Iraq: despite the fine speeches a war without end

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

On the 1st of May 2003, President George Bush - the cowboy turned fighter pilot-landing on an aircraft carrier under a banner that read "Mission Accomplished", announced with great fanfare the end of the military phase of the war against Iraq. Saddam Hussein's regime, confronted with the overwhelming military superiority of the US war machine, had collapsed in a few weeks of war without presenting any meaningful resistance. In the celebration that followed, the American bourgeoisie, full of itself, announced the beginning of a new era of peace and democracy for the "liberated" Iraqi population and for all the countries of the Middle East. Today, seven months after, there is not much to brag about it. The new free Iraq is so dangerous a place that the man behind the army that liberated it, Mr. Bush, had to sneak into the country in the middle of the night-protected of course by a lot more than just darkness - to share Thanksgiving dinner with his "brave warriors." The Middle East is not much better a place than before the war, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is still very much alive, while the chaos and instability of Iraq are spreading to Saudi Arabia and Turkey, where there have been recent brutal terrorist actions that have left dozen dead and hundreds of people wounded. A War Without End

The fine speeches of the Bush administration about the improvement of the situation in Iraq are in sharp contrast with the harsh reality on the ground. The butcher of Baghdad has been out of power for almost eight months, but there is not yet a functioning society in Iraq. The one billion dollars a month being spent by the US bourgeoisie in this political-military adventure have brought neither stability nor reconstruction to this country.

The guerrilla war being waged by a mixture of old regime loyalist and anti-American Islamic fundamentalist groups, far from being over, is getting more devastating as the tactics of these groups grow in determination and effectiveness. The weekend after Mr. Bush's photo-op stunt it was announced that 79 American soldiers have been killed since October 31, making November the deadliest month for US troops in Iraq since the start of the war in March. And the Americans are not he only foreigners dying in Iraq. On mid-November a truck bomb attack took the life of 18 Italian soldiers, and in November 30, seven Spaniards, one Japanese and 2 South Koreans were also killed in different violent incidents.

Moreover, the sabotage by the guerrilla movement of Iraq's oil industry - its highly vulnerable pipelines have been continually bombed - the backbone of this country's economy, is adding to the miseries of the Iraqi population. The shortage of gas and electricity is causing frequent blackouts and long lines at the gasoline pumps fuelling unrest on the street. Last August a riot broke out in the Southern city of Basra over these very issues.

Up to the present, the 150,000 US soldiers, and their foreign and domestic allies, have been unable to roll back this tide of violence. On the contrary, the brutal attempts of the occupation forces to crush their opponents, the killing of innocent civilians, the widespread arrests and the disappearance of thousands of "suspected terrorists" and the destruction of family homes are in turn stirring anti-Americanism and adding fuel to the spiral of violence. Remarkably, one has the impression of seeing in the American military tactics used in Iraq a re-edition of Israeli, Mr. Sharon's, antics in the Palestinian occupied territories. Iraqis looking for missing relatives caught in the frantic American raids against "suspected" terrorists can't help the comparison of Saddam's era with the new democratic paradise of the American occupation: "at least in Saddam's days the police would tell families that they had arrested their people" (Time magazine, 12/8/03). The "No-Exit" Strategy

The Bush administration, pressed to respond to the increasing scepticism among the American population of its Iraq policy, is quick to affirm, "We are going to stay to get the job done". And this job, Mr. Bush candidly explains, is: "to make Iraqi people happy, to return liberty to it, and to build democracy and economic prosperity for it."

This is today the preferred ideological mask with which the US bourgeoisie would like to cover its imperialist policy, particularly after its war mongering justification for invading Iraq - the weapons of mass destruction line - has been shown to be a blatant lie.

However, this ideology of benevolent fatherly imperialism, militarily occupying a country and forcibly reorganizing its society in the best interest of its population is also a pure mystification. Contrary to the new ideology being peddled by some intellectuals of the "right wing" of the American bourgeoisie to justify its military adventures, there are no good imperialist powers, only national states willing to defend, without much concern for the cost in life and material destruction, their narrow political and economic interests. Of course, it is also not the case that the US soldiers in Iraq are valiant heroes, or modern crusaders defending the free world against "the evil doers". This is all ideological rubbish intended to mystify the working class, which is in this instance the one that pays for the military adventures of the dominant classes.

As we have said many times, the US war against Iraq is nothing but an imperialist war, that can only be understood in the broader context of the offensive of the US bourgeoisie against the imperialist powers that are challenging its supremacy at the world level. In this sense, the target of the Iraq invasion was not Saddam Hussein, but the European powers, in particularly Germany and France, which have - since the collapse of the system of imperialist blocs at the beginning of the 90's - attempted to play their own imperialist card at the expense of their former American boss. In fact, it has been in reaction to the expansionist ambitions of these powers that the US has responded with a long-term operation designed to keep their rivals within the confines of Western Europe. The 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, the building of military bases in several former republics and satellites countries of Russia in South East Asia and Eastern Europe, and the present occupation of Iraq, are all part of this strategy of containment and isolation of its imperialist rivals. On this level, the Bush camarilla does not hold exclusive rights to the present American war mongering. In fact, this long-term imperialist policy is designed to deal with the post Cold War world "order" and it has been the lynchpin of both the Democratic and Republican administrations since the one term presidency of Mr. Bush, the father.

It is because there is no possibility of turning back in this offensive, that the Bush administration has a "no exit-strategy" in Iraq. The intransigent defense of the US's global imperialist interests is what determines the nature of the "job" to be done, regardless of the personal qualities of the "commander in chief" of the moment. Towards More Imperialist Confrontations

The determined American unilateral invasion of Iraq and the military occupation of this country against the very vocal opposition of its main imperialist challengers, gives a measure of the overall overwhelming superiority of the US compared with its rivals. However, these countries, despite the humiliation, have not given up their ambitions and have not lost time trying to create new problems for the American bourgeoisie. The US's present difficulties in Iraq, and its relative loss of credibility and political authority, have emboldened its rivals to go on their own offensive. This is the meaning of the energized activity directed at the creation of an autonomous European military force, with Germany and France at its center. Also, it is this same logic of sabotaging American policy that sees Germany, France and Great Britain posing themselves as the mediators between the Iranian regime and the US over the American pressure regarding its nuclear program.

The fact that the whole historical situation-capitalism's decomposition, an undefeated working class and the overwhelming global superiority of the US compared with its rivals is not favorable to the formation new imperialist blocs and thus to a third world war does not make the present situation less dangerous. The wars, chaos and barbarism spreading today all over the planet could destroy the very material possibility for the rebuilding of society on a truly rational basis. Capitalism has no future to offer; only the world working class revolution can give humanity a chance for survival.

ES, 11/25/03.

See also :