Revolutionary Worker #1193, March 30, 2003, posted at http://rwor.org
As the whole world watched in horror and outrage, the United States government launched a brutal war to conquer Iraq.
On March 21 and 22, over a thousand massive cruise missiles and two thousand sorties pounded Iraq, and especially its capital Baghdad. Armored ground assaults 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. Meanwhile tank columns raced north across the barren Iraqi desert to encircle and conquer Baghdad, a city of five million people.
This invasion of Iraq is a strategic power grab in the Middle East and, at the same time, a pointed demonstration of new weapons and methods of war. A long-defiant government is supposed to be crushed-- as a lesson to everyone on the planet. A highly strategic part of the world is supposed to be seized and pacified--as a major step toward consolidating U.S. hegemony over the whole world.
Iraq--an embargoed, battered, third world country of 22 million people--is being brutalized by the world's imperialist superpower, testing its new war doctrine called "Rapid Dominance."
The American White House has been determined, from the beginning, to show ruthless determination alongside terrifying power. And in the opening days of this war, there has been no mercy for Iraq and its people.
As we go to press, it is extremely difficult to know precisely what has been done to the Iraqi people, or how much resistance they are making to defend their country in these opening days of this war.
Few governments joined Bush's "war coalition of the willing," but the U.S. media obviously signed up eagerly. That lying television box in your living room--which is always so infuriating and dishonest--has been turned over to a nonstop, mind-numbing, military infomercial.
Reporters have been "embedded with the troops" so conquest comes to us through the eyes of invading soldiers. But there are no cameras "embedded" among the masses of Iraqi people. The dying, terror and inevitable resistance among those people goes on virtually unseen and unreported--at least for now.
There have been early reports of hospitals in Baghdad filled with casualties. Al-Jazeera reported on March 22 that significant numbers of civilian casualties were reported in a hospital in Basra--including a Russian civilian and a whole Iraqi family of 11 killed in the bombing of the city.
But, in general, within the nonstop media coverage, the people of Iraq have been deliberately made invisible.
Images of tanks and bombs come to us packaged in three constant lies: that U.S. military power is invincible, that their cause is just and that the war is kept virtually bloodless.
In these moments, it is valuable to remember the similar experiences during the previous 1991 Gulf war--where the media covered up the massive U.S. massacres of civilians and fleeing Iraqi troops on the so-called "highway of death," and where the failure of U.S. weapons, like the Patriot system, were reported as brilliant successes.
To this day, the U.S. government has never admitted how many civilians they killed in their 41 days of bombardment, and they have never acknowledged what caused the "Gulf War syndrome" that torments their own veterans.
And it may be a while before it comes out what is really happening on the ground in Iraq, hidden beneath the media's fog of lies.
For now, the people in the U.S. are constantly told this war is just--that it is an act of liberation. The U.S. government says it is invading to carry out "regime change"--at times it is said that this is to keep the people of the U.S. safe, at other times it is said this is to free the people of Iraq from their government.
But in either case, it is clear that people all over the world are outraged by the arrogant claims of this superpower that it has a right to conquer countries and dismiss governments at will.
Meanwhile every step of this invasion confirms that it is conquest, not liberation.
The U.S. hopes to avoid a difficult "Battle of Baghdad." In the house to house fighting of taking cities and towns, Iraqi soldiers and civilians could extract high casualties from the U.S. forces. And so the people and soldiers of Iraq are being constantly threatened, through bombardments and millions of leaflets, that any resistance means certain death.
For the moment the U.S. has looked for allies among the Kurdish nationalist militias of the north. But these Kurdish forces are eager to regain control over the key city of Kirkuk in the heart of the northern Iraqi oil fields and create a viable basis for a new independent Kurdish state. Meanwhile Turkey, the close U.S. NATO ally, threatens to invade northern Iraq to prevent any steps toward Kurdish autonomy (in Iraq), fearing that this might encourage struggle among the bitterly oppressed Kurdish people within Turkey's current borders.
In other words, the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the weakening of the central Iraqi military, threatens to trigger a complex, many-sided war in northern Iraq involving many tens of thousands of troops from Turkey, the U.S., Kurdish militia and even potentially Iran.
Similar problems exist in southern Iraq oilfields, where in 1991 the U.S. government allowed Saddam Hussein's army to suppress the uprisings among Shia Arab peoples.
The U.S. war command is pulled by two sharply contradictory needs: They intend to brutally destroy any Iraqi military forces that resist their invasion. But they also need to identify sections of that same military that the U.S. can quickly deploy to control Iraqi society.
They have demonized and pounded the Iraqi military--but they can't imagine any other force that can help them suppress and contain Iraq's people--especially the Kurds and Shia Arabs.
One senior British officer told the BBC: "The last thing we want is industrial warfare," involving prolonged combat and artillery barrages. He explained, "We want a stable Iraq and as much as possible of their armed forces in one piece. We do not want to destroy every large tank of the Republican Guard."
This says a great deal about U.S. goals in this war. The U.S. does not intend any liberation of the Iraqi people. It is certainly not the unleashing of Iraq's people to control their resources and future and it is not even likely to involve some form of western-style liberal democracy.
The U.S.'s real goals are the opposite of liberation--to impose a much more pliant and obedient government and to force Iraqi ruling class forces to "come over"--from their previous close ties to France and Russia, to a new more unilateral U.S. domination. What they really intend is to end defiance within Iraq's ruling class, but rule a future Iraq through some of the same class forces.
The U.S. government and media give great publicity to any signs of welcome from people within Iraq. They mention the Kurdish militia's willingness to accept U.S. advisers into their fighting units. And they broadcast films of villagers in southern Iraq helping U.S. soldiers tear down posters of Saddam Hussein.
But those who embrace the U.S. invasion will soon discover their country has been seized by an invader eager to use the old Iraqi army as the police of occupied Iraq. And they will discover that their country and their future will be controlled by ruthless exploiters who have already made major decisions about carving up Iraqi resources, and who have elaborate plans for using Iraq as a beachhead for reshaping this whole region.
"I want President Bush to get a good look at this, really good look here. This is the only son I had, my only son."
Michael Waters-Bey holding a photo of Marine Kendall Waters-Bey who was killed March 20
There is no reason to trust anything that comes out of the star-spangled media reporting of this war.
It has already come out that at least three U.S. cruise missiles missed their targets by 30 miles, passed out of Iraq completely, and landed in the nearby country of Iran--injuring people there and revealing how un-precise the U.S. "smart" bombs can be.
And in the weeks ahead, more will inevitably come out--about the true horrors of this imperialist conquest and the deep pain it is causing the people.
Nothing in this war serves the interests of the people. And it is extremely important for everyone to work hard to see through the fog of media lies and help many, many more people understand the truth of what is going on.
have a question for all those politicians who said they were opposed to this
war but then, once it actually started, have taken the position that it must
be supported--either saying this openly and straight-up or just in the cowardly
form of calling for "supporting the troops."
What sense does it make, and what kind of morals does it reflect, to say that you are opposed to a crime before it is committed--but then, once it is being committed, you argue that we should support those who are committing this crime?!
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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