The last two months have been particularly damaging to Anglo-American imperialism in regard to their predatory war for domination against the people of Iraq.
US and British governments discredited
The rising tide of Iraqi resistance, and with it the rising casualties among the imperialist soldiery and the escalating costs of the war; the 19 September events in Basra, the almost weekly snowdrift of revelations exposing the cynical lies of Bush and Blair prior to, during and in the aftermath of the war against Iraq;, the response of the US authorities to Hurricane Katrina; the exposure of the US torture chambers abroad and the concentration camps in Iraq, where US stooges of the Iraqi interior ministry, with US connivance, regularly torture, humiliate and kill those suspected of being members of the resistance; and the admission by the US administration, in the face of overwhelming evidence, that the US military have been using white phosphorus (a banned substance similar to napalm of the Vietnam war notoriety) in Iraq – the combination of all these factors has resulted in support for this filthy imperialist war going into freefall.
The latest CBS poll reveals that only 32 percent of Americans approve of Bush’s handling of the situation in Iraq, and 59 percent want US troops out “as soon as possible, even if Iraq is not completely stable”. (See Financial Times, 12 October 2005)
In its leading article of 8 October, the Financial Times observed that “public support for the war is collapsing. Even prominent neo-conservatives who did so much to furnish the philosophical justification for invading Iraq are starting to distance themselves from the messy results”.
In a sign that the rats are beginning to desert a sinking ship, the Washington Post of 2 November reported that the CIA had been running secret prisons in eight foreign countries in Asia and eastern Europe for the interrogation of suspected al-Qaeda prisoners. These prisons, in addition to the facility at Guantanamo, are simply torture chambers for the maltreatment of the victims of US imperialism in violation of international law and the conduct befitting civilised nations alike. On 5 October, the US Senate voted 90-9 to outlaw military maltreatment of detainees and to place beyond the pale the worst practices of Guantanamo. On 28 October, Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, hitherto the powerful Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was indicted on perjury charges arising out of the investigation into whether White House officials broke US laws in an effort to intimidate a critic of the war.
Puppet government’s torture chambers
Then, as if all this were not enough, came the revelations that the puppet Iraqi government maintained an ‘unofficial’ jail “in the bowels of an Interior Ministry building crammed with filthy, emaciated and, in some cases, horribly tortured prisoners”. (See The Times, 17 November 2005) To add to the brutality, cynicism and hypocrisy of it all, the ‘discovery’ of this ‘unofficial’ jail was made by the US Third Infantry Division, that is, by the very forces under whose noses this torture chamber operated, and without whose knowledge and connivance, if not encouragement, this ‘unofficial’ jail could not have been set up and kept going. The idea behind the US enthusiasm to uncover prisoner abuse would appear to be to direction attention away from its own abuse of prisoners in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and eight other foreign countries, as well as to lay the blame for prisoner abuse entirely on the shoulders of its Iraqi puppets.
The truth is that the abuse of prisoners by the US military and the puppet Iraqi forces results directly from the unjust war against, and occupation of, Iraq by Anglo-American imperialist forces. Since this occupation is hated and actively resisted by the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people, the occupation armies are obliged to maintain it by methods of genocide, extreme brutality, cruel torture and prisoner abuse. Those who wish to see an end to this brutality and abuse must demand an end to the occupation, for, in the absence of the latter, the former cannot be achieved. The US is hardly in a position to assume the high moral ground and set civilised standards for the treatment of detainees when its own conduct is nothing short of the practices of medieval barbarism.
All along, the Iraqi puppet government has been aware of all this. In July, it was forced to admit that the allegations in this regard had substance, promising hypocritically not to tolerate such abuse of prisoners. This ritual promise was, as usual, honoured merely in the breach. Not only did the government take no action to stop the abuse of prisoners, it also refused to give the International Red Cross and UN human rights personnel full access to Iraq’s jails and detention centres. The puppet government is under some pressure at least to appear to do something to alleviate the conditions of the detainees in its torture chambers up and down the country, of which the ‘unofficial’ jail in the ministry of the interior is no more than the tip of the iceberg.
Ann Clwyd, a cynical Labour imperialist mercenary, given to fake emotional outbursts over the alleged crimes of the Ba’athist regime (for which she was rewarded with the job of human rights envoy to Iraq), pretended to be “shocked by the exposure of prisoner abuse”. But everyone knows that she knew of the conditions in Iraqi prisons and of prisoner abuse. All the same, she never spoke against, let alone lobbied for an investigation into, these abuses. So much for this imperialist guardian of human rights.
Use of chemical weapons
Simultaneously with the uncovering of the torture chamber came the revelation that the US military used white phosphorus during the battle of Fallujah in November 2004. In US military jargon, this chemical is known as Willy Pete. It burns bodies; in fact it melts the flesh all the way down to the bone. The US authorities persistently denied that they had used this substance, while the US ambassador declared in a letter that phosphorus had not been used as a weapon, but only as an illumination or obscurant. Then, at the beginning of November, Fallujah: the Hidden Massacre, a documentary made by the Italian state network, RAI, was broadcast, which at one blow shattered the web of lies carefully woven by the US military and the Pentagon.
Using filmed and photographic evidence, eye witness accounts and the testimony of US soldiers who participated in the attacks, this documentary gave a vivid, graphic and gruesome account of the use by the US military of white phosphorus shells and a new, ‘improved’, form of napalm that metamorphoses human beings into ‘caramelised’ fossils with their skin dissolved and turned into leather on their bones.
The film portrayed vivid images of civilians, including women and children, who had been incinerated in their homes, in some cases in their beds. All this was vouched for by US soldiers interviewed on camera. “I saw the burned bodies of women and children,” said one soldier, adding that “Phosphorus explodes and forms a cloud. Anyone within a radius of 150m is done for.”
The damning exposure of the imperialists’ shamefully barbaric actions should not be news. Earlier this year, a medical team dispatched by the puppet regime reported its findings at a press conference in Baghdad. This press briefing by the Heath Ministry investigator, Dr Khalid ash-Shaykhli, was attended by at least 26 major US and international news agencies, yet not a single one of these self-proclaimed champions of press freedom and advocates of human rights reported on the atrocity. All the same, this highly credible official, sent to Fallujah by the stooge pro-occupation government in Baghdad, confirmed, on the basis of medical examinations and the testimony of survivors, that “burning chemicals” had been used by the US military in its attack on Fallujah – in complete violation of both US and international law. The Iraqi Health Ministry official’s report was corroborated by the direct testimony of US marines who filed ‘after-action reports’ on websites for military enthusiasts back in the US. On these websites, the US soldiers, fresh from the attack on Fallujah, candidly reported on the routine use of Willy Pete, propane bombs and jellied gasoline (napalm) in their tactical assault in Fallujah.
It was an article in the US Marine Corps Gazette providing a detailed assessment of the use of Willy Pete as a weapon in Fallujah that knocked the final nail into the coffin of the US war propaganda machine. At this point, the Pentagon was forced to concede that the US military had in fact used white phosphorus, albeit hedging this admission with Jesuitical technicalities and disclaimers. On 15 November, Lt Col Bains Venable, a Pentagon spokesman, said that the substance had been used as an “incendiary weapon against enemy combatants”, contradicting earlier statements by the US, London and Rome ambassadors, and the State Department website. White phosporus, asserted the Pentagon, was not a chemical, but a conventional incendiary device and therefore not a banned weapon when used against combatants. Whether it was a chemical weapon or a conventional incendiary device, its use against the civilian population is prohibited, not only under the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, but also under Protocol III of the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons, for the truth is that the US military indulged in the wholesale orgiastic slaughter of innocent civilians in Fallujah, using freely every type of horrendous weapon, including Willy Pete, as part of their ‘Shake and Bake’ attacks – phosphorus being the ‘bake’ part.
The monstrous attack on Fallujah, the use of chemical and other awesome weapons, was nothing short of a high-tech turkey shoot in which innocent men, women and children were mercilessly cut down on the orders of the present-day Hitlerites – Bush and Blair – the most bloodthirsty representatives of Anglo-American imperialism, for no other reason than refusing to bend the knee to the dictates of imperialism. Horrible though the punishment undergone by the inhabitants of Fallujah was, let it be said to their credit and glory that they refused to be cowed by the fascist blitzkrieg unleashed by US imperialism. Instead, the massacre has only served to strengthen the Iraqi people’s hatred for, and their resolve to get rid of, the occupation. Since the battle of Fallujah, the Iraqis have been flocking to join the ranks of the resistance in numbers far in excess of those before this battle. The heroic resistance has put Fallujah on the global map of hero cities, symbolising the indomitable spirit of humanity for freedom, national liberation and social emancipation.
In this context, we cannot help reproducing the following words of Jeff Engelhardt, one of the ex-servicemen who featured in the Italian documentary, contained in a plea he recently issued to his fellow American soldiers on Fight to Survive, a new dissident website run by veterans of the Iraq war:
“I hope someday you find solace for the orders you have had to execute, for the carnage you helped to take part in, and for the pride you wear supporting this bloodbath. Until then, you can only hope for an epiphany, something that stands out as completely immoral, that convinces you of the inhumanity of this war. I don’t know how much more proof you need. The criminal outrage of Abu Ghraib, the absolute massacre of Fallujah, the stray .50 calibre bullets or some 40mm grenades or tank rounds fired in highly packed urban areas, 500-pound bombs dropped on innocent homes, the use of 25mm depleted uranium rounds, the inhumane use of white phosphorus, the hate and the blood and the misunderstandings … this is the war and the system that you support.”
As for Britain, Defence Secretary John Reid, who, even by the standards of the Blair government – and this is saying something – is a consummate and cynical liar, unable to distinguish between fact and fiction or truth and lie, made the following characteristically hypocritical statement: the British troops “do not use white phosphorus … for anything other than a smokescreen to protect our troops when in action”. By a Freudian slip of the tongue, John Reid, this war criminal, has shed some light on his modus operandi, that is, the use of big lies as a smokescreen to cover the cruel barbarities unleashed on the Iraqi people by the occupation armies on the orders of war criminals in the White House and Downing Street in pursuit of the war aims of Anglo-American imperialism.
A public relations disaster
The revelations of prisoner abuse, as well as the use of white phosphorus against civilians in Fallujah, have proved extremely damaging to American imperialism and have undermined its ability to wage the war in Iraq. In the light of the latest exposures, it is no longer possible for it to put out the usual alibi of ‘a few bad apples’ being involved in wrongdoing and giving a bad name to the US army. Referring to the US administration’s hair-splitting over legal definitions, The Independent of 17 November, in its leading article, observes: “It is a degraded administration that considers torture and lethal weapons the raw material for word games.”
Being a liberal imperialist paper, in the same editorial, the Independent also says that the admission of the use of Willy Pete by its forces is “a scar on the reputation of US forces … and their Commander-in-Chief. Bush is destroying the good name of America – and dragging down Britain’s reputation with it”.
The leader writers of The Independent must either be lying through their teeth or suffering from a heavy bout of selective amnesia, for any educated person must be fully aware of the murderous record of US and British imperialism, and their respective armies, in scores of countries, from Korea and Vietnam, to Iraq, Afghanistan, Ireland and Kenya. In fact, the actions in Iraq of the US and British military have been quite in accordance with their hallowed traditions and reputation (notoriety would be a more appropriate expression).
Undoubtedly the latest disclosures have been a public relations disaster for Anglo-American imperialism and have knocked the ground out from underneath attempts at ex post facto justification of the imperialist criminal war against Iraq. “Outlawed weapons and lies about them. Hidden prisons and torture chambers. Human beings in cages. Captives who ‘disappear’.” These opening sentences of the leading article in The Independent already quoted from are a portrayal allegedly of Iraq during the Ba’ath regime and an alleged justification for the war. But, adds The Independent, “Two and a half years after the invasion, to the eternal shame of the occupiers, it is increasingly of the new Iraq.” The Independent concludes its editorial with these words:
“Mr Blair used to challenge his critics by asking whether Iraq would be better off if Saddam were still in power. In the light of what we now know, it is surely reasonable to ask whether it would be worse.”
Whichever way The Independent and other representatives of British imperialism may answer this question, for our part we are firmly of the view that Iraq would have been a thousand times better under the Ba’athist regime than it is today under the heel of the brutal, murderous, genocidal and plundering hordes of the armies of Anglo-American imperialism.
The embarrassment caused to Anglo-American imperialism may be gauged from the fact that even Doug Henderson, the former Air Forces Minister of Britain, has called for a review of the use of white phosphorus, saying: “You cannot say you are going to invade a country to find chemical weapons and prevent them being used and then admit that you have used chemical weapons yourself.”
The Pentagon’s admission, as usual, had been preceded by strong and persistent denials, thus adding to the widely, and justly, held view that there is no lie the imperialist statesmen would not stoop to utter – that their word is not to be believed. To deny first and concede later “and only when thoroughly caught out” (to borrow the words of The Independent) is their mode of existence.
Anglo-American imperialism invaded Iraq nearly three years ago, expecting to win a quick victory, build permanent military bases, and withdraw quickly – having installed a puppet regime to do their bidding. Things have turned out very differently.
Tide of resistance
The resistance continues to strike deadly blows against the occupation forces and their puppets, while all US-led attacks have come to naught. Since 7 May this year, the US has unleashed 10 major offensives in western Iraq in an attempt to control and extinguish the fires of revolt, but each time their claimed victories have turned out to be hollow. The pattern of these offensives has been all too familiar. The US amasses large forces around towns controlled by the resistance. The resistance make a tactical withdrawal, melting with the fleeing citizens, to spare the inhabitants the death and destruction that would otherwise most certainly ensue. The Americans go in, kill a few dozen innocent civilians, whom they dub insurgents, and declare victory. As soon as the Americans leave, the citizens, as also the liberation fighters, return and reassume control. Thus, no sooner has the American military ‘liberated’ a town than it is occupied by the resistance.
Meanwhile, on Monday 24 October, the resistance attacked oil installations in northern Iraq, setting ablaze at least 16 pipelines. According to experts, it will take at least a month to repair the damage and restore the flow of oil feeding the main export pipeline to Ceyhan in Turkey. The attacks on pipelines and other oil installations are an integral part of the strategy of the resistance aimed at toppling the US-installed puppet government, which is highly dependent on oil revenues; these attacks have frustrated the US aim of increasing oil production to 3 million barrels per day (bpd) and an appreciable increase is not expected in the near future thanks to the sabotage by the resistance.
The number of attacks by the resistance continues its inexorable rise. According to Michael Eisenstadt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-war think tank, the resistance are presently mounting about 90 attacks a day, compared with 50-70 a year ago. He added that, while it would take years to defeat such resistance, the US administration is expected to start pulling troops out of Iraq in 2006 for its own political and electoral considerations. He concluded by expressing doubts as to the winnability of the war by the US.
Of course, the US administration is fully aware of the disastrous consequences of a defeat in Iraq for US imperialism. That is why Bush has argued against what he calls “premature pull-out”, for that, he says, would mean not just an end to the democratic aspirations of Iraq, but also a defeat for the entire “freedom agenda” in the Middle East. In other words, such a pull-out would spell the beginning of the end of US domination in the Middle East and beyond.
“If we quit now”, said Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, in a speech at Princeton University last month, “we will embolden every enemy of liberty and democracy across the Middle East.
“We will destroy any chance that the people of the region have of building a future of hope and opportunity. And we will make America more vulnerable.” (See Financial Times, 12 October 2005)
On the contrary, the US exit from Iraq will embolden every friend of liberty and democracy throughout the world and create the basis for the people of the Middle East and elsewhere to construct a future of hope and opportunity. Into the bargain, it will make the people of the US less vulnerable to hostile actions, although it will undoubtedly put an end to the mad delusions entertained by US imperialism concerning the project for a New American Century.
Inciting sectarian conflict
Unable to overwhelm the resistance, Anglo-American imperialism is resorting to the familiar weapons of the doomed, that is, inciting a sectarian civil war in Iraq and blaming all the troubles on Iraq’s neighbours – Iran and Syria. This agenda of civil war is being pursued by the occupation forces and some of the Iraqi puppet police detonating massive deadly explosives in centres of Shia population and blaming it on the Iraqi resistance or the mythological hate figure of the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
The capture of the two British SAS men red handed, with their car packed with weapons, explosives and remote control detonators, furnished proof, if such proof were ever needed, of the depths that the occupation forces, and their masters in Washington and London, are prepared to plumb to save their doomed imperialist project from shipwreck. In the light of the Basra events, we can look at the bombings of 14 September, which claimed the lives of 160 innocent people and wounded over 500 others around Baghdad, as the dirty genocidal act of the occupation army. In this attack, we were told, a suicide bomber pulled up to a crowd of day labourers waiting for work by a public square, called them over to his pick-up with offers of employment, then detonated the vehicle with 220kg of explosives. This was undoubtedly the work of the US military, whose interests it served. For what interest can the resistance have in targeting innocent people?
As to Zarqawi, he is simply an invention of the US military strategists, furnishing in equal measure a scapegoat and a pretext for US saturation bombing of the centres of population in Iraq, as well as justification for the occupation. Last year, during the wholesale destruction of Fallujah, and the mass slaughter of its citizens, the US justified its fascistic acts by claiming that the US military was engaged in “getting those guys loyal to al-Zarqawi”, while the city’s civil and religious authorities denied that Zarqawi was ever there or had any connection with the resistance.
“It is simply an invention of the occupiers to divide the people”, said Sheikh Jawad al Kalesi, the Shia Imam of al Kazemiya Mosque in Baghdad in an interview with the French daily, Le Monde. He added that:
“Al Zarqawi was killed in the beginning of the war in the Kurdish north. His family has even held a ceremony after his death.
“Abu Musab al Zarqawi is therefore a ploy used by the Americans, an excuse to continue the occupation. It’s a pretext so they don’t leave Iraq.”
Clearly, the alleged ‘foreign invasion’ by the ‘followers of Zarqawi’ serves Bush and Blair as a pretext for their ‘war on terror’ and their desperate attempt to control the second biggest repository of oil in the world and thus dominate the Middle East. The myth of foreign fighters is essential in view of the fact that the Iraqi resistance is home grown. For the Anglo-American imperialists to admit this simple fact would expose their lie to be fighting on behalf of the Iraqi people against foreigners with evil designs on Iraq. In other words, it would remove the last remaining excuse for the continued occupation of Iraq.
In the words of one Aljazeera commentator:
“At present much of the rationale for maintaining the occupation depends on this elusive and, perhaps, illusory figure. It’s odd how Al-Zarqawi appears at the precise coordinates of America’s bombing raids, and then, miraculously vanishes unscathed from the scene of the wreckage. This would be a remarkable feat for anyone, but especially for someone who only has one leg.”
Having run out of all other ammunition, the occupation regime, led by the US, is determined to subject president Saddam Hussein to a show trial before a kangaroo court (set up and paid for by those who waged an illegal war against, and who continue to be in illegal occupation of, Iraq), resulting in a conviction, a death sentence and execution in quick succession.
The Iraqi Special Tribunal (IST) lacks all legitimacy. It is set up by an occupying power which has no right to be in the country; its founding statute was approved by the US-appointed puppet Iraqi Governing Council (ICG) in 2003; and its procedures are concealed from public view. The IST denies the accused adequate representation – Saddam Hussein’s first meeting with his lawyers took place as recently as December 2004, that is, nearly a year after his capture and five whole months after his arraignment in a widely televised session in July 2004.
The IST is characterised by its total disregard for human rights and its cavalier attitude towards standard of proof. The prosecution is not required, under the IST statute, to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt but only to the ‘satisfaction’ of the judge, handpicked by US imperialism. There is no adequate provision for the accused to mount a defence. Khalil al Dulaimi, Saddam Hussein’s main lawyer, received the 800-page prosecution case literally a few days before Saddam Hussein’s most recent appearance on 19 October; his meetings with his client (Saddam Hussein) are disrupted by “severe American monitoring”; prosecution witnesses give anonymous testimony, so that the defence has no opportunity to question them. There is no protection against self-incrimination. One of the defence lawyers, Sadoun al-Janabi, has been murdered by the Interior Ministry’s Commando Unit known as the Wolf Brigade. The motive behind this murder was obviously to intimidate the team assembled to defend Saddam Hussein and some of his comrades. Mr al-Janabi was taken from his office in the Sha’ab area and his tortured and bullet-ridden body found in a sidewalk by the Fardous Mosque in nearby Ur neighbourhood. Last, though not least, is the requirement that any death penalty must be carried out within 30 days of the final verdict.
It is thus clear that US imperialism is engaged in a show trial that is in flagrant violation of all norms of justice. Even the Financial Times, in its leading article of 22 October, was obliged to lay bare the motivation behind this travesty of a judicial trial, saying that the “US and UK hope that a conviction will lend legitimacy to their dubious justifications for war”. In addition, it is the hope of the occupation regime that Saddam Hussein’s conviction would put an end to the resistance by depriving the latter of a figurehead. But these hopes are certain to be belied. Nothing can lend legitimacy to this imperialist war. If indeed Saddam Hussein is guilty of wrongdoing against his people, it is they who ought to judge him and not the imperialist invaders of Iraq, who have wreaked wholesale destruction on that country and killed 150,000 of its innocent citizens over the past two and a half years alone, let alone the 1.5 million massacred through war and cruel sanctions since 1991. In fact, it is the leaders, political and military, of the US and Britain, who ought to stand trial for war crimes and be arraigned before an international court on the lines of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal.
It is cruel delusion if the leaders of Anglo-American imperialism believe that the physical elimination of Saddam Hussein will put an end to the resistance, for this resistance is born out of the burning hatred of the Iraqi people for the occupation of their country and their equally burning desire to get rid, by armed struggle, of the imperialist aggressors occupying Iraq. It is impossible to get rid of Iraqi resistance without putting an end to the cause that fuels it, namely, the foreign occupation of Iraq. The conviction, and execution, of Saddam Hussein and his comrades would merely intensify the fire of resistance and engulf the imperialist occupation forces in an all-consuming volcanic eruption.
The occupation regime finds itself between a rock and a hard place. It can either stage a show trial and have Saddam Hussein convicted in proceedings that lack all legitimacy – and thus find itself even more discredited in Iraq and the world over; or it can allow a proper trial to take place in which Saddam Hussein turns the tables on his accusers and makes the courtroom an arena for exposing the crimes of Anglo-American imperialism. Saddam Hussein’s appearance before this mockery of a tribunal on 19 October does not augur well for Anglo-American imperialism or its Iraqi puppets. Instead of grovelling for mercy as hoped for by the US, Saddam, in a defiant and dignified performance, challenged the legitimacy of the court and maintained correctly that he was still the legal president of Iraq. His trial is set to resume on 28 November to provide a distraction from the ‘election’ due to be held on 15 December.
However, no show trials and electoral frauds, any more than brutal occupation, wanton destruction, and untold death and savagery, can rescue Anglo-American imperialism from the just wrath of the Iraqi people. The latter’s victory is as certain as is the utter humiliation and defeat of the former.