Staying the Hand of Massacre

by George Saunders

Worldwide protests have stayed the hand of Bush and his CPA massacre-makers—at least partially and for the time being. As of April 30, on the eve of May Day, U.S. Marines were reported pulling back from positions in parts of Fallujah, the mostly Sunni Muslim city of 300,000 (about 30 miles west of Baghdad), which has been in open revolt against the U.S. occupation virtually from the beginning.

BBC news showed scenes of Fallujah residents celebrating the Marine pullback.

And since early April, U.S. forces have held off from launching an all-out assault on the sacred Shi’ah Muslim city of Najaf, where radical Shi’ah opponents of the U.S. occupation, headed by Muqtada Sadr, continue to defy them.

The New York Times carried a report from Fallujah on April 30 that said, in part:  “…amid condemnation in Europe and elsewhere for…heavy-handed tactics in Fallujah, American officials have shown much reluctance to return to all-out fighting here…despite strong talk from President Bush.”

But protests must continue until Washington’s killing machine is withdrawn from Iraq completely.

As the Americans retreat, they leave behind crowds of rejoicing Fallujah residents

Despite this partial victory, the U.S. could, and probably will, resume massive bombardment of Fallujah, using the slightest incident as an excuse. And the U.S. authorities could send their troops back into the city if their Iraqi proxies (military men who served under dictator Saddam Hussein) come under attack or prove “unreliable.”

This makes it more urgent than ever that there be mass demonstrations to “Bring the Troops Home Now!” And the “Out Now!” antiwar movement must press its demands independently, not get roped in to supporting capitalist politicians.

The behavior of Democrat John Kerry this April is the most glaring proof of that.

No Help from Kerry

Ongoing struggle by the people of Iraq (in a poll taken by Western news organizations, 75 percent in Baghdad declared opposition to the occupation), along with worldwide protests, have brought at least partial results. But this has happened with no help from Bush’s “loyal opposition.” The Democrat candidate, John F. Kerry, who in 1971 opposed the Vietnam war, is now pro-war. He calls for more U.S. troops to Iraq, and supports a “bipartisan foreign policy.” The Democrat standard-bearer advocates a foreign policy that hardly differs from Bush’s, but still Kerry wants—sort of, but maybe not really—to replace Bush as president.

Credit for forcing Washington to pull back, if only partially, goes to the masses of Iraq, the masses of Spain, and the millions all over the world who protested the first year of war at the end of March—especially including U.S. military families, veterans, and some active-duty U.S. servicemen and women. Special credit also goes to courageous journalists from al-Jazirah—and from all over the world, including “Democracy Now!” in the United States—who have exposed the cruelty and brutality of the U.S. imperial occupiers of Iraq parading under the name Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).

Torture Exposed

The latest achievement of courageous journalists was to somehow bring forth photos of U.S. torture of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib, a former prison of dictator Saddam Hussein. Thus Bush “liberates” Iraq from the awful dictator, only to mimic his dictatorial behavior, using his same torture chambers!

This video evidence even broke through the barriers of the controlled media in the U.S. and was shown on the CBS national television network. A U.S. brigadier general has been removed from command of the Abu Ghraib prison, and a number of U.S. military personnel are being charged with criminal offenses. (One said no one ever told him about the Geneva Convention, to which the U.S. government is a signatory and which prohibits such barbarism.)

The truth is that these torturers were only following orders, though their superiors will now deny it. You can be sure that “the word” authorizing severe and brutal action was passed down from the highest levels—from Bush and the bipartisan imperial-corporate Republican-Democrat authorities at the top of the pyramid. They want to intimidate the Iraqi people so that the wished-for U.S. corporate hold on Iraqi oil won’t be challenged.

And Bush claims this is a war against the enemies of civilization.

Actually, Bush is right, although he doesn’t realize what he’s saying. The Iraqi people and the worldwide opponents of this war and occupation, in fighting against Bush and Company, are indeed fighting the enemies of civilization.

The Potential of Mass Mobilization

The U.S. authorities admitted on April 30, on the eve of May Day, as they backed away from continuing their massacre in Fallujah, that they feared mass uprisings.

Two New York Times reporters, writing from Fallujah on April 30, stated: “Officials here worried that any new battles, especially ones in which Iraqi civilians died, could stir mass uprisings” (emphasis added).

They clearly state that they are aware that mass uprisings could have started if they had gone in and leveled the whole city of 300,000, as they had been planning to do. (Destroying the city in order to save it.) As it is, they have used 500-pound bombs to destroy homes and mosques, have strafed neighborhoods with their deadly Specter, or Spook, gunships (AC-130s), and have used artillery and sniper fire to kill Fallujan men, women, children, and old people indiscriminately. They have particularly targeted Iraqi ambulance drivers who were desperately trying to save the lives of wounded compatriots. Bush’s killing machine has probably caused death or disfigurement to thousands of Iraqis in Fallujah since Bush ordered the siege in early April in revenge for four U.S. mercenaries killed in Fallujah.