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End the occupation
Bring them home now!

September 12, 2003 | Page 1

THE U.S. military was sent to destroy weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a mad dictator. But the dictator--who was Washington's favored ally in the region in the 1980s--slipped away, and the arsenal of weapons turned out to be nonexistent.

Washington's army was supposed to be welcomed as "liberators" by a grateful population. But U.S. soldiers face daily attacks by Iraqis--not mythical "international terrorists" or "Saddam loyalists," but ordinary Iraqis infuriated by the senseless killing of tens of thousands of people during the military invasion, and the theft of the country's oil wealth during the corporate invasion that followed.

The "liberators" would rebuild the ruined country and create a model of democracy. But Iraq is run today by Washington's colonial overlords, with only a "governing council" of U.S.-appointed stooges to provide a smokescreen. And the most basic necessities--food, electricity, clean water, medicine--remain in desperately short supply.

The Bush administration was riding high when the chicken-hawk president pulled his aircraft carrier stunt and declared "combat operations" over on May 1. But worsening violence in Iraq, bitterness and discontent among U.S. soldiers and the ever-increasing price tag of the occupation have exposed them.

Suddenly, Washington's smug warlords are stumbling--and it gets worse for them every day. When Bush gave a nationally televised speech last weekend, all he could promise was years and years of more war and violence--while he asked for a whopping $87 billion to fund the occupation next year.

The administration's chief war planner Donald Rumsfeld visited Iraq last week and claimed that the U.S. had made a "wonderful start" in rebuilding Iraq. That was right after he had to cancel a speech to U.S. troops stationed in Tikrit--apparently for fear that bitter soldiers would boo him off the stage.

That didn't stop Rumsfeld from trying to blame the administration's crisis on anyone who dares to criticize Washington's colonial occupation. Terrorists, Rumsfeld told reporters, "take heart in [criticism of Bush], and that leads to more money going into these activities, or that leads to more recruits, or that leads to more encouragement, or that leads to more staying power."

Even supporters of Bush's war will have a hard time swallowing that one. The administration is under fire from a Washington establishment that was almost unanimously behind it until a few weeks ago.

Now, talk of "another Vietnam" can be heard everywhere. "Our feelings and sensitivities were forged on the battlefields of Vietnam, where we heard the garbage and the lies, and we saw the sacrifice," retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, the former chief of U.S. Central Command, said in a speech to Marine and Navy officers last week. "I ask you, is it happening again?"

Washington's rulers also must be worried about the growing anger of U.S. soldiers carrying out their orders in Iraq. In an op-ed article that appeared in the Peoria Journal Star, Tim Predmore--on active duty with the 101st Airborne Division near Mosul since March--spoke for countless soldiers when he cast doubt on Bush's "just cause."

"This looks like a modern-day crusade not to free an oppressed people, or to rid the world of a demonic dictator relentless in his pursuit of conquest and domination, but a crusade to control another nation's natural resource," he wrote. "At least for us here, oil seems to be the reason for our presence. Now, I no longer believe; I have lost my conviction, my determination. I can no longer justify my service for what I believe to be half-truths and bold lies...We have all faced death here, without reason or justification."

This is why we demand that U.S. troops get out of Iraq--not next month, or next year, but now. Some people who opposed the war on Iraq say that we cannot call for immediate withdrawal--because this would produce more chaos and bloodshed. But this is wrong.

The source of the misery and suffering in Iraq today is the U.S. government. The longer Iraqis remain under its thumb, the worse the situation will grow. The casualties caused by Iraqi attacks on their occupiers pale in comparison to the barbaric violence that the world's mightiest country has unleashed in more than a decade of uninterrupted military and economic warfare against the Iraqi people.

Any concession to a continued foreign occupation--carried out openly by U.S. forces, or behind the fig leaf of the United Nations if the Bush administration can strike a deal--accepts this injustice. The Iraqi people must have the right to determine their future--and no one else. That is why we say: End the occupation! Bring U.S. troops home now!

What they see in The Battle of Algiers

MILITARY BRASS had a surprising choice for their movie-viewing plans last month. In late August, the Pentagon screened The Battle of Algiers, the classic 1965 film that examines the guerrilla resistance that kicked the French out of colonial Algeria. The idea was reportedly the brainchild of the Directorate for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, a civilian-led group with "responsibility for thinking aggressively and creatively" on issues of guerrilla war, according to the New York Times.

The Pentagon flier announcing the film put it in eerie perspective: "How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas...Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range. Women plant bombs in cafes. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar? The French have a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically. To understand why, come to a rare showing of this film."

The comparison, of course, is to today's U.S. occupation of Iraq--and the resistance that the U.S. is encountering in its drive for empire. But while most people might see the film as a cautionary tale about the arrogance of empire and the inevitable resistance that occupation produces, the Pentagon is looking for a different lesson. According to the New York Times, the 40 Pentagon officers and civilian experts who showed up to the screening discussed, among other things, "the advantages and costs of resorting to torture and intimidation in seeking vital human intelligence about enemy plans."

Hopefully, the Pentagon hacks paid particular attention to the film's ending, which shows the renewal of the FLN uprising in 1960. "Go home," French occupiers yell at a crowd of Algerians. "What is it that you want?"

"We want our freedom," the crowd shouts back.

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