In her 2017 book No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics And Winning The World We Need, Naomi Klein wrote in reference to her experiences in post-invasion Iraq that:
“There have been times in my reporting from disaster zones when I have had the unsettling feeling that I was seeing not just a crisis in the here and now, but a glimpse of our collective future-a preview of where the road we are all on is headed unless we somehow grab the wheel and swerve.”
While writing this, Klein had in mind the explosion of violence in Iraq and the dividing of Iraqi society into privileged “green zones” and impoverished “red zones.” The same prophetic line of thinking can be applied to the recent uprising in Iraq, which provides a foreshadowing to the class conflicts of the coming years.
After Iraqis have protested throughout the last year against the neoliberal U.S.-installed regime that’s ravaged their society, the American imperialists committed a provocation that’s provoked fiercer resistance than ever. When U.S. airstrikes hit members of an Iraqi militia, Iraqis broke into the embassy compound in Baghdad this week, crossing the green zone that’s been kept so well guarded since the U.S. set it up after the invasion.
What instilled such fury in the Iraqi people was the fact that Washington had just used a lie–once again–as an excuse to attack their country. Last week, when rockets were fired at an Iraqi service base, the U.S. blamed the attack on the militia Kataib Hezbollah. After the American military launched airstrikes against the militia that killed 24 members, Iraqi activists busted through the embassy’s door, smashed windows, and set fire to the reception area.
The occupation may have ended in a couple of days, but these activists and other disaffected Iraqis intend to do more in the coming years than simply send a message. Iraq’s egregious living conditions are still present, Iraq’s communists have been gaining an increased presence as a result of the protests, and now the rebels have shown that they have the ability to cross into the green zone. The imperialists and their bourgeois allies in Iraq are scared, so they’ve carried out a response that shows a clear sense of ruling class panic.
The U.S. has sent troops into the Iraqi embassy to fire tear gas at the protesters. This action, which is painted by the U.S. media as a shameful atrocity when something similar to it is perpetrated by Hong Kong police, has been excused as an act of self-defense. And the protesters have been portrayed in a strategically deceptive way; both Trump and his mainstream media critics have made the protesters out to be nothing more than agents of Iran, and the Washington aggression that provoked their fury has been presented as a response to a provocation by Iran. Despite Kataib Hezbollah denying that they’re behind the attack, one bitter headline from a pro-imperialist USA Today columnist says about the situation: “Attack on US Embassy in Iraq shows Trump is failing. He walked into Iran’s trap.”
But the blame for this blow to U.S. interests in Iraq comes not from the designated bogeyman Iran, nor ultimately from Trump. It’s the inevitable consequence of imperialism, which has afflicted Iraq with poverty and corruption and caused the Iraqi people to strike back. In his work The Foundations of Leninism, Stalin wrote that one of the main contradictions of capitalism in the age of imperialism is the conflict that unavoidably arises between the bourgeois imperialist interests and the people who’ve been colonized and invaded. Waging wars against entire peoples will inevitably bring retaliation, as the Western imperialist powers have learned not just with this week’s embassy occupation but with the the 2005 al-Qaeda bombings in London, the 2015 ISIS massacre in France, and the many jihadist attacks within America.
These acts of terrorism, though guided by brutal religious extremism, reflect the anger that the West’s genocidal imperialist violence has created. More broadly, they reflect the anger from the world’s poor and working people amid decades of suffering under neoliberalism. Last year’s protests throughout Iraq, Chile, Haiti, France, and other capitalist countries show that the vast majority of these outraged people are being diverted not towards violent backwards religious cults, but towards socialism and militant worker organizing. So the occupants of the world’s green zones are lashing out in ways reflected by last week’s events in Iraq.
Notice the rhetoric that the imperialists have used to justify their attack against the Iraqi protesters. There’s been a consistent effort to vilify them as agents of Iran, and to emphasize Iran’s role in Iraq’s unrest (for example, a New York Times article begins by claiming the protests are “driven by frustration at a dysfunctional economy, corruption and the pervasive influence of a foreign power: Iran”). I remember seeing imperialist media use the exact same kind of language about the recent anti-neoliberal protests throughout Latin America, which pundits have claimed are orchestrated by Venezuela or Russia.
The police brutality against the Latin American protesters has also been defended by claiming that the U.S. and its puppet regimes are only defending themselves from belligerent enemy-backed thugs. Chile’s protests have been strategically labeled “riots,” and the violent repression from Chile and the other neoliberal regimes has been whitewashed. This is how the bourgeoisie is spinning the narrative while it fights a war against people who are struggling for their livelihoods.
As the ruling class attempts to turn the narrative around these protests in their favor, they also utilize their control over the narrative to legitimize drastic acts of violence. Last month, Mike Pompeo vowed intervention against the “riots” in America’s “own backyard” of Latin America. Similarly, officials and pundits have frequently characterized the sovereign state-sanctioned Iraqi militia as “pro-Iran.” This has made it seem like Iran has attacked the U.S., and has given Washington a construed pretense for assassinating a beloved Iranian general this week.
The manipulative lies, the bluster, and the reckless military action all characterize a ruling class under siege. If Trump’s latest provocation against Iran doesn’t set off World War III, it will still exacerbate the decline of the U.S. empire and spur more reckless actions from Trump and the other imperialists. America’s police state will keep being expanded, the U.S. will keep stoking conflicts throughout its imperial decline, and civilization will keep being destabilized by neoliberal economic bubbles and climate change. Naomi Klein’s next sentence after her reflection about Iraq portends to this reality:
“When I listen to Trump speak, with his obvious relish in creating an atmosphere of chaos and destabilization, I often think: I’ve seen this before, I’ve seen it in those strange moments when portals seemed to open up into our collective future.”
It’s okay to be alarmed by what the capitalists and the imperialists are doing right now, but don’t be convinced these developments mean that the forces of socialism and anti-imperialism are losing. These actions from the ruling class are done in response to the strengthening of Third World liberation movements, the rise of anti-imperialist countries like Iran, and the global intensification of class conflict amid extreme inequality. Iraq is one of the many nations that have the potential to become communist in the coming several decades as revolutionary energy builds, and the imperialists are fighting for their lives.
If you appreciate my work, I hope you become a one-time or regular donor to my Patreon account. Like most of us, I’m feeling the economic pinch during late-stage capitalism, and I need money to keep fighting for a new system that works for all of us. Go to my Patreon here. Follow Rainer on Twitter, Youtube and Medium.
Iran Raises Red Flag, “A Severe Battle to Come”
The Peace Report on Jan 4, 2020
Join The Peace Report to fight empire one video at a time: Weekly Newsletter
Soleimani saved Christians, upheld lost values – Caleb Maupin w/ George Galloway
Caleb Maupin on Jan 5, 2020
Caleb Maupin is a radical journalist and political analyst who resides in New York City. Originally from Ohio, he studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College. In addition to his journalism, analysis, and commentary, he has engaged in political activism. He was involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement from its planning stages in August of 2011. He has worked against police brutality, mass incarceration, and imperialist war. He works to promote revolutionary ideology, and to support all who fight against the global system of monopoly capitalist imperialism.
Mike Prysner Speech: No War on Iran! Troops Out of Iraq!
with Mike Prysner
Empire Files on Jan 4, 2020
Mike Prysner gives a powerful anti-war speech at the demonstration against Trump’s bombing of Iraq and potential war against Iran on January 4 in downtown Los Angeles at Answer Coalition’s National Day of Action.
Keep Empire Files independent and ad-free: https://www.patreon.com/empirefiles
Follow Mike: https://twitter.com/MikePrysner
DM Eyes Left if you’re a US service member who opposes the war: https:///twitter.com/EyesLeftPod
From the archives: