Wednesday 14 April 2004

The inevitable logic of US repression in Iraq

The Bush administration’s response to the popular uprising against the US-led occupation of Iraq has been to unleash a wave of bloody reprisals. US helicopter gunships, jets, tanks and heavily armed soldiers have laid siege to Fallujah in the Sunni triangle, while military attacks have been launched on Sadr City in Baghdad and other areas under Shiite control. Hundreds of innocent Iraqi men, women and children have been killed and wounded, and the American military has destroyed homes, factories and mosques.

The US media, which act as cheerleaders for Washington, have demanded even more brutal attacks. As George Will in the Washington Post declared last week: “In the war against the militias every door American troops crash through, every civilian bystander shot—there will be many—will make matters worse, for a while. Nevertheless, the first task of the occupation remains the first task of government: to establish a monopoly on violence.”

Echoing this, David V. Rivkin and Lee A. Casey, former members of the Bush and Reagan administrations, called for the establishment of military courts in Iraq to impose severe punishments, including executions, of Iraqi insurgents. Anything less than this, they declared in the Washington Post, would be taken as a sign of weakness and would encourage “terrorism.”

Such bloodthirsty demands recall the repression of Algeria by French imperialism in 1957-62, which took an estimated 1 million lives, and point in the direction of Nazi-style reprisals against the civilian population of Iraq.

Although the Bush administration is not a fascist regime, Washington’s attempt to seize control of Iraqi oil and implement its long-term aim of politically reorganizing the Middle East to benefit American corporations can be sustained only through military terror. There is an inevitable logic to such colonialist enterprises. As resistance to foreign occupation grows, the occupying power responds with ever-greater violence and bloodshed. Sooner rather than later, Washington will feel itself compelled to employ the types of methods used by the Nazis to suppress the resistance movements in occupied Europe during World War II.

In the early years of that war, many civilian supporters of the resistance were deported to Germany and put on trial before special courts. But as the concentration camp population grew and opposition mounted, the German occupiers adopted increasingly barbaric and desperate methods.

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