The Iraqi national resistance against the imperialist armies of occupation continues its inexorable march forward – broadening, deepening and gaining strength with each passing day. More than twice as many US soldiers have been killed since 1st May, when US President Bush declared the end of major combat operations, as did during the war right up to the fall of Baghdad. November was the bloodiest month for the US aggressor troops and their fellow criminals from the other countries who have sent their soldiers to Iraq in support of the US. During this month, four US helicopters were brought down and 81 US soldiers killed by the resistance. Here is a list of some of the dramatic attacks launched by the Iraqi resistance against the occupying forces.
November – the bloodiest month
2nd November saw the deaths of 16 US soldiers as their Chinook helicopter was shot down in Fallujah; on 7 November the resistance brought down a Black Hawk helicopter, killing 6 US soldiers travelling in it. On 12 November, a suicide bomber killed 19 Italian soldiers at Nasiriya, in the single deadliest blow to the occupation forces and a warning, as it were, to other countries who might be considering sending troops to Iraq to help the US. On 15 November, two Black Hawk helicopters were brought down in Mosul, killing 17 US soldiers. 21 November witnessed the launching of 14 rockets at the Palestine and Sheraton hotels in Baghdad, used by foreign correspondents, and the oil ministry. In what can only be described as the most ingenious and daring example of asymmetric warfare, these rockets were fired from donkey carts. Two Americans were injured in these attacks, one in the Sheraton which was struck by a single rocket, and one in the Palestine, hit by three rockets. Despite being hit by nearly a dozen missiles, no one was hurt in the oil ministry as, it being Friday, it was closed. This attack was the answer of the resistance to the two week-old US offensive aimed at stamping out armed opposition to the occupation, and meant to send a clear message that the resistance was not cowed, let alone beaten. In fact just as the commander of US forces around Baghdad was declaring, on 20 November, an end to the first phase of Operation Iron Hammer – with its unprecedented use of heavy firepower – asserting that it had cut down resistance attacks by 70 per cent, bombs exploded in several regions outside Baghdad, many of them aimed at pro-US Iraqi politicians in the northern city of Kirkuk and the western town of Ramadi.
Battle of Samarra
On 29 November, seven Spanish army intelligence officers were killed; the following day (30 November), two Japanese diplomats and a driver died. On the same day a major battle took place between the resistance and US forces in the town of Samarra. In one of the best co-ordinated offensives on US forces since the fall of Baghdad, the resistance attacked two military convoys. It is a measure of the deep hostility of the Iraqi population towards their imperialist ‘liberators’, and the latter’s fear of the former, that to drop off newly minted Iraqi currency at a state bank in Samarra, the US military had to mobilise eight M-1 main battle tanks, four Bradly armoured fighting vehicles, six Humvees and 93 troops. No sooner had the two armoured columns entered Samarra than they were ambushed. In the three-hour battle which ensued, US soldiers claimed to have killed 54 and injured 22 members of the resistance, with only light injuries to five of their own men. This claim is at complete variance with the local version of the battle. According to Samarra hospital workers, only eight people were killed and 54 wounded, the majority being civilians.
The Financial Times of 2 December, sums up the bloody proceedings of the weekend of 29/30 November in the following words: “The battle in Samarra, the largest since the end of major combat operations, marked the end of a particularly bloody weekend for this war-torn country. On top of the 54 insurgents the US claims were killed in the ambush were added the deaths of seven Spanish intelligence officials, two Japanese diplomats, two South Korean engineers and a Colombian civilian contractor. Two killings of US soldiers in western Iraq brought the death toll for American forces in November to 81, by far the highest of any month since the fall of Mr Hussein’s regime”.
What is particularly infuriating to the US military commanders is that they have very little idea of whom they are fighting. Although spectacular bombings in Baghdad grab the headlines, every day there is a persistent drumbeat of IEC (Improvised Explosive Device) attacks on US patrols and convoys along Iraqi roads in all parts of the country. The US have responded to these attacks with impotent rage. Driven to frenzy by the failure of intelligence on the ground, and the refusal of the Iraqi population to cooperate with them, the US forces in their anti-insurgency operations, code-named Iron Hammer, Ivy Cyclone and Rifles Blitz, have resorted to the use of massive force, bringing into play the air force, howitzers and gunships against supposed insurgent targets in Iraqi centres of population, in the process helping to further alienate the Iraqi people, who are invariably the principal victims of such high-handed tactics. On 10 November, for instance, the 82nd Airborne used two 2,000 pound bombs to destroy the home of an Iraqi who had participated in an ambush that killed a Delta company soldier. Far from succeeding in isolating the armed resistance, the disproportionate use of force acts as a most reliable recruiting sergeant for it and serves merely to isolate the occupation forces from the local population. There are very many places in Iraq where the US forces dare not enter during the day (Samarra being one of them) on the streets of which, accompanied by the puppet Iraqi Civil Defence Corps (ICDC), they venture only at night, principally to carry out lightening raids and prisoner snatches directed against specific figures.
Wide-spread support for Iraqi resistance
General John Abizaid, commander of all the US occupation forces in the region, asserts that the strength of the resistance is no more than 5,000, composed exclusively of the former Ba’ath regime loyalists. If this was so, the nation-wide campaigns conducted by the US forces might have been expected to break the back of the armed opposition. But this has not happened. In fact, the evidence points in the direction of well-planned guerrilla warfare which enjoys a broad measure of support among the Iraqi people. Despite American offensives, the resistance has continued to hit back and hit hard. On 9 December, a US helicopter burst into flames after coming under fire near Fallujah. On the same day, a suicide car bombing left three Iraqis dead and 58 US troops injured, when a bomber drove at an American base in the Turkoman town of Tel Afar, west of Mosul, while a suicide bomber with explosives strapped to his back blew himself up at a US military field hospital north of Baghdad.
On 14 December, 17 Iraqis were killed in a suicide car bomb attack outside a police station in Khaldiya, 50 miles west of Baghdad, while a US soldier was killed in a separate explosion. On 17 December, 10 people were killed when a petrol truck rammed into a bus in Baghdad. While the US forces claimed it was only an accident, the Iraqi officials stated that the truck was on its way to a nearby police station for a suicide attack when it ran into the bus. Had it been heading for the police station, it would have been the third such attack on a police establishment since the capture of Saddam Hussein by US forces on Saturday 13 December (of which more further on). The police, correctly perceived as collaborators, are a particularly hated target for the resistance.
Since the capture of Saddam Hussein, Baghdad has been rocked by a series of car bombs; a US army patrol was ambushed in Samarra, a town which the US troops seldom dare to enter during the day; a US supply train was stopped and looted; the northern oil pipeline was sabotaged yet again; the office of the quisling mayor of Fallujah was stormed and the mayor and his police forced to flee until the arrival of the US military; and Saddam Hussein’s hometown, Tikrit, was in a state of virtual revolt against the occupation forces, which had to resort to the use of tanks in an effort to quell the rebellion.
On Christmas Eve, four US soldiers were killed in roadside bombs, while a suicide car bomber killed four people outside a government building in the town of Abril in the Kurdish region. Christmas Day itself was marked by rocket and bomb attacks on Baghdad, forcing the cancellation of midnight Mass by several churches. US contractors and foreign correspondents were rudely awakened from their beds when the Iraqi resistance launched a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) at the Sheraton Hotel bang in the centre of Baghdad. The Sheraton had also been attacked by RPGs on Christmas Eve. The headquarters of the CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) were also hit in the early morning attack.
US soldiers, who searched the heavily guarded hotel compound following these attacks, found leaflets in Arabic to quit their jobs or the Hotel, which houses hundreds of US workers. In a number of explosions across the city, the resistance fired at the Iranian Embassy and the Turkish Ambassador’s residence, while a rocket just missed the Interior Ministry.
On Boxing Day (26 December), three US soldiers were killed, bringing to nine the number of US soldiers killed during the Christmas holiday. Two of these deaths occurred in and around the town of Baquba, 40 miles north-east of Baghdad. Baquba has received a number of attacks recently. The third soldier died in a roadside bomb attack on the nearby town of Balad. US soldiers in Baquba have reported almost nightly mortar attacks on their bases. On Saturday, 27 December, 19 people were killed in coordinated attacks by the Iraqi resistance in Karbala – among them 5 Bulgarians and 2 Thais.
Thus, US hopes of reduced resistance following Saddam Hussein’s capture, have been belied, and all the firepower by the US army, under their latest campaign codenamed ‘Iron Grip’, have failed to dent Iraqi resistance. The Iraqi resistance ushered in the new year by bombing an upmarket Baghdad restaurant, the Nabil, on New Year’s Eve. This restaurant is visited by highly placed officials from the occupation forces and rich Iraqis supporting the occupation.
According to reliable estimates, between 1st May 2003, when US President Bush declared major combat operations at an end, and 30 August 2003, 65 US soldiers were killed, while 570 were wounded; and from 1st September to 28 December 2003, while 145 US soldiers were killed, another 639 were injured. Within two weeks of Saddam’s capture, 12 US soldiers died in combat, while another 105 were wounded. Since the start of the war (March 19), 470 US soldiers have been killed and 2,703 wounded. Of those injured, 20 % have suffered severe brain injuries, many have been left disabled. All these official figures are a complete understatement of the actual US casualties. As of 20 November 2003, the Landstuhl Medical Centre in Germany had received 8,093 injured or sick troops for treatment, many for mental health problems. There has been a significant increase in the number of suicides, in which demoralised soldiers take their own lives rather than carry on with what they rightly regard as a pointless and unjust war. Scores of soldiers are known deliberately to injure themselves so that they could be sent home. In the process many have died an accidental death as their self-inflicted injuries proved to be more lethal than they had intended.
Thus it is clear that, while the occupation forces are inflicting terrible punishment on the Iraqi people, this punishment, far from weakening the resolve of Iraqi people, has only served to stiffen their resistance to the occupation of their motherland and exhorted them to ever more heroic resistance. The fighters for Iraqi national liberation continue to deliver devastating blows at their occupiers and will doubtless be successful in driving them out of Iraq.
CIA report rattles Bush administration
From the above brief account of its activity it is abundantly clear that the Iraqi resistance is thriving. Corroboration of the growing resistance comes from a frank analysis in the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) report issued on 11 November. Although an internal CIA document, the report was widely circulated within the Bush administration. And, unusually, it carried an endorsement by Paul Bremer, the US pro-consul in Iraq and the head of the so-called Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). Prepared by CIA staff on the ground in Iraq, this report rattled the US administration with its grim and sobering conclusions.
The principle finding of the report is that the resistance to the occupation forces is gaining ground, hand in hand with the perception, spreading fast among the Iraqi people, that they can beat the imperialist armies of occupation. The report admits that the insurgents number in their tens of thousands and growing every day, adding that not all those people are actually firing, but providing support, shelter and other forms of assistance. It notes that the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) lacks legitimacy as it has little support among the Iraqi population. An intelligence source in Washington familiar with the report observed that the CIA report was “a black assessment that the resistance is broad, strong and getting stronger”. Not only was the insurgency growing in strength and coordination, but stood a good chance of spreading from central Iraq to the north and south of the country. The resistance, according to the report, had better intelligence than the US and were gaining more recruits as the belief grew among the Iraqi people that the US would not succeed. It warned that the reconstruction process was under threat as NGOs and contractors were driven out by violence. Paul Bremer added his own observations to the CIA report, stating that he was powerless to do what he was meant to do so long as the security situation continued to deteriorate. The CIA report’s assessment served to illustrate the chasm that divides the thinking of US personnel in contact with the Iraqi reality and the public declarations of Bush and some senior members of his administration about the progress towards a vibrant, free and democratic Iraq under US imperialist tutelage.
The proof of the strength of the Iraqi resistance was not long in coming, as on 12 November the Italian military police barracks in Nasiriya came under attack, killing 19 Italian soldiers and nine Iraqis and striking a blow at one of the few countries prepared to commit soldiers to Iraq to help the troubled Anglo-American imperialist occupation in that country.
In its leading article, this is how the Financial Times of 14 November welcomed the CIA report: “For the first time, Washington is emerging from under the comfort blanket of rhetorical bluster about its opponents amounting to clusters of ‘diehards’ from Saddam Hussein’s regime, complemented by a few hundred ‘foreign’ Islamists. This is important, because a realistic judgement about security is imperative if there is to be any chance of retrieving the situation” (‘A second change to get Iraq right’).
Referring to the spread of bombing “to every conceivable support for the occupation” and tripling of daily attacks “on the US and allied troops … to an average of 35 a day”, the Financial Times says that “a number of phenomena are observable. Inside Iraq, not only can the insurgents recruit more but they can also inhibit and intimidate any collaboration with the Coalition Provisional Authority. The mass of ordinary Iraqis are standing back, waiting to see who will emerge the winner. That syndrome is visible across the region, too, with the additional twist that Arab regimes fear destabilisation if the US fails in Iraq but are also frightened that success on US terms will put them in the line of fire” (ibid).
Thus, quislings in Baghdad and puppet regimes right across the Middle East, as well as their imperialist masters, are shaking in their boots at the revolutionary prospects for the region in the wake of successful resistance in Iraq – an outcome which they are all determined to avert.
Change of tactics
The CIA report sent all the panic buttons flashing. Paul Bremer was recalled to Washington for urgent consultations, following which Bremer’s original plan of “seven steps to sovereignty”, under which Iraq was to regain its independence after writing of a new constitution and conducting elections, a process that could have taken at least three years, was unceremoniously buried and substituted by a new plan which claims to aim at an accelerated transfer of power in Baghdad. It is the mere coincidence that the Bush administration’s 180° about-turn on the political process happened on the same day as the attack on the Italian police barracks in Nasiriya. Only two months ago, Condoleeza Rice, US national security advisor, rejected as “unworkable” the French, German and Russian calls for an early transfer of sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government. Under the new dispensation, forced on the US administration by the powerful blows delivered to the occupation forces by the resistance, the US has been obliged to give up its ambition for direct rule and promise an end to military occupation by the coming June.
Under the new plan, the IGC and the CPA would be dissolved by the end of next June, following the election of an interim government by a Transitional National Assembly of appointed notables, that is, hand-picked minions. This is merely a change of tactics necessitated by fierce Iraqi opposition and the need for the Bush administration to appear to have a tangible exit strategy in the period leading up to the 2004 US presidential election. There is no change in substance, for the occupation of Iraq by the US-led forces is set to continue. US imperialism is simply engaged in a balancing exercise whereby it will attempt to manage the transition so as not to lose control while at the same time avoiding the perception that the process is rigged in favour of a handful of Iraqi exiles brought into Iraq by the invading imperialist armies to serve as the Iraqi face for the occupation. The Iraqi street, recognising it as the manipulation it is, will reject it decisively. Nothing less than an end to the imperialist occupation, a complete and unconditional withdrawal of the imperialist armies, and the establishment of a genuinely Iraqi government chosen by the Iraqi people will satisfy the latter. Changing the name of the puppet IGC and calling it an Interim Government will not do; instead of being appointed by Paul Bremer, an interim government ‘elected’ by the so-called Transitional Assembly, itself a collection of servile worthies appointed by Bremer, will be no more than a flunkey outfit appointed by the chosen flunkeys of the US pro-consul – Bremer. It is a plan designed to bypass the Iraqi people and to hand over the trappings of government to a group of unelected, unrepresentative, unpopular and highly-despised Iraqi exiles ferried into Iraq by the US special forces, while the substance of power in Iraq remains firmly where it is today – in the hands of US imperialism. These Iraqi traitors, whom US imperialism treats with well-deserved contempt, and Paul Bremer correctly regards as “just a bunch of failed nincompoops”, have been bluntly told “either do our bidding or we will replace [you] with other nincompoops who will” (see Heidi Kingstone’s article ‘Man with a mission’ in the Financial Times Magazine, 20 December 2003).
Lacking any social base, bereft of all popular support, entirely dependent for even their physical survival on US imperialism, lacking all legitimacy, these nincompoops have little choice other than to do the bidding of their imperialist masters. This is precisely why the new plan cannot, and will not, succeed. It is a vain attempt to reduce imperialist casualties by retaining fewer troops, entrenched in fortified bases, from which to conduct targeted campaigns against the resistance and in support of the Iraqi puppet regime.
Bush’s state visit to Britain – a disaster
In one of the most disastrous state visits ever, Bush visited London from 19 to 21 November. What was supposed to have been an occasion for the display of triumphalist bravado, turned into a subdued funerial affair, thanks to the attacks of the resistance in Iraq and the wider Middle East region. At the height of Bush’s state visit, the British consulate and the HSBC bank’s headquarters in Istanbul were blown up in two separate explosions, killing 27, including Britain’s consul-general to Turkey, Roger Short, and with up to 450 injured. These attacks followed the blasting of two synagogues on 15 November, which killed 25 and injured 150. The attacks were aimed, first, at the Turkish regime for its hateful policy of a close alliance with US imperialism and Israeli-Zionism, and second at British imperialism for its dirty role in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. The timing of the attacks was obviously meant to cause the greatest of embarrassment to Messrs Bush and Blair during the former’s state visit to Britain.
Thursday, 20 November, saw the biggest ever week-day demonstration in London. Upwards of 300,000 protesters converged in on London to protest against Bush’s visit, to express their opposition to the war in Iraq and their support for the just struggle of the Palestinian people against Zionist colonialism. The visit encapsulated the paradox of US military might – seeming invincibility coupled with an acute sense, verging on the paranoid, of vulnerability. Notwithstanding the over-awing motorcades, the presidential limousine, posses of secret service agents and the rocket-toting helicopters hovering over the presidential entourage, the occasion managed to convey the all-persuasive fear struck by the opponents of US imperialism into the heart of the chief executive of the foremost imperialist power. As a result the entire visit became a public relations disaster and degenerated into an exercise in avoiding contact with the British people.
On Saturday, 13 December, US forces struck lucky. They captured Saddam Hussein near his home town of Tikrit. The news of his capture sent the Anglo-American imperialist establishment and its powerful media organs into a lurid frenzy. The banner headlines, even in normally serious newspapers, screamed: “The tyrant is a prisoner”; Iraqis liberated from Saddam’s ghost can “breath a sigh of relief”; the “curtain has come down on one of the darkest periods of modern Arab history” – and so on and so forth. The sad truth is that the biggest and most dangerous tyrants, imperialism and its spokesmen, especially of Anglo-American imperialism – the Bushes and Blairs – are still at large and wreaking untold havoc upon hundreds of million of people at home and abroad; the truth is that the curtain on “one of the saddest periods of Arab history” will only come down with the defeat of imperialism, a defeat to which the heroic Iraqi and Palestinian resistance is making such a disproportionate, heroic and wonderful contribution; only then, liberated from the ghost of imperialism, will the Iraqi and other Arab people be able to “breath a sigh of relief”.
Doubtless the capture of Saddam has provided a badly needed boost to the troubled Anglo-American imperialist occupation. Undoubtedly it would temporarily boost the morale of the imperialist soldiers fighting a losing battle against an increasingly fierce and sophisticated resistance. But it is a forlorn hope for Anglo-American imperialism to believe that Saddam’s capture, and the accompanying, gratuitously humiliating and stomach-churning treatment intentionally meted out to him in the moments following his capture, will provide a stepping-stone to its victory over the Iraqi people. This for the following reasons:
First, the Iraqi national resistance is far too broad and deep to be confined to the fate of a single individual, no matter how important. The resistance is inextricably connected with the imperialist occupation of Iraq and cannot thus be eliminated without the expulsion of imperialism from Iraq. The circumstances surrounding Saddam’s capture, and all available evidence since his capture, clearly indicates that he is most unlikely to have personally organised and directed the resistance. There are indications that the guerrilla campaign was planned well in advance of the war.
Secondly, during their recent offensives, the US army have discovered that some of the resistance cells were commanded by former Republican Guard officers and members of the Iraqi intelligence services, which goes to show that rather than take a stand in Baghdad, significant elements of the Iraqi military made a tactical retreat so as to be able later to fight a people’s war against the occupation forces. This is certainly the view of Major General Charles Swannack, commander of the US’ 82nd Airborne Division, who, pointing to the large number of arms caches right across the country, a considerable number of which have not been secured by US forces, suggests that these were deliberately dispersed for the purposes of a guerrilla war against the US. It must be presumed that the resistance, thus planned and organised, will continue even after the capture of Saddam. After all, weren’t we told after the killing of Saddam’s sons, Uday and Qusay, in July that the resistance will subside. The opposite has been the result. Each month since then has been bloodier than the previous, with the resistance mounting a constantly rising stream of attacks – some of these extremely spectacular – against the imperialist forces. What guarantee is there that the capture of Saddam will not be followed by a pattern similar to that which followed the killing of his sons.
Finally, the hard struggle for survival in occupied Iraq, in which security is precarious, jobs scarce and basic services characterised by their absence, combined with the daily humiliations of an occupied people suffering from the tyranny of heavy-handed US tactics, the fierce nationalism of the Iraqi people, their hatred for the foreign occupiers and their yearning for liberation, is bound to spur them on to dogged and unremitting resistance to, and defeat of, the armies of occupation.
War for world domination
The US war against Iraq and Afghanistan has nothing whatever to do with the war against terrorism. The ceaseless propaganda about the fight against terror, rogue states and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) serves merely to distract the attention of the masses from the all too important questions of imperialist exploitation and the resultant pauperisation of the vast masses of people around the world – especially the four-fifths of humanity inhabiting the vast continents of Asia, Africa and Latin-America. This war is in the long line of those wars, whose aim has been to safeguard the historically outmoded capitalist mode of production, preserve imperialist domination in the face of opposition from national liberation movements and challenge from rival imperialist powers alike.
The Middle East is central to it, for it is the repository of two-thirds of the proven global oil reserves. In the coming three decades, the importance of the Middle East as a supplier of the commodity, which is the staple diet of the imperialist economy and so vital to is war machine, is expected to increase – and with it the US dependence on it. During the past 30 years, while US oil production has fallen by 40 per cent, its oil consumption has risen by 40 per cent. During the same period, the share of oil imports into the US has increased from 36 to 56 per cent. In the year 2003, the US will have imported 11 million barrels of oil a day and, according to reliable forecasts, US imports of oil are likely to be of the order of 20 million barrels a day (see Financial Times, 23 December 2003). In less than two decades, the US is also expected to be importing a quarter of its natural gas requirements, as opposed to 2 per cent presently.
Notwithstanding strenuous efforts by the imperialist oil monopolies during the past three decades to reduce dependence on OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries – dominated by Arab countries) by developing non-OPEC sources of supply – ranging from West Africa to the Caspian basin and Canada – the Middle East remains the principal supplier. In fact, according to the International Energy Agency, the Middle East will account for two-thirds of the increase in world oil production from now until 2030 – with an expectation of producing 51 million barrels a day (mbd) as against the present 21 mbd. If OPEC today accounts for 28.1 per cent of global oil production, by 2030, OPEC’s share is expected to increase to 42.9 per cent Such a development, by increasing the ability of Arab countries to determine world oil prices, is fraught with fearful consequences for imperialism, especially US imperialism – consequences which the latter is determined to avert. (see Financial Times, 18 December 2003).
What is more. It is not merely a question of the ability of the US to purchase oil to satisfy the needs of its industry; what is at issue is the ability of US imperialism to ensure its domination through its monopoly of oil by depriving the oil producers and rival imperialist powers alike of the control over oil. Hence the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 in the wake, and under the pretext of 9/11; hence the establishment of US bases in the eastern republics of the former USSR and the bringing under US and British control of the oil and gas recourse of the states bordering the Caspian Sea – and into the bargain bringing US forces uncomfortably close to the borders of Russia and China.
Driven by the crisis of capitalist accumulation – an abundance of surplus capital feverishly seeking avenues of investment, markets and sources of raw materials – US imperialism has embarked on the extremely dangerous venture of pursuing a national strategy which seeks to hit hard the oppressed and super-exploited peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America, as well as to squeeze and elbow out rival imperialist powers. It is in pursuit of this hegemony – world domination – that US imperialism spends more on its military than the combined defence budgets of the next twenty biggest spenders. For its part, British imperialism has joined forces with the US in this predatory war against Iraq to protect its oil monopolies (BP and Shell are two of the largest three oil monopolies) and to safeguard the interests of the City of London as a major international financial centre.
US bound to fail
That US imperialism is bound to fail in its mission of world domination, just as did Hitlerite Germany – of this there can be no doubt. There are a number of solid reasons for it.
Firstly, its bullying of, and aggression against, the oppressed nations is arousing tremendous hatred against it and giving rise to powerful anti-imperialist national resistance movements – from Iraq and Palestine to Columbia and Peru. Any regime which sides with US imperialism is hated by, and under attack, from its own people. This is especially the case in the Middle East. “Each time America embraces a Middle East regime”, says Jeffrey Sachs, “the regime loses legitimacy” (Financial Times, 23 December 2003). Turkish and Saudi Arabian regimes provide the best examples in this instance. The Saudi Arabian government, contrary to its hypocritical public stance, permitted the use of military bases in Saudi Arabia by the US. Two hundred US war planes flew from Saudi Arabia to launch nearly 3,000 sorties per day against Iraq. “The US had more coalition aircraft based in Saudi Arabia during the war than any other country” (quoted in the Financial Times, 19 November 2003). Angered by the dastardly actions of the corrupt and autocratic Saudi regime, Saudi patriots have begun to hit, in addition to the US, Saudi targets within the kingdom. The language of these Saudi patriots is positively medieval, but their actions objectively serve to under mine imperialism. When people in the imperialist countries, some of them claiming to be Marxist and communists, denounce those who are fighting against the Saudi regime – a long-standing counter-revolutionary stooge of US imperialism – merely because the Saudi patriots say that they have taken upon themselves “to cleanse the land of the two holy mosques of the crusaders’ [US imperialism] agents [Saudi regime]”, they are only displaying their own imperialist prejudices and revealing how ridiculously stupid, pedantic and supercilious they are.
Secondly, in trying to muscle in and encroach upon the interests of other imperialist powers, especially the European, US imperialism is provoking stiff opposition on the part of its rivals. The open hostility between the US, on the one hand, and Germany and France, on the other hand, in the period leading up to the war in Iraq and since then is only the initial instalment of the developing contradictions within the camp of imperialism. US imperialism is not longer in a position to dictate to, and to have its order obeyed by, the other imperialist powers, thanks to the relative decline of the US, and the rise of European and Japanese, economic power, combined with the collapse of the former USSR.
The US is running a huge current account deficit (5% of its GDP), and a large budget deficit (5% of its GDP). It has ceased to be a creditor nation and has been since the early 1990s a net debtor. At the end of 2002, its net liabilities amounted to 25 % of its GDP. It is reliant on foreigners – Europeans and Asians – pumping $500 billion a year ($1.3 billion per day) to keep it afloat. If in 1960, the US was the origin of 49% of the global FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) and host to only 14%, by 2002 only 22% of the global FDI originated in the US, while it played host to 19% (see Financial Times, 18 December 2003). The GDP of the EU is nearly equal to that of the US. In view of these facts, it is clear that other imperialist powers, with the exception of Britain (for how long we cannot foretell), far from showing a willingness to be taken for granted, as was the case until very recently, have begun to flex their muscles in defiance of US imperialism. Thus it is that whereas the first Gulf war cost US imperialism a mere $7 billion, thanks to the generous financial contributions by Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Gulf states, the present war and occupation of Iraq has already cost $150 billion (£86 billion, Euros 122 billion).
Thirdly, the US is showing all the signs of an “imperial overstretch”, which is costly in terms of treasure and armed forces, and carries all the dangers of resistance among other nations or combinations of states. Its armed forces and bases are present in scores of countries. Of its 1.4 million-strong army, 250,000 soldiers are on active duty overseas – a number as high as at the height of the Cold War. It needs more boots on the ground in the wake of the series of predatory wars it has unleashed, but is unable to effect an immediate increase in active-duty strength, the US is forced to activate an ever-larger number of reserves and members of the National Guard. Nearly 178,000 reservists (close to a fifth of the 950,00 total) have been called to duty. There is the real risk that the weight of the imperialist wars being waged by US imperialism, and those being planned, will break the back of the US armed forces – resulting in the collapse of the US empire in the fashion of the 17th century Spanish empire. In addition, the burgeoning military expenditure is bound to force the US administration to either raise taxes or cut spending on essential items such as health and welfare. Combined with increasing casualties in the battlefield, such a course of action will set the US ruling class on a collision course against its own people, especially the working class, and thus hamper its ability to wage war abroad.
In the light of what has been said above, the following words of Mao Tse-tung, uttered 40 years ago, ring truer today than ever before:
“Riding roughshod everywhere, US imperialism has made itself the enemy of the people of the world and has increasingly isolated itself. Those who refused to be enslaved will never be cowed by the atom bombs and hydrogen bombs in the hands of the US imperialists. The raging tide of the people of the world against the US aggressors is irresistible. Their struggle against US imperialism and its lackeys will assuredly win still greater victories” (Statement supporting the Panamanian people’s just patriotic struggle against US imperialism, 12 January 1964, People of the World, Unite and Defeat US Aggressors and All their lackeys).
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