Anti-War Bulletin #2: All U.S. troops out of Iraq now!
The latest anti-war leaflet from the Seattle Anti-Imperialist Committee. We welcome your comments, questions and criticism.
Hundreds of thousands of people will demonstrate in the streets March 17-19, and for good reason. This is the fourth anniversary of the imperialist invasion of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of U.S. soldiers are now dead as a result. Millions of Iraqis are now refugees. But more will die; more will become refugees. And after four years of war both the Republicans and Democrats are only promising more war.
Behind this bitter reality is the fact that these ruling parties represent the interests of the very rich, the U.S. monopoly capitalist class, and one of the historic keys to this class' global power has been control of Middle Eastern oil. But this control has become increasingly shaky in face of rivalry from Europe, East Asia, and the Middle East itself. In response, the capitalist class is driven to rely on another key to its power, its huge military machine, in a vicious fight to maintain this strategic link in its profit-making empire.
Thus, U.S. armed forces have now been marauding the Gulf region for 16 ½ years, with the consensus in Washington that they will continue to do so far into the future. This is because since the 1979 overthrow of the Shah of Iran, U.S. imperialism has lacked a compliant local regime that is powerful enough to act as enforcer of U.S. interests. Compounding this the rising ruling classes of the more economically developed states with larger populations, i.e., Iraq and Iran, began demanding their "fair share" in the domination of Middle East oil resources.
This new relation of power led the U.S. to cynically aid one side and then the other in the long and bloody Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) so as to weaken both. Iraq came out of this war in an economic crisis that the Hussein tyranny hoped to ease by taking over Kuwait. But this upset the imperialist-imposed balance of power in the region, and infringed on U.S. imperial prerogatives. Bush I responded with the Gulf War slaughter in order to put the Iraqi ruling class into its "proper place", and to restore the Kuwaiti royalty. And for eight years Clinton continued Bush I's policy of sanctions plus bombing in an attempt to keep the Iraqi regime under the thumb of U.S. imperialism. Nevertheless, Hussein and Co. maneuvered in their own interests by making deals with U.S. rivals in Europe and Russia, while the genocidal sanctions policy was increasingly condemned by progressive opinion everywhere. Thus, in 1998 Clinton came out for an Iraqi "regime change" (that would somehow be achieved peacefully), and Bush II used the 9/11 terrorist atrocity as a pretext for war to install loyal Iraqi puppets who would privatize the oil industry and welcome permanent U.S. military bases that would be used to dictate imperial order in the entire region.
So for four long years U.S. troops have been cruelly used so that the owners of U.S. oil companies and the big financiers can profit from privatizing Iraq's oil industry, and the owners of giant corporations like Halliburton can loot the national treasury for hundreds of billions in military and "reconstruction" contracts. This is part of an overall strategy to dominate Middle East oil vis-à-vis local and global rivals. Yet Bush's promised Iraq "cake-walk" has turned into a disaster: There is mass popular resistance to U.S. occupation troops as well as resistance by Ba'athist and fundamentalist-led reactionary factions. Throughout the Arab and Muslim world the masses of people seethe with anger at the U.S. atrocities. U.S. attempts to install a purely puppet Iraqi government have failed. Instead it must deal with a factionalized and weak government that maneuvers to have a certain independence and which would like to move closer to Iran. (Even the "traditional" U.S. Iraqi allies, the Kurdish capitalists in the North, want to make business deals with Iran!) There's danger that the war may draw in other countries. There's danger that the war may draw in other countries and, with Iraq weakened by occupation and civil war, Iran has become a relative regional powerhouse that capitalist rivals from Europe, Russia, China and India are making lucrative business deals with. Meanwhile, the domestic mass sentiment that the U.S. should get out of Iraq continues to grow, and it helps fuel resistance within the military itself.
This disaster has resulted in a political crisis in Washington. With Bush escalating the slaughter in Iraq while also threatening war against Iran, a part of his own party have begun to publicly oppose his war plans and offer alternatives, while the Democrats scramble for alternative war tactics. And, because they won a majority in Congress by appealing to mass anti-war sentiment and want to capture the White House in 2008, the Democrats call their alternative war plans withdrawal plans, and posture against Bush's escalation.
One example of this posturing was the recently passed House resolution opposing Bush's escalation. It was non-binding and, therefore, worthless insofar as stopping escalation. Furthermore, it didn't actually oppose the war itself; the message the Democrats largely gave during the debate was that they opposed the escalation because it wouldn't work.
With the Senate failure of the same resolution, House leader Pelosi began supporting Rep. John Murtha's plan to require adequate equipment and training for troops headed for combat, and limit the time and number of deployments by soldiers. Murtha says that this would effectively deny Bush the ability to escalate, but with its bloated budget, it's hard to imagine that the Pentagon can't come up with another 21,500 suits of body armor and more ammunition or that it can't give a few more weeks of training and stamp this "adequate." And, although having enough troops to fulfill the deployments requirement presents problems, a top Democratic Party aid is quoted in Politico magazine admitting that "the maneuver would not prevent the president from sending some additional forces to Baghdad. 'We want to limit the number who can go...'" In other words, the Democrats want a better equipped escalation with slightly fewer troops!
The article quotes this same aid as saying, "We're trying to build a case that the president needs to change course." It seems the case being built is for the purpose of winning ruling class support for new tactics to save what can be saved of Bush's imperial project. And the change in course seems to be indicated by the new Senate proposal to revise the 2002 war authorization act so as to begin a slow withdrawal of combat troops over the next year. On the face of it, this means another year of war ("targeted anti-terrorism operations" and "logistical support for the Iraqis and helping them protect their own borders"), and a year of stepped up training of the Iraqi Army to act as a U.S. proxy. But there is no mention of what happens if "benchmarks" aren't met, or if training the Iraqi Army continues to fail, or if the Iraqi government falls apart. Nor is there mention of pulling U.S. troops out of neighboring countries. (Murtha has long been calling for launching "special operations" attacks into Iraq from bases in these countries.)
The latter proposal (as well as Murtha's) may fall apart due to divisions among the Democrats themselves, but whatever alternative tactics they agree to it's clear that they'll involve more reliance on military might. Reid, Pelosi, and the top party presidential candidates are all adamant that they will not cut war-funding; and Bush's total proposed funding is the highest in real terms since World War II. Moreover, in recent months Bush has come to agree with the Democrats that the military should be expanded, and that more U.S. troops should be sent to Afghanistan!
All sections of the Democratic Party oppose the mass demand that the U.S. get out of Iraq now with the imperialist argument that U.S. troop presence prevents a ghastlier civil war and chaos. But this conveniently sloughs over the fact that the Iraqi constitution that they supported has greased the way to civil war---a civil war that has developed under the U.S. occupation. Of course, with U.S. troops gone there's little doubt that the various factions would continue to fight over division of Iraq's oil revenues on behalf capitalists that they represent. But without a foreign occupation the relative support that the fundamentalist and Ba'athist factions dominating the armed resistance have gained would inevitably shrink as these underlying motives came more to the fore. Moreover, under the U.S. occupation there are millions of Iraqis who demand that the U.S. get out while also condemning the civil war. A U.S. exit would lift one of their heavy burdens and allow them to focus on another: fighting from below to end the civil war.
In solidarity with the struggling Iraqi masses, on this fourth anniversary of war, the interests of the exploited and oppressed workers, youth and women of this country is to step up the fight to build the kind of anti-war movement that can force the U.S. out of Iraq! This requires:
*Political work that draws out the class interests driving this war through targeting imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism.
*Mass exposures of how the Democrats are also a war party in order to thwart their attempts to undermine independent political towards arousing the masses to fight in their true interests.
*Forging anti-imperialist groups to carry out this work through leaflets, postering, cultural work, meetings, and actions.
*Mobilizing the masses to participate in anti-war demonstrations with anti-imperialist politics.
*Raising the banner of anti-imperialism at these events through slogans, chants, signs, banners, leaflets and contingents.
Seattle Anti-Imperialist Committee
March 2, 2007
mail [at] seattleaic.org
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