Impact of Iraq Quagmire on Domestic Politics
Recently the American bourgeoisie finally gave up on one of the biggest lies it used to justify its war against Iraq. In January David A. Kay, the Bush administration's chief advisor on the search for weapons of mass destruction, publicly acknowledged that he did not believe that Iraq had possessed large stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons in the period prior to last year's American military invasion. So, it seems that the butcher of Baghdad was, after all, the one who was telling the truth - he no longer had so-called weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a "few months away," as the American government claimed, from producing a nuclear bomb - a key prop for the administration's case for the urgency of a pre-emptive war.
What brought on this sudden change of heart? Has the bourgeoisie suddenly become honest and willing to correct the historical record? One has to be really naive or a member of the bourgeois press corps to think so. The reality is that this lie, among the other cynical lies that the Bush administration used to justify the war against Iraq, had become over time totally untenable. Almost a year after the ouster of Saddam Hussein's regime and millions of dollars and countless man-hours expended on the hunt for WMDs, this bogey-man seems to have disappeared into thin air. In Great Britain - America's main partner in its pre-emptive war on Iraq - this false explanation of the war has been totally discredited for a long time. The Blair government's schoolboy like assemblage of data on the weapons capabilities of Iraq from questionable Internet sources has been amply documented before and after the war. Thus in these circumstances Mr. Kay's admission that "sorry there were not WMD after all" is not surprising and was surely decided upon by the government in order to get rid of an uncomfortable issue, especially in the context of an election year.
However even now what the bourgeoisie is saying is only half true. For one thing, the Bush administration cannot openly admit that it misrepresented, misled, exaggerated or, to say it clearly, lied, about the WMD issue in order to rally the population and particularly the working class to support for the war effort. On the contrary, now we are being asked to believe that the representatives of the dominant class were duped, the innocent victims of "intelligence failure" of American spy agencies. This is the new myth being created, and in the end it seems that the initial little scandal around Mr. Kay's declaration is destined to die out in the comfortable backrooms of the investigation commissions that American democracy is so fond of. Thus the unmasking of the cynical lie about the dangerous threat to America posed by a mad man, quasi-armed with atomic weapons, has ended with Mr. Bush's decision to appoint a major bipartisan inquiry into the "intelligence failure" that was unable to see that Hussein was not so dangerous after all. The trick has worked so well that the issue has almost disappeared from the main bourgeois press, which reflects on the one hand, the unity of all the factions of the bourgeoisie on the war against Iraq and on the other the concern of the dominant class about the potential impact of the exposure of the fabrications that justified this military adventure.
From the point of view of the working class one thing should be clear - there should be no surprise that the bourgeoisie lies consciously and cynically when it asks for the blood and flesh of "its" workers to defend its imperialist interests. This is what revolutionaries have been saying about all the justifications that the ruling class used to draw the support of the working class for its war against Iraq. For instance a year ago, in Internationalism 125, we wrote: "The Bush administration has given over the last months many "praiseworthy" explanations for this new military adventure. It has said, attempting still to exploit the patriotic feelings awaken in the American population after the terrorist attacks of September 11 on the cities of New York and Washington, that this war is a war against terrorism. It has said that this war is a pre-emptive action to disarm Iraq of 'weapons of mass destruction' that could have been used in the future against American interest. It has said that this war has the goal of changing Iraq's regime and the overthrowing of a bloody dictator that threatened its neighbors and oppressed its own people. It has said -and this is the preferred theme lately- that this is a war aimed to liberate the Iraqi population, a war meant to bring prosperity, peace and the democratic panacea to the Iraqis and the Middle East region at large. These explanations are cynical lies."
That Iraq had become a military midget after its defeat during the first Gulf war and the sanctions that followed was a fact only hidden by the American bourgeoisie and a propaganda machine interested in justifying its military presence in the Middle East during the 90's and its open military offensive initiative in Afghanistan and the war against Iraq that followed.
In any case, the use of terrorism, the alleged possession of "weapons of mass destruction," the oppression of its "own population" were not attributes solely of Hussein's regime, but rather are the shared characteristics of all capitalist states in the world no matter how democratic or dictatorial their political regime. The US is no exception to this rule. Historically its dominant class has not hesitated either to use terrorism or "weapons of mass destruction" when it suited its political interests. Let's not forget that the US possesses a military arsenal capable of destroying the world several times over. Once again there is nothing out of the ordinary about the dishonesty of the bourgeoisie. The dominant class can't just tell the exploited class -the one that has always, in one way or another, borne the brunt of the military adventures of its exploiters - that a military action is needed in order to advance or defend the political, economic or military strategic needs of the State. In order to convince people that killing, and being killed, is a worthy cause, the dominant class has to ideologically mystify the population and in particular the working class. The imperialist world wars and the equally imperialist various local wars in which the Western and the Stalinist blocs confronted each other for decades had always been justified with one or another ideological theme. The "anti-terrorist" and democratic banner that the US is today waving to justify its world-wide war campaign is nothing but a fa?ade behind which stand the desperate efforts of a frightened imperial power determined to defend its hegemony over the world. These are the lessons that workers need to draw of the reveal dishonesty of the bourgeoisie.
Eduardo Smith, 3/20/04.