The Iraq War: Opposition and Desperation

Brief reports on the Iraq War from the American Socialist Appeal.

The Defense Science Board recently released a report to the Pentagon detailing what will be necessary for the stabilization of Iraq. Currently there are 150,000 U.S. troops occupying Iraq, a startling 5 for ever 1,000 people. To accomplish the Pentagon’s far-reaching goals the report claims the situation “may well demand 20 troops per 1,000 inhabitants ... working for five to eight years. Given that we may have three to five stabilization and reconstruction activities underway concurrently, it is clear that very substantial resources are needed to accomplish national objectives.”         

Simply put, to put a halt to the constant warfare, a police force of two percent of the population is required. President Bush is currently requesting an additional $100 billion dollars to cover the war; at this rate the Iraq war will cost approximately a trillion dollars and possibly last an entire decade. The Defense Science Board consists of members hand-picked by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. They have nothing to gain by overestimating the cost of the war.

Not surprisingly the Pentagon is considering an alternative form of force to suppress the Iraqi rebels. The master plan of the Pentagon is to repeat the horrors of the Latin American death squads from the seventies and eighties. Under the proposal, U.S. Special Forces will train Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen to torture, assassinate, and kill Sunni insurgents. The plan is called “the Salvador option” echoing Reagan’s methods for relocating thousands of El Salvadorian civilians into mass graves.

“El Salvador is Vietnam in Spanish,” read many U.S. bumper stickers in 1980s when Washington supplied over $231 million dollars to El Salvador’s armed forces to suppress guerrillas. The death squads trained by U.S. military “advisors” conducted sweeping search-and-destroy missions against the guerrillas. A decade of continuous fighting ended in a stalemate costing 75 thousand lives, mostly due to indiscriminate killings by the El Salvadorian military. A human rights study done in 1986 documented the regular use of 40 different types of torture by the El Salvadorian military.

The mere consideration of “the Salvador option” by the Pentagon displays the complete hopelessness of the situation. “What everyone agrees is that we can’t just go on as we are. We have to find a way to take the offensive against the insurgents. Right now, we are playing defense. And we are losing,” said an unidentified military officer in an interview with Newsweek.

Faced with an unwinnable war, the strategists of the Pentagon are working to turn the Iraqi people on themselves. The eye of the world is already on Iraq, and by choosing “the Salvador option” the brutal nature of the current United States Government will be increasingly exposed to the world.         

The bourgeoisie will be forced to drag out an unpopular war for many years. The financial costs of this war will be shouldered by the working class, and the casualties will be working class men and women, not those in the Pentagon drawing up battle plans. But the masses will not sit idly by forever and accept repetitious lies about “freedom and democracy” being brought to the world by the United States armed forces.        

In time the anger of the masses will build to an unprecedented level, leading to renewed mass protests on a world scale. There will be colossal transformations within U.S. politics and more importantly among U.S. workers, threatening the already fragile structure of U.S. imperialism.

Resistance to Iraq War Grows Within Military

Although the Iraqi insurgents are inflicting daily casualties in an escalating war of attrition, these attacks do not yet pose a strategic danger to U.S. forces. But the constant attacks, poor conditions, and steady stream of casualties are having a definite effect. This gradual chipping away at the morale of the U.S. military and the American people as a whole is the greatest threat to the imperialists’ adventure. Morale is a critical part of war. An army that loses its will to fight can be overcome by a numerically and technologically weaker enemy if it is inspired to win. And when the mood changes decisively against the war on the home front, it’s all over. More and more signs are emerging that support for the war is falling across the board.

  • A Bronx sailor refused to board his ship last month and now faces a court martial. According to 23-year-old Petty Officer 3rd Class Pablo Paredes, “I don’t want to be a part of a ship that’s taking 3,000 Marines over there, knowing a hundred or more of them won’t come back. I can’t sleep at night knowing that’s what I do for a living.”
  • Some 5,500 desertions have been reported by the Pentagon.
  • Numerous lawsuits have been filed by reservists who have been forced into repeated and prolonged duty. A small but growing number of troops have sought refuge in Canada or deliberately injured themselves to avoid returning to duty.
  • An Army platoon refused to deliver fuel because their vehicles were insufficiently armored. Donald Rumsfeld faced embarrassing questions from troops he was addressing over this same issue. The Air Force is now airlifting supplies across short distances as the military cannot guarantee the safety of entire highways in and around Baghdad.
  • A Louisiana National Guard unit defied a Pentagon request to prevent television news crews from filming six flag-draped soldiers’ coffins arriving in the state following the men’s deaths in Iraq
  • A mechanic with nine years in the Army, including a role in the assault on Baghdad, has refused to return to Iraq, claiming “you just don’t know how bad it is.”        

In the years and months to come, this will prove to be only the tip of a very large iceberg.