The shock-and-awe invasion of Iraq was not a “war of last resort.” The “regime change” had nothing to do weapons of mass destruction [WMD] or “terrorism” or defense of neighboring countries or nuclear capability. The cat’s out of the bag now. All that was just a pretext created by U.S. and British imperialism.
Many in the anti-war movement who raised their voices to demand “No blood for oil profits!” said it all along. But this time it’s coming from the same people who had claimed the movement was a bunch of conspiracy theorists.
Eight classified memos have now been leaked, mostly to the British media, that show otherwise.
They come at a time when Britain is also mired in the Pentagon’s war. The occupation forces can’t even keep a six-mile stretch of road open between Baghdad and the airport.
Popular anger in the U.S. is mounting along with the rise in troop casualties. A Gallup poll conducted June 6-8 revealed that 6 out of 10 of those asked wanted a partial or full withdrawal of GIs from Iraq. Only 41 percent approved of the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq War. A majority said they’d be upset if the president tried to send more troops.
Eight smoking guns
The eight memos released in recent weeks, stamped “secret” or “confidential,” reveal the following:
* Six months after the 9/11 attacks, then-U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s chief foreign policy adviser, David Manning. According to Manning, Rice didn’t want to talk about Osama bin Laden or Al-Qaeda, she wanted to press “regime change” in Iraq.
* Attorneys warned the Blair government that U.S.-British bombing of Iraq almost a year before the imperialist invasion—designed to provoke the Iraqi government into an action that would justify the invasion—was illegal, a violation of international law.
* The “Downing Street memo,” perhaps the most damning of all, contains the transcript of official minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting between Blair, his top advisers and Richard Dearlove—head of the British spy agency MI6. At that sit-down—eight months prior to the invasion of Iraq—Dearlove explained that Washington officials had made clear at a recent meeting that “Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”
* British Foreign Office Political Director Peter Ricketts wrote to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in a March 22 memo of the importance of winning popular and parliamentary support for a war against Iraq. “We have to be convincing that: the threat is so serious/imminent that it is worth sending our troops to die for ... .” The Blair government then released a pre-war intelligence report claiming that the Iraqi government could launch a chemical or biological weapons attack on 45 minutes’ notice.
These secret papers found their way to British journalist Michael Smith and have been circulated on the Internet. Although U.S. and British officials have nit-picked some details, they have not challenged their authenticity.
The documents confirm what Marx explained so clearly and distinctly about capitalist bosses: If the rate of profit is great enough, there is no crime they will not stoop to commit or pay to have someone commit for them. The drive for imperialist super-profits makes finance capital even more ruthless and adventurist.
Revelations of despair
It wasn’t revolutionaries who leaked these documents—as happened with the 1916 Sykes-Picot treaty. That secret agreement made during World War I carved up the Arabian peninsula between England, France and Czarist Russia. A year later the U.S. intervened and demanded its share.
But after the Bolsheviks seized state power in Russia and established a workers’ state in 1917, they exposed this colonial backroom deal.
The eight secret memos released in recent weeks also document imperialist wheeling and dealing to divvy up the spoils of occupation. But they would never have seen the light of day if U.S. and British imperialism had hit pay dirt in Iraq. These revelations reflect defeat and despair.
The memo dated July 21, 2002—which briefed officials for a meeting with Blair—stressed, “In particular we need to be sure that the outcome of the military action would match our objective ... . A postwar occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise. As already made clear, the U.S. military plans are virtually silent on this point.”
Following the recent exposure of the documents, journalists John Barry and Mark Hosenball wrote: “The Brits held out hope that they would play a larger role in rebuilding Iraq. Instead, they found themselves marginalized, with top posts in Baghdad going to Bush loyalists instead of British hands with years of field experience.” (Newsweek, June 27)
The British imperialists, who once boasted that “the sun never set” on their empire, find themselves in their twilight years, eclipsed by U.S. imperialists who treat them like a junior partner. “Blair and his team have largely hidden any discontent they may feel,” the two concluded. “Yet, as the Iraqi insurgency intensifies, small cracks are beginning to appear.”
Costs of war, occupation
The massive financial investment in the military invasion and occupation of Iraq is not paying off for Wall Street or the Lon don Stock Exchange.
After priming the pump with at least $7 billion in “reconstruction projects,” the oil and the profits that come with it are still not flowing out of Iraq. “Most of the cash goes to U.S. contractors who spend much of it on personal security,” noted Rod Nordland. (Newsweek, June 13)
Widespread popular anger is fueling the Iraqi resistance.
“Rage is rising among Iraqis facing an official employment rate of 18 percent and infrastructure is destroyed,” Nordland continued. “Basic services like electricity, water and sewers still aren’t up to prewar levels. Electricity is especially vital in a country where summer temperatures commonly reach 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet only 15 percent of Iraqis have reliable electrical services. In the capital, where it counts most, it’s only 4 percent.”
The revelations expose a falling out among thieves. Their political costs are mounting, too.
Anti-war anger in Britain cost Blair’s Labor Party 95 Parliament seats in the recent election.
President George W. Bush told two leaders of the European Union on June 20 that his strategy of crushing the Iraqi opposition “is going to work.”
Bush maintained his “stay the course” position during an East Room media conference with Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg and Euro pean Union president, and José Manuel Bar roso, the European Com mission president.
Two years ago, the European imperialists were deeply divided over Iraq and aired those differences. But now the problems in the European Union have driven them to Washington on questions of trade.
Trouble on the home front
Bush and the neo-cons are hunkered down in the White House, trying to defend their empire-building strategies to broad groupings in the U.S. ruling class that are no longer so confident that these are the right “guys” to get the job done.
The June 20 New York Times assessed, “Mr. Bush and his administration now find themselves with little or no support from Democrats and with a Republican Party that has proven reluctant to support him on a number of fronts.”
Calls for Bush’s impeachment, muttered warnings of war crimes trials, denounce ment of torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, demands to set a deadline to pull troops out of Iraq—these domestic “leaks” are hissing like steam from political fissures in both parties of big business.
“Congress is like Wall Street—it operates on fear and greed,” explained Allan J. Lichtman, a presidential historian at American University in Washington. “The Democrats don’t fear him anymore, and they’re getting greedy because they think they can beat him. The attitude you see among Republicans in Congress is, my lifeboat first.” (New York Times, June 20)
Congressional Black Caucus members John Conyers and Maxine Waters, more in tune with mass sentiments, had spoken out against the Iraq War earlier. They are suddenly finding wider support from the Democratic and Republican elite. On June 16 Rep. Waters announced formation of the “U.S. Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus,” with 41 members.
Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter to the White House on May 5 demanding an explanation about the revelations that the Bush administration manufactured the pretext for invasion of Iraq. More than 100 other members of Con gress signed on. John Kerry and Edward Kennedy have also “taken up the issue.”
Conyers widely circulated petitions demanding answers from the White House and got more than 560,000 signatures.
The refusal of the Iraqi people to knuckle under to Pentagon domination, and the building anger in the U.S. population against the war for empire, have at last created cracks in the political establishment here.
These disclosures about the ruses for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, however, will go nowhere unless they are used to help build a broad and powerful anti-war struggle based in the workers and oppressed who always suffer the most in a war.
They also demonstrate that as U.S. finance capital finds it harder to assert its economic will globally, the danger of its military adventurism grows. What schemes are in the works now against Iran, Korea, Venezuela and Cuba?
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