The Spark

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

The U.S. war in Iraq:
A growing disaster

Jun 21, 2004

The U.S. occupation of Iraq is continuing to spin more and more out of control. In the first half of June, the U.S. government reported 12 car bombings. June 14 was a particularly horrific day. There was one suicide bombing in Baghdad in the middle of morning rush hour aimed at a convoy of foreign contractors. Five foreign "security guards" and eight Iraqis were killed. An hour later in another part of Baghdad, a suicide bomber drove between two police vehicles and detonated a bomb that killed three cops. In the city of Mosul in the north of the country, four Iraqi civil defense soldiers were killed after their car hit a roadside bomb.

There have also been sniper attacks and attacks by rocket propelled grenades. Targeted have been all those who represent the occupation, first of all U.S. soldiers, mercenaries and contractors. Several government and military officials of the U.S. appointed Iraqi government have been assassinated. In just one day, senior officials from the education ministry and the foreign affairs ministry were killed. Also, police stations, recruitment and training centers for the Iraqi police and military forces that the U.S. is trying to put together are coming under attack. Finally, the insurgents have been targeting key parts of the Iraqi infrastructure, most especially oil pipelines. On June 15, oil pipelines near the Persian Gulf were bombed, forcing the shutdown of Iraq's main export terminal for up to 10 days.

Iraqis blame the U.S.

Yet, even though ordinary Iraqis are also victims of these attacks, news reports agree that most Iraqis still blame the U.S. first. After the June 14 car bombing in Baghdad, for example, that took the lives of eight ordinary Iraqis along with the five foreign mercenaries, a crowd of young men flooded into the streets and hurled bricks at a squad of U.S. soldiers, while onlookers screamed for the U.S. to go home.

This is hardly a surprise. In the U.S. war last year, the U.S. military bombed the cities and killed thousands, and that followed the ten years of U.S. bombing and strangling the economy through a deadly economic blockade that resulted in the deaths of over a million people. Reporters say that many people tell them they see the U.S. occupation of Iraq as an effort by the U.S. oil companies to steal Iraq's oil and turn the country into a kind of semi-colony of the U.S., a center for U.S. power in the Middle East.

It is this anger and resentment that feeds an insurgency that gives every sign of continuing to grow. And many high U.S. military officials have not been afraid to go on record as saying that this is exactly the kind of nightmare they had warned the Bush administration about, that they are stuck in a quagmire with no way out. If U.S. forces stay,they will only be bled and weakened without any chance of winning, while distracting U.S. forces from propping up U.S. sponsored dictators in other parts of the world. But, if they leave, this sign of weakness could weaken U.S.- sponsored dictatorships throughout the Middle East. It could also very well weaken the U.S. client state of Israel in its half century long war against the Palestinians.

What will really change on June 30th?

Of course, the Bush administration is publicly pretending that there is nothing wrong, that everything is going according to plan. According to the Bush administration, the U.S. military is turning more and more "peacekeeping" duties over to the Iraqi police and military forces it is now setting up. And, most importantly, the Bush administration is going through with the much ballyhooed June 30 handover of power, at which time the U.S. occupation of Iraq is officially scheduled to end. To give these claims more credibility, the Bush administration has already won the approval from what is supposed to be "the international community" for this supposed handover, that is, the U.N. Security Council – and by a unanimous vote.

Of course, this vote represents nothing but a business deal in which the U.S. finally granted a few construction and oil contracts to French, German and Russian companies.

What will really change on June 30? Instead of the U.S. occupation being run by the old "Coalition Provisional Authority," it will be run by the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. Replacing Paul Bremer, the official U.S. pro-consul who headed the CPA, will be John Negroponte, the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Negroponte's main qualifications for the job as the new U.S. hatchet man in Iraq were earned two decades ago, in the 1980s, at the height of the U.S. wars against insurgencies in Central America. At that time, Negroponte served as the U.S. ambassador to Honduras. He was one of the Reagan administration's top officials coordinating and running the U.S.-sponsored Contra war against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, a war that cost the lives of tens of thousands of people.

The new Iraqi government to which the U.S. government will hand power is headed by Prime Minister, Iyad Alawi. Alawi has had a long career working with the CIA, during which time he helped carry out several terrorist bombings inside Iraq that took the lives of countless Iraqis.

The U.S. is NOT withdrawing

Despite all this talk about the handover of authority, the U.S. is not withdrawing any forces from Iraq. If anything, the announced plans to cut U.S. forces from Germany and South Korea is aimed at making more armed forces available for Iraq. Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to send in more private "security contractors," that is, mercenaries. Today the mercenaries form the biggest armed force in Iraq except for the U.S. military.

No, all that will happen in this supposed handover is that one puppet government will replace the other. The main power will remain the U.S.

And the war will continue at an ever greater cost to the people of Iraq ... as well as the working class in this country, which is paying the growing cost ... with lives and money.