In the Bible, betrayal originates with Adam and Eve’s feasting on the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. It culminates with the puzzling interaction between Jesus Christ and Judas Iscariot, which raises some fundamental philosophical questions. Since Judas’ betrayal was preordained how responsible was he for his actions? What then does this portend for human actions throughout history to the present? This determinism must be rejected; otherwise evil is always enveloped with an excusable pretext. The betrayal of Jesus is a pivotal moment in Christian civilization; indeed, betrayal has played a role throughout history.
In 1940 Nazi forces went around the French Maginot Line and quickly moved to occupy Paris. France rapidly capitulated and from 1940 to 1944 a puppet government operating under Nazi influence was set up in the new capital of Vichy in central France. An 84-year-old WWI officer Henri Philippe Pétain became the collaborationist president of Vichy France.
The French resistance and the Maquis fought the occupation forces and the Milice, the French wartime police set up to fight the “terrorist” resistance under the command of SS officer Joseph Darnand.
After the war many collaborationists within the Vichy government were arrested, and some, like Darnand, were executed. Pétain’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
Vidkun Quisling was a Norwegian politician who became the collaborationist Minister President of Nazi-occupied Norway from February 1942 to the end of WWII. Quisling was executed by firing squad after the war. In dubious distinction, Quisling’s name outlives him and denotes a traitor in the same way as Benedict Arnold’s name connotes likewise in the US.
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the US government mobilized against what it thought was a possible fifth column. Over 100,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans were interned away from the Pacific coast in remote camps. The US government subsequently apologized four decades later and paid reparations. The Canadian government’s internment of its ethnic Japanese population was harsher than the US case. It also took many years for an official Canadian apology and reparations.
The allies denounced and dealt harshly with traitors and what they considered to be potential traitors in WWII. Occupation was anathema and the heroic resistance was lauded. Why then is the terminology of former WWII allies reversed in Iraq? Occupation is legitimate and resistance is terrorism? Collaboration is exemplary?
Criticism of the nationality of the fighters in Iraq is also hypocritical. During WWII the Americans, Canadians, and others fighting in battlefields outside their borders were foreigners as well. Astoundingly absurd is a foreign occupier lambasting the presence of foreigners in the resistance. At least the foreigners in the resistance can claim ethnic affiliation, since Arab nationalism likeliest has only been suppressed by western imperialism, which carved up the Arab world so as best to exploit the resources.
Iraqis have expressed their overwhelming desire for the occupiers to leave in many ways. There is no justification and never was for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. There were no weapons-of-mass-destruction and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has stated that the invasion was illegal in a BBC interview. (1) If the invasion was illegal then it stands to reason that the occupation is illegitimate. Yet the US-led occupiers remain; they struggle to secure the oil; the US has granted itself permission to set up permanent military bases; and at any rate the US had installed a compliant Iraqi Interim government led by former CIA flunky Iyad Allawi to give his nugatory sanction of such bases. The Iraqi media is being silenced; imperialist minions are writing laws; Iraqis are being slaughtered -- the exact number of which is not a concern of the imperialists. Killing, stealing the resources, and setting up permanent military bases: what nation would accept this?
The occupation is dangerous. Collaborators are being targeted. The collaborationist UN itself was attacked and chased out of Iraq. The Iraqis have a legitimate right to resist occupation. Iraqi police and Iraqis applying for such occupation jobs become targets for the Iraqi resistance.
The roads in Iraq are dangerous. Foreigners who enter Iraq knowingly put themselves at risk. The upcoming election is at risk, as if there ever were any risk of an election taking place that would undermine US “national interest” in Iraq.
The resistance is both Sunni and Shiite. The number of attacks against the occupation forces is increasing. August saw the largest number of attacks per day. (2) Some of the US occupiers refuse to admit to the tide gathering against them.
Maj. Neal O’Brien of the Army's 1st Infantry Division in a feat of logical contortion declared: "The continued targeting of Iraqi Security Forces shows the desperation of anti-Iraqi forces as they recognize the continued improvement and capability of the Iraqi National Guard and Iraqi Police.” (3)
For who and what is the occupation meant to serve? Democracy and freedoms for Iraqis? Is that like what they have been promising to set up in Afghanistan since early 2002? Or like what the US government has been promising Haitians after repeated invasions over the decades?
Bush, the minister of freedom and democracy touted his man in Iraq. He urged Americans, “Listen to Allawi: He’ll talk about what it means to be free.” According to Bush’s view: “He’s a tough guy who believes that Iraq should be free and he cares about the hopes and aspirations of the Iraqi people.” (4)
Not to be discussed is the blistering accusation of Allawi’s cold-blooded execution of as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police center, according to two witnesses described as very credible. (5) Tough guy, indeed.
Meanwhile most American voters debate which of the Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum corporate presidential contenders to choose between come November, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Iraqi lives would remain imperiled by either of these two choices, not to mention the lives of US fighters in Iraq. These two men are betraying the common American citizen with their political ambition. This betrayal will result in the further spilling of American blood and the lightly-regarded blood of foreigners.
Kim Petersen is a writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(1) “Iraq war illegal, says Annan,” BBC News, 16 September 2004
Other Recent Articles by Kim Petersen
Desertion of Common Sense
* The Progressive Paradox: Defining Viability
* The Shame
* The Wrong Direction
* The Pornography of War
Fairy Tale of Liberation