Why Many Are Skeptics About U.S. Military ‘Victory’ in Iraq
While Rumsfeld, Bush and the embedded U.S. media consider the rapid U.S. victory in Iraq proof that the U.S. military is "the best in the world," others aren’t quite so sure. Many skeptics are wondering why, after so much initial resistance to U.S. and British forces in southern Iraq, suddenly Baghdad, Basra and the entire country fell without much of a fight. Some believe a deal was made between top Iraqi leaders and the Pentagon, with the help of Russian President Putin. The vaunted Republican Guard basically didn’t fight. Most of Iraq’s military weaponry was not used. Before dismissing these as conspiracy theories, consider that for decades the Baath Party and Saddam Hussein worked closely with the CIA. During the Cold War, Pan-Arab nationalism (the Baath and Nasserite movements), like Islamic fundamentalism, served the anti-communist interests of the U.S. imperialists quite well, And now, the U.S. occupation force is more than happy to bring back to their old jobs many Baath officials who before served well the corrupt and repressive Saddam regime. The following excerpts from an April 10 2003 analysis distributed by United Press International and written by UPI intelligence correspondent Richard Sale, exposes the reactionary role played by the Baath-Saddam-CIA trio.
"…in the past Saddam was seen by U.S. intelligence services as a bulwark of anti-communism and they used him as their instrument for more than 40 years, according to former U.S. intelligence diplomats and intelligence officials… (Saddam’s) first contacts with U.S. officials date back to 1959, when he was part of a CIA-authorized six-man squad tasked with assassinating then Iraqi Prime Minister Gen. Abd al-Karim Qasim.
"In July 1958, Qasim had overthrown the Iraqi monarchy in what one former U.S. diplomat, who asked not to be identified, described as ‘a horrible orgy of bloodshed.’ According to current and former U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Iraq was then regarded as a key buffer and strategic asset in the Cold War with the Soviet Union.
"Little attention was paid to Qasim’s bloody and conspiratorial regime until his sudden decision to withdraw from the (anti-Soviet) pact in 1959… Washington watched in marked dismay as Qasim began to buy arms from the Soviet Union and put his own domestic communists into ministry positions of "real power," according to this official.,,(This) prompted CIA Director Allan Dulles to say publicly that Iraq was "the most dangerous spot in the world."
"…Saddam, while only in his early 20s, became a part of a U.S. plot to get rid of Qasim. According to this source, Saddam was installed in an apartment in Baghdad on al-Rashid Street directly opposite Qasim’s office in Iraq’s Ministry of Defense, to observe Qasim’s movements.
"Adel Darwish, Middle East expert and author of "Unholy Babylon," said the move was done "with full knowledge of the CIA," and that Saddam’s CIA handler was an Iraqi dentist working for CIA and Egyptian intelligence. U.S. officials separately confirmed Darwish’s account.
Darwish said that Saddam’s paymaster was Capt. Abdel Maquid Farid, the assistant military attaché at the Egyptian Embassy who paid for the apartment from his own personal account. Three former senior U.S. officials have confirmed that this is accurate.
"The assassination was set for Oct. 7, 1959, but it was completely botched. Accounts differ. One former CIA official said that the 22-year-old Saddam lost his nerve and began firing too soon, killing Qasim’s driver and only wounding Qasim in the shoulder and arm. Darwish told UPI that one of the assassins had bullets that did not fit his gun and that another had a hand grenade that got stuck in the lining of his coat. "It bordered on farce," a former senior U.S. intelligence official said. But Qasim, hiding on the floor of his car, escaped death, and Saddam, whose calf had been grazed by a fellow would-be assassin, escaped to Tikrit, thanks to CIA and Egyptian intelligence agents, several U.S. government officials said. Saddam then crossed into Syria and was transferred by Egyptian intelligence agents to Beirut, according to Darwish and former senior CIA officials. While Saddam was in Beirut, the CIA paid for Saddam’s apartment and put him through a brief training course, former CIA officials said. The agency then helped him get to Cairo, they said.
One former U.S. government official, who knew Saddam at the time, said that even then Saddam " was known as having no class. He was a thug — a cutthroat." In Cairo, Saddam was installed in an apartment in the upper class neighborhood of Dukki and spent his time playing dominos in the Indiana Café, watched over by CIA and Egyptian intelligence operatives, according to Darwish and former U.S. intelligence officials.
One former senior U.S. government official said: "In Cairo, I often went to Groppie Café at Emad Eldine Pasha Street, which was very posh, very upper class. Saddam would not have fit in there. The Indiana was your basic dive."
But during this time Saddam was making frequent visits to the American Embassy where CIA specialists such as Miles Copeland and CIA station chief Jim Eichelberger were in residence and knew Saddam, former U.S. intelligence officials said.
Saddam’s U.S. handlers even pushed Saddam to get his Egyptian handlers to raise his monthly allowance, a gesture not appreciated by Egyptian officials since they knew of Saddam’s American connection, according to Darwish. His assertion was confirmed by former U.S. diplomat in Egypt at the time.
In February 1963 Qasim was killed in a Baath Party coup. Morris claimed recently that the CIA was behind the coup, which was sanctioned by President John F. Kennedy, but a former very senior CIA official strongly denied this.
"We were absolutely stunned. We had guys running around asking what the hell had happened," this official said.
But the agency quickly moved into action. Noting that the Baath Party was hunting down Iraq’s communist, the CIA provided the submachine gun-toting Iraqi National Guardsmen with lists of suspected communists who were then jailed, interrogated, and summarily gunned down, according to former U.S. intelligence officials with intimate knowledge of the executions.
Many suspected communists were killed outright, these sources said. Darwish told UPI that the mass killings, presided over by Saddam, took place at Qasr al-Nehayat, literally, the Palace of the End.
A former senior U.S. State Department official told UPI: "We were frankly glad to be rid of them. You ask that they get a fair trial? You have to get kidding. This was serious business."
A former senior CIA official said: "It was a bit like the mysterious killings of Iran’s communists just after Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in 1979. All 4,000 of his communists suddenly got killed." British scholar Con Coughlin, author of "Saddam: King of Terror," quotes Jim Critchfield, then a senior Middle East agency official, as saying the killing of Qasim and the communists was regarded "as a great victory." A former long-time covert U.S. intelligence operative and friend of Critchfield said: "Jim was an old Middle East hand. He wasn’t sorry to see the communists go at all. Hey, we were playing for keeps."
Saddam, in the meantime, became head of al-Jihaz a-Khas, the secret intelligence apparatus of the Baath Party.
The CIA/Defense Intelligence Agency relation with Saddam intensified after the start of the Iran-Iraq war in September of 1980. During the war, the CIA regularly sent a team to Saddam to deliver battlefield intelligence obtained from Saudi AWACS surveillance aircraft to aid the effectiveness of Iraq’s armed forces, according to a former DIA official, part of a U.S. interagency intelligence group.
This former official said that he personally had signed off on a document that shared U.S. satellite intelligence with both Iraq and Iran in an attempt to produce a military stalemate. "When I signed it, I thought I was losing my mind," the former official told UPI.
A former CIA official said that Saddam had assigned a top team of three senior officers from the Estikhbarat, Iraq’s military intelligence, to meet with the Americans.
According to Darwish, the CIA and DIA provided military assistance to Saddam’s ferocious February 1988 assault on Iranian positions in the al-Fao peninsula by blinding Iranian radars for three days.
The Saddam-U.S. intelligence alliance of convenience came to an end at 2 a.m. Aug. 2, 1990, when 100,000 Iraqi troops, backed by 300 tanks, invaded its neighbor, Kuwait. America’s one-time ally had become its bitterest enemy.
U.S. ‘Victory’ in Iraq Intensifies Instability, War Worldwide
U.S. rulers had hoped that their massacre in Iraq would give them a hammerlock on its oil reserves and, thus, a huge advantage over their imperialist competitors. But although U.S. (and British) soldiers occupy the oilfields, Washington’s control of the country is shaky at best. Anti-U.S. sentiment is running sky-high in Iraq and elsewhere, to the benefit of U.S. rivals. And while U.S. forces easily defeated Iraq’s small, under-equipped army, the need to project force around the globe is stretching the U.S. military dangerously thin. The real fruits of Bush’s victory are sharpening instability and armed conflict.
On April 22, over a million Shiites marched in Karbala turning a religious observance into a massive protest against U.S. occupation. Many came from Iran, with the blessing of the ayatollahs who had booted the U.S. oil bosses from that country in 1979. The London-based newspaper Al-Hayat (4/25/03) sees a developing power struggle between the U.S. and Iraq’s Shiites. "This is because the Shiites — some 60% of the population — are the only indigenous force able to challenge the American military presence and, conversely, because the U.S. army in Iraq is the only force able to prevent a Shiite seizure of power.... The United States faces a formidable dilemma in Iraq. If it allows Shiite militancy to flourish unchecked it will, in effect, be handing power…to a Shiite Islamic revolution on the Iranian model. Yet if it seeks to repress the Shiites by direct military rule, it could find itself confronting a mass popular uprising with unpredictable consequences."
One consequence is already being debated in Washington’s war rooms: a U.S invasion of Iran. Gen. James Woolsey of the Defense Policy Board is now engaged in World War IV against Iran and Syria, as well as Iraq (Time, 4/14/03). A U.S. campaign in Iran in forbidding terrain against forces fired by religious fervor would hardly be a cakewalk. Already the U.S. commanders have signed a "cease-fire" agreement with a group which for six years, right up until April 22, it has labeled terrorist, the People’s Mujahadeen, which the U.S. bombed just three weeks before. Why? Because, says the New York Times (4/29), the "American military…already has its hands full trying to stabilize Baghdad and other areas of Iraq." But it also "raises questions about how consistently the Bush administration intends to apply a policy that had vowed to crack down on terrorist groups worldwide." The U.S. terrorists hope to use this group in any future fight with Iran.
Nor is it a sure thing that the victorious coalition’s oil giants, Exxon Mobil, Chevron Texaco, BP and Shell will get immediate and complete access to Iraq’s vast oil reserves. That was the stated goal of Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmad Chalabi, whom War Secy. Rumsfeld wants to make puppet ruler of Iraq. But Chalabi, who spent the last four decades living it up in London, has very little popular support. And Iraq’s oil bureaucracy, which the U.S. spared in the war — needing Iraqi know-how and manpower — naturally opposes Exxon, Chalabi, & Co. In addition France and Russia are exploiting popular opposition to the U.S. occupation to try to ensure continuing UN management of Iraqi oil sales, which the UN now sends through French and Russian brokers. The latter could probably wind up at least as junior partners to the U.S. in pumping Iraqi oil.
Keeping 130,000 troops in Iraq to secure the oilfields weakens U.S. rulers militarily as well as among world opinion. Sen. John McCain complained that demands on troops during the Iraq war rendered the U.S. powerless to face down North Korea. "One of the chief problems, he said, is that the United States does not have sufficient active duty personnel. He said the Armed Forces cannot continue to activate reservists at the same rate and expect people to remain in the service. ‘Any lingering credibility that America has the capability to fight two wars on two fronts at one time should be laid to rest. We simply don’t have it. That’s why the North Korean situation was put on the back burner.’" (Associated Press, 4/26) McCain was hinting at restoring the draft. But as the wave of mutinies and rebellions by U.S. troops in the Vietnam War showed, a draft will create even more problems for the rulers.
The war in Iraq was in many ways a setback for U.S. bosses. At the same time thousands of working-class Iraqi soldiers and civilians died. Working-class GIs were turned into the tools of racist butchery. But the war revealed to many that capitalists value oil profits over human life. Workers must use the anti-capitalist feeling the war sparked to build a movement that will eventually eliminate the profit system.
Saddam, U.S. Imperialists, Fundamentalists OUT: Iraqi Workers Need Communist Revolution
The Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld gang claims to have liberated the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein but their goal is imperialist conquest. However, we shed no tears for Saddam and his fascist butchers, many of whom abandoned their troops after being bought off by the Pentagon. Over 300,000 Iraqis died in his eight-year war against Iran and 100,000 more perished when he invaded Kuwait. Bush is not the only one who makes war for oil! Saddam cynically used 500,000 Iraqi deaths from U.S.-imposed sanctions as a cover to maintain his regime and luxury. Just as he served U.S. rulers before and during the Iraq-Iran war, now he gave French and Russian oil companies good deals to try to use them as protection against a U.S. invasion.
It’s no surprise that angry Iraqi workers stripped clean the palaces, government ministries and stores owned by the ruling class. While workers were dying from lack of medical care, the hospital treating the elite was as good as any treating U.S. bosses. Saddam built 19 new palaces, stuffed with fancy furniture. In one, he had hundreds of millions in $100 bills stored in boxes, more than Iraq spent on medicines in two years.
Arab nationalists like the Emir of Qatar who owns al-Jazeera, shed crocodile tears about those slaughtered in the U.S. invasion. But they never said a word about the thousands Saddam tortured every year, or the 100,000 Kurds he gassed or shot. These Arab dictators don’t care about dead Iraqi workers. They want to oppress Arab workers, and keep U.S. imperialism out!
Some new oppressor will replace Saddam. There is vigorous competition among the various capitalist factions. The U.S. stooges are mostly the old pre-Saddam ruling class. For instance, Ahmed Chalabi, Rumsfeld’s favorite and head of the Iraqi National Congress, also heads one of the richest old Iraqi families. His father and grandfather were both cabinet ministers under the monarchy, which was overthrown in 1958. The family is as well known in Iraq as the Rockefellers in the U.S. So Chalabi draws support from those who want a return to the monarchy’s pro-Western, free market capitalism.
The Muslim clerics would install a vicious religious fascism like in Iran. There are several prominent families — operating like Mafia families — with power passing from one generation to another. The most powerful is the al-Sadrs. The young family head, Moqtadah al-Sadr, with very little religious training, had the chief of the pro-American family, Abdelmajid Khoei, assassinated in the holiest mosque. Then this thug’s goons surrounded the house of the most respected elderly cleric, Ayatollah al-Sistani, demanding he leave the country. Al-Sadr is working fist-in-glove with the Iranian fascist clerical regime against U.S. rulers. The Iranians have provided him millions in cash and hundreds of militants.
Another of the big clerical families, the Hakims, is also in Iran’s pocket. Tehran-based Ayatollah Bakr al-Hakim heads the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The U.S. has hopes of working with this group, but Iran seems to be putting more emphasis on al-Sadr’s militant anti-U.S. camp.
The pseudo left-sounding pan-Arab nationalists want to restore Baath rule without Saddam, as in Syria. They attack U.S. imperialism’s plan to plunder Iraq’s oil wealth, but neglect to mention their own plans to grab that wealth for themselves. They attack the clerics who would bar women from public life and discriminate against the million non-Muslims, but they plan to perpetuate the racist system which, for several hundred years, has kept power in the hands of the elite claiming to represent the 20% of the Iraqi population who are Arab Sunnis. These pan-Arab nationalists have strong support from Syria, with quiet support from most of the other Arab rulers.
The Role a Revolutionary Working Class Can Play
Actually, many Iraqi workers have a long history of support for communists in Iraq, through the Iraqi Communist Party which led the oil workers and organized general strikes that helped topple the monarchy there. On May Day 1959, the Iraqi CP led a million-strong May Day march in Baghdad, proving it was the leader of the mass movement in Iraq. The ICP might have led a worker seizure of power had they not fallen victim to reformism, to supporting the "lesser evil" capitalists. The ICP reliance on "a progressive national bourgeoisie" led it to alliance with Generals like Kaseen. Eventually, the "progressive bourgeoisie" (like the Baath Party) worked with the CIA to kill thousands of communists. (See article on the CIA-Hussein relationship).
The working class is not impotent. The vacuum created with Saddam’s fall would have been an excellent opportunity for a communist-led working class to fight the imperialist invaders, overthrow all the bosses and install a revolutionary dictatorship of the workers. But without a revolutionary communist party with a mass base among the workers, the masses in Iraq will remain under the brutal heel of one capitalist or another.
Our job is to build a strong international revolutionary communist PLP. Building a mass PLP in the U.S., especially among Iraqi and Arab immigrants can help build a sister party in Iraq and the Middle East. Building a communist base among U.S. soldiers can also help. The nationalists and the clerics are no better than the U.S. stooges. The millions marching against war should realize that marching is not enough. They must be won to reject all the warmakers and fascist killers and fight to overthrow all the bosses with communist revolution.
No Blood For Euro-Or Petrodollars!
Oil is not just another commodity. Major industries, armies, transportation and society overall cannot run without it. Most of the world’s oil (and the cheapest to produce) is in the Middle East. The power that controls that oil has a major advantage over rival bosses. Oil is also a major source of profits and economic power.
Currently anyone buying crude oil must pay OPEC or any oil producer in dollars. Therefore, such buyers must accumulate dollars to pay for their oil. To do that they must exchange their own currency for dollars or demand dollars for what they themselves produce. Thus, the dollar dominates world trade; it is the world’s reserve currency.
Several decades ago, the U.S. became a debtor country. It is now the world’s biggest debtor nation, owing $2.7 trillion. It then prints more dollars which are bought by currency traders to build dollar reserves. The U.S. uses these funds to pay off the $2 billion a day required to satisfy the debt. In a sense, U.S. bosses are getting a "free ride" through its exclusive control over printing dollars. Since this is the currency in which oil is traded — petrodollars — the U.S. has an edge over its rivals both in economic terms as well as having a stranglehold over the distribution of oil.
The world economic crisis exposed by the dot.com collapse made others bosses wary of playing second fiddle to the U.S. forever. The law of inter-imperialist rivalry (each group of bosses must fight for maximum profits at the expense of rival bosses) impelled the European Union to create the Euro to challenge the dollar. The value of the euro has surpassed the value of the dollar by 17%. Three years ago Iraq began demanding Euros instead of dollars for its oil exports. Iran is contemplating a similar move. As countries are forced to accumulate euros instead of dollars, the value of the euro will rise and the dollar will fall even further. This could conceivably induce the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC) — Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, etc. — to ask for euros for their oil. Oil-buying countries would have to stock euros in their central banks to buy their oil. The more euros are used to purchase oil — the world’s most important and expensive commodity — the less would oil be traded in dollars. The value of the dollar would drop even further. U.S. corporations and consumers would have to shell out more dollars to purchase goods. This could severely affect the U.S. economy.
All this is one reason why U.S. bosses have seized Iraq and its oil fields, second largest reserves worldwide. Not only would its military muscle control Iraq and force its oil (controlled by ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco, etc.) to be paid for with dollars instead of euros, but it would solidify U.S. control in the Mid-East region, the world’s largest source of oil. It would also help U.S rulers maintain the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
Siding with One Imperialist Gang Against Another Is a Deadly Mistake
This is one important reason why EU members France and Germany — two leading traders in euros — opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq and control of its oil. Some of the leaders of the anti-war movement also tried to turn it into an anti-U.S., pro-European imperialism force. This is a deadly mistake; the cause of war is not Bush or Blair, but capitalism/imperialism.
Russia, which sided with the Europeans in this battle and is the world’s second largest oil exporter, is considering the euro as the currency to buy some of its oil. It’s an economic fight between petrodollars and petroeuros.
Further pressure on the U.S. is coming from China, which wants its currency, the yuan, to become Asia’s reserve currency. Even Venezuela has put pressure on petrodollars by negotiating bi-lateral deals with 13 countries to pay for its oil in goods — barter — not in dollars. All this reduces the amount of dollars used in world trade, further reducing its value, and nullifying part of the "free ride" the U.S. gets in printing dollars to pay its huge trade deficit.
Thus do capitalists and imperialists fight for maximum profits over the dead bodies of millions of workers. U.S. rivals will strive to equal U.S. military power. U.S. bosses will try mightily to prevent this. We have no crystal ball, but the 21st Century promises to mirror the 20th: constant wars.
Shouldn’t such a system be destroyed? Join the communist PLP now.