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US Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq:

Fortunes for Investors, Misfortunes for Everyone Else

By Steven Strauss

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, Freedom Socialist, June 28, 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 profits.
Capitalist investors in Iraq.

The 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 want.
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.
The Afghan front.

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 foreign capital.
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 Caspian energy.
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.
They are 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 Afghan women.
On the home front.

Nobody in 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 national interests.”
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 history.
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.
The struggle 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. 

Freedom Socialist newspaper, Vol. 31, No. 3, June-September 2010




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