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- Elections will be held in Iraq in about a month or so. What do you think will be the consequences? Do you think the election of a parliament and the drafting of a Constitution would stabilize the country or, on the contrary, would increase the actions of the resistance?

- There are two kinds of resistance in Iraq: the first is the armed resistance, which is decentralized and led by groups of insurgents in different parts of the country, very well organized, with no problems at all to get weapons and has made things difficult for the United States and its allies. American generals have admitted that even in Baghdad’s Green Zone, which is supposed to be the safest one, they haven’t been able to guarantee the safety of all western diplomats.

Besides, the targets of the Iraqi resistance are not only the occupying military, but the collaborators. And I think this is a step forward in their way of thinking: “We are not just going to confront your military, but your businessmen and collaborators who come here.” The second kind of resistance we see is mainly an unarmed resistance, directed by the Shiite religious parties: the biggest group is that of Al-Sistani, and Muqtada al-Sader leads a much more militant political resistance, but do not question it.

The big difference between the armed and the political resistance is that the armed one wonders: “How can we have free elections in our country while it is occupied?” And this is a good question. We have to wait and see if the United States will allow the election of a government hostile to its interests. The key question is: Would there be completely free elections in January? I think it would be impossible if the country is still occupied. The occupying troops and the American embassy in Baghdad will greatly decide some of the persons to be elected, including the puppets they have in power now. But let’s suppose that even under these conditions, we have a 50% free election. In this case, the Americans might suffer a crisis because they might be dealing with a recently elected parliament, even if it is not totally legitimated, that might demand occupying forces to be withdrawn and an Iraqi control of the oil. If the new parliament does not demand these, the people would never believe in it.

The United States hasn’t been able of defeating the armed resistance, it has been brutal, tortures have continued, a huge part of Fallujah has been destroyed, chemical weapons have been used against the Iraqi resistance...but it hasn’t succeeded. If the political resistance forms now a parliament that demands the withdrawal of the American troops, the situation will be worse for the United States. The thing is whether Shiites leaders Sistani and Al-Sader would try to negotiate with the armed resistance if they get a parliamentarian majority. I think this is crucial. If they don’t do it, the situation might become chaotic.

- What interests are at stake in this election? Do you think Iran would interfere? If this were the case, what would be the consequences?

- I think the United States wants to use the elections to say: “Look, we have allowed elections to be held, this is a government elected in Iraq.” This is what it wanted to do and it would like it to be a completely pro-American government. But, if this were the case, then the government wouldn’t be representing the Iraqi people because we know the majority of the Iraqis are against the occupation.

If it manipulates the elections completely and prevent the opposition from getting the majority, then the situation would be worse for the United States. The armed groups and many cities are already boycotting the elections. So, we have a difficult and an unpredictable situation for the Americans and the resistance.

Regarding the Iranians, I think they have played a great behind-the-scenes role trying to get Shiites Muqtada al-Sader and Sistani, especially al-Sader, not to resist for the moment and accept the elections. The Iranians are playing their own game, they have their own interests. If a religious government is elected in Iraq and it is allowed to be in power, the Iranians will try to make deals with it because the logic relation between Iran-Iraq would be having a common trade, a common security. They have a lot in common even when one of them is Iranian and the other is Arab. So, for now, we can’t predict what will happen, we can just see what are the tendencies and how they can develop.

- You have often warned the world about the Americans’ will regarding the “balkanization” of Iraq, by presenting Sunnites, Shiites and Kurdish as factions with opposing interests. Do you think this could be confirmed in the elections?

- I think the danger exists. If the Americans try to use the elected Assembly to crush the resistance through the overwhelming use of force, then permanent conflicts might arose and the country might be divided. It was very worrying when the United States attacked Fallujah, the Shiite leaders did not say a word. Many ordinary people protested, the Shiite mosques in Baghdad joined the Sunnite mosques to send help but Shiite leaders Sistani and al-Sader didn’t say a word, and that shows a despicable behavior.

And we should not underestimate that once a country has been occupied by an imperial power, the motto of the imperial power is “divide and conquer.” That’s why during the last 12 years the Americans have supported the Kurdish by trying to separate them from the Arab population of the country. Now, they have started to use same tactic with the Shiites. The balkanization would just cause problems at the long term and it is contrary to the Iraqi interests.

On the other hand, if the Americans lead the country to a balkanization, we’ll have three zones: the Kurdish, which will not be accepted by the Turkish government; the central zone, known as the “Sunnite triangle,” which will be hostile to the United States; and the Shiite south which will make deals with the Iranians if the country is Balkanized. Whatever the result is, it would be bad for the Americans. So, there would be no solution to stabilize the country in the benefit of the United States. A temporary stability could be established for a few months after the elections in January, but I don’t think there would be a permanent stability as long as the troops are in the country.

- Does Bush’s victory in the American elections strengthen the imperial policy of the United States? Would it have been different with the democrats?

- I think we must be careful. The United States is an imperial power. Before Bush we had Clinton. Western Europe liked Clinton. He quickly made trade agreements, he was much more intelligent than Bush and was capable of uniting people, but Clinton supported the war against Iraq, Clinton came to Great Britain to support Blair who is the most pro-war leader of Europe.

When the imperial interests are at stake, democrats and republicans defend themselves mutually. However, I said that Bush had to be defeated not because we trusted Kerry but because defeating the leaders that led the world to war is extremely important. I said: “Aznar has been defeated in Spain; defeat Bush and a new interesting scenario will be created. The people will feel that the American population is against this guy, and for the first time they will put a lot of pressure on Kerry regarding the war issue.”

But Bush won and I think his victory is a defeat for the anti-war movements and for all those that oppose the imperial project. We must see it this way, but it doesn’t mean we have to get depressed, demoralized, and not do anything. Step by step, we must reinforce the anti-war movement which used to be very strong but it disappeared after the occupation of Iraq and I believe it has to be revived as an anti-occupation movement.

- The great demonstrations previous to the war proved to be incapable of preventing it. How do you think this kind of situations could be effectively dealt with in the future?

- I have always said the anti-war movement is too wide and goes too fast, it expresses the anger of the majority of the people but this majority was not necessarily left-wing people. These were ordinary citizens that refused to believe in the lies of the politicians and who wanted to show their opposition to them and the planned war. But their naivety was obvious for they were not politicized. They thought: “If million of people go to the streets, the war will be stopped.” Since we couldn’t stop it, there was a great demoralization and it was thought we couldn’t do anything though I never thought we could stop the war.

When people asked me: “Is there anything that could stop the war?” I answered: “Yes, to defeat Blair in the Parliament and the American troops’ rejection of going to war.” That was the only thing that could stop it because Bush was dedicated to this war and a group of his advisers was determined to launch it. We must recover from the initial failure of not stopping the war and as the Italians do or as done in Great Britain, we must form small groups and inform regularly about what happens in Iraq and step by step help the public opinion.

To mobilize the public opinion in the streets is important but we must go further, we can organize unions to attack the American companies, to prevent the introduction of American products. If things don’t change, one must think in the following terms: demonstrations are not enough, but we mustn’t stop doing this for it is important. I think demonstrations had a great impact in Spain regarding Aznar’s defeat and we shouldn’t forget this.

- Are we entering a new colonial era or can Iraq become the United States’ Achilles’ heel?

- I hope Iraq becomes the field of a new defeat but we must be honest and clear. I think defeating the United States militarily is almost impossible. It is the biggest military power of the world, a country that has only been defeated once: by the Vietnamese in the XX century. Consequently, it is difficult to defeat it militarily but I think a political defeat is perfectly possible and it can be achieved thanks to the persistency of the Iraqi’s resistance.

A victory will be achieved if the United States is forced to withdraw the troops and can’t privatize and control Iraq from an economic point of view. But, if it withdraws the troops and control the country economically, privatize everything, succeed in the establishment of a pro-west government in Baghdad, then the defeat will be ours. Regarding the new stage of the American imperialism, yes. They risked themselves and we don’t know for sure how it is going to end. If they were politically defeated in Iraq, they should rethink their strategy and this will encourage their potential rivals in the Far East, especially China, Japan, the unified Korea...This is the zone they fear the most.

The American imperialism has never died. Many people think that because communism and the Soviet Union collapsed, the United States is no longer an imperial country. This is not the case. It has always been an imperial country. But when it decided to attack and occupy Iraq, it basically decided to establish its hegemony at world level. And the fact that an Iraqi resistance has developed is a problem for it because it thought it lived in a world without resistance, that the resistance was no longer possible...but the aggressive imperialism has produced resistance too and this is something the Europeans must understand, that if this kind of behavior continues there would be resistance movements everywhere in the world.

- How do you think things will evolve in the Middle East after the Iraqi invasion?

- During the last 12 or 13 years there have been two problems in the Middle East. One has been the occupation of Palestine by the Israelis and, the second, the occupation of parts of Iraq and now of the whole Iraq by the Americans, apart form the bombings and the sanctions. The West has been waiting for the war against the peoples of the Arab world and the Western liberal conciseness hasn’t done anything regarding the Palestine suffering. Israelis commit all kind of atrocities against the Palestine children everyday, they treat Arabs as if they were subhuman and the West hasn’t said a word. This is the West that talks about human rights constantly, the professors of human rights. We have a great human rights culture but not for the Palestine people.

The West wouldn’t dare to attack Israel. However, Israel blackmails Europe constantly because of WWII. But the Palestine people were not responsible for what happened to the Jews during this war and they have become their indirect victims. I think there would never be peace in the Middle East if the situation remains like this. There would never be peace if Palestine and Iraq remain occupied. And the sooner the Americans understand this, the better. If they want to experiment with the democracy, why don’t they do in Saudi Arabia which they have controlled since 1945? What would be the role of the United Nations from now on? Can it be presented as a guarantor of the international right?

I think the United Nations is the equivalent of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It is mainly controlled by the United States and even when sometimes it shows disagreement, as during the Iraqi war, the Security Council retrospectively supported the occupation and recognized the puppet regime. I don’t take the United Nations seriously. I think it is controlled by the only existing imperial power. It couldn’t do anything against the war in Viet Nam, it couldn’t do anything against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia...and when you say this people get very angry because they had built their hopes up, but they were not based on reality, they just had Utopian ideas about what they would like the United Nations to be. What I mean is that nowadays you can’t just name the United Nations Secretary General without the consent of the United States; that is impossible. The Secretary General is like a waiter in the White House.

- What is the role of Europe in the imperial project of the United States?

- This is a very important topic. So far, the Europeans have failed in their development as a political entity because they are seriously divided. In my opinion, General De Gaulle, right-wing French leader, was right when he said to the Germans and his own people: “If we want to establish a strong Europe, we must exclude Great Britain which will always be the Trojan horse of the United States.” And this has proved to be right. What I want to say is that Europe is completely divided. The French and the Germans follow the same path and Blair does know what he wants: he basically defends the interests of the United States in Europe.

Now, with the extension of the European Union to the Eastern countries, we must wonder what these countries are. Politically and economically speaking they are satellites of the United States. Just look at how they enjoy the war in Iraq, even when the people were against it. The Germans can control former Czechoslovakia politically and economically but the Americans dominate it ideologically.

I think Europe’s dynamic is a problem. It was incapable of stopping the war and a minute after the occupation of Iraq by the United States, Chirac and Schroeder congratulated Bush. The only European who attacked Bush and Blair was Zapatero after his election. I was surprised! He has been the only European who said Bush and Blair had lied. This is not common in Spain because Aznar or Felipe González and Javier Solana were men a 100% committed to NATO. Look at Solana, one day he said Spain shouldn’t join NATO and the next day we was its Secretary General. And this corruption among the social democracy politicians has a price, people ended being sick of this kind of politicians.

Today, I don’t see a serious agreement in Europe but there is no doubt the Germans and the allied French are not happy with the United States. They didn’t oppose them but they are no happy. Their interests were contrary to the war because the French as well as the Germans had relations with Iraq, they bought oil, they had business; therefore, they were not interested in war at all. But they can’t do anything for they are too weak and the European Constitution which was recently discussed leaves Europe as weak as it is. This situation is not good in terms of a European identity in a Europe that advances as a strong political entity. And I think many people are starting to feel this. I don’t think Europe is a great solution right now. I think the European project is in crisis.

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- Don’t you think this European alternative you are talking about don’t want to become an imperial Europe?

I fear for the economic development of this continent. This is the great danger. My argument isn’t that we want an imperial Europe but we certainly want to challenge the United States because when another entity challenges it we could all survive and the movements would increase. This happened before. Any present opposition and in the next 30 or 40 years might be very useful. The space just has to be created.

- In your book “Bush in Babilonia” (Bush in Babylonia) you advocate for the creation of a World Anti-imperialist League within the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU). Has there been any achievement?

I was actually talking about the United States but the idea I want to say clearly is that fighting a political battle against the American empire will be extremely difficult, though we shouldn’t give up hope on the American people. They voted for Bush, he had three more million votes; however, a remarkable minority is against him. And there has been an important anti-war movement. But obviously, a successful movement has to be global. And in this sense I think the most advanced continent in its opposition to the United States is Latin America.

There are great social movements...there you have Hugo Chávez in Venezuela who has been accused of being a dictator even when he has been elected with more votes than the majority of the Western politicians. Venezuela is the only country in the world where the poor has mobilized themselves to defend the government which makes reforms, helps them and has implemented interesting experiments. The United States have tried to overthrow this government several times: the first time through a coup; the second was by supporting the oligarchy to carry out a strike; the third was through a referendum. They have always failed. When I see some idiots writing a column in El País saying Chávez is a dictator I wonder in what world I am living in.

The fact that he was once in the army does not make him a dictator; he has been elected. Many elected American presidents came from the army; and the United States has had many presidents with a military formation, as well as in other countries of the world. The hostility against Venezuela is not because Chavez is anti-democratic; he is more democratic that what we see in many other countries for he has allowed a scenario in which all private media are against him. What country would allow that? Spain? No. Blair? Blair fired the direction of the BBC because they reported the demonstrations against the war.

Therefore, a lot can be learned about Venezuela today. And I think there is a polarization in Latin America between Lula’s method in Brazil and that of Chavez in Venezuela. That is the great debate. Lula is acting like Javier Solana and Felipe González: he does what the Americans want. He accepts the proposals of the IMF and that is why he is losing important cities such as Sao Paulo or Porto Alegre. That’s why I think the most important debate is taking place in Latin America.

- What do you think about Spanish president Rodríguez Zapatero’s proposal before the United Nations to found an “alliance of civilizations?”

- This sounds very nice; trying to attack the clash of civilizations Samuel Huntington and others proposed and I attacked in my book “El choque de los Fundamentalismos” (“The clash of fundamentalisms”). I like European politicians say they are trying to found an alliance of civilizations but the truth is very simple: if there were no oil in the Islamic lands there would be no clash. There is no clash of civilizations or religions. The clash is due to a geological and economic accident: the oil of the world lies under the Islamic lands. If the countries of the Middle East were Buddhists, the clash of civilizations would be against Buddhism; if they were Zoroastrian, it would be against Zoroastrianism. I think we should eliminate the debate of civilizations and see what is behind it: the defense of the Western interests.