Debate on Naomi Klein and Muqtada al-Sadr

A new article by Naomi Klein in The Nation, entitled “Bringing Najaf to New York,” has sparked debate and condemnation from corners inside and outside the magazine.

“Before Sadr’s supporters began their uprising, they made their demands for elections and an end to occupation through sermons, peaceful protests and newspaper articles. US forces responded by shutting down their newspapers, firing on their demonstrations and bombing their neighborhoods. It was only then that Sadr went to war against the occupation.”

Christopher Hitchens, unsurprisingly, has this to say about it.

“When I quit writing my column for The Nation a couple of years ago, I wrote semi-sarcastically that it had become an echo chamber for those who were more afraid of John Ashcroft than Osama Bin Laden. I honestly did not then expect to find it publishing actual endorsements of jihad. But, as Marxism taught me, the logic of history and politics is a pitiless one. The antiwar isolationist ‘left’ started by being merely ‘status quo’: opposing regime change and hinting at moral equivalence between Bush’s ‘terrorism’ and the other sort.”

But responses have also come from Marc Cooper from The Nation.

“I find these assertions, simply, astounding. Al Sadr’s group are, indeed, terrorists. Maybe not ‘generic’ ones,. But certainly ultra-fundamentalist gangs. There is, in fact, no evidence whatsoever that they represent the ‘mainstream sentiment’ in Iraq. If so, then why has none other than Ayatollah Sistani (who now outflanks Naomi Klein on the left!) negotiated their disarmament? Most disturbing is the last line of this graph. Al Sadr’s ultimate goal, Klein concedes, is a ‘theocracy’ but ‘for now’ his demands are democratic because he’s for elections and he’s against the U.S. occupation. These twin assertions are so blatantly self-contradictory that it would be overkill to say anything more about them.”

and from Doug Ireland.

“It is useful to remember that the deeply flawed logic of ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’ motored US policy in the Cold War, driving it to embrace all manner of repressive regimes and dictators from Franco to Pinochet to Suharto. That’s why it’s sad to see Klein engage in the same sort of thinking in her column justifying the depradations of the so-called ‘Mahdi Army’ as somehow expressing the desire of genuine Iraqi democrats. Muqtada al-Sadr is a sanguineous religious fanatic, whose thuggish followers engage in the slaughter of the innocents.”

As interesting are the debates it has sparked in the comments. Decide for yourself.