In a discussion titled “Militarism Meets Globalization,” prominent anti-war activist Rahul Mahajan said the Bush administration’s actions in Iraq were “insane.”
Sponsored by Anti-War Action! and other student groups, Mahajan argued that the Iraq conflict was one example of America’s many recent foreign policy blunders.
“There has been virtually no nation building in Iraq,” Mahajan said. He added that the living situation of the Iraqi people has not improved under the U.S. occupation.
Mahajan said that in some cases, Iraqis are worse off than under Saddam Hussein’s rule. “(America) is getting rid of their jobs when their country has no new ones,” said Mahajan citing an instance when Americans laid off 400,000 Iraqi employees.
Iraqi civilians have even been shot at during peaceful protests, Mahajan said. “But nobody (in America) talks about it.”
These setbacks have caused a major backlash against the American presence in Iraq, he said.
“American soldiers are the last people to run countries,” since they cannot even communicate with the Iraqi people, he said.
Mahajan compared the war in Iraq to previous wars such as in Vietnam, calling them “colonial wars.” He said, like in Vietnam, the U.S. may be unable to withdraw from Iraq. The never-ending pursuit of empire is destroying American society, he said.
Mahajan’s message was not popular with everyone on campus. “The war in Iraq is not a failure and it is not an imperial affair,” said LSA sophomore Robert Raham, a member of Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative student group. “The war was to convert an authoritarian government into a democracy for the people of Iraq.”
But for Engineering junior Harlyn Pacheco, Mahajan’s words provided a unique way to look at the world. “He also told us that we should be progressive and find ways to speak for ourselves,” Pacheco said.
According to Mahajan, Iraq is just a small part of the Bush administration’s attempt at establishing a “new world order.”
“This new world order is, in a large part, the U.S. trying to take control of other countries,” he said.
Using its vast resources, the U.S. imposes this global domination through military and economic force and “civil-society operations,” Mahajan said. “These civil-society operations consist of the control of media and culture, which give the U.S. tremendous impact on the international media.”
Mahajan said since many international news agencies are denied access to Iraq, they are forced to rely on American news reports. “So, all the news reporting is skewed to the pro-U.S. side.”
Although such efforts are important, the United States primarily relies on its military might to impose its will on others, Mahajan said. He added the American government desires to create a technologically superior army and its willingness to use these forces is growing.
He also stressed the importance of military bases in establishing America’s dominance in the world, saying that out of the 192 countries in the world, the U.S. has a military presence in 140 of them.
The United States also can use its buying power as leverage by offering lucrative trade agreements to cooperating countries and imposing trade embargoes on dissenting countries such as Cuba, he said.
Mahajan also urged his audience to begin organizing against U.S. foreign policy. “Now is the time a difference can be made,” he said.
Heeding his own advice, Mahajan has been a prominent activist both locally and nationally. He recently published a book called, “Full Spectrum Dominance: U.S. Power in Iraq and Beyond,” and was a speaker at the Stop the War conference, held at the University last year.