"Our troops have become oppressors and occupiers"
August 22, 2003 | Page 1
PAUL BREMER has some nerve. The man that George Bush appointed to run Iraq lectured his colonial subjects last week about how they should appreciate everything that the U.S. government has done for them. "It's important to...look beyond the shootouts and blackouts," he declared, "and remind ourselves of the range of rights Iraqis enjoy today because of the coalition's military victory."
Really? Which "rights"? The right to be humiliated and shot by U.S. soldiers? The right to have their oil stolen? The right to live in the poverty and squalor of a land bombed back to a pre-industrial state?
The U.S. military proves every day that it has no interest in the rights of ordinary Iraqis. In early August, for example, when hundreds of unemployed Iraqis staged a sit-in in Baghdad to protest the country's 80 percent unemployment rate, U.S. occupiers responded by arresting more than 50 demonstrators.
And when thousands of Iraqis poured into the streets of Sadr City in northeast Baghdad after a U.S. helicopter tried to rip down an Islamic banner from the top of a tower, U.S. soldiers opened fire on the crowd--killing at least one person and wounding many more.
Brutality like this will inspire more resistance to the occupation among ordinary Iraqis--like the recent bombing of the main oil pipeline from Iraq to Turkey, the assault on a U.S. prison in Baghdad and the constant guerrilla attacks on U.S. troops and their Iraqi stooges.
As the Iraqi opposition to U.S. rule intensifies, more and more U.S. soldiers have begun to question why they remain in Iraq. They were told that they would be welcomed as liberators. Instead, they face the threat of constant attack as they stand guard over U.S. corporate and colonial interests.
And the Pentagon had the gall last week to announce that it was cutting combat pay for soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Public outrage forced an embarrassed White House to backpedal on the plan. But insults like this are leading an increasing number of soldiers and their family members to speak out.
Family members like Susan Schuman, whose son Justin has been stationed in Iraq since late March. "Our soldiers are demoralized," she told reporters at a press conference to launch the Bring Them Home Now campaign, organized by a group of military families, veterans and other antiwar activists opposing the occupation. "They are fighting an illegal and unjustified war. Our troops have become oppressors and occupiers in a hostile nation."
She's right. We have to stand up to Bush's war machine--and demand that the U.S. get out of Iraq now!