The Anti-People Logic of Occupation

Revolutionary Worker #1207, July 20, 2003, posted at

"You can't distinguish between who's trying to kill you and who's not. Like, the only way to get through shit like that was to concentrate on getting through it by killing as many people as you can, people you know are trying to kill you. Killing them first and getting home."

Sergeant John Meadows, 3rd U.S. Infantry Division, London Evening Standard

"There are a lot of worrisome aspects about the current situation. Resistance is spreading geographically, resistance groups seem to be proliferating in Sunni areas, resistance elements appear to be tactically adaptive, resistance elements appear to be drawn from multiple elements of Sunni society, our operations inevitably create animosity by inflicting civilian casualties, disrupting lives, humiliating people and damaging property."

Jeffrey White, former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst, Washington Post

"We cannot leave Iraq. This has to be a success. If it's not a success, the credibility of the United States of America as a leader in this free world will hit rock bottom. We cannot allow that."

Rep. Ike Skelton, a leading congressional Democrat

The promises of quick victory and quick exit were a lie. And, as the resistance mounts against the occupation, the logic of this war pulls the U.S. in deeper.

The starting point of U.S. government policy is that their conquest must not fail. Iraq is not Somalia, where the U.S. pulled out after suffering setbacks in 1993. In this war, the U.S. has grabbed some of the most strategic territory on the planet. Ruling class figures are saying, in many ways, that U.S. ambitions require that the U.S. carry through its announced plans to impose a new regime, stabilize the occupation, and press on to restructure the region.

The official U.S. government response to the growing resistance is to promise an aggressive violent response. On July 2, Bush stunned the world by spouting off: "There are some who feel like conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is bring 'em on!" One commentator remarked that it was the first time in history a president had dared foreign enemies to attack U.S. soldiers.

A week later in Botswana, Bush repeated his theme in a slightly toned-down way, saying: "There's no question we've got a security issue in Iraq. And we're going to have to deal with it person-by-person. We're going to have to remain tough."

However, the U.S. only has its occupying army in Iraq. It has no local Iraqi forces of any significance to rely on--no allied Iraqi army forces, and very few police. It has not been able to pull together a local puppet force to help rule the country. And the very way this war was launched means that the U.S. has few major allies (other than Britain) to "bear the burden" of occupation.

The U.S. occupation authorities don't even seem to have a clear idea of who is fighting them in Iraq, or whether the resistance has any central coordination. Officially they portray the guerrillas as Ba'ath party diehards and "foreign terrorists." But in interviews and congressional testimony they admit that they really don't know much.

As a result, the U.S. high command has responded by trying to use its armored ground forces and airpower against the elusive forces of an early guerrilla war. Three different "offensives" have been launched in Iraq between May 1 and July 6. And senior Defense Department officials told reporters to expect more in the weeks ahead.

Large armored convoys of U.S. forces, backed by helicopters and air power, have raged through villages and towns. Their footsoldiers have gone storming door to door--brutalizing and rounding up people almost at random.

They are clearly hoping to "get lucky" --and in particular, they hope that capturing or killing Saddam Hussein will defuse the growing resistance. "I think it is important that we either catch him or kill him," Colonial Overseer Paul Bremer told the BBC. "There is no doubt that the fact that we have not been able to show his fate allows the remnants of the Ba'ath regime to go around the bazaars and villages and say Saddam will come back so do not cooperate with the coalition.

Although it goes almost unreported in the U.S. press, there are constant Iraqi civilian deaths from the U.S. operations --people shot down at roadblocks for not obeying shouted English commands, people who mistook U.S. raiders for looters and were themselves shot, kids hit by spray of U.S. machine gun fire into villages.

The U.S. invaders are being pulled into the classic, brutal and reactionary logic of occupation: they threaten and brutalize the people, and the rising popular hostility isolates them even more.

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
Write: Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 773-227-4066 Fax: 773-227-4497