All the Reasons Why "We can’t leave Iraq"
... and Why All Those Reasons are Wrong

Revolution #1, May 1, 2005, posted at

The cold injustice of the U.S. invasion of Iraq stands out starkly. The justifications for war were lies: Iraq had no nukes or bio-weapons. It had no ties with groups like al-Qaida. The British medical journal The Lancet estimates 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died in this war—while over 1,500 U.S. troops have also been killed. And there is no end in sight.

The people of Iraq overwhelmingly see the U.S. as brutal occupiers—and these sentiments fuel the armed resistance. On April 9, over 300,000 people in Baghdad demanded that U.S. forces leave their country—many from the city’s massive Shi’ite slums.

And yet, within the U.S., it is far too common to hear people say, "The invasion was wrong, but we can’t just leave before stability is restored."

This meshes closely with the main remaining claim of the Bush administration itself—that U.S. troops are bringing "freedom" to Iraq and so must stay until pro- U.S. forces are strong enough to take over. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has said all along that a conquered Iraq would "crack like a goblet" and has argued for the Pottery Barn Rule: "If you break it, you own it."

What a convenient "rule" for aggressors who go around breaking things! Break enough, and you can "own" the whole friggin’ world!

Leading Democrat Howard Dean recently argued for a very similar view: "Now that we’re there," he told an ACLU audience, "we’re there and we can’t get out."

Dean argued that an early pullout could endanger U.S. interests: by allowing a pro-Iranian Shiite theocracy to come to power, by creating an independent Kurdistan that destabilizes Turkey and Iran, or by creating potential base areas for al-Qaida-like forces.

Dean’s imperialist worldview nakedly upholds the right of the U.S. to conquer — even while he quibbles over the wisdom of the specific invasion plans of March 2003. He’s obviously looking at Iraq from the global interests of the U.S. government and capitalists — and so "stability" means arrangements that serve these interests.


Bob Avakian remarked that living in the U.S. is a little like living in Tony Soprano’s house. People have some idea that all this stuff in the house has something to do with what he does "out there"—but they don’t generally confront the details of all that.

But we clearly can’t just look away. We have to dig (rather fearlessly) into precisely those fundamental power and property relationships that define our world.

The key problem facing humanity is that all the wealth and technology is controlled by a very few and is used in their interests (not in the interests of the vast majority of people). That is why incredible oil wealth can be pumped out of the ground in Iraq and the surrounding regions, while the people live in bitter poverty.

U.S. troops won’t "make the people of the U.S. safe," or "make the people of Iraq free." That’s not what those armies are about. They are precisely about enforcing this control by the few—specifically those few who rule the U.S. and have ambitions of ruling the whole world.

This occupation of Iraq emerged from decades of scheming to more tightly dominate the strategic Persian Gulf and to dictate terms to those countries (like France and Japan) that rely on the Gulf’s oil resources. That is why occupied Iraq so quickly became a launching pad for bullying neighboring Iran and Syria.

Why did this occupation lead to torture in Abu Ghraib and the massive burning of Fallujah? Because this U.S. invasion is not about "making the people free" but is opposed to the deepest interests of the people of this region.

And yet...people still sometimes say "Isn’t a U.S. occupation better than civil war or victory by Islamic fundamentalists?"

American slave owners used to tell their slaves, "Where would you be without me? Who would give you those second hand clothes? Who would feed you, and give you a little sweet molasses on Sunday?"

Such arguments seem ridiculous now—because (looking back) it’s obvious that slavery or starvation wasn’t the only choice. There was a real chance (however complicated and difficult) for something different: ENDING their enslavement!

In today’s Iraq, competing religious forces have emerged powerfully, and there is rising possibility of civil war. But much of this happened because the U.S cracked Iraq "like a goblet" and then manipulated one nationality against another—Arab against Kurd, Shiite against Sunni.

There are challenges—overcoming deep divisions among the people, and the influence of reactionary forces. But do such obstacles really mean the best choice for the people of the world at this moment is to be dominated (and exploited!) by the U.S. superpower?

Isn’t it truly perverse to argue that domination by the Christian fundamentalists of the White House is the only realistic antidote to Islamist fundamentalism in the Middle East?

And who would it serve if we accepted such twisted logic?

Forging movements for genuine change and liberation is difficult (in the Middle East and everywhere else). But it is the only real hope in our times that is actually worth living and dying for! Wouldn’t it strengthen the most oppressive forces (including in both Iraq and especially in the U.S.) if the people of the U.S. blindly endorse the brutality carried out in their name?

And won’t it actually accelerate progress toward real liberation (here and around the world) if more and more people here in the U.S. boldly demand an end to this unjust U.S. conquest?