The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Issue no. 738 — November 8 - 22, 2004

Editorial:
Four more years of the same?
NO!
Nothing says we have to accept it!

Nov 8, 2004

One day after his re-election Bush declared: "I earned capital in the campaign, political capital. And now I intend to spend it. It is my style."

Bush lost no time in sketching out his plans for the next four years of his administration.

He made clear he intends to continue the bloody U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The impending U.S. offensive in Fallujah and other cities in Iraq is already proof of what that will mean for the people there – and here.

Here at home, Bush made clear that the corporations and rich, which got so much from his first administration, will reap even more. They will get more tax cuts – Bush said that is his first priority. They also will get more subsidies and giveaways.

Of course, as always, Bush expects working people to pick up the enormous tab. He aims to privatize Social Security, a goal long cherished by Wall Street financiers, who want to get their hands on that money. This can only mean enormous cuts in our hard-earned Social Security benefits. Giving out more money to the corporations will inevitably result in further cuts to education, to public services and to the social programs the working class depends on, like unemployment benefits and Medicaid.

Bush claims that the election gave him a mandate to carry out these attacks, that the vote proves the country is behind him.

No it doesn't. Bush received 51% of the vote. That is not 51% of the population. Between 40 and 50% of the eligible people didn't vote. Then there are all those made "ineligible" by a series of reactionary laws. Put it all together, and you see that Bush won the votes of only a quarter of the adult population – hardly a crushing majority! All the more so, since no candidate spoke for the working class majority in this election.

That won't stop Bush from pretending he has a mandate. Nor will it prevent the Democrats from pretending there is nothing they can do about it – just like they pretended they couldn't stop him when they had a majority in the Senate during 2001 and 2002.

Democrats and Republicans will both say, "the people have spoken."

No! The people haven't spoken, not until the working people of this country – by far the vast majority – begin to express their demands, and then act on them.

The stakes are enormous. If Bush and the other politicians – who will all hide behind him – have their way, they will continue to turn the clock back over the next four years.

Gains won by strikes, by social movements, by vast mobilizations of the people will be taken back – unless new strikes, new social movements, and new mobilizations force the politicians to back off.

Bush and all his ilk can be brought to account like the trash they are. When the working class majority – the force which had no voice in this election – makes its voice heard in the one way that matters, through militant action.

Pages 2-3

It pays to have brothers in high places!

Nov 8, 2004

Neil Bush knows that it pays to have relatives in high places.

He made big money, and a big mess, with the Savings and Loan scandal when his dad, George H.W. Bush, was president. And, of course, the government bailed him out.

Now he's learned he can benefit from his brothers, too.

One brother, U.S. president George W., pushed through the so-called "No Child Left Behind" Act, which threatens to cut off funding for school districts across the country unless 95% of their students pass a specific standardized test.

These tests do NOT help pinpoint where students need extra help in order to successfully learn math, reading or writing. They're just used to punish schools for not having enough students jump through a hoop. "No Child Left Behind" is all about cutting funding to schools, not helping students to learn.

Faced with the threat of cuts to their funding, schools are under enormous pressure – to train the students to pass this specific test.

So, what did Neil Bush do? He founded a company, Ignite Learning, selling software to teach students how to pass No-Child-Left-Behind tests!

He might as well be openly offering the answer keys to the tests his brother demands – because that's what it comes down to.

Ignite's first customer was the Houston Independent School District (HISD), which was the model for No-Child-Left-Behind when George W. Bush was governor of Texas.

So, what market is Ignite targeting now? School districts in the state of Florida, of course.

Under governor Jeb Bush, brother of George W. and Neil, the state of Florida established the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), the state's standardized test modeled on "No Child Left Behind."

The software is being tested in one Florida school district; from there, it will be marketed across the state.

The software will be sold at the price of 30 dollars per-year-per-student. With two million students in the state, Neil Bush's company stands to make up to 60 million dollars in Florida in the first year alone.

No Child Left Behind? More like: No Bush Brother Left Behind!

Phone Service from Hell gets worse

Nov 8, 2004

SBC Communications plans to lay off workers in thirteen states in the next few years, including up to one thousand in Michigan.

They don't even pretend it's because they're losing money. SBC made 2.1 billion dollars in profit in the third quarter of this year alone; that's up from 1.2 billion in the third quarter last year – an increase of 0.9 billion dollars.

Their total revenue went up by only 0.2 billion dollars in that quarter. So where did the extra 0.7 billion dollars come from?

Cuts like this!

SBC has been laying off more and more workers who used to provide service for families and small businesses. As everyone with a phone line knows, even though rates go up and up, service gets worse and worse. Directory assistance is almost useless without a real human to talk to. And it's almost impossible to get an actual service representative to come out to your home to check your phone lines when there's a problem!

And now SBC is cutting back even more. Just because they can. They take our money and laugh in our face.

More jobs
– and more unemployment!

Nov 8, 2004

When the October jobs reports came out, the newspapers, television networks, and radio stations all trumpeted that 337,000 jobs had been created.

You had to really read the fine print to find out that the unemployment rate went up.

How's that? More jobs but more unemployment? Maybe it was because the number of new jobs was less than the number of people who took on a second or third job.

Like they say, "Figures don't lie, but liars figure."

Making checks move faster
– but only for the banks!

Nov 8, 2004

Congress just authorized banks to process checks immediately by taking images of them, then transmitting them electronically, by fax or e-mail. Almost as soon as someone cashes your check, your account can be debited.

On the other hand, if you go into your bank and deposit a check into your account, the money will not be available any sooner. It will still take two days for a local check to clear and five business days for an out-of-town check.

If you think you're in the clear after you've deposited a check, think again. You may be hit with great big overdraft fees.

It's a scheme designed to warm the coldest corner of a banker's icy heart.

Los Angeles:
Two dozen women murdered
– but who noticed?

Nov 8, 2004

Between 1987 and 1998, along a 30-block stretch in Los Angeles, at least 12 women – and probably many more – were raped, murdered and their bodies dumped in streets and alleys. Neither the police department nor media paid any attention. No warnings to women of a serial killer on the loose were announced. Only one detective who walked the beat in the 1980's attempted to take on the cases. Other than families of the victims and their friends, the rest of the city never heard of these brutal killings.

Why not?

If this happened in Beverly Hills to "respectable" wealthy and middle-class women, it would have been more sensational than the O.J. Simpson case.

But these women were not rich or well-connected. Most were prostitutes and drug addicts; most were homeless; one sold cigarettes outside a Mission where she stayed; a couple were passersby; 11 of the 12 were black; all were poor – the most vulnerable of the population.

In other words, in a society that despises women who are not "well brought up" and respectably married , these women were disposable – to be used, misused and thrown away.

In 1992, when over a short period, three women were found raped and strangled near a school in this area, L.A. police detectives were out to find and convict someone as quickly as possible because of the school. The finger was pointed at a mentally retarded janitor. Detectives put him through two grueling days of interrogation, riddled with manipulation and lies on the part of the detectives, before he "confessed" and was railroaded to jail. A civil rights lawyer currently investigating the case said, "This is nothing but detectives trying to put a fabricated story in the mind of a retarded man."

Nine years after he was sent to prison for killings he did not commit, the janitor was quietly released from prison when DNA proved he could not have committed the crimes.

And now, 17 years after the first victim was murdered, a DNA sample taken from 37-year-old Chester Turner, currently serving time for rape, was found to match these cases. He has already been charged with 10 of the killings, and is a suspect in the killings of a dozen other women in L.A.

Two dozen women dead because the whole criminal and legal system has contempt for them.

What's contemptible, truly contemptible, is that criminal system.

Union leaders question the Democrats
– slightly

Nov 8, 2004

Two days after the election, several top union officials, who didn't want to be identified, gave reporters a surprising evaluation. They criticized the Democratic Party, saying that the unions had done their part and turned out voters for Kerry – but the Democratic Party had not.

It's certainly true that the unions under the AFL-CIO banner devoted an extraordinary amount of time, money and human energy to the Democratic Party campaign. Unions sent five thousand full-time paid staff to battleground states. According to an AFL-CIO report, 200,000 union volunteers aided in those 16 states, running 257 phone banks with 2,322 lines, knocking on doors, registering new voters, and handing out over 32 million pieces of pro-Kerry literature at work and in neighborhoods.

The unions contributed 90 million dollars to the 2000 campaign to elect Al Gore. For 2004 they doubled that amount, providing close to half of Kerry's funds!

Even though union membership nation-wide has sunk to only 12.9% of the work force, 24% of voters came from union households, and polls say that two-thirds of these voters went for Kerry. No wonder some leaders feel somewhat betrayed.

AFL-CIO president John Sweeney told reporters, "We certainly will be assessing the role of the Democratic Party ... we will be advising the Democratic Party as to where we think they can be strengthened as well."

Assessing the role of the Democratic Party would be wise. The Democratic Party has long trapped workers, tying up their energy, hopes and resources in support for a party that represents capital no less than does the Republican Party. Workers are maneuvered into supporting a party of their enemy, and this fact should be assessed.

But what would be the point for workers' representatives to try to advise a bosses' party of anything? Leaders like Sweeney could point to the fact that more than half of all voters from union households said the job situation was worse this year. Six of ten rated the nation's economy as "not so good" or "poor." One-fourth said it was the most important issue. How would a political party be advised to address these voters?

Jobs would be first priority. A platform proposing laws to prevent employers from laying off workers while the enterprise was profitable. Laws to take over unprofitable enterprises, to keep workers working, and to put workers without jobs to work on socially necessary projects, provided by the government.

More good advice for a party seeking workers' votes would be to advocate laws for guaranteed health care for all workers, laws limiting the hours of work so that all could work who wanted, and laws ordering the payment of a livable minimum wage to every worker.

The war would be a priority – any party truly representing the interests of the working class would stop the war immediately.

But it would be futile to give advice like that to a party that can't take it. The Democratic Party, beholden to the wealthy class, could not do those things. In fact, in this past election, the Democratic Party tried its utmost to appear as much like Bush as possible, on the war, on the economy, even on "cultural values" like a woman's right to choose abortion if need be.

Moving as close to Bush as possible was not a case of temporary insanity. It was a case of defending the interests of capital, against the working class, in the same fashion that the Democratic Party has done since its birth as the party of Southern slave owners. No advice from any union leader can change that.

If we are to have a party representing workers' interests, it will have to be built up separately, standing on its own feet. And all those union dollars and union activists that were wasted this time around? They could be put to good use in building up such a party. Beginning now.

Pages 4-5

Vietnam:
U.S. war continues to kill …30 years later

Nov 8, 2004

In the next few weeks, the Federal Court of New York is supposed to decide a suit filed against Dow Chemical, Monsanto and 35 other companies involved in the production and distribution of Agent Orange. This chemical, which was used in Viet Nam, got its name because the barrels in which it was stored were orange. It became well known only after the effects of this defoliant on American soldiers who served in Viet Nam were too large to ignore. The Vietnamese population suffered the same effects, multiplied many times over: cancers, skin diseases, destruction of the nervous system, respiratory and blood diseases. The effects are not only on those exposed to Agent Orange, but also on their children who suffer from birth defects.

Agent Orange was first used in Viet Nam as a defoliant to destroy a large part of the forests and agricultural land from which many Vietnamese derived their living. The U.S. goal was to force the population out of the countryside into the cities where they could be put under tighter control by the U.S. military, and to expose those who remained in opposition to more accurate bombing campaigns.

The use of Agent Orange was first approved by President John Kennedy in 1961, and then by Presidents Johnson and Nixon. Their administrations knew full well the potential effects not only on the forests and agriculture, but also on the humans who would inevitably be exposed to the chemicals. But that didn't stop Kennedy, Johnson or Nixon from continuing to authorize the use of Agent Orange in a vicious attempt to force the Vietnamese population to submit to imperialist domination.

The use of Agent Orange wasn't stopped until a decade later, in 1971, when both scientists and American soldiers exposed to the defoliants' effects made the issue public. The American soldiers filed a number of legal suits in U.S. courts. In 1984, just before a major decision was to be handed down, an out-of-court settlement was made by the chemical companies to pay between 40,000 and 68,000 American plaintiffs. The counterpart, though, was that not a single one of the estimated one million Vietnamese victims were paid a cent.

It is now some thirty years later, with still no justice for the Vietnamese. An association of these victims now awaits a new verdict. Will they gain anything? It's not at all sure. But even if they do, it won't erase the crimes perpetrated by the U.S. under the Democrats, Kennedy and Johnson, and the Republican, Nixon.

Israel:
Withdrawing from Gaza without changing its anti-Palestinian policy

Nov 8, 2004

On October 26, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, passed Ariel Sharon's plan for the withdrawal from Gaza by a small majority. The settlers demonstrated in the streets, and all the religious parties and half of his own Likud party were opposed to the measure. He only got it passed with the help of the Labor Party deputies in the Knesset.

Thus Israel is supposed to start the process of withdrawing the 8,000 settlers established in the Gaza Strip and in four small settlements in the West Bank. But this isn't a true step toward Israeli-Palestinian peace, not even a small one. The reason for the withdrawal from Gaza is that the Israeli politicians think they can no longer support the 8,000 Jewish settlers there surrounded by a million and a half Palestinians. Recent especially murderous Israeli military operations in Gaza show that the Israeli leaders are withdrawing only after terrorizing the Palestinians and then keeping an ongoing military threat against them.

The settlements won't be dismantled right away – not until the end of 2005. Once the settlers are gone and their houses destroyed, the Israeli military will pull out of its bases, except in the south on the border with Egypt. In other words, a lot could occur between now and then which could serve as a pretext to prevent the withdrawal.

A part of the plan for withdrawing from Gaza calls for strengthening the settlements in the West Bank, where the building of the so-called "security wall" is a perfect symbol. It is clear that the politicians who sided with Sharon did so for the reason given by a Labor Party deputy who wrote in the daily paper Haaretz (The Land): "... the objective of the wall is to perpetuate Israeli control over the major part of the West Bank and to repel all internal or external pressure in favor of a different political solution."

The leaders of the Israeli left don't reject Sharon's policy. They want to see the settlements continue in the West Bank, with all this means for the future of the five million Israeli Jews and the three million Palestinians. Right now, 4,000 new settler homes are being built in the West Bank, which increases the number of settlers by 10%.

The settlers are very small in proportion to the Palestinian population, but they are highly determined to stay. They are often motivated by anti-Arab racism and think they are pioneers of a religious and anti-Arab state. The ultra-religious and extreme right groups in Israel use them to put pressure on the government. If these settlers ever leave Gaza and return to Israel, this will only strengthen their weight. Not only the Palestinians but also the Israeli population will pay the price for it, with the reinforcement of this reactionary pressure group. Already certain observers say that there is the risk of a civil war inside Israel.

As they have done in the past, the Labor Party leaders abdicated before the right-wing Sharon, using the excuse of a still worse extreme right. They then turn against the Palestinians and warn them that the success of Sharon's plan will depend on their "responsible" attitude and ability to "stop terrorism." As if the policy of successive Israeli governments for 37 years of occupation hasn't itself been the main cause of the movement of a number of Palestinians and their organizations toward this desperate and dead-end policy of terrorism!

It is in the interest of the Palestinians and also of the Israeli population to put an end to this state of permanent war. The Israelis have no other choice but to accept to live in peace beside a Palestinian state. If they are going to find the way to coexistence, the Israeli population can't trust either Sharon or the Labor Party politicians, who carry a large part of the responsibility for the current situation that leaves the Israeli population the hostage of the right and the extreme right.

Ivory Coast:
Their war isn't our war

Nov 8, 2004

New fighting recently broke out in the Ivory Coast between government forces and French military forces stationed inside the country. After an Ivory Coast plane dropped a bomb on a French military position, French planes retaliated by completely destroying the tiny Ivory Coast air force. This then led to anti-French riots in Ivory Coast cities, as well as new inter-ethnic violence.

A civil war has been going on in the Ivory Coast since September 2002. Since that time a rebel army has controlled the northern part of the country. Many thousands of people have been killed and a million people have become refugees.

The following article is translated from Le Pouvoir Aux Travailleurs (Workers Power), published by the African Union of Internationalist Communist Workers in its September 5 issue. It addresses the sentiments of workers in the non-rebel held part of the country, under the government of Laurent Gbagbo.

We hear workers, including those who are mad about their situation, says things like: "First the war has to be ended, then we can think about our demands." Some add: "The war is caused by those other people," especially the "Dioulas" (northerners living in the south), and secondarily by the French who manipulate them. The pro-government press pushes these ideas, calling itself "patriotic," using all the derogatory words against other ethnic groups and foreigners.

These sentiments go along with the government propaganda that talks about "Ivoryism," which is supposedly threatened by the Dioulas and the people from Burkino-Faso to the north, many of whom live in Ivory Coast. Government propaganda dwells on conspiracies involving the French and some of the heads of African states. The French government isn't bothered by this. It knows that Gbagbo protects the interests of French companies in the Ivory Coast, just like his predecessors did, and that his demagogy is only an attempt to blackmail the French government into giving it some more support. The heads of African countries laugh at the attacks on them, since they use the same type of demagogic slogans to deceive their own people. On the other hand, the workers, the street venders and the small peasants coming from Burkina Faso or the north of the country are the ones who suffer from this demagogy. How many victims have there already been, how many families chased from villages where they long worked and lived? How many have been wounded or killed in ethnic confrontations or from lynchings carried out by bands controlled by or at least protected by the governmental power? How many women and men live with fear in their gut?

This demagogy is harmful to all workers, even those who aren't targets. It leads some workers to mistrust others. It's harmful because it increases support for Gbagbo and his party in power, using the "national interest" or in a more hidden way "ethnic interest" to make people forget the vital demands of the laboring classes. It makes people forget that the real culprits are the bosses who exploit the workers, who pay pitiful wages to those who have work and who deprive people of work when they don't have the need to exploit them. They spew this filth trying to get people to fear workers like themselves of a different ethnic group. It's designed to turn workers away from dealing with their true enemies: the big bosses, the big merchants and top state officials, all who live on the back of the workers.

It's easy to blame the war. Certainly, it continues to worsen conditions of life for the workers, the unemployed, the street vendors and the small peasants. It worsens the ills this country suffers from....

The soldiers who rose up on September 19, 2002 are undoubtedly crooks, as much as the soldiers who have remained loyal to Gbagbo. And the political leaders of the rebellion are just as corrupt, as scornful of the population as the rulers in the traditional political caste. They are opposed to those who lead the state only to get access to the feeding trough.

But we know workers were badly paid and constantly threatened by unemployment before the war started. There wasn't any health insurance, pensions or any social protection for the majority of the population. Public services were in a pitiful state, workers' neighborhoods lacked everything: sewer lines, infrastructure, even electricity or drinkable water. Public hygiene was unknown and its absence has killed as surely as the bandits who hold sway there. Before the war started, curable diseases killed because people couldn't afford to buy medicine. Everyone who had any authority, including the lowest level soldier or cop, shook down the poor.

Workers know that despite the war a minority continues to enrich itself. Of course some businesses have closed. But the factories, stores and banks which are still operating bring their owners profit. And there are all the war profiteers. The heads of the government, the mayors and political leaders, who preach about the war and "Ivoryism" and call for unity around the government, are happy to cheat, speculate, and steal. They profit from their positions and get rich ripping off ordinary people.

Even those workers who don't pick up on the ethnic demagogy because they work side by side with a "Dioula," on the same construction site, in the same workshop, and for the same pitiable wage, can think that it's necessary to wait for the government to end the war and only then could they hope for less miserable wages, for social protection and a better life.

. . .

Things will be even worse than before if the ethnic demagogy damages the workers' cause. There are workers who follow the incitements to hatred coming from above, or worse, help the brutes who lynch women, men and poor people like themselves, simply because they were born in the north of the country or in Burkina Faso, simply because they dress differently. If workers like this are numerous, then besides the oppression that workers suffer from the state and from exploitation, there will also be hatred between class brothers, which will make common life unbearable in the workshops and on the building sites as well as in the workers' neighborhoods. Then truly there won't be an "after the war" for the exploited.

Workers don't have to let the corrupt and selfish political caste that serves the owners and the rich be the ones to prepare the future. Only the workers, conscious of their material and political interests, organized to defend themselves, can found a future free of exploitation, oppression and ethnic hatred. The great bulk of society would gain from that future. Even today it can be prepared, despite the war, despite the resignation which overwhelms the laboring classes. Let's hope there rises up a generation which prepares this task, by beginning to spread among the workers the consciousness that they represent a force capable of transforming this unjust society in a direction favorable to those who make it function.

In order for this consciousness to spread, permitting the workers one day collectively to impose their right to a better life, it is necessary to prevent the spread of the disgraceful disease of ethnic hatred, which destroys the one precious thing within reach of the world of labor: solidarity and fraternity among the exploited.

Pages 6-7

Los Angeles:
MTA rewards management for cutting workers' benefits

Nov 8, 2004

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) gave pay raises to its executives, increasing the number of managers who make over $100,000 from 108 to 114.

An MTA spokesman defended the pay raises, saying that the increase is not more than 2.5%, which is what the unionized work force got also.

That's a lie. Not only are some executives' raises way over 2.5%, these managers also got all kinds of bonuses. In addition to his $300,000 salary, for example, CEO Roger Snoble is getting more than $50,000 in allowances – $30,000 for his pension, $12,000 for a car and $10,000 for housing.

This is the company that fought a strike of its mechanics last year, pretending it did not have enough money to pay health insurance premiums for its workers. Forcing the workers out for more than a month, the MTA finally imposed cuts on the health care benefits.

The MTA's two labor negotiators were handily rewarded for cutting workers' benefits, gaining raises of eight% and 12%, bringing their salaries to $161,000 and $126,000, respectively. The MTA spokesman defended these raises, saying that the labor executives' expertise "has saved taxpayers millions of dollars."

Another shameless lie! Whatever money these thieves saved by cutting it from the health care benefits of the workers and their families was more than eaten up by massive increases in executive compensation and by billions of dollars in very profitable contracts to construction magnates.

Bankruptcy court:
A tool used by corporate thieves

Nov 8, 2004

"I very much sympathize with the position of the UMWA (United Mine Workers of America). It's awful that these people are displaced. Unfortunately, that's our system right now." So said financier Wilbur T. Ross about his takeover of Horizon Natural Resources.

In taking over Horizon, one of the largest coal mining companies in the U.S., Ross junked the UMWA contract at two Appalachian mines. Eight hundred unionized workers were laid off. Three thousand retirees were stripped of company pensions and health care.

This attack on the miners was given the blessing of the courts. Federal bankruptcy Judge William Howard had ruled that Horizon could junk its union contracts, retiree pensions and health care in order to make itself more "attractive" to potential buyers.

International Coal Group, Ross's newly organized company, bought Horizon for a fraction of what its assets are really worth – and then went on to sell off the two unionized mines to Massey Energy Company. Massey will re-open the mines, hiring only non-union workers, now that the contracts are junked. International Coal Group will keep and operate over 20 non-union Horizon mines.

Horizon is one of the first coal companies to claim bankruptcy as an excuse for breaking promises made to workers over the years. But hundreds of companies in other industries have been using the bankruptcy courts to junk contracts and strip workers of jobs, pay, pensions and health care.

Bankruptcy is a con game. Big companies cook their books, run to court, dump pensions and benefits – and all the while continue to function and even make profits. And financial vultures like Wilbur Ross buy up companies after the courts declare it bankrupt. It's all financial manipulation.

In fact, Ross took over Horizon with part of the money he got from his recent sale of International Steel Group (ISG), a company he had earlier created by buying up four large steel companies after they had declared "bankruptcy" and junked union contracts.

This "system" that Ross talks about to justify what he is doing is called "capitalism" – a system that enriches robber barons at the expense of working people.

Wouldn't it be ironic if coal miners, one of the first groups of industrial workers that enriched some of the first robber barons, turn out to be the force that makes this century's corporate thieves back off! That's exactly what they did in 1978, when they refused to accept a concessions contract the bosses attempted to impose on them. Against the coal companies – backed up by the courts, the cops, the National Guard, the U.S. Congress and President Jimmy Carter – they organized a strike that shut down virtually every eastern coal mine, union and non-union alike. They forced all these vultures to shove it.

They might do it again.

Page 8

Balance sheet of U.S. war on Iraq:
100,000 civilian deaths

Nov 8, 2004

A study designed by Johns Hopkins public health scientists and carried out by teams of Iraqi doctors puts the civilian death toll in the current Iraq war at more than 100,000 people.

The study also concluded that U.S. bombing was the cause – direct or indirect – of most of these deaths, and that most of the victims were women and children.

The authors of the report explained that the actual number of deaths is probably even higher than their estimate. That's because they excluded most of the deaths in Fallujah, where the U.S. bombardment was extraordinarily heavy and where the death toll was much higher than in the rest of the country.

Nonetheless, even 100,000 is much larger than the previous estimates of civilian deaths, which ranged from 10,000 to 30,000. But those figures were based only on published accounts in newspapers, which have no way to know everything that happens. And they pay no attention to public health surveys like done like the Johns Hopkins survey. Such surveys are conducted by knocking on doors and asking residents what happened, rather than relying on official reports and news accounts. They are the most accurate way to find out what happened.

One hundred thousand men, women and children – and almost half were children under 15 – are dead from U.S. bombs raining down on them or from the consequences of this warfare.

One hundred thousand people is the entire population of such U.S. cities as Gary, Indiana; Burbank, California; or Erie, Pennsylvania. And since the population of Iraq is less than one-tenth the size of the United States, the equivalent number of deaths if there were a war in the U.S. would be over a million people dead – in just over one year – from enemy bombing.

Four decades ago, faced with a growing insurgency in Viet Nam that had the support of large parts of the Vietnamese population, U.S. Air Force General Curtis Lemay suggested the U.S. should "bomb them back into the Stone Age." U.S. air attacks on North Vietnamese cities then turned into the heaviest air bombardment known in history until that time, not to mention the over one million tons of chemicals which destroyed agricultural land and forests for generations to come.

This time, no U.S. official has yet been quoted mentioning the Stone Age. They didn't need to say it – it's what the various U.S. wars on Iraq have been doing: transforming a relatively developed, urbanized, educated population into a nation of desperately poor people forced from their homes by massive bombing campaigns into refugee camps with no modern means of sustenance.

For mighty U.S. superpower, Iraq is becoming a new Viet Nam

Nov 8, 2004

The U.S. military is preparing to unleash a new offensive to break the opposition to its occupation in Iraq. Just outside Fallujah, which is 40 miles north of Baghdad, over 10,000 U.S. troops are massed, along with armored troop carriers, heavy Abrams M-1 tanks, attack Cobra-helicopters, howitzers – that is, all the equipment the mightiest imperialist power on earth intends to use against a nearly defenseless civilian population.

It appears that a massive U.S. assault on the city is imminent. Over the last days, the U.S. military has been dropping leaflets warning women and children to flee. Meanwhile, U.S. forces are carrying out military probes into the outskirts of the city that usually precede a major assault.

The U.S. military has prepared for this attack for a long time. Every day for the last three months F-16s have been bombing and shelling this city, that used to have a population of 300,000, to "soften it up." In the last couple of weeks, reports are that the bombings have intensified, going on constantly day and night. Of course, the U.S. spokesmen always report that the jets are carrying out "surgical" and "precision" strikes on "terrorist" and "insurgent" strongholds. But according to independent reports, big parts of the city have been reduced to rubble. One Fallujah resident recently told the London Times, "Whoever looks around Fallujah now can only feel sadness. The damage is so heavy the suburbs look like they were hit by an earthquake."

Obviously the purpose of the massive bombings is to demonstrate incredible U.S. power and to terrorize the population, not just in Fallujah but all over the country. The bombings have killed and wounded countless numbers of people – way up in the thousands. Most of the rest of the population have been driven out. They are now refugees, often trying to take shelter in the hulks of destroyed buildings, under deplorable sanitary conditions with little food or drinkable water.

This is not the first U.S. offensive against Fallujah. Last April, U.S. forces had carried out a massive attack on the city. But after U.S. forces met fierce Iraqi resistance, outrage against the U.S. attack sparked insurrections in many other Iraqi cities. So the U.S. military retreated, leaving Fallujah what the U.S. considered to be a "no-go" zone, that is one of many areas that the U.S. military could not venture into.

That first U.S. offensive against Fallujah had already taken an awful toll. News photos showed the morgues and hospitals overflowing with Iraqi dead, and hundreds more bodies of young and old stacked up in the local stadium, waiting to be buried. Throughout the country and the Middle East, Fallujah became a symbol not just of Iraqi resistance, but of the barbarism and terror of the mighty U.S. imperialist forces.

Today, as this is being written, as the U.S. prepares to once again assault Fallujah, in many other parts of the country, there have been organized and coordinated attacks against the U.S., as well as its puppet Iraqi police and army units that the U.S. has formed.

These Iraqi guerrilla attacks against U.S. forces began in Samarra. The insurgent forces carried out several attacks throughout one day against two Iraqi police stations, as well as government buildings that house the hated Interior Ministry. They also took place in a city where only a month ago the U.S. had declared it "cleaned out" all insurgent forces in a massive assault that was supposed to serve as a model for U.S. operations in other cities. Obviously, within days of the U.S. having "secured" Samarra, the Iraqi insurgent forces had moved right back in, right under the nose of the U.S. occupiers.

Besides Samarra, Iraqi guerrillas also attacked U.S. and Iraqi puppet forces in West Baghdad, Ramadi, Haditha, Haqplaniyah. According to news reports, the purpose of these insurgent attacks is to take some of the U.S. pressure off of Fallujah. But obviously, the ability of the guerrillas to carry out so many well-coordinated attacks demonstrates not only an increasing level of sophistication and skill. It also demonstrates that most likely the guerrilla insurgency is growing and that it is having growing support from the population.

The latest reports say that in reaction to one more growing upsurge, the Iraqi government has declared a state of emergency throughout all parts of the country, except the Kurdish region in the north. Of course, the term "state of emergency" has little meaning in a country that is already engulfed by war. But it obviously portends new crackdowns and violence against the population – as the violence emanating from the U.S. occupation spirals into an even more deadly and murderous phase.

Here in the U.S., the news of the U.S. war in Iraq is still accompanied by ridiculous statements of the need to have "elections" there at the end of January and bring "democracy" to the country – and the need to pacify the country before then to make elections possible. The elections, if held, might as well take place in a morgue.

Up until now, despite the terrible toll, the Iraqi people have shown that they will not bow down to the U.S. occupiers. So it is the mighty U.S. superpower, which dominates the world both economically and militarily, that is bogged down in Iraq. It is the Iraqi people who have turned their country into a new quagmire for the mighty U.S. superpower, a new Viet Nam – if not worse.