The U.S. “Liberation” of Mosul:
War Crimes in Service of Imperialism

July 24, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


The U.S. and Iraqi governments claim the city of Mosul has been “liberated.” The shattered city and its survivors tell a different story.

Bashar told PBS, “We tried to escape the day before, but ISIS shot at us. We ran back to the house and the army told us, stay inside. We will evacuate you when we make the area safe.” The next morning, two U.S. bombs hit his house. Bashar and other family members and friends dug through layers of concrete, desperately searching for his 18 relatives trapped in the rubble. They finally found them in a collapsed kitchen—all dead, including women and young children.

Bashar’s friend Ali’s house was hit 28 days earlier. Ali ticked off the dead: “My mother, three brothers, three sisters, my father, two sisters-in-law, two nieces.”

Vast swaths of Mosul, which was a modern city of 1.3 million, have been reduced to dusty, smoking rubble—hospitals, apartments, and businesses leveled. Traumatized survivors had huddled in basements during the U.S.-led assault, sometimes surviving on grass. A UN official said refugees from Mosul look “like someone who has gone through an experience like hell.”

Car and drone bombs exploded by ISIS—the jihadists in control of Mosul since June 2014—played a part. But overwhelmingly, sections of west Mosul have been flattened the American way: by 2,000 U.S. air strikes, cannon fire from Apache and Hind helicopters, and 29,000 munitions hurled at Mosul by the U.S.-led coalition during its nine-month assault. IRAMs—basically massive, flying IEDs [Improvised Explosive Devices]—“were being flung into neighborhoods where people were trapped,” Amnesty International (AI) told Democracy Now!

AI estimates that between February 19 and June 19 of this year, 5,805 civilians may have been killed by Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition forces, and close to a million residents forced to flee, nearly 700,000 still living in refugee camps. A Kurdish intelligence official told Britain’s The Independent as many as 40,000 civilians may have been killed in retaking Mosul.

Covering Up America’s War Crimes

The blood staining the U.S.’s hands has been covered up by the Trump/Pence regime and the bourgeois media. Trump never mentioned U.S.-caused deaths in his statement on the “Liberation of Mosul.” The New York Times July 15 photo essay—“Satellite Images of Mosul Reveal the Devastation After the Islamic State Was Forced Out”—which showed neighborhood after neighborhood “in ruins,” never stated that U.S. munitions were overwhelmingly responsible.

“On the one hand, ISIS systematically moved thousands of civilians directly into areas of active fighting, and then they trapped them there,” a representative of AI told Democracy Now! “On the other hand, Iraqi and coalition forces then subjected these very same areas to relentless attacks. These attacks used explosive and imprecise weapons that killed and injured thousands of civilians and left the city flattened.” [Our emphasis]

Indiscriminate bombing that recklessly endangers and kills civilians is a war crime.

But that’s been the American way of war, from the firebombings of Dresden, Germany, and Tokyo, Japan, during World War 2, to the mass murder of three million Koreans during the 1951-53 Korean War, to the carpet bombing of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia during the Vietnam War. Not “heroic” close-quarter combat, but high-tech mass murder from a safe distance.

Liberation? No. A Deadly Clash Between Reactionary Imperialism and Reactionary Islamic Fundamentalism

There was nothing liberating about ISIS’s takeover of Mosul in 2014—and there’s nothing liberating about the U.S. and its allies seizing it back now.

ISIS (the Islamic State) imposed a barbaric, medieval form of Sunni fundamentalist Islam that included draconian dress codes and punishments for Iraqi women, while keeping others from minority nationalities and religions as sex slaves. Dissidents were flogged or executed publicly, often beheaded. Residents trying to flee the recent fighting were shot, sometimes hanged as a warning to others.

But what has America now brought to Mosul? The U.S. was in charge of retaking the city, and they trained, advised, and led the Iraqi forces and provided decisive airpower. The U.S. coalition’s use of massive, indiscriminate bombing was deliberate—not “inadvertent.” In May, Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis declared the U.S. policy is “annihilation”—taking no prisoners, not allowing any ISIS members to survive. Where did Mattis get his nickname? From leading the 2004 siege and devastation of the Iraqi city of Falluja, carried out by war crimes.

Humanitarian workers reported that the U.S. stepped up its bombing campaign in Mosul—including the use of 500-1,000-pound crater bombs—in order to maintain the military momentum and finish the battle as soon as possible. (NBC)

This was driven by key imperialist objectives: not getting bogged down; and sending a global message that the Trump/Pence regime won’t be bound by any concern—or even appearance of concern—for international law or civilian casualties. It won’t hesitate to savagely and violently impose U.S. dominance.


U.S. Imperialism, Emergence of ISIS, and Bringing Forward Another Way

How did ISIS emerge and seize control of Mosul?

This happened largely because of the actions and impact of U.S. imperialism. After invading and occupying Iraq in 2003—in the name of “liberation”—the U.S. empowered a new reactionary regime dominated by Shi’ite Islamic parties, which together with U.S. forces carried out horrific crimes against Iraq’s Sunni population. This was all part of attempting to secure U.S. domination of Iraq, but it fueled the spread of Sunni jihadism.

As the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian analyzed in Bringing Forward Another Way, reactionary imperialism and reactionary Islamic fundamentalism fuel and reinforce each other—even as they clash.

What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade [increasingly globalized western imperialism] on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system. These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. If you side with either of these “outmodeds,” you end up strengthening both.

While this is a very important formulation and is crucial to understanding much of the dynamics driving things in the world in this period, at the same time we do have to be clear about which of these “historically outmodeds” has done the greater damage and poses the greater threat to humanity: It is the historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system, and in particular the U.S. imperialists. (BAsics 1:28)

America’s so-called “War on Terror”—actually a war of empire—has stoked this deadly dynamic across the Middle East. The U.S.-Iraqi assault on Mosul will do nothing to slow that dynamic.

In other words, nothing good for the people is going to come of the U.S. “victory” in Mosul. It is part of a reactionary war of empire that is not in the interests of humanity.

The carnage in Mosul is heartrending—even more so because it is completely outmoded and unnecessary. This underscores the urgency of taking up the challenge Bob Avakian poses and the leadership he provides in Bringing Forward Another Way, for building broad resistance to the crimes of America’s empire, and more fundamentally for preparing for revolution and birthing a radically different and far better world.




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