Polemics: Three Days of Action for Two Years of War?

After two years of fighting in occupied Iraq, the US regime is no closer to establishing a stable political order than it was when it invaded it. With the reelection of Bush, the leftwing of the Democratic Party succeeded in its dismal task of routing discontent with the war into support for a pro-war Democratic leader. The US bourgeoisie must respond to its inevitable decline in power by vigorously destroying all spending on national infrastructure and social wage welfare programs. This in turn will only compound the troubles that plague the slowly crumbling edifice of US society. The working class in the US isn’t even at a point where workers can identify themselves as a part of an international class. They’ve been fed bourgeois populism for so long that any recognition of basic shared class interests of workers is regarded as anachronistic.

The theoretical formulation that the election resulted in a defeat for the bourgeoisie due to the failure to elect a competent or sane leadership is severely flawed. The Bush regime and its sycophants, in their own madness, express the sickness at the soul of capitalist society. Their appeal to religious fundamentalism, the social wage slashing, the militarization of society, and the commitment to permanently waging imperialist war; all these things epitomize the operational means of the whole of America’s bourgeoisie. Then it is not an aberration caused by the supposed backwardness of the US people that somehow prevented the bourgeoisie from getting Kerry elected. Bush is what all factions of power in the US state chose consciously.

The anti-war organizations threw themselves in full force into the 2004 elections, which were almost certain to result in a republican victory. Anti-war sentiment was channeled systematically into the Howard Dean campaign and then conveniently squelched before convention time. While it was the whole of the bourgeoisie, including armed services committee democrats, like Kerry, were as directly responsible for the war as the Bush administration. United for Peace and Justice plans three whole “Days of Action” in September with the third day devoted to lobbying the government that spawned the war in the first place.

While no major motion of workers against the imperialist war is on the horizon in the US, workers in Iraq continue to bleed. The Lancet study of October 2004, using a fairly reasonable methodology that attempted to statistically take into account unreported casualties, estimated that a minimum of 100,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the US invasion and subsequent occupation, as of their report of October 2004. The more recent Iraq Body Count study, which relies on media accounts and reports of deaths from morgues and police, estimated 24,865 Iraqi civilians died from violence. IBC estimated that in the period from March 20, 2003 to March 19, 2005, that while some 9.5 percent of deaths were attributable to the Iraqi Guerrillas, US forces killed some 37.3 percent of Iraqi civilian war dead. There is a big gray area in the IBC study where the rest of the civilian dead were killed by criminals or “unknown actors”, with US-run death squads likely to be directly responsible for many of those deaths. While it is appropriate to unequivocally state opposition to all Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism, denouncing these forces as bourgeois, the main butchers in this war are the US forces themselves, who practice a particularly hypocritical form of mass murder that employs the rhetoric of democracy and human rights.

Torture and arbitrary detention are still the norm in Iraq. As we were treated to Democratic congressmen traveling to Guantanamo Bay naval base to praise the treatment of those arbitrarily detained there without evidence against them or any charges leveled against them whatsoever. Iraqi death squads like the Wolf Battalion are in full swing with their main modus operandi being to kneecap their victims with power drills.

The siege and destruction of Al-Fallujah threw into stark relief the single sadistic commonality between the liberal and conservative factions of the American bourgeoisie. While the now overtly christianized US airforce was raining down every sort of munition on the city of mosques, it was obvious that this sort of sadistic slaughter was perfectly acceptable to Uncle Sam’s own sick fanatical nationalists. The particularly sadistic nature of the extermination campaign was revenge for the murder of four mercenaries who got caught in Fallujah doing something they shouldn’t have been doing in a place they shouldn’t have been. As the smoke cleared from the final slaughter of Fallujah, the US managed to block off much of the city to ambulances and aid vehicles so that they could hide some of the evidence of the sheer scale of the slaughter they unleashed on the remaining civilian population of this city much like what the Israelis did in the Jenin massacre in how they kept all aid out until they could remove the evidence. When people were finally allowed into Fallujah it became clear the US used every type of munition it had, from the new updated synthesis of napalm, to white phosphorous, to depleted uranium rounds and incendiary bombs. Then the ground forces went in and essentially went on a Nanking style rampage going door to door in the night shooting people in the head. Right about this time, the US was treated to a little soap opera about a soldier that shot an unarmed wounded man in the head, while being filmed, because he thought he could be booby-trapped. After the smoke had cleared there was one thing the US couldn’t hide and that was the stench of rotting flesh rising up out of the rubble. In one further humiliating step, all the returning residents of the city had to be issued special ID passes by the US military and forced to accept being treated like prisoners in their own city and despite all this, the city itself is still not completely safe to US forces. Most of the citizens who escaped Fallujah did not return, but went to other parts of the country. The only other Iraqi cities to have suffered so dramatically are Tikrit, where about ten out of every 100 people have been killed by US forces, and finally Baghdad, where despite the US slaughter the insurgents can still act openly just blocks from the walled in compound of the Green Zone.

The subsequent Iraqi election was carried out at gunpoint by the US installed Ibrahim al-Jafaari. Despite the hype about democratic elections and the ongoing wrangling over the Iraqi constitution, the killings of journalists Steven Vincent and Knight-Ridder correspondent Yasser Salihee, show again the true nature of US rule in Iraq, in that they were both killed while investigating the Iraq government’s reformed death squads. By the time Negroponte made his comment about the El Salvador option, that option was already well underway in Iraq.

All major newspapers in the US supported the destruction of Fallujah; New York Times, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Most newspapers were not openly bloodthirsty but still spoke of the destruction of the city as if it were a necessary evil and step forward in establishing the groundwork for a “democratic” Iraq. Real existing democracy requires rubble and corpses rotting in the streets.

While out of the depths of the political depravity of the bourgeoisie, the Democratic Party rose to the occasion once again by sending a delegation of Senate Armed Service committee members to the Guantanamo Naval Base Prison with the express purpose of reporting to the world how humane this prison was.

Not to be outdone by their Democratic Party masters the AFL-CIO came out with a pro-war statement. At its recent 20th Constitutional Convention in July, it put out a document openly supporting the war effort in Iraq and praising the elections for a puppet dictatorship as legitimate and democratic. It denounces everyone who opposes the US occupation within Iraq as “terrorists” while saying nothing of the indiscriminate slaughter of Iraqis by the US and US supported forces in Iraq. The AFL-CIO went further in recognizing the Iraqi IFTU (Iraqi Federation of Trades Unions), which got their start as the Hussein regime’s official workplace organization, this same union apparatus now works with the new US backed regime. This AFL-CIO’s resolution in support of the war was subsequently drowned out by the split between the AFL-CIO and the Change-to-Win factions of the union machinery in the US.

All the mouthpieces of the bourgeoisie speak with the same voice, whether it comes from the right, left or center. The darlings of the left, the Democratic Party that America’s left populists keep telling everyone they meet to vote for and the unions as well, all support the war or the institutions that make war. Of course, there will be no pullout of Iraq. Iraq figures too highly in US state’s ambitions in the Middle East and Central Asia and there is no turning back.

When contingency plans for the imposition of military rule and martial law were leaked to the Washington Post, August 8,2005, it did not mark the first time that the Government drew up plans for martial law. In 1984 Oliver North, drafted the plan known as Operation Rex ’84, which outlined plans for the potential imprisonment of 300,000 Central American immigrants and political opponents of US intervention in Central America in the case the US government went to war in Central America. A major outbreak of worker unrest, or a social explosion like when riots occured over the acquittal of the officers taped beating Rodney King; today such riots would likely be answered by open martial law and arbitrary detention on a scale not seen in the US since the early twenties.

The focus on elections and big national protests that occur as “days of action” bleeds away the possibilities for forward movement occurring in the US among workers against this war. It feeds into the illusion that democratic means are going to bring this madness to an end. To some it might appear absurd, given a cursory glance at the political environment, to lobby the very leaders that run secret prison camps and plan mass murder while they play golf, but that is precisely what United for Peace and Justice intends to do with their “three days of action”.

ASm, August 2005