Each day the Barack Obama administration draws closer to escalating U.S. military intervention in Iraq and extending it to Syria. Already having bombed Iraq for the first time since 2011, the Pentagon admits to sending surveillance drones into Syrian airspace. At the same time Washington and its imperialist allies are pouring weapons into the Iraqi regional Kurdish government in Erbil and, now that Nuri al-Maliki has resigned his post as prime minister under pressure from Washington, into the new pro-West regime in Baghdad.
Before discussing the events there further, we should state our position up front. We oppose any U.S. intervention in Iraq, Syria or any other place in the region. Whatever the pretext for a military intervention, U.S. imperialism will use it to weaken the authority and diminish the sovereignty of the states where it intervenes. Whatever reason it gives for intervention, the real reason will be to expand U.S. strategic and commercial interests and, in this region, to seize control of energy resources.
The pretext for this latest U.S. war drive is the reported success of the group that calls itself the Islamic State in seizing territory in Iraq and Syria. We shouldn’t forget that the U.S. and its monarchist allies in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Gulf emirates helped to arm and fund the I.S. when it fought only against the Damascus government — just as they armed and funded Osama bin Laden when he fought against a progressive Afghan government in the 1980s. Now, however, every imperialist statesperson and their counterparts from Egypt to Saudi Arabia and Qatar shout that I.S. is evil incarnate and must be eradicated.
During the last week of August, the U.S. imperialist propaganda machine seized upon an I.S. atrocity that could be seen on video: the killing of American journalist James Foley.
It was one of many atrocities committed in the world that week. Israeli rockets killed the families of Hamas leaders, including children, bringing the death toll for children in Gaza to almost 500. Cops outside St. Louis gunned down another innocent, unarmed African-American man on the street — also available on video.
The difference was that politicians, columnists and talk-show participants in the U.S. all had something to say about this particular atrocity and about why the I.S. is now the greatest of all evils. The unanimity within the pro-imperialist media was breathtaking.
Very few mentioned that the only reason the I.S. got a foothold in Iraq is that the U.S. invasion and occupation of that country destroyed much of it while tearing apart its different religious and ethnic populations. And the only reason the I.S. could grab land in Syria is that the imperialists, Turkey and the Gulf states fed weapons to them to promote the war against Damascus.
To our knowledge, no one in the media here mentioned the recent speech by Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Hezbollah liberation fighters in Lebanon, who called on the peoples of the region and their organizations to unite against the I.S. At the same time, he warned that the imperialists could not be relied on in this battle.
Even when someone considers the I.S. to be an enemy of everything progressive, they should be suspicious about what the imperialists are up to. Whenever the propaganda guns are focused on some leader or organization — whether it be Hugo Chávez, Robert Mugabe, Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khomenei, Moammar Gadhafi, Bashar al-Assad or even Osama bin Laden — it means the imperialists are mobilizing for reactionary ends, whether we think the target is a revolutionary hero or a scoundrel.
When Washington imposes sanctions, war and blockades, they harm not just the demonized individuals but the whole population of their countries. In this case, Washington plans war. The New York Times published an editorial Aug. 25 calling for Obama to form an imperialist coalition, including Washington’s clients in the region, to go to war against the I.S. And other voices are pushing even more stridently for war.
If we want to prevent more damage to the peoples of Iraq and Syria, if we want to use U.S. resources for the working class at home and not squander it on wars abroad, then we must mobilize to keep the U.S. and the other imperialists from another intervention in Iraq and Syria.
The activists on the West Coast — especially the port of Oakland, Calif. — provided a splendid example of how this should be done when they stopped the Israeli ship Zim from unloading in protest against the attack on Gaza. Not only with symbolic actions, but by interfering with business as usual will we be able to interfere with the start of yet another imperialist war.
Stop the U.S. intervention in Iraq and Syria!