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Commentary ::
It's Stuck in Their Craw: Unable to Swallow Iraq, Warhawks are in Crisis
01 Jun 2004
The hollowness and familiarity of both George W. Bush's May 24 televised
speech and the administration's United Nations resolution outlining how
the administration is going to bring "independence" to Iraq are a harsh
reminder to the ruling class that U.S. imperialism has a deep crisis
with its Iraq adventure.
By Fred Goldstein
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the June 3, 2004
issue of Workers World newspaper


By Fred Goldstein

The hollowness and familiarity of both George W. Bush's May 24 televised
speech and the administration's United Nations resolution outlining how
the administration is going to bring "independence" to Iraq are a harsh
reminder to the ruling class that U.S. imperialism has a deep crisis
with its Iraq adventure.

The unspoken criticism that they all know but are reluctant to state is
that a political speech with a "five-point plan" and a UN resolution
promising sovereignty are not going to stop the Iraqi resistance or ease
Washington's situation as a hated occupier.

Bush talked about turning over "sovereignty" to Iraq in one breath and
in the other declared that the U.S. would keep 138,000 troops there and
send more if necessary. His speech coincided with the presentation of a
draft resolution for negotiations among the UN Security Council members
that left the U.S. military in charge after "sovereignty," with a
"review" after a year.

What was most notable about the negotiations among Washington, Berlin,
Paris and Moscow over the draft resolution and the fate of Iraq is that
they took place without the presence or input of any Iraqis. No one from
the puppet Governing Council was there. Nor were there any other
potential leaders of the new "sovereign" regime being negotiated by UN
representative Lakhdar Brahimi and his little-publicized supervisor,
Robert Blackwell--Bush's envoy to Iraq.

This entire affair was such an embarrassment that a conservative backer
of the war, the London Economist, on May 25 wrote a scathing editorial
entitled, "A sovereign Iraq, full of foreign troops."

It said: "Mr. Bush stressed that John Negroponte, who will be America's
first ambassador to post-Saddam Iraq, will run an embassy with the same
purpose as any other: 'to assure good relations with a sovereign
nation.' But of course the new American embassy will not be like any
other--it will be the largest in the world, sitting in a country where
America will ... maintain 138,000 troops. (The Iraqi army envisioned by
Mr. Bush, by contrast, is to have 35,000.) The embassy will also have
branch offices around Iraq for advising on economic projects that will
take American money but be run by Iraqis."

In short, the Bush speech and the UN proposal have outlined the plan for
a subordinate colonial regime. And now the rival imperialists are
negotiating over how to break Washington's military, political and
economic stranglehold on Iraq.


The French imperialists have been demanding that Iraq have "true
sovereignty" before they sign on. The French have declared that the U.S.
resolution needs "improving."

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier explained what type of
"sovereignty" and "improving" they had in mind. The Financial Times of
London on May 24 cited an interview by Barnier with Le Figaro in which
he "wanted to know whether the proposed transfer of sovereignty
concerned 'the power to run the economy, to manage the police and
justice systems or the capacity to exploit natural resources.'"

The French imperialists are not concerned with whether the Iraqis are
free of foreign colonial armies and domination and have the right to
kick them out. On the contrary, they are concerned with whether or not
the new puppet regime will be "sovereign" enough to resist total U.S.
domination and return the French oil concessions. Will it have the power
to sign contracts to open up Iraq to French transnational corporations?

The German and Russian capitalists have the same predatory concerns
about the future of Iraq. And all the jockeying that will take place
around the resolution has the division of influence in Iraq at the


But what is demoralizing a growing section of the U.S. ruling class, and
its military leaders, is the stark fact that the Bush administration is
negotiating over how to dispose of something that they do not possess--a
subdued and governable colony.

The administration is having a crisis over transferring "sovereignty" to
an Iraqi administration whose members cannot even travel in Iraq without
being under heavy guard for fear of being assassinated as traitors and
tools of the occupation.

The Bush speech had all the earmarks of whistling through the graveyard.

This is reflected in the growing heat on the Bush administration and the
Pentagon from a wide variety of sources.

CBS News, together with Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker magazine,
the prison torture scandal. The Washington Post quickly followed suit
with news of videos and more pictures of torture.

The Post then broke the sensational story that Lt. Gen. Ricardo S.
Sanchez, commander of ground forces in Iraq, knew all about the torture
and was present at torture sessions. The May 26 New York Times has come
out with a front-page story on widespread abuse based on an "obtained"

Much of this reporting is based on photos, documents and transcripts
that could only be obtained through connections with factions in the
military and published with their consent and encouragement. Despite the
sensational leaks, there have been no retaliatory charges over
"breaching security" or revealing confidential information. The ruling
class media and the military are treating all these exposures as
legitimate, despite the fact that they injure the reputation of the
military and the mission in Iraq.

The media, which were so obsequious in their deference to the Pentagon
in the run-up to and during the war, have now become brave warriors
against Rumsfeld and his allies in the military. The only explanation is
that the exposures have the backing of a significant section of the
military and increasingly disillusioned sections of the foreign policy
establishment of U.S. imperialism. The media is often regarded as the
"fourth arm of the capitalist state." And, like other arms of the state,
it does not operate independently of the ruling class.


The latest and most open expression of the split within the military has
surfaced with the publication of a book by retired Marine Corps Gen.
Anthony Zinni. It is co-written with novelist Tom Clancy and is called
"Battle Ready."

Zinni is a four-star general. He was head of Central Command, the post
now held by Gen. John Abizaid. In that capacity Zinni developed a war
plan for Iraq.

He was also Bush's special envoy to the Middle East after the
Afghanistan war. He was sent on a mission to the Middle East after the
Ariel Sharon government in Israel took the cue from Washington's war to
open up an offensive against the Palestinian National Authority.

Zinni's mission, carried out on behalf of Secretary of State Colin
Powell, was sabotaged before his plane even touched down when Sharon
assassinated a leader of Hamas, probably with the connivance or consent
of the Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz grouping.


CBS News broadcast a report on "60 Minutes" by Steve Croft on May 23
that contained the following commentary by Zinni: "There has been poor
strategic thinking in this. There has been poor operational planning and
execution on the ground. And to think that we are going to 'stay the
course,' the course is headed over Niagara Falls. I think it's time to
change course a little bit, or at least to hold somebody responsible for
putting you on this course. Because it's been a failure."

In the book, Zinni makes strong charges of "dereliction of duty,"
"negligence" and "irresponsibility," among other things. But the bottom
line, according to Croft, is that "Zinni believes this was a war the
generals didn't want--but it was a war the civilians wanted." By
civilians he means Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle
and their collaborators.

"I can't speak for all generals, certainly," said Zinni. "But I know we
felt that this situation was contained. Saddam was effectively
contained," he said, referring to the pre-war effectiveness of sanctions
and no-fly zones. He echoed the demand of the Powell faction that you
only enter battle with "overwhelming force."

Croft states that Zinni "wasn't the only former military leader with
doubts about the invasion of Iraq. Former General and National Security
Advisor Brent Scow croft, former Centcom Commander Norman Schwarzkopf
[commander of the first Iraq war in 1991], former NATO Com mander Wesley
Clark [commander of the Yugoslav war in 1999], and former Army Chief of
Staff Eric Shinseki all voiced their reservations."

This grouping was opposed to the war on purely strategic grounds. They
feel that the neo-conservative ideologues in the Bush administration
launched an adventure strictly to try out and demonstrate their
doctrinaire political/military view of how to conquer the world and how
to sec ure the Middle East for U.S. imperialism.

The result, as they see it, has been a disaster. It has sullied the U.S.
military, while the political reputation of U.S imperialism has sunk to
new lows around the world.


When asked what he would do now, Zinni said: "Well, it's been evident
from the beginning what the course is. We should have gotten this UN
resolution from the beginning. What does it take to sit down with the
members of the Security Council, the permanent members, and find out
what it takes.

"What is it they want to get this resolution? Do they want a say in
political reconstruction? Do they want a piece of the pie economically?
If that's the cost, fine. What they're gonna pay for up front is boots
on the ground and involvement in sharing the burden."

This is the candid military view of "multilateralism." Share the loot in
return for money and troops for cannon fodder.

The Bush group refused to share the oil, the contracts, the prospects of
plunder and exploitation that would follow the recolonization of Iraq.
This is the hubris of Bush and Rumsfeld's imperialist "unilateralism."

While Zinni may have been opposed to the war in the first place, he
commits the same fundamental error in strategic thought that the Bush
administration committed in relation to the prospects of waging war,
carrying out an occupation and subduing Iraq. He underestimates the
Iraqi masses, their unquenchable desire to be free of colonial
domination and their all-around capability to mount a national
resistance, even though it is fragmented.

All colonizers and imperialists have looked at their failure to crush
wars of liberation and national resistance movements as a matter of
insufficient force. In Vietnam, the U.S. steadily escalated its forces,
starting with a few thousand advisers in 1962 and eventually reaching
half a million troops. With each new escalation, the Vietnamese
liberation forces found a way to continue the struggle.

The French, in their eight-year war against the Algerian National
Liberation Front, from 1954 to 1962, reached a troop strength of 500,000
and employed a campaign of widespread torture. Despite military victory
after military victory, they were unable to subdue the people.

Washington is facing a similar crisis in Iraq.

The torture scandals have come out, not because the U.S. high command or
any elements within the capitalist state are opposed to torture. It is
because, with all the torture, the resistance in both Afghanistan and
Iraq has escalated. From their standpoint this technique, as it has been
carried out, has become counterproductive.

The criticism by Zinni and by a myriad of others in the capitalist media
who are beginning to express doubts, pessimism and some outright
defeatism is a reflection, not of concern for the excesses and crimes
committed by the occupation forces daily, but of the failure of the

The only solution seen by these critics--including especially John Kerry
and the entire Kerry camp--is the eventual internationalization of the
occupation along with immediately bringing in more U.S. troops to shore
up the effort until help arrives.

The anti-war movement in this country and the rest of the world should
not relax for a moment in the hope that this mountain of criticism, the
splits in the establishment and the Kerry election campaign somehow are
going to result in an end to the occupation.

The only thing that will stop the occupation is the resistance in Iraq
and the escalation and broadening of the anti-war struggle at home.
See also:

This work is in the public domain
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Re: It's Stuck in Their Craw: Unable to Swallow Iraq, Warhawks are in Crisis
03 Jun 2004
How about a 4th of July Anti-War March? Let's do it!