WHAT WE THINK
May 7, 2004 | Page 3
GEORGE W. BUSH claimed the invasion of Iraq would bring "liberation" from a dictator, torturers and military thugs who "killed their own people." Now the torturers, killers and ironfisted rulers of Iraq are the U.S. armed forces--with some help from former Iraqi military officers. And a growing number of Americans say they've had enough.
From the Marines' killings of innocent civilians in Falluja, to the sadistic torture of Iraqi prisoners, to the spike in deaths among U.S. soldiers, horror and disgust at the occupation is mounting quickly. According to a New York Times/CBS News poll, 46 percent of Americans think the U.S. should withdraw as soon as possible--the same number that believe that the occupation should continue.
George W. Bush and his hardline supporters still pretend that Iraq is going "according to plan." Just to make sure, they've censored photos of coffins of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq--and whipped up a frenzy against ABC News' Nightline program last week for the "antiwar" act of reading the names and showing the faces of soldiers killed in the war.
The Nightline tribute was soon out of date--another 11 U.S. soldiers were killed over the weekend, and fighting broke out May 3 in Najaf, the Shiite holy city. The crisis is so great that even the U.S. corporate media--which had previously regurgitated Bush's line on Iraq--is raising uncomfortable questions.
The New York Times noted that the U.S. was "scrapping or rewriting plans that the White House or the head of the American occupation in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, announced months ago. "The new tactics include ceding substantial power to the United Nations [UN] to pull together a transitional government; easing the ban on Baath Party members in the new government; and reopening the question of whether the United States should have disbanded the Iraqi Army."
Washington is now turning to an Iraqi military strongman to restore "order" in Falluja after widespread resistance left the Marines with the choice of either destroying the city of 300,000 or withdrawing.
The pullback has been seen across Iraq as a victory for the resistance. As an unidentified Marine officer told the New York Times, the U.S. retreat from Falluja allows the resistance to claim: "We fought the U.S. military machine to a standstill. Come join us. Get on the winning team." And the photos depicting the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison--the notorious jail of Saddam Hussein's regime--is only deepening support for the guerrilla war against the occupation.
With Saddam's supposed weapons of mass destruction exposed as a lie, and the claim that Iraq was being "liberated" a bad joke, the U.S. is leaning on UN diplomats to devise a transitional government to take office June 30. Meanwhile, it's recruiting thousands of members from the former ruling Baath Party to run the military and government bureaucracy.
Yet there's no doubt that the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq--John Negroponte, who organized U.S.-backed counterrevolutionaries in Central America in the 1980s--will call the shots when the Iraqi stooge government takes over. Iraqi civilians will suffer and die at the hands of U.S. occupiers, the resistance will continue to mount--and more U.S. soldiers will die for oil and empire.
If more people in the U.S. aren't yet for an immediate pullout from Iraq, it's only because key ruling class institutions and leading Democratic politicians are scrambling to rescue the occupation. Recent editorials in the New York Times and Washington Post have called for more troops in Iraq--as have Democratic senators Joe Lieberman, Joe Biden and, of course John Kerry.
Kerry's latest plan includes using NATO troops--apparently hoping that the new members of the alliance in Eastern Europe that used to take orders from Moscow can now be bossed around by Washington. Even the liberal American Prospect magazine admits that "a Kerry presidency would not pull up stakes in Iraq and, in fact, might well stay longer than a second Bush administration would."
Those who vote for Kerry as an alternative to Bush's militarism will achieve the opposite. Kerry reflects the bipartisan determination of the U.S. political establishment to maintain Washington's conquest of Iraq and project U.S. imperial power around the world.
But occupied and colonized people have always resisted foreign rulers--from the European colonial empires in Asia and Africa and Latin America, to the U.S. war in Vietnam. Iraq is no different.
The resistance will continue until the last American and other foreign troops are gone. We need to build on the growing opposition to occupation--and demand that the U.S. get out of Iraq now.