Revolution#124, March 23,2008

Protests Called for March 19


Five years ago this March 18, the U.S. sent tens of warplanes, attack ships, and tens of thousands of troops half-way around the world to invade Iraq, a country of 25 million people the size of California. On the fifth anniversary of the war, important and urgently needed protests are being called around the country (see end of editorial for details).

The Bush administration claimed that Iraq had dangerous weapons of mass destruction that threatened America. But Iraq had no WMD—and the U.S. government knew it.

Bush said he was invading to prevent another Sept. 11 attack. But Iraq wasn’t working with al Qaeda and had no connection to Sept. 11—and the Bush gang knew it.

The Bush regime claimed it was invading to liberate the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein’s tyranny. But the U.S. invasion was never about liberating Iraqis—or anybody else. It was about conquering, controlling, and imposing more direct U.S. domination of Iraq. And the occupation is a continuation of those goals. The U.S. isn’t in Iraq today to “fix the damage” it’s done. It’s in Iraq to conquer the country. The occupation is a continuation—an escalation—of the crime of invading Iraq.

This is why the invasion and occupation have turned Iraq into a bloody killing field, torn the country apart, and left much of it in ruins. Today, five years into its brutal occupation, life for millions of Iraqis is a waking, hellish nightmare—even worse than under the tyrant Saddam.

The U.S. pasted together reactionary forces, put them in power, then called it a democratic government. This helped unleash factional death squads, which have ravaged the country with ethnic cleansing.  Today there is no coherent central government, but a patchwork of reactionary gangs running different parts of Iraq, with the U.S. military the biggest gangsters of all. Meanwhile, the Bush regime has tried to rewrite Iraqi laws to open its economy and oil wealth to American capital. It has built massive military bases, some of which could be permanent and used to attack other countries. 

As a result of all the U.S. has done and let loose, many, many more Iraqis have been killed, wounded, maimed, tortured, brutalized and driven from their homes during the occupation than during the invasion itself. The most accurate scientific surveys put the toll at 500,000 to one million Iraqi dead as a result of the war and occupation. Between 4.5 and 5 million Iraqis have been forced from their homes by what the U.S. has done and let loose—that’s approximately 20 percent of the entire population, equivalent to roughly 60 million Americans. Much of Iraq lacks basic services; people in Baghdad have less water than before. Over 24,000 Iraqis now languish in U.S.-run prisons—most without charges. Iraqi women are now subject to more brutality than ever, including because the new Iraqi government is trying to impose reactionary Islamic law.

The pictures from Abu Ghraib capture what this occupation is really about: the smiling, smirking faces of GIs giving the “thumbs up” signs next to mutilated Iraqi corpses, while Iraqi prisoners are stripped naked and terrorized, humiliated, and degraded by U.S. soldiers and dogs.  Or you could study a piece in the Nation magazine by Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian which paints the picture of indiscriminate killings by the U.S. military, with its pervasive attitude that “A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi,” as one vet put it. It’s a “dark and depraved enterprise,” in which “many troops declared open war on all Iraqis.” (Iraq Veterans Against the War recently held “Winter Soldier” hearings in Washington, DC which brought forward much more such testimonies.)

And there is no end in sight to this brutality.

Why did things turn out like this? It wasn’t because Bush is an idiot or a bungler. And it wasn’t really because of bad planning. It’s essentially because of the unjust, imperialist nature of the war and occupation.

It’s because the invasion of Iraq is part of a bigger plan to conquer, subdue and more directly dominate and control the entire region around Iraq—the Middle East.

And this, in turn, is all part of a plan—which has been clearly spelled out in official U.S. government strategy documents—to use this entire region as a weapon in a global battle to create an unchallenged and unchallengeable U.S. imperialist empire to dominate the entire planet and control the destinies of billions of people.

So the Iraq war was not—and IS not—a “mistake” or “bad policy.” This war was based on lies. This war is in the service of empire. This war is a moral crime. And the U.S. occupation of Iraq, including the targeting of the civilian population for death, degradation, and rape is a war crime by the standards of the Nuremberg Tribunal that judged the Nazis.

All this is being done in your name—supposedly to protect you. But none of this is in the interests of the people—across the planet or living in the U.S. It’s being done to further the interests of a system of exploitation whose interests are diametrically opposed to the interests of humanity. And the poison that only American lives count, while others don’t, is unconscionable.

Think seriously about where the U.S. rulers have taken the planet over these last five years. After the torture at Abu Ghraib got exposed, what did we see? The wholesale rejection of torture? No—the opposite: the systematic legitimization and legalization of torture by the U.S. government. After illegal government spying on millions of Americans got exposed what happened? Congress OKed it, and gave immunity to the phone companies who broke the law to facilitate it. And all this has taken place with the participation of the Democrats who hold a majority in Congress—they have either supported Bush’s torture bills or refused to do anything real to prevent their passage.

And then there’s the undefined and unlimited “war on terror”—which America’s imperial strategists openly proclaim will go on for two generations—40 years—until the entire Middle East-Central Asian region is brutally subdued and anti-U.S. Islamist movements violently destroyed. Who is next in the crosshairs of the “war on terror”? Iran? Gaza? Lebanon? Syria? Pakistan? All of the above?

None of this is going to be “over” when (and if) Bush leaves office. Bush and his regime—again, with the agreement and collaboration of the Democrats, including Clinton and Obama—have locked in a long-term course for decades—or until people in America act politically in their millions to repudiate and stop this whole trajectory.

It won’t help to vote for, much less throw your energies into electing, someone who promises to do a better job managing this war, torture and horror. Whether it’s “100 years in Iraq” John McCain, or tough-on-national-security-at-3 a.m. Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama. Obama may be a “fresh face” for the same empire, but he’s already shown what he’s about by voting $300 billion to fund the Iraq war, by refusing to filibuster torture bills and torture judges, and by stating—repeatedly—that he’s all about “America” and its “promise”—i.e., USA number one.

People also need to confront these realities, and dig deeply into what kind of system created all this unnecessary misery and horror, and the kind of revolutionary change that is necessary.

From that perspective, and as part of working to bring into being a revolutionary movement, we need to surmount all fears, struggle against cynical complacency and complicity, and bring out to everyone the reality of what this system is doing to the world.

It’s in the interests of the people of the world—and of the people in the U.S.—to stop this war and get out of Iraq—right now. What’s urgently called for is the level of massive protest and resistance we saw five years ago—on the eve of the invasion. People should work toward that—and join with all who want to build this kind of mass political resistance.

This week there will be protests marking the Fifth Anniversary of the war called by many groups, including World Can’t Wait-Drive Out the Bush Regime! World Can’t Wait has called for protests, including in Washington, DC on Wednesday, March 19, 1 p.m. at Lafayette Park across from the White House (find protests near you at Berkeley California will be a focal point. As we reported (February 24), the Battle of Berkeley to drive the Marine recruiters out of the city touched a nerve nationwide—and energized the people and infuriated the reactionaries—because this battle carved out a path that can actually bring this war to a halt, including by rejecting the rulers’ "support the troops" mantra, which at this point is one of the main ideological and political justifications for continuing the war. On March 19, in particular, people will be gathering in Berkeley for mass non-violent civil resistance at the Berkeley Marine Recruiting Station to carry forward the battle to drive them out and end the war. "Berkeley Says: No War! No Torture! No Recruiters!"

Wherever you are, join the protests—wear orange—and work to make them as powerful as possible. End the war, now!

The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism.

What the U.S. spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism.

Bob Avakian,
Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.

What Humanity Needs
From Ike to Mao and Beyond