Iraqi workers, yes! Imperialism,
Islamic theocracy, and ex-Baathists, no!

US out now!

Down with Bush and the Democrats!

.The following article is from a 'Communist Voice' leaflet
for the demonstration of September 24 in Washington DC.

(CV #37, Feb. 2006)


. The September 24 demonstration in Washington, DC and protests in other cities are a sign of the widespread opposition to Bush's criminal occupation of Iraq. Families of soldiers are joining the struggle. Anti-war veterans of the occupation are speaking out. Rank-and-file workers in some of the biggest trade unions have supported anti-occupation resolutions. Even the polls of the corporate media show a majority of the country is fed up with the Iraqi adventure.

. The administration's wall of lies is crumbling. The hysteria about WMDs has been exposed. The claim of liberating the Iraqi people hasn't held up either. They are being ruined by a bloody occupation that has killed tens of thousands, laid waste to whole cities and turned the Iraqi economy into rubble.

. And what of the vaunted democracy that was to come to Iraq? The US/British military forces continue to impose their will. Under the new Iraqi constitution, women will officially be second-class citizens. The new constitution requires laws conform to Islamic fundamentalism. The constitution supports free-market capitalism so that US multinationals can invest in Iraqi oil assets and profiteer from the reconstruction of Iraq. Meanwhile, the constitution has heightened key disputes between different ethnic and religious factions of the bourgeoisie in Iraq. This may increase the danger of escalating sectarian conflicts into outright civil war.

. No wonder the masses are seeing the occupation is about conquest, not liberation. It's for oil and empire. It's about the weaker predator, Hussein, being replaced by the world's biggest predator, US imperialism. That's why we take to the streets to demand "US out of Iraq now!"

Bipartisan imperialism

. The challenge is to organize the growing discontent with the occupation. The anger with the war should be directed against the real cause of war and a foreign policy of dominating the world.

. The occupation of Iraq is not simply Bush's quagmire. Imperialism and war is a bipartisan affair. The Democratic politicians also insist the occupation must continue. When they criticize Bush, they stress the need for more US troops. They want to strengthen the occupation by replacing Bush's unilateralism with a multilateralist policy in which other imperialist powers will share the burden (and spoils) of the occupation, with the blessings of the UN.

. Some Democrats talk about a timetable to "get out". But they don't mean anytime soon. The left wing of the party backed a resolution by Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-Ca. ) that will supposedly bring the troops home. But Woolsey says "Let me be clear: I am not advocating a cut and run strategy." Woolsey wants to stay until a UN occupation takes over. But not only would this continue imperialist occupation in another form, it means dragging on the present US occupation indefinitely.

. This is typical of how the left-wing Democrats swindle the anti-war masses. People like Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have spoken at anti-war rallies. But they eventually supported pro-occupation candidate John Kerry. Congressional Black Caucus members John Conyers and Charles Rangel say they're against the war but back a bill to bring back the military draft. They tell anti-war protesters the draft will prevent wars because the wealthy don't want their kids drafted. But in Congress, they tell conservatives the draft is needed for future military operations.

.The bipartisan support for the occupation is no accident. The Republican and Democratic politicians are nothing but the hired hands of the capitalists. The corporations that exploit workers here also seek to dominate the world in pursuit of greater profits. They want to secure new markets, resources and cheap labor, and hold rival capitalists in check. The capitalists need a huge military machine to put down opposition from the oppressed masses and rival exploiters who get in their way. This imperialist system cannot but give rise to war.

. But the reformist leadership which dominates the leadership of the large anti-war coalitions pretends that the problem is just Bush and his cabal of neo-conservatives. That's why they give "anti-war" Democrats a platform at anti-war rallies. The anti-war movement must not be taken in by the squabbling between Bush and the Democrats over how best to further imperialism. We need a movement that targets both capitalist parties and the imperialist system they defend.

Mobilize the workers and poor

. Instead of placing hopes in the Democrats, all our efforts should be directed toward mobilizing the working masses. It's the sons and daughters of the working class that are being slaughtered so that the capitalists are assured of the flow of Middle East oil and so the Halliburtons can profiteer by rebuilding (or pretending to rebuild) what US bombs have leveled in Iraq.

. While the workers die for the rich, the CEOs and their political stooges don't give a rat's ass about them. Everyday they look to deprive workers of a livelihood and drive down their conditions. Hurricane Katrina exposed their contempt for the workers and poor, and the black masses in particular. In line with the bipartisan worship of the free-market solving everything, the poor and destitute were left to fend for themselves or die. Indeed, for the sake of cutting taxes on the rich and building up the war machine, Republican and Democratic administrations alike neglected to build up adequate anti-flood infrastructure.

. The workers' interests lie not only in opposing the occupation, but in targeting the capitalists as the source of both war and exploitation. Their anger with Bush's war should be directed toward a conscious struggle against the imperialist system and all the parties that defend it.

. But the workers lack militant organizations. The AFL-CIO split shows the discontent with the present situation in the unions. But the same type of bureaucrats dominate both the AFL-CIO and the Change to Win Coalition, and they undermine militant struggle. They utter some anti-war phrases, but divert the workers' anti-war sentiments into support for pro-war Democrats.

. That's why the mobilization of the workers into the anti-war struggle requires going directly to the rank-and-file. Workplaces and communities must be leafleted, protests should be held in the streets of working-class areas, networks of militant workers should be established, etc.

Support the anti-occupation resistance of the Iraqi masses

. To really target imperialism is impossible without solidarity with the struggles of the Iraqi workers and poor. We must support the efforts of the masses, armed and unarmed, to throw the occupiers out. But ex-Baathists and fundamentalist zealots dominate the leadership of the armed resistance. They want to establish a new tyranny over the masses. Their indiscriminate bombings of civilians shows the same contempt for the Iraqi masses the imperialist occupiers have. Such massacres are a small percent of resistance attacks, but they greatly damage the anti-occupation cause. Thus, the liberation of the Iraqi masses also means opposing these reactionary leaders and encouraging independent action and organization of the working masses. Real anti-imperialism doesn't mean support for every reactionary who has a conflict with the big powers. It means recognizing the class divide in Iraqi society and basing oneself on the masses.

The Iraqi bourgeoisie and the new constitution

. Under the wing of the occupation, different sections of the Iraqi bourgeoisie are playing a bigger role in running Iraq. This is also bringing the class divide in Iraq even more to the fore.

. Just what the new Iraqi rulers have in mind for the masses can be seen in the recently completed permanent Iraqi constitution. The constitution states that Islam is the state religion, that Islamic law is "a fundamental source" of legislation and that no law can contradict "established laws of Islam." These clauses were pushed by Shia fundamentalist clerics, whose political representatives are the largest bloc in the Iraqi national assembly elected earlier this year. What this means is that all laws have to be approved by the fundamentalist clerics. Indeed, provisions were made for a council (presumably of clerics) to pass religious judgment on legislation and for clerics to serve as court judges.

. Big Lie Bush claims "This constitution is one that honors women's rights and freedom of religion." But under fundamentalist Sharia law, women are not equal to men, but subject to humiliation and discrimination. Take Islamic "personal status" laws. They make women subservient to men in marriage, impose unequal rights to inheritance and in child custody, count women's testimony in courts as worth half that of men, etc. Yet the Iraqi constitution explicitly allows the use of religious personal status law.

. Thus, Iraqi women are reduced to second-class citizenship under the new constitution. Even Iraqi women like Dr. Raja Kuzai, a formerly pro-Bush, pro-occupation member of the committee writing the constitution, announced she was leaving Iraq and that "our dreams are gone" because "the future is for the clerics."

. Another feature of the new constitution was its incorporation of free-market principles. Earlier drafts of the constitution were by no means anti-capitalist, but they had restrictions on privatization of state assets and foreign investment and ownership. Earlier drafts also promised a fair amount of guaranteed social benefits. But the Shia clerics and Kurdish bourgeois nationalists, the two largest forces helping draw up the constitution, were willing to jettison these ideas with some prodding of the US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad. In return, the US bartered away women's rights and further allied themselves with the fundamentalist clerics. The US used to say it was in Iraq as a deterrent to the fundamentalists, but they failed to marginalize them. Now they have recast the clerics as democrats.

. Thus, the constitution ended up encouraging privatization of state property, specifying the oil sector in particular. And it toned down the promises of social benefits and opened the doors to the private sector supplying public services. In this way, women and the poor were sacrificed on the alter of neo-liberal economics.

. The new constitution was supposed to solve the disputes between rival sections of the Iraqi bourgeoisie. Instead it brought to a head a major rift. While the Kurdish and Shia leaders were able to come to an uneasy compromise on the constitution, the Sunni bourgeoisie rejected it and pledged to defeat the constitution in the upcoming October referendum.

. Among the main objections of Sunni leaders is that the constitution permits more powerful regional governance. The Sunnis are only about 20% of the population. But the Sunni bourgeoisie was dominant under Hussein's central government which tormented the Shia and Kurdish provinces. The Sunni leaders resent more powers going to local Kurdish and Shia governments. In part, the Sunni bourgeoisie fears increased powers for regional governments because these powers include placing a good deal of control of the oil industry under regional authorities. The Sunni region lacks proven oil reserves, the life blood of the Iraqi economy.

. The demand for self-determination of the Kurdish people is just, as is more local self-government. But the competing sections of the bourgeoisie are also fighting for their own privileges, and they are inciting sectarian hatred. Shamefully, the constitution doesn't recognize the right of self-determination for the Kurds to decide whether they want not just autonomy but a separate state. The non-Kurdish bourgeoisies would only agree to autonomy within the Iraqi state. The Kurdish bourgeois leaders reluctantly accepted this for now. But the Kurdish leaders themselves mistreat non-Kurdish peoples. They have made common cause with the occupation forces, participating in joint military operations. And they are persecuting non-Kurds in the areas under their control. The Shia clerics want to impose religious tyranny in their region and Shia militias are engaged in sectarian violence. Sunni bourgeois forces, a section of whom are leading much of the armed resistance, dream of the bad old days when Hussein stomped on the non-Sunni groups. The constitution, by forcing to a head some key antagonisms between different bourgeois groups, may increase the chances for ethnic/religious civil war.

Building class organization in Iraq

. The imperialist occupation and the Iraqi bourgeois groups offer a bleak future for the Iraqi workers and poor. The only way out is for the Iraqi masses to take matters into their own hands. There are many signs of the Iraqi masses desire for struggle. There have been strikes and new unions popping up. A few days ago a major oil workers' union denounced privatization of the oil industry. There have been demonstrations of the unemployed and women. The masses also flock to the anti-occupation resistance to rid the country of the imperialists.

. The task of building up organizations of struggle that target both the foreign and home-grown oppressors is of enormous importance. It's necessary so that the sentiments against the occupation are not used by the Baathist and fundamentalist leadership of much of the anti-occupation resistance for their own horrid goals. It's vital to support the right of self-determination for the Kurds, while opposing the ethnic/religious animosities being whipped up by the bourgeois factions. Class organization is needed to organize the fight for jobs, basic services and other relief. Militant trade unions must flourish to defend workers' conditions against the multinationals and the Iraqi capitalists. The new constitution also drives home that women cannot expect their rights to be defended by the occupiers or the Iraqi bourgeoisie, but only by class organizations of the masses.

. In order for the masses to maintain their bearings, a revolutionary workers' trend is of special importance. The misnamed Communist Party of Iraq long ago gave up an independent struggle against the bourgeoisie and only yesterday served in the US-chosen Iraqi Governing Council. The Worker Communist Party of Iraq is a newer party. It has attempted to mobilize the masses under harsh conditions, but it has problems of orientation. It tends to look for schemes that it imagines will rescue the masses from their plight despite the present lack of a mass revolutionary workers movement. While abandoning its hopes in workers' councils, it dreams of quickly taking power. It seems to be compromising some of its stands in the search for bourgeois allies. And it has had hopes in elections held under the imperialist-dominated UN.

. The Iraqi working masses face daunting challenges. But every step they take toward class organization is critical. Workers and activists here must do all they can to promote and assist the efforts of the Iraqi masses to build their class movement. This will also help refute the imperialist lies that they're the only alternative to religious tyranny, fratricidal conflicts and a return to Baath-style dictatorship.

US imperialism, out now!

. Workers and activists! The real struggle against war will be fought by the working people in the streets, not by the Democrats in Congress. Let's tell the truth about the need to target the imperialist system behind the occupation. Let's rally in support of the Iraqi workers and poor organizing their own class movement against the occupiers and the Iraqi exploiters. Let's not only demand, "US out now" but help spread anti-imperialist views that will put our movement on a firm foundation. <>

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Last modified: March9, 2006.