Revolutionary Worker #1194, April 13, 2003, posted at rwor.org
April 6, 2003. Baghdad, home of five million people, sat directly before the invading tank columns of the U.S. forces. The war planners, who kept sending thousands of planes and cruise missiles to pound this ancient city, debated and plotted when to launch their armored ground attack on the vast, crowded neighborhoods.
The war makers once raved about an almost bloodless war. No one, they claimed, would dare oppose them--once they saw the "shock and awe" of U.S. military power.
Vice President Cheney said Iraqi troops would "step aside" and refuse to fight. The ghoulish Richard Perle claimed that "very few Iraqis are going to fight." Long-time Republican war advisor Kenneth Adelman said the conquest of Iraq would be "a cakewalk."
Reporters were "embedded" beside the military commanders--so the whole world would get a detailed, intimidating TV infomercial about U.S. military superiority.
The real war did not follow those scenarios.
The Uncertainties of Unjust War
"Clearly, the American war planners misjudged the determination of the Iraqi forces. ...The first war plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance--now they are trying to write another war plan.... It is clear that within the United States there is a growing challenge to President Bush about the conduct of the war and also opposition to the war. So our reports about civilian casualties here, about the resistance of the Iraqi forces, are going back to the United States. It helps those who oppose the war... to develop their arguments."
Peter Arnett, March 30, fired from NBC for speaking these remarks on Iraqi TV
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and his generals insist that the "outcome of this war is certain."
In the U.S. propaganda, Iraq is a threat to the neighboring countries, the world and the U.S. But, in reality, Rumsfeld and Bush wear smirks because they have chosen to bully and attack a much weaker country.
Iraq is a Third World country with one-tenth as many people as the U.S. The U.S. economy, built up by wealth of empire, is a thousand times bigger than Iraq's. And the U.S. has spent tens of billions of dollars over the last decade developing new high-tech weapons, while Iraq has lived under constant bombardment and permanent embargo.
Two weeks into the war, the cheerleaders of war bragged how the U.S. military had conquered most of the country--with blitzkrieg tactics of "bypass and haul ass." They pointed out that British forces quickly seized the southern Iraqi oil fields intact--which the imperialists had been eager to control as quickly as possible.
The invaders moved rapidly through open country--farmland and desert--where any massed resistance would be exposed to intense U.S. air attack. But by the second week of the war they had not taken any of Iraq's major cities--where the people are concentrated--even though the British troops were assigned to take the southern city of Basra in the opening days.
The U.S. government had predicted early popular uprisings in southern Iraq against the central government. But, in fact, this did not happen. Kurdish nationalist forces joined up with the U.S. invaders in northern Iraq -- but elsewhere many of Iraq's people and troops have resisted.
The reporters "embedded with" the invading army (did someone say "in bed with"?!) were suddenly reporting setbacks and firefights. From the Wall Street Journal (March 25): "Far from being hailed immediately as liberators, invading U.S. and British forces in southern Iraq are facing deep hostility and gunfire from some residents who are often desperate for food and water and sometimes furious about the continuing military assault against their country."
In the first week of war, irregular Iraqi forces attacked the U.S. gasoline supply convoys crossing the southern desert. At the outskirts of Baghdad and in the fierce fighting around Basra, foot soldiers with shoulder-launched weapons stepped out to challenge and destroy tanks. In one now-famous moment, farmers in the Iraqi heartland near Karbala brought down an Apache helicopter, and danced around the wreckage.
Reporters in Jordan described how more than 7,000 young Iraqis (sometimes open in their dislike of the Saddam regime) were climbing aboard busses to return to Iraq -- to fight against the invader. One young worker Al-Mayali said as he prepared to leave Jordan for Basra: "When someone comes to your house to fight, you fight. They may have come for Saddam Hussein, but they also came for the oil. We can take care of this problem inside Iraq. We will find someone to lead us. We will find a man of our own."
The craters in Baghdad market places and the crowded hospitals of Iraq's neighborhoods scream that this is not some bloodless video game. Even in the highly censored and hyped-up TV coverage it is clear that this is no "cake walk."
The U.S. imperialists are not as all-powerful as they wanted to appear. And every detail of this conquest of Iraq reveals these invaders do not bring "liberation."
Ugly Preparationsfor "the Next Phase"
"We dropped a few civilians, but what do you do? I'm sorry, but the chick was in the way."
Marine sharpshooter Sgt. Schrumpf New York Times , March 29
"Everyone is now seen as a combatant until proven otherwise,"
Pentagon official, MSNBC, April 1
"So the Army's senior ground commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, has found that `the enemy we're fighting is different from the one we've war-gamed against' and that the Iraqis are using all means at their disposal to resist this invasion of their homeland... Next thing you know we'll be complaining that the Iraqis won't come out from behind the rocks and trees and march in a straight line toward our tanks wearing red uniforms.
Reader's letter to the Washington Post , March 31
Two weeks into the war, the invading tank columns confront the city of Baghdad. The fighting spread into the city of Basra. The strategic northern towns of Tikrit, Mosul and Kirkuk braced for attack.
The U.S. war planners openly fret about what they will do with Baghdad. They know well that bringing an army into a vast city reduces their military advantages over Iraqi defenders.
If the resistance doesn't collapse and if the logic of conquest draws the U.S. troops into Baghdad, the invaders will face what they call MOUT (military operations on urbanized terrain).
Previous U.S. urban assaults have been intensely murderous: During the 1968 Tet offensive they flattened areas like Hue and Cholon, and killed thousands of people, with intense carpet bombing. In their invasion of Panama City, the brutal bombing of a resisting neighborhood became known as "little Hiroshima."
Ominously, as the invading tanks approached these urban areas, the war makers in Washington openly sought to justify (ahead of time) massive civilian casualties.
They are claiming (without evidence) that "foreign terrorists of the al-Qaida type" are entering Baghdad to fight U.S. troops. Donald Rumsfeld (the CEO of war) announced on April 4: "I must say, however, that given the conduct of the Iraqi regime, it increasingly seems that Iraq is running out of real soldiers, and soon all that will be left are war criminals."
And everything is done to portray any resistance as just "terrorism." If Iraqi people are willing to die to attack U.S. roadblocks, they are accused of using "terror tactics." If the U.S. troops faced armed resistance from people in civilian clothes, the military spokepeople want to treat that as a "war crime" -- even though they treat the exploits of their own civilian-dressed Special Ops and CIA spotters as "clever" and "heroic."
Jim Wilkinson, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said that the resistance of Iraqi people should be considered "nothing less than state-sponsored terrorism."
When the U.S. bombs cities from the air with thousands of weapons, this is portrayed like a marvel of modern civilization --but when anyone delivers a bomb to a U.S. checkpoint in a pick up truck, General McChrystal claims that it "looks and feels like terrorism."
The U.S. military has been accusing Iraqi soldiers of "using the people as human shields." What this means is that Iraqi troops have retreated to defend the cities and the people there - - and the U.S. wants any future civilian massacres to be blamed on anyone who resists them.
In the face of this unanticipated resistance, a bitter debate erupted -- within the U.S. military and the larger ruling class -- over whether the plans for this invasion were done right. The Rumsfeld clique has been criticized for expecting easy victory, for not sending in enough invading troops, and for not unleashing even more destruction from the air.
One military expert, Ralph Peters, wrote in the Washington Post : "Some things do not change. The best way to shock and awe an enemy is still to kill him."
In other words, the emergence of resistance among Iraq's people and soldiers has produced calls for even more ruthless use of armed force.
These are the preparations of a conquering power that knows it will have to face and fight whole sections of the people.
Great crimes are being prepared. Outrageous justifications are being pumped out. Lies will be spread. The conquerer plans to masquerade as victim. The invader plans to pose as liberator.
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