Support the class struggle of the Iraqi workers and poor!

No to the imperialist occupation of Iraq!

by Mark, Detroit
(CV #33, March 25, 2004, and it also appeared in
Detroit Workers Voice #40, March 20)


Hussein's tyranny replaced by occupation oppression
Imperialism lies behind the occupation
The UN and multilateral imperialism
The Iraqi exploiters vs. the workers and poor
Solidarity requires a class stand here


. The Bush regime boasted it would bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people. But after 10 months of running Iraq, the U.S.-dominated occupation authority continues to face the wrath of a people betrayed. The hated Baathist rulers are gone and Hussein is a POW, but the occupation has brought new forms of repression and impoverishment. This isn't surprising. After all, it wasn't liberation that motivated Bush and the imperialist system he represents. Rather the war was to insure continued U.S. domination of the Middle East and its oil by crushing a rival regional bully, Hussein.

. With the occupation Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) unable to quell the anger of the Iraqi masses, Bush has found it necessary to give the occupation a face-lift. Previously the occupation authority hand-picked a powerless "Iraqi Governing Council" to give them a bit of an Iraqi cover. But this didn't dampen the revolts. So the Bush regime wants to declare a new "sovereign" provisional Iraqi government by the end of June and proclaim the CPA abolished. In reality, the imperialist occupation forces will remain in Iraq and the provisional government will be subordinate to them. While this plan was meant to calm the Iraqi masses, it again shows the occupation authority's disdain for what the masses think. Indeed, the Iraqi people will not be allowed to vote for the provisional government.

. Though subordinate, the provisional government would put more decisions in the hands of sections of the Iraqi bourgeoisie. This will increase the squabbling of these bourgeois forces with imperialism over the extent of their power. And it will heat up the conflicts among themselves over which section dominates, the role of Islamic law, Kurdish rights, etc. This will also increase the importance of the class struggle in Iraq as the workers and poor will be increasingly faced with defending themselves against the local exploiters, and not just the occupation regime.

Hussein's tyranny replaced by occupation oppression

. The reason for the strong opposition of the working people in Iraq to the occupation regime is not hard to see. While the Iraqi masses are glad Hussein is gone, they have learned painfully that the occupation was not for their benefit, but to strengthen U.S. imperialist domination of the Middle East. Thus, rather than the Iraqi people being liberated, they saw one tyranny replaced with another.

. Out was the old dictator Hussein. In was the new dictator, the U.S.-dominated occupation regime, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). Out was Hussein's butchering of political opposition. In were U.S. slaughters of unarmed protesters and civilians, indiscriminate mass roundups and raids in neighborhoods and villages, attacks on organizations of workers' and the unemployed, etc. Out were Hussein's repressive laws. In are some anti-women Islamic fundamentalist laws that have already found favor with the U.S -picked Iraqi Governing Council (IGC). Also, still "in" are Hussein-era anti-strike laws. Out was Hussein's crony capitalism, where his family looted the government for personal enrichment. In are Bush's capitalist cronies to reap the spoils of the war and rewrite the laws to allow the multinational corporations a free hand to plunder the country. Out were Hussein's ruinous military adventures and attempts to dominate the Middle East. In is a new military base for the U.S. to threaten potential rivals in the Middle East.

. Meanwhile, the economic situation for the masses remains desperate. Over half the workforce is jobless, fueling soaring crime. And over 10 months into the occupation, even basic services remain a shambles. Constant gas shortages and electricity blackouts stand as a sharp rebuke to the Bush administration's happy talk claiming great progress on this front.

. Nor has the U.S.-led occupation recognized the right of self- determination of the Kurdish people or protected the rights of other minority peoples in Iraq.

. The longer the occupation has lasted, the more its true mission becomes clear, the more it is despised by the Iraqi masses. Angry protests are a common occurrence and even mainstream polling services record that the vast majority of Iraqis don't trust the occupation forces. Organizations and actions of the workers and unemployed are beginning to develop despite difficult conditions. Guerrilla attacks remain frequent and have become more sophisticated than a few months ago. They are taking a heavy toll on coalition forces. Well over 500 U. S. troops have been killed and there are well-founded estimates of over 10,000 wounded or seriously ill.

. True, there is significant influence of Baathist remnants and Islamic fundamentalists among a section of the guerrilla forces. As well, reactionary elements have carried out horrific bombings which have slaughtered innocent civilians. But the vast majority of attacks target the occupation forces or U. S. -backed Iraqi military and police. There is significant sympathy for the guerrilla actions among the populace, and this has much more to do with a desire to get rid of the occupiers than bringing back the old Baathist regime or establishing theocratic rule.

Imperialism lies behind the occupation

. Bush's fiasco in Iraq is not merely a matter of some mistaken policy. Such adventures are inherent in the imperialist system. Imperialism is the domination of the huge capitalist businesses. They dominate the political and economic system in the U.S. And they seek control of world markets and resources. For many decades, control of Middle East oil has been a top priority for "our" capitalists. They have stopped at nothing to accomplish this -- from overthrowing governments and propping up the aggression of Israel, its most loyal watchdog, to building a network of alliances among brutal Arab states such as the Saudi monarchy.

. As long as Hussein was just murdering people inside Iraq or fighting other U.S. enemies of the day, like Iran, he was treated as an ally. But the U.S. bourgeoisie could not tolerate Hussein as a rival for domination in the Middle East. Gulf War I was launched, followed by a decade of economic sanctions that mainly bled the masses already being ruined by the Baathist regime. In this context, it's clear that Gulf War II and the occupation were not merely the product of Bush Jr. and his neo-con advisors, but deeply rooted in the class policy of the bourgeoisie.

. Sure, the American bourgeoisie has disagreements within its ranks. But they're over how best to maintain their world empire. And the bourgeoisie is united in their support for the colossal U.S. war machine. This can be seen in the stand of the Democratic Party opposition. Their objection to the war was that it would have been better to first get the cooperation of other imperialist powers and the UN. But the Democrats overwhelmingly got behind the war effort once it began and likewise support the occupation. It's quite telling that the Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry, who voted for Bush's war, is now fretting that Bush may prematurely withdraw from Iraq and that he hasn't beefed up the military enough to insure the occupation's success.

. At the same time, the fact that the occupation has met great resistance inside Iraq has created a host of problems for the U.S. bourgeoisie. This, combined with the lies about the imminent threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, have raised questions among the masses as to the real causes of the war and increased their distrust of the Bush regime in general. Even capturing Hussein only resulted in a slight and temporary upward blip for Bush in the public opinion polls. The U.S. bourgeoisie as a whole is worried that this fiasco will make even other imperialist allies of the U.S. skeptical about supporting future U.S. adventures. Certainly, there is no doubt the occupation of Iraq has fueled hostility to U.S. foreign policy among the working people around the world.

. In Britain, the major imperialist ally of the U.S. in the war and occupation, Tony Blair's government has faced a similar and deeper crisis. The war greatly hurt Blair's credibility with the working people and even top government officials have resigned and exposed how Blair phonied-up evidence of WMDs.

. Meanwhile in Spain, massive anti-war sentiments led to the defeat in recent national elections of the conservative Popular Party of Bush's occupation ally, former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar.

The UN and multilateral imperialism

. Among the critics of the U.S./British occupation, there are those who promote a UN administration of Iraq as the alternative. They imagine that the UN would oppose imperialist designs on Iraq while also avoiding the problem of Iraq falling under the grip of the Islamic clerics. But a UN intervention would not be on the side of the Iraqi working masses, but represent a broader coalition of imperialist powers. It would require an agreement between U.S. and British imperialism and other imperialist countries like France, Germany, and Russia.

. The other imperialist powers have some differences with the U.S. and would have some of their own ideas about administering Iraq. But these differences are based on the interests of their own bourgeoisies. The European multinationals have their own rotten history of influence in Iraq and are seeking to re-establish themselves there. Meanwhile, these powers agree with the U.S. general agenda for privatization and "free-market" capitalism throughout the world. And while some may imagine these other powers to be more peaceful and kind than the U.S., this is hardly the case. Just look at France's joint effort with the U.S. to engineer a regime change in Haiti. Or take a glimpse at Russia's brutality to the Chechens.

. A UN administration would not represent justice for the Iraqi masses, but basically share the same orientation towards them as the present occupation regime. It would replace unilateral imperialism with multilateral imperialism.

The Iraqi exploiters vs. the workers and poor

. Workers and activists here should step up the fight against the imperialist occupation. But standing with the Iraqi masses, and even seriously opposing the occupation, also requires supporting the development of a class movement of the workers and poor of Iraq. That's the real alternative.

. A section of the Iraqi exploiters may be getting more say under the occupation. But more rights for the local exploiters by no means insures democratic rights for the workers and poor. The Iraqi bourgeoisie is willing to tolerate the terror of the imperialist armies against the masses. They are cozy with clerics who would impose on everyone their religious zealotry and anti-women bigotry. Indeed, already the Iraqi bourgeoisie has agreed on an interim constitution which says no law can contradict Islamic law. So the masses should not expect their rights to come as a gift from the bourgeoisie.

. Even less should the masses expect the Iraqi exploiters to solves their economic woes. The working people will have to wage a fight just to get basic services, and then they'll face a protracted struggle for living conditions under the free-market reforms initiated by the occupation.

. Nor can the working people expect the bourgeoisie to develop solidarity between the toilers of different religious and national groups. Like the U.S., the non-Kurdish bourgeoisie refuses to recognize the right of self- determination for the Kurds. In turn, the Kurdish bourgeois nationalist leaders mistreat the Turkoman and Arab minorities in their region. The workers need class unity. Thus it's in their interest to support the right to self-determination for the Kurds. If the decision of whether to be part of Iraq or to form a separate nation-state is denied the Kurds, this will be a constant source of friction between Kurdish and non-Kurdish toilers, whereas the right of self-determination creates trust and solidarity between the working people of different nationalities. Likewise, the workers oppose discrimination against any minority group and support the separation of mosque and state.

. The working people hate the occupation and have waged protests of all kinds in the face of harsh repression. But the development of working-class organization is needed to undercut the influence of the Baathist remnants and Islamic fanatics who have a sordid history of crushing the workers and other oppressed. The armed actions have taken a heavy toll on the occupation forces and their Iraqi flunkies and have a good deal of popular support. But the series of indiscriminate bombings which have mainly hit ordinary Iraqi citizens is a disgrace. These wanton slaughters of Iraqi workers and poor are an example of why the need for the masses to establish their own independent trend is so pressing.

. The harsh conditions under the occupation and the sharpening of class conflict will foster a climate for the revival of revolutionary trends of the working masses. This will be a protracted process, but a start is being made. There have been strikes, efforts to build unions, organizations of the unemployed, etc. The establishing of a party of the class conscious section of workers is vital. While one party, the Worker-Communist Party of Iraq (WCPI) aspires to this, it has problems dealing with a number of key issues facing the masses due to its "left" communist orientation. For example, it mistakenly supports a temporary UN administration as the alternative to U.S. domination and the threat of fundamentalism.

Solidarity requires a class stand here

. Solidarity with the Iraqi masses requires a class political approach in the U.S. too. Both big capitalist parties stand for imperialist domination. That's why the Democratic presidential candidates haven't been for ending the occupation, but for finding ways to strengthen it with a bigger military presence. Or they say "get out" but mean bring in other imperialist powers to share the burden in cooperation with the UN. We should not allow the mass anger and protests against Bush's "unilateral" imperialism to be diverted into campaigning for Democratic Party "multilateral" imperialism. It's not the whim of this or that politician that's the root of U.S. global conquest, but a whole system of rule by giant capitalist companies whose existence is based on exploitation of the working people on a world scale.

. Real solidarity with the working people of Iraq can only be based on exposing both bourgeois parties and the imperialist system they are based on. It requires basing our hopes not on the bickering between the bourgeois politicians, but on the working masses. They are the ones who are driven down by the capitalists here and then shipped off to get killed overseas on behalf of the same capitalist class. It's in their class interest to stand up against the occupation and target the bourgeoisie which is behind it. The giant pre-war demonstrations showed that there's a huge section of the American masses opposed to the U.S. adventure in Iraq. Within the ranks of the ordinary U.S. soldiers, doubts about the occupation are growing and some soldiers and their families have begun to organize against the occupation.

. True, the demonstrations have tended to be smaller compared to their peak prior to the war. But there's no reason to believe that the occupation has made Bush's Iraq policy more popular. Nor does the fact that the war went on despite massive protests show that taking to the streets was futile. Whether mass actions are larger or smaller, they play an essential role. They encourage the sentiments among the masses against Bush's policy by creating an atmosphere for developing clarity on the issues and raising the need for organization. Whether or not the struggle is powerful enough to stay the hand of Bush and imperialism right now, the demonstrations can provide an opportunity to build up an anti-imperialist trend among the activists and workers. The Iraq crisis is one opportunity to build such a trend, but Bush or Kerry will undoubtedly provide many more in the future. Building an on-going anti-imperialist trend will provide continuity as each new struggle arises. It will increase the level of militancy in the movement and help prevent it getting sidetracked into campaigning for imperialist Democrats. It will orient the masses toward directing their energies against the root cause of war and conquest, the bourgeoisie, and away from imagining it is just a mistake by this or that politician.

. Let's utilize the mass protests to build up an anti-imperialist trend. Let's take anti-imperialist views directly to the workers and poor as part of mobilizing them into the struggle against the bloody occupation.

U.S./UN out of Iraq!
Down with the fraudulent "provisional government" of the Iraqi bourgeoisie!
No to the imperialism of Bush and the Democrats!
Support the struggles of the Iraqi workers and poor! <>


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Last modified: April 16, 2004.