The June 10 takeover of much of northwest Iraq, including Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, by armed fighters of the Sunni jihadist group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIL--the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and other Sunni forces has triggered a crisis in Iraq--and for the U.S. imperialists as well as other powers in the region.
The U.S. rulers immediately began discussing and implementing military moves, saying they would rule nothing out and "all options" were on the table. So far Obama has deployed the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush and an amphibious transport ship carrying combat helicopters. These join four guided missile destroyers already in the Persian Gulf. Obama also sent an additional 275 Marines to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Then on June 19, he announced the deployment of 300 U.S. military advisers to Iraq, and stepped up spying on that country, with the possibility this would be used for "targeted" military strikes in Iraq and perhaps Syria.
In justifying this, Obama obscenely flipped reality upside down when he said: "Over the past decade, American troops have made extraordinary sacrifices to give Iraqis an opportunity to claim their own future. Unfortunately, Iraq's leaders have been unable to overcome too often the mistrust and sectarian differences that have long been simmering there, and that's created vulnerabilities within the Iraqi government as well as their security forces."
And the mass media--the broadcasting arm of the ruling capitalist-imperialist class--is amplifying and justifying this bullshit. Their analysts pontificate about how the fighting between different reactionary factions in Iraq is all the fault of the Nouri al-Maliki regime--conveniently "forgetting" that the U.S. installed this regime through a murderous invasion and occupation. And they do that with self-induced amnesia about how they-- the ruling class's media--justified the U.S. invasion of Iraq with lies about "weapons of mass destruction," and repeatedly covered up war crimes committed by the U.S.--even as those who exposed those crimes (like Chelsea Manning) were silenced, persecuted, and jailed.Here's the reality they want to cover up:
In 1991, the U.S. launched a massive bombing campaign against Iraq, and in the aftermath imposed murderous "sanctions" that led directly to the deaths of a half-million Iraqi children. (See "Lessons from Iraq: The 'Price' of Sanctions.")
Video on the impact of the first U.S. war on Iraq in 1990-1991: "Iraq: War Against the People, The Hidden Story of the Gulf War," by Larry Everest, 1991.
In March 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq, starting with "Shock and Awe" massive bombing that terrorized and devastated Baghdad--a city of seven million. The U.S. overthrew the Saddam Hussein regime, and then occupied the country for the next eight and a half years--based on LIES about Iraq's nonexistent "weapons of mass destruction" and claims that the invasion was to "free" the Iraqi people, when in reality they sought to uproot what they identified as challenges to their empire from an array of rivals.
U.S. domination of Iraq has been enforced with massacres. The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime was accomplished with carpet bombing, massacres of women and children, terrorizing the civilian population, bombing hospitals including a children's hospital in the town of Rutbah, and missile attacks on civilians--all documented by mainstream media (mostly from non-U.S. sources) and human-rights activists. (See "Tears and Anger: Iraqi People Under Fire.")
In November-December 2004, U.S. forces attacked the Iraqi city of Fallujah to crush oppositional forces there, and to enforce America's illegal and unjust invasion and occupation of Iraq. The 1st Marine Division bombarded Fallujah with thousands of artillery rounds, hundreds of rockets, bombs, and missiles, and nearly 100,000 machine gun and cannon rounds. As many as 2,000 Iraqis labeled "insurgents" and another 800 or more civilians were killed. Sixty of the city's 200 mosques were destroyed. Some 200,000 residents were forced out of the city and into internal exile. Italian television aired a documentary titled Fallujah, the Hidden Massacre, documenting how the U.S. government indiscriminately rained white phosphorus chemical fire down on Fallujah and melted people to death. And U.S. forces used depleted-uranium weapons against the people of Fallujah, leaving a legacy of birth defects to this day.
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Barack Obama says the U.S .invasion and occupation gave the Iraqi people "an opportunity to forge their own future."
When you hear the commander-in-chief of the U.S. empire talk about freedom and giving people "the opportunity to forge their own future," here's what that has meant for the people of Iraq:
- Iraqi deaths as a result of the war, directly and indirectly (due to the destruction and disruption of the war, including to water and power systems, to healthcare and food production): 655,000 according to a 2006 Lancet study; 1 million according to a 2008 Opinion Research Business study; current estimate: 1.2 to 1.4 million.
- Iraqis injured: 4.2 million.
- Iraqis driven from their homes: 4.5 million.
- A U.S.-installed reactionary Shi'ite fundamentalist government that launched a campaign of ethnic cleansing, indiscriminate bombardments, and torture against Iraq's Sunnis.
- U.S-organized Shi'ite death squads linked to the Maliki government responsible for murdering thousands of Sunnis and unleashing widespread religious sectarianism and ethnic cleansing during the 2006-2008 civil war. Minorities were driven out of areas in which different ethnic and national groups had previously lived side by side.
And the U.S. invasion, occupation, and installed puppet regime has vastly intensified women's oppression:
- Strengthened reactionary Islamic fundamentalism and jihadism, including groups like ISIL.
- Iraqi women now widows: one million-plus (with many forced into prostitution).
- Iraq's secular constitution replaced with one based on reactionary Sharia law, with separate, unequal laws for women. Women's rights advocates report "a spike in 'honor killings,' forced veiling, and a growing tolerance for beating women into subordination," and that "violence against women has also been systematic ... orchestrated by some of the very forces that the U.S. boosted to power."
This is the result of Bush, Obama, and the U.S. ruling class bringing their version of "freedom" to Iraq.The Empire Is Not All-Powerful--Bring Forward Another Way
The current crisis in Iraq exposes that the empire is not all-powerful. As Revolution wrote last week, "Despite its military might, the U.S. has failed to achieve its objectives in Iraq. The 13-year-long global so-called 'war on terror' (really a war for empire) has weakened their system and spawned new contradictions and difficulties, including the spread of reactionary Islamic jihadism across North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and elsewhere."