U.S. Digs in for Long-Term Occupation of Iraq

Reprinted from The Worker, newspaper of the Workers Party, USA.

January 7, 2009

On December 31, the UN Security Council resolution backing the U.S. occupation of Iraq expired and a Status of Forces "Agreement" took effect. The Status of Forces "Agreement" (SOFA) allows the U.S. to continue its occupation of Iraq under the cover of "deterring aggression and threats against the sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity of Iraq and against its democratic, federal, and constitutional system," and a "transition of power."

The Bush administration says the SOFA will, "help solidify Iraq's democratic gains," and "affirm Iraq's sovereignty." Yet the truth about the Status of Forces Agreement is:

–It gives the U.S. military "legal" authority to continue its war and militarization of Iraq with impunity. The document gives the U.S. the green light – by claiming self-defense – to carry out military operations anywhere in Iraq without any consultation with Iraqi officials. It allows military and civilian contractors to enjoy complete freedom of movement throughout Iraq and for the U.S. military to enter and exit the country freely. It gives the U.S. military authorization to arrest Iraqi citizens and search Iraqi homes during combat operations. It gives the U.S. authorization to bring any weapons and military equipment into Iraq without revealing this information to Iraqi officials. It gives the U.S. authorization to set up and keep as many military bases as it wants throughout the country.

–It gives the U.S. military authority to launch attacks against Iraq's neighbors. According to Article 27, "In the event of any external or internal threat or aggression against Iraq...the United States shall take appropriate measures, including diplomatic, economic, or military measures, or any other measure, to deter such a threat."

–It consolidates U.S. dictate over Iraqi armed forces through a "Joint Military Operations Coordination Committee" (JMOCC) which will oversee all proposed military operations.

–It gives the U.S. continued control over the Iraqi Development Fund which today contains about 20 billion dollars.

Most importantly, the "agreement" means the U.S. will continue its war and occupation. U.S. military officials have repeatedly stressed that U.S. troop withdrawal must be "conditions based." Barack Obama makes it clear that it is, "likely to be necessary to maintain a residual force to provide potential training, logistical support, to protect our civilians in Iraq" and members of his transition team already put forward an amount between 30,000 and 55,000 troops. U.S. officials already admit that they plan to bypass the terms in the SOFA that call for U.S. troops to leave Iraqi cities by June 2009 by reclassifying them as "support troops."

The claim that a "sovereign" Iraqi government requested this "agreement" is another Big Lie. Not only that, it is an attempt to cover the crimes of U.S. imperialism in Iraq and legitimize continued war against the Iraqi people.

Today, U.S. imperialism makes the law in Iraq at gunpoint, including the Status of Forces Agreement. In the first place, U.S. and other foreign powers put in place the so-called Iraqi government through force of arms. That goverment – with U.S. officials in every single ministry – imposes the SOFA while 146,000 foreign troops occupy the country. U.S. and Iraqi government officials themselves highlighted that they impose the SOFA at gunpoint when in early January they began applauding the so-called "transition of power" – an admission of U.S. rule in Iraq. Indeed, any political forces who organized in opposition to the SOFA were criminalized and attacked as "terrorists."

U.S. imperialism invaded Iraq, trampling the sovereignty of the country underfoot. U.S. imperialism has committed and continues to commit untold crimes against the people – killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, destroying the economic and social infrastructure of the country, bombing civilian population centers, imprisoning and torturing people by the thousands, poisoning the country with nuclear radiation from weapons of mass destruction, etc. Setting up a "Status of Forces Agreement" does nothing to change the colonial character of the U.S. occupation. It does nothing to change the aggressive character of the war the U.S. continues to wage against the Iraqi people.

The fact that the U.S. government brazenly declares that this imperialist war and colonial occupation reflect "democracy" and the "sovereign" will of the Iraqi people reminds us just what sort of world imperialism is imposing on the peoples.

The people cannot afford to have illusions – U.S. imperialism will remain on the warpath. By claiming to be restoring "Iraqi sovereignty" the U.S. government is officially embracing doublespeak and is trying to legalize a "new world order" in which Might Makes Right and in which any people who fight for freedom and independence against U.S dictate are considered "terrorists."

By digging in for long-term occupation, U.S. imperialism also reveals much insecurity in the face of the Iraqi liberation struggle which remains inconquerable even by the lies and the guns of the colonialists. In Iraq, the resistance to U.S colonialism will continue to grow, just as throughout the world, peoples and countries are coming forward to create a worldwide front against war and imperialism. It is only these struggles of the peoples that can defeat the war program of imperialism.

The American people must fulfill their duty to humanity by stepping up our anti-war struggles. We must demand the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq. We must fight against every aggressive step taken by the U.S. government against the Iraqi people and the peoples everywhere. We must strengthen our own independent political movement. We must aim at nothing less than bringing to power a new, anti-war and people's government which can withdraw all U.S. troops stationed abroad and live in peace and friendship with all the peoples.