Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
US Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq:
Fortunes for Investors, Misfortunes for Everyone
By Steven Strauss
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, Freedom Socialist, June 28, 2010
Freedom Socialist newspaper, Vol. 31, No. 3, June-September 2010
U.S. politicians want us to believe that they send soldiers into
countries like Iraq and Afghanistan only as a last resort, and only for the
noblest of causes. Nothing could be further from the truth. The incessant
carnage, costing billions each week, has devastated the lives of the Iraqi
and Afghan people, while U.S. corporations smile as dollar bills parade
before their eyes.
The hypocrisy of Empire America’s humanitarian
pretexts for war is exposed by the magnitude of the suffering inflicted on
the local population. At the same time, it poses the principles and tasks
that must guide any anti-war movement whose aim is to finally eradicate war
from human society.
The fundamental cause of modern war is the
capitalist system of private profit, first because war is very profitable,
and second because war is how the dominant imperialist powers decide who
gets the world’s resources. This is especially true for the U.S., the
planet’s leading weapons dealer. Central Asia’s energy reserves and
strategic geopolitical location have U.S. CEOs dreaming of stratospheric
Capitalist investors in Iraq.
government and its European allies have long-range economic designs on Iraq.
Oil companies are hammering out deals for Iraq’s vast oil reserves. Italian
firms are investing huge sums to develop a southern deep-water port at Al
Faw. And German railway magnates are designing major rail connections
between Iraqi cities, Turkey, and Europe. They want to turn Iraq into a
leading international transportation hub for capitalist business.
None of these major investment plans would have been possible without first
clearing away the local obstacles. This was the real goal of the current
war, which continued the more than two decades of merciless pummeling,
beginning with the U.S.-provoked Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), followed by the
Persian Gulf War (1990-1991), then a decade of U.S. bombs and blockades,
finally the 2003 invasion.
The results? Four million Iraqis
displaced from their homes. Chronic childhood malnutrition now at 28
percent. And 70 percent of Iraqis without access to adequate water supplies.
Doctors Without Borders has called Iraq one of “the worst humanitarian and
medical emergencies in the world.”
Too much profit is at stake to
expect the big investors to behave democratically. They will not hesitate to
use arms against domestic opposition. Iraqi oil workers, for example, have
been struggling to keep oil under public ownership and use the revenues for
people’s needs. Democracy for these workers is the last thing investors
That’s why President Obama promised he will not pull all U.S.
soldiers out of Iraq, but will maintain a presence of at least 50,000
troops. These “non-combat” forces will have one mission — to protect
corporate investments. They will be stationed at over a dozen permanent
military bases currently under construction.
Obama said that Afghanistan is the right war for
the U.S. In ordinary English, this just means that this ancient mountainous
country has not yet been sufficiently tamed to permit the safe investment of
Afghanistan has no oil. But the Caspian Sea basin
to its north has perhaps the world’s richest oil and natural gas reserves.
Long before the Sept. 11 attack on Wall Street and the Pentagon, the U.S.
considered Afghanistan a great location to build pipelines for transporting
One of the world’s most impoverished countries, it
is hard to imagine life becoming any more misery-ridden. Afghanistan ranks
highest in the world in under-5 mortality rate, with no improvement since
1990. Fifty-nine percent of children under five are moderately to severely
stunted in growth. Life expectancy at birth is 44 years. The adult literacy
rate is 28 percent. Secondary school enrollment for females is 9 percent.
Yearly per capita income is $250.
Yet the war has indeed made life
worse for the most defenseless. Calamitous social upheaval has led to an
increase in drug users from 920,000 to 1.5 million since 2005. It is
estimated that 25 percent of these are women and children.
the primary civilian casualties as well. And the suicide rate for Afghan
women is the highest in the world. So much for U.S. tears over the status of
On the home front.
their right mind would support a war whose aim was to enrich a greedy sliver
of humanity. That’s why the tiny ruling-class minority in the United States
must convince a substantial majority that war is in “the national interest.”
As the Pentagon recently proclaimed, “Over the next quarter century,
U.S. military forces will be continually engaged in some dynamic combination
of combat, security, engagement, and relief and reconstruction…. [T]he
presence, reach, and capability of U.S. military forces, working with
like-minded partners, will continue to be called upon to protect our
In other words, U.S. soldiers will endlessly be
asked to die overseas for corporate profits, while joblessness and huge cuts
in social services devastate their lives at home. No wonder the suicide rate
among U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan is the highest in U.S. military
Path to peace.
Real peace can
begin only after every single U.S. soldier and mercenary has left the
region, along with NATO and other reactionary military forces. This will
require a determined, international anti-war movement.
must be anti-imperialist, to rid the country of foreign military and
financial occupiers. It must be anti-capitalist, because native Iraqi and
Afghan capitalists are in cahoots with their imperialist protectors. And it
must be feminist, because women are the most oppressed in society and in
war. Unless their demands and leadership are vigorously supported, there can
be no long-lasting anti-war victory.