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Resistance Growing to Iraq Occupation

by Mick Kelly and Trish Kanous |
September 1, 2003
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Iraq occupation
US Occupation Troops in Iraq (Fight Back! News/Staff)

In the face of a growing Iraqi resistance movement, the plans of the Bush administration to consolidate the occupation of Iraq are crumbling. The Pentagon acknowledges that attacks on the occupation forces are growing in scale and intensity. U.S. attempts to gain more military and financial support, within and outside of the United Nations, have by and large failed. So have efforts to create a viable Iraqi puppet government. The Governing Council, made up of U.S. appointees, has little legitimacy in the eyes of the Iraqi people or in the region as a whole.

$87 Billion

Bush wants to place the financial burden of the illegal occupation on the backs of workers here in the U.S., so he asked congress to ante up an additional $87 billion. $67 billion of that is earmarked for the continued military build-up in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the resistance to occupation is also expanding.

The remaining $20 billion will be used to create a better climate for foreign corporate investment and a few public relations projects aimed at making the occupation forces seem less oppressive. The problem with U.S. attempts to purchase some ‘stability’ is that one can’t fire on demonstrators in the streets of Baghdad, and then convince the wounded that they should be grateful for reopened hospitals – especially since Iraqis know that U.S.-backed sanctions and military action were responsible for destroying what was one of the best healthcare systems in the region.

Paul Bremmer and others in Coalition Provisional Authority, the colonial administration heading up the day-to-day workings of Iraq’s occupation, imply that the costs will run much higher. Statements from Democrats in congress indicate many of them back the proposed $87 billon package. Some have taken the position that the Iraqi people should have to finance their own occupation, and that at least some portion of the package should be in the form of loans.

Making Iraq Safe for Investors

The Coalition Provisional Authority has given the green light for U.S. and other foreign corporations to take over sections of Iraq’s economy, much of which was managed by the state before the occupation. The exceptions to this edict are the politically sensitive oil and real estate sectors.

While Washington has yet to work out the specific mechanisms for U.S. corporations to take over Iraqi industry, there is a precedent in what happened after the fall of socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. In those cases, many state industries were given to cronies of the emerging pro-western governments and then sold at fire sale prices to U.S. and European corporations.

For now, the U.S is handling the oil industry a little differently. On one hand, officials in the Bush administration speak in glowing terms about the day when U.S. oil firms can openly ‘develop Iraq’s oil resources.’ On the other hand, since most people in Iraq and the Middle East correctly believe that one of the U.S. war aims is the ripping off the oil fields, handing the oil industry to U.S. companies is not politically viable at this time. So, for the moment, revenues from oil will be used to bolster the political fortunes of the puppet Governing Council and the occupation Authority.Unfortunately for the occupiers, not much oil is being exported and resistance forces are attacking the oil pipelines. In October, the U.S.-appointed head of the oil industry narrowly escaped an attempt on his life.

Sinking Ship

The mounting defeats in Iraq have provoked a minor crisis in the Bush administration, complete with finger pointing behind not-so-closed doors. The appointment of Condoleezza Rice to head the Iraq Stabilization Group, which is a blow to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. While Democrats have been quick to say that the administration’s conflict is a sign that Iraq policy is ‘adrift’ or blame a ‘lack of planning for post-war Iraq,’ the issue is much larger.

No one wants to live in a colony. It’s unjust and the people living there know it. So they rebel. As a result, there is no right or smart way to run an occupation in the third world. Attempts by foreign powers to maintain direct political control have a common end - defeat. This is why imperial powers like the U.S. and Britain try to use the local elites to run things in the countries that they dominate, and have local troops do most of the fighting and dying. In Iraq, that option is limited.

Vietnam

The rhetoric used to defend the occupation has an eerie similarity to the rhetoric used to defend the war on Vietnam. In the face of mounting causalities and setbacks, the U.S. claimed to be winning. The same thing is now being said about Iraq, although Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has stopped talking about the ‘handful of dead-enders.’

There was effort at Vietnamization - trying to get Vietnamese people to fight against the liberation movement - and now we have talk getting Iraqis to ‘ensure the safety of Iraqis.’ For Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon, Vietnam was the ‘front line of democracy.’ Bush claims that Iraq is the ‘central front of the war on terror.’

Resistance at Home

Families with service members overseas are organizing, demanding to be told the truth and calling for an end to the occupation. ‘Stormy’ is a standard media description of meetings between Defense Department officials and family members of troops stationed in Iraq.

Soldiers are sick and tired of being lied to by the administration about the reasons they were sent to Iraq, when they can see for themselves that control over the Middle East and its oil resources is the aim of U.S. policy.

With every passing week, the administration’s ratings in the opinion polls fall. Protests are taking place across the globe. The Bush regime is running scared.

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