The Anatomy of a Deadlocked Occupation of Iraq
By Shannon Bundock
Statement after statement by US government leaders claim “progress” in Iraq. Time and time again, US President George Bush has claimed that Iraq is at a positive “turning point”. Yet, the facts speak differently; even those facts coming from the US Government itself.
“But progress has been steady. Iraqis have ratified a progressive, democratic constitution.”
- Dick Cheney, August 2006
”…attacks against the coalition and its Iraqi partners reached an all time high during July 2006. ... In July 2006, the State Department reported that the recent upturn in violence has hindered efforts to engage with Iraqi partners.”
- US Government Accounting Office, September 2006
The US launched themselves into a massive invasion and war against the people of Iraq in March 2003. First they claimed to be searching for Weapons of Mass Destruction – which never materialized. Then the US-led mission claimed to be “liberating” Iraq and installing “democracy”. These alleged and altruistic objectives never materialized either. Of course at the heart of the matter we cannot forget the US holy war against “Terrorism”, which the occupation of Iraq would supposedly weaken or even wipe out. Even by their own account, there are more “Terrorists” in the world than before invasion of Iraq. The US has failed in every branch of human knowledge to prove their case against Iraq and Saddam Hussein.
The failure to meet these “objectives” of the invasion, war and occupation could have easily been predicted before the imperialist project began, based on a simple piece of logic: they were never the objectives in the first place.
Under the paper thin layer of “benevolent peacemaker” lies the reality of US foreign policy. This is a policy of taking over, of gaining hegemony in the most strategic and critical regions of the world. A policy to secure the US’s position in the Middle East for plundering resources –of course oil, but not all about it- and achieving political and military control of the region.
Achieving these objectives are critical for the US ruling class because a secure and successful occupation of Iraq is part of the strategy for slowing their economic crisis of overproduction, rising unemployment, and the falling average rate of profit. It also means securing a much-needed edge over their imperialist competitors on the world stage – UK, Germany, Japan, France, etc.
The past 3 ½ years have shown that the US is willing to spill as much Iraqi blood as necessary to meet their goals of securing Iraq in the favor of US imperialist interests.
3 ½ Years of Bloodshed and Brutality
“After nearly four years of violent occupation and collective punishment enforced by U.S. forces and their collaborators, Iraqis still have no electricity, no drinking water and no fuel. The living conditions for all Iraqis have deteriorated. No modern nation can function without electricity and drinking water. The only construction project in Iraq … is the largest CIA station (aka U.S. Embassy).” - Ghali Hassan, Sept 2006– countercurrents.org
Iraqi unemployment rates still sit at over 70%, with no hope of change. Average income in Iraq fell from $3,600 per person in 1980 to $450 by the end of 2003 according to the UN and World Bank.
In addition to the crisis of infrastructure there have been countless massacres and atrocities at the hands of occupation forces since the invasion of 2003 (See: FTT Vol.3 Is.4 – “Occupation is a Daily Crime: US Atrocities in Iraq”). According to a report, which was released in August 2006 by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), “… human rights violations, particularly against the right to life and personal integrity, continued to occur at an alarming daily rate [in Iraq]. During the reporting period the number of civilians killed was a reported total of 6,599 (3,590 in July and 3,009 in August).”
Currently, the top story on Iraq is of the quarter-million Iraqis who have fled their homes and cities in an attempt to find refuge in new places inside and outside of Iraq.
"There is no income what so ever except for government officials and the rest of us can not get a bite for our children," explained 35 year old car trader Yassir Fadhil commenting on why so many Iraqis are fleeing.
Crisis of Iraq’s Military and Police
Despite protests by the US Administration that things are getting better (or at least they will get better!), the occupation forces have been met with a deadlock. Strategy after strategy of securing Iraq in the interest of the imperialist occupation has come up short.
On September 2006 an article was published in the Washington Post entitled “Heralded Iraq Police Academy a 'Disaster'”.
The article opens stating: “A $75 million project to build the largest police academy in Iraq has been so grossly mismanaged that the campus now poses health risks to recruits and might need to be partially demolished, U.S. investigators have found.”
It continues on to state that the academy was “so poorly constructed that feces and urine rained from the ceilings in student barracks. Floors heaved inches off the ground and cracked apart. Water dripped so profusely in one room that it was dubbed "the rain forest.""
"This is the most essential civil security project in the country -- and it's a failure," said Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, an independent office created by Congress. "The Baghdad police academy is a disaster."
Despite the disaster of this latest project, the US and UK occupation forces face a bigger and more critical crisis in their attempt to train a pro-occupation Iraqi police force and military. This is a tough mission in a country where the overwhelming majority sentiment is vehemently against occupation.
In an article by Patrick Linsey of the Stamford Times, the occupation forces have been stonewalled in their efforts to recruit Iraqis who will be loyal to the imperialist project. "(I) suggest we fire these (Iraqis) and get them out of the way," said an exasperated U.S. Army sergeant, after military supplies were stolen from under the noses of Iraqi soldiers. "They've been doing this all week. They're working against us."”
Crisis of Iraq’s “Government”
The move to set up a puppet-government in Iraq has proven to be a big, and very problematic, task for the occupation forces. After running tightly controlled so-called elections in Iraq, after buying off Iraqi political leaders and after sculpting the ‘new constitution’ down to its finest details, the goal of raising a loyal lap-dog of imperialism has been a failure.
On September 2006 the Washington Post published an article entitled “American Commanders Question Political Will Of Iraqi Prime Minister”
The article focuses on the frustration of US military leaders at the unwillingness or inability of the Iraqi government to follow the US strategy, specifically in dealing with the ever-increasing Iraqi resistance. Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the second-ranking U.S. military official in Baghdad stated: "We are now at a time when we have a little bit of influence [in Iraq] .. There is going to come a time when I would argue we are going to have to force this issue . . . We have to, wherever we can, use what pressure, what influence we have…"
Another example of the failure of the US-controlled government in Iraq is the economic crisis faced by the country. According to a report on the US National Public Radio on September 12th 2006, speaking to the state of Iraq’s economy, “The country's central bank recently warned of massive unemployment, faltering growth and inflation of nearly 70 percent.”
Internal Crisis for the US
According to the New York Times “President Bush’s newest effort to rebuild eroding support for the war in Iraq features a distinct shift in approach: Rather than stressing the benefits of eventual victory, he and his top aides are beginning to lay out the grim consequences of failure.”
The article goes on to explain how the Bush administration is becoming quite defensive in their approach. Bush’s speech in Salt Lake city on August 31st 2006 was rife with foreboding, "We can allow the Middle East to continue on its course — on the course it was headed before September the 11th, and a generation from now, our children will face a region dominated by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons.”
As the New York Times article pointed out, this approach smacks of the defensive warnings of a previous generation, dealing with a previous US military crisis: Vietnam.
But this new scare-tactic-strategy by Bush is not being met with cheers of unanimous support from the US ruling class. According to the same New York Times article: “To some of Mr. Bush’s allies, [his approach] is a mistake. "Look, the public understands the consequences of not winning," said David Frum, a former speechwriter for Mr. Bush. "What they really want to hear is a plan, and a plan that addresses the new problem, the sectarian violence," he said in an interview. "It doesn’t help to talk about the consequences of failure unless the public thinks some measure of success is possible."
While the political battle rages at home, the US army in Iraq is devastated. Retired General Barry McCaffrey recently spoke to NBC News about the state of the US military, "I think, arguably, it's the worst readiness condition the US Army has faced since the end of Vietnam. … This isn't a big surprise when we consider the facts that many soldiers are already into their third combat tour, frequent deployments have cut training time at home in half, and two thirds of all Army combat units are rated not ready for combat.”
Attempting to deal with recruitment shortfalls the US has (for the second time since August) extended the combat tours of thousands of soldiers beyond their promised 12-month tours. Since 2003, nearly 3,000 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq, and over 30,000 wounded.
On top of all of this the US administration is faced with criticism, opposition and outrage from people living in the US. In a New York Times/CBS Poll released on Aug 23rd 2006, in response to the question “How would you say things are going for the U.S. in its efforts to bring stability and order to Iraq?”, 62% of respondents said “Somewhat Badly” or “Very Badly”.
Resistance to Occupation, At Home and Abroad
The fact remains that the occupation has failed to bring any stability, security or progress to the people of Iraq. The alternative to occupation, which Iraqi people have been calling for since the US forces first stepped foot into the borders of Iraq, is for self-determination.
The level and scope of Iraqi resistance to the occupation forces has shown that Iraqis are unwilling to compromise their sovereignty. The resistance has also sent the clear message that Iraqis are not going to buy the farce of “self-determination under occupation”.
The task for all peace-loving people in the world is to take a stance alongside the resistance in Iraq. We must bolster this resistance through echoing the calls for an immediate end to the brutal, criminal occupation of Iraq.
While the occupation forces face deadlock and crisis in Iraq, we have the ability to stick another thorn in the side of this imperialist project. In the US, in the UK, in Canada and in every country that is supporting or participating in this occupation, we must unite behind the demands of the Iraqi people and take action to expand the front at home in the fight for dignity, for humanity and for self-determination for all oppressed nations.
End the Occupation of Iraq!
Bring All Troops Home Now!
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