By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
20 March 2009
After six years of brutal occupation following the widely condemned US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the US government has found itself more isolated than ever before. The people of the world are outraged that at a horrendous cost the US has committed the worst form of terrorism, the crime of aggression, in order reduce Iraq to a puppet state, take control over its oil resources and establish permanent US military bases on Iraqi territory.
More than one million Iraqis have been killed, including hundreds of thousands civilians, by US bombs, missiles and shells deliberately rained on non-military targets including neighborhoods, hotels and hospitals. Five million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes, seeking shelter in refugee centers within Iraq and in neighboring countries. The Iraqi infrastructure is in shambles despite billions in reconstruction contracts cornered by US firms (including Halliburton, which US Vice President Cheney has favored and continued to receive compensation from.)
At least 4,200 US soldiers have been killed and more than 45,000 wounded in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion. In Afghanistan, more than 620 US soldiers have been killed and more than 2,300 wounded since the October 2002 invasion of Afghanistan.
The US has spent more than USD 600 billion on the war in Iraq, and more than USD 200 billion in Afghanistan. The US Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars would cost US taxpayers up to USD 2.4 trillion projected up to 2017, including interest payments for debts incurred to finance the wars. Other more comprehensive estimates show that the financial cost will run up to far more than USD 3 trillion.
The US has absolutely no justification for its invasion of Iraq. This is a blatant violation of the charter of the United Nations. It is shamelessly based on patent lies. The claim about the link between Saddam and Osama bin Laden was unfounded and the “high-quality intelligence” purportedly proving that Iraq possessed and threatened to use Weapons of Mass Destruction against the US was proven to be pure fabrication.
The majority of American people themselves have expressed their outrage at the crimes of the US, particularly the Bush regime, against the Iraqi people by repeatedly holding massive protest demonstrations demanding US withdrawal from Iraq and the impeachment or prosecution of Bush and Cheney as war criminals. As presidential candidate, Barack Obama declared that the US war in Iraq “should never have been authorized and never been waged,” and promised to withdraw US troops from Iraq within 16 months of assuming office. In a lame last-ditch attempt to feign innocence by admitting to a lesser and already undeniable offense, Bush said a month before stepping out of office, “The biggest regret of all the presidency was to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq.”
But the people of the world people, the Americans included, cannot be deceived. While the slick orator candidate Obama appeared to offer a different US course in Iraq, he made it clear even then that the US shall continue to use its military superiority to the hilt to promote US geopolitical and economic interests and consolidate its global hegemony, under the pretext of waging a borderless “war on terrorism”. Soon after his election, President Obama unequivocally signalled that US global and regional military strategy remain unchanged by holding over Bush’ Defense Secretary Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen, General Raymond Odierno, the US field commander in Iraq, and General David Petraeus, head of the US Central Command and architect of the “surge” in Iraq.
Indeed, President Obama announced only last 27 February a timetable for withdrawing 100,000 troops from Iraq by end of August 2010. But he quickly picked up US military double-speak by declaring that by then “our combat mission in Iraq will end” even as 35-50,000 troops, mostly Special Operations Forces, will remain in Iraq for “training, equipping and advising Iraqi security forces, conducting targetted counter-terrorism missions, and protecting our ongoing civilian military efforts within Iraq”. (US military doctrine since 1998 have categorized these as “stability operations” as distinguished from “combat operations” but at the same time emphasize that stability operations are undertaken under very volatile situations that could quickly shift from non-combat to combat, and should thus be planned, prepared for and undertaken with the same procedures and considerations as a combat operation.)
Moreover, the withdrawn troops will not be necessarily sent back home as the majority Americans hope for and demand. At least 20,000 will be redeployed to Afghanistan, Pakistan and other areas where the Obama government may find a greater need for military presence and activity. No sooner had he assumed office when Obama made good in Pakistan his declaration that the US will continue to strike unilaterally against “confirmed targets” anywhere there are terrorists even without the knowledge or approval of the host government if the latter fails to take appropriate action.
Worse, Obama completely reversed his assessment of the Iraq war in the same speech where he announced the timetable for troop withdrawal when he told the US marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, “You have fought against tyranny and disorder… You have bled for your best friends and for unknown Iraqis. And you have borne an enormous burden for your fellow citizens, while extending a precious opportunity to the people of Iraq,” apparently referring to “democratic elections” under the tutelage of the US occupation army. Obama won instant acclaim for this from the Republican Party and other right-wingers, with The Wall Street Journal calling this speech “Obama’s Bush Vindication.”
The Iraqi people continue to wage and intensify their just revolutionary armed struggle for national liberation against US imperialism and its craven Iraqi puppets. Daily, they inflict losses and weaken the foreign aggressor and puppet forces as they frustrate and defeat US domination and plunder in their country. The day will come when they will drive out the foreign troops from their land and again hold their destiny in their own hands.
The ILPS stands in solidarity with and support the Iraqi people in their revolutionary struggle for national liberation and joins all freedom-loving and democratic forces in supporting this just and heroic struggle. We call on all the peoples of the world to mark the sixth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq by opposing the continuing US aggression in Iraq and demanding the total, immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all US and other foreign military forces from Iraq. ###