Escalation of Iraq war
driven by imperialist interests

(Anti-war Bulletin #1 by the Seattle Anti-Imperialist Committee,
Jan. 15, 2007, reprinted in CV #39, Jan. 2007)

. The U.S. military has been launching attacks in the Persian Gulf for 16½ years straight: In 1990 Bush I initiated the first Gulf War slaughter of Iraqis, partitioned the country into zones, and instituted sanctions. Following him, for eight years Clinton maintained a genocidal sanctions policy and punctuated it with bombings. Now, Bush II is waging another brutal Iraqi war in which hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of U.S. soldiers have died. This has become an occupation war that has already gone on nearly four years, and now is being escalated.

. But this isn't just Bush's war. The Senate Democrats unanimously approved Bush's 2007 war budget last September 29--years after Bush's lying justifications for war were known to all. And now that they have the majority in Congress, the Democratic Party leaders promise to continue funding. Moreover, in December several top Democratic Party leaders openly supported Bush's then-proposed escalation, as did Democrats of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group (Baker-Hamilton Commission).

. This Iraq Study Group was filled with "elder statesmen" from both ruling parties -- "reasonable" people as opposed to the neo-cons. They came to the consensus that, "We agree with the goal of U. S. policy in Iraq, as stated by the president. . . . Iraq is vital to regional and even global stability, and is critical to U. S. interests." And, upon releasing it, co-chair Baker said the report ". . . makes clear: We're going to have a really robust American troop presence in Iraq and the region for a very long time."

Slaughtering for the enrichment of the big capitalists

. Clearly, the brutal slaughter in Iraq is not just the dirty work of Bush and his party; Bush's psychology or character is not what drives it onward. There is in fact bipartisan consensus that Iraq is "critical to U. S. interests," and it is defense of these interests that has driven the political establishment to commit atrocities in Iraq for 16 1/2 years, with new atrocities each day.

. Two of these interests are fairly obvious:

. (1) Owners of giant corporations being able to loot the national treasury for hundreds of billions in military and "reconstruction" contracts, including "no-bid" contracts like those of Halliburton's Kellogg-Brown-Root;

. (2) U.S. oil companies and financiers thirsting to profit from Iraqi oil. (The Iraq Study Group report is only the latest that has an entire section of recommendations on how to do this via privatization and establishment of a legal framework for investment -- Bush's very agenda from day one of the invasion. )

. But more fundamentally, the unity between the Democrats and Republicans for war reflects a unity of all the big capitalists, the monopoly capitalist class, that the entire Middle East with it's one-half to two-thirds of the global reserves of light crude oil is strategic to U.S. interests -- which means they'll fight to make the law there. Thus, the first Gulf War was not fought to grab Iraqi oil, but because Iraq's invasion of Kuwait had upset the whole system of U.S. imperialist political domination of the region that had been carefully crafted in previous years. Nevertheless, although the upstart Iraqi ruling class was easily defeated in this lop-sided war, it continued to maneuver in its own interests under the sanctions regime by making deals with U.S. rivals in Europe, Russia, and China. Faced with these infringements on U.S. imperial prerogatives, in 1998 Clinton came out for an Iraqi "regime change" (which was somehow supposed to be achieved without war), and the second Bush used the 9/11 terrorist atrocity as a pretext for war to destroy the Hussein regime. In its place they hoped to install loyal puppets who would welcome permanent U.S. military bases that would be used to dictate imperial order on the region.

. Yet this imperialist agenda had still broader aims, with 9/11 used as the convenient pretext for the U.S. ruling class to launch a crusade to militarily settle accounts with rivals everywhere. In fact, it would use a military machine bigger than that of all other countries combined to reverse its economic decline relative to rising global rivals by monopolizing vital Middle Eastern oil supplies. Thus, all U.S. capitalists would profit.

. This grand imperialist strategy, misnamed the "war on terror" to cover its imperialist nature, now faces disaster in Iraq: mass popular resistance to U.S. occupation troops; resistance by Ba'athist and fundamentalist-led reactionary factions; a holed-up, factionalized and weak government that maneuvers to get out from under the U.S. thumb; growing resistance in an over-stretched U.S. military that Colin Powell says is essentially "broken"; popular opposition at home. Further, with Iraq prostrate and riven by civil war, the regional balance of power has been further upset, with Iran becoming a relative powerhouse and the U.S. -allied Sunni-dominated governments constantly warning that they face domestic revolts -- hence the recent sending of a second American aircraft-carrier task force to the Persian Gulf, and more threats against Iran.

. In these conditions the capitalists' politicians desperately look for ways to save their empire from a strategic defeat. Some wanted a bigger escalation than Bush's. Others propose plans to "withdraw" from just Iraq, or from just the field in Iraq. These plans are usually conditioned on meeting objectives that four years of war have been unable to attain, and, in fact, they're actually different military strategies aimed at achieving the same ends. But, they're put forward as plans to withdraw because they all know that the Democrats won the majority in Congress in large part because the masses want the U.S. out of Iraq, and that a December CNN poll showed only 11 percent support for escalation.

. Within weeks Democratic Senate leader Reid (and others) went from supporting escalation to opposing it in his and Pelosi's famous letter to Bush. Yet this letter calls for "phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months, while shifting the principal mission of our forces there from combat to training, logistics, force protection and counter-terror." So, redeployment does not mean withdrawing from Iraq, much less the region. Instead, the letter calls for more war, i.e. , "force protection and counter-terror, " with escalated training of the factionalized Iraqi Army to fight as a proxy of U.S. interests -- something Bush has failed to accomplish despite great effort.

. As we've seen, "American troop presence in Iraq and the region for a very long time" is the bipartisan agenda. Driving this is the economic fact that if U.S. imperialism doesn't dominate the Middle East oil reserves, then its rivals will. Because of this, neither party has any intention of giving up war in the region. (They also prepare for other wars, i.e. , the Democrats "criticized" Bush's December proposal to expand the military by 70,000 personnel by saying that they had been proposing expanding the military for years!)

Step up the "war at home" by
building the class opposition to imperialism!

. Today, it is the sons and daughters of the working class and poor who are being sent to slaughter ordinary Iraqis, and to be slaughtered themselves; this is especially so for national minorities. Why? So the rich can become richer! Meanwhile, the ruling class continues to foist the economic burden of this war onto the working people and poor of this country, and it will fight to shift the burden of coming crises caused by its deficit war-spending onto the backs of the masses too. Such facts have given rise to massive sentiment that the U.S. should get out of Iraq now. Recognizing this, the Democrats of the Iraq Study Group worried: "[We] hope that our report will help bridge the divide in this country on the Iraq war and will at least be a beginning of a consensus here, because without that consensus in the country, we do not think ultimately you can succeed in Iraq" (Lee Hamilton), and that their report "was one last chance at unifying this country on this war" (Leon Panetta).

. The task of the anti-war movement is to further break reactionary nationalist unity or consensus for imperialism! This requires arousing the masses of people through exposure of the real imperialist aims of the U.S. in Iraq, the Middle East, and the world. It requires exposing that both Democrats and Republicans are war parties of the rich, with left-wing Democrats like Kucinich playing the special role of channeling the anti-war movement into dead-ends. It requires encouraging solidarity with the masses of Iraqi people who struggle to find a way forward amidst the death and devastation wreaked by the U.S. military, as well as the sectarian factions who use them in their civil war for power and division of oil revenues. And, it requires continuing to build for and participate in demonstrations like those called for January 27 and March 17. Let us base our mobilization and participation in these events on a political orientation that targets imperialism and draws out the class interests at stake in its wars. Let us struggle to use demonstrations as a tool in building the movement to overthrow imperialism.

Anti-war Bulletin #1
Seattle Anti-Imperialist Committee, January 15, 2007

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February 25, 2007.