November 1998:
U.S. Hands Off Iraq!
Stop the Sanctions!

Revolutionary Worker #983, November 22, 1998

On November 15, President Clinton announced that the U.S. had pulled back from an imminent military attack on Iraq. He declared that the threat of U.S. bombings had forced the Iraqi government to accept the "unconditional" return of UN weapons inspectors into Iraq. Clinton said that he would once again order war on Iraq if Saddam Hussein challenged the inspectors again.

Leading up to this development, the U.S. had been sending more bomber planes, warships, missiles and troops to the Persian Gulf to bolster the large offensive force already in the area. U.S. officials in suits calmly discussed how this strike, if carried out, would be the most "significant" since the 1991 Gulf War. These cold-blooded monsters were talking about dropping more bombs and missiles on a devasted country --where many hundreds of thousands have already died from the 1991 Gulf War and years of economic sanctions.

Everyone remembers the video of the L.A. cops mercilessly beating Rodney King as he lay helpless on the ground. The U.S. imperialists are brutalizing a whole country and its people.

The U.S. war makers justify the threat of force against Iraq by saying that Saddam Hussein and his "weapons of mass destruction" are a danger to the world. There is a danger from "weapons of mass destruction"--but this danger comes from the U.S. It's the U.S. that uses its huge high-tech war machine to bully its way around the world. It's the U.S. that has built up an arsenal of thousands of nuclear warheads, each capable of destroying a city. It's the U.S. that sends billions of dollars of arms exports to "friendly" regimes who follow orders from Washington.

Gen. Shelton, the head of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Saddam Hussein poses a threat to an area of "vital national interest" to the U.S. and a threat to the U.S. military forces in the region. Why does the U.S. have "vital interests" and station tens of thousands of troops halfway around the world in the Persian Gulf? Because it is an imperialist power, acting on imperialist interests. What the U.S. is doing in the Persian Gulf has nothing to do with "protecting the people of the world from weapons of mass destruction" or any other phony justification.

As Bob Avakian, Chairman of the RCP,USA, says: "Why do we call them imperialists? Because they exploit and oppress people all over the world. They have developed an empire and they will do anything to try and preserve it. It is the same people robbing and exploiting, degrading and humiliating us every day that are doing that same thing, and want to do more of it, to people all around the world. That's why we call it imperialism, because that's what it is."

Even if a new series of bombings is not carried out this time, the U.S. is already committing murder on a mass scale in Iraq. For almost eight years, economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its allies have deprived the Iraqi people of food, medicine, and other vital supplies. Denis Halliday, a former UN aid coordinator stationed in Iraq, said that "4,000 to 5,000 children [are] dying unncecessarily every month due to the impact of sanctions because of the breakdown of water and sanitation, inadequate diet and the bad internal health situation." Overall more than 1.2 million Iraqis, including 750,000 children below the age of five, have died because of the shortages of food and medicine.

The U.S. has repeatedly blocked any move to lighten the sanctions. In the last couple of months, the Iraqi government stopped cooperating with the inspections and declared that cooperation would resume only if there was some real assurance that economic sanctions will be eventually lifted. Since the end of the Gulf War, Iraq has been forced to submit to humiliating searches by the arms inspectors who snoop around factories, government offices and military sites all over the country. The inspectors are supposed to be "independent," but in fact they are closely tied to the U.S. A November 11 report by NBC and other recent news reports reveal that the arms inspectors have briefed U.S. officials on sensitive information such as Iraqi military deployments. In other words, they are spies for the U.S.

The U.S. has cynically used the weapons inspections as a weapon against Iraq. The Iraqi government was quite justified in refusing to cooperate and demanding that the sanctions come to an end. In his November 15 announcement, Clinton did not even talk about lifting the sanctions. And he openly threatened to overthrow the current government of Iraq.

The majority of people here in the U.S. have no common interests with the imperialist rulers--and much in common with the people of Iraq. The people of Iraq are our sisters and brothers, not our enemy. Our enemy is right at home--those in power who brutalize and steal the lives of ordinary people here and around the world.

In February of this year, the last time that the U.S. threatened to bomb Iraq, the Clinton administration tried to gather public support by sending Secretary of State Albright and Secretary of Defense Cohen to a nationally televised "town meeting" at Ohio State University. But these imperialist spokespeople were shut up by righteous opposition from the audience, and this sparked protests around the country. Any new war moves against Iraq by the U.S.--and the sanctions that continue to kill thousands of Iraqi people every month-- must be met once again with broad and determined protest.

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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