Iraqis vs. the empire

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Posted by Fred Goldstein from ( on Monday, August 18, 2003 at 9:59PM :

Iraqis vs. the empire
By Fred Goldstein

Whatever finally happens in the battle for Baghdad, the initial resistance by the Iraqi people to the murderous bombing of their capital and the invasion by heavily armed U.S. and British ground troops has shown that the Bush administration's plans for rapid and complete domination of Iraq were based upon lies and illusions.

The terrible bombing of Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk with hundreds of cruise missiles and thousands of bombs has caused enormous destruction and many casualties. The Iraqi people are in grave danger of an even greater criminal bombing offensive as U.S. forces escalate the battle to take Baghdad.

Nevertheless, the great difficulties faced by the U.S. invasion forces, despite their overwhelming military superiority, show how profoundly the Pentagon planners have underestimated the will and ability of the people to resist imperialist aggression.

It bodes ill for Washington's plans for empire and world conquest.

Iraqis didn't follow Washington's script

According to the script written by the Washington war planners, the massive bombing of Baghdad combined with a lightning blitzkrieg by armored divisions, covered by close air support, was supposed to bring about a collapse of the Iraqi leadership, the defection of military leaders, a national uprising against the government of Saddam Hussein and the welcoming of U.S. military forces as liberators.

But the Iraqi people did not follow the script written by President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and the rest of the right-wing, world-conquering militarists in the White House and the Pentagon. Rather than acting out Washington's illusions, they acted in accordance with reality. They apparently never believed for one minute that the imperialist armies of the U.S. and of Iraq's former colonizers in London were coming to "liberate" them. They acted on the basis that the gigantic high-tech military machine was there to conquer them.

Refusing to be objects of history and passively await their fate, they have written their own script of resistance. They have launched a determined and widespread campaign of desert and urban guerrilla warfare, the most difficult type, to compensate for the staggering inequality of military force that they are facing.

Whether or not this can change the ultimate outcome of the war, it is a glorious example of heroism, self-sacrifice and determination for all the workers and oppressed.

When the U.S. and British military forces came storming across the Kuwait-Iraq border, they tried unsuccessfully to enter one city after another in southern Iraq. The conventional wisdom was that they would be welcomed with open arms because of the hostility of the Shi'ite Muslim population of the south to the regime of Saddam Hussein. Instead, they ran into a wall of popular resistance from Umm Qasr to Basra to An Nasiriyah, and throughout the region.

The crucial port city of Umm Qasr has a population of 4,000. A Washington Post correspondent told MSNBC-TV on March 24 that the occupation of Umm Qasr was supposed to take four to eight hours. Instead it took five days because of the fierce resistance.

The British Royal Marines were supposed to take control of Basra at the opening of the campaign. Presumably, they would easily enter this city of 1.5 million, the second largest in the country and the center of the Shi'ite southern region. They were primed to exhibit Basra as an example of how the Iraqis were lined up waiting for their liberation.

As of this writing--March 26--the British forces are still unable to enter the city.

As they marched further north, U.S. Marines were supposed to enter Nasiriyah and cross the Euphrates River on their way to Baghdad. It took three days of fighting with heavy air support for them to secure the bridge long enough to get across a two-mile column of tanks and armored vehicles. The fighting for the city is still in progress.

Peasants with rifles against Apache helicopters

Further north in Kabala, peasants brought down two low-flying Apache helicopters with small arms fire and drove back another 30 helicopters on a mission to secure the area for the 3rd Infantry Division. Iraqi irregular militia forces using only pickup trucks and firing machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades attacked armored columns.

The Wall Street Journal of March 25 summed up the situation this way: "Far from being hailed immediately as liberators, invading U.S. and British forces in southern Iraq are facing deep hostility and gunfire from some residents who are often desperate for food and water and sometimes furious about the continuing military assault against their country."

"In a dusty town of Az Zubayr, just south of Basra," continued the Journal, "some Iraqis in civilian clothes fired rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns at British and American troops. 'The Americans are destroying our country. There will be a fight,'said Ismail Hantush, an engineer at the state-run Iraqi oil company."

To give a sense of how completely the U.S. political and military authorities had discounted the anti-colonial hatred of the masses, the Journal reported that "just a few weeks ago, coalition officers in Kuwait were making plans to fly TV crews to film the cheering crowds in southern Iraq."

The U.S. forces are now in the position of having to turn to suppressing the people in the south in order to protect their rear. The U.S. Central Command has stretched its supply lines for 200 miles through a territory that was supposed to be friendly and safe. Now the British and U.S. forces are bombing the city of Basra in preparation for occupation. The entire military plan was based upon the illusion that the imperialists could terrorize the people into surrender and deceive them with false promises of liberation.

The Washington Post reported on March 25 that, "The continued Iraqi resistance specifically calls into question the efficacy of the biggest psychological operations campaign waged by the U.S. military. Over the last six months, U.S. aircraft dropped more than 25 million leaflets on the Iraqi military units and civilians, urging them not to fight the U.S. invasion. That was supplemented by propaganda radio broadcasts and telephone calls to unit commanders inviting them to negotiate their capitulation. The lack of large-scale surrenders suggests that Iraqi commanders instead may have been manipulating the expectations of their U.S. contacts."

U.S. troops were lied to

The U.S. high command brought 250,000 troops in as an invasion force, feeding them the same lies. They were told that they were liberators. Now they are being killed and wounded and face a wall of popular hostility and hatred. As U.S. casualties mount, the prospect of demoralization among the troops and further loss of political support at home for the war is growing.

The Bush administration and the high command are now faced with the task of conquering Baghdad. The Pentagon is planning to escalate its bombing in and around the city in order to reduce U.S. casualties. But, in the final analysis, the U.S. forces have to take the city on the ground. Washington may be preparing to horrendously escalate its war crimes against the Iraqi people, as well as throw U.S. soldiers into a gigantic battle where they will be forced to act as an oppressive army and face the wrath of Iraqi people resisting occupation and oppression.

The movement in this country must escalate its fight to bring the troops home and extricate them from the stranglehold of the Pentagon, which is sending them to commit aggression and war crimes. The Iraqi people have every right to resist this.

Washington has the gall to denounce the Iraqis for war crimes and violating the Geneva Convention because their television showed U.S. prisoners being asked their names and where they come from. But the entire war is a crime-including the attempt to overthrow a sovereign government, bombing cities and killing civilians, and invading to plunder the oil and set up a puppet government.

As for the treatment of prisoners, those captured in the Afghan war and taken to Guantanamo naval base are denied prisoner of war status by the U.S. Two were beaten to death while in detention and 19 more have attempted suicide because of torture and inhuman conditions. The hypocrisy of the Bush administration knows no bounds.

Refuse to be imperial subjects

The underlying basis for the united resistance of the Iraqi people, regardless of their attitude toward the government of Saddam Hussein, is that they recognize the essential meaning of "regime change" as intended by the Bush administration.

It is not merely a change in the regime, but a change in the status of a nation of 25 million people from political independence to political, economic and military domination by an imperialist super-power. It is a change in status from control over their oil and other resources for the purposes of national development--even though restricted by the economic sanctions--to total dependence upon Washington, the giant oil companies, the Pentagon and imperialism in general.

Iraq has long struggled for the status of political independence, through bloody rebellions against the Ottoman Empire and then the British Empire. It carried out a revolution of national liberation in 1958. The mass of the Iraqis do not want to return to colonial status and military occupation, to be followed by a neocolonial regime that is part of the U.S. empire.

The Iraqi people, and all the people of the Middle East, know that this war is the opening shot in a new expansionary phase intended by the Bush administration to be a step in the direction of establishing the absolute world domination of Wash ington and the Pentagon.

The acquiescence of the working class and the people at home is an essential condition for the Bush doctrine of preemption and this new era of "endless war" to succeed. In the course of this war the big business media has become a virtual state organ. The so-called "embedded" reporters are really imprisoned, bribed, corrupted mouthpieces for the military high command. The anchors who talk to them over the television networks are mere conduits for the latest Pentagon propaganda.

The Congress, after approving the war, has become a silent body during this historic turn implemented by the right-wing militarists in the White House and the Pentagon to lead U.S. imperialism onto the path of world empire, onto the path of unbridled militarism in the struggle to vanquish all its imperialist rivals and vastly expand its exploitation of the oppressed peoples of the world.

All the traditional instruments of bourgeois opposition have also stood by while the constitutional rights of the people have been under assault from the Patriot Act and the regime of Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Justice Depart ment. They have stood silent as the military and police role in monitoring institutions and civilian life has drastically expanded under the pretext of homeland security. The corporate media and the Congress have become increasingly subservient to and integrated into the war machine at this critical moment, when the lives and futures of millions are at stake.

The movement must escalate and broaden its struggle against imperialist aggression and occupation abroad and military-police state reaction at home. Whatever the final outcome of this brutal war, the heroic Iraqi resistance to overwhelming force should be an example and an inspiration to stop the U.S. war machine right here at home. The next big opportunity will come on April 12 in Washington, D.C.

-- Fred Goldstein
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