U.S. Out of Iraq

A Year of Unjust War and Occupation

Revolutionary Worker #1233, March 21, 2004, posted at rwor.org

A year ago on March 20, as the whole world watched in horror and outrage, the United States government launched a brutal war of conquest on Iraq. The U.S. invaded a distant oil-rich country, bombed its cities, crushed its army, overthrew its government, seized its resources, threatened its neighbors, and killed unknown thousands of Iraqi civilians and soldiers.

Just on the first two days of the war, over 1,000 cruise missiles and 2,000 air sorties pounded Iraq--in particular the capital, Baghdad. Armored ground forces crossed Iraqi borders to seize the key oilfields--in the south around the major city of Basra and in the north around Mosul and Kirkuk. Tank columns rumbled over the Iraqi desert to encircle and take over Baghdad.

Massive U.S. military power was concentrated on battering and then seizing Iraq's cities. The U.S. ground forces approaching and entering Baghdad designated the areas ahead of them as "grids" of one square kilometer--and then completely destroyed everything within that area, using rockets and missiles.

One example of the outlook drilled into the U.S. troops: A Marine sharpshooter, talking about the killing of an Iraqi woman in the midst of an attack on Iraqi soldiers, said, "I'm sorry, but the chick was in the way. We dropped a few civilians, but what do you do?"

In fact, it was not just "a few civilians" who were killed in cold blood by the U.S. military. In one of the early raids into Baghdad, the U.S. Army's Third Infantry Division claimed to kill between 2,000 and 3,000 Iraqis--civilians and soldiers--caught in their "kill zone." The Red Cross said hospitals in the city were completely flooded afterwards with the dying and the wounded.

After a battle in the city of Najaf, a lieutenant colonel described "waves and waves" of Iraqi resistance fighters coming out of a factory and being mowed down by a U.S. tank column. A U.S. soldier involved in the incident said, "For lack of a better word, I feel almost guilty about the massacre. We wasted a lot of people. It makes you wonder how many were innocent."

Meanwhile, one of the U.S. military's main "coalition partners"--the "embedded" media--whitewashed the invasion and conquest. Selective footage and staged photo ops combined to give a fundamentally false and triumphalist picture, as if the majority of Iraqis "welcomed" the invaders.

One infamous occupation photo op was the television coverage in early April, shortly after U.S. troops took over Baghdad, of people waving U.S. and Iraqi flags and toppling the giant statue of Saddam Hussein in Fardus Square. The impression given by the coverage was that a huge spontaneous crowd of "grateful citizens" were welcoming the U.S. as "liberators." But as it quickly became clear, this was a pre-planned propaganda hoax. A wide-area photo of the whole scene showed that there was really only a small group of Iraqi men in the middle of the square--surrounded by a ring of U.S. tanks, soldiers, and "embedded" media.

Bleeding through the wall of managed disinformation came the underlying truths of a brutal and unjust invasion that quickly became a brutal and unjust occupation.

The Lies Used to Launch the War

This whole war was built on lies coming out of the mouths of Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rice, Rumsfeld, and the rest of the imperialist gang heading up the U.S. government and military.

Bush and Co. insisted Iraq had war-ready biological and chemical weapons, many functioning delivery systems for those weapons, and even bigger "weapons of mass destruction"--including nukes--on the way.

Government spokespeople insisted that the U.S. faced a "grave and gathering danger" from Iraq and that "pre-emptive war" was the only option.

They said their invasion was legal because Iraq was violating UN resolutions by holding on to such weapons.

And, at the same time as they took aim on Iraq, the Bush administration declared the new "Bush Doctrine" of launching future pre-emptive wars based solely on "intelligence estimates" that some country or some force presents an emerging threat to the U.S.

As the U.S. pushed forward relentlessly with its war preparations, the Revolutionary Worker exposed and dissected the lies coming from the government and systematically dug up the truth.

FromRevolutionary Worker , Feb. 9, 2003:

"Powell's attempt to make a long list of indictments against Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq--to somehow paint this poor besieged country, with its battered military and primitive weapons, as a threat to the world--is nothing but a pretext for a war of empire, in the tradition of the fabricated incident at Gulf of Tonkin that started the Vietnam War. We are told to swallow ridiculous and self-serving double-think: The U.S. threatens Iraq with nuclear attack--but uses as its excuse that Iraq may be trying to develop some primitive nuclear device. The U.S. accuses Saddam Hussein of murdering opposition, of killing people in their own country, of using vicious weapons, of invading neighbors--while they have done all that, and more, on a scale Hussein can't dream of. To borrow a well-known biblical passage: `Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but not the log in your own eye.' (Matthew 7:3)"

FromRevolutionary Worker , Feb. 16, 2003--after Powell spoke at the UN and in front of TV cameras of the world, to "make the U.S. case for war":

"Iraq (unlike General Powell) does not have any means of bombing a country halfway around the world. So to create fear of `threat,' Powell must suggest that Iraq may give biological poisons to al-Qaida operatives to deliver in some U.S. city. The problem is that there is no evidence of such `links'. This speech was a smokescreen--not a `smoking gun'--it was designed to hide the real reasons and motive of this war. As the U.S. government ruthlessly prepares to start this war, people need to cut through this smoke, and expose the lies that portray this imperialist conquest as a way to make people safer."

A year later, even more evidence has emerged that the White House, Pentagon, and State Department were simply lying about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

In May 2003, David Kay had been picked by the CIA to head 1,400 army commandos, CIA agents, interrogators, and weapons experts to search Iraq for WMDs. In January 2004, Kay resigned his post and announced: There are no WMDs in Iraq--and there haven't been any for a long time.

FromRevolutionary Worker , Feb. 8, 2004:

"The U.S. teams have found no nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons of any kind. No stockpiles. No facilities for producing them. No hidden SCUD missiles, or other means of launching them. No research labs developing prototypes. No mobile bio-labs. Not a barrel, not a functioning gas shell, not an ounce of uranium, not an incriminating document, not a statement from an intimidated Iraqi scientist. Nothing. Zip. Nada. Clearly the big lie is falling apart and the shit is hitting the fan!. The credibility of the U.S. government and its president are shredded. Future U.S. accusations made against other countries will be even more widely doubted across the world."

What Was Behind the War?

Millions of people in the U.S. and around the world actively opposed the U.S. government's rush toward war with Iraq. Other major powers, like France, Germany, Russia, and China, were against an immediate war on Iraq. The UN Security Council was deeply split over the issue.

But none of that mattered to those in power in the U.S. The Bush government insisted that it was going to war anyway. They practically gloried in their willingness to go to war--regardless of what anyone else did or thought.

What was behind this mad drive towards war?

FromRevolutionary Worker , March 16, 2003:

"For the ruling clique in Washington, the goal is to impose the U.S. will on everyone in the world--on the masses of people and on their allies. Conquering Iraq is openly called `Phase 2' of a larger campaign to ensure U.S. domination far into the future.

"The rulers of France and Germany oppose this war precisely because direct U.S. control over the Persian Gulf would give the U.S. a stranglehold over them and their economies--and a much tighter grip on third world economies.

"This war for domination over Iraq was conceived and planned years ago in the mid-1990s by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their top war-planner Paul Wolfowitz--years before September 11 gave them an excuse. In their view, `junior partners' like France and Germany were useful against the Soviet Union in the 1980s--but don't `deserve' a veto power over the U.S. today. They think `old Europe' needs a historic demotion in this new `unipolar' world.

"This explains why all the U.S. talk about `weapons of mass destruction' and `links to terrorism' is so unconvincing: These public justifications for this war are not the real deal.

"The U.S. `sole superpower' intends to use its `military superiority' to radically recast world relations, with itself on top.`With us or against us' is their motto for imposing long-lasting world domination."

Maoist political economist Raymond Lotta, in "Dissecting the Bush Doctrine: U.S. Imperialism's Crusade for World Empire," fromRevolutionary Worker, Feb. 16, 2003:

"In the months after 9/11, the U.S. conducted a brutal war against Afghanistan that took more lives than were lost at the World Trade towers; sent troops into the Philippines, Yemen, and Somalia; set up 13 new military bases in the oil-rich and gas-rich countries surrounding Afghanistan; and embarked on the biggest military build-up since the Reagan years.

"U.S. policy planners and strategists speak of an `endless war' and a `war without boundaries.' The joint chiefs of staff have quietly adopted a 20- to 30-year military plan for waging warfare against different states and armed groups across the world.

"The essence of what is happening is this: under the cloak of the war on terrorism, U.S. imperialism is seeking to achieve world domination on a whole new level. This `war on terrorism' is being used as a blank check to attack any opponent the U.S. imperialists choose, including genuine revolutionary movements such as the Maoist people's war in Nepal and the Philippines. The `war on terrorism' is a political-military-ideological offensive to accomplish many different things in pursuit of empire."

U.S. Out of Iraq!

For the people of Iraq, this past year has been a year of unjust war, invasion, and occupation.

For more than a decade since the last U.S. war on Iraq in 1991, the Iraqi people had already suffered through killer sanctions, led by the U.S., that deprived the country of much needed medicines, food, and other necessities and caused the death of thousands of people, especially children, each month.

Today the Iraqi people find themselves under the boots of the U.S. occupying forces--their country directly dominated and controlled by a hostile power. Homes of ordinary Iraqis are routinely invaded by heavily armed U.S. soldiers looking for resistance forces. Suspected militants are rounded up in sweeps and thrown into dungeons left intact from the days of the Hussein regime. Protesters--demanding pay, services, or elections--have been fired on by U.S. troops and puppet Iraqi police.

Now that the original pretext for war--"finding WMDs"--is all but demolished, the Bush administration and its apologists have another excuse: the U.S. waged war, they say, to "liberate" Iraq and to bring "democracy" to the whole region. But the deceit and hypocrisy of all this was exposed by the U.S. moves over Iraqi elections.

The U.S. occupiers are in somewhat of a hurry to invent a new "sovereign" (independent) government for Iraq--to legally approve the long-term stationing of U.S. armies on Iraqi soil, sell off major Iraqi industries to foreign capitalists, or make deals for Iraqi oil. So last November, the U.S. announced a plan. There would be by-invitation-only meetings of "notables" from each Iraqi province--and delegates from those meetings would pick a "transitional legislature" that would form a new government.

In short, this is a plan to identify, recruit, organize, and train pro-U.S. forces --and then turn them into a puppet government within occupied Iraq.

This scheme quickly went sour when the leading religious figure among Shiite Iraqis demanded direct elections this spring to pick a new government. The U.S. immediately said such elections would not be allowed. And when protests erupted across Iraq, occupation forces opened fire on large crowds in several cities.

FromRevolutionary Worker , Feb. 1, 2004:

"The U.S. is against elections for now because they don't like who would probably win. Elections held now would favor those political forces that are currently organized--meaning first of all Islamist fundamentalists in the south and Kurdish separatist parties in the north. And such political results would not serve U.S. interests.

"Powerful forces in the Pentagon and White House are considering new attacks on Iran, and they don't want anyone in power in Iraq who might support Iran's Shiite government. And the U.S. is busy curbing Iraqi Kurdish demands for autonomy and control over northern Iraqi cities and oilfields.

"In short: The U.S. is not interested in allowing elections that would legitimize forces they don't want to see in power.

"The U.S. ruling class is not opposed to fundamentalist forces in power--it just opposes those specific forces that, in various parts of the world, threaten to upset the specific U.S. plans for domination.

"The U.S. only wants elections if they can help stabilize and legitimize that new order--meaning if elections can be used to rubber-stamp those political forces the U.S. has already approved, organized, and promoted."

As the U.S. continues its immoral, illegitimate, and unjust occupation of Iraq, the people within the U.S.--the very "homeland" of the empire--have a special responsibility to demand "U.S. Occupiers Out of Iraq!"

The U.S. rulers claim to be acting in the interests and for the safety of the people of this country. We have a responsibility to the people of the world to expose the truth and oppose, with all our might and creativity, the crimes that U.S. imperialism is carrying out in our name in Iraq and around the world.