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IRAQ OCCUPATION

Four-star war criminals blame enlistees

By Deirdre Griswold

With more revelations coming out every day on the atrocious nature of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, and support mounting in Iraq and elsewhere for the resistance, criticism of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's conduct of the operation grows ever sharper in the corporate media and sections of the capitalist political establishment. Moreover, that criticism is edging more and more toward including President George W. Bush as not just a dupe of Rumsfeld but as a co-conspirator in dragooning the U.S. public into the war on false pretenses.

However, the split within the ruling class over how to effectively keep Iraq under U.S. domination has not yet crossed the threshold where any significant faction is calling for the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

On the contrary, the loyal opposition grouped around soon-to-be-candidate John Kerry has staked out a position for itself that emphasizes sending more troops to Iraq on the spurious argument that controlling that country and the region are essential for U.S. "national security." And the establishment critics, Democrats and Republicans, studiously avoid attacking the giant oil companies or the military-industrial-banking complex, which have worked behind the scenes shaping the aggressive foreign policy carried out by the White House and the Pentagon.

Missile kills 45 at wedding party

On May 19, the news broke that a missile fired from a U.S. helicopter in western Iraq had decimated a wedding party, killing at least 45 Iraqis--15 of them children. The Associated Press said it had "obtained videotape showing a truck containing bodies of those allegedly killed. Most of the bodies were wrapped in blankets and other cloths, but the footage showed at least eight uncovered, bloody bodies, several of them children. One child was headless."

This incident is bound to increase mass hatred for the occupiers, already white-hot after over a year of indiscriminate massacres, the siege of Falluja, of Sadr City in Baghdad and of other heavily populated areas, the massive sweeps and roundups of civilians, and the systematic beating, torture and humiliation of thousands of Iraqis held prisoner in U.S. concentration camps.

The growing anger has created a mass base for the Iraqi resistance, which has continued to develop throughout the country. On May 17, a bombing attack near the occupation headquarters in Baghdad killed the head of the Iraqi Governing Council, Izzadine Saleem. The IGC is a body completely appointed by the U.S. occupiers, and the resistance considers its members legitimate targets as collaborators. Another eight people were killed in the bombing and 14 wounded, including two U.S. troops.

As of May 18, 787 U.S. service members had died since the beginning of military operations in Iraq, according to the Department of Defense. Thousands more have been wounded or sent out of Iraq because of illness.

U.S. forces have kept up attacks on the militia supporting Shiite cleric Muktada al-Sadr in cities south of Baghdad, especially in the cities of Najaf and Karbala that house mosques and shrines sacred to Shiite Muslims.

The resistance has developed so rapidly that Assistant Secretary of State Paul Wolfowitz, one of the key architects of the aggression against Iraq, testified to this on May 18. Speaking before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Wolfowitz admitted that the Pentagon had underestimated its enemy, and said U.S. troops would have to stay in Iraq for an indeterminate period.

Wolfowitz attributed the resistance to "the resilience of the regime" led by Saddam Hussein--a regime that the Bush administration earlier claimed to have crushed. Yet the forces around al-Sadr, who are putting up such a determined defense against U.S. assaults, were opponents of the Saddam Hussein government. The truth is that only a small layer of the Iraqi population are collaborating with the U.S. occupation. The majority want the U.S. out.

On May 8, for the first time, various elements opposing the occupation met in Baghdad at the first Iraqi National Conference. Accounts of this highly significant event vary, but between 500 and 2,000 people attended. A report from the INC itself says the meeting was endorsed by many Iraqi political and social organizations--"including those of lay Arabs and Kurds, nationalists, Ba'athists, Communists as well as by social and religious organizations of all beliefs."

The INC's final declaration said it arrived at a "unified Iraqi position that reaffirms the rejection of the occupation, support for the resistance and the non-recognition of illegitimate institutions created by the Coalition Provisional Authority."

Torture exposures grow

The Rumsfeld-Bush attempt to limit the fallout from the wide exposure of U.S. tortures in Iraq by blaming a few rank-and-file troops has failed. More has come out implicating higher officers. Perhaps even more important, the troops themselves have begun to spread the truth about the entire conduct of the war against Iraqis.

In an interview with the Sacramento Bee, published on May 16, Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey, a 12-year Marine veteran, told how his disgust over killing and watching Marines kill innocent civilians in Iraq had led him to resist orders and finally to leave the military. Speaking of his unit's attacks on Iraqi vehicles at a checkpoint, Massey described the event that pushed him over the edge:

"Every car that we lit up we were expecting ammunition to go off. But we never heard any. Well, this particular vehicle we didn't destroy completely, and one gentleman looked up at me and said: 'Why did you kill my brother? We didn't do anything wrong.' That hit me like a ton of bricks."

That was only one of many incidents Massey described. Finally, when he could take no more, he had this exchange with his lieutenant:

"He asked me something and I said that with the killing of civilians and the depleted uranium we're leaving over here, we're not going to have to worry about terrorists. He didn't like that. He got up and stormed off. And I knew right then and there that my career was over. I was talking to my commanding officer."

Reprinted from the May 27, 2004, issue of Workers World newspaper
This article is copyrighted under a Creative Commons License.
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