Struggle magazine on the occupation of Iraq

The dog has caught the car

by Tim Hall


. (Editorial from the Fall, 2003 issue of Struggle, a magazine of proletarian revolutionary literature. Reprinted in Communist Voice #32, Oct. 2003.)

. Well, the oil billionaires got their war and conquered an ocean of petroleum.

. There is only one slight problem. 22 million Iraqis live there and it is becoming obvious that the vast majority, the ordinary masses, the working people, do not want to be ruled by today's ancient Romans, U.S. imperialism. Protests and guerilla-warfare-style attacks on American soldiers are occurring more than daily. Bush's lie that he is liberating Iraq is more and more exposed. This is becoming a big crisis for U.S. imperialism. The dog (U.S. military) has caught the car (Iraq) and doesn't know what to do with it. According to the neo-conservatives who run the Bush administration, we are in a whole new era where the U.S. will bring freedom and democracy to the whole world. But lo and behold! The new colonialism is following the logic of the old colonialism! The new colonialism brings "democracy" (previously it was called "civilization") to the natives by cluster bombs and depleted uranium ordnance (previously it was "fire and sword"). But the natives, as before, are "ungrateful"; they don't appreciate these "gifts"; they rebel; they must be "pacified," again by superior weaponry. This provokes further resistance, leading to further "pacification. " And suddenly -- deja vu Vietnam.

. The entire affair is becoming less and less popular in the U.S. (soldiers' wives chased a general out of a meeting at a U.S. base, where he came to assure them of their husbands' return). And more expensive. The Bush administration, the opponent of U. N. involvement, is now turning to the U.N. for financial and military help - but only under its own strict dictate. At the same time, a crisis is mushrooming in the U.S. and Britain over the blatant lies about weapons of mass destruction, the alleged al Qaeda link, etc. , used to justify the war. As one of Struggle's prisoner writers said about Bush's dilemma, "Let them eat chaos!" We are seeing splits in the bourgeoisie; such clashes will not end imperialist war, but they do open opportunities for the masses to organize.

. The big question for the American working class and justice-loving people is: are we going to tolerate the butchery and conquest of other peoples by "our" government, for the benefit of our own worst enemies, the bloated parasites of Wall Street and Washington, the oil billionaires who run the Bush administration, all the other capitalist bloodsuckers and their shameful Democratic flunkeys who promote their lies?

. Millions in the anti-war movement shouted NO! before the war and are still shouting NO! The Iraqi people have the right to determine their own destiny. We American workers and other people must oppose "our" government's aggression. Bush's conquest is not only unjust but it helps the billionaires tighten the chains of slavery around ourselves here at home. U.S. imperialism should get out of Iraq!

. The situation in Iraq is complex. The downfall of the Hussein regime has led to the emergence of a wide variety of political trends. The struggle among them will determine the fate of the U.S. occupation and the nature of any regime that might replace it. The U.S. has set up a puppet council/ government, but the mounting guerilla attacks are making it impossible for it to conduct business as usual. To discredit opposition, the Bush administration paints the guerilla attacks as an operation run by Saddam Hussein, but careful observers say that much of the opposition is based on people who are also opposed to Hussein, who give the slogan "Neither Saddam nor the U.S.!" Islamic fundamentalists, both Shia and Sunni, are capitalizing on the masses' anger against the U.S. rule to promote their aims of a theocratic state. Part of the Shiites have refused to join the puppet government. There is a powerful Kurdish movement in the north, whose leaders are presently allied with the U.S. and who have entered the puppet council. The downfall of Hussein has also allowed elements of the left to come into the open. The Communist Party of Iraq, a revisionist party of the old Soviet-line type, has emerged and has even allowed its general secretary to enter the puppet government. It is pinning its hopes, not on the workers and broad masses, but on U. N. intervention. To the apparent left of it, the Workers' Communist Party of Iraq is also calling for U. N. intervention. It is unclear what other activity it may be carrying out. There have been few reports of worker or mass activity on a class basis. But a movement of the workers and toiling masses of peasants and other working people is needed to bring about a genuine liberation of Iraq. Such a movement would have to fight bitterly against false, revisionist "communism," against Islamic fundamentalism and against any restoration of the tyrannical Baath regime of Hussein. For such a movement to grow and be successful a genuinely anti-revisionist communist trend, leading to a communist party based on the theory of Marx, Engels and Lenin, must be built. Progressive people in the U.S. and Iraq should oppose these negative trends while supporting the mass actions of the Iraqi people.

. The question facing protestors in the U.S. is how to build a movement that can effectively fight the war makers. The mass actions just before the war were huge, and the ferment is continuing. But here, too, the struggle among trends is crucial. The American liberals and pacifists merely want to change the personnel of the administration (elect a Democrat) or change the hearts of the militarists. But both Republicans and Democrats are incorrigible imperialists, inextricably linked to the military-industrial complex; this course is futile. Leaders of the anti-war coalitions mobilize large numbers of people but do not work to arouse the really revolutionary mass force in society -- the millions of exploited U.S. workers who are ground down by these same war-making billionaires and shackled by the sold-out union leaders, most of whom supported the war once it started. The anti-war coalition leaders fail to raise the question of attacking the big capitalist monopolies, which lie at the roots of imperialist war. And in fact, only the proletariat (working class) has the potential power to defeat the war-makers. Some of theanti-war leaders, the Workers World Party which leads the ANSWER coalition, even were soft on Saddam Hussein, which left Bush an opening to pose as savior of the Iraqi masses. Shame on them!

. Only the thorough anti-imperialists, like the Communist Voice Organization, condemned both U.S. imperialism and the tyrannical Hussein regime and called for the workers and oppressed people of the U.S. and Iraq to struggle against both sides in the recent war. Our leaflets, at the big mobilizations like that in New York February 15, aroused tremendous enthusiasm. Sincere activists will try to build a movement independent of the capitalist political parties and based heavily on the working class. And in the present budding resistance struggle of the Iraqi people to U.S. occupation, thorough anti-imperialists will call for a working-class and mass trend of resistance to U.S. imperialism combined with bitter struggle against any resurgence of the murderous Baath regime and other negative trends

. What does this mean for creative writers? There is a strong tendency among artistic people in the U.S. either to ignore political issues or, where that stance is discredited, to believe that a certain vague rhetoric of support for the oppressed is sufficient. Any really serious consideration of political trends is still widely seen as intrusive to the creative process. But quite to the contrary. If we as progressive writers and artists really want to act effectively upon our emotional and intellectual desires for a new, just world, we are as duty-bound as anyone else to make a very serious study of politics, of the policies of different anti-establishment trends. If we really want the liberation of the working class and people of all countries from aggressive war, racism, poverty and exploitation, then we are duty-bound to see what political trend fully fights for our highest aspirations. Our creative efforts will be false if we do not apply our minds to the how of winning what our hearts desire.

. A thoroughly anti-imperialist movement would be a major step in that direction. <>

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Last modified: October 15, 2003.