USA launches terrorist attack on Iraq (fwd)

The Anarchives (tao@lglobal.com)
Tue, 3 Sep 1996 15:33:07 +0000 (GMT)


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 03 Sep 1996 10:16:05 +0100 (BST)
From: RAYCUNHM@macollamh.ucd.ie
To: raycunhm@macollamh.ucd.ie
Subject: USA launches terrorist attack on Iraq

Once again the USA has attacked Iraq on the pretence
of supporting the Kurds fight for democracy. Again
far from helping the US is just engaged in showing
who is boss in the region. Below is an article
about how the media uncritically accepted this posturing
during the Gulf War. Will they do the same again?

*** US no friend of democracy or the Kurds ***

It's a proud day for America and, by God, we kicked the Vietnam
syndrome for once and for all" declared Bush. The imperialists'
victory over Iraq was no surprise given their massive technical and
military capacity. What is more interesting is the ready help given
them by the "free press". This article focuses on how the media
provided a "licence to kill" in the Gulf.

LET'S EXAMINE a few of the myths that were floating
around in February 1991. Firstly was this a war aimed
only at liberating a small independent country from a
pitiless aggressor?

A Kuwaiti "exile" told Maggie O'Kane in the Irish Times of the
hardships they had endured due to the invasion, "In my normal life
I would have servants to do everything in the house now I am ironing
my own clothes and I have only one servant". "Before the invasion
Kuwaiti citizens had the highest standard of living in the world and
enjoyed free education, health care and social services. Sounds o.k.
but only 15% of the workforce are citizens!

The remaining 85% are "guest workers" and enjoy the most
appalling conditions. Since the war ended 300,000 of the 400,000
Palestinian guest workers have been expelled. Only 60,000
propertied Kuwaiti males have the vote - not that theres been an
election in quite a while. The al-Sabah ruling family returned
promising democracy and immediately began assassinating Kuwaiti
opposition figures. Kuwait was and is little more then a rentier
state. The Al-Sabahs were installed by Britain in 1961 and still
depend totally on the imperialists.

This doesn't justify Iraq's expansionism. Saddam, despite playing
"the Palestinian card", was no sort of liberator. However the rush
to "save" Kuwait while ignoring Israel's grabbings over the years
shows clearly that the West "defends small nations" only when it
suits their geo-political schemes.

Secondly, was Saddam the new Hitler? Saddam Hussein is not a
nice guy. In fact he's a pretty vicious nationalist dictator. He was
responsible for the agonising death by (West German made) Cyanide
and mustard gas of 5,000 Kurds at Halabja. He killed thousands of
Shias during the uprisings in March and continues to rule Iraq
with an iron fist.

However, much as he might relish the thought, Saddam was not
and certainly is not in the position of Adolf Hitler in 1939. Nazi
Germany was the second most powerful industrial nation in the
world, almost totally self-sufficient with it's own massive arms
industry. Iraq is only self-sufficient in oil (which it can't fully
process), dates and some vegetables and was almost $ 80 billion in
debt at the start of the war. Despite the hype they were actually
years away from producing nuclear weapons and had almost no
native arms technology. Up to August Saddam relied totally on the
major powers.

Thirdly Iraqi forces in Kuwait were accused of being a gang of
murderers. No war is ever "clean". In this war, as in all others,
there were horrible atrocities on both sides. However given the
balance of forces it comes as no surprise that the coalition forces
were the ones that reaped the biggest harvest of death and
destruction. Only 137 coalition troops were killed (many by
"friendly fire") compared to at least 100,000 Iraqi troops. At least
200,000 Iraqi civilians died in the bombing or as a result of the
starvation and disease that followed.

While the press rabbited on about Western hostages, millions of
workers from third world countries were not allowed to leave Saudi
Arabia and other countries for the duration of the war. Only 1 in
10 Palestinians in the West Bank (were many of the Iraqi scuds
eventually landed) had gas masks in case of chemical or biological
attack.

The Western media both "tabloid" and "quality" were prepared to
exaggerate, lie, accept rumours or just publish any old rubbish that
aided the war effort. We were told that babies in Kuwait city had
been ripped out of incubators and left to die. Hospital officials
dismissed these as absurd - they didn't have enough incubators to
even hold the number supposedly ripped out.

An icerink in the city was said to hold thousands of bodies - none
were found. Up to 40,000 Kuwaitis were alleged to be held hostage -
they weren't. Airmen who appeared in Iraqi TV were supposed to
have been beaten black and blue by the Iraqis but sustained their
injuries ejecting from their planes had high speeds.

COLLATORAL DAMAGE

The Iraqis couldn't, even if they wanted to, have come close to the
imperialist tallies. The Iraqi army of young and mostly untrained
recruits was annihilated in Kuwait. Iraq itself was bombed back
into the stone-age. It wasn't so much a war as a turkey shoot.

Between Kuwait and Basra a fleeing and deserting army in every
conceivable vehicle was exterminated. They were attacked by
British and American tanks and from the air with rocket and cluster
bombs. Tens of thousands were wiped out and it didn't merit a
headline in many papers. They called it "the mother of all easy
target areas".

A few journalists were revolted by what they saw. Some did not to
a lesser or greater extent take part in the sanitised and censored
coverage. They refused to be involved in the censored military
press briefings or to be photographed in camouflage at the front
"with our boys". One British group, Media Workers Against the
War, had 800 people at their founding meeting. They produced their
own "War Report" which contained much good factual reporting.

Breaking the consensus carried its risks which tended to increase
nearer the front. DJ Miles Patterson of Jazz FM in London played
a few mildly anti-war tracks and was fired. Bob Fisk who tried to
prevent Kuwaitis beating up Palestinians in Kuwait city was told by
an American soldier "You have a big mouth, this is marshall law boy.
Fuck off!" All things considered he probably got off fairly lightly.

KURDISH WORKERS' COUNCILS

One possible reason for the massacre between Kuwait city and
Basra could have been the rebellious feelings of many of the fleeing
conscripts. Though the West wanted rid of Saddam it would much
prefer a palace coup within the Ba'athists then a popular uprising.
It was possibly, also, for this reason that his elite imperial guards
were left fairly intact. On the 29th of March one of the first tanks
back into Basra destroyed a poster of Saddam. A generalised
uprising soon gripped the area.

The rising in the South was portrayed by the media as exclusively
Shia Muslim in character. However this area of Iraq has always
been strongly secular. Basra, Nasariah and Hilah were traditional
center of the Iraqi Communist Party (effectively wiped out in the
sixties). Had the rebellion lasted longer there might have been
some appearance of socialist ideas on the agenda.

In the North according to some sources1 quoting participants in the
Kurdish uprising there may have been up to 100 'shoras' or workers
councils. These were active in the fight against the Ba'athists.
They also came into conflict with the nationalists of the Kurdish
Front (KF) and the Stalinists of the 'March of Communism' (RAWT)
group.

The nationalist forces seem to have been extremely unpopular in
some areas. One witness said that Jalai Talabani (who later signed a
treaty with Saddam) was not let into the town of Sulaymaniyah.
Massoud Barzani of the Kurdish Democratic Party had two body
guards killed by the people of Chamcharni.

Shoras called for self-determination, bread, work and freedom
including freedom to strike, for a "shoras government", for womens'
equality and that people should control their own economic and
political destiny. It would appear that a revolution which began as
a nationalist one was being taken further by workers fighting for a
social revolution. According to one activist "a large part of the
shoras movement didn't acknowledge the KF's social authority".

Of course the KF have since brokered an agreement with Saddam
which recognises his authority in return for an autonomous region.
The lessons of the Gulf massacre and the Kurdish uprising seems to
be that nationalists have no answers. Neither Saddam, Yasser
Arafat, the KF or any bourgeois outfit have anything to offer
workers fighting imperialism in the Gulf region.

All nationalists eventually find themselves in collaboration with
the imperialists and only step out of line to pursue their own
interests (as in Saddam's case). The working class must assert it's
interests. They must break with nationalism and boot out all the
Emirs, Sheiks, petty dictators and imperialist stooges.

Only in a revolutionary war against the imperialists and their own
rulers can the really defeat imperialism as a force. Only through
fighting for real socialism can they take revenge for the crimes of
the imperialists.

1 The Kurdish Uprising and Kurdistan's nationalist shopfront
and it's negotiations with the Ba'athist/Fascist regime"
BM Blob + BM Combustion London WC1N 3XX, and the
Autumn 1991 issue of "Wildcat".

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