The Spark

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

Editorial:
Five Years of War:
U.S. Out of Iraq and Afghanistan Now!

Oct 16, 2006

This is the fifth anniversary of the start of the U.S. government’s “War on Terror.” After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the U.S. government used those attacks to justify launching much, much bigger terrorist attacks of its own against ordinary people in other countries.

Five years ago, in October 2001, the U.S. and British military bombed and invaded Afghanistan. Then, in March 2003, the U.S. and Britain invaded and occupied Iraq.

For a long time, the U.S. rulers had coveted greater control over both Iraq and Afghanistan. They wanted Iraq, not only for its enormous energy reserves, but also as a place to put big U.S. military bases, that is, to assure U.S. control over the rest of the oil-rich Persian Gulf. They also wanted control over Afghanistan because it sits astride Central Asia, the crossroads of vast continents, with their wealth and resources.

These U.S. wars have not only killed tens of thousands of people, they have destroyed whole neighborhoods and all their homes, and big parts of the infrastructure – which have not been rebuilt. Instead, to rule over both countries, the U.S. has bribed and used the most reactionary war lords and bands of religious fanatics to impose a dictatorship over the people. At the same time, the U.S. has played them off against each other in a strategy of divide-and-conquer, thus fueling the flames of internecine civil war and further bloodshed.

The results in both countries have been catastrophic. In Iraq, according to a study in the British medical journal, The Lancet, an estimated 655,000 people have already been killed since March 2003. That is close to three% of the population, which compares to wiping out 8 million people or the entire population of New York City in a country the size of the U.S. The survivors of these wars are prisoners in their own countries, having to cope with threats of the daily violence, while there is little or no electricity, drinking water, health care, education or jobs.

In Afghanistan, the war is even worse than in Iraq. As a British commander in the field recently told the press, “The intensity and ferocity of the fighting is far greater [in Afghanistan] than in Iraq on a daily basis.” In addition, the population is even more impoverished. Millions have been uprooted, forced to survive as refugees in their own country. And more people are dying from poverty and misery. Afghanistan has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, while the average life expectancy has fallen to 45 years – 15 years lower than neighboring countries.

Meanwhile, here in the U.S., new generations are being ground up as cannon fodder. More than 3,200 U.S. troops have been killed in both wars. At least one-quarter of those who do make it back are considered serious casualties, often condemned to suffer for the rest of their lives, shells of their former selves. Others have been turned into dangerous killers, time bombs waiting to go off.

After five years of blood, these wars are not winding down, but growing, fueling destructive cycles of ever more violence, terrorism, hatred and wars – the poisonous fruits of the U.S.’s ruling class’s vile power grab.

To this, the population in this country can have only one answer: U.S. Troops Out of Iraq and Afghanistan Now!