Two years ago, Anglo-American imperialist armies invaded and occupied Iraq, in flagrant violation of the rules governing conduct among nations. Every excuse, every pretext, every alibi used to wage this predatory war was a deliberate lie, and has been proved to be so since then. Even the most dim-witted now realise that this is an imperialist war, which has nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or the liberation of the Iraqi people from tyranny, or the spread of democracy and suchlike guff.
Far from bringing liberation to the Iraqi people, the occupation forces have installed a puppet regime, reduced the masses of Iraqis to extremes of poverty and destitution, slaughtered more than 100,000 innocent civilians, and established a vast network of concentration camps in which tens of thousands of Iraqis are incarcerated and routinely tortured.
Not surprisingly, these conditions have produced, in a very short time, a virile resistance of such proportions as to put the fear of God into the imperialist soldiery and the puppet security forces alike. The attempt by the occupation forces to defeat the armed national liberation struggle of the Iraqi people through unprecedented brutality and savagery has failed totally. Far from cowing the Iraqi people, Anglo-American imperialist savagery has only served to strengthen the resistance, spreading it far and wide, with the result that vast areas of the country, including nearly 30 towns and cities, have practically become no-go areas for the forces of occupation or of the puppet regime.
Occupation with an Iraqi face
Unable to defeat the resistance in the battlefield, Anglo-American imperialism has been busy trying to give the occupation an Iraqi face so as to be able to fool the Iraqi people into giving up their armed resistance to the occupation. With this aim, Anglo-American imperialism installed the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) in July 2003, only to replace it in June 2004 with the so-called Interim Government (IG) under the premiership of Iyad Allawi, a former US and British intelligence agent. This supposed transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi people fooled no one, for the reality of the occupation could not be hidden by the IG anymore that it had been through the installation of the IGC. Far from pacifying the resistance, these subterfuges merely served to strengthen the resistance in its struggle to liberate Iraq from the Anglo-American imperialist occupation.
Faced with the powerful armed resistance of the Iraqi people, the occupation regime staged a mockery of an election on 30 January, again in the vain hope of deceiving the Iraqi people into giving up the armed struggle in the belief that this farce of an election would lead to the formation of a sovereign democratic Iraqi government.
That these elections were ‘free, fair and democratic’ is a hoax and an imperialist lie, spread by the political spokesmen of Anglo-American imperialism and their powerful propaganda machinery. Held under the shadow of the occupation guns, amid curfews, nationwide travel restrictions and frontier closures, hand-in-hand with boycotts by whole regions and vast sections of the population, with intensifying resistance, which foreclosed large areas of the country to the occupation forces and their Iraqi puppets, these elections can by no stretch of the imagination be described as an exercise in the representative democracy that Anglo-American imperialism pretends to be spreading.
In this farcical election there was no campaigning; candidates never revealed their names; the location of polling stations was kept secret; and election monitors were characterised by their total absence, leaving the assessment to the occupation regime and its puppet government, with every opportunity for fraud and manipulation of the results.
Two weeks after the voting, the results were announced. Hardly surprisingly, these results were tailor-made to suit the requirements of the occupation regime. None of the parties emerged with an overwhelming mandate so as to be able to form a government on its own or write a constitution to its liking. No wonder, then, that when the new ineffectual and totally powerless 275-strong assembly met for the first time on 16 March, its proceedings could go no further than a recitation of verses from the Koran and swearing in the newly-elected members. No government was formed and no prime minister appointed.
Attitude of the resistance
Even according to the massaged statistics of the occupation, 42 percent of the Iraqi electorate boycotted this charade of an election. As for the resistance, it greeted the ‘election’ with well-deserved contempt, correctly perceiving it as a tool for the legitimisation and prolongation of the occupation of Iraq by Anglo-American imperialism. Its response on the day of the election, as indeed prior to it, was to launch attacks on the occupation and puppet forces all across the country. Apart from eight attacks across Baghdad in quick succession, breaching high security, five mortar explosions in Basra and attacks elsewhere, the resistance shot down an RAF C-130 Hercules aircraft, killing 10 British soldiers – the largest number in a single day.
In the weeks up to the 30 January ‘poll’, the resistance intensified its actions with a series of attacks against government targets, killing Baghdad’s provincial governor and hitting the headquarters of an elite police unit on 4 January.
Occupation by another name
After the so-called election, the US President sent his congratulations to the Iraqi people “for defying terrorist threat and setting their country on the path of democracy and freedom”. In Britain, Blair intoned in similarly moronic fashion. As for the Iraqi people, the newly ‘elected’ national assembly is indistinguishable from the 2003 IGC and the 2004 IG, stuffed full as it is with Iraq’s exiled puppets of US imperialism with little support among the Iraqi people. The stark reality is that the imperialist armies, uninvited, unwanted and universally hated, will still be in occupation. Their very presence is the source of all the resistance, which cannot be ended by the new constitution to be written by the new assembly. What is needed is the end of the occupation. Even bourgeois, but perceptive, analysts understand this much. Writing in the Daily Mail of 14 February, Andrew Gilligan, the former BBC journalist who was unceremoniously dismissed by his cowardly employers for correctly stating that the British government had ‘sexed up’ the intelligence dossier in an attempt to justify the war against Iraq, had this to say on the matter:
“Important as these elections are, nobody should confuse them with the arrival of an effective government. It may end up running little more than the assembly building. Across a good part of the country, the new ministers will not be able to show their faces for fear of death. Much of Iraq is effectively run by … tribal chiefs or insurgents. Basic services have never been worse and the economy of Arab Iraq is in ruins.
“There is little prospect that any elected government, even more united and experienced than this one is likely to be, can change any of that in a hurry.”
Even if everything goes according to the imperialist script, the new puppet government, which will emerge in January 2006 from the mock electoral process set in motion by Anglo-American imperialism, will not be able to even begin to tackle, let alone solve, the problems it will confront. The cardinal essence of these problems will be how to put an end to the raging resistance without ending the occupation, for without the total expulsion of the imperialist armies, the armed resistance of the Iraqi people cannot be brought to an end. In addition, the collection of puppets in the new assembly is bursting at the seams with its own internal contradictions. If the Kurds want a strong federalist state, this is unacceptable to others among the imperialist stooges, and while the counter-revolutionary cleric Sistani’s followers want to enshrine Islam as the official state religion of Iraq, others want Islam to be just one of the sources of legislation.
Imperialism heading for defeat
As the Iraqi puppets haggle over the spoils of office and trip each other up in the scramble to carve out cosy little niches for themselves, the armed national resistance of the Iraqi people continues to intensify its deadly attacks against the armies of occupation and their minions. All the signs are that the Iraqi resistance will be crowned with success and that Anglo-American imperialism is heading for a crushing defeat. Here are some important facts pointing to an imperialist defeat in Iraq.
First, the morale of the US soldiers in Iraq has plummeted to an all-time low. “Last month,” says the Financial Times of 11 January, “the general who heads the army reserves complained in a memo to his superiors that current deployment policies meant his units were ‘rapidly degenerating into a broken force’.” All this is a result of extended and high-intensity rotations in Iraq, in the face of the fierce armed resistance of the Iraqi people. Several thousand US soldiers on home leave have deserted to Canada, while some others have been taken the much riskier route of deserting through Iraqi networks, paying the going rate of $1,000, a weapon and a uniform, for desertion through the Kurdish province of Iraq. With the death toll among US soldiers nearing 1,600 and those injured being in excess of 15,000, a precipitate drop in morale among the US predatory army hardly comes as a surprise.
Second, the US attempts at enlisting Iraqis in large enough numbers into the security forces, in an endeavour to ‘Vietnamise’ the Iraqi war, have floundered, and the American authorities are now in deep despair about the strength, quality and reliability of the Iraqi forces, most of whom join in order to get a uniform and be paid, but make themselves unavailable the moment anything tough is required of them. On top of all this, the Iraqi forces have been heavily infiltrated by the resistance, as has been revealed by a number of the latter’s attacks on Iraqi security personnel, which all too clearly point to the sophisticated system of intelligence gathering employed by the resistance. During the last four months of 2004 alone, in excess of 1,300 Iraqi policemen were killed by the resistance. And, during just the first week of January this year, close to 90 Iraqi police were killed. Thus, with the strategy of replacement of US forces by the upgrading of Iraqi security personnel in ruins, the Pentagon has been forced to have recourse to a far longer deployment of American troops despite increasing political opposition to the war among the US population.
Leading figures and think tanks in the US have an extremely black view of the military situation in Iraq. According to Chas Freeman, former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Bush recently asked Colin Powell for his view of the progress of the war in Iraq. “We’re losing,” Powell was reported as having replied. Mr Bush then asked the Secretary of State to quit, says Mr Freeman. (See Financial Times, 13 January 2005)
Even such an authoritative organ of British monopoly capital as the Financial Times, in its leading article of 1 February, expressed the view that the US and its allies’ presence “has become part of the problem, not the solution” and that, therefore, they ought to make “a clear commitment … that they are ready to leave as swiftly as possible”.
Third, the coalition of the so-called ‘willing’ is dwindling fast. 10 countries, including Spain, which had 1,400 troops in Iraq, have already pulled out. The Netherlands, Hungary and the Ukraine are pulling out soon. Even Silvio Berlusconi, prime minister of Italy and one of the staunchest supporters of this criminal predatory war, has said that Italian troops will be withdrawn soon. This cannot but leave Anglo-American imperialism more isolated than ever before.
Fourth, the military costs of this war, on top of the colossal amounts needed to maintain the crisis-ridden American empire and waging endless wars for domination all across the globe, are spiralling out of control and imposing a heavy burden on the US and British taxpayer, while monopoly corporations, especially the oil giants and the manufacturers of armaments, make fabulous profits. US military expenditure, including the costs of waging the Iraq and Afghan wars, will this year total $500bn – a sum greater than the combined defence budgets of all other countries – and this at a time when the US is living beyond its means and needs the injection of $2bn a day of foreign funds to keep it afloat. Such is the triple burden of its foreign debt, current account and budget deficits, that sober bourgeois analysts speak of America as being “on the comfortable road to ruin”. (Martin Wolf, Financial Times, 17 and 18 August 2004)
Notwithstanding all this increased spending, the American economy is hovering on the edge of recession. The day of reckoning for crisis-ridden US imperialism is approaching at break-neck speed. Its rival imperialist powers, particularly those grouped in the EU, are increasingly challenging it along a wide front – from the Middle East to relations with China and Iran, to the Kyoto Treaty on carbon emissions, subsidies and other trade issues – with the consequent intensification of inter-imperialist contradictions. The relative change in the economic strength of these two rival imperialist powers has seen those who emerged much weakened from the second world war (countries grouped in the EU under Franco-German leadership) regaining their economic strength, while the US economy becomes progressively weaker. Now, the EU imperialists are challenging the US in an effort to redivide access to the world’s markets, materials and investment opportunities in their favour – an attempt that US imperialism is determined to resist. The intensification of these inter-imperialist contradictions, while bringing closer the menace of war, nonetheless furnishes an opportunity to the oppressed peoples of the world and the proletariat of the imperialist countries to forge a common front for the overthrow of imperialism. Confining ourselves to Iraq for the moment, the Iraqi resistance is well placed to benefit from the intensification of contradictions between these rival imperialist powers.
Finally, the Iraqi armed struggle for national liberation is growing stronger by the day. Even the intelligence chief of the Iraqi stooge government, Major-General Shahwani, has been forced to admit that the “resistance is bigger than the US military in Iraq”, adding that “the resistance is more than 200,000 people”. Furthermore, while the resistance has the sympathy of the vast Iraqi masses, the US forces and their Iraqi puppets are hated by the population.
Ignoring the pleas of imperialism, the puppet Iraqi government and the quislings of the so-called Iraqi Communist Party and its trade-union affiliate, the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), and treating with contempt the sham elections just staged by the imperialist occupation, the Iraqi resistance is going about the business of the revolutionary destruction of imperialism with admirable single-mindedness. The proletariat of the imperialist countries is duty bound to give all possible moral, material and political support to the Iraqi resistance. It is our duty to fight against those who are attempting to reconcile the anti-war movement to what amounts, albeit through several intermediary steps, to the needs and requirements of the imperialist bourgeoisie.
In Britain this is being done by the SWP Trotskyites and the CPB revisionists, who are in the leadership of the Stop the War Coalition (StWC), through their support of the imperialist Labour government and party. The revisionist CPB has opened the pages of its paper, the Morning Star, to Iraqi quislings of the type of one Abdullah Mushin, who propagate the wonders of democracy under the occupation regime, which, according to them, is the only road to “representative democracy … stability, peace and prosperity”, to “progress, democracy and the rule of law”.
In opposition to the opportunists, the proletariat in the imperialist countries is duty bound to associate itself with the armed resistance in Iraq, which is weakening and shaking imperialism, our common enemy, to its very foundations. There is one – and only one – slogan that must permeate the working-class and anti-war movement in the imperialist countries, namely, ‘Victory to the Iraqi resistance’. It is our duty to make this the guiding slogan of the anti-war movement, just as we made ‘Victory to the NLF’ our cry during the Vietnam war in the teeth of opposition by opportunists of the same variety as we face today.
Given the vice-like grip of counter-revolutionary social democracy and its hangers-on and apologists, the Trotskyites and revisionists, in the anti-war movement, this will be no easy task. All this gentry combined to defeat the CPGB-ML’s resolution at the 12 February Conference of StWC asking for the adoption of this slogan. The revolutionaries in the anti-war movement must increase their efforts a hundred-fold to expose, oppose and defeat the opportunist leadership of the Stop the War Coalition (StWC), which is sacrificing the struggle against imperialist war and occupation to the interest of ensuring a third electoral victory for the blood-thirsty imperialist Labour Party. All this, of course, in the name, and under the fraudulent guise, of the “cardinal importance of maintaining the unity of the anti-war movement during the election campaign, recognising our multi-party character”. Shorn of all euphemism, and translated into simple ordinary language, this merely amounts to unity with the two wings of social democracy – the imperialist Labour government and the labour aristocratic trade-union barons. In other words, the very counter-revolutionary forces who are presently representing British imperialism and waging a predatory war against the people of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Instead of merciless and bold exposure of counter-revolutionary social democracy and its scoundrelly representative, what we get from the leading lights of the StWC is an apology for the representatives of imperialist war, plunder and occupation in the name of unity – a misplaced concept in the concrete situation for reconciling the working class to the bourgeoisie.
The need, at the moment, is to “explain to the masses the inevitability and the necessity of breaking with opportunism”, to unmask “the hideousness of national-liberal-labour politics and not to cover them up”. (Lenin, Imperialism and the Split in Socialism)
This is the only Marxist-Leninist line to be followed in the labour and anti-war movement. Let the anti-war movement be harnessed to the struggle against imperialism; let it not be turned into an instrument for the propagation and advancement of the interests of the counter-revolutionary imperialist Labour Party.