Oct 28, 2002
As George Bush continues to beat the war drums against Iraq, he talks about replacing Saddam Hussein's dictatorship with a democratic regime.
The U.S. has already intervened many times in the Middle East. For example, the U.S. government brags of having "liberated" Kuwait from the grip of Iraq during the Persian Gulf War of 1991. But the U.S. simply reinstalled the same brutal rule of the same sheik and his family, who had treated the country as if it were their own private estate for decades. The U.S. did claim that it pushed the sheik to establish a new parliament. But this was something of a joke. First, few people have the right to vote for the representatives to this parliament. Second, the real power in the country remains concentrated in the hands of the sheik and his family.
The U.S. government didn't do things much differently when it "liberated" Afghanistan last year. Sure, the U.S. got rid of the Taliban. But the new, "improved" government in Afghanistan under Hamid Karzai is made up of the same old warlords, including religious fundamentalists, who terrorized the population and ruined the country for decades. When Karzai announced the make-up of his new government several months ago, the U.S. news media made a big deal about the fact that he named a female to the government. This was supposed to symbolize a more enlightened attitude by the new rulers. But only a few months later this woman was forced to resign by her fundamentalist colleagues, who accused her of "blasphemy."No, Afghanistan is no closer, under direct U.S. tutelage, to a democracy than it was before.
Nonetheless, the U.S. government likes to pretend that its main mission is to spread "democratic ideals" all over the world. If that were true, then the wealthy regime in Saudi Arabia would be a beacon of democracy. After all, in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is the regime that is the closest to the U.S. For over half a century, the U.S. has funneled massive military aid to the Saudi regime. The U.S. has all kinds of close business ties with Saudi Arabia. U.S. officials even qualify the Saudi regime as "moderate." But to the people of the country, the Saudi regime remains one of the most reactionary and barbaric on the face of the earth. The country is run by a handful of families. Nobody is allowed to vote, neither male nor female. There is no freedom of assembly or freedom of the press. And of course, the most oppressed part of the population, the women, are treated as virtual chattel. They are not allowed to drive, and they have to be accompanied by a male relative in public – otherwise, they risk being beaten in the street by the ever-present religious police.
None of this is a "mistake," "accident," or "oversight." The real policy of the U.S. government all over the world has been to defend the interests of U.S. corporations. And these corporations have only one over-riding goal: to increase their profits by exploiting the workers of the region, and by stripping the region of its resources. In the case of the Middle East, this means, first of all, taking out the oil, at great profit. As a result, the U.S. government directly opposes the interests of the masses of workers and poor in the Middle East.
Certainly, the current regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq is a terrible and barbaric dictatorship. But history shows that if the U.S. eventually does go in and removes Hussein, it will not install a regime any less terrible for the population.
The only way that the people of Iraq – and the people of the rest of the region – will ever win freedom is by organizing themselves to fight, not just against the dictatorships in their own countries, but against U.S. imperialism, which provides the real force behind these dictatorships.