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Proletarian issue 11 (April 2006)
Anglo-American imperialism caught between a rock and a hard place in Iraq
Despite their best efforts to ignite civil war, the imperialist occupiers are facing increasingly united resistance forces.
It has been three years since the US-led invasion of Iraq, and yet the might of the world’s largest and most technologically-advanced imperialist army has been unable to defeat the courageous resistance of the Iraqi people. The question now facing the occupation forces is this: must they admit defeat and leave, or do they stay and be defeated?

Lies exposed

Iraq did not have any weapons of mass destruction; the WMD myth has been exposed beyond any shadow of a doubt.

Not only that; as the situation for the occupying troops goes from bad to worse in Iraq, disaffected politicians and civil servants are coming forward with a stream of fresh revelations about the British and US governments’ conduct of the war, exposing the backroom manoeuvrings and money-grabbing motivations that are usually kept hidden from the public behind a screen of cynical lies and doublespeak from bourgeois politicians and media hacks.

The latest revelations appeared in the Daily Mirror on 15 March. A leaked Whitehall memo detailing an argument between the US and Britain over the conduct of the war revealed that the US had been planning to bomb the headquarters of Arabic TV channel Al Jazeera, even though the news network is based in the US-allied country of Qatar. So much for ‘freedom of speech’, by which bourgeois politicians always claim to set so much store!

So worried is the British government by the flood of scandalous exposures that it immediately threatened the newspapers and politicians responsible for bringing this particular memo to light with prosecution under the Official Secrets Act. If, with such bullying, it hopes to stem the tide of revelation, the government is likely to be sorely disappointed – the trickle is becoming a river, and shows every sign of growing to a mighty torrent if the resistance in Iraq continues to inflict such damage on the occupation armies.

No-one now believes that the invasion was for any other reason than the control of Middle Eastern oil. If Iraq had possessed WMD, the likelihood of imperialist plunderers invading would have been greatly reduced. It is for this very reason that, despite much sabre-rattling, the US has not yet dared to invade the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Meanwhile, the Anglo-American imperialists are busy threatening Iran, which currently does not have nuclear weapons, with much posturing with regard to Iran’s development of nuclear power and possible nuclear weapons. Such posturing is but a crude attempt to hide its lust for Iranian oil. Despite Iraq’s lack of WMD with which to hit back at the invaders, however, the US has found itself, along with the British and the rest of its ‘coalition’, faced with ever-diminishing prospects for the success that was so loudly and prematurely trumpeted in May 2002.

Morale plummeting

The latest blow to the government’s fiction about a ‘just’ and ‘moral’ war is the desertion of a formerly loyal SAS soldier, Ben Griffin. Despite having served imperialism in Yugoslavia, Ireland and Afghanistan, Griffin was unprepared for the level of brutality meted out by the occupation forces to the people of Iraq. After two years there, he left and refused to return, declaring the war to be “illegal” and condemning the “gung-ho and trigger-happy mentality” of the US soldiers he served alongside, who, he said, regarded all Iraqis as “untermenschen” – the Nazi term for races regarded as subhuman.

According to the Telegraph, this decision “marks the first time an SAS soldier has refused to go into combat and quit the Army on moral grounds” . It is a new low for the British war effort and will doubtless bring fresh vigour to the anti-war movement. (‘SAS soldier quits army in disgust at “illegal” American tactics in Iraq’ by Sean Rayment,, 12 March 2006)

Meanwhile in the US, some 9,000 US troops are reported to have deserted since the start of the war, a figure that is rising daily. According to Prensa Latina news agency, over 400 deserters from the US armed forces have recently crossed the northern border looking for political asylum in Canada.

The cost of war

The US has spent over $270bn on the war so far and lost more than 2,300 soldiers, with a further 16,650 injured, yet still it is not able to freely plunder Iraq’s oil wealth. The British contribution to the war to date has resulted in the death of 103 soldiers at a cost of £4bn. The resistance may not yet have beaten the occupation into full-scale retreat, but it is doing a phenomenal job of making it increasingly hard for the occupying force to continue as it is. Some 250,000 Iraqis are thought to have lost their lives since the 2002 invasion, and the rest are living in a country torn to shreds by the weapons of mass destruction of the imperialist occupiers, in particular by the depleted uranium, which will leave a deadly legacy in Iraq for decades to come. It is hardly surprising that the vast majority of people in Iraq are completely opposed to the occupation.

The might of Anglo-American imperialism has been challenged and called into question. The Iraqi resistance forces have prevented the oil flow out of their country reaching anywhere near the capacity that was hoped for by the US conglomerates. The financial cost of the war is continuing to rise, putting further pressure on the US economy. All in all, the picture for the occupation forces is looking less than hopeful; yet for them to withdraw, to turn on their heels and recognise the stubborn determination of the Iraqi people not to allow their land and resources to be stolen, is to admit defeat. In an attempt to achieve by more devious means what they have not been able to achieve by military might, or through the auspices of their stooges in the puppet ‘government’, the imperialists have had to resort to the age-old tactic of divide and rule.

Sectarian provocations

The threat of imminent civil war along confessional lines has been plastered across every bourgeois newspaper in the last few weeks. This apparently imminent threat is in one of the most secular countries in the Middle East. As Robert Fisk pointed out in an interview on ABC, “Iraq is not a sectarian society, but a tribal society. People are intermarried. Shiites and sunnis marry each other. It’s not a question of having a huge block of people here called shiites and a huge block of people called sunnis any more than you can do the same with the US, saying blacks are here and protestants are here and so on.” (‘Robert Fisk shares his Middle East knowledge’,, 2 March 2006)

Our bourgeois media paints the picture of a divided Iraq with the coalition troops and the stooge government attempting to prevent civil war. The reality is that the US, British, and a few token Danish and other tagged-on members of the ‘coalition’ are, on the contrary, attempting to exacerbate and incite sectarian division within this secular country, both directly and indirectly. Civil war will benefit no-one except the occupiers.

The Iraqi people have responded to the increasing number of suspicious sectarian attacks, like that on the Golden Mosque in Samarra at the end of February, with unity and camaraderie. Across Iraq, “Sunnis were quick to demonstrate solidarity with the shias in Samarra and to condemn the mosque bombings. Demonstrations of solidarity between sunnis and shias followed all over Iraq. Some of the bigger demonstrations were held in Basra, Diwaniyah, Nasiriyah, Kut, and Salah Al-Din.” Iraqis joined the demonstrations not only to show solidarity in their struggle but also to show who they held responsible for such attacks: “thousands of people who joined demonstrations blamed American troops for failing to protect the Iraqi people” . (‘Iraq: mosque outrage brings solidarity’, www.ipsnews, 25 February 2006)

While accusations of sectarianism are constantly flung at the Iraqi resistance, not only from the bourgeois media but also, to their shame, from many who call themselves ‘left’, the events in Iraq are continuing to show that the resistance is in fact an increasingly united force. A report from the International Crisis Group, which is aimed at ‘advising’ the coalition forces, states that “Far from acknowledging charges that some insurgents [resistance fighters] are bent on fomenting a sectarian war, armed groups claim to be the guarantors of national unity and systematically accuse the US of resorting to a traditional divide and rule strategy.” (‘In their own words: reading the Iraqi insurgency’, International Crisis Group, 15 February 2006)

It is imperative that we in the imperialist heartlands are not duped into backing the occupation by falling for the story that civil war is imminent. The Iraqis themselves are well aware that division and splits in the resistance are what US imperialism needs in order to try and recover a semblance of control over the country, and thus attempt to salvage not only a shred of its international prestige but equally importantly its control over oil revenues and the supply of oil itself.

Britain’s role

British troops are not remaining in Iraq to prevent a civil war, just as they did not go into Iraq to discover WMD. British troops are in Iraq because there is loot to be divided; because British multinational corporations, especially the oil giants, do not want to miss out on the scramble for resources and control of markets. British imperialism may be referred to as the lapdog of the US, and certainly it has that appearance based on relative strength, but the British imperialist bourgeoisie is the oldest and most experienced in the world. It is the economy of imperialism, forcing the drive for maximum profits, that dictates the logic of British imperialism’s foreign policy. Acting in its own imperialist interests, British imperialism has backed its ally, the US, while maintaining a foot in the camp of the EU block. It is this inevitable logic of imperialism that leads to war, death and destruction; it even leads imperialism into the type of dilemma that the invaders are now facing in Iraq. To sane thinkers in the working class, the logic of imperialism is revealed as illogical, decadent and moribund.

The brutality of the occupation forces has now been exposed to those in the imperialist heartlands (people in the rest of the world were all too aware already). Bush and Blair may well be characterised as two crazed lunatics who ‘hear the voice of god’; they are certainly warmongers and war criminals, but in the rush to personalise bourgeois politics, it is easy to forget that they are merely acting faithfully on behalf of two imperialist ruling classes, both of which are battling for control of a much-needed resource; two imperialist ruling classes that are staking their claim to the resources of the Middle East, and will stop at no savagery, no brutality in the process. No change of personnel in the White House or Downing Street will change the imperialists’ drive to control markets and resources, nor will it serve to crush their willingness to inflict war and devastation in the process.

Show trial of Saddam Hussein

Imperialism has put Saddam Hussein in the dock of a kangaroo court with the sole intention of justifying not only the most recent invasion but also a decade and more of brutal sanctions against the people of Iraq. But this court cannot hide the truth that while Saddam is in the dock, the people of Iraq are suffering greater misery and death than they ever knew under his leadership. The ‘bringers of democracy’ have brought nothing but destruction and chaos, destroying the water system, the electrical supplies, the sewage system – in short, all the infrastructure that had been built under the Ba’ath party, and which constituted the basis for the formerly high living standards of the Iraqi people. From a country that had the best health and education services in the Middle East prior to the sanctions, Iraq has been decimated to a shadow of its former self – and this has been done at the hands of US and British imperialism, not Saddam Hussein.

The trial of Saddam, like that of Milosevic in The Hague, is a politically-motivated, illegitimate and illegal farce. It is the height of hypocrisy that he should be put in the dock by those responsible for the murder of more than 200,000 Iraqis in the last three years alone, and approaching two million Iraqis since 1991. Justice-loving people everywhere should call for the immediate abolition of the kangaroo court and for the release of Saddam Hussein from US detention.

Strength of the anti-war movement

The anti-war movement in the imperialist heartlands has been growing. Mass demonstrations have occurred across the globe, and there is a growing awareness of the need to stand up against this brutal war of subjugation. The successes of the Iraqi resistance, which resolutely continues to prevent Iraq slipping into the hands of imperialist bloodsuckers and to keep Iraq on the international agenda, have provided us in the imperialist heartlands with greater and greater opportunity to mobilise against the war.

The third anniversary of the invasion was marked by demonstrations across the globe. In London, as many as 80,000 people turned out to voice their opposition to the continued occupation and to demand the immediate withdrawal of British troops. To the outrage of many of them, the BBC, along with large sections of the media, chose not to cover the London demonstration in its national news bulletins. The Observer, meanwhile, responded to angry letters from readers by explaining that the three-year-old occupation (and anything connected with it) was no longer ‘new’ and therefore not newsworthy. And yet the media has no problem giving saturation coverage to the ‘imminent threat’ of bird flu, which has been threatening a ‘pandemic‘ for two years now, or to the latest rumours about Princess Diana, who has been dead nearly a decade. The hypocrisy of these hirelings knows no bounds!

The strength in the anti-war movement lies not in its humanitarian character but in its anti-imperialist character. Calls to ‘bring the troops home’ from Iraq are not going to stop the threat of war against Iran, and calling for the removal of Tony Blair is not going to bring down imperialism. We are fighting an imperialist war. In order to play our part in defeating the occupation, we must not fudge the issue but must recognise that the defeat of imperialism is in the interest of the British working class and we must therefore show solidarity with all who are engaged in that struggle. The strength of the anti-war movement will be increased tenfold when it declares loud and clear its solidarity with the Iraqi resistance. The Iraqi people’s victory against Anglo-American imperialist occupation will be a victory for British and American workers in their struggle against exploitation by Anglo-American imperialism.

Victory to the Iraqi resistance!

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