Resistance to U.S./British occupation rises as

Imperialist dictate replaces
Hussein's tyranny

by Mark, Detroit


. The Bush administration is bogged down in a quagmire in Iraq. The struggle against the brutal U.S./British military occupation continues to intensify. To have a democratic future, the Iraqi masses must free themselves from the occupation regime. But their future also depends on the class conflict in Iraq. The working masses need a resolute fight for their rights and relief from horrid social conditions. In contrast, different sections of the bourgeois elite are concerned with insuring their part of the elite maintains its privileged position, whether it be through the rule of Islamic fundamentalist clerics, through restoring the deposed Baath party, or through turning Iraq into a free-market heaven for enriching themselves and the multinational corporations at the expense of the toilers. To accomplish their goals, many bourgeois groups are collaborating with the occupation regime. That's why the fate of the masses rests on their ability to put their own imprint on the anti-occupation struggle.

. Bush claimed that the downfall of Hussein marked a new era of freedom and democracy for the Iraqi people. But the Iraqi masses are not buying it. The vast majority of the population is glad to see Hussein gone. But whatever good will may have initially existed toward the U.S. forces is rapidly fading. It's becoming increasingly clear to the Iraqi people that the U.S. is after not democracy, but conquest. They are seeing that the old military tyranny has been replaced by new military rulers whose priorities are not the welfare of the people, but turning Iraq into a U.S. military base to watch over Middle East oil and a safe haven for capitalist corporations to make fat profits.

. The expressions of anger in Iraq with the U.S. occupation are so prevalent that even supporters of the U.S. occupation are fretting that the window of opportunity for them to win over, i. e. , subjugate, the Iraqi people is rapidly closing. Indeed, the Iraqi people are seething, and even those who still harbor faith things will improve under the occupation are losing their patience. Protests remain a common occurrence in response to the many outrages of the occupation. Meanwhile, the U.S. troops face a guerrilla war, with an average of a dozen armed attacks launched against them each day.

. According to Bush, resistance to the occupation is simply the work of Hussein loyalists and Islamic holy warriors entering Iraq. It's true that some protests or armed actions may be carried out by such forces. But it's not love of Hussein or foreign guerrillas that's driving the growing hatred of the U.S./British occupation. It's the occupation itself. Even in strongholds of anti-Hussein sentiment the masses are angry at the occupiers. In early August the Shia Muslim population of Basra, who suffered brutal oppression under Hussein, rose up against the occupiers. For two days, the unarmed masses waged street battles against British troops, protesting lack of electricity and gas.

. The Bush regime time and again promises relief, but the masses mainly get new indignities. Instead of the promised democracy, they got the almighty U.S./British Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which hand-picked the new and powerless Iraqi national governing council. Nor has the occupation recognized the right to self-determination for the Kurds. And the economy and basic services continue to be in chaos. Faced with growing complaints and resistance, the U.S. forces are lashing out at the population. They terrorize whole neighborhoods with house-to-house searches and mass arrests. They indiscriminately fire upon unarmed demonstrators and anyone unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity of their military actions. And while the U.S. claims it respects peaceful dissent, it has cracked down on peaceful protests and imposed press censorship to shut up critics of the occupation.

. As the contradiction between the Iraqi people and occupation authorities grows, U.S. troops too are beginning to question why they are in Iraq. In the best "democratic" traditions, the U.S. military is trying to shut up the dissident soldiers. But word of GI discontent keeps leaking out. Meanwhile, parents of soldiers have formed new organizations demanding U.S. troops return home.

. The growing problems faced by the U.S./British military rule in Iraq are discrediting Bush and Blair at home. Attention has been focused again on the official excuses for the war. There's been a constant stream of scandals showing how the Bush and Blair administrations systematically lied about the extent of Hussein's weapons of mass destruction programs, the threat of an imminent attack from Hussein, and that Hussein was connected to al-Qaeda and the 9-11 atrocity. The war has already put the Blair government into crisis, with top government officials resigning over the war. Blair's support in his own Labor Party is weak. And a government WMD expert, David Kelly committing suicide in connection to revelations about government lies about Hussein's arsenal. In late August an official inquiry into Kelly's death revealed that Blair's own chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, was warning other officials close to Blair that the evidence they had "does nothing to demonstrate a threat, yet alone an imminent threat from Saddam. "

. Bush is not yet in as deep a crisis. But as the administration flounders even some Republican officials began wondering out loud whether the Iraq fiasco will turn into a political liability for Bush come the next elections. A sign of Bush's desperation is that he's now turning to the UN to save the day for the U.S. occupation. Bush mocked the UN as irrelevant when it failed to authorize his unilateral war on Iraq. Now Bush needs a lot more troops and funds from other countries to bail him out of his fiasco. But most countries won't commit soldiers or money unless the UN runs the occupation. Therefore, the Bush administration is floating plans under which the UN will formally assume responsibility for the occupation while permitting the U.S. to still have the main military and political decision-making powers. Whether the imperialist powers like France, Germany and Russia, who objected to Bush's unilateral war, will agree to the U.S. demands for dominance under a UN occupation remains to be seen.

. The Democratic Party politicians are now chiding Bush for lying about WMDs and the post-war fiascoes. But as with Bush, it's imperialist interests and not the Iraqi people that they are worried about. That's why when the war started the Democrats solidly lined up behind Bush's war, despite certain misgivings. Now, as before the war, they are pushing a multilateral approach where the U.S. lets other capitalist powers and the UN have more of a role in running Iraq. They want this because that way other countries will share the financial and military burden of running Iraq. But such an occupation would still be a form of imperialist rule. Indeed that's why the Bush administration, those champions of unilateralism and sidelining the UN, now are contemplating a UN option.

. Workers and progressive activists should stand against the Bush/Blair military occupation. Our struggle isn't to see how best to salvage U.S. /British control of Iraq but to end the imperialist occupation. We must reject the multilateral plans for bringing in other powers and the UN to rescue the situation for imperialism. Instead we must stand with the Iraqi working masses.

. Support for the struggle of the Iraqi working masses is not simply a matter of demanding that the imperialist powers get out, important as this is. It's also a matter of supporting the Iraqi working masses in their efforts to forge their own distinct class stand. Whether the workers, urban poor and small peasants are able to get organized and push their own class demands will determine how strong the anti-occupation struggle becomes. As well, it will determine the extent to which democratic rights exist for the oppressed and how far they are able to improve their living conditions. Moreover, it is only with the ascendancy of independent organizations of the workers and poor that serious measures can be taken to promote solidarity between different national and religious groups. This includes such issues as recognition of the right to self-determination for the oppressed Kurdish nationality, full rights to all minorities, and the separation of mosque and state.

. Strong class organization does not exist in Iraq at present. But the opening for political activity and the disgust with the occupation regime following the overthrow of Hussein provides an opportunity for its development. Every day shows that class conflict cannot be avoided even during the period of imperialist occupation. Already an assortment of Islamic and secular trends representing a significant section of the bourgeois elite in Iraq have been co-opted by the U.S. /British Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) into the sham Iraqi Governing Council. Another section of clerics condemns the occupation, but it seeks to replace it by a theocratic tyranny. It must also be recognized that while the guerrilla actions reflect a widespread anti-occupation sentiment of the masses, some forces in it apparently have sympathies with or ties to the former Baath dictatorship and some are evidently connected with fundamentalist religious trends. The working masses must counter such trends if they are to fulfill their democratic aspirations.

. The only force that can liberate the toilers of Iraq are the toilers themselves. Therefore, every step toward reviving class organization in Iraq should be supported.

. Meanwhile, a class orientation is also essential in the U.S. in order to build up opposition to the occupation. The source of such imperialist adventures is not simply the Bush administration and its neo-conservative advisors. Imperialism is a bipartisan product of the bourgeoisie as a class. That's why the Democrats caved in to Bush's war crusade. And it's why their criticism of the war is not that the U.S. has no right to impose its domination of the Middle East, but that a multilateral approach with other capitalist powers and the UN would be more successful in insuring U.S. domination than Bush's unilateralism. Anti-war activists should not fall for the old trick of supporting the alleged "lesser evil" Democratic critics of Bush, but should work to build a trend independent of the bourgeoisie, whether unilateralist or multilateralist. Such a trend should target not just Bush, but imperialism itself. It should not place its hopes on the squabbles between imperialist politicians, but on the workers and other oppressed. It is the working masses who bear the burden of imperialist conflicts and it is they who must be brought into the ranks of struggle against the occupation and its basis, the capitalist exploiters. <>

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Last modified: October 15, 2003.