From the beginning, with the exception of the sizeable contingent of British troops, the "coalition" in
Perhaps the most distinctive thing about this "coalition," other than the casualties it has taken, is the fact that in almost none of its countries â€“- if you were to believe the various prewar polls -â€“ did anything close to a majority of citizens back the American war and occupation. Remember those millions who took to the streets in the prewar moment? Among them none were more vehement or more unified than the Spanish. Polls showed up to 91% of them to be against the war. Think about that for a moment. Nine percent of Spaniards supported the war (and perhaps that figure even included the "don't knows").
This week, under the most horrific possible circumstances, the Spanish people voted to repudiate their government's support for the war and occupation. In the days before the vote that threw out the conservative government of Prime Minister and close Bush ally Jose Maria Aznar, protestors reportedly cried out, "Our dead, your war!" and that simplest of all words, one that should someday be heard in the streets of American cities as well, "Lies!" (Sunday Herald [
To some extent, this is now, being presented here as the first al Qaeda regime change. But to back up a moment and consider what's just happened realistically, the first "regime change" in Spain was, of course, the decision of Aznar's democratically elected government to defy and betray, rather than represent the will of 90% of its own people â€“- and then, in a moment of crisis, to lie to them about the worst terrorist act to strike Europe in our lifetime.
This is undoubtedly a crucial moment, possibly even a "tipping point." The peoples of the world returned to their homes last April by the multimillions without stopping the Iraqi war, and so their massive demonstrations were seen as failures, but at least in one country it turned out that the demonstrators did not, in fact, demobilize. When their moment came, they acted consistently and with honor. Don't believe for a second that it can't happen elsewhere. (Even in
"Two days. That was all it took for the people of
It should also shake certain governments far from Europe -â€“ South Korea's certainly and Japan's, both of which are sending troops Iraq-wards for reasons totally unconnected to the Middle East and against the popular will. Remarkably little attention has been paid to the process by which the Iraqi "coalition" was formed and continues to be fed. The Australian scholar Gavan McCormack has offered a vivid, rare, and exceedingly valuable description of the factors, global and local, that played a role in the Japanese government's
By the way, just the other day I wrote a speculative essay about a Bush second term in office. If such a second term were to become a reality I think we could expect that one great foreign policy crisis of those four years would be what the administration would do with the regime of Kim Jong Il, the "dear leader" of that benighted nation, and with his nuclear program. We should all brush up on the crisis-to-come in the
[This article first appeared on Tomdispatch.com, a weblog of the Nation Institute, which offers a steady flow of alternate sources, news, and opinion from Tom Engelhardt, long time editor in publishing and author of The End of Victory Culture and The Last Days of Publishing.]