Iraq’s disaster has moved back onto the front burner of world attention. As of June 15, the Barack Obama administration is considering air strikes in the country the Pentagon finally left in 2011 after eight years of occupation.
Only the most hardened imperialist politicians and diplomats — the most resolute liars — could argue that the way to help the Iraqis resolve the battle looming before them is to have even more imperialist intervention.
While it is still unclear exactly who is directing the forces against the Baghdad regime, this remains clear: No imperialist intervention will help the Iraqi people. No intervention will prevent further war. Any intervention will harm more Iraqis and cost more to U.S. workers.
Those of us in the United States must resolutely oppose any attempt to use the Pentagon to bomb, give intelligence and send weapons to Iraq, let alone to send more “boots on the ground” to occupy that country once more. Tell the U.S. and the Pentagon: “Stay out! You have done enough harm!”
U.S. and British imperialism committed the gravest possible war crime in 2003 when they launched an aggressive war to conquer Iraq. This war and the eight-year occupation killed 1.5 million Iraqis, drove 5 million more into external and internal exile, and destroyed the health care, educational, sanitary and industrial infrastructure. It also killed 4,500 U.S. troops, wounded 30,000 to 100,000 more and cost trillions of dollars.
When a popular resistance grew up to challenge the occupation from the end of 2003 through 2005, U.S. strategists saw only one way to keep from being driven out in ignominious defeat: Keep the Iraqis divided by religious and ethnic groupings. Instead of treating all the people as Iraqis, the U.S. occupation force divided them into Sunni and Shiite by religion and into Arab and Kurd by ethnicity. Wherever possible the occupation forces and their agents poisoned relations between the groupings.
When the U.S. pulled its combat troops out of Iraq in 2011, it left an unpopular client regime headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. At that time, following popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, many Iraqis too held peaceful protests against the Maliki government. The Baghdad regime answered them with bullets and then bombs, destroying much of the town of Fallujah.
This June in a lightning-fast assault, armed opponents of the Maliki regime seized Mosul and other cities north of Baghdad. The Iraqi army occupying this region collapsed and retreated. Maliki, who has only a narrow layer of support from a part of the population that identifies as Shiite, pleaded with the U.S. for military assistance.
Both Maliki and U.S. political leaders identify the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as the group leading the military uprising in Mosul, Tikrit and other Iraqi towns. ISIS is a reactionary sectarian group that is responsible for most of the 160,000 deaths in Syria in the last three years.
Iraqi sources say that the Baathist-led resistance forces and local tribal organizations are playing a bigger role against Maliki. The Baath was former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s party and wants a unified secular state.
ISIS has been heavily funded by Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are U.S. allies with their own local interests and connections. The U.S. and NATO intervention aimed at deposing the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria allowed ISIS to grow and become the best-armed and organized anti-Assad opposition.
Whatever and whoever is involved in the conflict in Iraq, U.S. military intervention can only make the situation worse for all, just as it did earlier in Iraq and just as imperialist intervention has in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Mali, Syria and Ukraine. U.S. imperialism, get out and stay out of Iraq!