Workers Vanguard No. 902

9 November 2007


On Iraq and the Democrats


6 October 2007
Cleveland, Ohio

Dear Comrades:

I enjoyed the well-deserved skewering the reformists got in the latest WV (“Reformist Left: Tail of the Democratic Donkey. U.S. Out of Iraq Now!,” WV No. 899, 28 September 2007.) But I was also concerned that our characterization of the Democrats’ views on Iraq could be misunderstood to blur the distinction between communist and reformist opposition to the imperialist war and occupation. We write:

“Democrats seek election to the White House based not simply on popular opposition to the Iraq occupation, but centrally because they see that particular war and occupation as running counter to the interests of U.S. imperialism. In this they speak for more rational and far-sighted wings of the ruling class….” (My emphasis.)

We follow this statement, one paragraph later, with the comment:

“Meanwhile, not one major Democratic presidential contender calls for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Such a withdrawal would be correctly seen as a defeat for U.S. imperialism, and in the squalid world of American electoral politics, the Democrats do not want to be saddled with ‘losing’ this filthy war and occupation.”

These statements are indisputably true, but taken together they can be misread to argue that the Dems recognize the occupation of Iraq is not in the best interests of imperialism, but they are simply too cowardly to openly advocate that position. That conclusion is why the reformists argue that mass protest will give the spineless Dems the necessary backbone to do the right thing.

I certainly won’t dispute that the Democratic presidential contenders are a pack of weasels (my apologies to actual mustelids), but they absolutely do not oppose the continued occupation of Iraq, and neither do the more far-sighted wings of the ruling class. To the contrary, there appears to be a bourgeois consensus that Bush and his wack-job cronies blew what should have been a successful overthrow of Saddam Hussein, but nevertheless the US must now remain in Iraq until some loyal pro-imperialist henchmen can be established atop stable pro-capitalist statelets, even if that requires the genocidal transfer and slaughter of whole ethnic populations. This bloody “consensus” was set forth to near universal capitalist acclaim in the Iraq Study Report, and the Dems are now campaigning on its implementation.

Ted Koppel, no radical journalist he, has the Democrats’ number:

“...[C]ongressional Republicans and Democrats have reached, if not a deal, an accommodation. They understand that there is, effectively speaking, no way of getting all the troops out soon.... I think what we’re looking a significant number of U.S. forces in Iraq for some years to come.”


“...[W]hat the Iraqis are not capable of doing right now is protecting their own borders. It is not in the U.S.’ interest that Iran, which is now becoming the regional superpower in the Persian Gulf
...has free access to Iraq. I think you’re just going to see anywhere from 75 to 100,000 U.S. troops there for years to come.”

“...[A]ll the emphasis [has been] on the British withdrawal from Basra.... They withdrew about 15 to 20 miles outside of Basra. They’re still there.”

(NPR Interview on Morning Edition, 7 September 2007.)

The Democrats agree that U.S. soldiers should be pulled back from the cities, where they make far too convenient targets, to their massive, near-impenetrable military bases. They just argue that presence shouldn’t be construed as “permanent occupation,” you understand. They are afraid to openly say that those troops will remain for years, decades, if that is what it takes to insure that unreliable warlords and unreliable fundamentalists do not get their hands on one of the world’s largest proven oil reserves. But that is why the Democrats want the troops to remain, and will not advocate their withdrawal.

At bottom, the Democrats are loyal, pro-imperialist politicians. They argue they are best able to “secure Iraq’s borders.” They will support whatever they think are the most acceptable tactics of occupation. They will not withdraw U.S. troops until they can trust the oppressors they leave behind. All the reformists’ alibis, and mass demonstrations to apply pressure, won’t cause the Democrats to act otherwise, because that would be a betrayal of the class they serve.

Matt G.

WV replies:

Matt G. raises interesting considerations. It is true that no leading Democratic presidential contender calls for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. However, this does not mean that the ruling class as a whole is committed to maintaining a costly military occupation of Iraq, which in any case is not the only means at the imperialists’ disposal for maintaining domination of the oil-rich Near East.

There is no questioning the strategic importance of this region to U.S. imperialism. But despite the bipartisan support for the murderous war and occupation of Iraq, there has been significant opposition to the occupation among those in the ruling class who see the seemingly intractable quagmire as gravely harmful to their world interests, including in the Near East. These concerns were expressed in a Foreign Affairs (November/December 2007) article by Hillary Clinton titled “Security and Opportunity for the Twenty-First Century.” Writing as Bush’s presumptive successor, Clinton declares that the U.S. will face “a resurgent Russia,” a “rapidly growing China” and “an unpredictable and dangerous situation in the Middle East.” “To meet these challenges,” she continues, “we will have to replenish American power by getting out of Iraq, rebuilding our military, and developing a much broader arsenal of tools in the fight against terrorism.”

The Bush administration is leaving its replacement with a lose-lose situation in Iraq. We were not the only ones to predict that toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime would be easy, but that the subsequent occupation would not. Such difficulties and setbacks for imperialism should provide an opening for the pursuit of class struggle at home against the capitalist rulers, which we have fought for as part of our program to defeat U.S. imperialism through proletarian revolution. With its support—either backhanded or overt—to the Democratic Party “lesser evil,” the reformist left has once again served as a roadblock to this revolutionary perspective.