Death Machine in Iraq!
The U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq has been met with steadily strengthening resistance both within Iraq itself and within the U.S., Britain and the other more marginal states supporting George Bush and Tony Blair’s pitiful war.
Of course, these supporting states in the “coalition of the willing” only participated in the first place because their politicians were extorted or bribed, or were offered quid pro quo deals which they expected to benefit them as much or more than they would cost. Far behind the scenes, some were strong-armed with threats, most were promised U.S. funds through various programs, attention to local or regional problems, or favorable treatment in other fashions -- all of which might also be threatened when and if any state opposed U.S. plans for the war. Why else would they join in the slaughter of tens of thousands of Iraqis and risk massive public opposition in their own countries in order to assist the U.S.-British invasion? After all, these nation-states don’t for the most part share in the invasion’s Anglo-American geopolitical aims -- chief among them, their increased control of oil reserves and establishment of permanent Middle Eastern U.S. military bases outside of Saudi Arabia.
Despite hardball U.S. political pressure Spain, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Philippines, New Zealand and Thailand have been or are currently withdrawing all or most of their troops -- in some cases because of successful public opposition to the war and occupation. As these states steadily disengage from their anyway unenthusiastic military commitments the slack has to be made up by either the core invaders or through the effective reconstitution of Iraqi police and military forces acting as proxies for U.S.-British interests. The latter option, while intensively promoted as the answer by the Bush-Blair war machine to the continuing setbacks suffered by the occupiers, shows no more signs of succeeding now than it did when thousands of Iraqi troops and police either deserted or joined insurgents during the Fallujah massacres last year. The United States and Britain will keep trying, but for significant numbers of Iraqi forces to effectively and dependably fight on call as U.S.-British proxies it will probably take years more of training, funding, indoctrination and propaganda.
This leaves ever-increasing pressure on the core military forces of the U.S. and Britain to continue supplying at least a steady number of soldiers on the ground to keep the occupation under a minimal level of control. Yet the supplies of fresh meat for the military grinder -- where losses in killed, maimed and wounded have been much higher than expected -- are drying up at a fast rate. In the U.S. the mass media war propagandists were elated to be able to report that, despite increasing problems, up until the end of fiscal year 2004 (September 2004) all military services (barely) met their recruitment goals except for the Army National Guard and the Army Reserves. Since that time the military recruitment shortfalls have quickly become a recruitment crisis for the Iraq occupation death machine. And everyone knows that without enough (at least somewhat-) willing bodies placed on the line in Iraq to operate the overwhelming firepower arrayed against the population there, the insurgency will quickly spiral out of the occupiers’ control. This means that in the immediate future Bush and Blair’s already-tenuous war and occupation could well be completely lost for a lack of enough willing cannon fodder.
The various branches of the U.S. war machine have increased the numbers of recruiters, their budgets, and have redoubled their efforts to convince teenagers and young adults to bet their lives and limbs in return for promises of money, training, prestige and future college payments -- many of which promises will never be kept, since they are contingent on performance standards purposefully set up to trick the naive, uneducated and those trusting in authority.
Despite all efforts the Marine Corps had to announce missing its January and February 2005 recruiting quotas for the first time in ten years. The largest military branch, the U.S. Army, is reportedly 16% behind in its recruiting target this year. The Army Reserve is 21% behind, and the Army National Guard is running at least 26% behind its quota. A new study indicates that these drops in recruitment may in part be the result of notable declines in the numbers of black and female recruits. Undoubtedly the drops also result from the growing understanding that the whole monstrous invasion and occupation were based on lies, fueled by expectations of easy oil loot (to pay the costs for all the required destruction, massacres and occupation), and pursued by a clique of rich neoliberals intent on continuing the expansion of U.S. power-even at the cost of severe overextension likely to lead to an ultimate debacle as the empire’s economy marches toward collapse.
We can all help derail the death machine in Iraq by getting critical information into people’s hands -- and especially into the hands of those of military age in the U.S. and Britain. We can join those already demanding that military recruiters be banned from schools. Those in high schools and colleges themselves can help block or harass recruiters, run them off campuses, trash their recruiting materials and stand up to all the death machine’s inevitable threats. Nobody has a right to access to teenagers and young adults in order to recruit them to participate in massacres of civilians, atrocities, torture, and all the other war crimes already committed and still being committed by U.S. and British forces in Iraq. With well over a hundred thousand Iraqi people, by far mostly civilians, killed by the U.S.-British war machine in the latest round of attacks since the 2003 invasion every day of occupation means more suffering, more death and more destruction.
Stop the Death Machine in Iraq! Throw out All Military Recruiters!
* This editorial appears in the Summer 2005 issue of Alternative Press Review