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Obama Lays Out Plans for Continued War
In a July 14, 2008 New York Times Op Ed, Barack Obama says:
Obama Lays Out Plans for Continued War
By Steven Argue
In a July 14, 2008 New York Times Op Ed, Barack Obama says:
"As I’ve said many times, we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 — two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, a residual force in Iraq would perform limited missions: going after any remnants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, protecting American service members and, so long as the Iraqis make political progress, training Iraqi security forces."
In other words, he does not plan to get all of the troops out of Iraq and he will only get most of the troops out in two years. And what does he explain he will do with these troops? Redeploy them. Redeployed where? His rhetoric has been clear: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran.
Obama goes on to call for a surge in Afghanistan as well as war in Pakistan:
"Ending the war [in Iraq] is essential to meeting our broader strategic goals, starting in Afghanistan and Pakistan [...] As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan. We need more troops, more helicopters [...]"
U.S. intervention has also been very bad for the people of Pakistan. It is US intervention that has kept a long series of dictators in power there. The US has no right to intervene against those fighting that dictatorship that it labels "terrorists". Likewise, it is US intervention in support of a long series of Pakistani dictators that is the cause of Bhutto's death, brutal repression against the majority, exploitation, and poverty, all of which has resulted in rebellion against the Pakistani government. The US has already harmed the Pakistani people enough with massive aid to dictators and would do more harm by sending in troops.
NO TO OBAMA’S PROPOSED MILITARY INTERVENTION IN PAKISTAN!
Massive U.S. intervention in Afghanistan began in 1978 and continues to this day. The ongoing war in Afghanistan continues to kill thousands of Afghan civilians and cause extreme suffering due to horrendous injuries, the displacement of people from their homes and livelihoods, home invasions, sexual abuse, arbitrary arrests and torture, and the general humiliation of the Afghani people.
As this author stated for Liberation News on September 12, 2001:
“Americans watched in horror as the World Trade Center collapsed. Yet it was a horror no different from what the U.S. government has done with it's bombing of civilian populations in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Korea. The U.S. bombings of just these countries, not to mention many other U.S. acts of war, murdered millions of civilians. Terror against civilians is never justified…
“Today the clerical fascists of the Taliban rule Afghanistan. The CIA put them in power with billions of dollars in U.S. military aid. This massive U.S. intervention in Afghanistan was in opposition to the revolutionary PDPA government that came to power in 1978 on issues of promoting women’s rights and land reform. Literacy campaigns began teaching the poor and women how to read and write.
“Foreign religious fanatics and wealthy defenders of the old feudal system came together in a terrorist organization called the Mujahideen. With billions of dollars in assistance from the U.S. [starting under the Jimmy Carter presidency] these fanatical cutthroats waged a holy war that included killing women for teaching little girls how to read and write and throwing acid into the faces of women who had become liberated from the veil. The Taliban came to power as a result of this U.S. intervention.
“Will a U.S. war now against the Taliban and former CIA aid recipient Osama Bin Laden set things straight? No. It will be the people of Afghanistan who suffer death and destruction from war as the U.S. attempts to install a puppet government friendly to U.S. corporate (oil) interests.” Steven Argue, Liberation News, September 12, 2001
The Taliban was put in power by U.S. intervention. U.S. occupation today is a cause for war and continues to keep an extremely reactionary religious government in power. Afghanistan had secular governments with much wider women's rights before the U.S. began its massive intervention in Afghanistan in the 1970's. All U.S. imposed governments have been religious and anti-women. In Afghanistan, the Afghanis are better qualified to solve the problems caused by U.S. imperialism than U.S. imperialism is.
Yet rather than get out of Afghanistan Obama is proposing more troops, more helicopters, and more war.
NO TO OBAMA”S PROPOSED SURGE IN AFGHANISTAN!
U.S. OUT OF AFGHANISTAN NOW!
In addition, at AIPAC, Obama’s speech laid the groundwork for war with Iran:
“The Iranian regime supports violent extremists and challenges us across the region. It pursues a nuclear capability that could spark a dangerous arms race and raise the prospect of a transfer of nuclear know-how to terrorists. [...] The danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat.”
A war on a major oil producing nation under the imperialist excuse of weapons of mass destruction. Sound familiar? Bush would have a good case for a charge of plagiarism against Obama.
And what will the Iranians think of more imperialist intervention?
In 1953 the CIA overthrew the democratically elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran and put the brutal dictatorship of the Shah in power. Mossadegh had plans to nationalize the Iranian oil fields, a plan that would have taken a good chunk of the oil profits out of the private control of major international oil companies. Such nationalizations have greatly helped people in other countries, such as Venezuela, where oil wealth is used to better the conditions of the poor and provide needed programs like healthcare.
The CIA sponsored overthrow of the Mossadegh government paved the way for 26 years of dictatorship under the U.S. backed Shah. Freedom of speech did not exist under the Shah, and the CIA participated in the torture of political opponents to the Shah. Meanwhile, U.S. oil corporations made massive profits from Iranian oil while the vast majority of the Iranian people lived in extreme poverty and did not benefit from the oil wealth.
The Iranian people rightly saw the Shah as a puppet of U.S. imperialism, and finally overthrew his dictatorship in 1979. Unfortunately, repression was so bad under the Shah that the only place that people could organize opposition was in the Mosques. This gave the Mullahs a tremendous advantage in taking control of the revolution. The Islamic nature of the revolution led to a deterioration of women's rights and socialists, many of whom had naively supported the Islamic Revolution, were executed by the clerical fascist state.
Despite the brutal nature of the new Iranian government, in that respect the same as the old regime the U.S. had supported, the U.S. was not satisfied. The new regime nationalized the Iranian oil fields under government control. In addition, the new government was full of anti-imperialist rhetoric and took American hostages; a natural result of 26 years of U.S. imposed dictatorship and exploitation. The U.S. government hated the Iranian revolution most for nationalizing the oil, and they feared that the Iranian Revolution may become an influence for similar anti-imperialist revolutions in the region.
As a result, the U.S. encouraged then ally, Saddam Hussein to send Iraqi troops to invade Iran. During the war, the U.S. armed both sides, but most armed Iraq and provided Iraq with military intelligence. The Iraqi invasion of Iran began on September 22, 1980 and the war continued until 1988. As a result of the war, between half million and a million and a half people died. This U.S. support to Iraq also helped enable Iraq to murder between 50,000 and 100,000 Kurds in the Anfal campaign of 1988. At the time, the U.S. corporate media was silent about this crime, and only exposed it later when U.S. alliances changed.
So U.S. intervention against Iran imposed decades of dictatorship, repression, war, exploitation, poverty, and, just in the Iran-Iraq war alone, the deaths of around a million Iranian people. Like Iraq, U.S. troops on the ground in Iran will not be treated as liberators.
The Iranian working class has many scores to settle with their Iranian rulers, but as bad as the current regime in Iran is, Iranians need only look across the border into Iraq to see that U.S. occupation will be much worse. War, a puppet capitalist regime, a million dead, torture, millions of refugees, and an occupier mainly interested in privatization to loot resources. As Iraq shows, there is no liberation at the hands of U.S. occupation. And as the CIA’s Shah showed, there is no liberation under a U.S. imposed puppet. Only anti-imperialist socialist revolution can begin to solve the problems faced by women, ethnic minorities, and the working class of Iran.
NO TO OBAMA’S THREATS AGAINST IRAN!
U.S. HANDS OFF IRAN!
On Iraq, Obama has never promised to fully withdraw. In a debate in September 2007, when asked if he would have U.S. troops out of Iraq by 2013 Barack Obama said "I believe that we should have all our troops out by 2013, but I don't want to make promises not knowing what the situation's going to be three or four years out." ("The Democratic Presidential Debate on MSNBC", New York Times 9/26/07).
The U.S. must leave by air, sea, and land as quickly as possible. U.S. imperialism has created a horrible situation, but that is no excuse to stay, and U.S. troops, Halliburton, etc. are only making matters worse. Over a million Iraqis are dead. These deaths are not just caused by the civil war that the U.S. has ignited, nor are they just caused by the death-squad government that the U.S. has put in power. U.S. guns and bombers are also the direct cause of a large number of deaths. Iraq needs to be turned over to the Iraqi people through immediate withdrawal.
In addition, Obama has directly supported the U.S. war and occupation of Iraq by voting in the Senate to fund it. If it were not for the Democrat votes in congress, the recent $162 billion dollars for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would have never passed.
This most recent New York Times Op Ed from Obama continues on with a pro-war position. Obama is clear. He wants a gradual redeployment of the majority of troops to fight other wars while calling for continuing keep some troops fighting in Iraq.
On Blackwater mercenaries fighting in Iraq Obama also refuses to support a ban, and promised to continue to use Blackwater when he becomes president (Democracy Now!, June 2, 2008).
The US government has no right to be in Iraq murdering, torturing, and humiliating their people while making massive profits for the military industry and other contractors. The U.S. is attempting to privatize Iraqi oil to eliminate Iraqi control over this most important resource and give U.S. and British oil companies control over the oil. The puppet government the US has set up is a death squad government that should not be protected by U.S. troops. Continued occupation of Iraq is a continued attempt to subvert the national will of the Iraqi people and it must end immediately, yet Obama's plan is to only leave, partially, after a couple years, and this, assuredly, only after the oil law has been passed and oil ownership handed over to the multi-nationals. This, as Obama's own use of the term "redeployment" indicates, will free U.S. troops up for other oil wars.
NO TO OBAMA’S “PHASED REDEPLOYMENT”!
U.S. OUT OF IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN NOW!
U.S. HANDS OFF THE WORLD!
Another major cause for war in the Middle East is U.S. military support to the racist regime in Israel. Obama promises to continue this practice. At AIPAC Obama promised:
“Defense cooperation between the United States and Israel is a model of success, and must be deepened. As president, I will implement a Memorandum of Understanding that provides $30 billion in assistance to Israel over the next decade — investments to Israel's security that will not be tied to any other nation. First, we must approve the foreign aid request for 2009. Going forward, we can enhance our cooperation on missile defense. We should export military equipment to our ally Israel under the same guidelines as NATO.”
This despite Israel’s recent war of aggression against Lebanon, a war that, if it were not for the heroic resistance of Hezbollah fighters, would have ended in another Israeli occupation like Israel’s brutal occupation of Lebanon that took place in the 1980’s. That occupation included crimes against humanity committed by Israeli and allied Christian Phalangists when they massacred thousands of Palestinians in cold-blood at the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps.
In addition, Obama’s speech made no reference to the suffering faced by the Palestinian people as a result of the creation and continuation of the Jewish state. Israel is a state that created a homeland for one people, through force and violence, by denying the homeland of Palestine’s original inhabitants. Also missing from Obama’s speech was the brutal blockade currently being carried out against Palestinians in Gaza. Obama expressed zero sympathy for the Palestinians and other Arabs, only promises to supply Israel with the weapons to kill more Arabs.
Massive U.S. military aid helps keep the repressive governments of Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia in power. Instead of promising more U.S. military aid, that aid should be cut off to better allow the people of the Middle East to decide their own future.
NO TO OBAMA’S PROMISE OF BILLIONS TO ISRAEL!
Another indicator of where Obama stands on imperialist war is how he sees the past wars of the United States. Of H. W. Bush and his war on Iraq Obama recently stated, "I have enormous sympathy for the foreign policy of George H. W. Bush. I don't have a lot of complaints about their handling of Desert Storm." (Barack Obama, from David Brooks article, "Obama Admires Bush, NY Times, May 16, 2008)
Leading up to that war, Kuwait was slant drilling into Iraqi Ramaila oil fields. Iraq saw this as theft. In addition, the Kuwaiti monarchy went against OPEC quotas and increased oil production by 40%, bringing down the price of oil on the world market, something Saddam Hussein called economic warfare.
Before Iraq invaded Kuwait, Saddam Hussein was, at that time an ally of the United States in the wars against Iran and the Kurds. He had received massive U.S. military backing in those wars. When he assembled troops on the Kuwaiti border, US ambassador April Glaspie met with Saddam Hussein and told him, "We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait."
Saddam Hussein saw this as a green light from his powerful U.S. ally to invade Kuwait. Soon after, he did.
But Saddam Hussein was set up by the United States because the U.S. wanted a war. The reason for this was to prop up the profits of the military industrial complex. The Soviet Union had just fallen, and the military industries needed an excuse to keep spending billions of dollars of our tax dollars on the military.
Saddam Hussein was the perfect boogie-man to meet their needs. The U.S. corporate media pointed out that he had murdered tens of thousands of Kurds, never mentioning why they were silent when the operations were taking place with weapons supplied by the United States.
The U.S. corporate media also claimed that premature babies in Kuwait had been taken out of incubators and left to die so that the incubators could be shipped back to Baghdad. The whole story was a complete fabrication, and the corporate media even admitted it after the war, but the lie served its purpose in swaying many people who otherwise questioned going to war for the repressive Kuwaiti monarchy.
In addition, President H.W. Bush claimed as reason for war, "Within three days, 120,000 Iraqi troops with 850 tanks had poured into Kuwait and moved south to threaten Saudi Arabia. It was then that I decided to act to check that aggression." This was based on supposed Pentagon satellite photos. Yet, from commercial satellite photos acquired by the St. Petersburg Times, this was proven to be a lie, the desert Bush senior and the Pentagon referred to was nothing but empty desert.
While playing up false stories of baby killers and the new Hitler that was going to march across the Middle East, the U.S. corporate media ignored Kuwait’s theft of Iraqi oil as well the historic claim of Iraq to Kuwait, with Kuwait being a construct of British imperialism to divide the territory and limit Iraqi access to the sea.
In addition, the U.S. corporate media completely ignored the repressive nature of the Kuwaiti monarchy that U.S. troops were sent to fight and die for. The vast majority of those living in Kuwait were denied the right to vote and other more basic rights. This included women and people labeled foreigners, many of whom had been in Kuwait for generations. Some who had ancestors in Kuwait prior to 1920 were even denied Kuwaiti citizenship. Palestinian workers built modern Kuwait, but they were kept in second class status. This situation was so bad that many Palestinians aided the Iraqi troops and saw them as a liberation army. After the U.S. re-installed the monarchy, most Kuwaiti Palestinians were driven out of Kuwait.
For women in Kuwait the Iraqi invasion also brought hope. Unlike all of the US supported governments and forces in the Arab World, Iraqi women have many rights found nowhere else in the Arab World except in the Asian republics of the former Soviet Union. Under Saddam Hussein, over 50% of Iraqi doctors were women. Iraqi women were allowed to walk unescorted in the streets. They were allowed to drive. Iraqi women could even freely criticize men. In addition, Iraqi women had the right to work and control their own funds. This was in stark contrast to the treatment of women under the repressive monarchy of Kuwait where women had / have no rights what-so-ever.
In carrying out the war to defend the Kuwaiti monarchy the U.S. used depleted uranium (DU) weapons that have contaminated Iraqi water, soil, and food with radiation. This radiation has caused large numbers of birth defects and other diseases for the Iraqi people. In addition, U.S. soldiers were not given protection and, as a result, became ill in massive numbers with the symptoms of radiation poisoning. Like Agent Orange poisoning in Vietnam, the military brass pretended they had no clue to the cause of this illness that became dubbed “Persian Gulf War Syndrome”. Yet this was later exposed as a lie when reports were made public warning the military brass of the health risks of DU weapons before the war.
Government demographer Beth Osborn Duponte lost her job when she estimated the civilian loss of life in Iraq to be around 83,000, 13,000 directly from U.S. bombing and another 70,000 civilians dead as a result of U.S. targeting of civilian necessities such as water treatment facilities, medical facilities and supplies, and the electric power grid.
In addition, Duponte estimated deaths of Iraqi troops to be around 40,000. Many of the Iraqi troops killed were buried alive. In defense of U.S. actions Col. Lon Maggart said, "People somehow have the notion that burying guys alive is nastier than blowing them up with hand grenades or sticking them in gut with bayonets, well it's not."
So Obama has no problems with Bush targeting civilians, irradiating U.S. troops and the Iraqi people, burying people alive, and re-installing a repressive monarchy in Kuwait. In addition, Obama wants to escalate the war in Afghanistan, send troops into Pakistan, is already threatening Iran with war, will never fully pull out of Iraq and only promises to pull out most troops in two years after an extended gradual re-deployment of troops to other wars, will continue to use murderous Blackwater mercenaries in Iraq, and promises billions in military aid to Israel. Enough said.
Obama will be nominated the presidential candidate of the Democrat Party on August 24-28 at the Democrat Party National Convention (DNC). In opposition to the DNC convention, protests are being organized, with organizers stating:
"On August 24-28, the ruling elite and their defenders will converge in Denver Colorado, in an attempt to recuperate the gains of global social movements and produce another myth of progress. Lip service to global warming, the economic crisis and the war will endow them with the magic to spread amnesia across the hearts and minds of North America... Outside those doors, however, so many will exclaim, smash and sing a harmonious ‘no.’...”
In addition, there will be protests at the equally pro-war Republican National convention being held September 1-4 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Although virtually ignored by the corporate press, there are other presidential candidates who are running in opposition to the Democrats and Republicans who are for immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. These include Cynthia McKinney running on the Green Party ticket, Brian Moore of the Socialist Party, and Gloria La Riva on the Party for Socialism and Liberation ticket, and Róger Calero on the Socialist Workers Party ticket. Corporate controlled elections and media assure that these authentic anti-war candidates will not get elected, but these candidacies do help expose people to positions of politicians not controlled by corporate interests and the pro-war Democrat Party machine. In addition, through some of these campaigns, more people become exposed to socialist ideas and the ideas of class struggle methods to bring about change.
A vote for Obama or McCain is a vote for war! So that's what, in active terms, you're really voting for when you vote Democrat or Republican. Those of us voting for third parties, or refusing to vote, will not change the country directly through the elections either, but at least we won’t be dumb enough to vote for own oppressors and exploiters that are waging imperialist war. Instead, we will have the sense to be working for something different.
And those of us in unions should be angry that our hard earned union dues are being squandered on the Democrat Party when that money should instead be put into stronger strike funds to strengthen our ability to fight for better contracts, for socialized medicine, and for bigger strikes against the wars.
Build the Anti-War Movement! For More Strikes for Immediate Withdrawal Like the May 1st ILWU Anti-War Strike That Shut Down 29 Ports! Support Soldiers Refusing to Fight Including the 10,000 U.S. Soldiers Who Have Gone AWOL! Build the Socialist and Anti-Imperialist Movements! U.S. Hands off Iran! U.S. Out of Iraq and Afghanistan Now!
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