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News ::
15 Sep 2003

By Fred Goldstein
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Sept. 18, 2003
issue of Workers World newspaper

President George W. Bush on Sept. 7 announced that his government would submit a resolution to the UN Security Council asking for authorization of a multinational force in Iraq under U.S. command. It was an ignominious confession of the inability of U.S. imperialism to crush the Iraqi people's resistance to a colonial takeover. This should give new impetus to the anti-war movement.

In his speech, Bush blandly depicted this turnabout as almost a routine matter, in which "our commanders have requested a third multinational division," in addition to those of the British and Poles, "in order to share the burden more broadly." And he just as matter-of-factly dropped an $87-billion bombshell. That's how much extra he will ask Congress to appropriate for the war in the next fiscal year, over and above the $79 billion already requested.

The actual truth behind the turnabout was described in detail in the
Sept. 4 edition of the Washington Post, which quoted an unnamed UN
diplomat involved in the negotiations: "The U.S. had gone around
knocking on just about every possible door looking for money and troops, and they got the same answer everywhere: We need some kind of a new resolution." The diplomat, referring to the military setbacks combined with the refusals of assistance, said: "All these strands came together and reached a critical mass. ... The coalition authority is broke. They need bodies."


Washington's dire predicament was underscored when Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld, on his latest visit to Iraq, had to cancel a speech to U.S. soldiers that he was due to give on Sept. 5 at their base in a
palace in Tikrit. A stage had been erected and chairs set out, but the
mood was ugly.

"I don't give a damn about Rumsfeld. All I give a damn about is going
home," said Spec. Rue Gretton. Sergeant Green, whose first name was
withheld for fear of reprisal, said: "If I got to talk to Rumsfeld I'd
tell him to give us a return date." (Reuters, Sept. 5) According to the Pentagon, Rumsfeld canceled due to "a tight schedule."

On the same day that Rumsfeld was in Tikrit, the Pentagon gave the order to extend the tours of duty in Iraq and Kuwait from six months to one year for 20,000 National Guard troops and Army Reservists. An
announcement about it was held up until Rumsfeld got out of the country.


The Bush speech with its request for more funds has generated a torrent of commentary and debate in the big business media and the political establishment. All of it is diversionary from the point of view of the interests of the Iraqi people, as well as of the working class and the vast majority in this country. It is all based upon the common position that, whether or not the situation in Iraq is the fault of Bush and Rumsfeld, U.S. imperialism cannot afford to "lose."

The ruling class has been truly stung by the determined resistance in
Iraq and the failure of the Bush administration and the Pentagon to
anticipate or deal with it. The current policy is being hit from all
sides, left and right.

But even with all the criticism, not one of the major ruling-class
politicians, networks or capitalist newspapers has called on Congress to vote "no" on the request for funds or is urging that the U.S. get out of Iraq.

The debate is restricted to two demands: first, that before the
politicians vote for the funds, the administration should demonstrate
that it is going to genuinely seek a coalition with its rivals and make enough concessions to gain their support for the occupation; second, that Bush drop his drive to make the temporary tax cuts for the rich permanent--a giveaway of $1.1 trillion--so that the national debt does not go sky high and the entire burden of the $87-billion add-on, plus more to come, does not fall entirely on the workers and the middle class.

But this is strictly a ruling class debate. Workers should stake out
their own independent position and not be drawn into taking sides with
one or another grouping in the capitalist class.

For example, the New York Times, which is strongly opposed to the Bush
"unilateralist" policy, declared in its Sept. 8 editorial comment on
Bush's speech that "there are still good reasons to maintain America's
commitment to Iraq," but the U.S. "needs to negotiate realistically with France, Germany and Russia on expanding the peacekeeping forces and getting financial help with the huge reconstruction costs." The Times also called on Bush to abandon his future tax cuts. This sentiment, with different variations, was echoed across the spectrum of major capitalist media and among Democratic and Republican Party leaders.


The argument that Washington must now build a coalition in order to
avoid failing is basically an argument to strengthen the colonial
occupation of Iraq by "internationalizing" it. The Times and others are saying that U.S. imperialism must make concessions to its rivals in order to strengthen the military hand of imperialism as a whole in Iraq and to safeguard the financial system in the U.S. from collapsing under the weight of a costly occupation.

To bribe the French and German ruling classes with Iraqi oil
concessions, construction contracts and political influence in order to get them to vote for a UN resolution--thus relieving the pressure on the Pentagon and Wall Street--is nothing more than imperialist horse trading at the expense of the Iraqi people. It is to the advantage of the Iraqi masses that these cutthroats stay divided and fighting among themselves. Demands that they patch up their differences to better combat the Iraqi resistance are completely reactionary.

Of particular note in this regard is the position of Howard Dean, the so-called "anti-war" candidate for the presidency, who told CNN's Paula Zahn on Sept. 8 that he would immediately reduce U.S. troops by half and replace them with foreign troops. In this he spoke like a true imperialist. He assumes that the occupation must succeed and he further assumes that he would be able to command troops from other countries to take up Washington's task of imposing great-power rule on Iraq.

The argument about suspending tax cuts for the rich in order to pay for the occupation is also an imperialist argument. Of course the tax cuts for the rich should be canceled. They should never have been granted in the first place. These tax cuts should be canceled to use the funds for housing, health care, education, jobs and all the social benefits that are being cut--not to fund a war of conquest.

Equal spending upon war and domestic needs in the name of "fairness" is a trap that swings the working class behind a predatory occupation that is forcing U.S. troops into the murderous and oppressive role of
occupiers and denying the Iraqi people the right to determine their own destiny.

The correct demand is to vote no to the war appropriations, no to the
occupation, and yes to a transfer of the military budget to social


Bush's speech attempted to depict the war in Iraq and the occupation as part of the "war on terrorism" to "defend civilization." But the
invasion of Iraq was planned long before Sept. 11.

All the massive destruction, the killing and wounding of tens of
thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians in a completely unprovoked
"war of choice," was about grabbing the second-largest oil reserves in
the world for the profit of the oil companies. It was about gaining a
stranglehold upon this strategic resource, which holds the key to
economic domination over Europe, Japan and the entire industrialized

It was also a war for military bases and the first stage of a plan to
recolonize not only Iraq but Iran, Syria, Libya and the entire Middle
East--and ultimately the world. This region of the globe is the "engine of the world economy." The war against Iraq was to be a major demonstration of a strategy not mentioned much lately: the so-called "Bush Doctrine." It asserted the absolute right of Washington to initiate "pre-emptive" wars and to carry out so-called "regime change"--that is, the right of Washington to overthrow any government that tries to hold on to its independence and gets in the way of U.S. world domination and empire, whether it be North Korea, Cuba, Zimbabwe or, ultimately, China.

That's what the war against Iraq was about. That's what the occupation
is about. The only answer to Bush and the ruling class is a massive
mobilization to end the occupation and bring the troops home. The
demonstration on Oct. 25 in Washington, D.C., will be a major step
forward in this process.

- END -

(Copyright Workers World Service: Everyone is permitted to copy and
distribute verbatim copies of this document, but changing it is not
allowed. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY,
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