The January 30th Iraq elections have been hailed as a "victory" for the U.S. war strategy. We're shown entire Iraqi families voting "to defy terrorism." Well, indeed, many Iraqis did vote — mainly Shiites ordered by their religious leaders and Kurds wishing some kind of autonomy and control of Kirkuk's oil fields on their territory (possibly provoking a Turkish incursion) . But the fact remains that capitalist elections are a farce in general. And in Iraq, they're even more of a farce, occurring amid an insurgency, occupation and daily U.S./UK air bombardments more devastating than those during Operation Shock and Awe.
U.S. bosses want these elections to justify their war and occupation of Iraq but, "Despite the exhilaration, the election may do little to win international support, assure a friendly government in Baghdad or prevent the spread of civil strife…." says the LA Times (1/31). "Even with international blessings, the balloting is unlikely to persuade balky European and Arab powers to do much more on the ground to support the U.S. effort, diplomats said…. On the eve of the vote, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin reiterated France's support for the removal of all foreign troops from Iraq, and two former British foreign ministers, Douglas Hurd and Robin Cook, urged withdrawals of U.S. and British forces. Last week, Sen. Edward Kennedy said U.S. troops should begin an immediate, phased withdrawal."
Many Shiites voted not only because of orders from Al-Sistani, their religious leader, but also for ending the occupation and the strife affecting their daily lives. The best interest of the Iraqi people is not what the U.S. bosses have in mind: "…the U.S. project in Iraq has never been about democracy. It's been about getting control of Iraq's vast, virtually untouched oil reserves, and extending Washington's military reach over the region. ‘Think of Iraq as a military base with a very large oil reserve underneath; you can't ask for better than that,' Wall Street oil analyst Fadel Gheit told" the Toronto Star's Linda McQuaig (1/30).
To control that oil, U.S. bosses are spilling tons of blood, including over 1400 U.S. soldiers' deaths, as well as thousands of Iraqis, many of them innocent civilians. Under pressure, BBC's Panorama program retracted a January 30th report that in the last six months more than 2,000 civilians were killed outright by the occupation forces and their Iraqi stooges, while the insurgents accounted for 1,200 deaths. The figures, collected from public hospitals, exclude deaths of insurgents.However, the real totals are far worse, as reported by the British medical society's magazine "Lancet"which estimated that since the beginning of the war civilian deaths could be as high as 100,000, considering the complete breakdown of Iraq's medical system and resulting spread of disease.
In a January 30 speech, New Yorker writer Seymour Hersh reported that the U.S. is "systematically bombing [Iraq]….There's no air defense. It's simply a turkey shoot…. To carry out an election…bombing is key…. Iraq is being turned into a "Free-Fire Zone…. Hit everything, kill everything. I have a friend in the Air Force, a Colonel, who had the awful task of being an urban bombing planner….
"I called him…and he picked up the phone and he said, ‘Welcome to Stalingrad.'"
The hype by U.S. rulers and the embedded U.S. media about the elections being a "turning point" recalls the same stuff when Saddam's statue was toppled -- an event staged by the Army Psy-Op branch; when Bush landed on the Lincoln aircraft carrier, proclaiming in a banner "Mission Accomplished"; and when Saddam was captured. The war will continue, and may spread to Iran, if the Iranian rulers use their influence over Iraq's Shiites to become the real winners of the January 30th farce.
Sixty years ago Iraqi workers and youth were united in the fight against the king and British imperialism. The old Communist Party was one of the largest political forces in the ‘40s and ‘50s, including Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, Turkomans, Muslims, Christians and Jews. On May Day 1959, one million people marched under the red flags of the Iraqi CP. But the old communist movement's error of uniting with seemingly "progressive bosses" (like the Baath Party) led to the defeat of the working class. Many in that generation were murdered by the U.S.-backed Saddam's forces. The rest were lost when the organization attacked fundamental principles of Lenin in 1971. Today, the ICP is part of the U.S.-led Provisional Government. Workers and their allies in Iraq need a new communist movement, to fight all the bosses, fundamentalist reactionaries and imperialism. PLP will be that movement.