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Revolution #50, June 11, 2006
The Haditha Massacre, and the Bush Regime:
In a video taped by ITN news, and available from a link at worldcantwait.org, Eman, a nine-year-old girl in the village of Haditha, Iraq looks at her interviewer with eyes that convey pain that nobody should endure. She says, “I hate the Americans. The whole world hates them for what they have done here.”
And then she describes what happened to her family:
Eman Walid Abdul-Hameed: (as translated in the video): The American soldiers came into our house at 7 in the morning. We were awake but still wearing our nightclothes.
Narrator: Eman said her parents had been worried because a roadside bomb had been detonated close to their home earlier that morning. An American patrol had been hit. She later learned a Marine had been killed. She had decided it wasn’t safe to go to school that day. Her father had gone to his room to pray, as he always did when danger threatened. That’s when the Marines burst through their door.
Eman: I heard explosions by the door. The Americans came into the room where my father was praying and shot him. They went to my grandmother and killed her too. I heard an explosion. They threw a grenade under my grandfather’s bed.
Narrator: These pictures show American forces arriving in Haditha after the roadside bomb. Eman says the Marines that entered her home were angry.
Eman: We were all crying, but the Americans were also screaming. They were shouting at my father before they killed him.
Narrator: Eman shows the shrapnel wounds she suffered that day she’ll never forget, when her parents, grandparents, two uncles, and a cousin died. And her family wasn’t the only one to suffer. We were shown a bullet-riddled neighbor’s house, where two women and four children, the youngest just two years old, were among those killed by Marines. Eman’s account of what happened can’t be independently verified. But the American military has long since abandoned its original story, that shrapnel from the roadside bomb planted 150 meters away killed all the civilians. And bullet holes that suggest forced entry appear to undermine the latest U.S. position, that civilians caught in crossfire were killed accidentally by Marines. Eman and the others have even been offered an apology. She can’t accept it.
Eman: They kill people, then they say sorry. I hate them.
Twenty-four people were murdered in cold blood by U.S. Marines in Haditha in November of 2005. The U.S. covered up the killings by blaming them on “insurgents.”
In a speech to Congress shortly after the September 11 attacks, Bush said:
“Americans are asking, why do they hate us? They hate what we see right here in this chamber — a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms — our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.”
No, Bush. To the extent that people hate Americans, they hate us because they associate us with you. With your torture. With your massacres. With your lies and arrogance. And because of what you did to the village of Haditha on November 19, 2005. And they are going to hate us as long as they don’t see clearly that we, the people in this country, are outraged by, and will not tolerate, any more Hadithas, any more cover-ups. The people of the world need to see that. Now.
The massacre at Haditha is not an “isolated incident.” It is a concentration of what the U.S. occupiers are doing in Iraq every day, unique only in that it got exposed to the world. As we go to press, British news sources are reporting on the murder of eleven civilians by U.S. troops in the Iraqi town of Ishaqi in March. After the murders, U.S. troops blew up the house the victims were in. From the narration of the BBC video about the Ishaqi massacre:
“The Americans say the building collapsed under heavy fire, and four bodies were found in the rubble. But the Iraqi police version is very different. They say the Americans entered the house while it was still standing, and killed all eleven people including the three children. Only then was the house destroyed... A police officer at the hospital where the bodies were taken said all of them, from the 75 year old grandmother to the six-month-old baby, had bullet holes in the head and stomach. Killed first, then bombed, he said.”
Bush says he is “troubled” by all the news of U.S. massacres. But that’s only because the cover-up of Haditha is falling apart, and more truth is coming to light. Even in the midst of all the emerging scandals, last week U.S. troops murdered a pregnant woman and her mother who was bringing her to the hospital to deliver her baby. They were both shot to death for supposedly driving in the wrong lane at a checkpoint. No sooner does the White House absolve itself of one massacre or atrocity than another one seeps through the cracks.
Eight U.S. soldiers are reportedly being charged by the military for killing an Iraqi civilian near Baghdad on April 26 (another four are being confined to their base until further instruction). They are accused of dragging the man from his home and shooting him, and then planting a shovel and an AK-47 rifle next to his body to make it appear as if he were an insurgent burying a roadside bomb. Don’t comfort yourself by hoping that the guilty will be punished, or that some “message” other than “keep killing” has been delivered to the U.S. troops. Shortly after the BBC released the video of the massacre in Ishaqi, the U.S. military cleared the troops involved and the commander of that massacre of any wrongdoing.
And June 1, a military court acquitted an Army interrogator—called “Monster” and the “King of Torture” by his fellow troops—of charges of assault, maltreatment, dereliction of duty, using hashish and drinking on duty while torturing and degrading prisoners at the notorious Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. In case the message of this acquittal was too subtle, the court acquitted this solder of charges of drinking on duty even though his attorney admitted that he was guilty of this. The Army dropped charges against the only officer charged with abuse at Bagram, and the only soldier convicted of abuse at that prison was “punished” by having his rank reduced.
When you acquit monsters, torturers, and mass murders, you send a message. That message was crafted by “legal experts” who declared that prohibitions against torture were “quaint.” By Christian fascist military officers who tell the troops they are waging a holy war against infidels and “my god is bigger than his god.” And by a Secretary of Defense who is a gung-ho cheerleader for torture. Former General Janis Karpinski testified at the Bush Crimes Tribunal (www.bushcommission.org) that she saw a memo at Abu Ghraib instructing U.S. troops to use techniques like so called “stress position” (being forced into kneeling or other positions long enough to cause debilitating pain). Next to the memo was a handwritten note, understood to be from Donald Rumsfeld, that read, “Make sure this happens.”
And then, it does happen.
What kind of country systematically trains its troops in a culture of brutality, sadism, and mass murder? What kind of system puts its military bases in 130 countries around the world—incurring the hatred of people everywhere it sends its killing machinery?
It is an imperialist system. A system of global plunder. A system that is enforced by a military that is, in turn, fed by that very plunder. A system where exploited, abused people in every corner of the globe have their work and resources stolen from them, and then see the profit that came from their sweat and blood come back at them in the form of bombs, massacres, and Marines singing “From the Halls of Montezuma, to the Shores of Tripoli.”
As our centerspread this issue says: “Right now, Bush, as the president of the United States, is the top leader and acts in the interest of the U.S. Empire. An empire that is a global network of exploitation and plunder. An empire that is constantly expanding and contending with other imperialist powers for strategic position and advantage over regions, markets and resources.” (See “George W— Extreme and Grotesque Expression of the Fundamental Contradiction of Capitalism,” pages 8-9).
This is U.S. imperialism, and it is a horror for the people of the world.
Even as people wrestle over how to understand the systematic atrocities the U.S. is committing in Iraq (and Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and elsewhere), we cannot be silent or acquiescent in the face of the outrages being done in our name. The people of the world must see that WE WILL NOT TOLERATE WHAT OUR GOVERNMENT IS DOING.
Protest the massacre at Haditha now! Find ways for your fellow workers, your neighbors, your classmates (as school lets out for the summer), and everyone to speak out and declare that we stand with the VICTIMS of Bush’s so-called “War on Terror,” and NOT with the U.S. military.
Get this article out—all over the Internet, all over your city or town, and all over the world—so that people see that there are millions of us here who are determined to STOP Bush, and the whole agenda that he is a concentration of.
The poster on the back of this paper must be everywhere, all over the place. Challenge people to step out and step forward to politically resist this now. And to begin building now, with the burning urgency that Haditha demands, for an unbelievably massive show of resistance on October 5, determined to DRIVE OUT the Bush Regime.
The call from the World Can’t Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime movement says:
On Thursday, OCTOBER 5TH 2006: All day and into the night, across the country, we must decidedly break the paralysis that still grips too much of American political life.
Taking off work, taking off school, shutting down campuses and coming together in mass gatherings, we must let the country and the world know that:
- millions of us reject this illegitimate regime that is as criminal as it is dangerous to humanity & the existence of this planet.
- we refuse to grow accustomed to a political climate that is becoming everyday more frightening & reactionary.
We are what we’ve been waiting for.
This World Can’t Wait call is, indeed, a radical proposition. But the alternative is allowing more Hadithas to be committed in your name.
Revolution #50, June 11, 2006
Not planning on getting pregnant? The Center for Disease Control (CDC) doesn’t care. As far as they are concerned, if you are one of the 62 million women in the U.S. of childbearing age, you are pre-pregnant. A vessel. You are a future fetal incubator.
And, according to the CDC, the medical establishment, government, media and cultural crusaders should join in enforcing this state of pregnancy preparedness on you.
In April, the CDC issued a new report detailing measures to be taken to intervene in the life, health care, and behaviors of all women, “from menarche [first occurrence of menstruation] to menopause, who are capable of having children, even if they do not intend to conceive.”
The report bemoans a situation in which half of all pregnancies are unplanned and focuses in on the potential harm caused to fetuses by their female incubators between the time of an unexpected conception and the recognition of pregnancy. Never mind making it easier for women to decide for themselves whether or not to become pregnant. Never mind ensuring that women have the ability to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Not once, in its entire 43 pages, does the CDC’s report even mention birth control or elective abortion.
Instead, the CDC is framed in, and takes even further, the logic that has galvanized the anti-abortion movement for years. Now, not only is the developing life of a fetus, a potential human being, considered more valuable and important than the life of the woman whose body the fetus is part of—the potential life of a non-existent fetus takes precedence over the life of the woman.
But what is a fetus? It is a nothing more than a potential human being. And the only way it can grow into a human, a separate social being, is by being a subordinate part of a woman’s body and her biological processes for months.
The fact that there is so much confusion over the truth that a fully formed woman’s life—and her will—is more valuable than this subordinate part of her own biology is a very sobering sign of the times. And of where things are headed if there is not a huge outpouring of rage, furious resistance, and indignant, uncompromising insistence that “Women are NOT Incubators!”
The CDC report calls for a radical shift in medical care so that at every point of interaction, women’s doctors are to stage “interventions” to make sure they are healthy and prepared to give birth. Want to take your newborn in for a check-up or your eight-year-old in for a high fever? Expect an “intervention” into your eating habits, weight, and behavioral risk factors.
Got diabetes or epilepsy and looking for the care that is best for you? Wrong approach, says the CDC: “Separating childbearing from the management of chronic health problems and infectious diseases places women, their future pregnancies, and their future children at unnecessary risk.”
Further, the report notes that attitudes and behaviors about child-bearing and child-bearing preparedness are “influenced by childhood experiences and prevailing social norms among adults.” And it calls for a cultural and media crusade aimed at changing “public attitudes” and about “the importance of preconception health behaviors,” including the risks of tobacco use, alcohol, obesity, and diet.
Get prepared for religious fanatics migrating from the doors of abortion clinics they are closing to instead harassing women who enter bars, smoke cigarettes, or eat at McDonald’s. Get ready for the prosecution of women who engage in these activities for crimes against their future fetuses. Get ready for women to be totally surrounded and surveilled by their own doctors and people in “education, housing, and urban planning.” And get ready for calls to weed out and even sterilize women who are deemed by the state or other agencies to be unfit to bear children.
Sound too extreme? Wake up and look around!
Already there is a movement of theocratic lawyers, backing up a movement of fundamentalist pharmacists who refuse to fill women’s prescriptions for birth control. Already a second state, Louisiana, has joined South Dakota in banning abortion throughout the state, and Senator Tom Coburn and others have called for executing abortion providers. Already laws passed to “protect” fetuses have been used against people who, lacking safe and destigmatized access to legal abortions, self-induced or helped a woman induce her own voluntary abortion, landing them in jail!
Consider that Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, the leader of Human Life International based in Virginia, has called the repressive anti-abortion laws in El Salvador “an inspiration.” As the New York Times Magazine described the situation in El Salvador, “In the event that the woman’s illegal abortion went badly and the doctors have to perform a hysterectomy, then the uterus is sent to the Forensic Institute, where the government’s doctors analyze it and retain custody of her uterus as evidence against her.”
And think what it means that the born-again Commander-in-Chief, George W. Bush, has met and lent political support to the “Snowflakes.” This is a fundamentalist movement that has begun to find women to be incubators and bring to term every single frozen embryo that would normally be discarded from fertility clinics. Then, in a very sick and sinister fashion, they take these human babies and parade them around—including in photo ops with the Prez—to crusade against any woman who would chose not to be such an incubator.
As for the CDC’s pretense of concern for the high infant mortality rates among uninsured, poor and oppressed women, it is stark: for instance, the mortality rates for infants born to Black women in Brooklyn are comparable to the rates many Third World countries. But, when you get right down to it, this report has potentially genocidal implications.
It talks of intensive interventions into the lives of women who are at high risk, singling out race and economics as determining factors. But the “interventions” are not aimed at solving the conditions that cause women to be poor, to lack health care, or to be trapped in abusive relationships. Rather, the report blueprints a way to exploit these women’s poor conditions to further intrude into, and even criminalize women for, their intimate affairs and every aspect of their lives.
Let’s not forget this country’s long and shameful history of removing children from Native Americans who were deemed unfit to raise them. Or its history of forced sterilization of Black and Puerto Rican women without health care, who came to hospitals to give birth.*
This is a report that concentrates a viciously immoral stance towards half of humanity. It needs to be answered: by scientists and doctors taking on its recommended strategies, by social scientists and historians bringing to light what has happened before in places like Nazi Germany when all women were classified as breeders, and most of all by millions of outraged women and men who refuse to march forward into a real-life Handmaid’s Tale.
*Reports of this practice continued up until the 1970s. See Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction and the Meaning of Liberty, by Dorothy Roberts, or Judith A.M. Scully, “Maternal mortality, Population Control, and the War in Women's Wombs: A bioethical analysis of quinacrine sterilizations”, in 19 Wisconsin International Law Journal 103.
Revolution #50, June 11, 2006
What does the system of imperialism mean for the people of the world?
It means that huge monopolies and financial institutions control the economy and political system—not just in one country but all over the world.
It means capitalist exploiters oppress billions of people all over the earth.
It means war. War that puts down resistance and rebellion of the oppressed. And war between rival imperialist states.
It means that imperialist countries have the power to totally annihilate the planet with the push of a nuclear button.
Under capitalism, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the daily necessities of life and everything else—is socially produced. That is, thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions of people have to come together to produce things. It is no longer the case that things, in general, are produced by individuals, small shops, or even individual small factories. Today, the production of goods in society takes on global dimensions. You only need to look at the label on your clothes, your kids’ toys, food and just about everything else, to see how the production of goods is a worldwide process. And in many cases, even the production of one thing takes place in many different countries. For instance, the cotton in your shirt may be grown in one place, the cloth woven in another, the sewing done somewhere else.
But the fruits of all this labor are privately taken and owned by capitalist owners, businesses and corporations.
This contradiction, between socialized production and private appropriation, is the fundamental contradiction of capitalism—the thing that most of all defines and determines the motion and development of society today, where the capitalist system dominates the world.
And today, there is an extreme and grotesque expression of all this. He’s called George W. Bush.
How is this so?
Well, first of all start from the fact that W has his finger on the nuclear button (or as he would say, the “nuke-u-lar” button). W, as the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. military, has the power to literally blow huge chunks of the planet to smithereens.
What kind of world—what kind of economic and political relations in the world—have created such a situation, where W has such power?
Right now, Bush, as the president of the United States, is the top leader and acts in the interest of the U.S. Empire. An empire that is a global network of exploitation and plunder. An empire that is constantly expanding and contending with other imperialist powers for strategic position and advantage over regions, markets and resources.
This is an empire bound together by over $5 trillion in overseas investments—where huge profits are extracted from Third World countries on the basis of super-exploitation, leaving billions of people in brutal poverty, with nothing but the ability to work another day. This is an empire that spreads its tentacles of influence and control through global institutions it dominates, like the IMF (International Monetary Fund), the World Bank, and the WTO (World Trade Organization). That subordinates oppressed nations of the Third World to its economic needs and strategic interests. That enforces this subordination through military might, political power, economic domination and neo-colonial regimes that are controlled and propped up through military and economic aid.
So let's look at the contradiction between socialized production and private appropriation—and what this has to do with the fact that W has his finger on the nuclear button.
The vast and highly sophisticated technology and production capacity that exists today is a result of the collective labor of millions of people around the world. But this is all under the domination and control of a tiny handful of people in a small number of countries—with the United States being the most wealthy and powerful.
And the U.S. ruling class—with W as its top political leader—more than any other ruling class in the world, has amassed tremendous military power to reinforce this whole imperialist setup.
Where does this military power come from?
Just look at what the history of the United States has been about:
Wars waged. Indian peoples exterminated. Africans kidnapped and enslaved. Territory conquered and stolen. Peoples and countries throughout the world invaded, colonized, plundered, occupied, ripped off and dominated.
On the basis of exploiting people in every corner of the planet, the U.S. ruling class has amassed tremendous wealth. And a significant portion of this wealth has been, and continues to be, used for the research, development and production of weapons—and for the training and maintenance of a huge army to use such weapons. By 1965, 20% of the output of the U.S. economy was linked to the U.S. military. In 1985, 20-30% of engineers and scientists in the U.S. were directly engaged in the development of military technology. Such weapons of mass destruction are used to enforce domination and control over the very people whose life-blood provides the material foundation out of which the U.S. has built this whole empire in the first place.
What does this look like today? Is it true when we say that the world is extremely lopsided? That a handful of wealthy and powerful countries, especially the United States, dominates, exploits and oppresses the impoverished nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America?
In the world today, there already exists the wealth, technology, and resources—including the potential of the people—to actually solve problems like poverty, disease, malnutrition, unemployment and homelessness. There is NO reason why humanity cannot begin to make huge strides in bringing about a society where the masses of people work together and do unbelievable things in transforming the world and themselves... There is no reason EXCEPT for the fact that a small class of people control the means of production and has a gigantic military machine to defend their rule. So, under imperialism, the masses are condemned to endless exploitation, suffering and violent suppression if they dare to rebel.
And in this whole setup, who presides over the U.S.—the most wealthy and most powerful imperialist country with the biggest military force? A demented strutting sadist who says god appointed him to remake the whole planet. A monster who has already killed tens of thousands of people to expand and defend U.S. interests. George W, who has been given this power by U.S. ruling class, which sits at the top of the whole class of imperialists that dominate the planet. W, who has the the power to unleash tremendous weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear bombs, to defend the U.S. empire.
This is why we can say that George W is an extreme and incredibly grotesque expression of the fundamental contradiction of imperialism.
Revolution #50, June 11, 2006
For the first time in over 25 years the U.S. government has agreed to negotiate directly with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The talks would also include Britain, France, and Germany and would focus on Iran’s purported nuclear weapons program; the U.S. will participate only if Iran first halts its uranium enrichment program.
The move, announced by Secretary of State Rice on May 31, is being praised in much of the mainstream imperialist press as a bold reversal of Bush administration policy and a triumph for “realism” and diplomacy, one which could head off a U.S. war on Iran.
However, a close look at U.S. demands, motives, and the evolution of this tactical adjustment, reveals:
The current tensions between the U.S. imperialists and Iran have been building since the Shah of Iran, a hated U.S.-installed tyrant, was overthrown in 1979 and Islamic clerics led by the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power. Their program represented a melding of feudal and comprador bourgeois interests, and while brutally suppressing progressive, revolutionary and communist forces they established a new repressive theocracy: the Islamic Republic of Iran. Suffocating feudal and partriarchal relations were imposed and/or heightened on the people, especially women. Dissent and protest was ruthlessly suppressed. Intellectual life was tightly controlled and the domination of foreign capital preserved.
Despite their demogogic anti-U.S. posturing, Iran’s ruling ayatollahs never aimed to break Iran from the stranglehold of imperialist dominance. Instead, they sought to “renegotiate” their place within the U.S.-dominated order in the region, no longer simply being the loyal regional cop for the U.S. that the Shah had been, no longer dealing only with the U.S. imperialists, and no longer giving foreign capital and culture totally unfettered access to Iran (something they felt undermined the social relations and ideology their rule depends on). They courted other imperialist powers, tried to harness the revolutionary and anti-imperialist sentiments of the Iranian masses, supported certain Palestinian organizations and Lebanon’s Hezbollah (which the U.S. and Israel view as enemies), and have secretly pursued nuclear energy and perhaps weapons (Iran’s program was revealed in 2003) to try to achieve these objectives. All this has put them in conflict with the U.S. goals in the region on a number of fronts.
The U.S. has not had diplomatic relations with Iran since 1979 and instead attempted to isolate and contain the Islamic Republic through covert action, military threats and economic sanctions. All the while, Iran has remained outside the U.S. orbit. Its size, large population, vast oil and natural gas reserves, and strategic location (astride the Persian Gulf and on Russia’s southern flank) have made this situation very worrisome for the U.S. rulers.
Condoleezza Rice stated recently “We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran, whose policies are directed at developing a Middle East that would be 180 degrees different than the Middle East that we would like to see develop.” In reality, the Middle East the U.S. envisions is not 180 degrees apart from that envisioned by Iran’s clerical rulers; both envision a Middle East where global imperialism still sets the overall terms (and both also see plenty of room for obscurantist, fundamentalist religion — both in the region and in the U.S.!). What Rice IS saying is that the U.S. will not tolerate a Middle East that contains any regimes that are not absolutely subservient to it, or that even attempt to bargain with rival powers.
Upon coming to power the Bush administration aimed to forcibly cut through the knot of Middle East (and global) contradictions it faced and transform the situation to advance U.S. imperialism’s strategic needs and interests.
Given that its agenda was no longer maintaining the U.S.-dominated regional status quo, but radically restructuring the whole region in the Middle East and globally, things that were previously seen as difficult problems, like the Islamic Republic, were now viewed as intolerable obstacles. So regime change in Tehran, a charter member of Bush’s so-called “axis-of-evil,” was put on the table.
The U.S. rulers struck Iraq — a far weaker target — first. But they hoped that conquering Iraq would send shockwaves through the region, intimidating unfriendly regimes and (in conjunction with further U.S. actions) triggering their capitulation or collapse. As the initial invasion of Iraq was concluding, then Undersecretary of State (now UN Ambassador) John Bolton warned, “We are hopeful that a number of regimes will draw the appropriate lesson from Iraq that the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is not in their national interest.” Zalmay Khalilzad, now US Ambassador in Baghdad, called conquering Iraq “a key element in a long-term strategy for the transformation of this region as a whole.”
This is why the U.S. rejected overtures by Iran to negotiate on a variety of issues including its nuclear program and come to an understanding. (For instance, Gareth Porter writes (antiwar.com) that in 2003 the Iranian government secretly offered, among other things, to “accept peace with Israel and cut off material assistance to Palestinian armed groups” in return for a “halt in U.S. hostile behavior and rectification of status of Iran in the U.S.,” the “abolishment of all sanctions,” and “recognition of Iran’s legitimate security interests in the region with according defense capacity.”)
The goal for the U.S. rulers has never been simply changing Iranian behavior or preventing it from having a nuclear program, but overthrowing the regime itself. Negotiations would have implied recognition of the legitimacy of Iran’s Islamic Republic; the U.S. has sought to delegitimize the regime. Resolving issues with Iran would have stabilized the status quo; the U.S. aims to transform it.
The recent shift in U.S. policy must also be seen against the backdrop of the unintended course and consequences of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and Iran’s shifting tactics. The Iraq war has not gone as planned, but instead given rise to new problems and contradictions for the Bush regime. Hatred of the U.S. government has skyrocketed around the world, including in the U.S., support for the war has plummeted, the U.S. has been unable to stabilize Iraq, and tensions have increased between the U.S. and other powers, particularly Russia and China.
One of the main problems the Bush administration faces is that the Iraq war has not led to the weakening of Iran. Instead it and other developments (the rise in oil prices for instance) have in some ways strengthened the Iranian government’s position. For one, Iran has gained leverage in Iraq (and thus potentially against U.S. forces there) through its proximity to and ties with Shi’ite groups that are now the dominant force in Iraq’s new government. Pro-Iranian forces have growing power and influence in Palestine, Afghanistan and Lebanon. And Iran’s clerics, deeply hated by the Iranian people, have been able to posture as defenders of the nation in the face of U.S. aggression in the region.
Iran’s Islamic Republic has its own compulsions and ambitions, domestically and regionally, and its frustration that two years of negotiations with France, Britain and other powers (during which it suspended its nuclear enrichment program) went nowhere, coupled with its sense that its leverage had increased, that Russia in particular was increasingly at odds with the U.S., and that they couldn’t stand pat in the face of growing U.S. threats, led it to shift tactics. Following his election, new President Ahmadinejad “embraced a decision already made by the top leadership to move toward confrontation with the West about the nuclear program,” the New York Times reports. In August 2005, Iran announced it was going to end its voluntary halt and go forward with uranium enrichment, a necessary step for either nuclear power generation or for making nuclear weapons.
A full assessment of the motivations and goals of Iran’s rulers is beyond the scope of this article, but in brief they face their own necessities — including defending against the U.S. and maintaining their hold over their population — as well as their own ambitions to be a major player in the Middle East/Central Asian region. Its more confrontational stance is an effort to play to anti-US hatred among Iranians and others in the region, as well as increase their leverage to strike a deal with the U.S. — a deal that would NOT include rupturing with the imperialist framework or fundamentally challenging U.S. domination. According to various reports, the Iranian leadership has been actively trying to open channels of communication with Washington since 2005 to discuss their nuclear program and other issues, and see their uranium enrichment program as well as their influence in Iraq as major “bargaining chips” to force the U.S. to negotiate. So far Iran’s actions have mainly escalated U.S. threats and military planning.
As Iran has gone forward with nuclear enrichment, including claiming it has been making significant advances in its program (although to be clear, there is still no evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, it insists its enrichment program is for peaceful use, and all experts acknowledge Iran is at least a decade from being able to build a nuclear bomb), and as the situation continues to deteriorate in Iraq, the U.S. has largely stood aside from negotiations with Iran, which have been carried out by the European powers.
In the face of this drift, the U.S. rulers felt they had to decisively act to regain the initiative in order to forge an alliance to strangle Iran and to create the necessary political and diplomatic conditions for regime change — including war — if necessary.
The reasoning of top U.S. officials also made clear that these negotiations were viewed as essential for the U.S. to push forward its agenda. The New York Times (June 1) reported that if the U.S. didn’t take part, “the administration would be blamed for failing to do its utmost to defuse the crisis, making it harder to rally world opinion against Iran,” and one former official told the Times: “It came down to convincing Cheney and others that if we are going to confront Iran, we first have to ‘check off the box’ of trying talks.”
In an interview on the PBS NewsHour, Secretary of State Rice made clear that negotiations were aimed at rapidly pushing the U.S. agenda forward: “What we hope this move will do is to accelerate the moment at which Iran’s choice is clear to everyone, because we can’t let this continue to drag out with the Iranians ...We need to know, and we need to know now.” She also made clear they would not take war off the table: “We’ve been very clear that the president reserves his option for military force...We are talking, not about a grand bargain here, not about the normalization of relations, not about something that somehow legitimizes activities of the Iranian regime that we find abhorrent and dangerous.”
U.S. political and military preparations against Iran continued as this diplomatic initiative was unveiled. The Wall Street Journal (June 1) reports that the U.S. diplomacy “could be part of stepped-up action against Iran that will increase in the coming months, regardless of events at the UN,” including wide-ranging financial and other sanctions against Iran, and that “U.S. officials have been seeking to cobble a united front among Middle East countries to pressure Iran,” including through increased military cooperation. “U.S. officials are particularly seeking to build a stronger security presence in the Middle East through the Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional body comprising Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.... They see the GCC as a buttress against Iran’s influence in countries such as Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.”
On May 22, the New York Times reported that the U.S. was holding joint military exercises with Turkey aimed at interdicting nuclear materials and supplies headed for Iran. Even more ominously, in mid-May, Britain’s Herald reported,
“The US is updating contingency plans for a non-nuclear strike to cripple Iran’s atomic weapon programme if international diplomacy fails, Pentagon sources have confirmed. Strategists are understood to have presented two options for pinpoint strikes using B2 bombers flying directly from bases in Missouri, Guam in the Pacific and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. RAF Fairford in Gloucester also has facilities for B2s but this has been ruled out because of the UK’s opposition to military action against Tehran. The main plan calls for a rolling, five-day bombing campaign against 400 key targets in Iran, including 24 nuclear-related sites, 14 military airfields and radar installations, and Revolutionary Guard headquarters.” (http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/62043-print.shtml)
The Wall Street Journal calls this latest U.S. move a “gambit” which could fail, and how it will play out is unclear. Will Iran accept the terms demanded by the U.S.? Will China and Russia go along with more hostile moves against Iran? In any case, the contradictions in the region are intensifying, and the clouds of war loom darkly on the horizon — war that could come about either through U.S. judgment that such a war would be in its interests or even through miscalculations on either or both sides.
The point here is not that the U.S. rulers are unaware of the difficulties they would face in launching war on Iran or the potential for unintended consequences. The point is that those currently running the U.S. empire have grand ambitions of seizing deeper control of the whole planet, and gaining a stranglehold on the Middle East and Central Asia is key. They feel this agenda is crucial to strengthening and perpetuating their entire system of global exploitation and power, and that if they don’t pursue it ruthlessly and decisively, all could be lost.
It was very telling, for instance, that in mid-May the Bush administration reversed itself and decided not to hold talks with Iran on the situation in Iraq, even though Iran has considerable leverage to bring to bear there. The point: despite their profound difficulties in stabilizing Iraq and realizing their objectives there, their larger agenda remains paramount.
A recent Wall Street Journal editorial by Robert Blackwill, Bush’s former deputy national security adviser and presidential envoy to Iraq (June 1), spelled out an imperial understanding of the necessities facing the empire in Iran: “The case against using U.S. military force to set back Iran’s nuclear weapons program is impressive,” he begins. “Iran would retaliate strongly in Iraq, in Afghanistan and perhaps against the U.S. homeland. The effect in the Muslim world could be volcanic. Terror against America would increase. Islam could be further radicalized. Oil prices would skyrocket with damaging effects on the international economy, even if Iran did not interrupt its supply. The people of Iran would probably fall in behind the mullahs. Global public opinion would further shift against the U.S.”
But then he makes what he sees as a more compelling case for action from the imperialist standpoint: “The use of American military force against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would obviously carry great risk. But acquiescing in an Iranian nuclear weapons capability would be deeply dangerous for the U.S. and likeminded democracies for decades to come. It would be regarded by the entire world, friend and foe alike, as a strategic defeat for the U.S., and produce a major shift toward Iran in the balance of power in the Greater Middle East... John McCain sums it up: ‘In the end, there is only one thing worse than military action, and that is a nuclear-armed Iran.’”
People should consider this analysis by a former major figure in the Bush regime very seriously and very soberly.
Bush, Rice and company are carrying out their predatory aggression in the name of “liberating” people from the grip of oppressive regimes like Iran’s and building good relations with the Iranian people. “The president has spoken clearly that people all over the world,” Rice told the Newshour, “no matter who they are, in what corner, deserve basic freedoms, what he calls the non-negotiable demands of human dignity.”
But one only needs to look next door in Iraq to see what this imperialist “liberation” means: an oppressive regime was overthrown there only to be followed by even deeper horrors for the Iraqi people on all fronts — in their daily life, in the degree of imperialist control of their country, in the escalation of reactionary sectarian conflict, in the stripping of women’s rights, and in the increased power of suffocating and sectarian religious fundamentalism.
The horrors and war crimes now being committed in Iraq, and the Bush regime’s determination to press ahead with its nightmarish agenda of unbounded war for greater empire — including in the face of setbacks and difficulties and no matter the cost in the people’s blood — makes clear the urgency of driving out the Bush regime and repudiating its entire program, and beyond that intensifying struggle against this whole imperialist system. The urgency for the people to take responsibility for embarking on this mission is underscored by the Democratic Party leadership’s unity with the core of this agenda, and their support for strangling Iran and waging war if necessary. As Seymour Hersh reported, there is no pressure from Congress to stop an attack on Iran, only pressure from the right to get on with it.
Beyond this, any U.S. attack on Iran would certainly have enormous consequences and greatly sharpen contradictions in Iran, the region, the world and in the U.S. in many different ways. In these circumstances, it is very positive that genuine revolutionary forces in Iran represented by the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) — who oppose both U.S. aggression and their own brutal oppressors — could emerge as a significant force, offering a powerful alternative to the MacCrusade or Jihad choices the U.S. rulers claim are our only ones. They must be politically supported. And people within the U.S., now, must be mobilized to oppose yet another war — to bring the truth to people and intensify their resistance.
Revolution #50, June 11, 2006
The foul massacre perpetrated by U.S. Marines at Haditha must be condemned by everyone who opposes injustice. This incident concentrates everything that’s wrong with the U.S. war in Iraq, including the attempt to bury the murders with the lie that the victims of the massacre were killed by bombs exploded by Iraqi insurgents. (Do these lies remind anybody of Bush’s claims of “Weapons of Mass Destruction” in Iraq?)
After a U.S. soldier was killed in a bombing, Marines gunned down several men who were near a checkpoint. They went into a house and killed an entire family. And then went into other houses. When the massacre was over, five hours later, 24 people—men, women and children, ranging in age from two-years-old to grandparents, had been killed, some of them execution-style.
Despite government claims to the contrary, this was no isolated incident. Stories about other massacres committed by U.S. troops are starting to come out. These atrocities reflect the nature of the war the U.S. is waging. Remember how they began the war with massive bombing runs they called “Shock and Awe”? Remember the times that Iraqis were gunned down at U.S.-manned checkpoints? Remember the leveling of Falluja? Remember Abu Ghraib?
This is what an unjust war comes down to. An imperialist power wielding high-tech weaponry to pound an oppressed country into submission. Occupying troops committing atrocity after atrocity against the people.
We’ve seen this before—I know about this from the Vietnam War. I was in the U.S. army back then, and they gave me orders to go to Vietnam. I decided I had to find out what I would be a part of if I went. I talked to everyone I could find who had done time in ‘Nam. I already knew about the My Lai massacre where U.S. troops destroyed a whole village—killing hundreds of men, women and children and burning down the whole village. What I learned from talking to GIs was that the foul massacre at My Lai concentrated Standard Operating Procedure for U.S. troops in Vietnam—that it seemed like everyone over there was the enemy, so everyone was fair game to be killed or brutalized, including women, children and old people. All this is why I refused to go to Vietnam—because I refused to be a part of the criminal war the U.S. was waging in Vietnam.
I got sent to jail for two years for refusing to go to Vietnam, while the real criminals—the officers who ordered the My Lai massacre, the GIs who participated in it, to say nothing of the architects of the whole war—basically went unpunished. But I have no regrets. The stand I took, to refuse to fight in an unjust war, was the right stand to take during the Vietnam War. And this experience was a big part of how I came to see that this system is rotten to the core—and a big part of how I became a revolutionary communist.
The war the U.S. is waging in Iraq is, like the war in Vietnam, a criminal war. No one should be a part of this kind of war. And people who oppose this war need to support the troops who refuse to fight in it.
Revolution #50, June 11, 2006
If you are going to insist that crossing borders illegally is a crime which cannot be tolerated, and for which people should be punished, how about George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice (and yes, Colin Powell) and the rest of that gang, with their highly illegal, and violent, “crossing of the border” — into Iraq, among other places?!
On May 26, the Senate passed a “compromise” immigration bill which contains nightmarish provisions for immigrants and actually ratchets up the level of criminalization of immigrants, the Big-Brother databases and spy networks (which will impact everyone in the U.S.—immigrant or not), and the brazen exploitation of immigrant workers.
The Senate and House bills will go before a committee that may include people like Congressman Sensenbrenner, sponsor of the House bill that would make criminals out of anyone who aided illegal immigrants—so it is likely that any “compromise” between the House and Senate will be even worse than this Senate bill.
Revolution #50, June 11, 2006
Growing up on bands like Bad Religion and Rage Against the Machine, it never occurred to me that I could ever appreciate any of the sentiments found in a country song/album.
To me, country music seemed like a genre dominated by artists like Toby Keith, backward sexist-pig Southern boys who cater to the “Hooray America” crowd with pro-war anthems like, “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.”
So, I could never picture myself buying a country album—much less one by a group calling themselves the Dixie Chicks. (Let’s face it, although the group’s name is obviously tongue-in-cheek, the word “Dixie” still carries with it images of slavery and the confederate South, while the word “chick” has done nothing to help emancipate women.)
But being open-minded, having heard about positive contributions from artists like Steve Earle and Johnny Cash, and knowing that the other side was still holding a grudge against the band for daring to speak ill of George W. Bush more than three years ago, I decided to walk into uncharted territory, the country music section of a local record store. I picked up the new Dixie Chicks album to see what it was all about. I was amazed to find out that I really liked Taking the Long Way—not just musically—but lyrically.
The most popular song on the album, and the first single they released, “Not Ready to Make Nice,” starts off simple, with guitar and soft lyrics by singer Natalie Maines. It quickly builds up, letting the listener know that although the song is filled with emotion, it won’t be your usual country love song. “I’m through with doubt / There’s nothing left for me to figure out / I’ve paid a price / And I’ll keep paying.”
The song then gets louder as it reaches the chorus, with the singer never yelling (or over-singing), just with a strong, confident voice (as people should use when they know they are standing up for something right).
I’m not ready to make nice / I’m not ready to back down / I’m still mad as hell and / I don’t have time to go round and round and round / It’s too late to make it right / I probably wouldn’t if I could / ’Cause I’m mad as hell / Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should
With songs on their previous albums like “Goodbye Earl,” the group has broken with small-town tradition and gotten in trouble because of it from right-wing forces. But for this album, all three women, (Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire and Emily Robinson) took two years to work on their song-writing and came up with their most defiant lyrics to date, showcasing even more their rebellious spirit and their unapologetic stance in the face of criticism.
More than three years ago, on March 10, 2003, as the war on Iraq was in the horizon, at a concert stage in England, lead singer Maines made what she thought was a just a casual remark before getting into a song. She told the crowd, “Just so you know, we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.” Raising the fact that not everybody in Texas loves George got the other side really ticked!
At first, Maines made an apology about the phrasing of her comment, but the band soon let everyone know that they would neither repent nor give up their right to question the government. In fact, in a recent interview with Time magazine, Maines said that the only thing she regrets was making that apology. “I apologized for disrespecting the office of the President. But I don’t feel that way anymore. I don’t feel he is owed any respect whatsoever.”
Many critics of the band are saying that the Dixie Chicks have turned their back on the country music scene. But who turned their backs on who? Certainly not the majority of their fans who helped the new album debut at number one on the Billboard charts when it was released.
If anything, it’s the country music industry who has tried to censor and smear the band. Egged on by right-wing radio talk show hosts, radio stations throughout the South refused to play their music anymore. And although their last album won three Grammys, at the Country Music Awards ceremony they walked away empty-handed.
Meanwhile, Toby Keith attacked the band by displaying a Photoshopped picture of Maines and Saddam Hussein. And if this wasn’t enough, the band also had death threats to worry about. In a recent television interview, the group talked about the seriousness of the threats. “It wasn’t just somebody wanting to write a hate letter. It was somebody who obviously thought they had a plan,” said Maines. The band played a show in Dallas in spite of a specific death threat.
The soft ballad, Easy Silence, is more of an homage to a lover, but also speaks about the controversy and reminds us that anyone can be threatened and ridiculed for daring to speak out against the government.
Monkeys on the barricades/ Are warning us to back away/ They form commissions trying the find/ The next one they can crucify/ And anger plays on every station/
The backlash from the country music industry pushed the band towards a lot more experimentation with their new album, making it sound like the group was trying form a new sound rather than just another country album,
For example, the final track, “I Hope,” sounds more like a gospel song than anything else with its soulful delivery of the chorus which lays out their vision of a better society: “I hope / For more love, more joy and laughter / I hope / We’ll have more than you’ll ever need / I hope / We’ll have more happy ever afters / I hope/ We can all live more fearlessly.”
Maines even goes so far as to mock her old hometown in Texas, exposing its highly religious values, in the high-energy rock-and-twang song, “Lubbock or Leave It.”
Dust bowl, bible belt / Got more churches than trees / Raise me, praise me, couldn’t save me / Couldn’t keep me on my knees / Oh boy / Rave on down loop 289 / That’ll be the day you see me back/ In this fool’s paradise
Lubbock, Texas is actually known for its Baptist conservatism and the conservative townspeople there hated the new genre of rock ’n’ roll music that legend Buddy Holly, (who was also born there), was pioneering back in the 1950s.
With their continued unapologetic stance and its rebellious spirit, the Dixie Chicks’ new album deserves a place on our CD players, right next to other recent albums that have come out with strong stances against the war (i.e., Pearl Jam, Anti Flag, Neil Young and others).
The opening track, “The Long Way,” is about not doing what people expect you, or want you, to do. It can be a message of encouragement for those just beginning to question and even rebel against the way things are.
My friends from high school / Married their high school boyfriends / Moved into houses / In the same ZIP codes as their parents live / But I / I could never follow / …Drank with the Irish and smoked with the hippies / Moved with the shakers / Wouldn’t kiss all the asses that they told me to / No I / I could never follow /…It’s been two long years now / Since the top of the world came crashing down / And I’m getting it back on the road now / But I’m takin’ the long way