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[casi] Imperialism and the capture of Saddam Hussein

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Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Dec. 25, 2003
issue of Workers World newspaper


The Bush administration's claim that the capture of Saddam Hussein is a
great step in bringing democracy and freedom to Iraq should be denounced
by all those who opposed the war, oppose the occupation and are against
the entire enterprise of U.S. imperialism in Iraq.

The capture of Saddam Hussein by U.S. military forces is an act carried
out solely in pursuit of strengthening the criminal colonial occupation
and weakening the Iraqi resistance. What ever the immediate outcome of
his capture, however, it cannot alter in any fundamental way the
historic anti-colonial sentiment of the Iraqi people and their will to
struggle for independence.

The only "democracy and freedom" that Washington intends for Iraq is the
freedom to sell off all the state and privately owned enterprises to
powerful multinational corporate exploiters; to allow 100-percent
imperialist ownership; to allow the imperialists to take over the 110
billion barrels of oil reserves and repatriate the profits squeezed out
of the Iraqi people; to set up bases for the Pentagon; and to install a
puppet government beholden to Washington.

It is in pursuit of these objectives that Washington waged its illegal,
"pre-emptive" war of aggression against Iraq. These are the motives
behind the administration's fraudulent charges about weapons of mass
destruction, terrorism, and so on. It is in pursuit of purely
imperialist objectives that U.S. forces have rampaged across Iraq trying
to crush the resistance--raiding homes, imprisoning thousands of
suspects, taking hostages and rounding up leaders. It was for these
reactionary objectives that Washington hunted down Saddam Hussein.

The gloating triumphalism of the Bush administration, its systematic
attempts to humiliate the former head of the Iraqi state, and its
preparation for an imperialist-run show trial are meant to send a
message to everyone who refuses to bow down to the dictates of U.S.
imperialism: "If you resist, we will get you." It is reminiscent of
Rome's imperial armies, that brought back rebellious leaders in chains
or put their heads on pikes, and of the U.S. Cavalry, which displayed
the bodies of Native leaders who resisted them.

To the dismay of Bush, Bremer and the military, the initial response to
the capture of Saddam Hussein has been car bombings, rocket attacks and
protest demonstrations. Bush himself has been cautious in touting this
event as some sort of decisive victory.

He and his advisers undoubtedly are mindful of recent history. Shortly
after taking Baghdad, U.S. generals sat in the newly captured Republican
Palace and gloated over their "amazing victory," virtually claiming that
Iraq was theirs. Then came Bush's photo-op on the aircraft carrier when
he pronounced the war over. And again, after the execution of Saddam
Hussein's sons, Qusay and Uday, photos of their bullet-ridden bodies
were put on world display.

Each of these moments of "triumph" was followed by renewed resistance
from the Iraqi people.

The administrations in Washington, Republican and Democratic, have
focused their wrath on Iraq for 12 years, including two wars, a
genocidal sanctions regime and now a bloody occupation. During this time
well over a million Iraqis have been killed and many more injured or
sickened. No one should forget the admission by Clinton's Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright on CBS's "60 Minutes" program on May 12, 1996.

Leslie Stahl asked Albright, referring to the sanctions: "We have heard
that half a million children have died. I mean that's more children than
died at Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?"

Albright replied: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we
think the price is worth it."

Can anyone make the case that the illegal capture of Saddam Hussein by
U.S. forces has anything to do with concern for the Iraqi people?
Indeed, one U.S. administration after another has tortured them.
Washington's invasion of Iraq was illegal. Its occupation is illegal.
And any trial of Saddam Hussein or other Iraqi leaders that is set up by
Bush, Rumsfeld, Bremer, Wolfowitz and company is illegal and calculated
to further the oppression and exploitation of the Iraqi people.

The Iraqi people feel violated by this capture and parading of Saddam.
This is reflected in the fact that, try as they may, the U.S. television
networks have been unable to produce any shots of mass demonstrations
celebrating his capture, even by his most strenuous opponents. All their
video takes are tight shots of small groups. While paid print
journalists and television commentators fantasize about "demonstrations"
of celebration everywhere, somehow the cameras are unable to find them.


In the meantime, U.S. troops are firing on and killing demonstrators
protesting Saddam Hussein's capture.

If anyone has any doubt about the reactionary character of this
operation, they have only to listen to the proclamations of the other
imperialist governments. The former colonizers of the world, from London
to Paris to Berlin to Rome to Madrid to Tokyo, are all hailing the
event. Can these robbers--the promoters of corporate "globalization" and
neo-liberal schemes to trample on the sovereignty of governments and
plunder the national economies of oppressed peoples in Asia, Africa,
Latin America and the Middle East--be suddenly overjoyed because
"democracy" and "freedom" are on their way to Iraq?

To be sure, within the framework of the Iraqi national revolution--which
began with the ousting of the British colonialists in 1958--Saddam
Hussein has played a contradictory and often reactionary role. Among
other things, he and the Baathists suppressed the Iraqi Communist Party
and waged a reactionary bourgeois war of conquest against Iran, even
accepting support from Washington for his efforts.

On the other hand, unlike the feudal oil monarchs of the Persian Gulf
states, who became complete clients of oil imperialism, Saddam Hussein
used Iraq's oil wealth to build up the country's economic infrastructure
on a bourgeois basis, largely through state capitalism. During his
regime, Iraq became one of the most developed countries in the Middle
East. Significant social benefits accrued to the people, including free
medical care, widespread education and literacy, rights of women and a
social safety net. Above all, however, the Iraqi president refused to
let imperialism take over the country.

The most aggressive sections of the U.S. ruling class, particularly the
oil companies, long ago set out to destroy Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi
nat ional state exactly for these reasons: they held on to national
independence and control over the oil, the fundamental conquests of the
1958 anti-colonial revolution. With the coming to office of Bush, these
elements galvanized the entire U.S. ruling class who wholeheartedly
supported their program of conquest.

It is only in the context of the struggle of U.S. and British
imperialism on the one hand, and on the other the Iraqi people fighting
to undermine the occupation, that the capture of Saddam Hussein can be
assessed. Under these conditions, anyone opposed to imperialism must
reject the right of the U.S. to imprison him and of Washington's
"Governing Council" stooges to put him on trial.

Whatever role Saddam Hussein played in the resistance, if any, it is an
illusion of the empire builders in Washington to think that the Iraqi
people will ever reconcile themselves to colonial enslavement--either
direct rule through an occupation, or indirect rule through a puppet

Justice for the Iraqi people will begin on the day that the war
criminals in Washington are put on trial.

- END -

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