the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist
“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx
Jan 27, 2003
Things have reached the point that a U.S. war on Iraq seems inevitable.
From the beginning, Bush's warmongering toward Iraq has been aimed at preparing the American people to accept the U.S. government's more aggressive policy towards the rest of the world.
But the campaign against Saddam Hussein also had domestic ramifications. The talk about Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction," which first ballooned up in July, hit at a very convenient moment for Bush just when the Harken scandal was threatening to engulf the White House. It came at an equally convenient time for the bourgeoisie itself, whose financial crookedness and political corruption were being exposed day after day not to mention the fact that the economy continued in a kind of spiraling recession, with bankruptcy leading to bankruptcy and the situation of the population getting worse by the month.
Beating the drums for a new war also served to obscure the other war the one in Afghanistan, which has been a bit of an embarrassment for the Bush administration and for its goal of demonstrating U.S. power after September 11. Not only had it not led to the capture of bin Laden and Mullah Omar but it was requiring still more U.S. troops with nothing to show for their efforts.
Whatever reasons Bush first had for starting down this road, his aggressive stance toward Iraq took on a logic of its own, leading us to where we are today with the U.S. on the verge of committing a vast armada of troops and weapons into battle.
A U.N. report estimates that the number of Iraqi victims in the coming war will be at least 500,000. It's only a guess and probably understates the reality. But even these figures show that the Bush administration is preparing a bloodbath. The Bush administration plans for carrying out this war to remove Saddam Hussein don't take into account these hundreds of thousands of civilian victims they will be, in the army's terms, only "collateral damage." These new victims will be added to the nearly half million who died in the Gulf War and immediately afterwards, plus the million more who have died since as the result of periodic U.S. bombing campaigns over the last 12 years and the U.N.- sponsored embargo of Iraq, which has starved its children and left them prey to disease.
This war, when it comes, will not be about Iraq's alleged "weapons of mass destruction," no matter how many times Bush utters this phrase.
The weapons inspections themselves show that. Even before the inspectors got to Iraq, Bush announced that he did not need proof of such weapons to decide to go to war. And when the U.N. nuclear inspectors announced that "Mr. Hussein would get a quite satisfactory' grade for cooperating with nuclear inspectors," according to the New York Times (January 25, 2003), the Bush administration let it be known that it was "furious," and that it was "pressing the Atomic Energy Agency to rescind it." In other words, when reality doesn't agree with what Bush claims, then rewrite reality. The inspections are simply a farce, filling in time, while the U.S. continues its buildup to war.
The debate inside the U.N. Security Council is equally a farce, since from the beginning Bush made it clear that he wouldn't be bound by the U.N. Bush's stance was underlined by Secretary of State Colin Powell on the very eve of the weapons inspectors' report to the U.N. Security Council. This supposed moderate inside the Bush administration thumbed his nose at the U.N., announcing to the world, "We continue to reserve our sovereign right to take military action against Iraq, alone or with a coalition of the willing."
For what purpose? Bush has often said that the U.S. intends to replace Saddam Hussein's dictatorship with a democratic regime. A document leaked by the Bush administration to the press on January 5th shows that it's not a "democratic regime" that Bush has in mind but a military dictatorship.According to the document, which details U.S. plans for Iraq after Saddam Hussein is gone, the U.S. will carry out a "military occupation" of Iraq for at least 18 months, with the country to be directed by a U.S. military administration. Eighteen months? It's only a guess, wishful thinking. Whoever drew up this plan doesn't even know yet how the war will unfold. One thing they do know but don't say is that although Saddam Hussein is a despicable dictator who is probably hated by a good part of the Iraqi population, this does not mean the population will view U.S. troops as liberators not when this population has suffered under 12 years of U.S. bombing and other attacks.
This plan is significant because it explains in detail whom the U.S. plans to purge: only Saddam Hussein, his closest relatives and lieutenants. In other words, the army and almost all the current administration will be left in place. The very state apparatus on which Saddam Hussein based his dictatorship will be welcomed into the new regime.
During the Gulf War in 1991, not only did the U.S. do nothing to oust Saddam Hussein from power, but it gave him and his army a free hand to crush the popular insurrections that had burst out after the war weakened his dictatorship. The U.S. armed forces which occupied part of the country let Saddam Hussein's air force violate the cease-fire agreement to bomb the insurgent Shiite region. They waited, their weapons stowed, until after Saddam Hussein's forces had crushed the insurrection. They also waited to set up the northern "no-fly-zone" until after Saddam Hussein had smashed the Kurds.
This time, Bush Junior seems determined to go further than his father and to get rid of Saddam Hussein. But that does not mean he intends to get rid of Saddam's state apparatus, nor do away with the military dictatorship on which he rested. While the U.S. plans to keep its own troops in Iraq to control the situation created by its intervention which is likely to be even more anarchic than the one at the end of the Gulf War it wants to keep the old repressive Iraqi apparatus in place to back up its own forces.
The Bush administration obviously leaked this plan to the press to highlight its intentions. They were speaking, first of all, directly to the Iraqi generals, pushing them to get rid of Saddam Hussein by means of a coup, letting them know that they wouldn't be held accountable for what they had done in the service of the dictatorship and that they could retain their power and keep their social rank.
This attempt to sponsor a coup against Saddam Hussein carried out by his own generals is, of course, aimed at minimizing the cost of this war for the U.S. army. But there's another calculation involved in this maneuver. Even if the U.S. left tens of thousands of American soldiers in Iraq and for more than 18 months and even if it ran the country for awhile with its own administration, military or civilian, this would not be enough to control a country as big and as developed as Iraq. This is a country torn by many contradictions: between the central power and the oppressed "minorities," the Shiites and the Kurds, who in fact represent the majority of the population; and the social contradictions between a small layer of privileged people, who live well and get richer in spite of the embargo, and the majority of the population considerably impoverished since the end of the Gulf War. The U.S. needs the present state apparatus to control the Iraqi population, no matter how the thing progresses.
Destabilization of Iraq could shake up this whole region, whose borders were set up by imperialist treaties, dividing peoples and ethnic communities. The breaking up of Iraq would have inevitable consequences on the neighboring countries. For example, if the Kurds of Iraq were to take advantage of the circumstances to try to establish their own nation, which the imperialist powers have refused to allow for a century this would almost necessarily have repercussions on the Kurds of Iran, of Syria or of Turkey, one of the main U.S. allies in this region.
This is why the most rotten dignitaries in the current dictatorship are being given a chance to appear as resistance fighters against Saddam Hussein. To redeem themselves, all they need do is change sides at the last minute. This is also why the entire hierarchy of the police and the army, including those who tortured and assassinated vast numbers of people under Saddam Hussein, will almost certainly keep their jobs in the service of new masters: a pro-U.S. regime.
When the U.S. goes into Iraq, no matter under what circumstance, the second-rank imperialist powers will also be there, unwilling to be left out of the spoils of a war that threatens to rearrange control in the Middle East. Great Britain has already sent planes, helicopters, warships and a nuclear submarine into the region. And France, despite Chirac's hypocritical statements in favor of waiting a little while longer, quietly prepares to send its own troops.
The intervention of the imperialist powers in Iraq no matter what form it takes will bring only more troubles for the Iraqi population. Like so many other wars which spill blood all over the world today, the U.S. war against Iraq will be carried out for squalid imperialist reasons.
At the beginning, Bush's warmongering was aimed at marshaling the American population behind an ever more aggressive imperialist policy. We've now reached the point that this policy may soon be carried out by military means.
The political currents who defend the working class and its interests may not be in a situation to prevent this war. But we can at least demonstrate that this war is not being prepared in the name of the working class, nor in the name and with the agreement of the population.