(from Detroit Workers' Voice #63, March 13, 2007)
. The working masses are fed up with the Bush administration's occupation of Iraq. Yet the bloody occupation continues. Iraq continues to be laid to waste while the sons and daughters of the workers in the US continue to be slaughtered. Now Bush is escalating the war with a "surge" of over 21,000 new combat troops. As for the Democrats, they rode the crest of mass sentiment against the war to regain control of Congress. But it hasn't taken long for the Democratic politicians to prove that they weren't serious about ending the occupation. They offer some token measures against Bush's troop increase, but their proposals allow the war to drag on and on.
. Neither Bush nor the Democratic Party politicians really give a damn about the masses in Iraq
or here. The only interests they are really looking out for are those of big business, the capitalists,
who want to insure their sphere of imperialist domination of the Middle East and its oil. The only
reliable way to end the occupation of Iraq is to build up the mass struggle and direct it against all
the imperialist politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike.
Bush's fiasco in Iraq
. The occupation in Iraq has never been about liberation of the Iraqi people. One form of
oppression, under Hussein, has been replaced with the oppression of the US military and the
horrors of sectarian civil war. This has led to the wrath of the Iraqi masses against the occupation
and to sinking popularity for Bush at home. Bush's way out of this fiasco is a new "surge" of US
military might to bolster the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Maliki. This is supposed to
suppress the sectarian militia forces and bring peace to Iraq. In reality, however, the US military
itself is a source of wanton violence against the Iraqi masses. US forces have destroyed whole
cities, like Fallujah. Thousands of Iraqis have been indiscriminately swept up in US raids.
Torture has been routinely used against detainees. And the police and military forces of the
US-backed Iraqi government are themselves infiltrated by sectarian Shiite militias who are
engaged in mutual atrocities with Sunni militias opposed to the regime. So Bush's plan will not
quell sectarian conflict. It's more likely to intensify it and the misery of the Iraqi people.
Why Democrats oppose the surge but maintain the occupation
. The Democratic Party leadership, and for that matter, a number of Republicans, object to Bush's troop surge. But they are in no hurry to bring US troops home because, despite their tactical differences, Bush and the Democrats share the same general goals. This was spelled out in the report of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which the Democrats promote. This reports states: "We agree with the goal of US policy in Iraq as stated by the president. Iraq is vital to regional stability, and is critical to US interests. " In other words, the Democrats, like Bush, fear a loss of US control in Iraq will be a blow to the US world imperialist empire.
. But if the Democrats support the same basic goals as Bush, why do they oppose the troop upsurge? The Democrats, and for that matter a number of Republicans, know that the US will have a hard time trying to crush the anti-occupation forces militarily, whether it be the ex-Baathists and fundamentalists scoundrels who dominate the leadership of the militias, or the Iraqi masses themselves, who despise the occupation and the sectarian bloodshed. The Democrats think they can salvage US influence over Iraq with their scheme for a so-called political solution in Iraq. The political solution requires maintaining a major military presence, but threatening to redeploy some troops and withhold certain financial support for the Maliki regime. This is supposed to push the Maliki government to comply with certain benchmarks. For example, the Maliki regime is supposed to purge itself of sectarian militias and to negotiate a political deal that will placate the ex-Baathist and fundamentalist leaders of the anti-government militias and end the civil war. Actually, Bush himself puts forward similar benchmarks. The Democrats, however, believe that threatening to reduce US support will create more pressure on the Iraqi government to comply with the benchmarks, while Bush's surge will relieve Maliki of the burden of assuming responsibility for ending the sectarian strife.
. For the Democrats to think that with a bit more pressure Maliki is going to end the civil strife in
Iraq, when the mighty US military occupation has been helpless to do so, is absurd. It shows the
Democrats too are grasping at straws in trying to hang on to Iraq. And how much pressure will
there be on the Iraqi government, when the Democratic leadership is, by its actions, showing it is
frightened to take serious measures to wind down the military occupation? Moreover, the
Democrats don't care that, if by chance they succeed in brokering a deal between rival sectarian
factions and the Iraqi regime, this will mean empowering a coalition of gangsters over the Iraqi
The Democrats sham anti-war measures
. Given the Democrats support for Bush's basic goals, is it any wonder that the Democratic "anti-war" promises turn out to be hot air? They threaten to bring troops home sometime, but still vote for war expenditures. On March 1, for instance, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev. ) declared his support for Bush's request for another $142 billion for the imperialist ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan.
. Meanwhile, the bills put forward in Congress by the Democratic leadership and the main Democratic presidential candidates are a disgrace. First, the Democratic majority pushed for a vote on a completely empty gesture, a non-binding resolution saying Congress is upset with Bush's troop surge. In early March, the Democratic leadership agreed on binding but largely toothless "anti-war" measures. As a condition for granting Bush another $100 billion for the war, House Democrats want a deadline for withdrawal of combat troops. But the deadline for completing this withdrawal isn't until Sept. 2008. The Senate version allows combat troops to stay through the end of March 2008. This allows the US war to rage on for a year or a year and a half. But doesn't it at least mean all US troops will eventually come home? No. The Democrats definition of "combat troops" does not include US troops remaining indefinitely to train and equip the Iraqi armed forces, to carry out "counterterrorism" operations, etc. These loopholes are big enough to drive tens of thousand of US soldiers through! Indeed, the Senate version doesn't even really set a binding deadline on removal of combat troops, just a "target date." True, the House proposal threatens to start the withdrawal of combat troops as early as July this year -- but only if Bush fails to certify that the Iraqi government is making progress toward defending itself and reaching political compromises between the sectarian factions. Thus, the Democrats, who've complained for years that Bush lied to them about the war, trust Bush to tell the truth about what's going on in Iraq!
. The leading Democratic presidential candidates all support the basic ideas of the new proposal.
Indeed, candidates like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Joseph Biden had already put forward
their own resolutions early this year that were similar to the general Democratic resolutions of
early March. Every step taken by the Democrats shows that behind their chatter about
"redeployment" and "ending combat" lies a plan for a lingering occupation.
Murtha frets over weakening of the imperialist war machine
. Another bogus anti-war proposal that has been circulating among the Democratic politicians is Congressman Murtha's scheme to supposedly stop Bush's troops surge. Murtha's idea is to require combat veterans to have one year stateside before returning to Iraq and stopping the Pentagon from keeping soldiers in Iraq after their enlistments expire. This is supposed to limit the troops available for Bush's surge. But at best, this will just force the Bush administration to scramble a bit more to dig up troops for the new surge. This proposal doesn't even specifically oppose the occupation itself, just the upsurge. And it's designed as an alternative to cutting off funds for the war machine. Indeed, Murtha's overriding concern is assuring the imperialist war machine is powerful and ready for new wars. In testimony early this year before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Murtha fretted about the "repairing of our military readiness and the rebuilding of our strategic reserve to face future threats" and added "I advocate an increase in overall troops strength." Of course, Bush has already proposed increasing overall troop strength. Thus, the "anti-war" Democrats are reduced to arguing for measures that would eventually give Bush more ability to wage war.
. Initial reports indicate the Democratic proposals of early March incorporate some of Murtha's
plan. But this new version of Murtha's plan evidently gives Bush the power to waive the troop
preparedness standards proposed by Murtha.
HR 508: imperialist alternative of the "progressive" Democrats
. There is a minority of congressional Democrats who are supporting legislation such as House Resolution 508 as a more serious effort to oppose the Bush administration's Iraq policy. This bill has been sponsored by such liberal stalwarts as John Conyers, Lynn Woolsey, Maxine Waters, and Barbara Lee. Unlike the mainstream Democratic proposals, HR 508 actually calls for redeploying pretty much all US troops from Iraq within six months. Naturally all anti-war activists would welcome US troops getting out of Iraq. But HR 508 would allow US support for an multinational imperialist occupation force in Iraq. It supports "providing financial assistance or equipment to keep Iraqi security forces and international forces in Iraq". The bill says the US should be "carrying out consultations" with NATO and/or the UN to carry out this international occupation. NATO, of course, is a US-led alliance of big imperialist powers. And the UN, which sanctioned the US occupation, is dominated by the US and other big powers. An occupation under the UN or NATO would not be looking out for the interests of the Iraqi masses, but those of international imperialism. And as the biggest imperialist, the US would still have a lot of ability to try to impose its will on the Iraqi people and prop-up the Iraqi government.
. HR 508 pretends to curb US companies from grabbing Iraqi oil. It says the US companies cannot "enter into a contract for the development, production, or marketing of petroleum resources in Iraq. " But the next sentence of the bill says this provision "shall cease to be effective beginning on the date on which the President of the United States certifies to Congress that the Government of Iraq has established and is enforcing laws" regarding foreign oil contracts. The Bush administration has already pushed the Iraqi government to develop a national oil law that permits big investments and resource-sharing by US and other foreign oil monopolies. And it appears the liberal "heroes" behind HR 508 are looking out for the oil companies too!
. This bill also shares the desire of Bush for "training and equipping the military and security
forces of the Government of Iraq", a government which itself terrorizes the Iraqi masses. As well,
HR 508 wants "to help preserve the territorial integrity of Iraq as a nation state." This may sound
like the bill is just protecting Iraq from foreign conquest, but as we've seen, the bill allows for an
international occupation. Actually, "preserving the territorial integrity of Iraq" has long been used
as code-words for denying the Kurdish nationality in Iraq the right to self-determination,
including the right to form its own state if that's what the Kurdish people want.
Target bipartisan imperialism!
. When the Democrats courted voters in the November elections, they appealed to the anti-war sentiments of the masses. They are still full of rhetoric against Bush. Meanwhile, their own policy would keep Bush's occupation going indefinitely. Even the most liberal Democrats, whose bills are not supported by their own party's leadership, are finding ways to keep Iraq occupied and are looking for alternative ways to assure the interests of big business in the Middle East. The lesson for workers and activists is clear. Support for the Democrats sets back the efforts to end the occupation of Iraq.
. Why do the Democrats betray their anti-war promises? Because their opposition to Bush's policy in Iraq is based on defending the same imperialist interests as the Bush administration. Imperialism is the economic and political system of the big corporations. It's a system not only based on exploiting the workers here, but exploiting "cheap labor" overseas and controlling resources and markets around the world. Such a system of world plunder cannot be maintained without recourse to rampant militarism, invasions, occupations, arming pro-US regimes, torture, etc. In short, imperialism means domination and war. The stand of the Democrats shows that serious opposition to war is impossible unless there is also opposition to the system of imperialism and the interests of the capitalist class which give rise to war.
. Workers and activists! Let's reply to the Democrats betrayal by strengthening the mass struggle
against the occupation and targeting the imperialist system behind it. This means exposing both
capitalist parties, not hoping that electing pro-imperialist liberal politicians will bring peace.
Anti-imperialism relies on the mobilization of the masses. After all, it is mainly the workers and
poor who are slaughtered to defend the riches of the US world business empire. We need to
circulate leaflets that tell the truth about the connection between imperialism and the Iraq
occupation at workplaces and in the working class communities and schools. Activists should
bring meetings and protests into the working class neighborhoods to draw new and militant
forces into the struggle. We must bring anti-imperialist literature, slogans, and banners to the
anti-war demonstrators to counter the illusions in the liberal politicians spread by the reformist
leaders who, unfortunately, dominate many of the larger anti-war coalitions. The Democrats have
tried to lead the movement into a dead end. It's time for the masses to turn up the heat on them
and their class allies, the Republicans. It's time to take to the streets and demand "All US troops
out of Iraq, now!".
Last modified: April 3, 2007.