Tuesday, September 06, 2005

US in Iraq? OUT NOW!

As the anti-war movement gears up for a major weekend (9/24-26) of demonstrations later this month in Washington and elsewhere, there is some confusion about what our demand should be.

I dunno where the way out is, short of a global anti-capitalist revolution. (In my former career as a Trotskyist activist, we used to say that the only successful anti-war movement in history was the Bolsheviks.) Some on both the right and left like to think the "movement" stopped Vietnam. To me that quagmire was stopped by 1) fierce and determined Vietnamese resistance; 2) collapse of the US military as a fighting machine due to drugs, fragging, mutiny, etc.; and 3) loss of political support in US. All these factors appear to be gaining during the present conflict in Iraq.

Again, I dunno how to the US evacuation of Iraq will happen. And it will happen. Sooner or later the US will leave Iraq; the only question is how many more Iraqis will they kill before they leave. All I really know is this:

1) BushCo isn't planning to leave Iraq. Ever. Hence the 14 "enduring" military bases, rebuilt detention centers, etc. For Bush and cronies, Iraq is a strategic fulcrum to leverage Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the Middle East. BushCo will need to be forced out, and domestic revolt is critical.

2) BushCo doesn't care about Iraqi democracy or civil society. If they did Iraqis would have electricity by now. Chaos and death suits its purposes; i.e. weak government they can easily control. Of course, they'd prefer to have the killings out of the press (like those in Afghanistan, Haiti, and elsewhere) so the US public doesn't get riled up. But they aren't going to let Iraqi blood prevent them from controlling the oil.

3) The biggest gang of killers, rapists, torturers, kidnappers, and thieves in Iraq is the US military. Followed closely by the mercenaries--the hired killers of varying psychopathologies now being the third largest force in the US "coalition" after the US and the British. The US press gives a lot of attention to, say, a police station bombing by Iraqi resistance fighters that kills a couple dozen people. They're amateurs compared to the US gang, who do better than that with one equally indiscriminate cruise missile.

4) "Iraq" is a fiction, created by British imperialists. The Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites understand this, and are more than happy to shatter the national fiction and part ways. American media consumers may be fed the fiction a while longer. But eventually some other configuration will emerge.

5) Civil wars are usually proxy wars between great powers. The duration and intensity of a civil war depends on the supply of weaponry and support from the great powers. Removing the biggest power and keeping it out will clearly reduce the killing. Israel withdrew from Lebanon, Syria moved in, order mostly restored, leaving Lebanese nationalists with just one clear occupying foe to resist.

6) Great powers occupying a country inevitably back one side or another in a civil war. They never provide "neutral" peacekeeping; invariably they get drawn in to support one of the protaganists, enhancing the killing force of the chosen side.

7) American troops in Iraq, like their earlier counterparts from Vietnam, are likely to return transformed, challenged by demoralization, debilitating injuries, toxic exposure, difficult interpersonal relationships, mental illness, sexually transmitted disease, emotional distress, drug addiction (transporting opium from Afghanistan to Iraq is easier than from Afghanistan to the US), and other maladies. Veteran's services are already inadequate. The longer the US stays, the worse the burden to our society for the care of these broken veterans.

Anyway, these are the factors I kind of consider when I think about the slogan "OUT NOW!" Cindy Sheehan and her supporters have gotten lots of traction with that slogan, and I'm glad that seems to be the organizing call for the 9/24 antiwar rallies. Let the Democrats go to hell with their "OUT SOMETIME" slogan, a poor ploy to distract the anti-war movement while the Dems continue to serve as the second political prop for US imperialism.


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