Iraq and U.S. imperialist foreign policy

By Sam Marcy (Oct. 20, 1994)

A serious crisis is developing in the Middle East with grave implications for the people here. It rotates around the relations between Iraq and Kuwait.

Why a crisis so far away should have such awful meaning here is unclear--until one examines the interests of the oil monopolies, whose alliance with the banks makes them virtually omnipotent in the inner circles of the U.S. ruling class.

The crisis is presented as one between Iraq, with 19 million people, and its tiny neighbor Kuwait. Put that way, who wouldn't side with the Kuwaitis? But there are other considerations not brought to the attention of the U.S. public.

The present Iraqi government, like its predecessors going way back, regards Kuwait as a part of Iraq. They are separated by a desert, but are bound together by language and ancient culture. All the old encyclopedias categorically stated that Kuwait was part and parcel of what is now contemporary Iraq.

Kuwait became a separate political entity to accommodate the needs of British imperialism. To build its far-flung empire, Britain arbitrarily drew lines on the map and manipulated the leaders of the governing powers in the area to suit its predatory aims.

What the imperialists want

The imperialists are interested in two aspects of the Gulf area. First, it is a gateway to the Middle East. Second, and more significant in modern times, is the superabundance of oil in the region.

Modern Iraq emerged from British colonialism in 1958 when a revolution overthrew the remnants of an ancient dynasty completely controlled by the British. A broadcast emanating from Beijing at the time compared the potency of the Iraqi revolution to a political atomic bomb.

It caught both the British government and the Eisenhower administration in the U.S. completely by surprise. The latter was urged to immediately launch a fleet of naval vessels and restore the past. But wiser heads concluded this would only exacerbate the situation and spread revolution throughout the area rather than crush the one in Baghdad.

A great deal has happened since those days. The British did not agree to be ousted so unceremoniously--as the mass of the Iraqi people desired. They found supporters among the old feudal classes and the multitude of servitors and officials that governed on behalf of the colonial power.

There is no space at this time to go over the historical evolution of the new regime in Iraq. Suffice it to say that unlike in Vietnam or China, where the old order was overthrown by a thoroughly revolutionary government, in Iraq the new regime was composed of a combination of both mild-mannered and so-called ultra nationalists. But the more politically developed sections of the population were adherents of the Communist Party.

Soon a significant cleavage developed between those who favored a socialist reconstitution of society along the lines of the USSR, China or Vietnam and those who favored a so-called ultra-nationalist--in reality bourgeois--line.

In the struggle between the two, the bourgeois line got control of the old officialdom, with whom it united to drown in blood the Communist Party of Iraq. This started a retrograde chapter in the history of the struggle. While it would be illuminating to go over this in detail, now is not the time.

The succeeding governments of Iraq struggled to one degree or another to retain some semblance of independence from imperialism although they remained part of a bourgeois coalition.

The current crisis is portrayed in the U.S. capitalist media as arising from the belligerence of the Iraqi government headed by Saddam Hussein. But it really reflects the belligerence of the Clinton administration or, to be more precise, of its military and naval authorities.

There would hardly be any basis for a struggle between the U.S. and Iraq if the U.S. were not intent on inventing one and making it the point of departure for a serious military confrontation.

The small area known as Kuwait has become the pivot of the struggle. The U.S. is the knight in shining armor--with missiles and tanks--vowing to dash Iraq's ambitions to consolidate its area. Iraq, in fact, is trying not so much to absorb Kuwait as to keep it out of the domineering embrace of the U.S.

The U.S. has dispatched aircraft carriers and fighter bombers that could in a blow destroy much of Iraq. One would think from the display of U.S. military and naval might that the Pentagon was in a war with Germany, France or Britain.

Amassing such an armada against a small country with limited capabilities would be ludicrous if the objective were merely a military victory. But it is calculated to topple the government headed by Saddam Hussein.

One would expect a small nation threatened by this imperialist leviathan to appeal to the United Nations. But the U.S. has made a pawn of the UN, which is conducting itself as a most odious tool of Wall Street and Lombard Street.

Workers need to know

Every progressive, every civil liberties organization, every working-class organization needs to understand that if a military struggle does break out as a result of U.S. ambitions in the Persian/Arabian Gulf, the responsibility lies wholly and completely on the shoulders of the Clinton administration, its military and naval authorities, and the Wall Street interests it is seeking to serve.

The Pentagon has ordered a million meals just for starters in this adventure. If the Clinton administration were to suddenly decide to dish out a million meals to the growing number of poor and hungry in this country, the reactionary elements in Congress and the capitalist press would raise a howl heard from the Potomac to the West Coast.

The penny-pinchers in Congress who make themselves so visible whenever a meager appropriation is made available to the workers are silent on this. Nobody is asking what the intervention in Iraq will cost, both in monetary terms and in lives and limbs.

We don't know how far the Clinton administration will go this time in its attempt to subjugate Iraq. But the general preparations are in the works. Considering how little opposition there is in the government, one can conclude that there are no real internal obstacles to the Pentagon attempting to take over Iraq.

More than military precision

The open-and-shut case the U.S. is preparing for intervention in Iraq is on a par with the brazenness of the Nazis, who nearly always manufactured a legal dossier to cover their aggressions.

But even the Nazis would be hard-pressed to find a legal reason for sending troops thousands of miles from the shores of the Potomac to the Persian/Arabian Gulf.

What must be clearly stated day in and day out in working-class agitation and propaganda is that the U.S. capitalist government has no basis for any type of intervention in Iraq. Iraq is not involved in any dispute with the people of the United States, least of all with the working class or the oppressed nationalities.

We must bring up the ABCs: that nothing in the structure of the U.S. government gives the president the constitutional authority to make war.

The unconstitutional adventure in Iraq is of far greater significance for U.S. financial and economic interests and carries a great deal more danger in terms of lives and property than the invasion of Haiti. The capitalist media have not informed the public that U.S. imperialism is more hated in the Middle East than anywhere else in the world. This is not just because the U.S. supports Israel, but because of the fabulous wealth beneath the soil of the Middle East that U.S. oil companies and banks will kill to control.

One would think that at a time of high oil production in the U.S., when U.S. corporations are also drilling all over the world, capturing the oil in Iraq would not mean so much to them. Moreover, the government of Iraq has given every indication that it is willing to make considerable concessions if the U.S. will lay its pistols on the table.

Yet the crisis grows. A great deal of this can only be accounted for by the enormous historical fact of the collapse of the USSR, which had been the most formidable factor standing in the way of U.S. aggression.

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