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Workers Vanguard No. 957

23 April 2010

U.S. Atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan: Imperialist S.O.P.

The recently released video showing a U.S. Apache helicopter firing on Iraqi civilians in 2007 vividly exposes what is standard operating procedure for the imperialist occupiers in Iraq and also in Afghanistan. WikiLeaks, which released the video last month, said it had got the footage from whistle-blowers in the military.

After getting permission from their commanders, the helicopter pilots opened fire on the unarmed crowd in Baghdad, killing most of them. One of the pilots gloated, “look at those dead bastards,” to which the other replied, “nice.” As a wounded Reuters cameraman crawled away from the carnage, a van of civilians pulled up to aid him. The pilots then asked for and received clearance to strafe this van, killing the cameraman and others in the van and wounding two children in the front seat. When U.S. ground troops arrived on the scene and reported the wounded children, one pilot told the other, “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.” Twelve people were killed that day, including two Reuters employees.

When asked about the video, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates defended the pilots’ actions, excusing it as a result of “the fog of war,” adding, “we’ve investigated it very thoroughly.” Indeed, this video is but the tip of a very grisly iceberg. The very nature of imperialist occupations and counterinsurgency operations means that everyone in the occupied country is “the enemy.”

U.S. forces have always employed the mass slaughter of civilians in their imperialist wars and occupations. The mass roundups and detention in torture centers like Abu Ghraib and Bagram are also part of the “democratic” imperialists’ store of “counterinsurgency” techniques. This is the case under either party of capitalism—Democratic or Republican—as is plain for all to see in the case of Obama’s “surge” in Afghanistan, as well as the lethal drone attacks in Pakistan. For the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. and allied forces from Afghanistan and Iraq! Hands off Pakistan and Iran!

In Iraq, the U.S. has pulverized what was once one of the more advanced countries of the Near East. By some estimates, more than 1.2 million people have been killed in Iraq since the 2003 U.S. invasion, this on top of some 1.5 million killed in the decade before through UN starvation sanctions. Meanwhile, the occupation of Afghanistan, which has been escalated by the Obama administration, involves daily atrocities by U.S./NATO forces against that country’s population.

In February, U.S. Special Forces troops killed two pregnant women and a teenage girl in eastern Afghanistan in a raid in which two Afghan government officials were also killed. An initial attempt by the U.S. military to cover up that story, claiming the women were killed by knife wounds administered earlier, unraveled after Jerome Starkey of the London Times exposed what happened. As Starkey reported in the London Times (13 March): “In a statement after the raid titled ‘Joint force operating in Gardez makes gruesome discovery’, Nato claimed that the force had found the women’s bodies ‘tied up, gagged and killed’ in a room.” Later, the U.S.-led military command in Kabul admitted that its forces had, in fact, killed the women and all the others. A later article by Starkey (5 April) reported: “US special forces soldiers dug bullets out of their victims’ bodies in the bloody aftermath of a botched night raid, then washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened, Afghan investigators have told The Times.” The family had some 25 guests and musicians on the night of the attack to celebrate the naming of a newborn child.

While the U.S. has carried out massive atrocities against the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq, it has also met substantial resistance. We recognize that the Sunni or Shi’ite communalists in Iraq or the Islamicist fanatics of the Taliban in Afghanistan who are currently engaged in combat with the U.S. occupiers and their lackeys are murderous enemies of genuine national or social liberation. Nonetheless, when these insurgents aim their blows against the U.S. forces and their puppets, such acts coincide with the interests of the international proletariat. Every victory for the imperialists encourages more predatory wars; every setback serves to assist the struggles of working people and oppressed the world over.

The horrors being played out today in Afghanistan and Iraq are the present-day expressions of the choice posed since the advent of the imperialist epoch: socialism or barbarism. As we noted in “U.S. Imperialism’s Torture, Inc.” (WV No. 826, 14 May 2004):

“Capitalist society was born in blood; modern imperialism continues the brutal practices of mass murder, torture and humiliation that accompany exploitation of labor and the ceaseless struggle between competing imperialist forces to dominate the world. From the Belgian Congo killing fields of King Leopold and the massacres in the Philippines by U.S. troops in the early days of its imperialist expansion to the first concentration camps, created by the Spanish in Cuba and a little later used by the British in South Africa in the Boer War, to Japanese imperialist atrocities in China and Nazi Germany’s Holocaust, imperialism has created a world in constant, cruel convulsions.”

Only when the system of capitalism is destroyed root and branch through victorious workers revolutions internationally will humanity be rid of such horrors. We look to the model of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, which overthrew capitalism in one-sixth of the globe and became a beacon for the struggles of workers in the advanced capitalist countries and toilers in the colonial and neocolonial world. The fight to smash U.S. imperialism, the most dangerous force of reaction on the planet, requires building a revolutionary workers party independent of all capitalist parties and dedicated to the establishment of working-class rule.


Workers Vanguard No. 957

WV 957

23 April 2010


Organize Non-Union Mines!

Industrial Murder in West Virginia


Union Organizing Victory at Continental Airlines


U.S. Atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan: Imperialist S.O.P.


The Liberating Goals of Communism

(Quote of the Week)


British Reformists in Action

When Militant Ran Liverpool

Down With Executive Offices of the Capitalist State!


For Black Liberation Through Socialist Revolution!

The Cold War and the Civil Rights Movement

Break with the Democrats!

For a Revolutionary Workers Party!

Part Two