WHAT DOES President Bush mean to fight a war in Iraq for? Democracy? An end to tyranny? Far from it.
Impending war in Iraq
Bush plans to occupy Iraq
The Bush administration is contemplating a long occupation of Iraq after the war’s over. A top US general – probably the commander of US forces in the Gulf, Tommy Franks – would become Iraq’s military governor.
He would oversee the dismantling of weapons of mass destruction and make sure the US government and big corporations kept control of the oilfields.
What about the Iraqi opposition groups who have been encouraged by the US officials? They’ll be out in the cold if US plans go through.
Bush models his plans on General MacArthur’s occupation of Japan from 1945-1951. This US-led regime ran the country, purging and executing the middle-ranking remnants of Japanese imperialism’s war machine while clamping down on support for the left.
Apart from conducting war crimes trials for Saddam’s top followers, this army of occupation would take over Iraq’s oilfields – about 11% of the total world output of crude oil.
This crude imperialism will infuriate many people, particularly throughout the Arab world. Even former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, not historically known to be finicky about his methods – said he was "viscerally opposed" to a prolonged occupation of a "country at the heart of the Muslim world."
But Bush, bolstered by the US Congress vote to back his invasion plans, is likely to ignore such doubts. Even the CIA intelligence agency’s warning that a war would make Saddam more likely to use his weaponry, has had little effect.
But as Robert Fisk wrote in the Independent, the US is taking big chances on minimising the opposition.
After the 1991 gulf war, Iraqi opposition figures were lined up to form a new administration, but even these ’moderate’ leaders objected to Bush senior’s plans to keep troops in a small part of Iraq and "contaminate the sacred banks of the Tigris and Euphrates".
Bush and Co. then lost all interest in the oppositionists and declared that the war had been fought to liberate Kuwait, not get Saddam out. Fearing the regional effects of ousting Saddam, the US let the dictator keep his tanks and helicopters – which he used to crush both Shi’ite and Kurdish rebellions.
This time the US announced their colonising intentions, but the angry response even from ’moderate’ politicians shows the depth of opposition.
Anti-war mood is growing in the USA
ON 6 October, the national day of action called by the Not In Our Name project, 7,000 people from Seattle protested the US war plans. It was a youthful crowd, many working class and middle class families, mostly white.
The enormous turnout with very little organising is a testament to how many people are opposed to this war. There are many doubts on many Americans’ part about whether this war is a good idea. And it’s not just a Seattle thing because similar-sized protests happened in major cities all around the country that day.
81 people wanted more information on Socialist Alternative, (the Socialist Party’s US counterpart) 14 checking the "I-want-to-join" box on our sign-up sheets. We sold a ton of papers and literature to people looking for information on the war.
We exchanged contact information with students from all around the area so that we can organise a city-wide student walk-out the day after the US starts bombing Iraq (outside the no-fly zones).
THE NEW York Socialist Alternative branch participated on 6 October in the largest anti-war rally in NYC since the Gulf war in 1991. Up to 20,000 joined the Not In Our Name demo.
This is a clear sign of a larger anti-war movement developing against possible actions into Iraq by the Bush administration compared to the war in Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks on 9/11. And coupled to domestic issues like the corporate scandals the 26 October demo in Washington DC against the war could be one of the largest anti-war demos in recent history.
We had two stalls with placards against the war and one reading ’Money for jobs and education and not war’.
A teacher joined Socialist Alternative and 71 people wanted more information from us. 219 copies of our paper, Justice, were sold.
AROUND 1,500 protested at the downtown federal building in Minneapolis on 13 October. According to long-time anti-war organisers, this is the biggest turn-out in years.
150 students from the University of Minnesota marched from the campus to the downtown protest, a 30 minute walk away. Socialist Alternative members played a key role in building the student turn-out.
Socialist Alternative members are building for a big campus demonstration on 24 October, aimed at developing a united effort of existing anti-war activists and integrating the many unorganised into concrete activities.