. The following article is from a leaflet of the Seattle Communist Study Group calling on activists
to march against the war on March 19 as well as come to the overall rally. It calls for building
up the anti-imperialist section of the movement, and promotes the feeder march from SCCC
(Seattle Central Community College) to the main rally at Seattle Center.
(CV #35, March 15, 2005)
. Two years ago the US government invaded Iraq. It promised a short war and proclaimed that the Iraqi people would welcome the troops as liberators. Both have proven to be lies. After two years, a war of occupation continues. In it the Iraqi people have been subjected to indiscriminate bombing, artillery fire, check-point shootings, collective punishment, torture, and economic devastation. Over 100,000 of them have now died as a result, along with more than 1,500 US troops, and the bloodbath continues.
. The US said it was liberating Iraq from tyranny, but it quickly became clear that it only wanted to replace the Saddam Hussein tyranny with its own tyranny. Thus, after the invasion it set up the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) as an instrument of direct colonial rule, with US troops acting as enforcers. The US did not plan to allow the Iraqi people to determine their own future and elect their own government according to rules they themselves had decided. But the Iraqi masses demanded elections, and resisted the CPA-imposed agenda of privatization and other predatory and oppressive laws from the outset. An armed insurgency also developed, led by the some sections of the Iraqi bourgeoisie, and drawing in many toilers as well. And, since the US had to have an alliance with significant sections of the Iraqi bourgeoisie if it were to shape Iraq in its imperial interests over the long term, and sections of it too were pressing for elections, it finally consented to hold them on January 30, 2005. It also transferred power to a hand-picked "interim government" in order to put an Iraqi face on the occupation until the elections could be held, and to serve as a vehicle for rallying wider sections of the Iraqi bourgeoisie to support them.
. It remains to be seen how much or for how long the elections strengthen the US position in Iraq.
The insurgency continues, and the election winners proved to be Islamists who have talked about
the withdrawal of some US troops and the reduction of US influence. Pro-US politicians such as
the corrupt financier Ahmed Chalabi and the CIA agent and prime minister for the "interim
government", Iyad Allawi, did not do well enough to dilute the power of the Islamists. And the
Kurdish list, which obtained a quarter of the vote, will cooperate with whichever faction will
ensure its power within the Kurdish-controlled section of the country.
Bush's lies cover an imperialist war for oil
. Although for two years the Bush administration has piled lie upon lie to justify its actions, one crucial truth remains about this war--it's a war caused by imperialism. The iron logic of modern capitalism is dominate or be dominated, monopolize, possess the resources needed by industry in the future or risk ruin when others come to possess them. And today's governments are machines with which the respective national capitalist classes fight for their interests. Hence, imperialist foreign policies that, when old balances of economic, political and military power change, and economic and political means fail, result in war. The war in Iraq shows the truth of this.
. US foreign policy in the Middle East has long centered on dominating the region's oil resources. Roosevelt worked out an alliance with the Saudi monarchy as an early step in doing this, and later administrations built alliances with the Shah of Iran and Turkish militarists for the same end. Further, as the British Empire weakened, the US stepped in to displace it, forming alliances with some of the Gulf sheikdoms and the Jordanian monarchy. And a close alliance with Israeli Zionism became central to US regional political strategy.
. But alongside the exploitation of the region's oil resources by the capitalists of the US and other big imperialist powers, local capitalism was growing up, particularly in Iraq and Iran. With this came national bourgeoisies striving to exploit the labor and oil resources of their countries for themselves, local rivals to the US and other imperial powers. In Iran, they asserted themselves by riding to power on the back of the popular revolution that toppled the Shah, and by later supporting an Islamic republic. Earlier, in Iraq, the CIA had supported various representatives of the bourgeoisie (including Saddam Hussein) as a way of gaining US influence. But during the 1970s, Hussein showed his unreliability as an ally by also making arms deals with the Soviet Union. Moreover, after the Shah (who was the key US strongman in the region) was overthrown, the Iraqi and Iranian bourgeoisies went to war with each other for their own regional imperialist interests. (The US cynically supported one side and then the other during this long and bloody conflict so as to weaken the power of both its new rivals. )
. And, indeed, the Iraqi bourgeoisie came out of the Iran-Iraq war weakened, with nothing to show but an economic crisis and large military machine. It therefore sought to expand its borders to include oil-rich Kuwait. This set up a direct confrontation between the new Iraqi regional imperialists and the US super- imperialists, resulting in the first war with Iraq. The U. N. sanctions period that followed was a further attempt to weaken and dominate the Iraqi regime. But the sanctions couldn't last forever, and Hussein had begun making deals with European, Russian and Chinese capitalists to exploit Iraqi oil resources once they were lifted. The US capitalists saw this as a serious blow to their drive to monopolize world oil resources.
. The second war with Iraq and the occupation that has followed are thus another chapter in a long sequence of steps by US imperialism to control of the oil resources of the Middle East. Its agenda is now to privatize and profit from Iraqi oil production, and to establish permanent military bases in Iraq from which to launch attacks against any force in the region that contests its domination. But this agenda has met with resistance from contending class forces:
. (1) Although defeated in war, divided into warring factions, and presiding over a wrecked economy the Iraqi bourgeoisie still has interests that conflict with those of the US ruling class. Sections of it will push these in the new government, while other sections continue to push via armed insurgency, at least for a while. Nevertheless, this is an exploiting class only working for a better deal with the exploiters from the United States, a compromise with them. (Hence, the leaders of the Ba'athist faction of the armed resistance recently participated in secret talks with US representatives. ) Both the factions backing the government and those backing the insurgency have the common aim of crushing the independent struggles of the workers and poor, and both the pro and anti-US factions have sent armed thugs to attack, arrest and beat strikers and progressive organizers. More, the interim government and US military worked together to do this, and the new government, as representative of the bourgeoisie, needs a military/police force to do it too--whether US troops or domestic forces built up and trained by the US and/or others for a number of years during a timetable for withdrawal.
. (2) The resistance of the Iraqi masses is of a different nature. They have no interest in continued
US presence, and resist its program through strikes and other mass actions. More, they have used
arms against owners who were selling off their factories as part of the US-dictated privatizations,
and they have taken up arms against the imperialist troops. But the dominant resistance groups
are led by bourgeois factions (fundamentalists and Ba'athists) who masquerade as representing
the people while working for Ba'athist or theocratic tyranny. Thus they send the sons and
daughters of the workers and poor to blow-up themselves and thousands of their class brothers
and sisters as "collateral damage" in their war with the US and its Iraqi allies. In horrific
conditions, the Iraqi masses are therefore being daily challenged to put a
revolutionary-democratic stamp on the resistance movement (whether the resistance is in armed
or other forms). From abroad, it seems that the steps they are taking are painfully slow. Yet
precisely because of this it is all the more important for the working people here in the US to give
them every assistance we can.
The Democratic Party liberals propose
different tactics to achieve the
same imperialist aims. . .
. The continuing armed insurgency has prompted rumblings from some Congressional liberals for
US withdrawal from Iraq. In particular, Rep. Lynn Woolsey has proposed a resolution calling for
"immediate withdrawal". But this is coupled with the condition that US troops be replaced by an
international military force organized by the US , U. N. , Arab League and Iraqi government.
This is not likely to happen, but if it did it would merely be a different method by which the US
imperialist superpower struggled to dominate the situation in Iraq, i. e. , using intermediaries.
Revealing her imperialist aims, Woolsley argues that this is the SMART way to fight (you
guessed it) "terrorism", and is silent about permanent military bases being built in Iraq, and silent
about US domination of its oil industry. Other members of Congress call for "setting a timetable"
for withdrawal while holding out the hope that Iraqi security forces can play the role that US
troops now play. The Bush Administration has ignored these suggestions for the time being
because they involve sharing some of the Iraqi loot with allies, and potential allies are demanding
a steep price. Further, building an Iraqi security force loyal to US interests has proven difficult.
Nevertheless, it has been attempting to reach out to the French, German and other imperialists
who opposed the unilateral way in which the war was begun, but now seek to profit from
"rebuilding" in Iraq.
And the opportunist movement leaders work
to tie us to the Democrats!
. The leaders of SNOW, ANSWER and NION have all invited liberal imperialists like Rep. Jim McDermott to speak at anti-war events. Before the war the liberal speakers went on and on against Bush's unilateralism, against his not going through the necessary steps to make the coming war "legal", and so on, but they never once said that a multilateral and U. N. -approved invasion of Iraq would have been just as much an imperialist atrocity, and carried out for the same aims: oil and empire. The liberals did this because they wanted to turn the anti-war movement into a pro-multilateral war movement to pressure Bush into not risking the break-up the of the US 's old system of multilateral alliances--an issue the entire establishment, including Republicans, worries about. But the opportunist leaderships did not expose, oppose, and denounce what the liberals were saying and doing. And, as part of this, the opportunist speakers and flyer writers refrained from showing how Bush's imperialism is rooted in capitalism. (NION, for example, is considered "radical" by many activists. But its literature and website offer no real class analysis of the cause of the US troops being in Iraq and elsewhere, and the very use of the word imperialism is avoided. Instead we get non-class declamations against the immorality of it all. ) They were sacrificing the movement's interests for an alliance with the liberals.
. After two years of struggle against the Iraq war, the leaders of SNOW, ANSWER and NION have not changed their spots. They still put up liberal speakers (if not elected Democratic Party officials, then trade union officials, "community leaders", and clergymen who give the same line) without exposing them. In their literature they still proudly list the Democratic Party politicians who support their groups. And they're generally silent about a struggle against imperialism. The pay-off for NION, for example, is that it gets to have its name listed among the endorsers of the Mar. 19 Seattle Center rally, and probably speak. But this event's big sponsors are liberal Democrat-lovers: the Church Council and SNOW, and other endorsers include the 36th District Democrats!
. We need to work to build a different kind of movement than the opportunist leaders want: A movement that organizes despite and against the ideas of the liberal imperialist politicians. A movement basing itself on the interests of the working class. A movement that rouses the masses of people by tirelessly exposing the imperialist origins of the brutality being wrought upon their class brothers and sisters in Iraq.
. Demonstrations play an important role in building such a movement. Those Seattle activists who are now saying they're tired of demonstrations because they haven't done any good are in error, an error often either based on illusions that the ruling class is going to stop being imperialist solely because there are demonstrations (even huge ones), or based on counterposing demonstrations to militant actions (particularly direct action). But militancy comes from political consciousness, and mass militancy from mass political consciousness. Hence political work cannot be circumvented. And any demonstration worth its salt does political work, such as the ideas on signs and banners, the content of the slogans that are shouted, the leaflets that are distributed, and the discussions activists have with people on the streets.
. Moreover, although today's big demonstrations are called by alliances of liberals and opportunists we should be excited about participating in them nonetheless. Thousands of people have been coming out to them because they sincerely hate Bush's imperialist crusade against the people of Iraq and elsewhere, and they want to do something. Many have little class analysis of the war, maintain illusions about the Democrats being a force against it (illusions usually fortified from the speakers' platform), and so on. For these very reasons, when these people collect at demonstrations militant anti-imperialists should be there to play a role in moving them forward through discussion, leaflets, slogans, and example. We think anti-imperialists should unite to do this (as well as calling and building demonstrations of their own). Feeder marches are one form through which this can be done. We therefore think that the anti-imperialists of this city should unite to build the M-19 feeder march from SCCC. Upon reaching the Seattle Center we should continue to do political work. And we should appeal to the masses on the streets with our own ideas and slogans during the march from the Center to downtown.
US imperialism get out of Iraq now!
Support the struggles of the Iraqi workers and poor!
Seattle Communist Study Group -- March 10, 2005
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Last modified: April 28, 2005.