Resistance Shakes Iraq

U.S. Troops Confronted, U.S. Lies Shattered

Revolutionary Worker #1237, April 25, 2004, posted at

"This is a whole other world. The hostility is no longer hard stares or dirty looks. It's gunfire."

Cpl. Tom Conroy outside Fallujah

"Hey Mom and Dad, as you know I am back in this [expletive deleted] hole. Sounds like there will be some shootouts with the bad guys. I just hope that we are the good guys."

Sgt. Syverson as his unit headed to Najaf Christian Science Monitor , April 6

"Bush was asked in his prime-time news conference if he had made any mistakes. `I'm sure something will pop into my head here,' he said Tuesday. It didn't."

Associated Press, April 14

Iraq has blown up in the faces of the U.S. occupiers. A year after their invasion, their armies are camped outside of major cities -- unleashing waves of attack on the people, but also completely unable to claim control.

What a difference a year makes!

Before the invasion, Vice President Dick Cheney was asked if the U.S. would be seen as occupiers. He said "Well, I don't think it's likely to unfold that way, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators."

Now even the liar-in-chief George Bush has to admit (April 14): "They're not happy they're occupied. I wouldn't be happy if I were occupied either."

The myth of "greeted with open arms" meets the reality of "targeted with small arms."

The Lies of a Conquest

In the middle of a huge wave of Iraqi resistance, the lies and justifications of this occupation stand widely exposed. The U.S. claimed this was a war to seize "weapons of mass destruction" that threatened the world --but none have been found. And even among their soldiers, it has become clearer that this war was never about "defending the homeland" -- but controlling a strategic part of the world.

The U.S. claimed this war was for the "liberation" of the people of Iraq--but the U.S. occupation forces have targeted the people themselves for punishment--including in horrific days of attack in Fallujah this month, where U.S. forces have killed at least 600 people, over half of them women and children. This is not "liberation" but conquest--and it is hated by the masses of Iraqi people.

The U.S. government claimed they were bringing U.S.-style "freedom and democracy." But the U.S. authorities hypocritically rejected plans for elections, suppressed the free press, and jailed respected figures for speaking their minds. The recent Shiite uprising was triggered when U.S. authorities shut down an Islamist newspaper in Baghdad on March 29, because they did not like its reporting. The U.S. tries to identify-and-then-impose any Iraqi political forces who will loyally serve U.S. plans. This is a process opposed to what the people of Iraq want or need.

The U.S. government claims they are about to grant "sovereignty" to an unspecified Iraqi government on June 30. But the U.S. administrator Paul Bremer has announced (ahead of time) that this new Iraqi government will automatically endorse continued U.S. occupation and that, in any case, U.S. armed forces will establish permanent bases and act any way they want for years. In other words, that the coming "Iraqi government" will be anything-but-sovereign.

The U.S. authorities have claimed that they are fighting just "tiny factions of thugs and foreign terrorists." But it is clear the U.S. soldiers are actually fighting powerful and growing currents of resistance with deep roots among the people.

The Pentagon and White House arrogantly claim that the U.S. is a military power that no one on earth can defy or resist. But the Iraqi resistance is showing that this superpower has real limits.

The Pentagon war-planners claimed the invasion of Iraq would be quick and easy. They estimated that U.S. forces would be below 30,000 by late summer 2003. Instead their forces are now over 135,000 with tens of thousands more on the way. In the first two weeks of April 2004, the U.S. forces lost at least 87 soldiers killed and 560 wounded - -the highest casualty rate yet in this whole year of war and occupation. The New York Times writes that Bush might "even bolster the desperately straitened military with a draft."

The U.S. authorities said they were "making progress" in developing Iraqi armed forces that could "take over" the dirty work of controlling Iraq. But these new Iraqi forces simply evaporated when faced with real fighting.

In city after city, the pro-U.S. police simply fled when faced with crowds of people. After months of being targeted by the resistance, these police resigned in groups and (in some cases) went over to oppositional forces, bringing their arms with them.

The 2nd Battalion of the new Iraqi National Army (one of the few units they considered ready for battle) was ordered to enter Fallujah to "pacify" the city. Once on the road, the 620 soldiers of this unit simply mutinied and returned to their base--defying their orders from the U.S. high command. The top military commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, said this incident showed "some significant challenges in some of the Iraqi security force structures." Well, no shit!

Various U.S. forces (including both the White House and the Democratic Party) have talked plans for getting more allied troops to help prop up the occupation. On April 9, Ukrainian and Kazak troops stationed in the city of Kut simply fled when confronted with armed resistance -- leaving arms and equipment behind. Bulgarian troops withdrew from Karbala--some demanded to be taken home. In a joint statement, the Polish and Ukrainian governments then announced that their troops in Iraq would not be taking part in any future "offensive operations." Singapore pulled out its troops. Norway announced they might do the same. Spain's government may pull out its contingent. Strategists in Washington now point out that no one in the world is likely to "pull the chestnuts out of the fire" for the U.S. war-makers.

One year ago the U.S. army invaded Iraq to impose a more stable U.S. domination over this whole region. Now the ground is shaking under their feet. The U.S. has not "lost control of Iraq"--the fighting of the last weeks shows they never really had it. And the response of the U.S. government is to swear to "do whatever it takes" to finally conquer Iraq.

It is no secret what that means: it means pointing their weapons at the people of Iraq. The Pentagon stopped tens of thousands of troops from being "rotated" out of Iraq--causing tremendous morale problems and protests from their state-side families. And Bush openly said in a national press conference that he was considering sending tens of thousands more troops--in a major escalation.

Many cities of Iraq are being directly threatened with invasion and bombardment --and the city of Fallujah has been brutalized, over and over, to serve as an example.

The Punishment of Fallujah

"I want heads to roll."

George Bush, demanding a military attack on Fallujah, Jerusalem Post

"This is our test -- our Guadalcanal, our Chosin Reservoir, our Hue City."

Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis to his marines outside Fallujah

A woman of Fallujah to a reporter: "Shit on Bush because he made this crisis. What does he want? Why have these people come all the way from America to do this to us? Why is he doing it? Did we knock on his door. Bush comes and barges into our house and we're not to fight?...Once they blocked the roads, they began throwing bombs anywhere in the city. They came through the towns surrounding Fallujah, which they had taken one after another, killing all of the towns."
Her son, an armed fighter, says: "I have seen their snipers kill women and children."
The woman adds: "The hospital is full of their bodies, all shot in the heart or the head. The hospital isn't even a hospital, it is mosque where we treat the hurt and tend the dead."

United Press International, April 12

"Iraqi women and children are being shot by American snipers. Over 600 Iraqis have now been killed by American aggression, and the residents have turned two football fields into graveyards. Ambulances are being shot by the Americans. And now they are preparing to launch a full-scale invasion of the city."

Reporter Dahr Jamail, New Standard , April 13, 2004

"The fact that there are 600 [dead] goes back to the fact that the Marines are very good at what they do."

Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, claiming his troops are "precise" in who they kill, April 10

"Change the channel.

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt's advice to those who don't like TV images of his troops killing civilians, New York Times , April 12

"When the Americans arrived, there were only about 50 guerrillas. By the end of the week, there were a few thousand.

Fallujah woman, BBC, April 12

U.S. attempts to dominate the city of Fallujah quickly escalated to warfare and high-tech massacre. In the end of March, a new Marine division was moved outside Fallujah--and it started a wave of attacks on the city. Marines surrounded neighborhoods, kicked in doors, and dragged away men for interrogation and imprisonment. The resistance forces inside Fallujah responded on March 31 by attacking a convoy of armed mercenaries (deceptively called "civilian contractors" in the mainstream media), and the world saw videotapes of people celebrating that successful ambush.

On April 5, the U.S. forces attacked the city's suburbs and neighborhoods with tanks, artillery, missiles, bombs, and columns of troops. The attacks were directed by constant flights of unmanned military drones. The U.S. assault was merciless. Whole neighborhoods were strafed by Apache helicopters. Food and electricity were cut off.

So many people died that the inhabitants of Fallujah had to create mass graves to bury them.

Dr. Rafa Hayd al-Issawim, director of Fallujah's hospital, told the world's media: "I can say more than 600 have been killed, but the number may not be correct as many families have already buried their dead in their gardens." Thousands of people were injured by the U.S. attack.

U.S. troops tried to advance through the city's surrounding suburbs against fierce, house-to-house resistance. One officer called it "scaling a live volcano."

The U.S. never succeeded in taking Fallujah, a city of over 300,000, and lost at least 40 U.S. troops in their attempt.

Many in the population courageously supported the resistance--those who could, took up arms, including women and many youth in their early teens. Many of the fighters wore combat flak jackets--taken from U.S.-supplied troops or police. Reports from the scene said that the broad support among the people was obvious--both inside and outside the city.

Meanwhile, on April 4, the U.S. forces opened fire by helicopter on massive demonstrations in Baghdad. Such brutality helped trigger a second wave of resistance in the capital and across southern Iraq. Conservative Shiite militia forces rose up on April 7, and took over several cities including Najaf, Karbala, and Kut. They brushed aside various occupation troops and pro-U.S. police forces--even though Spanish troops opened fired into the crowds in Najaf, killing 20.

The U.S. military was forced to rush their troops to these areas--especially to the outskirts of the religious center of Najaf, where the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has his headquarters.

Shocked, the U.S. high command stopped their offensive into Fallujah. They told the world that they were "declaring a ceasefire and negotiating"--but really they issued a Nazi-like threat to the people: give up their arms, turn over resistance fighters, or the all-out attack would resume. Eyewitnesses described how during this "ceasefire" U.S. snipers took over lookouts high in the mosques and randomly shot anyone who moved.

Once the U.S. advance into Fallujah stopped, thousands of families emerged to bury their dead and look for a way out of the city. Hundreds of cars immediately ran into U.S. roadblocks--and were told they could not take men out of the city with them. Tearfully, many families separated, as tens of thousands left the city. Many others returned to face the occupiers together.

Those who escaped the city told the world's press of brutal atrocities by the U.S. -- including cutting off the hands and taking out the eyeballs of dead resistance fighters as trophies.

Unity in Resistance

"There may also be an ominous synergy developing between Sunni and Shiite insurgents. On Monday, insurgents fought a gun battle against United States troops in a Sunni neighborhood near Khadamiya in which three soldiers were killed. Witnesses said the attackers included a mix of Shiites and Sunnis. `There were Shiites from Sadr City and mujahedeen from Fallujah,' a hotbed of Sunni resistance, said Ayad Karim, a shopkeeper. `Now the resistance is united.'

New York Times , April 7

"This is the last food in my home. I give it for my brothers in Fallujah and everywhere in Iraq... Our blood is boiling for our brothers!

Lemiya Wan, an old Shiite woman in Kadhimiya, handing over rice, sugar and cooking oil, Washington Post, April 9

"We start work after 11 p.m. Our group is small, just friends, and we don't even have a name.

Ahmed, 29, whose crew fights the occupiers, New York Times , April 11

The U.S. political apologists have lectured us all about the "ethnic, tribal and religious" divisions among Iraqi people--they often suggest that Iraq "needs" some outside imperialist power to "prevent a civil war." Now it is clear that the U.S. occupation has helped forge new grass-roots unity among Iraqi people-- though not the kind the U.S. wanted.

Throughout Iraq, the Sunni city of Fallujah has became a symbol of resistance. Massive support demonstrations took place across the country. People in many cities collected blood and food for Fallujah. Resistance forces outside Fallujah stepped up their own attacks on U.S. forces and supply lines. Youth from other parts of Iraq, including Shiite regions, have reportedly made their way through U.S. lines--to stand and fight with the people of Fallujah.

"It's their Super Bowl," said Marine spokesman Maj. T. V. Johnson. "Fallujah is the place to go if you want to kill Americans."

When convoys of relief reached the U.S. checkpoints outside Fallujah, the soldiers refused to allow them through. Thousands of Iraqis gathered to confront the troops and showered them with stones. The troops finally allowed food through, but refused to allow blood or medical supplies to reach the city.

Meanwhile, U.S. forces are playing an ugly game of "good cop, bad cop"--U.S. generals are insisting they are going to invade the cities and kill their opponents, and administrator Paul Bremer III says Iraqis better negotiate with him quick, since he can barely restrain these attacks.

But all of this is a posture of power to cover over a profound dilemma the imperialists face. On one hand, they feel they cannot allow public armed defiance to go on, on the other hand it is hard for them to calculate what their atrocities are unleashing-- including if they send their missiles through the famous golden dome over the shrine of Imam Ali, which is in Sadr's Najaf base area.

During the conquest of Iraq, one year ago, the U.S. generals and media talked constantly about their fears of an "urban war" for Iraq's cities. It has become clear that the U.S. never really controlled most cities in Iraq. Over the last year they left the neighborhoods and city cores to growing militias and political parties.

The U.S. tried in March to "clamp down" on several of those militias and parties (in preparation for their "puppet installation process" after June 30). And almost overnight, the U.S.-backed police stations, mayor's offices, and "development" centers were swept away in neighborhood after neighborhood.

Now the U.S. stands outside the gates of these cities--launching vicious attacks in Fallujah, threatening such attacks in cities like Najaf. They now face that house-to-house "urban war" they dreaded--and their opponents, this time, are not the retreating soldiers of the previous Iraqi regime, but a growing resistance--including among political parties and militias that have been establishing themselves as the defacto governments within Iraq's cities.

Meanings of an Empire's Resolve

"We cannot yield at this point in time. we must remain steadfast and strong. It's the intentions of the enemy to shake our will. That's what they want to do--they want us to leave. And we're not going to leave. We're going to do the job.

President George Bush, pretending to be confident, April 14

"The extremists attacking our forces should know they will not succeed in dividing America, or in sapping American resolve, or in forcing the premature withdrawal of U.S. troops.No matter who is elected president in November, we will persevere in that mission.

Senator John Kerry, pretendingto be in opposition, April 13

The rulers of the U.S. insist they will not withdraw from Iraq. These constant statements of "resolve"--including from John Kerry--shows that there is a high-level consensus within the U.S. ruling class that this conquest of Iraq must now be pursued to victory.

And this shows how different class forces see things completely differently:

To the rulers of the U.S., these empire builders and capitalists, it seems like a horrible thing for them to be forced out. This is the logic of empire and modern imperialism: once "committed" to the conquest of a small, weak third world country, they feel they "can't" back out. They all say it is a "national security" issue (which only shows what they mean by the words "national security"). They see that any retreat in Iraq would show this superpower is not unbeatable and it would encourage many, many others in the world to resist them.

But all this is one reason why it would be a good thing for the people of the world if the U.S. was forced out--because it would encourage more struggle against the U.S. attempts to impose its domination and exploitation on everyone.

Their constant statements of resolve mean two things:

First, we can expect them to use massive military force to try to "stabilize" the situation in Iraq. They are sending more troops to the scene. And they will use their armies, mercenaries, interrogators, and puppet allies in brutal, unjust, intolerable, shameful ways. And, at the same time, despite all their talk of "no negotiations" with the opposition, they will also try to find forces within Iraq's opposition that they can work with -- labeling them "moderates" and seeking to create a future U.S. puppet regime that is not totally isolated and exposed. Bush has recently announced that he supports UN efforts to help forge some new Iraqi government.

Second, their talk of resolve means something else: that it will take serious, massive struggle both in the U.S. and around the world to shake them from their course. They have invested much in this strategic attack on Iraq. It is (as they say) a "centerpiece" in a whole global array of moves for world domination. There are criticisms within the ruling class over how the Iraqi conquest has been conducted so far (and these criticisms may grow as the quagmire deepens)--but there remains broad support within the U.S. ruling class for fighting through to "victory"--no matter what it takes. The U.S. imperialists will not just "get tired and leave" after taking casualties. This is, as they say, "not Somalia"--where the U.S. had "few strategic interests." The U.S. imperialists do not intend to allow themselves to be "voted out of Iraq" (and they do not intend to allow elections in either the U.S. or Iraq become referendums on the U.S. occupation).


The U.S. occupation is in deep trouble -- it is very isolated from the people of Iraq and from almost everyone in the world. Their casualties are mounting. The resistance of Iraq's people has become more bold, determined and widespread.

The many lies and justification of this occupation are increasingly being exposed by events -- including to millions of people (and even soldiers) who once rather blindly believed what they were told.

These are extremely favorable conditions for stepping up massive, highly visible, clear-sighted opposition--here within the U.S. -- to the occupation, to the much larger global offensive it is part of, and to the imperialist/capitalist system that gives rise to such ruthless crusades.