WHAT WE THINK
April 9, 2004 | Page 3
THE PRO-WAR corporate media didn't miss any opportunity to condemn the killing of four U.S. mercenaries in Falluja last week as the act of "barbarians." "Cold-blooded, ruthless barbarians," fumed the right-wing New York Post's editorial. Even liberal New York Times columnist Bob Herbert went along, describing the attack as an "atrocity," and calling for the perpetrators to be "tracked down and punished."
But what does this mean in reality? As the week began, the U.S. military smashed into Falluja--not in the interests of justice, but to send the message that anyone who defies the U.S. will face its wrath.
The collective punishment of Falluja will only stoke the legitimate anger felt by Iraqis--who see the U.S. occupation authorities trying to crush popular resistance, while appointing Iraqis loyal to U.S. interests, all in the name of "democracy."
With the June 30 deadline for the supposed "handover" of power in Iraq rapidly approaching, U.S. officials have already begun debating how to delay the timetable. They need time to cobble together an interim government--unelected, of course--that won't be immediately rejected by Iraqis as the puppet government it surely will be.
For the U.S., the task is a delicate one that will be nearly impossible to accomplish if the resistance continues to grow. "You want to offer a recognition of authority, while not granting freedom of action," said Stephen Krasner, who left Bush's National Security Council two years ago to head the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. "It's just that you don't want to say it out loud."
The Bush administration won't have to worry about the Democratic "opposition." Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) led the charge, calling on the White House to reconsider the June 30 deadline, bring in NATO troops to shore up the occupation and seek a United Nations (UN) resolution to put the UN in charge of the political transition.
Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state during the Clinton administration, took the opportunity to criticize Bush--for not using more ground forces in the first place! "There has been, from the very beginning, a mistake in military planning, where the original forces that went in were potentially not sufficient," said Albright.
Bush has staked his re-election on the outcome in Iraq, but as the occupation begins to crumble, the Democrats attack him by calling for more troops. The logic of imperialist escalation in the face of resistance fits a well-established pattern--one that especially brings back memories of the Vietnam War.
The argument is that the current number of troops and level of violence isn't sufficient to "pacify" the country, so Washington "has no choice" but to step up its military effort. Washington will continue to claim that the U.S. must stay to help the Iraqis find their way to a new, democratic future.
But the growing resistance in Iraq demonstrates a lesson that history has taught many times before--that democracy is never imposed at gunpoint, and occupiers do not act in the interests of justice. Only Iraqis have the right to determine their future--not the U.S. government, or the United Nations that serves the interests of the world's most powerful governments.
During the Vietnam War, Washington's escalation of the violence continued year after year until the determination of the liberation struggle, the scale of the antiwar movement at home, and the growing revolt among U.S. soldiers forced Washington to admit defeat. Unless and until we build such a movement--in the streets, on campuses, in our unions--the politicians will continue to escalate the bloodshed and violence in their occupation for oil and empire.