It appears that the united states government will soon increase the intensity of the war it has been waging continuously against the people who live in iraq for over ten years. Unable to terrorize iraq’s rulers into unquestioning obedience to the american political, economic, and military establishment, the owner of the world’s largest array of weapons of mass destruction will now use this might to further torment the people and ravage the land of iraq, with the intent of replacing the local tyrants with an occupation government run by american generals. As with any attempt to justify a war of aggression, the threat posed by the iraqi government and military to those in other countries has been wildly exaggerated. Even some in the FBI and CIA have disputed Bush’s claim of iraqi ties to al-qaida. But american politicians have never let the truth get in the way of a good war. Remember the Maine?
It is unquestionable that the government of iraq has robbed, murdered, and brutalized those it rules over, as well as the residents of other countries, especially iran. But none of this domestic and international terrorism bothered those who rule the united states until the iraqi military invaded kuwait in 1990. In fact, the american government considered Saddam Hussein an ally during the many years his military waged war against iran.
While they have fashioned themselves as the world’s head cops for a long time now, it is only in recent years that the united states government and military have been able to fully implement their vision of world dominion. They have announced that those who are not with them in their alleged war against terrorism are against them. Being “with” america means endorsing whatever action its politicians and military leaders engage in, and the united states feels free to do whatever it wishes to torment those who are “against” it. It threatens sanctions against countries whose rulers do not comply, and claims the right to cross international borders in hot pursuit of “terrorists.” Like their pirate forbears, american navy ships feel free to stop and board foreign vessels on the high seas if they suspect them of carrying oil or weapons they have declared contraband, ie, those originating in countries whose rulers the american state is on the outs with. And, always, there is the ongoing threat of military attack to achieve american foreign policy goals.
The united states government calls for regime change in iraq. But, of course the new rulers will not have to be democrats or humanitarians, as we have seen in the case of afghanistan, where prisoners are suffocated to death in containers, women continue to be treated abominably, student protestors are shot in the streets, and foreign TV programs are banned by the government installed by the american military. All that really matters is that the new regime does not step on the toes of the united states in international matters and allows american oil companies to have their way with iraq’s natural resources. What they do to the people they have power over is of little concern to the state department or the pentagon.
The aggressive military posturing of the united states has served to encourage and justify similar behavior on the part of its allies. The australian government threatens “pre-emptive” military strikes, the leaders of the british state practically salivate at the idea of war with iraq, and the russian government justifies its murderous campaign in chechnya as a war against its own islamist terrorists. The chinese rulers label separatists in east turkestan as terrorists and hope to quiet international criticism of their brutal behavior there by saying it is part of the international “war on terror,” while israel continues its slaughter of teenagers and destruction of the homes of relatives of those it considers terrorists. It is the height of hypocrisy that american politicians label the iraqi tyrants as unacceptable threats to world freedom, while they are in bed with the brutes who rule china, pakistan, indonesia, israel, and saudi arabia.
Even when at war, allegedly to protect freedom, the american military and security agencies have managed not to be distracted from their other important work, of course. The coast guard somehow manages to find the time to board and harass cruise ships in alaska and prevent desperate people trying to escape the united states-supported government in haiti from landing on american shores. The DEA has stepped up efforts to prevent ecstasy from getting into the country. The INS still considers it important to harass and deport people who have come from as far away as morocco to Dutch Harbor in order to try and make a living by working in the seafood processing plants there. And the army has not let its desire to increase the number of soldiers fluent in arabic keep it from expelling a number of such interpreters who enjoy homosexual sex. So it should come as no surprise that those with whom the military forms alliances have no respect for individual liberty, either.
While our limited internal american freedoms have been under attack by the government since September 2001, things will probably get worse in the near future. In addition to causing the death of large numbers of iraqi non-combatants, this “new” war will serve as a pretext for the accelerated growth of the domestic police state, where, already, immigrants from some countries are presumed to be terrorists until proven otherwise, and long-time residents with no criminal history are jailed and deported; prisoners are held without charge or legal representation and otherwise denied due process; legal residents traveling even within states are subjected to inane, insulting, and demeaning “security” procedures which do nothing to increase flight safety; people are encouraged to inform on others based on snippets of conversation overheard at a restaurant or on a plane; armed air marshals are allowed to terrorize airplane passengers; local school systems are required to turn their students’ names over to the military to facilitate recruitment; and domestic spy agencies may readily snoop into people’s mail, listen in on phone conversations, and obtain library and bookstore records simply by claiming a possible terrorist connection. Politicians have also proposed requiring americans travelling abroad to inform the government of their comings and goings, and some are now advocating reinstitution of the military draft.
As always, most of the members of the party in “opposition,” after mouthing a few platitudes, will fall in line to “support the troops” as soon as the massacre starts. War is a bipartisan policy, as evidenced by the relentless bombing of iraq, the murderous assault on people in serbia, and the occasional bomb tossed at sudan or afghanistan witnessed under the previous administration.Beside the increase in military spending that will come at the expense of other government programs which arguably benefit some regular people, the number of civilian federal employees, including those involved in airport “security,” is increasing as well. Government, as always, continues to grow, funded by the money the state extorts from working people in taxes and fees. But, corporate america also continues to benefit from the sweat of working people as the government, blaming the economic difficulties of the american airlines on the attacks in September 2001, has given large amounts of money taken from working people to the airlines so that their stockholders, managers, and consultants can continue to live their extravagant lives while regular workers are laid off or see their pay cut. In addition, the government has agreed to use tax dollars to pay off claims against private insurers that can be blamed on terrorism. And one can be sure that as soon as the dust settles in “liberated” iraq, united states corporations will move right in and extract massive amounts of profit by “helping” the iraqis to extract, refine, and sell the oil and natural gas found in their country. War is the health, not only of the state, but also of corporate capitalist enterprises.
The prompt formation of an anti-war movement here and abroad has brought some hope to the scene. Opponents of american military adventurism in iraq range from some european governments and politicians, the catholic church hierarchy, and former cold warrior and author John le Carré to average people who have gathered on the streets of cities throughout the united states and the world, including Anchorage, to voice their opposition to the government’s plan to slaughter people in iraq. The growing non-compliance of individuals and institutions with the government’s attempt to whip up pro-war hysteria by conducting widespread inoculations against a non-existent smallpox threat has also demonstrated that not everyone has been taken in by the lies and distortions of the state and the news media that, largely, serve it. But the only way that this war will be avoided is if even more regular people begin to question authority, look critically at what they are being told, and stand up and say no.