Revolutionary Worker #1199, May 18, 2003, posted at rwor.org
The U.S. conquerors took over Iraq by force. This third world country lost its independence in April- -when massive high-tech armies and bombers crossed its borders.
Now, the British and American invaders want to develop political power for themselves amid all the ruins and suffering.
Step by step, the occupying power in Iraq is working to turn its military conquest into a colonial state - to ensure that the future direction of Iraqi society closely serves their imperialist interests.
Using Bullets to Create Authority
In early May, Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan, the commander of U.S. and British ground forces in Iraq, issued a "proclamation to the people" announcing that he was now "the head authority." He said he alone would decide what went down in this country. His commands would be law on the streets.
Almost no one in Iraq heard this--McKiernan has no apparatus at street level to post his declaration on lampposts. But conquerors like him have more direct ways of imposing "authority." Day after day, his troops have opened fire on Iraqi people.
In the first days of the occupation there was a massacre in the city of Mosul, where troops opened fire with a 50-caliber machine gun into a crowd of thousands.
On April 28, U.S. paratroopers opened fire on a crowd of 200 people in Fallujah who were demanding that the foreign invaders leave a local school. The people were also furious over reports that soldiers used "night vision" goggles to watch women.
Without shame Lt. Col. Eric Nantz bragged: "The engagement was sharp, precise, then it was complete." At least 15 people died. The local doctors said that three of the dead were boys aged 8 to 10.
On April 30, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld released a public message telling Iraq's people, "Iraq belongs to you." That same day, his troops opened fire again in Fallujah. At least two more people died when soldiers shot into a demonstration of over 1,000 people bravely protesting the earlier massacre in their town.
Many different political forces and religious networks have stepped up to get life going again. Over and over, these forces are coming into sharp conflict with the U.S. occupiers. Priority #1 of the U.S. command is that they alone will decide what institution reopens, and who opens it.
Hospitals, schools and workplaces are shut down and gutted. Eight international relief organizations announced that a massive health disaster is emerging in Iraq: "Already under severe strain and under- resourced before the war began, hospitals, water plants and sewage systems have been crippled by the conflict and looting. Hospitals are overwhelmed, diarrhea is endemic and the death toll is mounting. Medical and water staff are working for free, but cannot continue for long. Rubbish, including medical waste, is piling up. Clean water is scarce and diseases like typhoid are being reported in southern Iraq." The hospitals are crowded with the thousands of people injured in the U.S. invasion--many dying from lack of supplies and electricity. One Iraqi man showed reporters that he has tongue cancer, and needs an immediate operation. The hospital is closed and the doctor is gone. "What am I to do?" he demanded.
The U.S. government constantly says, "We will not stay in Iraq a minute longer than we have to." But the fact is their troops will not be leaving for years. Since 9/11, the U.S. military has occupied a ring of new bases surrounding the highly strategic Middle East--they have planted their boot from Djibouti in Africa to Uzbekistan in Central Asia. They have expanded their permanent regional military headquarters--which now completely dominates the tiny Gulf state of Qatar. And they now have 100,000 troops ruling Iraq in the heart of the world's most strategic oil fields--this country may be conquered but it is neither stable nor pacified. And the U.S. has no alternative force to leave in charge. There is no "exit strategy."
Oil Funding forModern Colonialism
The costs of occupying and remaking Iraq are huge. The ruling class Council of Foreign Relations reports that estimates range from $25 billion to $600 billion, and says they believe it will be $20 billion a year.
The U.S. plan for all this is simple: The U.S. government intends to exploit Iraqi labor and oil wealth to pay for a new pro-U.S. order in Iraq--including by bribing an apparatus of Iraqis to serve them
From the opening shots of the war, U.S. and British armies made a beeline for the oilfields. As the rest of Baghdad burned and the National Museum was looted, hundreds of U.S. troops and their tanks surrounded the records of the Iraqi Oil Ministry.
Hospitals and schools may not work in Iraq. But oil production has gotten attention from the highest U.S. levels. Key oil facilities are locked down tight, surrounded by tanks and intense patrols.
Meanwhile, the U.S. and Britain have put a new proposal before the UN. It is a stark demand that other powers in the world accept the U.S. "facts on the ground." The resolution recognizes that the U.S. and Britain are "occupying powers" who will jointly rule as supreme "authority" in Iraq for at least a year. This power can be automatically extended by the occupiers without further approval from the Security Council.
This proposal puts legal control of Iraqi oil to the new conquerors, to an "Iraqi Assistance Fund" controlled by the British and U.S. governments with some unspecified international advisory oversight. This Fund is supposedly for "purposes benefiting the people of Iraq"--but, just to be clear, the creation of a new pro-U.S. occupation government is included among those "purposes."
The Wall Street Journal (May 1, 2003) revealed a secret White House guidance document called "Moving the Iraqi Economy from Recovery to Sustainable Growth"--which directs the ground-up creation of a wide-open "free market" economy in Iraq. Key to this plan is opening up Iraq's key resources and industries for foreign takeovers--using a new stock market system. Columbia economist Jeffrey Sachs said ( USA Today,May 1) that privatization in Iraq is being "done by American guns, not by democratic decision" and said this approach "will help our oil companies and European companies in grabbing the Iraqi oil fields."
Such takeovers are not all in the open. Congressman Henry Waxman has exposed that U.S. mega- corporation Halliburton got a secret "no-bid contract" to run the Iraqi oil fields for the coming period. Vice President Dick Cheney was the head of Halliburton before taking office. The U.S. government had claimed Halliburton only got a contract to put out a few scattered oil fires.
Imperialists Can't Liberate
"We ought to be beating our chests every day. We ought to look in a mirror and get proud and stick out our chests and suck in our bellies and say: `Damn, we're Americans!'"
Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, Overseer of Iraq, USA Today, May 1
"U.S. Get Out!"
Chant heard all over Iraq
This occupation is being done in the name of the people--it is said that it will help the people of Iraq, and the people of the U.S. must support it.
People in the U.S. are being told that, since the war is now over, we should all focus on making sure the U.S. forces "do some good" in Iraq. Since the U.S. shattered Iraq, we are told the U.S. must stay to rebuild the place. And we should all become "constructive critics" of the ruling class plans to police and reorganize Iraq. This is exactly the line of the Democratic Party and its presidential candidates, who now want to "constructively" influence how the U.S. empire is expanded and ruled--meaning: they want people to embrace imperialism and quibble over the details.
But there is nothing to quibble about. Imperialist conquerors can't be liberators, and they never will.
This occupation can't "serve the people." It will not "leave Iraqi people better prepared for self-government."
The economy will probably be "put back on its feet"--but only to better dominate and exploit the people. The wealth and labor of Iraq will bribe a new layer of lackeys and pay for the foreign armies that keep everyone in line. A new government will "take shape"--drawn from reactionary, pro-imperialist circles, including the ranks of the old regime. (See "Putting the Colonial Pieces Together.")
And imperialist invasion can't bring anything different.
In a genuine revolution, the hated old government is overthrown by new forces who are organized and tempered during the struggle--who build their forces around a program of radical change and dig deep roots among the masses of oppressed people. The very process of revolution makes the masses of people "fit to rule"--including both by training the most advanced and self-sacrificing among them into a vanguard, and by creating broad public opinion for a new, different road.
The U.S. and British invaders broke the regime of Sadaam Hussein, but they had no intention of radically changing the class society in Iraq. Their plans go no farther than reshuffling and reorganizing various reactionary and bourgeois forces--into a new state apparatus built on U.S. guns. Iraq is being restructured to be a base-of-operations for further imperialist crimes in the world--and the U.S. is already using their occupation as platform to threaten Syria, Iran and the Palestinian people.
Foreign imperialist invasion cannot mean anything other than new and intensified oppression for Iraq's people, for the surrounding region--and for a whole world the U.S. seeks to dominate.
Mao Tsetung once said, "Cast away illusions, prepare for struggle." The war in Iraq may have ended, but the worldwide struggle against the U.S. imperialists is just heating up.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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