against the Sunni and Kurdish minorities.
The occupation of Iraq has nothing to do with providing Iraq with a "stable" non-democratic government. Iraq already had a stable non-democratic government with Saddam Hussein; if we were to politically stabilize the country, we would have to rule in his "iron fist" mode, which we are manifestly not doing. (One wonders if Standing would approve of such a Soviet-style "government" in Iraq under American auspices. Probably: Standing is a theologian, and they typically approve of authoritarian repression.)
The occupation of Iraq has nothing to do with providing Iraq with a "liberal, Western-style" government. You cannot in principle establish such a government by force; it must emerge from the desire of the people for such a government.
So what's left? Oil and imperialism. Go figure.
There are no illusions that life in Iraq will get worse if and when the occupation were to end. The thing is, life in Iraq is already bad, already worse than under Hussein, and already getting worse with the occupation. The crux of the biscuit is not that things would get magically better if the occupation were to end, but that things cannot begin to improve until sometime after the occupation ends.
Standing says, "[H]ell is exactly what life will become for the average Iraqi should the coalition leave the country to be ruled by the medieval minded hordes of the insurgency." Will become? Standing, how fucking stupid are you? Will become? Life is already hell for the Iraqi people. No electricity, no water, no law, no effective police, no health care, and ceaseless sectarian violence. The occupation is not holding "hell" at bay, we are merely observing hell while we secure our imperialist ambitions.
No, there will be no magical happyland if the occupation ends. That's not the point. The point is that the occupation is evil in itself, and improvement cannot begin until it is over.
If someone were to kidnap and torture another to the point where they suffered Stockholm Syndrome, the victim's life would not become a magical happyland if she were freed; indeed it would, perhaps become temporarily worse (better the devil you know). I have no doubt, though, that Standing is so stupid, so morally corrupt that he would argue against freeing the victim on just that basis.
Perhaps there is a sort of reverse Stockholm Syndrome, where someone engaged in an egregiously evil act begins to justify their behavior as beneficial to the victim. If there were such a syndrome, Standing would be its poster child.