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Anti-war alert

U.S. leaks plans for major invasion of Iraq

By John Catalinotto

A front-page story in the April 28 New York Times detailed U.S. plans to invade Iraq toward the end of 2002 or the beginning of 2003. Whatever the timetable, the anti-war movement here has to take the threat seriously and prepare to combat these ever more concrete plans for war against Iraq.

The Times reported that U.S. officials "said the nascent plans for a heavy air campaign and land assault already included rough numbers of troops, ranging from a minimum of about 70,000 to 100,000--one Army corps or a reinforced corps--to a top of 250,000 troops ... The invasion would involve between 75,000 and 200,000 U.S. and British troops after a heavy and continuous bombing attack."

According to the Times, U.S. officials say they are waiting for the proper political and military conditions.

The Bush administration's most aggressive elements have never made secret their desire to take over Iraq, or at least to replace the Saddam Hussein government with one more subservient to U.S. interests. It has apparently leaked its strategy as part of its plan to promote the invasion.

The administration's war plans have run up against many obstacles. None of the regimes in the Gulf region, even those most obedient to Washington, is willing to say publicly that it supports U.S. invasion plans. Even Washington's Western European allies in NATO have warned against an assault on Iraq--although none will confront Washington on this issue.

In addition, the Palestinian people's continued resistance to the U.S.-backed Israeli invasion has awaked the struggle of the Arab and Muslim masses worldwide, and infused it with combativeness. It has also inspired the anti-war movements in some of the imperialist countries, including the United States.

U.S. military tactics won't necessarily follow the program as outlined in the Times. Indeed, a Boston Globe article reported that aides to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were pushing for an invasion as soon as possible.

An unofficial grouping of veteran cold warriors including Assistant Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich and Henry Kissinger have been pushing aggressively for an assault on Iraq.

These forces contend that once the Pentagon is committed to win in the Gulf, the reluctant leaders of these client states will fall in line behind the United States even if this risks revolt in their own country. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and their cabal give little weight to the importance of mass struggle. They are capable of overestimating U.S. strength because they base their judgment on military and economic power alone.

Meanwhile the United States continues to wage war on Afghanistan and on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and to expand its military bases in Central Asia. The April 29 Washington Post reported that U.S. and British forces have gathered on that border and are targeting alleged al-Qaeda fugitives in the country's mountainous areas.

The same day, USA Today reported that U.S. Special Forces led military raids on mosques inside Pakistan.

Javaid Marwat, the Pakistani government's deputy administrator in Miram Shah, said U.S. and Pakistani troops smashed the front door of a mosque and conducted a room-to-room search of the religious shrine and preparatory school.

Marwat said the search was "totally unwarranted, baseless and wrong."

While the war continues in Afghanistan, the Pentagon also continues to expand its presence throughout Central Asia. What a mere 14 years ago was unthinkable--U.S. military bases in parts of what was then the Soviet Union--is now an everyday event that hardly makes the news.

After a visit by Rumsfeld, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan--until now the last holdouts--have joined Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in harboring U.S. troops, war planes, military bases and surveillance facilities.

The Pentagon is preparing for military intervention throughout Central Asia, where so much of the world's known oil reserves lie.

Tariq Aziz exposes U.S. aims

Speaking to a group of 121 progressives and anti-war activists from 17 mostly European countries April 25, Iraqi Vice Prime Minister Tariq Aziz exposed U.S. aims in the Gulf region.

After the most recent events in Palestine and Venezuela, Aziz explained, it must be clear to the entire world that Washington's belligerent attitude toward Iraq and Iran is based "neither on human rights nor on democracy," but is aimed at the "total control of the oil reserves of the Gulf states." (Neues Deutschland, April 26)

Aziz added that it would be impossible for the United States to use anti-Baghdad forces in the Kurdish northern region or the Shiite southern region to foster a revolt and overthrow the central Iraqi government as was done in Afghanistan. Both the Shiites and the Kurds "feel too much like Iraqis" to let that happen, said Aziz.

Apparently CIA officials agree with this assessment and have told the Bush administration that only an invasion would eliminate the Saddam Hussein government.

The European group, organized by the Belgian association "SOS-Children in Iraq," had been on a two-week tour of Iraq to examine the consequences of almost 12 years of harsh economic sanctions.

In a final statement, this group called for an end to economic sanctions against Iraq and for no support from Europe for any U.S. military moves against Iraq.

Reprinted from the May 9, 2002, issue of Workers World newspaper

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