Condemn US Gangster Violence in Middle East
Gangsters have always been present within the US capitalist economy. Acting illegally, they ruthlessly eliminated competitors and killed whoever was in their way. They stood over people, intimidating them with threats and enforcing protection rackets.
US imperialist foreign policy is a gangster policy, albeit one that tries to drape itself in the fig-leaf of domestic and international legality. Mao Zedong correctly said of imperialists that they “will never lay down their butcher knives, that they will never become Buddhas, till their doom.”
The targeted assassination of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq's paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces, in a strike near Baghdad airport on January 3, is a case in point.
Their murders were ordered by US President Trump, without recourse to the fig-leaves of Congress or the United Nations. Trump has blamed Soleimani for the death of a US civilian contractor on December 27 near Kirkuk. On December 29, the US bombed Iraq’s Kataeb Hezbollah bases in western Iraq and western Syria, killing 25 and injuring 51. Hundreds of pro-Iranian Iraqis stormed the US embassy on December 31, setting fire to parts of it.
US weakening, resorts to more violence
The US imperialists are losing their grip over the Middle East. They have been unable to overthrow Syria’s elected President Assad, and have been outmaneuvered in the Syrian conflict by imperialist Russia. Iran, through Soleimani, has played a major supportive role for Assad and also drawn closer to Iraq. As we reported recently, the Russians, Chinese and Iranians have just concluded naval exercises that challenge US control of the Straits of Hormuz and into the Indian Ocean.
Indeed, Soleimani was killed after having arrived in Baghdad on a diplomatic visit to Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.
The Iraqi Prime Minister revealed that the purpose of Soleimani’s visit was to deliver a message from US ally Saudi Arabia that may also have had repercussions for US leadership over its stooges in the region.
"I was scheduled to meet martyr Soleimani at 08:30 in the morning," the prime minister said on Sunday.
"He was killed because he was set to deliver a response from Iranians to a Saudi message, which we delivered to the Iranians to reach an important breakthrough in the situation in Iraq and the region."
The all-round weakening of US imperialism in the region has forced it to rely increasingly on violence to assert its authority. But it is lifting a heavy rock and has dropped it on its own feet. The mood in Iraq has hardened. The language used by the Prime Minister in denouncing the US bombing is illustrative: he strongly condemned the attack, calling the assassination of al-Muhandis "an aggression against Iraq, its state, its government and its people." And in the wake of the attack, the Iraqi Parliament has passed a resolution calling for the expulsion of US troops from the country. The resolution also says "the Iraqi government must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason", and tells the government to file a formal complaint to the UN against the US "for its serious violations and breaches of Iraqi sovereignty and security".
Iran has vowed revenge for the assassination of Soleimani, a popular symbol of anti-imperialist feeling in the region, and has announced it was removing all limits on its enrichment of uranium.
Pointless calling for “restraint”
Calls for restraint have come from members of the US imperialist bloc (Britain and the European Union). Social-imperialist (“socialist in words, imperialist in deeds”) China has also called for restraint. It is unlikely that they can collectively impose their will on the US imperialists or the Iranians. They certainly will have little influence on the working classes of Iraq and Iran, who have spent recent months fighting for their own rights and whose joint interests are best served by intensifying the struggle against imperialism and persevering in fighting for democratic rights.
China has “interests” that it seeks to expand in ways other than direct military conflict, at this stage, with the US. According to a report in the Chinese Global Times, “Chinese purchases of oil from the Middle East lead the world by volume, which means China is far more dependent on the region's oil than the US. China also has large investments in Iran, Iraq and many other Middle Eastern countries already linked to China's economic interests”. The article stated that “China should offer sympathy to Iran as a way of balancing the regional situation. Other countries should provide condolences to Iran instead of provoking it to fulfill its vow of revenge.”
However, Trump has already rejected calls for restraint. He tweeted that the US has "targeted 52 Iranian sites," some "at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD".
He has also indicated that in addition to the 5000 US troops currently in Iraq, another 3000 will be sent. And if the Iraqi government dares to implement its demand that US troops leave the country, he promises to hit them with the weapon of sanctions. Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, President Trump said the United States would put “very big sanctions on Iraq” if the country forced out U.S. troops.
“If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis. We will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever,” Trump said. “It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”
No sanctions! No war! Imperialists out!
Australians must be under no illusions about the danger of a weakened US imperialism resorting increasingly to violence. We must demand an end to the US bullying practice of imposing sanctions left, right and centre; we must oppose imperialist war plans and ensure that Australian government grows some spine and stops following the US into its wars; and we should intensify our own fight against imperialism and for national independence and socialism. The 300 Australian troops in Iraq must be withdrawn immediately.
The threat of war will exist so long as there is imperialism. It is timely to remember Mao Zedong’s advice in the face of imperialist war preparations in the 1950s:
People all over the world are now discussing whether a third world war will break out. On this question, too, we must be mentally prepared and do some analysis. We stand firmly for peace and against war. However, if the imperialists insist on unleashing another war, we should not be afraid of it. Our attitude on this question is the same as our attitude towards any disturbance: first, we are against it; second, we are not afraid of it. The First World War was followed by the birth of the Soviet Union with a population of 200 million. The Second World War was followed by the emergence of the socialist camp with a combined population of 900 million. If the imperialists insist on launching a third world war, it is certain that several hundred million more will turn to socialism, and then there will not be much room left on earth for the imperialists; it is also likely that the whole structure of imperialism will utterly collapse.
On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People (February 27, 1957), 1st pocket ed., pp. 67-68.