This article is an attempt to apply some of the ideas briefly developed in the posting "Nationalism and Internationalism" to the U.S, occupation of Iraq. What is the nature of the U.S. war on and occupation of Iraq? What should workers in the U.S. do?
On the first question, "What is the nature of the U.S. invasion and occupation?" The answer is, it is an imperialist war and occupation. First, the U.S. claim that it is toppling an undemocratic murderous dictator is false. One cannot at one time give political, economic, and military support to a regime to make an aggressive and murderous war on its neighbor Iran, sheepishly condemn its acts of murder against the Kurds (which the U.S. did do and then continued to ignore and do nothing about until it was convenient to ooportunisticly bring up the episodes years laterin order to justify war) and then make any credible claim to being in opposition to its policies. Second, the U.S. is the sole global power, the only country with the power to project its military anywhere in the world it wishes. Even when the Soviet Union existed it did not have this capablity, and the one time it attempted anything close to what the U.S. practices on a regular basis, putting missiles in Cuba, it met staunch opposition from the U.S.. Third, the aim of the war, at least the primary aim, was not the quest for the control of oil though this is important as an ever present context. Natural resource control can be accomplished in multiple ways, and more cheaply than hundreds of billions of dollars in military costs. The real aim, as Immanuel Wallerstein points out, is fear. Following from the logic of the U.S. being the sole global hegemon, without the Soviet Union to constrain it, the U.S. has decided to reign in so-called rogue states in a global get tough campaign to show its potential competitors in Europe, Japan, and possibly China who is running this show just in case they get any ideas about getting out of line and returning to the imperialist game outside of American control.
So what specifically makes this war imperialist? First Lenin defines imperialism as the division and redivision of the world by the imperialist powers. This means that wars carried out by the capitalist powers in the interests of their own bourgeoisie for the greater reaping of profits (either directly through immidiate access to resources or indirectly by improving the command and control of resources) are all imperialist wars. No war carried out by the capitalist powers in the era of monoploy capitalism can be supported by workers. The line of workers must be to smash imperialism utterly as it is the machine which has constantly and consistently smashed the strivings of workers and the oppressed for decades and centuries.
The invasion and occupation of Iraq as well as the entire "war on terror" has created a great dilemma for the American working class. The dilemma is that of national chauvinism and support for imperialism or internationalism and revolution. The tailing of the Democratic Party imperialists by the labor bureaucrats that hold leadership positions within the unions have historically hobbled the ablity of American workers to assume internationalist positions in support of workers world wide. During the entire Cold War the AFL-CIO (AFL-CIA to some) has supported virtually every U.S. intervention against national liberation movements of the oppressed and towed the chauvinist line of backing imperialist aggression in the name of "democracy." By offering alternative strategies of how best to use the U.S. military the Democrats are selling the illusion that labor can influence or even control the actions of a capitalist state. It is elementary for Marxists that the state is ruled by and for the capitalist class and politicians in their service. In buying in to this illusion labor misleaders sell out the internationalist perspective of revolutionary worker solidarity and opposition to capitalism by embracing the activity of its own exploiters in exploiting the rest of the world. In other words the U.S. working class is coopted in various ways into becoming the instruments of other workers oppression. The exception one might make is that urban workers and their families are not a large perportion of the military rather the rural and the petit bourgeois make up the majority of those who enter and are enthusiastic about it.
What does this brieff analysis mean as far as strategy for workers and revolutionaries? First, it should be obvious that no support whatsoever can be given to the imperialists or any of their new strategies at putting a good face on imperialist war, either in the guise of the dissident generals criticism which is really a lament that the U.S. did not hit Iraq harder with more troops and bombs, this is like criticizing Hitler for having held back against the Soviet Union in operation Barbarosa, the lagest military offensive of all time. Another guise is the Democrats "better imperialism" which states that Iraq is a distraction from the "real" threats of Iran, or the deformed workers states of North Korea or China. Please rest assured that these states as targets of U.S. aggression are never far from the minds of military planners.
Second, no support can be given to social pacifist "stop war" campaigns. If generalized war stopped tomorrow we would still have the results of centuries of colonial plunder, the exploitation of slaves and workers, and hundreds of years of "the diplomacy of imperialism" to use the words of W. S. Langer. What social pacifism, the stop war campaigns of many mainstream liberal petit bourgeois anti-war groups, does is to dissappear the class nature of war. Lenin says "...the struggle must consist... not simply in replacing war by peace, but in replacing capitalism by socialism, The essential thing is not merely to prevent war, but to utilize the crisis created by war in order to hasten the overthrow of the bourgeoisie (Agaisnt Imperialist War, 1966, p. 9)." What Lenin shows is the great failing of orgainized labor, the anti-war peaceniks, and even the leading organizations of the oppressed minorities (Arican-Americans, Latino/as, and Native Americans) to use the war to break with the Democrats and break with strident patriotism and flag waving and to raise the class demand of creating a multiracial working class war on U.S. imperialism, a war on the state, and a war on the capitalist class!