450 More US Troops = More Suffering and Death

Revolution Newspaper | June 16, 2015

U.S. Out of Iraq! Humanity Needs Another Way

On June 10, Barack Obama announced he was sending “450 additional U.S. military personnel to train, advise, and assist Iraqi Security Forces at Taqaddum military base in eastern Anbar province”—a new base in western Iraq, where the Islamic State (or ISIS) has been on the offensive. This brings the total number of U.S. troops and “advisors” in Iraq up to 3,500.

This needs to be OPPOSED!

Two U.S. invasions of Iraq, and a decade of occupation in various forms, have turned Iraq into a living hell for the people there. Since 1991, U.S. invasions and sanctions have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people, with children, the elderly, and the most vulnerable suffering the most. Millions of people in Iraq and neighboring Syria, which is wracked with a war between reactionary powers that has been in large part exacerbated by the U.S., have been driven from their homes.

In Iraq, the basic physical and social coherence of society has been shredded, depriving people of basic necessities like clean water, medical care, sewage, and education. Brutal Sharia law (Islamic fundamentalist rules that, among other things, mandate severe oppression of women) is in effect. Iraq’s culture was literally looted from museums as a direct result, or as a byproduct, of U.S. occupation.

Any new U.S. troops Obama is sending to Iraq will add to all those horrors. They represent a new step in a set of related moves by the Obama administration to re-insert the U.S. military into Iraq.

What Is the U.S. Trying to Accomplish?

For over 100 years, capitalism-imperialism has carved up, exploited, and oppressed the peoples of Iraq and the Middle East—a region with the most concentrated source of petroleum in the world and a crossroads between global and regional powers. That is still why the U.S. is so deeply embedded in the region.

The 2003 U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq was intended to be part of radically restructuring the whole region in the interests of the U.S. empire. But that invasion and other U.S. actions gave new life to the rapid spread of reactionary Islamic jihadist forces, many of which are in conflict with the U.S. The defeats and difficulties the U.S. has run up against in all this have opened up opportunities for regional and global rivals and called into question the credibility of the U.S. to violently enforce its will and rule anywhere and everywhere.

The 450 U.S. troops on their way to Iraq are part of the Obama administration’s plan to respond to the situation. They will become part of, and expand, a network of bases around Iraq. The stated purpose of these bases is to train and direct the Iraqi army, along with other militias, with the idea that these forces can be deployed to kill and die for those objectives of the U.S. empire. Not stated in public pronouncements, but very importantly, this network of bases could serve as an infrastructure and scaffolding that could be quickly built up and expanded if and when the U.S. sees a necessity to send many more troops into Iraq at any point, for any reason.

These bases already exist in the Iraqi cities of Al Asad, Besmaya, Erbil, and Taji, where more than 9,000 Iraqi troops have already been trained, with an additional 3,000 currently in training, essentially under the command of 3,000 U.S. “advisors” (and, according to many reports, about an equal number of “private contractors”).

On a strategic level, the re-insertion of more U.S. troops in Iraq is intended to cohere and provide on-the-ground military direction to the military forces of the U.S.-installed Iraqi regime. And U.S. military forces are intended to shore up, direct, and stabilize that hated Iraqi regime—or reconfigure something out of this regime (which might end up being a formal “federation” of different ethnic groups and religious factions, or might be separate states), that will serve the interests of the U.S. empire, which is facing a rapidly deteriorating situation in the whole region.

Conflicts in the Ruling Class vs. the Interests of Humanity

Sections of the U.S. ruling class, in views articulated by people like John McCain, insist the U.S. never should have “left” Iraq and that what are needed are many more U.S. troops. Other sections of the ruling class (as articulated by Obama) see too many (U.S.) “boots on the ground,” particularly in direct combat, as a failed and unsustainable strategy. They insist on violently defending and projecting U.S. interests with more reliance on enlisting, training, managing, and orchestrating the army of the Iraqi regime and various militias.

First, it is not like the U.S. “withdrew” from Iraq or the region under Obama. The U.S. embassy in Baghdad is the largest the U.S. has in the world and is basically a “colonial” fortress, full of spies, military personnel, and other operatives dedicated to maintaining U.S. influence in the country. Over the past year, U.S. planes and missiles have carried out hundreds of strikes, killing untold numbers of innocents. And the U.S. has never stopped waging war in various forms across the region: supporting Israel’s genocide against the Palestinian people, helping foster the inhuman slaughter that’s taken over 200,000 lives in Syria, turning Libya into a free-fire zone for reactionary jihadists, backing up tyrants in Egypt and Saudi Arabia which waged military assaults in Libya and Yemen, continuing its ongoing murder-by-drone campaign, and trying to broker a deal with Iran in order to help it keep the whole foul U.S.-dominated regional order more or less intact.

But none of that has “worked” from the perspective of the U.S. empire. And the rulers don’t have any “answers” except various versions of more of the same and worse.

How to Bring Forward Something Completely Different Than Western Imperialism or ISIS

If you want to solve a problem, you have to have a basic scientific understanding of what that problem is! In that light, the following quote from Bob Avakian, which sharply identifies the nature of the clash between Western imperialism and Jihad, demands study and wrangling with:

What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system. These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. If you side with either of these “outmodeds,” you end up strengthening both.

While this is a very important formulation and is crucial to understanding much of the dynamics driving things in the world in this period, at the same time we do have to be clear about which of these “historically outmodeds” has done the greater damage and poses the greater threat to humanity: It is the historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system, and in particular the U.S. imperialists.

—BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian (1:28)

In this light, what people in this country do right now, or don’t do, can make a big difference.

Our starting point is the advance of the world revolution. We are working to get the real, radical alternative to capitalism-imperialism—Bob Avakian’s leadership, vision, and strategy for a really visionary and viable communist revolution—on the map worldwide. In that context, imagine how different the “options” would appear around the world if and when a revolution took place in the United States!

And we need determined and uncompromising opposition to all moves by the U.S. to shore up and extend its interests in the region. Again: all moves. Obama’s bombing runs and “advisors” are no better than the Republicans’ calls for even more “boots on the ground.” These fights over whether and how to enlist Iran in their plans are disagreements over how to enslave people.

The more that the people of the world see determined, uncompromising opposition to the crimes of “our government,” the more the door is opened for people to look for, and take up, another way, completely outside the paradigm of either reactionary force in this clash of “two outmodeds.”

This article originally appeared on revcom.us on June 15, 2015.

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World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.