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War in Iraq: Imperialism in the 21st Century

February 11, 2004


Iraq, Winter 2004. There is much to be said, discussed and understood about the U.S. invasion, war and occupation of this ancient, oil-rich country.

The Bush government’s pre-war reasons for the invasion, disputed and disbelieved by millions immediately, have all been proven totally false. The latest U.S. government line about bringing democracy and freedom to the Iraqi people would be simply laughable, but since U.S. troops arrest, brutalize and kill Iraqi people everyday it is no joke.

Late last year, Medact, a British Medical Human Rights group, released credible estimates of up to 55,000 Iraqi civilian casualties. The killing goes on daily. Human Rights Watch, also in December of 03, reported that the U.S. and British invasion armies fired approximately 13,000 cluster bombs at Iraqi towns and villages. Over 2 million smaller bombs were released from these cluster munitions. This kind of hi-tech death, war and occupation can never be seen as democracy or freedom, no matter how slickly the Bush government or the corporate media manipulate the facts and images.

While the dying is disproportionately Iraqi, well over 500 U.S. soldiers have died and about 2500 have been wounded in this invasion and occupation so far. It is a certainty that many more U.S. soldiers will die and be injured and crippled. This killing will only cease once the war and occupation ends and all U.S. troops are brought home.

There are almost no serious analyses of this war and occupation coming from the corporate media or bourgeois politicians, even those publicly opposing the war. From among the people though, especially from progressive political and opposition groups and individuals, explanations and analysis of why Bush really invaded Iraq and what they are trying to gain is being heard.

Identifying some of the main themes, first of all there is oil. The second largest known oil reserve in the world is now under George Bush’s control. The other huge reserves of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, etc., are now in easy gun range of a large U.S. occupation army in Iraq. However this develops, there is no doubt that the people and governments of these countries know that the U.S. is now poised to go further. This could be more invasions or political and economic strong-arming.

Control of Iraq and increased hegemony of the Middle East also gives the U.S. government and U.S. corporations a greatly enhanced position in their ongoing competition with the European Union, Japan and Russia. Europe in particular is totally dependent on Mid-East oil. As the advanced capitalist countries coalesce into 3 or 4 blocs, the U.S. wants to control the economic lifeblood—oil—throughout the world.

The only Mid-East country that officially welcomed and praised the U.S. invasion was the Israeli government. Of course the U.S. had troops in and launched some of the war from Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. In Israel the right wing Likud government still fully supports the U.S. occupation and compares it to its own decades-long occupation of Palestinian land. Now we are seeing the U.S. occupation army employing Israeli type tactics against the Iraqi public. Doors are kicked in during the middle of the night; men and boys are taken off to secret U.S. prisons. Families and children of fugitive resistance fighters are often imprisoned. Homes are being blown up. But the Israelis, even after years of occupation, have not been successful with these terror tactics against the Palestinian resistance. In Iraq, we are already witnessing even more deadly attacks against U.S. troops in the past few months.

Early in the government’s road to this war, some critics argued that President Bush’s war fever was fueled by his father’s personal hatred of Saddam Hussein and Iraq. We now know that George W. Bush planned to wage war against Iraq from his first days in office, long before 9/11 and any other pretext that was later raised. Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neil’s recent book lays bare that Bush wanted and meant to invade Iraq from his first days in office.

However much any of the above views were the real reasons for this war, now that it continues, two further realities drive it on. The war profiteers, those merchants who profit from death and destruction, are circling like hogs in a feeding frenzy. Well-connected corporations, especially Halliburton and its subsidiaries, are raking in billions of U.S. tax dollars off this war. Every American war has seen some corruption and profiteering, but this pillage and what appears to be actual theft is obscene.

Immediately after 9/11/01, conservative, right wing and police forces seized on the sorrow and worry of the public to begin implementing a massive “Big Brother” police state machine. This included federal and state legislation, executive orders and the creation of new intrusive police structures and practices. The war against Iraq strengthened and speeded up this process. We now truly live in a war and police state. U.S. society is now more militarized than it has ever been. Intrusive police presence and snooping is a daily reality. This is not temporary. Bush, in his 2004 State of the Union speech, made this clear when he called for even more police state powers, all at the expense of people’s privacy and rights. There is a direct correlation between the U.S. state of war and the growing police state all across this country.

What we are witnessing is the emerging new face of U.S. imperialism. The United States has been an imperialist power for a long time. What we are seeing now is a new drive and dynamic to imperialism. With no Cold War or major socialist bloc to contend with, U.S. imperialism has embarked on a more aggressive and dangerous course. The U.S. has essentially declared itself to be the undisputed empire of the world. The more it invades and occupies overseas, the more it will build its police state domestically. These may be stark terms for some to easily accept, but the reality of all this is happening around us right now. Shying away from understanding it or dealing with it only makes us less safe and less free.

The driving force of imperialism is economics. Its methods are economic and political and recently more and more military. There already is a sizable segment of the U.S. public that is opposed to this war. The question that all Americans need to be asked, is to they want to live in an empire? In this election year it’s imperative and possible to ask these questions and to make opposition to this war very visible and powerful.

The fact that there are major anti-war candidates, Dean and Kucinich most clearly, reflects the ambivalence and worry of millions of Americans. Beginning with the March 20th worldwide anti-war mobilization, the Peace, Anti-War and Anti-Imperialist movements can tap into this worry of so many people. A building series of major rallies, as big and dramatic as possible, throughout this year is very feasible. Seriously opposing this imperialist U.S.A. war state and internal police state has its risks, but it is certainly possible and necessary right now. We can impact the short-term reality of the occupation and war in Iraq. More importantly perhaps, we can expose and resist the Bush government’s plan to erect this 21st century U.S. war and police state empire. As a well-worn slogan puts it:

Jaan Laaman, Ohio 7 anti-imperialist political prisoner
Walpole Prison, Massachusetts
February 2004

Jaan Laaman (W41514)
P.O. Box 100
South Walpole MA 02071 USA

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