Stop the War Before it Starts
by Freedom Road Socialist Organization www.frso.org
Bush’s speech at the UN, resolutions put before Congress to authorize an illegal first-strike attack, and a slow but steady military buildup in the Gulf region all make it clear that the Bush administration is moving toward war. Already in the region, there are 30,000 U.S. troops, 400 warplanes, and equipment to outfit an invasion force of 15,000. Bombings in the no-fly zones have stepped up – one operation in September included 100 planes attacking southern Iraq. The path to war seems certain.
People in the United States have no interest in supporting this war. Big oil companies, weapons manufacturers, and their bought-and-paid-for politicians are gunning for Iraq, ready to throw billions of dollars into this war, while they’re cutting welfare, money for schools and healthcare, and cutting our jobs. Working people in the U.S. will get nothing out of this war, except more cutbacks here at home. The racist demonization of Iraqi people as terrorists will cause racist attacks in the U.S. We will see more hate crimes, more racial profiling and more INS and FBI harassment of Arab, Muslim and immigrant communities.
The Gulf War Never Ended
In 1991, the U.S. dropped tons of explosives on Iraq; more than 100,000 Iraqis were killed. The nation was devastated – every road, bridge, date plantation, power plant, water or sewage facility was hit. Homes, schools, mosques, churches, hospitals, even clearly-marked civilian bomb shelters were targets for American bomber pilots. Twelve years of sanctions are depriving Iraqis of food, medicine and the capacity to rebuild. Drive-by bombings in illegal no-fly zones are rarely reported in mainstream media, but continue the terror war that never ended. The United States government is responsible for the deaths of over one and a half million Iraqi people. A massive bombing campaign and a large-scale invasion will mean even greater loss of human lives.
Weapons as a Pretext for War
U.S. claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction are outrageous. If the U.N. wants to look for weapons of mass destruction, they should start by inspecting the Pentagon, not Iraq!
Many reports have established that there is no evidence of nuclear or other weapons production in Iraq. The U.S. and UN have no right to insist that weapons inspector spies be allowed into Iraq. No country, least of all the United States, would allow foreign inspectors unlimited access to government buildings, industries, and military sites. Inspections are a violation Iraq’s sovereign rights. On many occasions, inspectors have instigated conflicts that serve to justify U.S. military attacks in Iraq.
We also need to defend the right of all nations to arm themselves in their own defense. The Iraqi government has rightly identified major military threats from Israel and Turkey, both armed with billions of dollars in U.S. weaponry.
Why War? Why now?
While the policy of sanctions and small-scale bombings has kept Iraq out of the oil market and political scene for twelve years, that’s not enough anymore. While the current Bush Administration has vast ties to the U.S. oil industry, and is hungry for open access to Iraqi oil reserves, the aim of the Bush policy in Iraq is to expand U.S. political, military and economic control in the Middle East.
The current Palestinian Intifada has caught the attention of the world, and serves as an example of resistance to U.S. objectives in the region. Israel’s focus on smashing the uprising makes it a distracted ally, and Israeli brutality has made Arab neighbors less accommodating of U.S. demands. As the most outspoken ally of the Palestinian cause, Iraq has fanned the flames of Arab resistance, supported Palestinian freedom fighters, and threatened to attack Israel. Both because Israel has become an unstable ally, and because Iraq stands up for Palestine, the U.S. is moving to establish another puppet regime in Iraq.
The Middle East is key to maintaining U.S. political power – there are important resources (like oil), and the region is strategically located south of Europe and west of Asia (the homes of our two main global competitors). U.S. imperialists want military bases in the Middle East, friends in the Middle East, and business in the Middle East.
Iraq is a barrier to those goals, and it serves an example to Arab neighbors. Iraq has remained resolute since 1991 – it has not become an American outpost or puppet. Iraq is an example that the U.S. can no longer afford.
Economic interests and pressure from anti-war movements have weakened many governments’ support for U.S. policy against Iraq. The same is happening in the U.S. Congress, where Iraq has been made the number one pawn in the upcoming elections. Lacking support for old policies, the Bush Administration is left with only two options: Give up, or attack. The Administration has chosen to attack.
Regime Change Means Occupation
According to the Bush Administration, ‘regime change’ is the immediate goal of a U.S. attack on Iraq. This is different from campaigns in 1991 and 1998, which aimed to weaken and isolate the country. The first thing we need to understand about ‘regime change’ is that the United States has no right to dictate to Iraqi people who their leaders should be. We must uphold the right of self-determination for Iraq. It is clear that on a daily basis, the primary attack on the freedom of every Iraqi woman and man comes from U.S. sanctions, bombings and threats of war.
Next, we must understand that in order to eliminate the current Iraqi government, and install a puppet regime, the United States won’t be able to bomb and run. The U.S. will need to seize Baghdad and every major city in Iraq – an operation that will risk the lives of a huge number of U.S. troops. The Iraqi government, aware of this new strategy, has promised to defend its cities. Taking the cities will take a long time, and likely result in civilian deaths on a massive scale. If the U.S. is able to seize the cities, Iraqis will continue to fight. To maintain power for an unpopular puppet government will require years of military occupation.
Stop the War at Home and Abroad
This is why we must to work to stop this war before it starts. We have to build a strong movement that brings together all the communities who recognize the criminality of this war. Students, long-time peace activists, Iraqis and all other people of conscience need to place clear demands on the U.S. government. We must oppose the murderous sanctions in all forms and we must call for an end to U.S. patrols in the illegal no-fly zones. We must support Iraq’s right to oppose inspections by foreign spies, and we must demand that the Bush Administration commit to no war with Iraq, today or in the future.
|Freedom Road Socialist Organization
P.O. Box 582564
Minneapolis MN 55440