The following article was published in RTW 19. For more on the situation in Iraq, don’t miss “U.S. Out Now! Iraq Occupation in Disarray” in the current issue of Proletarian Revolution, available for $2.00 through regular mail. HOW TO ORDER
Six months after invading Iraq, the U.S. occupation is shaking from one stunning blow after another. The dozens of daily attacks on U.S. and allied forces in Iraq have been punctuated by the shooting down of helicopters, missile and mortar attacks on various imperialist offices and the suicide bombing of the United Nations headquarters and other prominent institutions. Hundreds of U.S. soldiers have been killed and thousands injured. While the U.S. tries to claim that these attacks are solely the work of remnants of Saddam’s old dictatorship and foreign terrorists, popular opposition to the occupying forces continues to grow.
The White House claims that its goal is to bring democracy to Iraq. But its real aim is to answer fundamental needs of U.S. capitalism. Seeing economic crisis spreading around the world and stagnation setting in domestically, the U.S. ruling class knows it will be facing increasing struggles of the workers and poor, at first most obvious in the “third world.” Imperialist stability demands a powerful military threat to keep the masses down. As well, seizing Iraq’s oil wealth and flexing its military muscle gives the U.S. a greater advantage over imperialist rivals like France and Germany.
The overwhelming majority of Iraqis are fiercely opposed to the occupation and want the imperialists out, although most have an ambivalent attitude toward the current armed opposition. The working class and poor in particular are increasingly rallying behind those political leaders who at least in words seem to represent the strongest opposition to the U.S. In fact the potentially strongest opposition to the occupation is coming from the single largest group oppressed by Saddam, the Shiites, who in the absence of an alternative are unfortunately increasingly supporting reactionary Islamic clerics who claim to oppose the U.S.
Having promised to organize elections for a new Iraqi government, the growing hostility to the U.S. among the Iraqi masses got the White House very concerned. As the New York Times reported:
Officials [in the White House] are concerned that a grassroots election held in the current atmosphere of rising antipathy to the U.S. among ordinary Iraqis could produce a result counter to Washington’s real interests. (Nov. 12.)
The solution the White House announced in November was that by the middle of next year it would hand over power to a new Iraqi government that would not be elected. Rather, it would be appointed by regional councils the members of which the U.S. would approve beforehand.
We in the League for the Revolutionary Party are also fiercely opposed to this imperialist occupation. We stand for the military defeat of the U.S. occupation and the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the U.S. troops and their allies. We believe that a massive movement against the Iraq war will arise here when large sections of the U.S. working class understand that the class enemy they face at home – the capitalists who fire thousands of workers and fund politicians who slash public services – are the same ruling class that seeks to dominate the world and sends young people to kill and be killed abroad.
There is no question that disenchantment is rising in other sections of the American working class, particularly among workers of color. The Bush administration is losing the relative popularity it enjoyed as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks and the wave of patriotism that followed. Its main justifications for the war, Saddam’s supposed threat of “weapons of mass destruction” and Iraq’s alleged ties to Al Qaeda, have been exposed as lies. Its dreams of Iraqis welcoming the invading forces have been replaced with the harsh reality of increasing number of soldiers returning home in body bags. Behind this unease and anger with Bush are the worsening conditions for the working class at home, first hit by sharply rising unemployment as economic decline set in, and now still watching jobs disappear while the capitalists boast of reviving profits. A crucial element in this growing if muted opposition are a number of trade unions, including the Transport Workers Union.
But much of this anti-war sentiment, including that of the TWU leadership, is being corralled by the Democratic Party and its electoral campaign. We must make clear that the Democrats are as much behind this occupation as the Republicans. They share in the fundamental aims of U.S. imperialism. They offered bipartisan support for the original war effort. And the most “anti-war” among them have adopted “Bring the Troops Home” as a patriotic way of appealing to anti-war sentiment while proposing to continue the occupation of Iraq through the U.N. And they will aggressively prosecute the class war against workers and oppressed minorities in this country.
We have participated in anti-war protests, but have offered a sharply different strategy from those of their leaderships. Our demand for an immediate, unconditional withdrawal from Iraq leaves no room for a continued occupation using the cover of the United Nations. We also believe that the working class will be the decisive force capable of stopping this war. We fight for class conscious workers to take the lead of all forces devoted to ending Washington’s incessant wars. We know that one major successful strike would do more to inhibit the ruling-class war drive and ignite the underlying anger of the beleaguered American working class than a hundred middle-class protests.
An LRP supporter speaking at an anti-war rally in Chicago made the connection between the war abroad and the class war at home:
This war is about capitalist profit-making, from exploiting the Middle East’s oil, to exploiting workers in the U.S. Such growing struggles, if they break free of the Democratic Party, could really challenge the system and lay the basis for overthrowing it once and for all through a socialist revolution. That’s the way to go from defeating this war, to making sure such wars like this never happen again. That’s how we can avoid the trap that stopped the anti-Vietnam war movement from challenging the system and rather let it live to commit more crimes.
This is a message and strategy we will continue to bring to our fellow workers.