The surge won't work and the occupation can't be fixed

US imperialism, get out of Iraq!

(from Detroit Workers' Voice #67, September 3, 2007)

. Bush sent US forces into Iraq to topple the dictator Saddam Hussein. Hussein is gone, but the US occupation remains. The Iraqi people have fought year after year against this occupation, but the occupation remains. The American people voted against the war, and the occupation continues.

. The Bush administration is intent on continuing the war. No disaster makes any difference. Each months it admits things were bad in the past, but it always proclaims there's light at the end of the tunnel.

. The surge was begun earlier this year. The idea was that yet more troops, more bombing, more bloodshed would solve the problem. Yet since then the armed resistance to occupation has continued. Moreover, ethnic cleansing has accelerated in Baghdad under the surge, with neighborhoods being segregated into separate Shiite and Sunni areas.

. But the situation is supposed to be a bit better in Anbar province in Iraq. Really? What has happened there is that the US military has stopped fighting some of the resistance forces against it, and instead helps arm them to fight al Qaeda. The US military is now switching back and forth between arming different forces in Iraq, providing arms alternatively to both the Sunni and Shiite forces that will be used in a future civil war in Iraq.

Why does the Bush administration cling to Iraq?

. Bush has given one reason after another for invading and occupying Iraq. He said it was to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, but he couldn't find any in Iraq. He said it was going to topple the Baathist dictator Saddam Hussein, but for some time he has been looking around for ex-Baathist leaders to ally with.

. The real reason is that the American bourgeoisie regards Iraq as an area of "vital interest". Imperialist powers have spheres of influence, which they defend by military force. The Bush administration regards Iraq as a base it could use to tighten US pressure on the Middle East.

. And the Bush administration also wants control of the oil resources of Iraq and the Middle East. These resources are to be privatized and handed over to private companies.

The Democrats, the other party of imperialism and war

. Many people relaxed after the last congressional elections, because they thought the victory of the Democratic Party meant that the war was over. But what has happened since then? The war has escalated in the "surge", and the Democrats have funded the bloodshed. True, the Democrats have only a thin majority in Congress, but that is all that is needed to block new war funds. But the Democrats wanted, not to end the war, but to force an improved strategy on Bush.

. So many people who voted Democratic are burning mad. Some of them are sitting in at the offices of Democratic congresspeople who voted for war funding or otherwise backed down on their anti-Bush promises. On July 23, some sat in at the offices of Representative John Conyers, because, as soon as he became chairperson of the House Judiciary Committee, he went back on his pledge to seek the impeachment of Bush. Moreover, he treated the protesters just as the Bush-ites do: he had them arrested.

. Cindy Sheehan became a prominent anti-war activist after her son Casey died in Iraq. She is outraged at what the Democrats have been doing since the election, and in May she announced that she was leaving the Democratic Party. She is planning to challenge Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in the next elections.

. Why have the Democrats betrayed the people who voted for them? It's because they campaign among the working people, but they represent the capitalists. They support the ravages of US corporations around the world, and they are demanding that the occupation government in Iraq privatize the oil resources.

. They are a party of war on the cheap. They make it sound like they are against the war, but listen closely to what they say, and one hears another story. They are not against the war, but only against Bush's incompetence in losing the war. They don't want a total US withdrawal from Iraq; they want a cheaper occupation. They think they can dominate the Iraqi people with less troops, or with troops stationed around the edges of Iraq, or with the help of other countries. And one of their chief demands is that the Iraqi government hand over control of Iraqi oil to the multinationals even faster -- this is one of the "benchmarks" they want enforced.

Support the Iraqi workers!

. Imperialism is the rule of the powerful corporations against the working people. It is mass layoffs, concessions and union-busing here in the US, and war and occupation abroad. If there is to be a real fight against the militarism of the Bush administration, it must be done by uniting the workers of all countries against the corporate exploiters.

. Our support must go to the working people of Iraq, not the occupation government and its shifting alliances. We must support their resistance to occupation, religious fundamentalism, and neo-liberal strike-breaking.

. The workers of Iraq face many problems: the occupation, which upholds the anti-union laws of the former Saddam Hussein dictatorship; the sectarian massacres; the devastation of the country by the US military; the exploitation of the country by US and local capitalists. Yet they are standing up whenever they can. Recently oil workers struck against the privatization law which the Bush administration and the Democrats are demanding as one of the "benchmarks" of a successful occupation.

. Some say that the occupation is bad, but there will be civil war if the US troops leave. But the occupation is what brought civil war to Iraq. Every day the occupation continues there is more ethnic cleansing and more civil strife. The longer the occupation continues, the worse the situation will be when US troops leave. Freedom for the Iraqi people can only come from their own struggle, and from the strengthening of the forces of the Iraqi workers.

. The occupation is unjust. It means the domination of the Iraqi people in the interests of the American corporations and imperial ambitions. That's why it can't be fixed -- not by the surge; not by UN agencies, which the Bush administration has frantically invited back into Iraq; not by a smaller US presence. The occupation must be ended. US imperialism must get out of Iraq altogether.

Build the workers movement here!

. But who in the US really opposes the occupation? The Democrats have betrayed their promises, while the Bush administration is the architect of the Iraqi war, and is even considering whether to stage raids on Iran.

. What about the unions? The mass of unionized workers are against the war. But the pro-capitalist union leaders have led the unions from one defeat to another. Most recently, they have sold out the Delphi workers and the other auto workers. They let the companies tear up the union contracts, renege on pensions and health care benefits, and cut wages in half. They don't know how to fight; they only know how to kiss the asses of the CEOs. When it comes to foreign policy, these bureaucrats may sigh against the war occasionally, but they back the Democratic politicians who vote to fund the war (and sometimes they back the Republicans too).

. We need to build a militant workers' movement. It must fight against the wage-cutting and racism of the capitalists here, and it must ally with the workers abroad. We must look for salvation, not from the tanks and bombs of our class enemy, the American capitalists, but in international solidarity of the working class.

US imperialism, out of Iraq now!
Build a militant workers' movement!

For national health care, not private insurance!

Sicko portrays the many tragedies
under marketplace medicine

. Michael Moore's movie Sicko is a dramatic film, which portrays the problems people have getting health care in this country. The health care system is in crisis. Between 40 and 50 million have no medical insurance. But even those with insurance are in trouble. Every year it costs more, while many people have found that HMOs have refused to pay for necessary treatment. Americans pay more for medical care than anywhere else in the world, and yet many other countries have less child mortality and longer life-spans.

. Moore gives many real-life examples of people who have been hurt by this system, from a man who has to choose which of two severed fingertips to get re-attached, to a women whose husband was murdered by insurance companies refusing necessary treatment.

. The Democrats and Republicans promise that this can be solved by providing more money for the insurance companies and the free-market health industries. The Massachusetts plan goes to the extent of criminalizing the uninsured, while extending the market for the private insurance companies.

. But Sicko shows that this is a fraud. It fingers the HMOs and the private insurance companies who make money off our misery. It shows that government-run national health care is far superior to the system of marketplace medicine that is predominant here.

. Moore examines the medical systems in Canada, France, Britain and Cuba, and shows that they provide universal care. Moreover, he shows that the ordinary citizens of these countries can't understand how the US could have such a wicked health system, for they regard it as obvious that everyone should get medical care.

. But Sicko only tells part of the story. Its weakness is that it doesn't give a realistic picture of how hard the fight for a national health plan will be. Moore makes it seem as if the capitalists elsewhere don't really dare to touch universal health care where it exists.

. But the neo-liberal capitalists of Canada and Western Europe have been chipping away for years at the health programs there. They have generally been starving it of funds and piecemeal privatizing it. Meanwhile the state-capitalist ruling class in Cuba maintains a two-tier system of health care and living standards.

. The working class is going to have to develop its own class organizations in order to wage an effective fight for health care. Moore downplays how radical a change this will be. With respect to Britain, for example, Moore promotes the left-wing of the Labor Party. Yet the Labor Party--merely reformist at its best--long ago morphed into "New Labor", and has been tearing down government programs. Workers have to stand up against the Labor Party to support social programs.

. Similarly, with respect to Canada, Moore shows dramatically that even supporters of the Conservative Party in Canada back the universal health system there (called Medicare). But while doing this Moore glosses over that both the Conservative and Liberal Party leaders have been hacking away at the Canadian Medicare system, while the New Democratic Party has made cuts in social programs when it was in power in various provinces. And he sees the original health proposal of the Clinton presidency as a step forward, failing to realize that it was a plan based on preserving the profits of the insurance companies.

. Still, to his credit, Moore shows dramatically that, ever since the defeat of the original Clinton health plan, Hillary Clinton has been in the pocket of the health capitalists. Thus the main candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, won't have anything to do with national health insurance.

. If there really is going to be universal health coverage, the private insurers have to be replaced by a system of national health care. Presently the universal system with most support here is a "single-payer" system such as that in Canada. In that system, the government health plan is the "single-payer" for doctors, clinics, and hospitals. Such a system eliminates the private insurance companies, with their obscene profits; it provides universal coverage (provided -- and this is important -- the millions of undocumented working people are covered).

. Such a plan would be a marvelous step forward. It would provide peace of mind for millions upon millions of working people.

. Yet a single-payer system of health insurance, valuable as it would be, is not the final goal. For example, it would not, in itself, tame the big pharmaceutical companies, curb their outrageous prices, or force them to improve the way they carry out drug research. Sooner or later a national health plan will come into conflict with "big pharma": either universal coverage will fail or the power of the pharmaceutical capitalists will have to be broken.

. Indeed, health care should be completely removed from the sphere of the marketplace, and made into a right. But universal health care goes against the logic of deregulation and privatization, which are championed by both Republicans and Democrats. And it goes against the huge profits of the insurance and pharmaceutical companies and other health industries. So making health care into a right is going to take a long struggle, and it is going to require workers to speak up in their own right. <>

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Last modified: April 20, 2010.