Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

Imperial Parallels: Iraq

In many ways, 2007 is still mired in the twentieth century. Sometimes events are better markers than year numbers, and this past century has practically been bookended by British and US meddling in Mesopotamia. As the Congressional Democrats betray their constituents with a pork-filled cave-in to Bush on Iraq and Afghanistan war funding —delivering not just $95 billion more but the bill no longer has any timelines for troop withdrawal—we recall not only the more recent folly of the Vietnam war but the folly at the other side of the twentieth century, with the British in Iraq/ Mesopotamia.

TE Lawrence’s words (“Lawrence of Arabia”) in 1920 reveal parallels with today:

te-lawrence.jpg “The people of England [+ America] have been led into a trap in Mesopotamia from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour.

They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information [and outright deception].

Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows…We are today not far from a disaster.

We said we went to Mesopotamia to defeat Turkey [terrorism-al-Qaida]. We said we stayed to deliver the Arabs from the oppression of the Turkish [Saddam Hussein] Government, and to make available for the world its resources of grain and oil. We spent nearly a million men and nearly a thousand million of money [two trillion dollars] to those ends.

Our government is worse than the old Turkish system [Saddam Hussein’s]. They kept fourteen thousand local conscripts employed, and killed a yearly average of two hundred Arabs in maintaining peace. We keep ninety thousand men [162 000 troops and 120 000+ private military contractors], with aeroplanes, armoured cars, gunboats, and armoured trains. We have killed about ten thousand [70 000 — and they’re just the documented civilian deaths; 650 000 death toll than would have otherwise occurred according to the Lancet study] Arabs in the uprising this summer [over the war]. …

How long will we permit millions [billions] of Pounds [dollars], thousands of Imperial troops, and tens [hundreds] of thousands of Arabs to be sacrificed on behalf of a colonial administration which can benefit nobody but its administrators [war profiteers, arms companies]?”

Lt. Colonel T. E. Lawrence, Sunday Times (London), 22 August, 1920

* See also Keith Olbermann (the Democrats “Neville Chamberlain Moment”) and Mike Gravel (a Democrat talking sense on Iraq) videos appended to this post after the ‘More’ break

Related Posts:

Continued: The Cost of War in US Federal Budget Outlays (pie chart)

+ Keith Olbermann Special Comment and Mike Gravel

Cost of War

US Federal Budget Outlays Pie FY 2008 (source:


For more information on how this was calculated please visit their site.

Keith Olbermann (transcript here): 7:51

Mike Gravel on CNN: 7 mins

6 comments on “Imperial Parallels: Iraq

  1. smcneil01
    26 May, 2007

    Mike Gravel Talking Point – United States Armed Forces Withdrawal from Iraq Act
    Democratic Presidential candidate Mike Gravel has a plan that will end the war in Iraq by September 2007 with all US troops home by Christmas. This plan recognizes that under the United States Constitution the power of the Congress is superior to the power of the Presidency.

    Mike’s plan is to pass a law in the Congress making the war in Iraq illegal. Failure to comply with the law would be punishable by 5 years in jail without possibility of parole. Understand that the President of the United States is required to follow the law just as is any other American citizen.

    Of course, once the law is passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, it is likely that President Bush will veto it. Mike Gravel’s plan would call for the Senate and House Democratic leadership, Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to bring the bill to a vote day after day, 7 days a week, 30 minutes per day, forcing the media spotlight to shine on those Senators and Congressman who are prolonging the war until pressure from their constituents produces a two-thirds majority sufficient to override the Presidential veto. (If the law is filibustered in the Senate initially, the same procedure would apply.)

    What is important to understand is that Mike served two terms in the US Senate fighting for “unpopular” causes and winning against the odds. Mike is a legislative strategist and you will see that his plan for ending the war will work, if adopted. Most other options for ending the war fall into the “do the right thing” category or involve timelines that extend far off into the future. Rather than wait, let’s force our elected representatives to listen to the will of the American people by introducing Mike Gravel’s draft legislation, the United States Armed Forces Withdrawal from Iraq Act, and end this destructive and unnecessary war now.

  2. homeyra
    26 May, 2007

    Interesting parallel PPGG! Moreover:
    Britain merged the Ottoman provinces Baghdad, Basra and Mosul into a new state of Iraq, inhabited by three different groups of people: Shi’ites, Sunnis and Kurds. Under British rule, the new Iraqis were subjected to more taxes than under Ottoman rule. Nationalist revolt rose against the new British rulers in 1920.
    To crush the Iraqi national-liberation movement, Churchill, secretary of state for war, introduced new military tactics with massive bombing of villages as the original “shock and awe” doctrine, revived eight decades later by the US military.
    Churchill ordered the use of mustard gas, stating: “I do not understand the squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favor of using poison gas against uncivilized tribes.” Source.

    What did Serv write about history ? :)

  3. peoplesgeography
    26 May, 2007

    Good point and choice quote, Homie — thanks!

  4. Pingback: 1920 « Forever Under Construction

  5. Servant
    27 May, 2007

    Churchill : “I do not understand the squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favor of using poison gas against uncivilized tribes.”

    So – on the scale of relative morality – Churchill would have no problem with American F16’s dropping 500-pound bombs on residential neighborhoods in Gaza, killing a family of nine and missing the target of the “assassination” who was not there at the time. Listen to journalist Mohammed Omer reporting from Gaza on KPFA radio.

  6. peoplesgeography
    27 May, 2007

    Thanks for the link, I will certainly listen to the courageous young journalist Mohammed Omer. Israel’s current crimes are blood-curdling, and in keeping with the nature of their state.

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Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

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-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

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to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"