Message to 'Women from Iraq & Iran: Visionaries for Peace in the 21st Century Conference', Westfield State College, Westfield Massachusetts, April 14-17, 2005.
I know that peace in the 21st century can often be difficult to envision especially when we — our lives, our rights, our children, cities, schools and homes – are caught in the crossfire in a war of terrorists.
It is crucial for any successful discussion around visions of peace for the 21st century to look at the USA's adverse role in today's post-Cold War world. Iraq is a model for what the USA represents for the 21st century — insecurity, disorder, poverty and hunger, mass unemployment, destruction, carnage…
No claims of weapons of mass destruction, liberation from dictatorship, a defence of rights and a war on terror can conceal its real nature. In Iraq, it is stripped naked and bare. It is itself the only state to have used the atomic bomb; it itself supported the dictatorship it has 'liberated' the people of Iraq from; it is itself the main cause of the Iraqi people's rightlessness. And despite its claims of fighting a war on terror, the USA is itself a pole of international terrorism in the world today.
And it is not just Iraq. For profit and hegemony, the US ruling class would turn this world, including America, into another Iraq if it could. But that is only one part of 21st century reality. Any successful discussion must also look at the other pole of international terrorism in the world today — political Islam.
It is political Islam that hangs the likes of sweet 16-year-old Atefeh Rajabi for 'acts incompatible with chastity' in city centres, stones Maryam Ayoubi for adultery, throws acid in the faces of those who refuse to veil, beheads prostitutes, and legally permits sexual apartheid and misogyny.
All of you will have become uncomfortably familiar with this right-wing reactionary political movement from September 11 onwards when it went about its business as usual but this time outside its zone of influence and power. Political Islam and its ruling class would also turn this world into another Iraq if it could.
This vile movement may make many claims as the USA does in order to legitimise its barbarity — from people's liberation to democracy to rights – but they are only claims to dupe and legitimise. It cares as much for the liberation of the people of Palestine and Iraq as the USA does — not more, not less.
Both will indiscriminately maim and slaughter the very people they claim to defend. One will behead Westerners feigning defence of women prisoners in Iraq with one hand whilst killing Iraqi women who refuse to veil with another. The other will feign a defence of rights through indiscriminate bombings whilst its soldiers' boots are trampling over tortured naked bodies.
They both have women defenders — from Maggie Thatcher and Condi Rice to Fayezeh Rafsanjani and Zahra Shojaie who make declarations about women's rights but implement misogyny. They both have their media — from CNN to Aljazeera, think tanks and academics whipping up hype to make us believe that their claims are not deceptions; that they are slaughtering for more than profit and political power; that they actually have legitimate demands and grievances and no alternative but terrorism …
In practical terms — notwithstanding the differences — however, the USA and political Islam are two sides of one coin. They have the same agenda, the same vision, the same infinite capacity for violence, the same reliance on religion and reaction, the same need for hegemony and profit-making. They represent the same new world order for 21st century humanity.
You don't need to look beyond Abu Gharib or Evin prison or Guantanamo to see it. When it comes to you and I, when it comes to the people of America, Iran, Iraq… they are one and the same and will Iraq-ise the world if we let them.
But only if.
We must not let them exploit the suffering of millions of people caught in their crossfire by claiming to represent their victims. Only 21st century humanity can defend the interests of humanity as well as peace and social justice.
This is our historical task.
About Maryam Namazie is the host of 'The International English, is a Central Council Member of the Organisation of Women's Liberation and Director of the International Relations Committee of the Worker-communist Party of Iran.