Oct 20, 2003
On October 16, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the U.S.'s right to occupy Iraq and control its political affairs.
The governments that once posed as militant opponents of the U.S.-led war on Iraq – notably France, Germany and Russia – all dropped their pretenses and joined this vote. At a time when the violence associated with the occupation is only increasing in Iraq, when the material situation continues to deteriorate, this vote proves that these governments are as cynical about the plight of the Iraqi people as the Bush administration is. In fact they have always been.
It's true that these governments still refuse to send troops to Iraq or share the cost of occupation. But the reason for their unwillingness is the same today as it was before the war: they want a share of the spoils from the conquest of Iraq, if they are to share its burden.
If anything changed at all, it's not the position of these governments but that of the Bush administration. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld & Co., who had thumbed their noses at these governments and the U.N., are the ones who went back to ask for their help in occupying Iraq.
Bush wanted to fight the war alone so that, as a New York Times editorial put it, he can "steer contracts toward favored companies" – in other words, so that companies like Cheney's Halliburton can plunder Iraq's oil wealth as well as American taxpayers under the pretext of "rebuilding Iraq." The fact that the European powers still refuse to contribute troops or money to the occupation is proof that Bush and his "favored companies" are still not willing to share their "reconstruction" booty with anyone else. Not to mention, control over Iraq's oil.
Will Bush and his "favored companies" be forced to make concessions to European companies? Will they eventually allow them to put their hands on some of Iraq's oil wealth, or, collect the debts Iraq owed them before the war? It remains to be seen. But whatever the outcome of the fights, or agreements, between these thieves is, it will not change the reality for the Iraqi population. For, what difference does it make for Iraqi people what country's capitalists rob them? What difference does it make for Iraqi people what country's soldiers shoot them down when they protest against unemployment, poverty and humiliation?
Nothing will change from the viewpoint of working people in the U.S. either. After the U.N. vote, Donald Rumsfeld said "I couldn't draw a connection between the resolution and security [in Iraq]" – and admitted it's not likely that other countries will send troops to Iraq in the near future. But even if other countries eventually send troops, it doesn't mean the U.S. will pull out of Iraq. U.S. troops will still be carrying out the horrendous work of occupying Iraq – and dying in the bargain.
Regarding the financial cost of the occupation, the same New York Times editorial admitted that "the price of exclusive control is that most of the costs of occupying Iraq will still have to be borne by the American people." What the New York Times didn't say, however, is that "sharing control," that is, allowing other countries' bosses a few crumbs of the loot, will not change that reality a bit. The U.S. will still be spending big bucks – because those bucks are going into the coffers of U.S. companies, under the pretext of "helping" Iraq. After all, most of the billions of dollars that Congress is about to hand Bush for the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan will not even leave the treasuries of the U.S. banks they are in now. These billions will just be handed over to Bush's "favored companies," just like the 79 billion dollars Congress gave Bush for the war earlier this year.
If we want to stop paying for these wars of conquest that decimate other countries – in our tax dollars as well as in our blood – we have to oppose them. We have to demonstrate, organize in workplaces and neighborhoods, demand that the troops be brought home, that they be given jobs here. We can't expect bosses and politicians, whether they are American or from other countries, to do that for us.