Class-consciousness has temporarily sunk so low that the U.S. military’s continuing atrocities are not provoking the mass outrage they deserve. The media’s sanitized coverage of the war zones explains a minor aspect of this passivity. With pro-war reporters embedded with the troops and pictures of carnage banned, many people don’t comprehend the sheer terror of the U.S.’s genocidal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Millions aren’t demonstrating against U.S. rulers’ war crimes mainly because there’s no mass working-class movement attacking capitalism as the root of imperialist war.
The Progressive Labor Party has this class-based outlook. We led hundreds in demonstrations and forums protesting the Abu Ghraib torture. We can and must lead many times more. The U.S. war machine provides endless opportunities to expose the essential deadliness of the profit system and to organize where we work, live and go to school.
Last month, a U.S. Marine executed a wounded, unarmed prisoner at a mosque in Fallujah. The British newspaper, the Independent 11/24), confirmed that such wanton murder, ordered by the brass and fueled by racism, is standard operating procedure for U.S. troops in Iraq. It’s worth citing at length:
"Allegations of widespread abuse by U.S. forces in Fallujah, including the killing of unarmed civilians and the targeting of a hospital in an attack, have been made by people who have escaped from the city. They said that as well as deaths from bombs and artillery shells, a large number of people including children were killed by American snipers. U.S. forces refused repeated calls for medical aid for injured civilians, they said....
"The refugees from Fallujah describe a situation of extreme violence…. Men of military age were particularly vulnerable. But there are accounts of children as young as four, and women and old men being killed....The claims of abuse and killings, from different sources, appear, however, to follow a consistent pattern.
"Dr. Ali Abbas, who arrived in Baghdad from Fallujah four days ago, worked at a clinic in the city which was bombed by the Americans....Dr. Abbas, 28, said: ‘We had five people under treatment and they were killed....We contacted the doctors at the Fallujah hospital and said how bad the situation was. We wanted them to evacuate the more badly injured and send drugs and more doctors. They tried to do that, but they said the Americans stopped them. One of things we noticed the most were the numbers of people killed by American snipers. They were not just men but women and some children as well. The youngest one I saw was a four-year-old boy. Almost all these people had been shot in the head, chest or neck.’
"The family of Aziz Radhi Tellaib were killed before the battle for Fallujah began. He had been driving them to Ramadi to visit relations when the car was hit by fire from an American Humvee....Mr. Tellaib freed himself but could not save the rest of the family. Those who died included Mr. Tellaib’s wife Ahlam, 26; his sons Omar, seven, and Barat, three, and his daughter Zainab. Also killed were his niece Rokyab, 26, her three-year-old son Fadhi, and three-month-old daughter Farah.
"Mr. Tellaib, 33, a merchant, said: ‘We were stopped, in a line of cars, by some Humvees which had overtaken us. One soldier waved us forward, but as I drove up there was firing from another Humvee. I was shot in the side of the head, and my wife and elder son were shot in the chest. I think they must have died then....’
"Rahim Abdullah, 46, a teacher, said that anyone in the street was regarded by the Americans as the enemy. ‘I was trying to get to my uncle’s house, waving a piece of white cloth as we had been advised when they started shooting at me. I saw two men being shot. They were just ordinary people. The only way to stay alive was to stay inside and hope your house did not get hit by a shell.’"
Lancet, the British medical journal, estimated that U.S. forces had killed 100,000 Iraqi civilians before the current massacre in Fallujah. One eyewitness said that U.S. troops typically retaliated for car-bombings by torching civilian homes. And even the ultra-imperialist New York Times reports (11/27) that "400,000 Iraqi children are badly malnourished, and suffering in some cases from irreversible physical and mental stunting."
Organizing against these crimes opens the way for Party-building. We can kick out military recruiters who seek to transform young workers into cold-blooded murderers of their class brothers and sisters. We can expose phony union hacks, who join with bosses in backing U.S. imperialism. We can support striking workers fighting pay cuts that fund the rulers’ war effort. We can attack politicians who shift funds from social services into war, even as they demand more cops and prisons.
We must understand, however, that nothing short of a revolution of millions of workers united in a communist Party — the PLP — will bring the war criminals to justice. We may still be far from that goal, with a long, hard road ahead. But our Party can and will grow until our class achieves it.