Behind the Lies and Pretexts

Why the U.S. Wants to Conquer Iraq

Revolutionary Worker #1183, January 19, 2003, posted at

When a great power bashes a small, weakened country, they don't need surprise. War preparations can be out in the open. The attacker can take his time to gather his forces and even order the world to watch.

After pounding Afghanistan, the U.S. government has now selected Iraq for attack. Northern Kuwait has been turned into a military zone. Huge fleets are in place to send out bombers. The U.S. government plan includes a military invasion and protracted occupation of Iraq.

The tanks, bombers, and fleets of the Pentagon are remaking the world we live in. Thousands of young men and women are landing in the Gulf to kill and die.

At such moments, each of us bears a heavy responsibility. We need to decide what to think and where to stand.

Why are the people of Iraq being put in the crosshairs of war? Whose interests are in command? What kind of a future is being imposed on the world by threat and war?

The Emperor Has No Clothes

The preparations for this war are very real , but the official justifications for the war are completely unreal.

The U.S. government says that they must "take out" Saddam Hussein because he threatens the world. But Iraq is a small, poor, weak country. It suffered military defeat in the Gulf War followed by a decade of air raids and sanctions. Iraq's major neighbors (Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran) all oppose U.S. attack. U.S. commanders openly claim that Iraq's military cannot successfully attack them in their staging areas--right on Iraq's immediate borders. If so, then how does Saddam Hussein threaten the U.S. and the world?

The U.S. government says that Iraq could develop "weapons of mass destruction," and might then threaten other countries. This is an absurd argument. It is the U.S. which already has nukes, and is the only country in the world to have used nuclear weapons--twice. President Bush said last month he would launch a nuclear first strike against Iraq under some circumstances. Israel has also threatened Iraq with nuclear attack. The U.S. ally Pakistan threatened the major cities of western India a few months ago. Iraq doesn't threaten other countries with nukes--it is the U.S. and its allies who have threatened other countries with nukes.

The U.S. government spokesmen claim Iraq is connected with the Islamist "terrorists" like al-Qaida. No known facts support this. Iraq's government is not fundamentalist: many religions are tolerated and women are not required to wear veils. In the 1980s, it was the U.S. (not Iraq) that financed the Islamist forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan that produced al-Qaida. After 1990, Osama bin Laden offered to return his forces to Saudi Arabia to fight against Iraq.

In short, the U.S. government excuses are flimsy, self-contradictory and unbelievable.

Opportunities for Aggressors

"The international system has been in flux since the collapse of Soviet power. Now it is possible--indeed probable--that that transition is coming to an end. If that is right, then...this is a period not just of grave danger, but of enormous opportunity."

Condoleezza Rice, White House National Security Adviser

"The American Empire (Get Used to It.)"

New York Times Magazine headline, Jan. 5

After September 11, 2001, the U.S. power structure unleashed a massive global offensive. Powerful political and military forces around Dick Cheney and Colin Powell had argued for (and planned) such an offensive for over a decade. They argued that the collapse of the Soviet Union left the United States in a position of unchallenged world domination. And, they argued, the U.S. needed to act aggressively to forge a new world structure based on that dominance. They argued that this position of unchallenged military power should be used, aggressively, to make sure that a rival superpower never again emerged from among the other major world powers. (This has been documented in many places, including in "Dick Cheney's Song of America: Drafting a plan for global dominance," in Harper's Magazine , October 2002.)

On September 11, 2001, attacks took place on U.S. soil. Suddenly, the new Bush government in Washington was confronted with intense new opportunities and pressures to act. Afghanistan was their first target. At the same time, within hours of the plane attacks, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told his aides to prepare war on Iraq--even though no evidence, then or now, ever linked Iraq to 9/11. The notes of Rumsfeld's aide read: "Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

The current aggressive moves on Iraq are part of the larger juggernaut of moves aimed at securing U.S. domination. They are Phase 2 of a global war that Vice President Cheney said could last a generation.

September 11 allowed the government to claim all this is being done in the name of the American people--their protection and their security. But very different goals and interests are really in command.

The Interests of Imperialists

"It is important to understand that it is not just a matter of U.S. corporations being `oil-hungry' or simply that the U.S. economy is `dependent on fossil fuels.' The more fundamental truth is that the monopoly capitalists who rule the U.S. must control huge supplies of oil and other fuels, worldwide, in order to keep production costs for U.S.-based corporations as low as possible (particularly through super-exploitation of labor in many oil-producing countries), to strengthen their competitive position vis--vis other imperialist corporations and countries, and overall to control vital lifelines of the global economy. And these monopoly capitalists use the government apparatus--in particular the military--of the U.S. to enforce this control. This is an expression of the essential nature of the imperialist system we are confronting."

Bob Avakian, "The New Situation and the Great Challenges"

The Persian Gulf is currently the largest single source of oil in the world. And the U.S. has maneuvered for 50 years to control it. The U.S. armed both Israel and Turkey as key military allies in the region. It has propped up the dictatorial Shah of Iran and the fundamentalist Saudi monarchy. In the 1970s, President Carter announced that the U.S. would launch nuclear attack in response to any Soviet advance into Iran toward those oilfields. And the U.S. backed Saddam Hussein in a bloody war against the post- Shah Iran.

The U.S. strategists consider this region both fragile and essential. The main oil-producing countries (Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran) are far from reliably stable servants of U.S. imperialism. So, after the Soviet Union collapsed, the U.S. imposed permanent military bases in the Gulf region for the first time--knocking down Iraq hard in 1991, occupying parts of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain.

All this is taking a leap. The tiny Gulf state of Qatar has been transformed into a regional nerve center for U.S. military domination. The leaked U.S. war plans ( New York Times , Jan. 6) include a "quick takeover" of Iraq's oilfield--with the idea of protecting the oil wells from the fighting and getting back to pumping oil as soon as possible.

Decisions are being made in Washington, DC about whether post-war Iraq will be allowed to join the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)--which means that the U.S. is now debating how Iraqi oil prices will be set .

Iraq is only the immediate target in this region--Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz says that a U.S.-occupied Iraq would be a base area within that region. U.S. spokespeople speculate that both Iran and Saudi Arabia may undergo political change--the U.S. could use a conquered Iraq as a platform for controlling those changes. It is the U.S. (not Saddam Hussein) who currently intends to threaten and tightly dominate Iraq's neighbors.

A Bid for World Domination

Several major potential global rivals of the U.S. rely heavily on Persian Gulf oil--particularly Germany, France and Japan.

In secret conferences, U.S. officials are now debating which international oil companies will control Iraqi oilfields and which pre-war oil contracts will be honored. In other words, the U.S. warmakers are deciding which other powers will have access to this oil.

In addition, White House sources say there are plans for exploiting Iraq's own resources and labor to pay for billion-dollar U.S. costs for conquest and occupation.

On one level, the political and military moves of great capitalist powers are always ultimately about profit. But this should not be understood narrowly--as if the U.S. wants to conquer Iraq simply to enrich its oil men.

A U.S. military grab for the Persian Gulf translates into a strategic move to control the vital economic lifelines of other powers. When Europe and Japan look at their energy supplies, they see U.S. Marines and warships all over.

That explains the twisted dance now performed by the heads of European imperialism. France and Russia have a hand in Iraq's oil industry now--and so are opposed to the U.S. taking over the show. On the other hand former CIA director James Woolsey went on TV to declare that if France didn't join this war on Iraq, they could not expect to keep their access to Iraqi oil in the future. So the Euro-imperialists complain about each step toward U.S. invasion and then show up to participate in some way as that step goes forward.

Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair (known as Bush's slavish "poodle") recently explained that "the price of influence is that we do not leave the U.S. to face the tricky issues alone.... There are not many countries who wouldn't wish for the same relationship as we have with the U.S., and that includes most of the ones most critical of it in public."

In other words, while some imperialists hope the U.S. imperialists don't succeed in imposing complete domination over the globe, the imperialist self-interests of all the major powers suggest they want to be at the U.S. side if it does succeed in conquering Iraq.

Telling the World: Watch Closely

"Like any Mafia thugs--and they are that on a monstrous and worldwide level--they can't allow even the appearance that somebody came up and poked them in the eye, and got away with it."

Bob Avakian, "The New Situation and the Great Challenges"

Bush swaggers to the podium. He threatens the UN with irrelevance. He brushes aside the concerns of people all over the world. He orders governments to fall in line.

The U.S. attack on Iraq seems unjustified, aggressive, and deeply threatening across much of the planet. Crudeness is part of the point. The world is told to watch closely what happens to governments and countries that defy the new Roman Empire. The U.S. can have nukes. Its ally Israel can have them. But no one who is "defiant" can even dream of matching (or deterring!) U.S. threats.

U.S. spokesmen publicly threaten that "key" Iraqi officials and generals can expect trial and punishment. Detailed lists have been made of which Iraqi officials and military officers can be "reformed and kept." In this new world, the price of defiance is supposed to be "regime change"--and death. The reward for capitulation is permission to rule as a puppet of the U.S.

Who Does This Madness Serve?

Look at the guns and bombs aimed at Iraq's cities and people. A UN study says as many as 500,000 people could suffer injuries and death if war is launched.

Look at the long ugly history of American-imposed "regime change": Pinochet in Chile, Mobuto in Congo, the Shah in Iran, General Ky in Vietnam, Suharto in Indonesia. This is what the people of Iraq can expect from their occupiers.

Phase 1 was Afghanistan. Phase 2 was Iraq. Who will get threatened after that? The Chicago Tribune ran a headline "Not War Against Korea Yet"! This huge planet will not submit peacefully to the domination of a New Rome--and the attempt to rule the world will never produce safety or prosperity for anyone--including the great majority of people in the U.S.

Look at the new world order they are trying to forge--rooted in the domination of capital and profit over the needs and concerns of the people. An order built on blood, threat, and robbery--wrapped in mindless patriotic lies.

This is all done in the name of the "American people" and their safety. But this planned war is NOT in the interests of the people of the world. And it is not in the interests of the majority of people in the United States.

This deep truth enables us to reach and mobilize millions--including the many who will at first go along with the government.

We do not want this war, and we must stop it.

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