Return to Middle East menu
Histories of the Iraq War

Matt Siegfried

22 June 2007

The Bush administration is in its twilight. The war in Iraq is a disaster whose repercussions will dog the United States for years to come. The "surge" will have the effect of producing more US casualties and more hardships for the Iraqis, but little else. The war was lost years ago. The 
implications for US imperialism's defeat in Iraq are huge and only now beginning to reveal themselves. United States global power has, in part, been predicated on the control of Mid East oil to power its own economy and the economies of both friend and enemy. This the United States can not walk away from. War will continue to loom over the region for years to come. 
Breaking out from time to time and each time unleashing unknowable consequences.

How the United States will reposition itself to continue its dominance and control over the resources and the states that sit atop them will define the next administration, Democrat or Republican, and their policies in the region. More wars are by no means out of the question and the occupation of Iraq may well continue past Bush. However, the defeat in Iraq and the  subsequent discrediting of the United States and the running down of its military will pose restrictions on the way the United States pursues its imperial agenda.

The most rabid neo-cons are out of the administration and back sitting in think tanks and serving on corporate boards. Cheney remains, the messianic belief in his own lies to power him on. Bush was able to survive the war as long as the Democrats were trying to help him win it.

The Democrats have chosen to let the Iraq war be Bush's war so that they can run against it in the next election. To facilitate the further discrediting of Bush they have authorized, without caveat, the funding to continue the war. The Democrat's crass political calculations will cost thousands of lives. This even though almost all of the leading Democrats have concluded that the war is not winnable and have decided to attempt to extricate the United States from the mess in Iraq if not from Iraq. Not now, of course, but as a promise to run on in the next 

How they propose to do that while maintaining dominance in the region may well twist them in knots. Iraq may undo a future Democratic administration as it has Bush's. This is because what is at stake in Iraq and the wider region is not the legacy of a President, but of the entire imperialist project for the area. Regardless of the party in power the exercise of imperial prerogative cannot help be made difficult as the North American ruling class seeks to reestablish its bona fides.

Bush's approval rating has fallen to 28% in a poll conducted in May, 2007. A further year and a half of the disastrous Bush regime would leave the Democrats plenty of things to run on. The Democrats, in theory, should sail through the next election.  Already the 2008 Presidential campaign begins in earnest in eager anticipation of the change and we are able to see now the 
Presidential platform of the Democratic nominee. Pointing at Bush and saying "I'm not him" may well be the extent of it.  Finally the Democrats have their chance to run on nothing. A platform opposing Bush's policies by putting forward a program that corresponds to the deepening frustrations of large sections of the American people is hardly necessary and will free the 
Democrats from the fetters of promises they will not keep.

Bush's cabinet, hailed in the time of the 2000 election as a dream team whose collective intellects would make up for deficiencies at the top of the executive branch, lied and misled the United States into war. Without the Democrats quiescence the impossibly inept and conflicted cabinet could not have levered the country into the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The 
post-September 11th frenzy of fife and flag was enough to allow the United States to invade Afghanistan where Al Qaeda did have bases, but the invasion of Iraq would require a level of duplicity not seen from a US administration since the dark days of Nixon.

Unlike the Nixon administration, the deceptions were not limited to the executive branch. The Democrats were eager participants in the charade over "weapons of mass destruction" and "imminent threats". The whole United States government should be in the dock over the war in Iraq. In deed, the Democrats who aided the lie and therefore gave it credence, including the 
current front runners for their party's nomination, deserve to sit side by side with the neo-cons as perpetrators of this bloody folly.

History is often ignored in America. That ignorance, willful and otherwise, is one of the key ways that the US working class has been kept from acting independently and for its own interests. In the public mind, molded by the private media, most things that turn bad never happened. Perhaps in a decade or two the Iraq war will have never happened, just like the United States' 
US support for Saddam and the forces that would become Al Qaeda fewer than twenty years ago never happened. The past, properly understood and assimilated, is a powerful weapon in the hands of the oppressed. Even a cursory attempt to contextualize the Iraq war's beginnings would belie the justifications rolled out for this Iraq war, the last Iraq war and the ones in between.

We in the anti-war movement cannot let the real history of the United States' involvement in the war; its aims, its authors and its abettors escape the public consciousness. Many in the anti-war movement, especially those on the organized left, know this history and base their analysis on it 
and attempt to popularize it. To the radical left the war is an imperialist war, based on the logic of a capitalist system at odds with the interests of the overwhelming majority of humankind.

If the anti-war movement as a whole is to become capable in taking on the criminals in Washington, on Wall Street and the Pentagon then the practical implications for the analysis that history affords demands that the anti-war movement become increasingly radical, going to the roots of war making. We know that this is not just Bush's war, but a war of Empire. While the 1990's were heralded as the end of history; i.e., the end of the class struggle, the first decade of the new century has utterly confirmed the opposite. Although much has changed in the years since the cold war ended, humanity can hardly claim to have resolved capitalism's class war, its war against nature or the imperialism of its greatest practitioners. These are now the 
tasks of this century.

For the anti-war movement in the US to really challenge the war makers a genuine independence from the war makers is a key condition. Until that independence is practiced we can expect to have very little influence over the course of events even though the vast majority of the US working class is now opposed to the war. To take on the war makers it is long past 
necessary to take on the Democratic Party, an historic, accomplished and utterly cynical party of imperialism.



Return to top of page