The Spark

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

New U.S. offensive in Iraq:
"Shock and Awe" all over again

Oct 11, 2004

In the first days of October, the U.S. launched a new offensive to retake 20 to 30 cities of what the U.S. considers to be "no-go" zones, that is, areas of Iraq that are controlled by the Iraqi insurgency.

The U.S. launched its first big attack against Samarra, a medium sized city in central Iraq. U.S. jets, helicopters and artillery bombed and shelled what they called rebel positions. About 3,000 U.S. troops then followed up, going house to house in neighborhood after neighborhood. After three days of sometimes heavy fighting, the U.S. forces claimed that they had secured the city and declared victory.

However even the New York Times (October 3) admitted that the guerrillas simply left the city rather than fight: "As is common in large American offensives, the guerrillas seem to have melted away, allowing the Americans a seemingly quick and relatively bloodless victory."

But this "victory" was not "bloodless." The following day, a New York Times report quoted doctors in the hospitals and morgues saying that they were filled with the bodies of countless women, children and the elderly. "The hospital is full of bodies, children are buried in gardens, and there are bodies filling the streets," said one Iraqi.

Shortly after taking Samarra, U.S. forces then moved on to neighboring Falluja, a city of 200,000 that is considered one of the main centers of resistance to the U.S. occupation, and Sadr City, the vast Baghdad slum where the population had first resisted the rule of Saddam Hussein and is now resisting the U.S. Once again, the U.S. began with massive bombing raids against what it called "terrorists" and "insurgents" centers. And, once again, most of the news reports were of a large toll of women and children, of people's homes and apartment buildings being blown up, of growing homelessness and misery.

Of course, U.S. spokespersons try to make it sound like the U.S. forces are doing the Iraqis a favor, that they just want to "free" these cities so that the people can participate in the much-hyped elections scheduled for January. As if it is up to the U.S. occupiers to decide what is best for the Iraqi people – by destroying their cities, invading their homes and killing their people.

In fact, confronted by a growing insurgency, the U.S. military is carrying out a new "Shock and Awe" campaign, that is, an enormous display of force and destruction against the population in urban areas. The bombing and artillery attacks render big parts of the cities uninhabitable, and force parts of the civilian population to leave. The U.S. then moves in to secure the streets with its huge tanks and armored personnel carriers, the Bradleys and Strykers. U.S. troops then go door-to-door, rounding up and arresting more people. The U.S. officials know that they are not about to find insurgents, who are long gone. Instead, they are trying to demoralize the population into relenting and accepting the U.S. occupation.

However, so far, all these offensives have accomplished is to increase the horrible toll and destruction, fuel the anger and hatred for the U.S. occupiers – and strengthen the insurgency.

The U.S. should get out of Iraq. NOW!