The Spark

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

Iraq:
The war Bush declared over is heating up

Jun 23, 2003

More than two months after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, U.S. and British troops still have not found a single ounce of the hundreds of tons of "weapons of mass destruction" that Bush claimed existed.

On the other hand, U.S. and British troops daily run into new pockets of resistance to their occupation of Iraq.

On June 10, two U.S. soldiers were killed in a mortar attack on a barracks located on the north side of Baghdad. The next day, June 11, an Apache helicopter, part of a search operation in eastern Baghdad, was shot down by a ground-to-air missile. On that same day in Baghdad, two U.S. soldiers were seriously wounded during a patrol, while 4,000 troops carried out the biggest operation since the fall of Baghdad in the region bordering on Syria. Among their targets was a ruined village, transformed by media propaganda into a "terrorist training camp." Forty-eight hours of bombing left 80 people dead and no survivors – no witnesses able to say what had happened. On June 14, a substantial new U.S. military operation, called "Desert Scorpion," was launched to carry out systematic searches of homes in the city of Falluja, looking for weapons. Not far from there, in Balad, a U.S. soldier was severely wounded by a sharp shooter. That same day, the flow of crude oil in the pipeline linking Kirkuk to Turkey was suddenly cut by explosions in two places. On June 17, a sniper killed a U.S. soldier in the northwest area of Baghdad, as large scale military raids by the U.S. continued. On June 18, another U.S. soldier was killed in a drive-by shooting. On June 19, a U.S. soldier was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade that hit the military ambulance in which he was traveling.

These are only the incidents that the Pentagon has revealed. How much more goes on daily which is not reported?

Pentagon officers, with the press repeating every lie, claim that these attempts of armed resistance come from the remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime. It's the same explanation they give today for what is happening in Afghanistan 18 months after "the end" of the war there: men and women who continue to die from U.S. bullets are supposed to be the "remnants of the Taliban."

Official propaganda is one thing and reality another. While the U.S. and British occupation troops may not be dealing with a very organized armed resistance, everything shows that most of the hostility they face comes not only from what's left of Saddam Hussein's regime but from the Iraqi population itself.

The population's hostility is shown by the failure of the U.S. high command to force the population to turn in weapons. The U.S. declared an amnesty period for turning in arms – at the end of which, a person possessing guns could be sentenced to prison. But barely a thousand weapons were turned in. Meanwhile, automatic weapons from the old regime are freely available for next to nothing in the marketplaces of Baghdad's poor neighborhoods.

The population's hostility is also shown by the demonstrations which continue to multiply in the country. On June 14, in Mosul, for example, thousands of government functionaries and former soldiers demonstrated, some to obtain the payment of their wages and others for a job. They certainly weren't all supporters of Saddam Hussein or terrorists. Nor were the more than 10,000 demonstrators who marched in Basra on Sunday June 15, demanding the election of public authorities and the repair of the public infrastructure. On June 18, former Iraqi officers and soldiers, many of whom had thrown down their arms in response to U.S. leaflets that promised they would be paid, demonstrated demanding pay and pensions. They discovered that leaflets are one thing, money another.

The more time that passes, the more the occupation troops will appear openly for what they are – security guards defending the interests of big U.S. corporations against the people of the region. The Iraqi population did not welcome these troops as liberators. As time goes on, larger and larger parts of the population can go further, becoming active partisans, fighting to force the imperialist troops to withdraw from Iraqi territory.

Iraq is an occupied country. During the Viet Nam war, the lament of U.S. soldiers was that anyone in the population might try to kill them. That's what it means to be an occupying army in someone else's country, when the population begins to fight against the occupation.

U.S. soldiers may again suffer the bitter experience that comes from doing the dirty work to help maintain an entire people in chains.