Growing Iraqi resistance to American rule
By Nicole Colson | July 11, 2003 | Page 12
"MY ANSWER is, bring 'em on." That was the arrogant comment of George W. Bush last week as armed resistance to the U.S. military occupation of Iraq escalated. Smug posturing and random cruelty have been the hallmarks of the U.S. war on the Iraqi people. And now, U.S. soldiers are beginning to pay the price for the crimes of Washington's warlords--with attacks on American troops averaging more than a dozen each day, by the admission of the Pentagon brass. Bush's words signaled a stepped-up crackdown.
At Baghdad University last weekend, following a shooting that killed a U.S. soldier, American troops began frisking anyone entering or exiting the area--including small children. "Iraqis in the area did not seem very surprised it had happened," journalist Patrick Cockburn reported in Britain's Independent newspaper. "'People are always shooting at the Americans these days,' said an unimpressed young man at a crossroads close to the base where U.S. tanks were sending up clouds of dust while maneuvering into defensive positions."
Just last week, Paul Bremer, Washington's administrator for its oil colony, had the nerve to claim that "day by day, things are continuing to improve." Of course, Bremer's press conferences now take place at the National Convention Center in central Baghdad--behind what Cockburn describes as "enormous fortifications of barbed wire and concrete blocks."
With the daily humiliations and desperation inflicted on ordinary Iraqis by the U.S. occupation, no one should be surprised by the outpouring of hatred for U.S. forces. Take the Pentagon's Operation Sidewinder. The recent seven-day sweep of pre-dawn raids by U.S. troops led to the killing of 30 Iraqis and the arrest of another 282.
Even the military admitted that they "occasionally" stepped over the line. "I will not deny that there are times when we have been forceful and knocking down doors," Major Anthony Aguto, of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, told the Associated Press. "We do that when we feel that we are in danger or threatened or when we have reliable intelligence on weapons."
Aguto didn't say what danger U.S. troops were in when they raided one Baghdad house--with an Associated Press reporter along for the ride. As soldiers broke in, shouting and swearing, women shrieked while clutching their crying babies. "Sit down!" the soldiers screamed at the women--before rampaging through the house and dragging a man they found outside. Aguto claimed that his soldiers returned to "fix" whatever damage they had done. "My men are culturally sensitive," he declared.
What garbage. For ordinary Iraqis, the raids are further evidence of just how little the U.S. cares about their "liberation." "They're humiliating," Mahmoud al-Samarrai told a reporter. "Some of our fellow Muslims and Arabs say the Americans liberated us. If they think this is liberation, then we wish them the same."
The U.S. has already caused unprecedented destruction in Iraq. Despite Washington's promises of quick rebuilding, huge areas of the country remain without clean water, electricity or food. In fact, recent reports from Iraq say that less electricity is being produced now than a month ago--the situation will get even worse in the weeks to come.
And while 60 percent of the civilian population was dependent on food aid prior to the war, according to the United Nations, the entire population--fully 27 million Iraqis--now are. "At least we had power and security," Uday Abdul al-Wahab, a shop owner in Baghdad, said of the years before the war. "Democracy is not feeding us."
Not only is U.S.-style "democracy" not feeding Iraqis, it's responsible for killing thousands upon thousands. A recent UNICEF report, for example, says that a combination of disease and unexploded ammunition could kill thousands of Iraqi children over the next few months. The disruption of Iraq's medical system during the war left approximately 4.2 million children under the age of five at risk of contracting preventable diseases like polio, tetanus, measles and tuberculosis.
With the county's infrastructure in such a disastrous condition, the U.S. military is increasingly making deals to hand back power, locally and regionally, to the same people who were in charge under Saddam. From the U.S. point of view, it's a quick way to restore "stability."
"Despite an order issued on May 16 banning the Ba'ath party, and another from May 22 dissolving the Iraqi military, U.S. forces increasingly seem to be relying on selected strongmen...to run cities and provinces in the areas under their control," the Financial Times reported. In the southern city of Najaf, the U.S. military canceled local elections scheduled for early June--and installed Abdul Min'im Amer Aboud, a former colonel in the Iraqi artillery forces, as mayor.
No wonder the anger that ordinary Iraqis feel towards the U.S. is beginning to boil over. But the Bush administration won't stand for the suggestion that the increased resistance is coming from ordinary Iraqis. "I guess the reason I don't use the phrase guerrilla war is because there isn't one," snarled Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld last week.
Military experts are saying the opposite, however. "Going out on raids, busting up things and shooting people tend not to win you many friends," an anonymous administration adviser told Time magazine. "Which means more guys are going to get shot at."
The cracks in the facade of U.S promises about "liberation" and "democracy" are becoming larger every day. We have to take this opportunity to build the opposition to Washington's brutal occupation.
How Washington lied to get its war
WHERE ARE the weapons of mass destruction? Despite the best efforts of the Bush administration--and their cheerleaders in the lapdog corporate media--this question is starting to be asked by more and more people in the U.S.
According to a recent Gallup poll, the percentage of people who think the war on Iraq is going badly has risen to 42 percent--up from 13 percent in May. And another recent poll found that 52 percent of people believe that the Bush administration was "stretching the truth" about its supposed evidence of the weapons.
These questions are hitting home for more and more U.S. soldiers, as well--as they get paid poverty wages to risk their lives in Iraq for Washington's warlords. Reports of low morale and increasing resentment of troops and their families are increasing.
According to the New York Times, frustrations became so bad at Fort Stewart, Ga., recently that a colonel, meeting with 800 angry spouses, had to be escorted from the session. "They were crying, cussing, yelling and screaming for their men to come back," Lucia Braxton, director of community services at Fort Stewart. "The soldiers were supposed to be welcomed by waving crowds--where did those people go?" asked Kim Franklin, whose husband is part of a U.S. artillery unit.