From A World to Win News Service

Another Phony Bush Promise: Iraq for the Iraqis

Revolutionary Worker #1221, November 30, 2003, posted at

We recevied the following from A World to Win News Service:

November 17, 2003. A World to Win News Service. Bush's promise to turn over the governing of Iraq to Iraqis is about as credible as the "weapons of mass destruction" hoax.

The announcement came on the heels of a leaked CIA report that, according to the Philadelphia Enquirer , called the future for the U.S. occupation "bleak." Contrary to U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's claim that the resistance is made up of "dead-enders, foreign terrorists and criminal gangs," an unnamed "American official" told the New York Times that the U.S. State Department intelligence branch conducted a classified public opinion poll and concluded that "the majority of Iraqis now regard American troops as occupiers rather than liberators."

Behind Bush's Announcement

But it wasn't public opinion polls that the U.S. was reacting to. Bush made his big announcement as attacks against U.S.-led occupation forces were reported to hit 30-35 a day. Mortar fire was falling on the U.S. headquarters compound in Baghdad night after night. After an attack killed 19 Italian troops in the supposedly safe city of Nasiriya, Japan's government changed its mind about sending troops to Bush's rescue. South Korea not only said it would send 3,000 soldiers instead of the 10,000 the U.S. had asked for, it also made known that a date hadn't actually been set for when they might board airplanes.

All this came only a few weeks after Rumsfeld's aide and chief ideologue Paul Wolfowitz was seen staggering out of the lobby of the Baghdad hotel where he came within a few meters of becoming a statistic himself, and a few days before the U.S. armed forces lost their fourth and fifth helicopter to Iraqi anger. Eighty coalition soldiers were killed in little more than two weeks, for a total of 493 in this war as of November 17.

One way to look at Bush's latest gambit is that Iraqi rifles, mortars and homemade explosive devices have proved a lot more persuasive than French diplomacy. Bush's promise to turn over "sovereignty" to an Iraqi body by June 2004 went a long way toward meeting the plan France and Germany put forward at the UN only a short time ago. At the time, Secretary of State Colin Powell argued that the French were being horribly undemocratic by demanding that the U.S. first appoint a government and then have that body write a constitution and hold elections, instead of the other way around. Now that's exactly what Bush is proposing.

Bush's sudden reversal didn't satisfy France or other European powers, because he failed to budge on what they want most --a chance to have a say in dividing up the contracts and other booty (in the nicely legal form of a UN mandate oversight). Even more pertinently, as Le Monde described "the prudent response in Paris"--"It might not work."

Who exactly is Bush trying to fool this time? The plan is to replace the U.S.'s hand-picked Provisional Governing Council (about which the New York Times said there is "an increasing consensus among intelligence analysts that appointed Iraqi leaders do not appear to be capable of carrying out the task of governing or working toward elections") with another hand-picked body of men willing to do the U.S.'s bidding. Ahmad Chalabi, a convicted swindler who has been the U.S.'s favorite Iraqi so far, clearly expects to play as prominent a role in the next council as he does in the present one. Proudly explaining the plan, he said, "We will have the U.S. forces here, but they will change from occupiers to a force that is here at the invitation of the Iraqi government."

Rumsfeld, as dour as Chalabi is chatty, put it more bluntly: "It does not mean that we would physically leave the country any sooner." Several officials explained to the media that the plan was still for troops from the U.S. and other perpetrator countries and neocolonies to stay in Iraq "for the foreseeable future."

What the U.S. Means by "Sovereignty"

"Sovereignty," according to Webster's Dictionary , means "supreme power" or "freedom from external control." Just what power or freedom is the U.S. planning to hand over to Iraqis?

For ordinary Iraqis and the Iraqi people as a whole, none. Even as the American ruler of Baghdad Paul Bremer was huddling with Bush and his staff in the emergency meeting in Washington where this plan was hatched, Reuters news service put out the following dispatch:

"American troops handcuffed and firmly wrapped masking tape around an Iraqi man's mouth after they arrested him for speaking out against occupation troops.

"Asked why the man had been arrested and put into the back of a Humvee vehicle on Tahrir Square, the commanding officer told Reuters at the scene on Tuesday, `This man has been detained for making anti-coalition statements.' He refused to say what the man said.

"A U.S. military spokesman said he had no immediate information on the incident.

"U.S. politicians and military commanders often say they toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein so that Iraqis can enjoy freedom of speech and democracy after years of iron-fisted rule.

"Another U.S. soldier swore at Iraqis as he ordered them to move back. School teachers and students looked on."

This happened in the capital's main square. Meanwhile, in working class South Baghdad, an AC-130 helicopter gunship with heavy and light cannons and a Gatling gun firing 1,800 rounds a minute was tearing up a textile factory. American commanders explained that the site was suspected of being used for meetings. No weapons were found, aside from the rifles of the two guards outside hired by a now very unhappy factory owner. "We're sending a message", a coalition official told the media. "The message is, `We have teeth.' "

"Teeth" means being able to kill people from the air, even if they can't crush the resistance on the ground. In "Operation Iron Hammer," American aircraft also bombed and strafed homes in Falluja and Tikrit in revenge for the downing of American helicopters. The U.S. even resorted to a satellite-guided missile near Kirkuk. Medact, the UK affiliate of the Nobel Peace prize- winning International Physicians for Preventing Nuclear War, this week estimated that the U.S. has killed between 2,049-2,209 civilians since May 1 when Bush declared the war all but over, for a total of between 5,708 and 7,356 since the war began.

In fact, what "sovereignty" or even a little respect and the right to live is the U.S. planning to grant any Iraqis? American troops kill the Iraqis who work for them almost as readily as they kill any other "dark-skinned men in civilian clothes," as an officer described "the profile" of "the enemy." In September, U.S. soldiers opened fire on their own employees, Iraqi policemen in front of a Falluja hospital, killing at least eight of them and a Jordanian hospital worker.

In the same week as Bush was learning to pronounce "sovereignty," his soldiers shot and killed the U.S.-appointed mayor of Sadr City, a Baghdad ghetto where once upon a time some people (according to the American military/media establishment) were said to welcome the Americans. The poor puppet was trying to get into his office for a meeting when the troops stopped him. He argued with them, maybe tussled, and they shot him in the leg and let him bleed to death.

You have to wonder how Black, Latin and poor white American soldiers who are used to being treated this way by their compatriot cops feel about this situation. That might be on the mind of the U.S. ruling class as well.

The U.S. didn't invade Iraq to give sovereignty, but to take it. It won't let go until it's forced to, and that time has not yet come. The occupation is not over.

Fooling the world isn't something Bush and Blair are very good at, but they're trying. It's probably not entirely coincidence that Bush's announcement came as he was about to make a visit to Britain where his (un)welcome was expected to reach historic proportions. No one not willfully deaf or blind would dispute that the withdrawal of the U.S.-led occupation forces from Iraq is the will of the world's people, including most or all of the countries that have troops there.