[by Jeff Mackler]
Sure enough, the Iraq War is over! At least, that’s the word from the corporate media. Eighty-five percent of U.S. bases and “outposts” in Iraq were slated to be closed as of June 30, according to U.S. military officials. U.S. forces were said to be withdrawing from Iraq’s cities, “under cover of night,” reported The New York Times.
In Orwellian double-speak, the U.S. puppet government of Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has declared a “great victory” comparable to the 1920 Iraqi rebellion against British troops, a “repulsion of foreign occupiers” no less! The cynical June 26 Times “news” article could not help but observe that “the Americans are going along with it, symbolically and substantively.”
Maliki, desperate to demonstrate his independence from U.S. imperialism, declared June 30 a national holiday. He ordered U.S. troops to disappear, like “invisible genies,” according to Ali al-Adeep, a top leader of Maliki’s Dawa Party, but only for a few days!
Meanwhile, the U.S.-financed thugs of the Awakening group have stepped up their attacks, mostly on Shiite civilian targets, although Sunni communities, American military, and Iraqi security forces have also suffered important losses as a result of a series of bombings. Hundreds were killed in three days, June 23-26; many more were wounded.
Undoubtedly, and without Maliki’s permission, Shiite militants will respond with the formation of their own militias. Few believe that the U.S.-trained and backed security forces have the capacity to quell either the mass hatred of the still present U.S. occupation forces or the internecine and U.S.-fueled rivalries among Iraqi groups.
U.S. helicopters continue to pockmark the Iraqi skies, operating out of U.S. bases in Baghdad and elsewhere. They and their bases have been excluded from the “withdrawal” agreements by virtue of a re-drafting of the city’s borders and in recognition that the presence of a U.S.-led rapid and deadly military response was absolutely essential.
Some 130,000 U.S. combat troops remain in Iraq, re-classified as non-combatants and trainers, though armed to the teeth. They have been momentarily removed from public view but remain entrenched in massively fortified and armed bases and airfields replete with the most modern weapons of mass destruction. They will remain in Iraq as long as necessary to assure the exploitation of the nation’s resources and otherwise serve U.S. interests in the region.
Maliki insists, “We will not ask [the U.S.] to intervene in combat operations related to maintaining public order.” But “public order,” a term implying a police operation, is far from what U.S. officials in Iraq have in mind. Deadly force levels are still a requirement for Iraq “stability.” Indeed, the recent wave of bombings could well provide yet another pretext, along with the original claims of “Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and “collaboration with the Taliban in the 9/11 bombings,” to justify the continuation of the occupation force.
In addition, 150,000 or more U.S.-paid American mercenaries of every variety continue their deadly deeds unimpeded, the largest privatized army in U.S. history. Last month’s bipartisan Congressional “supplementary” appropriation of $80 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars stands in sharp contrast to all assertions that stability and victory for the U.S. and its puppets is at hand.
American imperialism faces an insoluble dilemma in Iraq. It is hated by the vast majority of the population and the world’s people for its near-genocidal super-power interventions (1.5 million have already been murdered since the first U.S. Persian Gulf War in 1991). And at the same time, enmeshed in the greatest U.S. and world economic crisis of the capitalist order since the Great Depression 80 years ago and challenged by its international capitalist competitors for access to and domination of the world’s markets and resources, it has no exit strategy from Iraq or Afghanistan.
The U.S. is driven by the nature of its exploitative system to ever expanding wars and long-term occupations–today in Pakistan, where its dependent allies are threatened by their own peoples, and perhaps tomorrow in Iran, where the insurgent mass movement threatens to break out of the framework of clerical capitalist reaction and chart a new course independent of U.S. and world imperialist domination.
Indeed, the rise of the Iranian masses and the ongoing discrediting of all of the pre-selected candidates in the recent rigged elections pose a greater threat to U.S. imperialism than either of the Ahmadinejad or Moussavi pro-capitalist camps. Nevertheless, the Obama administration, initially understanding that U.S. threats against Iran or advice to its government regarding its conduct largely falls on deaf ears, was cautious in its approach, referencing Obama’s rhetorical and deceptive Cairo speech as its new and “humane” guidepost.
The Iranian people have not forgotten the 1953 U.S.-sponsored coup that removed the democratically-elected Mohammad Mossadegh government nor the U.S.-financed 10-year war waged against Iran by Iraq, when the latter was under the tutelage of the U.S. government. Two million Iranians and Iraqis died in that war.
U.S. officials are also mindful that on June 29 six of Iraq’s largest oil field were up for auction to the world’s oil giants. Iraq sits on the world’s third largest oil reserves, after Saudi Arabia and Iran. Backed by the U.S. occupiers, there is little doubt that U.S. oil corporations will have the inside track against its imperialist competitors. Few have forgotten that among the first acts of the U.S. “victors” in 2003 was the tearing up of the oil contacts signed by the Saddam Hussein government with U.S. rivals in France, Russia, and elsewhere.
Conference for a united antiwar movement
The second national conference of the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations (National Assembly) comes at a propitious time, when the notion that the Obama administration would fulfill its promise of “change” is beginning to crumble against the reality of the policies implemented under his reign. The Afghanistan and Iraq wars, now Obama’s wars, have been extended to Pakistan, and new threats of aggression and war have been added to the mix with Obama’s belligerent stance toward Iran and North Korea.
The recent military coup in Honduras, with that nation’s newly-elected president forced into exile, cannot be understood without factoring in the role of the U.S. military. U.S. military bases in Honduras have long been used as a launching point for U.S.-sponsored wars and interventions. The Honduran military has been historically armed, financed, and trained by the United States.
The National Assembly’s July 10-12 conference in Pittsburgh is expected to draw over 200 leading antiwar activists from cities across the country. An ambitious nine-point Action Proposal has been prepared by the Assembly’s Coordinating Body (CB) for the consideration of all attendees. One-person-one-vote will be the operative decision-making principle. Everyone opposed to U.S. wars and occupations is welcome.
The strategic and political goals of the National Assembly are a united and independent antiwar movement focused on mass mobilizations and demanding the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The National Assembly also calls for an end to U.S. support to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and support to the right of self-determination of all oppressed peoples and nations.
Tens of thousands of conference brochures have been distributed nationally to outline the conference’s objectives and to solicit additional Action Proposals for the consideration of the Pittsburgh conference. Three lengthy plenary sessions are scheduled to discuss and debate all proposals and amendments presented to the conference, which will also elect a new National Assembly leadership to help implement the network’s decisions.
The Coordinating Body’s Action Proposal centers on a call for nationally coordinated local and regional antiwar actions on Oct. 17, a month that includes the dates of the beginning of the U.S. wars against Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the 40th anniversary of the massive antiwar mobilizations initiated by the Vietnam Moratorium in 1969. Leaders of the present Iraq Moratorium organization have joined with the National Assembly in calling for the Oct. 17 mobilization.
The CB’s Action Proposal also includes the organization of a National Assembly “Out Now!” contingent in the Sept. 24-25 protests at the third G-20 summit meeting in Pittsburgh. Other prominent parts of the Action Proposal that will be discussed and debated include a coordinated week of student protests, a national speaking tour of prominent antiwar figures, the establishment of a Working Committee to “ensure that the antiwar movement stands in solidarity with the people of Palestine and integrates the issue of Palestine in the broader antiwar struggle,” and the continuation of National Assembly efforts “to engage all organizations and constituencies … in nationally coordinated mass demonstrations in selected sites, including Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco in the spring of 2010, the seventh year of the U.S. war on Iraq.”
The Pittsburgh conference includes two important panel discussions and rallies where leading activists from many antiwar and social justice organizations are slated to present their views. Central leaders of the ANSWER Coalition and United for Peace and Justice will be active participants, along with representatives of Palestinian, Iraqi, and Iranian groups and individuals organizing against Washington’s wars and threats of war.
Eighteen workshops covering a broad range of have been confirmed. In light of ongoing U.S. threats against Iran and developments in that country, the Iran workshop is expected to attract a large audience with a diverse range of opinions. The National Assembly has adopted a position of unconditional support to the fight of self-determination for the Iranian people and for “U.S. Hands Off Iran!”
Conference participants include leading labor and social activists, from the president of the South Carolina AFL-CIO, two leaders of the recent successful general strike in Guadeloupe, and leading social activists from Canada.
The July 10-12 conference is another important effort organized by the National Assembly aimed at re-building a national antiwar movement capable of uniting around clear “Out Now!” political demands in coordinated and massive national antiwar protests. These are a pre-condition for the organization of the kind of struggle necessary to halt present and future U.S. wars and re-order the nation’s priorities in the interests of working people and their allies.
All Out for Pittsburgh, July 10-12! For further information, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or check the National Assembly’s website at natassembly.org.
Illusions in Obama are eroding
National Assembly organizers have taken note of the fact that Obama’s large Democratic Party majority turned a blind eye to even a pretense of winding down the Afghanistan war when the House of Representatives in late June overwhelming rejected the recent McGovern amendment that posed so-called timelines for a U.S. withdrawal.
The Assembly demands the unconditional and immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops, mercenaries, contractors and the dismantling of all U.S. bases, and has always rejected such “timelines” and other schemes to defuse antiwar sentiment and channel the movement into the framework of the two-party corporate system.
Obama’s pre-election promise that Afghanistan was the real place to fight a war to “end terrorism” has become a bitter reality. It is a signal that more, not less, wars are to be expected from his administration.
Similarly, the promise of a serious health-care reform has been replaced with yet another bill to tax working people to the hilt while gifting the health-care industrialists with proposals for mandatory coverage at working people’s expense. Torture under another name remains government policy while the previous administration’s torturers, from government officials to the executioners themselves, have been granted immunity from prosecution.
Trillions have been allotted to the banks and related ruling class institutions, additional trillions to the military while working people increasingly suffer the effects of the capitalist crisis to a greater extent than at any time in the modern era.
The illusion that an Obama’s administration signaled a significant shift away from Bush-era brutalities is slowly but steadily fading. That Obama has no choice but to represent the same corporate interests as his predecessor is a reality that is increasingly penetrating the consciousness of antiwar and social movement activists.
It is only a matter of time until the great expectations that millions had for the Obama White House, now steadily diminishing, will give way to a resumption of powerful mass movements that have the capacity to effectively challenge the U.S. corporate warmakers.