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"The US is Stuck in Quicksand": Arundhati Roy

by Arundhati Roy Tuesday, Mar. 01, 2005 at 6:20 PM

This interview was given at the 2004 World Social Forum in Mumbia, India.


The War that Never Ends

Interview with Arundhati Roy

[This interview originally published in: junge Welt, January 14, 2004 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, Arundhati Roy is the author of the prize winning “The God of Little Things” and essay volumes on political and social questions. Roy who is intensely engaged in the social movements of her homeland India lives in New-Delhi. In 2002 she was awarded the Lannan-prize for cultural freedom. This interview occurred at the 2004 World Social Forum in Mumbai, India.]

The war against Iraq has turned into an occupation. Is Iraq a colony?

Arundhati Roy: Yes, a rather unruly colony. Perhaps we should reconsider the idea that Iraq is “conquered”. American soldiers die every day in Iraq, more than during the war itself.

The US government has spoken threateningly against Iran, Syria and North Korea. Do you believe that Iraq was the beginning?

The war against Afghanistan was the real beginning in this special chapter of the history of war and empire. The “war against terror” is ultimately the ideal war for Bush: the war that never ends, the weapon businesses that never stop and the oil wells that never dry up.

However those who supported the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq may have declared their victories a little prematurely. In both countries, US troops are stuck in the quicksand. For this reason, the US government is trying to bring other countries like India and Pakistan to clear away the chaos that it inflicted in Iraq.

If the United States now attacks Iran, Syria or North Korea, its troops will be scattered over the entire globe. But if this happens, the fate of the empire in all probability will be clear – it will over-extend itself and implode. This is at least one possibility. On the other side there is the risk that the US with its arsenal in nuclear weapons could ensure that the American empire will be the last empire in the history of humanity.

The US corporation Halliburton reports higher profits largely due to the history of the firm in Iraq. Who profits from this war and who loses?

Halliburton has been in Iraq for a long time. Every business cannot boast of ordering the army and the whole military force of the most powerful country of the earth whose soldiers risk life and limb to increase the firm’s profits.

If I were a soldier of the US army risking life and health in the streaming heat of the Iraqi desert, I would raise a few burning questions to managers of businesses like Halliburton. How much do you earn? How much do I earn? What do you risk? What do I risk?

If I were a student, teacher, nurse or single mother in the United States and read in the newspapers about the tremendous cuts in social spending, I would ask a very simple question in relation to this war: Who pays and who profits from this war?

What I find most outrageous in all this is the unshakable confidence with which George Bush the lesser and his henchmen behave as though the American people were totally dumb and the public suffers with a weak memory.

America’s poor are exploited and then sent to the front to secure additional profits for America’s rich. From this perspective, every form of “anti-Americanism” is absurd and senseless. America is not a homogeneous mass obliged to the law of brutality.

A fifth of the armed forces consist of Afro-Americans. The Afro-American population doesn’t get a fifth of the profits from this war. There are also many Asians and Latinos in the army who hope to gain civil rights this way. Blacks, Latinos, Asians and poor whites are drawn into battle for the board of directors of the firms…

Iraq is now released for privatization, naturally in the name of democracy. What is the goal of these privatization measures?

This is really incredible. What is happening in the name of “democracy” would be a laughing matter if it weren’t so cruel. Privatization is the absolute opposite of democracy. Privatization is a process in which public property that should be managed by the state for the well-being of the population is simply handed over to private businesses so they can make profits for their own well-being. This is simply unacceptable.

Many soldiers and their families are now speaking out against the occupation of Iraq. Will this help in forming the international resistance?

I think the condemnation of the occupation is the most courageous thing that a soldier can do. I always had great admiration for the US soldiers who spoke out against the Vietnam war. When people in countries like India give free rein to racism and express anti-American opinions, I always say to them: Tell me when soldiers of India have ever spoken out against a war!

When soldiers speak, people listen. I know no better means to support the international resistance against the occupation. I can only give my heartfelt thanks to the American soldiers who found the courage to protest.

President Bush has asked India to send troops to help keep Iraq “under control”. What do you think about that?

Bush probably knows that all rightwing religious fundamentalists irrespective of their religion ultimately belong to the same camp. George Bush, Osama bin Laden, Ariel Sharon, the Mullahs in Pakistan and the Hindu politicians L.K. Advanis and Narendra Modes in India don’t have a problem understanding one another.

If Indian troops are not sent to Iraq, the reason will not be the lack of will of the Indian government. Rather this plan provokes great indignation in India’s population because the majority in India condemn the war.

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