Dec 15, 2003
So Saddam Hussein has been captured. Undoubtedly, significant parts of the Iraqi population will feel they have something to celebrate.
But does this mean that their attitude toward the U.S. occupation of their country has changed? Not at all. If they were against it before – as the very big majority were, they will still be against it. And for very good reasons.
First of all, the conditions of the Iraqi lives, which were bad enough under the Saddam Hussein regime, are measurably worse today, and they continue to degrade. If phones are now available, the electric supply continues to be much lower than it was even under Saddam Hussein. Baghdad continues to be hit by frequent multi-hour blackouts every single day, with the situation worse outside of the main areas of the big cities. And in Iraq, awash in oil, gasoline remains in such short supply that there are day-long waits to pump a tank of gas. Meanwhile, most sewage treatment plants are still not working, and most sewage continues to spill untreated into the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, leaving water sources unsafe and disease-ridden. And food is in such short supply that death by starvation is a real possibility in the coming winter months, while medicines needed to treat ordinary childhood diseases are non-existent.
None of this will change because someone close to Saddam Hussein turned him in, hoping for the big 25 million dollar prize offered by George Bush. Nor will it change because Saddam Hussein himself decides to "co-operate" with the U.S. led occupation – as Bremer reported him doing.
In fact, things are on the verge of getting much worse in Iraq for the people of Iraq. Over the last months, the U.S. occupation authorities have been instituting a real regime of terror in the country, and some of those leading the campaign have admitted it. This includes mass round-ups and arrests. And while they fill up Saddam's old prisons and torture chambers with tens of thousands of new prisoners, the U.S. occupation authorities are bringing back Saddam's old secret service, the Mukhabarat, to spy on Iraqis – now for the new U.S. masters. According to a recent report by Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker magazine, the U.S. has also brought in thousands of U.S. Special Forces to carry out secret assassination missions in a program reminiscent of the infamous Phoenix assassination program that the CIA employed during the Viet Nam War in the 1960s and early 1970s. The U.S. is also turning entire villages that they suspect of being hostile to the U.S. occupation into virtual prisons. They have been surrounding the villages with walls of barbed wire, requiring Iraqis who want to leave to get passes from the U.S. authorities. This is much like the Israelis have done for years with the Palestinian population. Finally, they have been openly responding to any attacks with enormous amounts of bombardments, including aerial bombardments and rocket attacks, which almost always results in the deaths of civilians, including of children and very old people.
None of these actions are meant to "improve" conditions in Iraq, bring order and security for the people, as the U.S. claims. They all have one purpose: to impose U.S. domination over the Iraqi population and its oil through terror, death and destruction. The only order and security they are meant to ensure are those of the U.S. occupiers. In this way, they are replacing the bloody military dictatorship of Saddam Hussein with a bloody military occupation led by the U.S.
If anyone has any doubts about what kind of future this terror and war can bring, all they need to do is look at another part of the Middle East, and the half century war by Israel to impose its rule over the Palestinians. The difference is that in Israel, the Israelis are the majority and the Palestinians are the minority. In Iraq, the Americans may have overwhelming fire-power with stockpiles of its own high-tech weapons of mass destruction, but they are surrounded not only by an increasingly hostile Iraqi population, but also by the rest of the hostile and outraged Middle Eastern population.
No one expects that the U.S. arrest of Saddam Hussein will change any of this. If it did, then Bush, Rumsfeld and all the rest of the Bush administration would not be doing what they are doing today. Sure, Bush may tell us that he intends to bring more U.S. troops home, and almost certainly, we will be treated to television images of troops who have rotated out of Iraq arriving here in the next weeks, as their one-year stint is done. But the fact remains that even more troops, 57,000 recently called up from the National Guard, are now being prepared to go over to Iraq – for another whole year. And tens of thousands of troops, who for years resided in Germany, are being shifted much closer to Iraq – to be "available" for whatever might be required.
The reality is that the U.S. is continuing to build up its military presence in Iraq and the surrounding areas in the U.S. capitalists' efforts to more tightly control Iraqi and Middle Eastern oil and the Iraqi people.
For Bush, these U.S. troops are expendable. They are being used up, blown up and then thrown on the pile of the dead and half-dead. This is the bitter, tragic truth that so many of their families back at home will be learning in the months ahead.
This madness can end – if people in this country show by their actions they refuse to be used in this way.