US 1998 Air War against Iraq - This is Terrorism


WHEN THE US government resumed the bombing of Iraq last year, the media put forward two reasons: it was to get rid of Saddam Hussein or it was just a cynical manoeuvre to divert attention from Clinton's impeachment. Because the TV and newspapers went out of their way to avoid telling us the background to the conflict in the Gulf, it is not surprising that most people accepted either one of the above as the reason for the bombing.When the Shah of Iran's dictatorship was toppled in 1979 the US took fright. They weren't too worried about Iran being governed by an Islamic fundamentalist dictatorship (after all they were busy arming the barbaric Taleban in Afghanistan at the very same time). What worried them was the possibility of popular revolts sweeping the region. If Iran could get rid of their old regime, others might try to follow their example; and might go a lot further than simply replacing one gang of dictators with another.

The US responded by arming Iraq to the teeth, then supplying arms to Iran as well. For eight years they supplied weapons and intelligence to both sides, leading to the mass slaughter of conscript soldiers from both countries in the Iran/Iraq war. The resulting wave of patriotism generated support for the rulers of the two countries. The Ayatollah Khomeini and Saddam Hussein were able to portray themselves as national heroes fighting for their countries.

The US had no problem when Hussein used poison gas against Kurdish rebels and villagers. A 1994 US Senate report showed that the US had supplied Iraq with materials for germ warfare right up to 1989. Only later did the US condemn Hussein for having the weapons they had sold to him! Clinton had the nerve to say that the pre-Christmas bombing was to prevent the use of "weapons of mass destruction".

We don't know what weapons the Iraqi regime still has in its possession. We do know that the US-led sanctions on exports to Iraq have killed over one million people. If that is not using a "weapon of mass destruction", what is? The United Nations report of June 1997 tells us that verified deaths from starvation as a result of the sanctions totalled 1.2 million people, of whom 750,000 were children under the age of five. The US has waged war for the last ten years against the ordinary people of Iraq, not against Saddam Hussein.

The US does not want a revolution to overthrow Hussein. That is why they did nothing to assist the risings by Kurds, Marsh Arabs and Iraqi democrats after the Gulf War. They would like to see the back of Hussein but only if he can be replaced in some sort of palace coup and another dictator takes his place (one more amenable to US interests). They definitely do not want any sort of popular uprising for democratic rights.

They fear that such an example would be taken up by working people in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Syria and throughout the Middle East. And then what would happen to the US as the big world power who it is very dangerous to annoy? What would happen to the fabulous wealth of the parasitic Kings and Generals who keep their own people down while ensuring that US big business interests (especially oil) are not interfered with?

So they decided to inflict such suffering on the Iraqi people that others in the region would be afraid to get on the wrong side of the US ruling class. This is the New World Order that George Bush boasted about.

Issue 4 of the WSM magazine Red & Black Revolution is out. Topics covered include the influences of anarchism and the environmental movement on each other; the 1798 rising and how history has often been twisted to suit the needs of modern Irish nationalism; South African anarchists writing about racism and how to fight it; how the Irish left reacted to the Good Friday agreement; an interview with the Solidarita organisation about the possibilities facing anarchists in the Czech Republic; anarchist methods of organisation and thecontroversial Platform of the Libertarian Communists; a review of the first major English language book about Spain's 'Friends of Durruti'; and Victor Serge - the Bolsheviks'pet anarchist.

Copies can be obtained for £1.50 from WSM members or for £2.00 (inc. postage) from Red & Black Revolution, P.O. Box 1528, Dublin 8.

This article is from Workers Solidarity No 56 published in March 1999