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Huge bipartisan majority in Congress gives president every penny he requested
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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 67/No. 41November 24, 2003


Save the dates! December 13-14 in New York City:
Red Saturday of volunteer work and Public Meeting:
‘The Bipartisan War Party, Working-Class Resistance,
and Building the Communist Movement.’

lead article
Bush signs $87.5 billion
bill for ‘war on terror’
Huge bipartisan majority in Congress
gives president every penny he requested
EPA/Ali Haider
A U.S. tank and Humvee stand guard near the scene where a U.S. Black Hawk helicopter was shot down November 7 near Tikrit, in northern Iraq. U.S. troops raided Tikrit and other nearby towns in retaliation. Two days later, U.S. jets dropped 500-pound bombs there, the first such air strikes since the takeover of Baghdad.

The U.S. Senate met on November 3 to give its final approval to the request by President George Bush for $87.5 billion to occupy and rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan—the largest emergency spending bill ever sought by a president. Only six senators were present. They took affirmative action by a voice vote. Senator Robert Byrd, a Democrat from West Virginia, was the only one who shouted “no.” A little over two weeks earlier, when the Senate had taken a preliminary vote on the measure, 12 of its 100 members had voted no.

The U.S. House of Representatives had passed the same, final version of the appropriations bill three days earlier with a large bipartisan majority of 298-121.

The bill the Senate sent to Bush to sign into law included every penny the White House requested. It also dropped an earlier provision the Senate had approved October 17 that $10 billion of the funds the president sought would be a loan that a future Iraqi government would have to repay. The Senate axed this amendment after Bush threatened to veto any bill that contained it.

This was another victory for the Bush administration and for the bipartisan war party in the United States.

“The strong bipartisan show of support for this bill underscores that America and the world are united to prevail in the central front in the war on terror by helping build a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous Iraq,” said Bush in a statement released by the White House the night of November 3.

Even remarks by naysayer Byrd confirmed the president’s assessment. “Our troops in Iraq and elsewhere in the world have no stronger advocate than Robert C. Byrd,” he said. “I support our troops, I pray for their safety, and I will continue to fight for a coherent policy that brings real help—not just longer deployments and empty sloganeering—to American forces in Iraq.” Byrd criticized the package because it “does nothing to internationalize the occupation of Iraq.”

An article in the November 4 New York Times, reporting on the Senate’s voice vote, said, “Not voting on the record appealed to both Republicans nervous about explaining the amount to their constituents, and Democrats who did not want their patriotism questioned for opposing the bill.”

Bush signed the bill into law November 6. “With this act of Congress, no enemy or friend can doubt that America has the resources and the will to see this war through to victory,” he stated at the signing ceremony.

Earlier that morning Bush had given a speech at the 20th anniversary event of the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, D.C. This is an institution the wealthy families that rule the United States have used to promote U.S. imperialist domination around the world in the name of “democracy.” The aim of Bush’s presentation—like those other top figures in his administration give several times a week—was to provide rationalizations and make further gains in bourgeois public opinion for U.S. imperialism’s course around the world today.

In his speech, Bush invoked freedom and democracy as pretexts for extending Washington’s “global war on terrorism” throughout the Middle East and beyond.  
Bush invokes freedom and democracy
“Our commitment to democracy is also tested in the Middle East, which is my focus today and must be a focus of American policy for decades to come,” he declared.

Equating the Baathist regimes in Iraq and Syria, Bush said, “Dictators in Iraq and Syria promised the restoration of national honor. They’ve left instead a legacy of torture, oppression, misery, and ruin.”

The U.S. president issued a warning to the Iranian government. “The regime in Tehran must heed the democratic demands of the Iranian people or lose its claim to legitimacy,” he said.

He also singled out the governments of Cuba and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, among others. “Our commitment to democracy is tested in countries like Cuba, and Burma, and north Korea, and Zimbabwe, outposts of oppression in our world,” he stated.

Bush invoked freedom of religion and advances in achieving women’s equality as objectives in Washington’s “war on terrorism.” He referred, for example, to demagogic statements by the king of Morocco calling on the country’s parliament to pass reforms extending “the rights to women.”

“The king of Morocco is correct,” Bush said. “The future of Muslim nations will be better for all with the full participation of women.”

The U.S. president advanced the notion—widely held among bourgeois politicians, social democrats of various stripes, and many middle-class radicals—that “democracies” don’t go to war against each other. “Because we and our allies were steadfast, Germany and Japan are democratic nations that no longer threaten the world,” he said, referring to the victory by the Anglo-American bloc against the “axis” powers in Berlin, Tokyo, and Rome in World War II.

Bush’s arguments were well crafted with the intention of drawing wide layers of the U.S. population behind his administration’s course. Conservative columnist William Safire heaped high praise on the address. “This speech clearly articulated the policy this Bush will be remembered for,” he said in a column in the November 10 New York Times. Safire urged everyone to read it and chided the Times for not printing it.

The arguments by the Bush administration have been gaining ground in bourgeois public opinion—as recent state elections in California, Kentucky, and Mississippi confirm—partly because bipartisan support for Washington’s “war on terror” has been gaining strength throughout the bourgeois political spectrum. Not a single one of the 535 members of Congress has called for the unconditional withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Even those referred to by the middle-class left as “antiwar,” are to one degree or another part of the war party—with the possible exception of Alfred Sharpton, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. Dennis Kucinich, for example—a Democratic congressman from Ohio and one of the nine hopefuls for the Democratic presidential nomination—has proposed that Washington hand the United Nations control of Iraq, including its oil resources and contracts for rebuilding. He calls for “a planned and orderly withdrawal” as “UN peacekeeping troops rotate into Iraq.” Kucinich is the darling of the Communist Party USA and others on the left. People’s Weekly World, the CP’s newspaper, published major excerpts of a speech by Kucinich in its October 25-31 center spread, advertising the feature on its front page as: “Uncensored: Kucinich in his own words.”

Many liberal Democrats who criticize the Bush administration on its Iraq policy also call for increasing the number of U.S. troops there, or chide Bush for not doing enough to “boost homeland security,” or not working harder to find “terrorists” such as Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein.  
New commando unit to hunt ‘terrorists’
The Bush administration, however, is working on precisely this.

That could be seen in a November 6 New York Times article titled “Pentagon Says a Covert Force Hunts Hussein.”

The Times reported that Gen. John Abizaid, who commands all U.S. forces in the strategic crescent from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, decided over the summer to disband two Special Operations missions, Task Force 5 in Afghanistan and Task Force 20 in Iraq. The two were subsequently combined into a covert commando unit—Task Force 121—to hunt Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and “other terrorists” throughout the region, according to the Times.

“The new Special Operations organization is designed to act with greater speed of intelligence tips about ‘high-value targets’ and not be contained within the borders where American conventional forces are operating in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the Times said. “Military officers say a broader, regional mission was given to the new force, which has become one of the Pentagon’s most highly classified and closely watched operations. While it is unclear whether President Bush, or the newly-formed Iraq Stabilization Group at the National Security Council, were directly involved in the decision to create the new force, senior administration members have said in the last two months that capturing or killing Mr. Hussein would change the dynamic of the American occupation.” The CIA has assigned agents to be attached to Task Force 121.

The publication of this move came barely two weeks after the public call by U.S. secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld for a “new finding” during an October 23 press conference to present an internal Department of Defense memorandum he had authored that had been leaked to the press a day earlier. The memo called for bolder moves by Washington in its “war on terrorism.” A “finding” is a secret presidential order authorizing CIA or Special Operations forces to go into a country and kill someone or carry out other covert operations.

It is not clear whether Task Force 121 is the rapid fruition of Rumsfeld’s proposed “new finding,” or whether such a presidential order already existed for its creation. It is likely, however, that this covert unit or others being created under such “findings” will operate in Pakistan, as well as Syria and Iran. Pakistan is one of the countries in the region where the government has not been fully cooperating with Washington in handing over al Qaeda leaders who are reportedly functioning within its borders.

Rumsfeld has repeatedly noted the dan ger for Washington of Islamic “madrassas” schools, many of which he claims “breed terrorists,” that are concentrated in Pakistan.

Attacks by such forces on U.S. targets and those deemed as allies of Washington have continued to mount not only in Iraq but throughout the region. A tip by U.S. intelligence prompted U.S. authorities to shut down the U.S. embassy and two consulates in Saudi Arabia hours before a suicide bombing of a well-off housing complex in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, November 8. U.S. and Saudi authorities blamed al Qaeda for the bombing, which killed 17 people and wounded 122. Most of the victims were reportedly of Middle Eastern origin.

Rumsfeld’s emphasis on reliance on Special Operations commandos, and more agile, and fight-ready conventional units that are not burned out by long tours of duty is part of the broader transformation of the U.S. military that has been accelerated under the Bush administration.  
No ‘exit strategy’ in Iraq
On November 6, Rumsfeld held a news briefing at the Pentagon to announce Washington’s policy in rotating U.S. soldiers occupying Iraq, most of whom will be replaced by fresh forces over the first quarter of next year. The rotation of U.S. troops will include sending more “mobile infantry elements,” with increased firepower, that are more “appropriate to deal with the evolving threats in Iraq,” Rumsfeld said. Tours of duty will be limited to a maximum of 18 months, he stated, as part of guaranteeing the combat-readiness of the U.S. forces.

Rumsfeld stressed the volunteer character of the call-up. “We’ve tried to ensure that the number of people who have been recently mobilized is as small as possible and that as many of the forces as possible that remobilized or extended—either one—are in fact volunteers.”

U.S. forces will be cut from the current 130,000 to 100,000 by next May, he asserted, while, at the same time, qualifying this estimate with the degree of progress Washington makes in recruiting and training Iraqi “security forces.”

The secretary of defense made this crystal clear at a November 10 news briefing at the Pentagon. “As we replace U.S. forces serving in Iraq, beginning next year,” he told the press, “the level of coalition and U.S. forces will depend on the security situation on the ground and also on the pace at which Iraqi forces, security forces, are able to assume additional responsibilities. But let me be clear. The goal is not to reduce the number of U.S. forces in Iraq. It’s not to develop an exit strategy. Our exit strategy in Iraq is success. It’s that simple. The objective is not to leave, the objective is to succeed in our mission. That’s why we remain on the offense.”

This is necessary, he emphasized, to counter those who think they may be able to push the occupying forces into a corner by inflicting more and more casualties through guerrilla-type attacks.

Total deaths of GIs in the first week of November reached 34 when six soldiers went down with a Black Hawk helicopter on an island in the Tigris River. The week’s toll included two civilians working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—bringing U.S. casualties since Bush declared an end to major combat in Iraq to 268. A Polish officer was also killed. With the Black Hawk down, reported the Associated Press, U.S. forces swept through Tikrit neighborhoods, “blasting houses suspected of being insurgent hideouts with machine guns and heavy weapons fire.” One U.S. officer said, “This is to remind the town that we have teeth and claws and we will use them.” On November 9, U.S. planes dropped 500-pound bombs on targets near Fallujah and Tikrit. These were the first U.S. air strikes since the disintegration of Saddam Hussein’s armed forces and the official end of major combat on May 1.

Earlier that week, Turkish and U.S. government officials announced that they had canceled an agreement to dispatch 10,000 Turkish troops in Iraq. The plan had sparked opposition in Iraq, especially among the Kurdish population in the north. Kurds in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and elsewhere have fought a long battle for self-determination against the capitalist regimes in the area, including the Turkish armed forces.The prospective deploymenthad caused protests by members of the Iraqi Governing Council, which was handpicked by Paul Bremer, the civilian head of the U.S.-run Coalition Provisional Authority. The deployment was canceled partially because of Ankara’s earlier decision to not allow U.S. troops to use its soil for invading Iraq.

During the November 10 press briefing, Rumsfeld made it clear that the White House doesn’t want governments that don’t share Washington’s goals to send troops to Iraq. “I would like to see a lot of troops from other countries,” he said. “But we don’t want it to be countries that don’t want to be there or countries that don’t want to have larger numbers there, because we feel people ought to do that which they believe is in their best interest.” 
Iraqis will be used as second-rate scouts
Top U.S. government officials from Bush down are emphasizing recruitment of Iraqis into the country’s new “security forces.”

“Approximately 100,000 Iraqis now serve in the various branches of the five security forces—the Iraqi Police Force, the Facilities Protection Service, the new Iraqi army, the Border Guards, and the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps,” said U.S. deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz in a November 4 speech at George Mason University during a “Conference on Iraqi Reconstruction.”

Wolfowitz made it clear that Washington has no illusions about relying on the Iraqis to carry out combat in Iraq. It will instead use them as second-rate scouts and guards.

“These young Iraqis are not trained as well as Americans. They’re not equipped as well as Americans,” Wolfowitz continued. “But they cancommunicate with people with a speed that our people obviously can’t match without translators. They can read the local situation in ways that we can’t.”

Wolfowitz emphasized that the occupation has no time limit. “It is crucial that we send a clear and strong signal that the United States will be with them until we are no longer needed,” he said.

Referring to recent U.S. casualties in Iraq, Wolfowitz stated, “It is very important to remember that this is part of a much bigger war on terrorism—a war which is not going to be over with one victory in Afghanistan or another victory in Baghdad or a larger victory in all of Iraq.”

Using the Sept. 11, 2001, assaults on the World Trade Center and Pentagon to rationalize the offensive of U.S. imperialism in the Middle East, Wolfowitz added, “We’ve got to do something very substantial if we want to prevent a repetition of September 11th, not just on the scale of September 11th, but 10 times or 100 times or 1,000 times worse.” His aim here was to convince the majority of the U.S. population that small groups of “terrorists,” like those who flew the airplanes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, could carry out much worse attacks inside the United States using some “weapon of mass destruction,” be it chemical, biological, or nuclear.

In concluding his speech, Wolfowitz drew lessons from the 20th century from the standpoint of the U.S. rulers for the broader public. “We learned in the last century that democracies cannot live peacefully and undisturbed in a world where evil people control whole nations and seek to expand their bloody rule,” he said. “We may have forgotten that lesson in the euphoria over the end of the Cold War. The attacks of September 11th were a shocking wake-up call. And President Bush has made it clear that America got the message and that we will not neglect its obvious implications.”

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