Is Iraq liberated?

April 1, 2007


Vandalized downtown Baghdad monument of Saddam Hussein. Photo by Peter Rimar.

Has Iraq been liberated, with the help of US capable hands, from the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein?

The violent conflict in Iraq has become a civil war. The situation there is virtually hopeless and US aspirations of establishing a stable, peaceful and somewhat democratic regime in Iraq are highly unlikely (see James D. Fearon’s Iraq’s Civil War, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2007).

Marxists might say it is a classic example of an imperialist power taking over a weaker state with its sheer military strength. This war is by nature an oppression by a capitalistic hegemonic power. The victims under this imperialistic war are the poor and oppressed Iraqi people. A further increase of stationed US troops in Iraq would aggravate their agony and prolong the oppression which already exists in the country.

Leninists might further argue that the establishment of a so called “democratic” government is only a puppet controlled by the aggressive hegemon which cannot represent the will of the average Iraqi people. It is an obvious form of annexation. The Bush administration is hoping to build a government based on the power sharing agreement among Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish leaders to minimize the violence in the country. Nonetheless, the temporary provision of security by an intervening power may further undermine the capability of Iraqi government to survive by its own after the retreat of US army. In any event, there is no hope for the violence to end in any foreseeable future. War is in itself reactionary and oppressive in nature and Iraqi people will just have to continue to suffer in this imperialist war.

We would like our classmates to share your opinion in answering this question:
“Is Iraq being liberated or is it still awaiting to be liberated?”

Fanny Lee and Iris Chan

16 Responses to “Is Iraq liberated?”

  1. HippoMay Says:

    None of us can predict if this nation-building in Iraq is going to succeed in short-term or not. I would even have guessed that challenge is almost next to impossible. Even if Iraq, over time, being transformed or being liberated, it will be on their own terms. It will not be due to the US is prepared and willing to help in the nation building or because Iraq becomes the symbol of US values. At the end of the day, history does take time, and there is nothing moves half as quickly as the Americans think.

  2. John Liauw Says:

    I think the answer it two-fold, depending on which prospective you are taking.

    If one took the Marxist theories of class struggle, I think we could said the answer is yes, for the Iraqi has finally been liberated from the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

    Virtually everybody will agreed that during Saddam’s ruling era, the chief means of production, i.e, the factories, the railroads, the mines, the banks, the public utilities, the offices, and all of the related technologywere basically privately owned by Saddam and his relatvies, thus created a super-rich minority, or as Marxists refered, the capitalist class. The “invasion” of Iraq was in fact, a kind of liberation from the capitalist class, or a capitalist dictatorship.

    But if one was refering to those predatory behaviour of the American oil companies in pursueing the profits in the country, particular the one associated with the vice President, Dick Chenny, the Halliburton Oil company, which was awarded large contract concering the reconstruction project in Irqa after the war, then in fact it fell into the catagory of imperialist war, and one could said, people of Iraq only fell from one dictatorship to the other and is still awaiting to be liberated.

  3. Iris Chan Says:

    John, I totally agree with your analysis to the question. If we take the answer as a yes, i.e. Iraq is liberated from the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, do you think the current democratically elected government can really represent the will of the Iraqi people? Or are they merely the front men subject to manipulation by President Bush?

  4. philipm Says:

    However welcome the removal of Saddam Hussein was, it’s very hard to look at the situation in Iraq right now and say that the Iraqi people have been liberated. Saddam’s reign of terror has been replaced by an equally terrifying civil war. The Iraqi people are hardly free right now; they live in constant fear of being kidnapped, tortured or killed. That doesn’t mean that the Iraq people are being “oppressed” by the United States though — although Marxists might disagree. I see the reasons for going to war in more realist terms: that the United States, however misguidedly, was acting to eradicate what it saw as a threat to its security and that of its allies. More on that next week…

  5. philipm Says:

    I checked out the websites of a few Marxist groups to see what they had to say about the war (I was also hoping to find some entertaining rants about capitalist running dogs and the like, but unfortunately, most of them seem to have toned down most of that sort of language…). In a nutshell: US corporate interests helped push the US into war in Iraq, now the US is colluding with the Iraqi elite to oppress the Iraqi people.

    The Workers Party USA (a Trotskyist group) : “From day one, the U.S. occupying authorities have fostered and strengthened the most reactionary classes and forces in Iraqi society…. This is, of course, one of the basic tactics of imperialism. Whenever the U.S. or other imperialist powers take control of another country, they ally themselves with and give strength to the most reactionary classes inside the country. The foreign aggressors and local exploiters work together to suppress the laboring classes and other democratic sectors who struggle for independence, freedom and social progress. …. The foreign and local capitalists share in exploiting the people.”

    Communist Part of Britain: “Corporate interests, including many British monopolies, have already reaped fortunes from occupied Iraq and the US is proceeding with plans to privatise Iraq’s oil, the country’s main natural resource. Today, Iraq seems to be moving ever-closer to the danger of civil war between different ethnic and religious groups. This is largely due to the divide-and-rule policy being followed by the imperialists.”

    Communist Party USA: “the Bush Administration launched a war on Iraq for the purpose of controlling that nation’s oil and other resources, and to gain strategic geopolitical advantage over its rivals in Europe and Japan.”

    And something for Guillaume, from the Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire in France: “Si l’occupation militaire – les bombardements des populations, la torture systématique, l’enlèvement et l’assassinat de résistants – et ses 150 000 soldats sont l’aspect le plus visible de la politique néocoloniale, le pillage du pays reste l’un des objectifs premiers des occupants. Les multinationales, américaines principalement, ont mis la main sur les ressources irakiennes. Les contrats de reconstruction, financés par l’aide internationale, atterrissent dans les caisses de grandes sociétés américaines.” (Boiled down translation: the US is in Iraq to pillage the country, MNCs are pocketing the cash).

  6. Kenneth Li Says:

    “Power comes out from the barrel of the gun!”

    Under Saddam Hussein’s rule, most Iraq’s interests and wealth were owned by his relatives and followers which formed a special privileged class. To describe this in Marxist term, the special privileged class was ‘exploiting’ on the Iraqi people (working class). In that sense, John has precisely pointed out that the removal of Saddam Hussein may be considered as a liberation of the country.

    However, I also share Philip’s view that the Iraqi people are living in a no better environment under the current ‘shadow’ regime. The U.S. corperates’ control over the oil, main facilities and awarded big reconstruction projects speaks for the genuine reason or concern (if not motive) of the superpower. In that sense, Iraq can never be considered liberated at all.

    Basically, Iraqi people’s lives have been derailed. There are a large number of people who are against the current Iraqi government and the situation is really fragile and can easily be developed into a civil war. The U.S. army’s mere presence in the country does not mean that they have won the war. They are attacked and killed every now and then. Though the U.S. has ‘helped’ to get rid of Saddem Hussein, I am afraid peace is still very, very remote in Iraq.

  7. Adam Blinick Says:

    Really interesting discussion. I will say, from my estimation, the role of oil as it is often referred to in the context of the US-led Iraq war (i.e. being a cash cow for US oil companies) doesn’t add up. First off, overall, the US economy is being depleted by this effort, which is not good for the Bush administration, and thus its supporters. Moreover, revenues of oil sold is not going to the US, per se, but back to the Iraqi people to rebuild their country.

    Oil does play a role in this, to be sure. But energy security–affordable access to energy–is something that touches every nation. What would happen to the world if Saudi Arabia fell into turmoil, meaning that a signifcant amount of the world’s energy was in the hands of unfriendly totalitarian regimes? These are serious questions that have grand global implications.

    I will toss this log into the fire: Let’s look at how other nations outside the US have acted vis-a-vis their energy interests. There were those before the war that suggested that France and other EU nations were against the war, because frankly speaking the Oil-for-Food scandal was making these countries billions. Also, looking next door, China has been the biggest backers of some of the most hedious regimes in the world, like Iran and Sudan, largely because of its own energy interests in these countries. Surely this is as dispicable than any conjured up attack on the US, and I’d argue more likely to be true. Where is the world’s ire in these cases? Where are the marxists with their righteous indignation here?

    All this is not to say that the US was right to go into Iraq. That’s not the issue here. Instead, I would say that the realist’s take appears reasonable and sober, while the marxist’s sounds a bit like a conspiracy theory.

  8. Iris Chan Says:

    Adam – thanks for your insightful comments! After the long discussion on all different forms of Marxist thinkings last night, I am still trapped in the haze of this rhetoric ideology. I reckon that most Marxists existed not to develop a well-explained thoeory, rather they put their effort in criticizing the imperfect reality of the capitalist world. I do not think Marxism will provide a convincing resolution to the present chaos in Iraq. Marxists, however, have offered us with a different angle to look at the issue which is found absent in both Realist and Liberalist aspects.

  9. Adam Blinick Says:

    Iris–great points. I fully agree with your assessment. Having multiple ways of looking at a given situation is surely constructive. The key is to sift through the competing arguments and find out how the truth is represented in each one. For me, looking at the oil companies role in a given situation is not in it of itself problematic. It’s only when this role is elevated far beyond the status which (I believe)is realistic according to the facts of the ground. At that point, the argument begins to take away from the legitimacy of other perspectives, and thus obfuscates any attempts to formulate working solutions to the current challenges.

  10. Philip Poon Says:

    As a late comer, I have the benefit of learning from you guys’ discussion. It’s an interesting topic.
    On further thought, as a matter of definition, I’m not sure if the overturn of Saddam Hussein by George W. Bush would fall into Marxist theory of liberating the people.
    It’s not a class struggle since it’s a war between 2 countries. Even if we put this in Marxist terms, the “struggling party” is an outside imperialist power, not the proletariat!
    Further, it’s hard to say on which side did the Iraqi people stand in the war. I’m afraid most of them would be standing on the side of Saddam Hussein!
    The US invasion of Iraq, from this perspective, can hardly be explained by Marxist theory of class struggle.

  11. ralphchow Says:

    Just like in any communist rule, during Saddam Hussein’s reign, he was able to centralise the power of the country and suppress the various ethnic groups within Iraq. Following the removal of the dictator, we could expect that the country would normally resemble the former Yugoslavia after the death of Tito, breaking up into different ethnic rules comprising Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. This will probably happen soon after the pullout of the U.S. troops unless the newly established Iraqi Government is powerful enough to resist the rebelling forces.

    The invasion into Iraq by the U.S. without the endorsement of the U.N. Security Council was undoutedly an act of imperialism from the eyes of the Iraqi people. The battlefield has since then become an excellent breeding ground for terrorism against the U.S. by Al-Qaeda. The U.S. Government and its troops are being trapped in the dilemma now; they are bound to be criticised no matter whether they stay or pullout from Iraq. The fate of the Iraqi people seems to be even more pessimistic. Apart from the heavy casualties since the attack by the U.S., they are also facing endless conflicts which may eventually lead to civil wars and further break-up of their country.

  12. vanchui Says:

    I share the same view with John. We can simply think that Iraq is liberated by not being ruled under the regime of Saddam Hussein. Under this circumstance, liberation is just a simple reflection of the end of Saddam Hussein.

    However, Iraq is now being ruled by the self-elected governement, under the control or influence of US. In this way, can we say that Iraq is already liberated ? From my point of view, the answer is of course ‘negative’. Numerous assisnation or bomb attack are found every day in Iraq, although the US troops are there to execute the duties. If a country is really liberated, will we find so many accidents there ? Does it means a sign of liberation ?

    I believe that Iraq will be liberated by the time people there have their own say in determining their fate of live, the way of using the natural resources, in controlling of sovereignty by their own and the exclusion of long existing US domination there.

  13. fanny Says:

    Really great discussions, thank you all. Referring to our question in the post, the word “liberate” can be asked in different ways. “Who liberated Iraq?”,”Who can liberate Iraq?”, “Who is liberating Iraq?”…..blah blah blah. And of cos different answers will come out, just like what Iris said–different angles. And most of you have given us the answers. I do think that Marxist idea is not fit for the situation in Iraq. we seem to have different perspectives to answer this questions,but answers are almost the same–liberated? no way.

  14. fanny Says:

    In additon to our discussion, would like to share with you the poll by ABC News on the eve of 4th anniversary of US invasion. No poll result here, but the methodology and field interviewer notes are much more interesting and inspiring.

  15. when they say it’s ove. Zaid Bethanie.

  16. Gautam Asaf Says:

    and they also said, that we couldn’t last togethe. Gautam Asaf.

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