The Spark

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

Busting Down Doors, Killing Civilians—The U.S. Occupation of Iraq Resorts to Terrorism

Sep 22, 2003

Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of U.S. military forces in Iraq, recently admitted what has been obvious for a long time: U.S. troops are coming under attack from ordinary Iraqis angered by the U.S. occupation of their country. "We have seen that when we have an incident in the conduct of our operations, when we killed an innocent civilian, based on their ethics, their values, their culture, they (Iraqis) would seek revenge," Sanchez was quoted as saying.

Of course, Sanchez explains civilian attacks on U.S. forces as though it’s mainly a question of some strange cultural aspect that demands revenge.

The fact is, the U.S. Army is an occupying force in a country where the population doesn’t want it. And the U.S. Army is acting like any occupying army does: It is carrying out a wholesale attack on the population in an attempt to terrorize people into submission. It’s what U.S. forces called "pacification" in Viet Nam. In sweeps through the neighborhoods, the army has snatched so many people from their homes that over 10,000 Iraqis now populate the same prison in Baghdad that Saddam Hussein once used to imprison and torture those suspected of opposing his rule. And there are yet thousands more in other prisons and holding camps around the country.

"To a lot of Iraqis, we’re no longer the guys who threw out Saddam, but the ones who are busting down doors and barging in on their wives and daughters," one anonymous defense official said recently. He was commenting on an intelligence report the news media had gotten hold of the day before Sanchez made his statement that predicts that the most formidable foe for U.S. forces in Iraq in the months ahead will be ordinary Iraqi people resentful about the U.S. occupation–and not just in the Sunni heartland around Baghdad, but also in the much larger Shiite areas.

U.S. soldiers, themselves coming under attack, increasingly are responding in ways that only inflame the situation. In just one week recently, U.S. troops shot and killed 11 Iraqi policemen who were chasing a highway bandit. They destroyed the car an Associated Press photographer and his driver were in with tank fire and shot a machine gun at an AP reporter, all of whom were simply trying to cover an earlier attack on U.S. forces. They mistakenly shot up a car carrying the Italian diplomat who has been heading up U.S. efforts to recover Iraq’s looted art objects, killing the diplomat’s driver. They also killed a 14-year-old Iraqi boy and wounded six other people when they opened fire on a wedding party. These incidents made the news. Many more undoubtedly didn’t. Shoot first, don’t even ask questions later–this becomes the rule.

It’s an intolerable situation to be part of an occupying force ordered to terrorize a population–one that led in Viet Nam to situations like the My Lai massacre.

As the situation in Iraq spins more and more out of control, U.S. imperialist history begins to repeat itself.

The U.S. should not be in Iraq. The soldiers should be brought out of there now!