U.S. Imperialism out of Iraq Now!
SAIC leaflet exposing the U.S. imperialist war on Iraq and imperialism in general.
Topics include: Anti-Imperialism Means Breaking with the Imperialists, The Left Democrats Try to Put a Humane Face on Imperialism, Should we Work in Coalition with the Liberal Democratic Politicians?, What can we do?, and more.
Seattle Anti-Imperialist Committee:
U.S. Imperialism out of Iraq Now!
The bloody Iraq invasion and occupation is three years old this month. The U.S. is fighting to put down resistance to the occupation. While the Iraqi masses are poorly organized to fight for their own interests today, their fight is a just one. At the same time, reactionary forces engage in terrorism against Iraqi civilians. Government-sponsored death squads roam the cities, the infrastructure of the country is wrecked, and the country is sliding toward civil war. U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces continue to murder, torture and summarily execute non-combatants and combatants alike. In place of reconstruction, money slated for Iraqi infrastructure has been siphoned off to enrich insider contractors like Halliburton.
The U.S. occupation is aimed at control of Iraqi resources, in particular oil, and at greater U.S. domination over the whole oil-rich region. Despite meeting with defeat after defeat, U.S. imperialism is driven to continue to fight, because to fail to do so would mean an opportunity for European or rising Asian imperialist powers gain to major economic advantages. Even when timetables for withdrawal are discussed by bourgeois politicians, all take for granted that the U.S. would continue to seek control in the region, using tactics which would draw less direct ire from the masses.
Alongside the devastation wrought by US military might and corruption, there is also a struggle going on between various Iraqi bourgeois factions. These factions are vying for advantage via cooperation with the U.S. occupiers, via military and terrorist attacks to strengthen their bargaining hand, via ties to U.S. rivals, such as Shiite groups' ties to Iran, or via backroom dealing. Many of these groups also seek to inflame backward religious, ethnic and nationalist sentiments among the masses, seeking to drive ordinary Iraqis into the arms of one or another reactionary religious leader. The February 22nd bombing of the al-Askariya mosque in Samarra, an important Shiite shrine, and the retaliatory bombings and executions in response, were an attempt by one faction or another to raise the level of sectarian violence. Leaders of the main Kurdish bourgeois trends in Northern Iraq are cooperating with the U.S. today, but are also gathering arms, training their own armies, and expanding their control of oil-rich region around Kirkuk, to maximize their position whatever the U.S. does. These factions care nothing about the interests of the working class and ordinary Iraqis, and work with the U.S. to suppress any independent actions by them.
Anti-Imperialism Means Breaking with the Imperialists
All of this points to the likelihood that the occupation is going to continue for a long time. Support for the occupation, and for the Bush administration are at all time lows. Even among soldiers stationed in Iraq, a new poll shows that 29% think the U.S. should withdraw immediately, while 72% think the U.S. should withdraw within a year. Yet, more than poll numbers is required to bring about an end to the occupation. What's needed is work to further build the anti-war movement with a different political orientation than what predominates today. The class opposition to the war must be further built and organized. And, as the history of resistance to the Vietnam War shows, even if we succeed in forcing withdrawal from Iraq, there will be another war, back in Iraq, in Iran, Syria or elsewhere. To bring about an end to all imperialist war, we need to dig out its roots: we need to fight to end the capitalist system which drives it.
In this struggle the Democratic Party politicians are our enemy, just as much as the Republicans are. They are both imperialist to the core. A timetable for withdrawal, the Democrats' alternative to "staying the course", seeks to gain time to impose stability in Iraq, and almost certainly would include U.S. bases and troops inside or around Iraq over the long term. In November the House Democrats voted overwhelmingly against a resolution for immediate withdrawal. The Senate Democrats unanimously approved Bush's $500 billion war budget. The main thrust of the Democrats' criticism of the Iraq war is that it diverts from the "Global War On Terror" (GWOT to the imperialist planners). This is a war which masquerades as an effort to make the US safer but is really just an excuse for endless imperialist adventures. The Democrats are calling for imperialist action in the region, against Syria and Iran. And they voted in early March with very few dissenting to make most of the provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act permanent.
The Democrats do not oppose the GWOT, they want to make sure it isn't neglected due to a quagmire in Iraq. Nor do they oppose the Iraq war; they want to make sure it doesn't hamper imperialism in other parts of the world. In short, they seek to adjust the allotment of imperialist resources, not to end imperialism.
The Left Democrats Try to Put a Humane Face on Imperialism
The left Democrats, far from fighting imperialism, are its staunch defenders. Without them, the ruling class as a whole would be exposed as the naked imperialists that they are. This wing of the Democrats hides behind hand-wringing and words, words, words in the face of the worst of imperialist abuses (torture, etc.), while pretending to be great defenders of peace, democracy and decency. Their aim? To break up anti-war resistance, and pull activists into supporting Democrats as the best hope for ending imperialism. The "Anybody But Bush" wave during the last elections is one example, used to sweep aside criticism of the Democrats, like the fact that Kerry promised more troops in Iraq.
Meanwhile, many liberal and religious organizations work to pressure the Democratic Party, trying to push it to "gain a backbone". That is, they are founded on the illusion that the Democrats can be pressured, that they have "lost their way". The reality is they have a backbone, they are well organized, and they play exactly the role they are supposed to play: try to give imperialism a human face, while they vote for every reactionary piece of legislation that comes down the pike. They rationalize that "we need to clean up the mess we made" in Iraq, and pretend not to see that very little cleanup is happening given the corruption and skimming of reconstruction money; that the occupation itself is the source of the "mess"; and that imperialism has been and still is the aim of the US presence for the last three years.
Thus, one of the tasks in building a more powerful anti-war movement is political exposure of what the Democratic Party politicians are really saying and doing. This will help clarify to the ordinary workers, activists, poor, minorities and students in these organizations that another political orientation is needed.
Should we Work in Coalition with the Liberal Democratic Politicians?
There are several active coalitions today with roughly similar politics: UFPJ, International ANSWER, World Can't Wait, and others. It is useful and important that ANSWER has called the demonstration for March 18th--we need more demonstrations. However, speakers at these demonstrations promote imperialist politics without challenge from the stage. For example, Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, invited by ANSWER to speak at the September 24th demonstration, has argued that "security and stability in Iraq should be pursued through diplomacy", instead of through occupation and war. "Security and stability" is code for a safe climate for US oil and other corporations, and imperialist diplomacy is always enforced through economic and military might; that is, it's just another tool of imperialist policy. The murderous sanctions against Iraq in the 90's are an example of diplomatic methods. When diplomacy fails, the economic and political interests of imperialism demand war. ANSWER also promoted McDermott as an "anti-war voice" and an "ally", and less then a month later, McDermott voted "present" on House Resolution 571, which called for U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq.
One of the ANSWER points of unity is:
> Unity must be based on uncompromising opposition to
> all forms of imperialist occupation and domination.
> We are not looking for a kinder, gentler occupation
> of Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti or anywhere. We oppose
> any sort of official UN sanction for imperialist
> occupation. We insist on complete opposition to all
> forms of colonial occupation.
But while they say they oppose "kinder, gentler" imperialism, their actions, inviting the very spokespeople of "kinder, gentler" imperialism via diplomacy and UN occupation, show just how seriously they take their own statements on the subject.
What can we do?
Anti-imperialists need to build an anti-imperialist core within the anti-war movement. This will help to propel the anti-war movement forward, and will help to break the stranglehold which the liberal imperialists have over the movement today. As part of this, we need to encourage current participants in the anti-war movement to examine the roots of the war in the capitalist system, and to form anti-imperialist contingents and feeder marches into the broader anti-war demonstrations. We also need to draw people who have never been to a demonstration into action. Part of that involves meeting people where they are, not to tail after them, but to show them the direct relationships between their own struggles (at work, etc.) and world imperialism. This will help to add militancy to our demonstrations and help create a climate where we have more and larger demonstrations.
There is a fashionable line today that there have been too many demonstrations, and that they serve no purpose but to let people blow off steam. These people ague that demonstrations so far have had no direct effect on the policy of the imperialists. Activists who doubt the power of demonstrations need only look as far as last year, when the Democrats were talking about re-instituting the draft. While it was touted as an anti-war measure, in reality a draft would have freed the the imperialists from the bind they are in today: not enough troops to wage war in Iraq, and attack Iran (which they are itching to do), and pursue the rest of the GWOT. So why did they drop the idea of a draft? Because a draft would have given an immense amount of energy to the ongoing protests, and pushed those who are still on the sidelines into action, as happened around the draft during the Vietnam War. This is a prospect which the imperialists want to avoid at almost any cost.
But imperialism is a powerful force, and it will take concerted, mass action and struggle to force them to back out from Iraq. Demonstrations are an important part of that struggle, as a form for people to start being active, and a forum for trends to start debating each other, and struggle over tactics and politics. They are an opportunity to raise the consciousness of people on the streets about the war, and pull them into the anti-war struggle. These are the first steps to building the kind of organizations we need to really challenge and tear down imperialism.
Part of the frustration with demonstrations as they have been organized is the hours of speakers we are forced to listen to, and the clichéd rally locations and march routes, often when there are very few people downtown. But rather than abandoning the realm of demonstrations to ANSWER and the other coalitions and to the liberal hacks they bring to speak, activists who are frustrated with "marching in circles" need to start debating tactics to break the near monopoly which coalitions like ANSWER hold over mass struggle. We need to work to channel this resistance into more frequent, new and creative demonstrations; demonstrations which have a mass character, and are aimed at bringing the masses of previously-inactive people into the struggle. Our aim needs to be to pull the mass of people who benefit nothing and suffer directly from the realities of imperialism into action; actions which are accessible to a broad section of people. The more effectively we can build an organized anti-imperialist force within the anti-war movement, the more power we will have to demand a more meaningful march route (through working class neighborhoods and populated areas, for example), and the more we will be able to start to formulate other, more creative and forward-looking mass tactics, tactics designed to maximize our ability to pull yet more people into action. We need to focus on building that organized anti-imperialist force.
Seattle Anti-Imperialist Committee, March 16, 2006
What is the Seattle Anti-Imperialist Committee?
The Seattle Anti-Imperialist Committee (SAIC) is a loose group of anti-imperialist activists in and around Seattle, Washington. We work to build genuine anti-imperialist consciousness and organization, and oppose the influence of liberal-imperialist and opportunist politics within the progressive movements, particularly the anti-war movement.
We believe that imperialism can only be eliminated through the independent political action of the masses of people and not through the "good-will" or "kindness" of various liberal-imperialist saviors.
All SAIC members are free to struggle, publicly, for their individual political lines. Many of us have various disagreements with one another, but are militantly united around the need to fight imperialism and the need to do so independently of the imperialist ruling class.
Our website at www.SeattleAIC.org gives readers the ability to publicly post comments, suggestions, questions and criticism of our work. SAIC welcomes and encourages such ideological struggle—which is crucial for the development of a mass, conscious anti-imperialist movement.
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