Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Hope in 2011:
Peoples, Civil Society Stand Tall
By Ramzy Baroud
Al-Jazeera, CCUN, January 3, 2011
When the Iraqi army fell before invading US and British troops
in 2003, the latterís mission seemed to be accomplished. But nearly eight
years after the start of a war intended to shock and awe a whole population
into submission, the Iraqi people continue to stand tall. They have
confronted and rejected foreign occupations, held their own against
sectarianism, and challenged random militancy and senseless acts of
For most of us, the Iraqi peopleís resolve cannot be
witnessed, but rather deduced. Eight years of military strikes, raids,
imprisonments, torture, humiliation and unimaginable suffering were still
not enough to force the Iraqis into accepting injustice as a status quo.
In August 2010, the United States declared the end of its combat
mission in Iraq, promising complete withdrawal by the end of 2011. However,
US military action has continued, only under different designations. The
occupation of Iraq carries on, despite the tactical shifts of commands and
the rebranding effort.
However, were it not for the tenacity of the
Iraqi people, who manage to cross-sectarian, political and ideological
divides, there would be no talk of withdrawals or deadlines. There would be
nothing but cheap oil, which could have ushered in a new golden age of
imperialism - not in Iraq, but throughout the so-called Third World. The
Iraqi people have managed to stop what could have become a dangerous trend.
2010 was another year where Iraqis held strong, and civil societies
throughout the world stood with them in solidarity, a solidarity that will
continue until full sovereignty is attained.
another example of international solidarity, one that is unsurpassed in
modern times. Civil society has finally crossed the line between words and
sentiments of solidarity into actual and direct action. The Israeli siege on
Gaza, which was supported by the United States and few other Western powers,
resembled more than a humanitarian crisis. It was a moral crisis as well,
especially as the besieged population of Gaza was subjected to a most brutal
war at the end of 2008, followed by successive lethal military strikes. The
four year long siege has devastated a population whose main crime was
exercising its democratic right to vote, and refusing to submit to the
military and political diktats of Israel.
Gaza remains a shining
example of human strength in our time. This is a fact the Israeli government
refuses to accept. Israeli and other media reported that the Israeli army
will be deploying new tanks to quell the resistance of the strip, with the
justification that Palestinians fighters managed to penetrate the supposedly
impenetrable Israeli Merkava tank. Israeli military chief Lieutenant-General
Gabi Ashkenazi, who made the revelation in a recent parliamentary session,
may never comprehend that neither a Mekava (or whatever new model he will be
shipping to Gaza soon) nor the best military hardware anywhere could
penetrate the will of the unwavering Palestinians.
Gaza is not
alone. Civil society leaders representing every religion, nationality and
ideology have tirelessly led a campaign of solidarity with the Palestinian
people. The breadth and magnitude of this solidarity has been unmatched in
recent times, at least since the anti-fascist International Brigades units
resolutely defended the Second Spanish Republic between 1936-1939.
The solidarity has come at a cost. Many activists from Turkey and various
other countries were killed in the high seas as they attempted to extend a
hand of camaraderie to the people of Gaza and Palestine. Now, knowing the
dangers that await them, many activists the world over are still hoping to
set sail to Gaza in 2011.
Indeed, 2010 was a year that human will
proved more effective than military hardware. It was the year human
solidarity crossed over like never before into new realms, bringing with it
much hope and many new possibilities.
But the celebration of hope
doesnít end in Palestine and Iraq. It merely begins there. Champions of
human rights come from every color and creed. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, The Most Rev. Dr. Desmond Tutu of South Africa,
former US President Jimmy Carter and other luminaries and civil society
heroes and heroines from across the world will continue their mission of
peace and justice, as they have for many years.
names are only part of the story. There are literary millions of unsung
heroes that make the hardship of the years more tolerable, and who will
continue to guide us through new years and unknown challenges.
Haiti was one country that was hit hardest in 2010. The small nation
was greeted on January 12, 2010 with a most catastrophic earthquake,
followed by 52 aftershocks. Over half a million people were estimated killed
and injured, and many more became homeless. The year ended on a similarly
devastating note, as over 2,000 people died and 105,000 fell ill (according
to estimates by the Pan American Health Organization) after a cholera
outbreak ravished an already overwhelmed country.
It is rather
strange how leading powers can be so immaculate and efficient in their
preparations for war, and yet so scandalously slow in their responses to
human need when there is no political or economic price to be exacted. But
this discrepancy will hardly deter doctors and nurses at the St. Nicholas
Hospital in Haiti, who, despite the dangerous lack of resources, managed to
save 90 percent of their patients
Our hearts go out to Haiti and
its people during these hard times. But Haiti needs more than good wishes
and solemn prayers. It also needs courageous stances by civil society to
offset the half-hearted commitments made by some governments and
It must be said that hope is not a
random word aimed at summoning a fuzzy, temporary feeling of positive
expectations for the future. To achieve its intended meaning, it must be
predicated on real, foreseeable values. It must be followed by action. Civil
society needs to continue to step up and fill the gaps created or left wide
open by self-seeking world powers.
Words donít end wars, confront
greed or slow down the devastation caused by natural disasters. People do.
Let 2011 be a year of action, hope, and the uninterrupted triumph of civil
- Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net)
is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of
PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter:
Gaza's Untold Story (Pluto Press, London), now available on Amazon.com.
My latest book: My Father Was a
Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story is available at
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