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Washington answers revolt with repression
Bush's iron fist in Iraq

By Eric Ruder | April 9, 2004 | Page 1

IRAQ HAS exploded in revolt against the U.S. occupiers who masquerade as "liberators." But Washington is preparing to use its mighty military machine to crush resistance--no matter what the human cost.

From the city of Falluja west of Baghdad, to several Shiite towns across southern Iraq, U.S. forces are facing the most intense resistance since the occupation of Iraq began a year ago. In just five days last week, 20 U.S. soldiers and private security personnel were killed by resistance fighters. Meanwhile, U.S. and other coalition forces slaughtered dozens of Iraqis.

To "punish" the resistance for the ambush in Falluja last week of four "civilian contractors"--in reality, heavily armed mercenaries--the U.S. launched its largest offensive since the seizure of Baghdad last spring. As Socialist Worker went to press, thousands of Marines, backed up by tanks and helicopter gunships, carried out an Israeli-style "closure" of Falluja, shutting down all roads into the city of 350,000.

Meanwhile, 1,200 more troops conducted neighborhood sweeps and house-to-house searches. By last Monday, the BBC was already reporting that U.S. warplanes had dropped bombs on a residential area of the city.

For the barbarians paraded as "military experts" in the mainstream media, the punishment couldn't be harsh or swift enough. "From the beginning of our occupation, we failed to establish discipline throughout the country," wrote retired U.S. Army officer Ralph Peters in the New York Post. "We needed to apply the mailed fist firmly in the Sunni Triangle. Instead, we overemphasized the velvet glove. We didn't even have the common sense to declare martial law. It convinced our enemies that we were naive and weak."

In the week prior to the ambush of the U.S. mercenaries, Marines had stomped their way through Falluja, killing 18 Iraqis. Does this count as "velvet glove" treatment? Nor did the press point out that U.S. forces have killed more than 100 Iraqi civilians and an untold number of Iraqi fighters in Falluja.

Where's the concern for the charred bodies of Iraqi civilian casualties? Why is the mutilation of Iraqi victims by U.S. bombs and missiles less offensive than the victims of an angry crowd?

As the noose tightened around Falluja, U.S. military officials were busy painting Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr--whose supporters staged uprisings last weekend in Shiite cities across southern Iraq--as the new public enemy number one. In Najaf, 5,000 protesters traded gunfire with coalition forces, while fighting in the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City killed seven U.S. soldiers and wounded 24 more.

In Kufa, in Nasiriya and in Amara, the scenes were similar. Sadr's supporters were furious about the U.S. arrest of Mustafa al-Yacoubi, an aid to Sadr--and the closure of a pro-Sadr newspaper. What "crime" had the newspaper committed to warrant censoring it?

Even U.S. officials admit that the paper hadn't printed calls to attack occupation forces. Instead, they said that the paper's "false reporting" could touch off violence. "False reporting" touching off violence? So when will they shut down the Fox News Channel?

The only solution to the increasing confrontation and bloodshed is the immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq. End the occupation! Bring the troops home now!

Washington's mercenaries
By Bob Quellos

THE MEDIA identified the four Americans killed in Falluja as "civilian contractors." But that's only part of the story.

The four were employed by Blackwater USA, a private company that supplies the Pentagon with "security personnel" to act as a privately owned police force. In other words, mercenaries for hire--armed thugs whose mission includes harassing, detaining and killing Iraqis.

Established in 1996, Blackwater aimed to "fulfill the anticipated demand for government outsourcing of firearms and related security training," as the company's Web site puts it. Privatization has led to an extensive role for Blackwater in the occupation of Iraq--including the guarding of U.S. overseer Paul Bremer and providing protection for oil-carrying vehicle convoys, Baghdad Airport and the offices of oil giant Halliburton's subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root.

Blackwater isn't alone in the business of hiring mercenaries at a price tag of $500 to $1,000 each per day. Britain's largest export to Iraq is private military forces, and the combined total of private troops makes mercenaries the third largest armed force in the country. According to Independent journalist Robert Fisk, there are now more private British security troops in Iraq than British government soldiers.

Many of Blackwater's private paramilitaries are former U.S. and British soldiers. But the company has also hired employees who were originally trained in Chile--under the dictatorial government of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

Mercenaries are involved as "security personnel" in other ongoing U.S. interventions around the globe--from protecting Washington's stooge Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan, to flying the planes that destroy the coca fields of Columbia. With the Pentagon set to "pursue additional opportunities to outsource and privatize," as Donald Rumsfeld put it, it's clear that the ranks of Washington's mercenaries will only continue to grow.

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