Behind the Fantasies of Bushworld:
Deepening War and Crisis in Iraq

by Larry Everest

Revolutionary Worker #1253, October 3, 2004, posted at

President Bush's address to the UN on Sept. 21 was a surreal blend of raw arrogance and deliberate fantasy. Bush painted a happy-face picture of the U.S. war-fighting in Iraq--inventing a fantasy universe where Iraqis supposedly see U.S. occupiers as their liberators, where Iraq is seeing slow but steady progress toward stabilization, and where U.S. domination means "freedom" and eventual "democracy" for the whole Middle East (and the rest of the planet too!).

Bush baldly declared that "the people of Iraq have regained sovereignty"--meaning that they are supposedly now in control of their own country.

He neglected to mention that the nearly 150,000 U.S. troops are the real "sovereign" force in Iraq, that the political life of the country is dictated from Washington and the huge U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

Bush did not mention that the current "interim Iraqi government" was hand-picked by the U.S. occupation forces, or that it is headed by Iyad Allawi, a notorious, long-time CIA collaborator. Instead, in Bush's parallel dimension, this slavish puppet Allawi "has earned the support of every nation that believes in self- determination and desires peace."

This same Bush embraced the CIA's bogus pre-war intelligence on Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction--because it suited his war plans. But now he rejects the CIA's July report on Iraq--because this time their summaries don't suit his plans. In this July report, the CIA predicted three grim scenarios for Iraq: civil war, political fragmentation, or tenuous stability under long-term occupation. Bush claimed (this time) that the CIA was just "guessing," and described their scenarios as "life could be lousy, life could be OK, life could be better."


However, outside the fantasies of Bushworld, the U.S. hold on Iraq is, by all accounts, fraying badly. The anti-occupation insurgency is growing, while the U.S. forces have become more isolated and besieged. There's a real possibility that Iraqi elections for a constitutional assembly, scheduled for January 2005, may be postponed or limited. And the strategic objective of constructing a stable pro-U.S. bastion in the heart of the oil-rich Middle East may be slipping from Washington's reach.

Bush gave his speech to the jaded and rather hostile delegates of the UN General Assembly who knew he was full of shit--but his real audience was the U.S. population who, he hoped, might swallow a new round of lies and hype about the war in Iraq.

In recent weeks, the U.S. military has engaged in fierce battles, including heavy air strikes, in and around several insurgent cities, including Najaf, Fallujah, Ramadi, Tal Afar and Baghdad. For several weeks there has been a standoff around Samarra.

This fierce combat has led to massive Iraqi civilian casualties--a story which has largely been ignored in the U.S. media. Patrick Cockburn of the London Independent writes that "the U.S. was claiming to have precisely hit insurgents in Fallujah while Iraqis were watching pictures on television of an ambulance gutted from the air in which a driver, paramedic and five patients died."

The widely respected British website estimates Iraqi civilian deaths since the initial U.S. invasion at between 12,778 and 14,820. According to the Washington Post (Sept. 21), "Commen- tators for the Jordan Times and the Daily Star in Beirut, Lebanon, have cited an estimate of 30,000 deaths. That is the figure disseminated by the Iraqi Human Rights Organization, an independent group in Baghdad."

In this unjust war of occupation, the U.S. has been carrying out classic counterinsurgency--lashing out against the people of Iraq in waves of "collective punishment." They have rounded up people in dragnets for brutal interrogations in places like Abu Ghraib. And they have simply targeted the people to assert their power and brutal determination. Relentless U.S. sniping in places like Fallujah and the waves of bombing across Iraq will not be forgotten.

Yet in the face of this savagery, Iraq's insurgency (which is a complex mix of different, primarily nationalist and Islamist, political forces) is spreading. According to a Sept. 20 story in Newsweek titled "It's Worse Than You Think":

"It's not only that U.S. casualty figures keep climbing. American counterinsurgency experts are noticing some disturbing trends in those statistics. The Defense Department counted 87 attacks per day on U.S. forces in August--the worst monthly average since Bush's flight-suited visit to the USS Abraham Lincoln in May 2003. Preliminary analysis of the July and August numbers also suggests that U.S. troops are being attacked across a wider area of Iraq than ever before. And the number of gunshot casualties apparently took a huge jump in August. Until then, explosive devices and shrapnel were the primary cause of combat injuries, typical of a `phase two' insurgency, where sudden ambushes are the rule. (Phase one is the recruitment phase, with most actions confined to sabotage. That's how things started in Iraq.) Bullet wounds would mean the insurgents are standing and fighting--a step up to phase three. Another ominous sign is the growing number of towns that U.S. troops simply avoid. A senior Defense official objects to calling them `no-go areas.' "

Every day brings new reports about the inability of U.S. forces to control Iraq's cities--including especially the vast capital, Baghdad. Many subcontractors who had come to Iraq are pulling out--and this is tremendously affecting the U.S. efforts to build an infrastructure that serves their occupation. Similarly, journalists now report that it is simply "too dangerous" for them to leave fortified areas to report on the fighting or the conditions of Iraqi life.

The Army War College's top expert on Iraq told the British Guardian (Sept. 16):

"We have a growing, maturing insurgency group. We see larger and more coordinated military attacks. They are getting better and they can self-regenerate. The idea there are x number of insurgents, and that when they're all dead we can get out is wrong. The insurgency has shown an ability to regenerate itself because there are people willing to fill the ranks of those who are killed. The political culture is more hostile to the US presence. The longer we stay, the more they are confirmed in that view."

Here's how one recent dispatch from a San Francisco Chronicle reporter (Sept. 24) describes the situation on the ground in Iraq:

"From the Kurdish-controlled areas in the north to the Shiite marshes of the south, Iraq has become increasingly mottled with areas where U.S. and allied troops are rarely seen, and where militants appear to operate with impunity, running cities that even some U.S. military officers label `no-go' zones."

Or consider the following from liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman (Sept. 21):

"[Bush] has led America into a major strategic defeat. That's a stark statement, but it's a view shared by almost all independent military and intelligence experts. Put it this way: it's hard to identify any major urban areas outside Kurdistan where the U.S. and its allies exercise effective control. Insurgents operate freely, even in the heart of Baghdad, where coalition forces, however many battles they win, rule only whatever ground they happen to stand on. And efforts to put an Iraqi face on the occupation are self-defeating: as the example of Mr. Allawi shows, any leader who is too closely associated with America becomes tainted in the eyes of the Iraqi public."

More than 700 Iraqi police officers have been killed, and one former Army colonel told USA Today (Sept. 22):

"The bottom line is, at this moment we are losing the war. That doesn't mean it is lost, but we are losing, and as an observer it is difficult for me to see that either the civilian leadership or the military leadership has any plausible idea on how to turn this around."


U.S. combat casualties have also been rising--although according to a study by the Washington Monthly reports of U.S. combat deaths have been kept off the front pages of U.S. newspapers since the June 28 "handover" of power to the interim Iraqi government. And G.I. discontent may be on the rise.

MSNBC reports that as of Sept. 24, 63 U.S. soldiers had been killed so far this month, and that the pace of American military deaths has grown each month since the June 28 handover--a move that the Bush regime claimed was going to weaken the insurgency!

The Pentagon has officially reported 1,019 U.S. soldiers dead and 7,245 wounded in Iraq, but recently UPI reported (Sept. 15) that some 16,765 soldiers have been medically evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan --and that these numbers have been omitted from the Pentagon casualty figures.

A report in the Christian Science Monitor (Sept. 21) reveals a glimpse of what may be significant discontent within the U.S. military in Iraq. After interviewing U.S. ground forces in June and July in central, northern, and southern Iraq, the Monitor 's reporter concluded that many GIs are angry at Bush "for entangling them in what they see as a misguided war." She quotes one Marine corporal stationed in the Sunni triangle who has watched Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore's scathing film on the Bush regime: "Everyone's watching it. It's shaping a lot of people's image of Bush."

Another GI stationed in Najaf told her, "Nine out of 10 of the people I talk to, it wouldn't matter who ran against Bush--they'd vote for them. People are so fed up with Iraq, and fed up with Bush."

Even pro-war Republicans are starting to worry. Asked whether the U.S. was winning the war, Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel said recently, "No, I don't think we're winning," and that the U.S. was "in deep trouble in Iraq."

Arizona Senator John McCain has said: "The situation has obviously been somewhat deteriorating, to say the least."


After 9/11, the U.S. government launched a vast global offensive. Officially this was justified as a "war on terrorism," but in fact the White House put into motion existing plans to extend and deepen the U.S. dominance of strategic parts of the world. This so-called "war on terrorism" is actually aimed at radically reshaping global military, political and economic relations across the planet.

Conquering Afghanistan and establishing new U.S. beachheads across Central Asia were "Phase 1" of that offensive. Then followed "Phase 2": the long-planned conquest of Iraq in March 2003.

And in these two "phases" the U.S. government grabbed to secure much deeper and much more direct control of the geo-strategic Middle East and Central Asian regions--two crucial energy heartlands of the world. Such control had been considered crucial long-term objectives by imperialist strategists and essential elements of the entire U.S. global strategy.

Yet while U.S. forces quickly took down Saddam Hussein's reactionary regime, the conquest and occupation of Iraq has not gone according to plan, and now threatens to unravel a key element of the U.S. global agenda.

The U.S. imperialists are on the horns of a number of dilemmas over Iraq:

First, within the U.S., they need to bolster popular support for their offensive, and beat back the growing skepticism and opposition to the occupation of Iraq.

Bush has been doing that by alternating between feel-good fantasy and a murderous get-tough cowboy pose. Kerry has been doing this, to a different audience, by promising to conduct the war more skillfully and to achieve victory in Iraq by bringing more allied troops onto the frontlines.

Second, no matter who wins in the U.S. presidential election, the U.S. government will need to find some way to create a stable pro-U.S. political and military force in Iraq--including both building an Iraqi puppet army and somehow carrying out the Iraqi elections that the White House insists will happen in January 2005.

And finally, the U.S. ruling class feels a growing need to "deal with" Iran, Iraq's highly strategic and oil-rich neighbor that is accused of inflaming the anti-U.S. resistance in Iraq and of working to develop nuclear weapons.


Bush's bizarre happy-face fantasies about Iraq are not mainly about being "out of touch." This is the latest layer of deliberate lies--aimed at hiding the truth from the people, calming fears of an endless and costly war, and convincing Americans that Bush is forcefully and skillfully taking care of their "safety."

Both presidential campaigns have floated out the possibility of somehow withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

But the basic realities of this war and the powerful global ambitions of the war-makers make it unlikely that any serious withdrawal is in the cards.

It is unlikely that Iraqi or Allied troops will enter the war soon in significant numbers, and the U.S. ruling class views Iraq as far too strategic for them to allow it to slip from their control.

In short: it is quite likely that plans are already being developed for major new escalations and U.S. troop deployments in Iraq soon after the November elections (and this is likely to be true for a Kerry presidency too).

It has already been reported the U.S. may rotate in an additional 15,000 troops for the January elections, pushing the total in Iraq over 150,000. U.S. commander General Abizaid said recently that he thought more troops were needed "to secure the election process."

New York Times columnist Krugman reports (Sept. 21): "It's widely believed that in November, a few days after the election, the Bush administration will launch an all-out offensive against insurgent- controlled areas. Such an offensive will, for all practical purposes, be an attempt to conquer Iraq all over again."

As for the Kerry campaign, John Kerry himself has urged both expanding the global U.S. armed forces by 40,000, and also increasing the number of troops in Iraq fighting the insurgency. What he has not yet exactly said is that he will send those additional U.S. troops into Iraq to do that fighting.

For now, however, the Bush White House has resisted sending more troops to Iraq, before the election. After all, Bush can't easily claim both that all is going well and meanwhile also rush new armies into those same battle zones.

But holding back the deployment of more troops now is creating problems for the U.S. occupation. The resistance is clearly growing and becoming more deeply rooted among the population ("entrenched" is the word the mainstream press uses). And this is threatening the U.S. hold on Iraq and the viability of the occupation.

Further, new military escalation taken after the U.S. elections in November could turn the January Iraqi elections into a shambles or derail them entirely.

Krugman points out (NYT, Sept. 21): "But unlike Saddam's hapless commanders, the insurgents won't oblige us by taking up positions in the countryside, where they can be blasted by U.S. air power. And grinding urban warfare that leads to heavy American casualties and the death of large numbers of innocent civilians will simply enlarge the ranks of our enemies."

To deal with the growing insurgency, the Bush administration recently shifted over $3 billion in aid from reconstruction to bolstering the Iraqi puppet military. Yet the continued unemployment of millions, the lack of elementary security at the street level and the continuing lack of steady electrical power, clean water, and sewage treatment are outrages that fuel the anti-occupation insurgency.

As of this month, only $1 billion of the $18 billion allocated by Congress for rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure and services 10 months ago has been spent. ( CSM , Sept. 17)

The plan for holding elections in January is a centerpiece of the U.S. effort to create a neocolonial puppet regime with an Iraqi face and some degree of legitimacy among the Iraqi people. Yet growing shadows already loom over the elections.

During his recent visit to the U.S., Iyad Allawi claimed that the situation was well in hand--elections could be held tomorrow in 15 of Iraq's 18 provinces, that general elections would definitely be held in January, and that the insurgency was only escalating because anti-U.S. forces "are getting more desperate."

Yet a few days afterward, on Sept. 23, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld told Congress the vote may proceed only in some areas of Iraq: "Let's say you tried to have an election, and you could have it in three-quarters or four-fifths of the country, but some places you couldn't because the violence was too great. Well, then so be it. Nothing's perfect in life." The next day the second-ranking official at the State Department contradicted Rumsfeld by declaring that the Iraqi elections must be "open to all citizens."

Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who has gone along with and generally supported the U.S. occupation, is reportedly very concerned about the U.S. election plan. He worries that the elections will be postponed or that the U.S. will broker a backroom deal to determine their outcome; that Iraq's majority Shi'ite population will be under- represented in the soon-to-be-hand-picked transitional assembly; and that the elections will be considered illegitimate.

Iran: Their Next Target?

Looming in the background, and greatly complicating the U.S. freedom of action and overall problems in the region, is the Islamic Republic of Iran, part of Bush's so-called "Axis of Evil," along with Iraq and North Korea.

Most worrisome from the U.S. imperialist viewpoint is that Iran may be moving toward acquiring nuclear weapons--which would mean a major change in the balance of military force in this strategic region, and would mean that Iran had new means to face and counter U.S. military threats.

In addition, there is growing concern in Washington that Iran is directly or indirectly aiding or encouraging the Shi'ite rebels in Iraq--something Rumsfeld has claimed publicly--and that, in any case, the U.S. difficulties in Iraq were actually strengthening Iran in the region.

On one hand, the fact that U.S. forces are embroiled next door to Iran poses a threat to the Islamic Republic. But, at the same time, the fact that these forces are increasingly bogged down fighting an insurgency in Iraq, means that Iran has been able to offer to help negotiate arrangements for the U.S. among southern Iraqi Shi'ites, and has given Iran some new leverage to face aggressive U.S. pressures.

So Iran has become a subject of much debate among the rulers, and various options are being weighed within U.S. ruling circles, including trying to destabilize the regime.

The flavor of some of this high-level debate was captured by a Sept. 8 opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal written by two retired military officers who have also co-authored a book titled Endgame: The Blueprint for Victory in the War on Terror. They wrote: "It is imperative, therefore, that we immediately and forcefully check Iran, inside and outside of Iraq... Considering ...that Iran is poised to make a play for regional dominance, our countermove must be the strongest we have ever made in our 25-year cold war with Iran. Iraq's success is dependent on it."

It is revealing of these times, and the general mood throughout the U.S. political establishment, that the Democrats' "rising star," Illinois Senatorial candidate Barack Obama, made headlines this week by suggesting that the U.S. may need to launch pre-emptive missile strikes on Iran's military facilities, as if such naked aggression was the most natural and reasonable thing in the world.


In the face of these difficulties, there is definitely debate within the U.S. ruling class over how to handle the various contradictions they face. But there are no major voices--Republican or Democrat--calling for abandoning Iraq or ending the so-called "war on terror," which is actually a global rampage for greater empire.

Instead, the signs point to military escalation in Iraq and perhaps the region--in short, what some have called an "escape forward." For example, at the UN Bush called for "a new definition of security," giving nations (i.e., the imperialists) the right to take action to, as the New York Times put it, "extend freedom to countries gripped by tyranny."

There is talk of re-instating the draft, and a Pentagon-appointed panel of experts recently concluded that the U.S. military doesn't have enough forces for all the ambitious global operations they have in mind--meaning they can't sustain the difficult occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and also be able to level "credible threats" at all the people they want to threaten.

Yet the imperialists are caught in an unpredictable dynamic here. Shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, Bob Avakian, Chairman of the RCP, wrote that the U.S. imperialists' grab for greater global power carries with it "the potential...for this to get wildly out of control...the imperialists have set things in motion that can't be easily reversed, and may not be easily controlled," for creating what he called a "cauldron of contradictions." ("The New Situation and the Great Challenges," RW, March 17, 2002, available online at

This is exactly what has happened so far in Afghanistan and especially Iraq. And further escalation could lead to new leaps in this spiral and the difficulties the imperialists are facing in the region.

For example, a new study by Britain's Royal Institute of International Affairs finds that not only could Iraq break up or descend into civil war, it could also "become the spark for a region wide upheaval."

This could take place in a number of different ways--including the spread of the insurgency across Iraq, the collapse of the Iraqi elections, or a U.S. conflict with Iran. The Iraqi elections, designed to stabilize the pro-U.S. regime, could end up destabilizing it. As one Iraqi researcher put it, "Badly prepared elections, rather than healing wounds, will open them."

A former Egyptian foreign minister, reflecting the fears and concerns of many pro-U.S. comprador forces in the region, recently summed up the situation this way: "The gates of hell are open in Iraq, where the situation is becoming more complicated and troubled."