In considering recent developments in Iraq, two things stand out. First, that the ruthless brutality with which Anglo-American imperialism, with the aid of a few acolytes, is savaging the Iraqi population has not lessened one iota. Second, that the revolutionary resistance to the occupation is going from strength to strength.
Anglo-American imperialism has waged continuous military action against the Iraqi people since the first Gulf war in 1991. Following the attack on Iraq in 1991, the country and its people were subjected to repeated bombing and a state of siege that prevented food and vital medicines reaching the population. Over 500,000 child deaths resulted from the embargo imposed by Anglo-American imperialism.
Then came the second invasion. Despite claims that this was going to be a ‘swift and surgical liberation’ that would be welcomed by the Iraqi people, it met so much resistance that Anglo-American imperialism is still bogged down two and a half years later. Far from being swift and surgical, it is engaged in prolonged butchery.
The Iraq Body Count (IBC), a British and American NGO (non-government organisation), has just published ‘A Dossier of Civilian Casualties 2003-2005’. This dossier says that it is based on scrutiny of over 10,000 press and media reports, with mortuary officials and medics being cited most frequently as witnesses.
Even the very conservative estimate in this dossier puts the death toll of civilians in Iraq since the invasion in March 2003 at over 25,000. It must be stated that the real figure of Iraqi deaths caused by Anglo-American imperialism is now around 130,000, but let us look further at the IBC’s figures.
Lest we be misled into thinking (as our rulers would like us to) that civilian deaths are the result of bombs etc of the Iraqi resistance, according to the dossier these account for only 9.5 percent of civilian deaths.
By far the largest proportion of civilian deaths have been directly caused by the US led occupation forces, and the dossier gives a figure of 37 percent, with a further 36 percent attributed to “criminals and gangs”.
It must be stated that all the deaths are the result of the occupation, and that, while it is true that US and British forces, far from protecting the population as is claimed, have presided over lawlessness, it is also true that “criminals and gangs” is a description that well fits the occupation forces themselves and the governments who put them there (whatever the feelings of individual soldiers).
Meanwhile, in Britain, newsprint and airtime has been dominated by the bombs that exploded in London on 7 July 2005 and the explosions two weeks later on 21 July. It is almost impossible at the time of writing to turn on the radio or television without hearing something about the bombings, or the victims. It is salutary to note that Professor John Sloboda, one of the authors of the IBC dossier, said on the group’s website: “The ever-mounting Iraqi death toll is the forgotten cost of the decision to go to war in Iraq. On average, 34 ordinary Iraqis have met violent deaths every day since the invasion of March 2003. Our data show that no section of Iraqi society has escaped.”
That means that, even by the most conservative estimates, in Iraq there has been the equivalent loss of life to that which occurred in London on 7 July every two days for over two years. In the two weeks that separated the events in London on 7 and 21 July, the Iraqi people had to cope with seven times the carnage among the civilian population. Condemning the London bombings, Ken Livingstone, in an article in the Morning Star, warned of the years of medical care and counselling that would be needed by Londoners affected by the bombings. What, we have to ask, are the plans for medical care for what the IBC dossier quotes as over 42,000 Iraqis injured since 2003 (and the real figure is thought to be around three times this number) and counselling of the people of Iraq who have been ‘fortunate’ enough to be affected by the ‘humanitarian’ actions of Anglo-American imperialism?
All this has been going on for years, not just since the invasion of March 2003, and we see very little of the suffering reported in our media. By comparison with the media coverage of the London bombings, our purveyors of bourgeois propaganda clearly hold the lives and feelings of the Iraqi people as less important than those of Londoners and wish us to believe that Iraqis do not feel things in the same way as we do. It is the old ploy of imperialism to portray the victims of its imperialist plunder as somehow less than human in an attempt to justify the savage brutality by which it exploits and oppresses the peoples of the world.
Let us beware that we do not allow our imperialist rulers to brutalise us into becoming immune to the horror, the terror, that they wreak, and for which they seek our support.
Imperialism losing its grip
The second aspect of developments in Iraq is that, despite all the best efforts of Anglo-American imperialism to subdue the Iraqi people, the resistance is going from strength to strength.
The July/August 2005 issue of Lalkar (www.lalkar.org) gave a very good account of the successes of the resistance fighters during the months of May and June. These successes have continued. For example, Reuters reports that 11 bombs struck US and its puppet Iraqi military forces on 15 July. On the following day, 16 were killed by the resistance, including one US and three British soldiers.
On 18 July, two colonels of the Iraqi National Guard were killed. This brings the number of the high ranking military leadership created by the US who have been killed by the resistance to at least 10, including some generals.
John Simpson, writing from Baghdad in the South African newspaper The Mercury on 20 July, said that the resistance movement seemed to be operating on a new and much more ambitious level. He said: “Here in Baghdad, it’s beginning to feel like a critical moment. In the past week this city has seen 22 car bombs, with 10 on a single day – last Friday.”
When he arrived at Baghdad airport following a flight in which the pilot was repeatedly taking evasive action, he said: “Ahead of us lay the most dangerous stretch of road in the world: the Highway to Baghdad from the airport.” So says John Simpson in 2005. So much for the triumphal claims of US ‘Defence’ Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, that Baghdad airport had been “so easily secured” way back in 2003.
Simpson’s article goes on to give details of how the resistance is increasing, and it is worth quoting his statement: “I visit Baghdad at least four times a year, to see how things are developing … Each time the security situation has been markedly worse than the time before.”
Anglo-American imperialism is certainly struggling in a quagmire of its own making. The US military death toll has now reached 1,800; on average over three US soldiers are being killed each day (compared to 10 per day in Vietnam). It is not surprising that it is proving difficult to recruit into the imperialist forces.
Resistance to recruitment is growing among parents in the US. Parents’ organisations against recruiting are growing in number, and school board meetings and student organisations are taking action against recruiting in schools and colleges. One parent is reported on the Internet as saying: “Garfield [the school] does not allow organisations that promote illegal activities to recruit students to perform those activities.” He went on to say that he would not object if army representatives came to the school to debate their ideas on torture or aggressive war, and said that “what I object to is their coming here to recruit students to perform those acts. It is not about free speech”.
Maxim Kniazkov, writing in Washington on 13 June 2005 for the Daily Telegraph, reported that the US Army has been failing to meet its recruitment targets since February 2005. In May it was down by 1,661 recruits (25 percent). “Experts say that the figure was misleading because the army had quietly lowered its May recruitment target from 8,050 to 6,700.” The real shortfall was closer to 40 percent.
Although US Vice President Dick Cheney asserted, ridiculously, at the end of May 2005 that the insurgency was in its “last throes”, a more realistic picture emerges from the statements of the US military. General Casey, the top US commander in Iraq, said recently that putting pressure on the insurgency in one area only causes it to rise elsewhere. And Lt Col Wellman, responsible for overseeing the training of Iraqi puppet troops, said that the insurgency did not seem to be running out of recruits: “We can’t kill them all,” he said, “When I kill one I create three.”
Proletarian has repeatedly stated the dilemma of Anglo-American imperialism. It is bogged down in Iraq, but it must have oil. To paraphrase Mao Tse-tung, it has truly lifted a heavy rock. It is going to have to drop it sooner or later, but, try as it will, it cannot get its own feet out of the way. For our part, we look forward to that event.
Victory to the Iraqi resistance!