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In desperate gamble

Bush prepares to escalate Iraq war

Saddam Hussein’s lynching, call for troops and money are clear signs

Published Jan 4, 2007 1:04 AM

As the death toll of U.S. troops passes 3,000 and the number of Iraqi casualties exceeds 600,000, the execution of Saddam Hussein signals Bush’s intention to escalate the war against the people of Iraq as he plans to send 30,000 more troops to maintain the occupation.

The billions that have been spent on this war—and the more than $100 billion that Bush is asking for this winter and spring—have been robbed from the people here who need the money for jobs at a living wage, health care, affordable housing, education and rebuilding the Gulf Coast.

Saddam Hussein’s execution by U.S. military occupation forces in Iraq again shows in sharpest light the nature of the criminal occupation. The execution of the legal president of Iraq was a brutal colonial outrage intended to insult Iraqi national sovereignty. It was orchestrated so as to enflame sectarian and religious hatred among Iraqis.

The unofficial cell-phone video circulating on the internet shows that the atmosphere was truly that of a lynching. It was a chaotic scene with insults, abuse, heckling catcalls and ridicule while Saddam Hussein remained defiant and calm.

As outrage has grown in Iraq and internationally at the execution, its timing and the manner in which it was carried out, the U.S. corporate media has gone to exaggerated lengths to describe the execution as an Iraqi affair, a decision of the Iraqi High Tribunal, a body over which the U.S. occupation forces supposedly had little control or influence.

The Iraqi High Tribunal is a creation of the U.S. occupation forces. Its creation was a desperate effort to justify the illegal and criminal invasion. From the beginning the tribunal was a totally illegal court—expressly prohibited by international law. Under the Geneva Convention, which the U.S. government signed, an occupying power is explicitly prohibited from changing the judicial structure or establishing new courts.

L. Paul Bremer III, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in 2003, established the tribunal. U.S. occupation authorities appointed all judges and personnel, and the U.S. Congress established a $128 million fund to pay the court’s expenses. U.S. advisers drafted the laws of the court.

During the U.S.-staged trial, three defense lawyers were assassinated. The Iraqi High Tribunal used coerced witnesses, heavy censorship, isolated the defendants and denied them all visitation and legal rights. Even the court announcement of the death sentence was timed to the weekend before the U.S. midterm elections last November.

Washington controlled trial, execution

Right up to the execution, Saddam Hussein was at all times in the hands of the U.S. military. He was captured by U.S. forces and held at the U.S. base Camp Cropper. For his execution, he was taken by U.S. helicopter, under U.S. guard, to Camp Victory, another U.S. base. U.S. forces transported the Iraqi executioners and the collaborators who were to serve as witnesses.

The U.S. officials chose executioners and collaborators who were identified as being of Shiite heritage apparently to throw the blame on all Shiites in Iraq for Saddam Hussein’s execution. Remember it is the U.S. occupation forces who decided who can run for office and how the Iraqi government is structured. They protect the thin layer of puppets and collaborators within the Green Zone.

A statement from the former ruling Baath Party after the sentencing last November noted that “the theatrics that have been called a trial are nothing but [U.S.] America’s way of putting the onus of the crime of executing Saddam Hussein on the stooge government.”

The timing of the execution on the Eid al-Adha, one of the most sacred holidays of the Muslim year, added further offense and outrage to the act. This holiday is traditionally a time of peace, of putting aside quarrels and anger—at least for the duration of the holiday. It follows the time when millions of Muslims make a pilgrimage to Mecca. It is religiously unacceptable and explicitly illegal, even under the U.S.-created constitution written for Iraq, to execute someone during this time.

The execution was an act of desperation and weakness at a time when the U.S. occupation has collapsed and the resistance is gaining strength. Rather than follow the proposals of negotiations put forth by the Iraq Study Group and other imperialist strategists who fear impending disaster for the U.S. in Iraq, Bush has signaled with the execution of Saddam Hussein a decision to escalate the war.

It is also suspicious that an “unofficial video” was released showing alleged Mahdi Army members taunting Hussein. Hussein’s assassination follows news that the U.S. has stepped-up attacks and arrests of members of the Mahdi Army, led by Moqtada al-Sadr. This offensive too is part of a desperate attempt to further divide the country and cut off any avenues of negotiation or phased withdrawal for the U.S. forces.

According to sources who monitor Iraqi resistance web sites, these have contained messages warning resistance fighters that the U.S. occupiers are trying to provoke battles between the resistance and the Mahdi Army. These messages urge fighters to make the main target the U.S. occupation forces, and where possible to convince Mahdi Army militia forces to join the resistance against the U.S.

The execution had nothing to do with the alleged crimes of the Iraqi president nor can the trial be seen as a historic judgment of Saddam Hussein’s role in Iraq. It is seen in Iraq and around the world as the act of a conquering power, intended for humiliation of a nation occupied against the will of the vast majority of the population.

U.S. supports many dictators

The war was never about bringing democracy to Iraq. This has always been a war about oil and U.S. corporate domination of the entire region. U.S. imperialism has never opposed dictators. It has installed, supported and armed dictatorships when it suited the interests of corporate profits. From their support and arming of dictatorships in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Kuwait today to the Shah of Iran, Mubutu in the Congo, Suharto in Indonesia, Pinochet in Chile, the U.S. government has supported some of the most brutal regimes in history, when it served Wall Street’s interests.

In the 1980s Washington was ready to collaborate with the Saddam Hussein government when it wanted to use the Iraqis against the Iranian Revolution with the Iraq-Iran war. It was the old “divide and conquer” tactic, and Henry Kissinger even wrote about wanting to weaken both sides by having Iran and Iraq fight each other.

Saddam Hussein was not executed because the U.S. occupation forces considered him a dictator. Although he had in the past been willing to make deals and to maneuver with imperialism, Washington saw his real crime as his refusal to hand over sovereignty or the control of the rich resources of Iraq. He refused to bow down to the New World Order. He was executed because he stood in the way of U.S. imperialist reconquest of the Middle East.

Corporate power in the U.S. was determined to turn back the control of the nationalized oil gained through the 1958 revolution in Iraq. This nationalization had transformed Iraq into a prosperous, rapidly developing country with the highest living standard in the region—a modern, secular country with free education and free health care.

The U.S. ruling class as a whole, the entire political establishment, the corporate media and both houses of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, supported the 1991 bombing and massive destruction of Iraqi cities, industries and educational institutions. They also supported the 2003 bombing, invasion and occupation of Iraq.

U.S. war crimes

U.S. imperialism has committed numerous war crimes in its effort to subjugate Iraq. Its Pentagon has used bunker busters, cluster bombs, white phosphorous, napalm and radioactive depleted uranium weapons on the cities of Iraq. Thirteen years of U.S.-imposed starvation sanctions resulted in 1.5 million Iraqi deaths from malnutrition and disease.

Since the 2003 invasion, U.S. occupation forces have carried out massive round-ups, systematic torture and humiliation of defenseless prisoners that the whole world knows about through photos from Abu Ghraib. The U.S. occupation has created a chaos that has shut the schools and universities and hospitals, left even the capital, Baghdad, without potable water, sanitation or more than four hours of electricity a day.

Wholesale corruption by tens of thousands of U.S. contractors has resulted in the looting of reconstruction projects and the theft of tens of thousands of cultural artifacts. Almost four years of occupation have resulted in over 600,000 Iraqi deaths and the flight of 2 million Iraqis from the country.

Whatever criticisms of and charges Iraqis have against Saddam Hussein, it was their sovereign right to decide his fate, free of outside occupation forces. The independent Iraq Centre for Research and Strategic Studies recently polled Iraqis on whether they were better off under Saddam Hussein’s government compared to the chaos and humiliation of today. Almost 90 percent declared that Iraq’s situation was better and more stable before U.S. occupation.

The movement that stands against the imperialist war in Iraq and demands that all U.S. troops be brought home needs to also raise its voice against all forms of the colonial occupation. U.S. corporate contracts and laws that have privatized and looted Iraqi resources must be canceled. Hundreds of U.S. bases, thousands of U.S. checkpoints and scores of secret prisons must be closed. The illegal courts must be disbanded.

Finally, it is essential that this movement demand that U.S government and military officials be charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity for their actions in Iraq.

Sara Flounders is a co-director of the International Action Center, which organized protest demonstrations on Dec. 30 against the execution of Saddam Hussein.