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WHAT WE THINK
Bush administration tries to repackage occupation of Iraq
UN cover for U.S. power

October 24, 2003 | Page 3

WITH "PLAN A" for their go-it-alone occupation of Iraq in disarray, the Bush administration went to work on "Plan B" last week--a United Nations (UN) resolution that blesses Washington's iron-fisted rule. Meanwhile, Congress okayed George W. Bush's request for $87 billion to bankroll the occupation--with the Senate voting to stick Iraqis with $10 billion worth of loans.

At the UN, Washington won unanimous approval for a UN Security Council resolution giving the Bush administration nearly everything they had lobbied for--including exclusive U.S. control over Iraq's political affairs and authorization of a multinational peacekeeping force under Washington's command.

Even antiwar activists who had called for a leading UN role in Iraq were appalled. "The U.S.-driven UN resolution about to be passed by the Security Council provides only an internationalist fig-leaf for Washington's occupation," wrote Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies."The new resolution will do nothing to change the fundamental problems of the U.S. occupation of Iraq--the occupation's illegitimacy, its unilateralism and its responsibility for so much destruction in Iraq and for the ongoing crisis of violence in the country."

Washington hopes the resolution will give a humanitarian cover to its occupation--glossing over the fact that it doesn't commit UN members to contribute troops or financial aid. Security Council members France, Germany and Russia caved to U.S. pressure, angling for their own slice of the Iraq pie. At the same time, they're trying to save face for the UN to preserve their own clout in the so-called "international community."

Meanwhile, in Congress, the Democrats' "opposition" to the occupation of Iraq came down to a demand that $10 billion of the Bush administration's request for $87 billion be converted into loans to Iraq. To demand that the Iraqi people repay the U.S. government billions of dollars for the "privilege" of being bombed and occupied is revolting. Iraq should be receiving reparations from the U.S.--not ordered to pay the bill for Washington's drive for oil and empire.

In the end, neither the UN resolution nor the congressional vote changes the fact that Washington is facing mounting war debts, weary and frustrated troops and an increasingly organized resistance in Iraq. According to a recent poll by the Pentagon newspaper Stars and Stripes, 34 percent of U.S. soldiers in Iraq say that their morale is low or very low--and even more striking, 49 percent of soldiers say that they don't plan to re-enlist.

Criticism and doubts about the occupation will continue to grow with every death of a U.S. soldier, while the Iraqi resistance--fueled by suffering and economic misery at the hands of the U.S. occupiers--will continue to gather momentum. "When the people of California were unhappy with their authorities, they threw them out and elected Schwarzenegger," Salah Erebat, a lawyer who supports the resistance, told the Wall Street Journal. "So why is it that Americans can do it, and we in Sadr City cannot?"

That glaring double standard will remain as long as the U.S. stays in Iraq. Even if a few camouflage helmets of U.S. troops are ultimately swapped for blue helmets of UN "peacekeepers," this won't bring democracy or liberation to the people of Iraq. Only Iraqis themselves can achieve this--and an occupying force, whether under the mantle of the U.S. or the UN, only stands in the way.

That's why the antiwar movement can't put its faith in the UN or the Democrats to stand up to the Bush administration. It's more important than ever to mobilize from below--in every community, on every campus, in every workplace--to oppose Washington's occupation.

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