The main problem with Dan Randall's article (Questions and answers on Iraq) (Solidarity 3/144) is methodological. Dan says: our starting point is not, therefore, “who is currently the strongest force in Iraq?” or even “what would happen (or probably happen, or certainly happen) if the troops left?” Our starting point is “what will build the third camp?”
...is that this article too is mostly conjecture. You say "..the consequences of the troops scuttling would be the break up of Iraq, the opposite of self determination and the crushing of the workers movement in most areas". While this seems one plausible outcome, no evidence is produced to support it. The simple fact is that none of us know what would happen if the coalition troops withdrew.
Even if it did lead to the breakup of Iraq, is that necessarily something the left should concern itself with? As far as I'm aware the AWL has supported the proposal for Kurdish self-determination for many years. Why now the concern for a united Iraq? Sometimes partition IS self-determination.
Finally, if the Iraqi workers movement is actually calling for Troops Out Now as you say, shouldn't the AWL be supporting that rather than equivocating? It seems a bit odd to support the workers' movement but ignore its opinion on the occupation.
The issue, surely, isn't the break-up of Iraq in the abstract (about which, on one level, who cares?) but a bloody, sectarian civil war resulting in break up - with 'ethnic' (and religious) cleansing, and so on. Sure, if it's just a matter of the peaceable separation of the Kurdish north, that would be fine. But that's not what's at issue.
Of course it's conjecture, in the sense that nobody has a crystal ball. But I think it is by far the most likely immediate scenario - already underway, and likely to be exacerbated by sudden withdrawal, ie, the collapse of the existing (bad, and unsustainable) state. I don't think it's beholden on the AWL to give chapter and verse for this scenario: it's the one generally accepted by most commentators, and that general assessment can, at least to some extent, be taken for granted.
I think it *is* beholden, though, on those who dispute it to give some convincing account of why they do so. And by convincing I mean: you can say up to a certain degree of certainty that there will *not* be sectarian civil war.
I don't think the opinion of the Iraqi workers' movement is as unanimous and unambiguous as you suggest - not enough to just say 'this is their view, and all we can do is support it.'
The only two on this thread and others opposing the inclusion of "troops out" as a slogan are Paul and Clive and now even those seem at odds.
Clive says to the pro-troops out inclusionists "I don't think the opinion of the Iraqi workers' movement is as unanimous and unambiguous as you suggest" and yet it is Paul who says "it is a matter of fact that all sections of the Iraqi labour movement already use slogans against the occupation"-who is right?
Paul's argument consists of opposing claims that the inclusionists do not make-such as that the inclusion of the slogan will miracously transform the workers' movement into the dominant force in Iraq. What IS suggested is that it makes the argument clearer-the tool will become sharper not an all dancing cure all!
So we are left with the central argument that the pro troops out position must prove there wil not be a sectarian civil war. That people working,campaigning,agitating and struggling in Iraq who have to face the lethal consequences of a sectarian civil war have not given this great consideration is frankly ridiculous. We are not talking about people who have no access to information here-we are talking about people who can access the same newspapers,exile groups and internet that Paul and Clive use and also have their experience of the reality on the ground and that they and their families will face consequences rather more severe than an internet discussion. When I have spoken to activists who have returned from Iraq and ask them why they don't take more part in discusions about slogans etc here they say that in Iraq there is lively debate and people can be persuaded to change because the persuasion of an argument that could improve things ,or even save their lives, is compelling whereas in the UK leftists take positions and won't change because it is too often an academic exercise.I fear watching this debate unfold that that will be the case-but it would be nice to be proved wrong.For an example of union leaders arguing why they argue for solidarity with workers' movement AND troops out see Iraqi Union Leaders Call for an End to the Occupation
By David Bacon
TAP talks to Faleh Abood Umara, general secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, and Hashmeya Muhsin Hussein, president of the Electrical Workers Union of Iraq.
The American Prospect online, July 6, 2007
If this isn't enough to demand "troops out now"...