Volume 6, No. 1, January 2005


US Elections, Iraq War & Economic crisis

— Arvind


The three are closely knit Politics is the concentrated expression of economics; and war is the continuation of politics by other means. The deepening economic crisis, particularly in the US, entails a fierce contention for markets and sources of raw materials resulting in the war in Iraq to grab the oil; and such politics of war and aggression, calls for increasingly fascistic type rule of the Bush variety. Not that Kerry differed significantly, but Bush’s open and blatant polices was the preferred option for the financiers and the oil/military oligarchs of the United States of America. Yet, though Bush may have manipulated a win, all does not auger well on both the economic and war front. Economic crises and stiff resistance to its wars of aggression will, in turn, demand of the US state more fascist policies in the future, both at home and abroad — this would most effectively be implemented by the Bush regime with his Evangelical Christian fundamentalist backing, rather than the wishy-washy Democrat Kerry.

What must be seen is that the US elections were taking place in such a scenario where the US was facing stiff resistance in Iraq and the economy facing serious problems. The victory of Bush was immediately followed by the horrendous and murderous attack on Falluja and its ‘pacification’ through unbelievable levels of terror. Regarding the economic crisis Bush has promised more of the same bitter medicine — make the masses of the US pay by cutting welfare expenditure and social security even further!

Now let us look at all these three factors of the present US system that has serious implications for the people and countries of the world. First the US elections:

Farce in the Heartland of ‘Democracy’

Disenfranchisement of Afro-American voters, manipulated electronic voting machines, a huge Latin American migrant population demarcated as ‘illegal’, together with massive TV promotion of the candidates and contenders that really did not differ much on basic policy, etc — were the essence of the US election. Yet, for the masses it was one of the most bitterly fought US elections. On the one hand there was a vast mass who, because of their hatred towards the Bush regime, and the lack of any real alternative called for "anyone but Bush"; and on the other hand there were the Christian fundamentalist born-again Christians (that comprise 20% of the population) who aggressively campaigned for Bush on the "family values" platform whipping up a hysterical campaign against a secondary issue of the opposition to gay marriages. The highest ever turn-out in the current elections was due to the strong feelings that were there on both sides — one manufactured by the Christian fundamentalists from the pulpit of the Church; the other, a genuine strong anti-Bush, anti-war and anti-fascist sentiment which had no other outlet at that time except to vote Bush out (not that Kerry was much better). Surprisingly in India, while throughout the world the people have been vehemently opposing Bush’s policies, the Indian government (not just the BJP-types but even the Congress) came out fully in favour of Bush.

First, let us look at the differences between the two main contenders, who together paid a massive $4 billion (Rs. 18,000 crores; the highest ever expenditure on an election in the US) in their election campaign. This does not include the government’s expenses of holding the election but only the campaign expenses raised from private donors. On the questions of Iraq, Palestine, Iran, North Korea it was difficult to tell which of the two candidates was more bellicose. Kerry, in fact, promised to send 40,000 more troops to Iraq, expand the US standing army substantially, spend $6 billion more on armament for ground combat, and take tougher positions on North Korea, Syria and Iran. Kerry not even once raised the Abu Ghraib/Guantananamo Bay prison horrors nor the murder of one lakh Iraqis since the beginning of the war. Time and again Kerry has said that he would have supported the invasion of Iraq even if he knew that Saddam did not have WMDs. He voted for the fascist Patriot Act and co-sponsored the Syria Accountability Act, which gave Bush the authority to impose sanctions on Syria. And, no one could outdo Kerry in his limitless support to the Prime Minister of Israel, the fascist Ariel Sharon, on the question of Palestine. On this issue there was no difference between Kerry and Bush. Even on local issues there were only shades of difference — this is not surprising as their entire campaign expenditure had been funded by the biggest money-bags of the country. So, quite naturally issues such as abortion and same-sex marriages were ones that showed the differences between the two at the ground level, while on the main substantial issues the differences were minor. And, most surprising of all, when the results were running neck-to-neck, depending on the Ohio count (where the polls had showed that 51% of the men and 53% of the women had voted for Kerry), Kerry conceded defeat even before the count ended. Finally, Bush did win Ohio by just over 1,36,500 votes — but, it was later shown that 2.5 lakh votes had gone uncounted!! When Kerry conceded this election to George Bush, his capitulation shut down investigations into the massive voter fraud and intimidation.

Many people hoped that Kerry would demand investigations into voter fraud and the disappearance of the 2.5 lakh votes. There were literally thousands of lawyers mobilized around the country to investigate and formally protest voter fraud and intimidations. But after promising to fight, Kerry (like Gore before him) chose to embrace George W. Bush and accept Bush’s claims of victory. As his supporters listened, often in shock and frustration, Kerry announced, "In the days ahead, we must find common cause, we must join in common effort, without remorse or recrimination, without anger or rancor."

Now let us turn to the defacto disenfranchisement of votes. It is a known fact that the bulk of Blacks and Latinos vote Democrats. Large sections of these are not allowed to partake. First there is a huge prison population of 2 million, a large section of whom are coloured. Next, it is estimated that over one-half of the ballots that are labeled "spoiled" are cast by African Americans. In other words, over one million Black votes are never counted in national elections. This means that roughly one in seven Black voter or 14% of the Black electorate, is effectively knocked out of the count.

Thirdly, it was well known that the major orders for the electronic voting machine were given to staunch Republican businessmen. Electronic voting machines do not have any problems with spoiled votes. However not a single Black-majority precinct in Ohio used those voting machines. Meanwhile, in those precincts that got the new machines, there were repeatedly high counts for Bush — but because there is no paper trail, it is difficult to investigate or recount. Of the five private companies that manufacture these machines, at least two have strong ties to the Republican Party. Election Systems and Software (ES&S), whose machines will count more than half of all of the votes, is owned by an investment firm whose CFO is a large contributor to the Republican Party. Another 8 or 9 million votes will be tallied by computers supplied by Diebold, whose CEO, Walden O’Dell, caused a scandal by declaring that he would help deliver his home state of Ohio to George W. Bush. "The system is in crisis." Professor David Dill of Stanford University told a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. "The American public is voting on machines where there’s very little protection of their votes. I don’t think there’s any reason to trust these machines." Over 1600 computer experts have signed a petition demanding that electronic voting machines not be used unless they offer a paper trail.

So, it can be seen, as with the 2000 elections (which were usurped by the Bush gang through a constitutional coup), this time too the elections were to a large extent manipulated. Even if one discounts the physical manipulation, the manipulation of the mind comes with the massive media barrage worth $4 billion, a large percentage spent by the Bush regime. Through this, Bush was able to create the necessary fear psychosis in order to whip up chauvinism and the tough so-called anti-terrorist stand. Of the 60 million who voted Bush, 86% considered ‘terrorism’ to be the major motivation, whereas only 18% focused on the economy and the living conditions. Also the droves of born-again Christian who came to vote for Bush were made to think that this butcher was the protector of "moral values". The Church whipped up hysteria against gay marriages and abortion, which have also been the two main agendas of the fascist outfits like the Ku Klux Klan. Though 55.4 million voted for Kerry, his lack of any clear demarcation from Bush on questions of the war and the economy, made the electoral race a losing battle (as far as the oppressed people of America goes) from the very start. The issue at stake was basically which of the two would run the Empire more effectively in the interests of the US corporates. The latter ofcourse preferred Bush — particularly the powerful OIL and Defence lobbies which have close ties with the Bush gentry.

Economy on the Brink

Though the propagandists are boasting of a recovery — a growth of over 3% this year and rising stock market prices — it is well know that the economy is at the brink. Not only is the falling value of the $ and gigantic trade and budget deficits the cause of worry, but the massive growth in unemployment and increasing poverty’ is the source of nascent rebellion. Never before in the history of the US have the extremes of rich and poor been so blatantly and crudely promoted as during the earlier regime.

On the one hand, corporate profits at 8% of GDP, is currently at its highest level in more than 70 Years. While on the other, for the first time in 75 years there was no overall job growth during a presidential term. 15% of all manufacturing jobs disappeared in the years when Bush was in office. Today there are one million fewer jobs than four years back 5 million people could not afford health insurance; and 2% more Americans have slipped below the poverty line in these past four years. Such were the glaring differences between the two sections of the population — effectively promoted by Bush’s economic policies. He now promises more of the same. The US corporate sector has kept employment and wage growth on a tight leash and pursued the outsourcing model more actively. It has aggressively used also all other kinds of cheap labour, as prison labour, the labour of illegal immigrants, etc. As a result the share of revenue going towards labour is at the lowest level ever.

Now, if one turns to the economy we find that a surplus in the budget of $100 billion in 2001 has been turned into a huge $514 billion deficit for the current year. This is partly because of the huge expenses on war and hikes in the military budget, and partly because of the big tax cuts, the benefit of which has gone mainly to the rich. Already $200 billion has been spent on the Iraq war and much more is at stake with the resistance growing and the allies fleeing the battlefield. Bush’s tax policies have meant that in 2004 the 1% Americans who earn more than $1.2 million a year will gain a massive $78,460, while the20% of Americans earning merely $16,620 a year, will gain a measly $250 from the tax cuts. Bush has vowed to continue with his policy of tax cuts.

Then the current account deficit (excess of imports over exports) has spiraled to a gigantic figure of $600 billion in the current year or a record 6% of the GDP. Such a massive trade deficit is unsustainable in the long run. This was balanced as long as there was a flow of dollars into the country, that came as investments from other countries. But with the falling value of the $ this investment is moving elsewhere, particularly to the euro currency areas.

On Nov.26 the Financial Times reported that the dollar had been through the 7th straight week of losses. The US already requires a daily infusion of $1.2 billion in foreign investment just to keep the dollar decline under control. But if this investment inflow drops the continuous fall in the value of the dollar can result in a crash. Already the Russian Central Bank has announced that they are likely to shift their huge reserves ($105 billion) away from the dollar. Even a small country like Indonesia, with $35 billion in reserves, has threatened to cut dollar holdings. But the biggest threat will come from China which has gigantic reserves of $515 billion. Already, in the latter half of this year there were indications that foreign governments and individuals, who hold $3.7 trillion in outstanding US Treasury bonds, were buying fewer and fewer of those and were selling substantial amounts. The combined purchase of stocks, corporate bonds and government debt — overall capital flows into the US — fell in August for the sixth straight month.

While the US publicity machine is trying to make a virtue out of a grave threat by saying that the fall in the value of the $ will help exports (when the same happened to the euro it ridiculed the weakness of that currency) it is panic stricken that it may lose its hegemonic status as the prime currency for international transactions, with the euro overtaking it. With confidence in the dollar declining countries and investors are turning to the euro which is seen to be more stable. If this continues not only will this symbol of US imperialism take a battering, it can precipitate a balance of payment crisis because of its huge deficits. And notwithstanding the fall in the value of the dollar, America’s trade deficit swelled to an all-time high in Oct.04 of $55.5 billion!!

So, the US economy is on the brink and any small push can result in a fall. And it is this crisis-ridden situation and growing contention with the other imperialist powers that has made it flex its military muscle, and launch unilateral actions, as in Iraq.

Heroic Resistance & the US Nightmare

Fascism at home and wars of aggression abroad are the twin sides of an imperialist economy in deep crisis. In the US itself numerous measures have been taken to increase fascist repression, particularly after the 9/11 attack The latest drastic overhaul of the intelligence services, the first time in the post-war period, is an example in that direction. So also is the increasing Christian fundamentalism of the Bush regime. But, both at home and abroad it is facing stiff resistance from the people. In the US the huge movements against war, globalization, unemployment etc have been going on, and abroad the heroic Iraqi resistance is creating nightmares for the American rulers.

The heroic battle of Falluja is just one example of the nature of the resistance and US terror. Falluja, a town of just 5 lakh people has become the symbol of the Iraqi resistance. On Nov. 6 Martial Law was declared all over Iraq after massive guerrilla attacks on the Iraqi army and police station left over 50 dead. On Nov.8, soon alter Bush was re-elected, a huge 20,000 US soldiers along with a token number of Iraqi soldiers launched "Operation Phantom Fury". For over a month before the attack the cowardly Americans subjected Falluja to most intensive bombing. Inspite of that it took two weeks of intensive fighting to subdue the city. The horrors that were perpetrated on the Iraqis during the attack has shocked the world. The cruel methods adopted matched that of Hitler. Officially, in this battle 1,400 Iraqis and 100 US soldiers were killed; (in the first battle of Falluja, in April 2003, officially 1,300 were killed). More than 1000 Iraqis have been grievously injured. Civilians, including women and children, were not allowed to leave the city once the offence began. Those attempting to flee by swimming the Euphrates, were shot and killed. Falluja, the city of Mosques, has been reduced to rubble by massive air power and heavy artillery. Very few buildings are left standing. Barely one lakh people remain in the city.

Military analysts say that the scale of the attack on Falluja is unprecedented in contemporary history. The Americans admit that the city witnessed the most intense urban guerrilla war in the history of modern warfare. Yet, it is said that only 400 fighters remained in the city to "fight until death". Others linked up with fighters in Mosul, Ramadi, Baquba and other neighbouring towns. As fighting raged in Falluja the Iraqis stepped up their attacks in other parts of the country.

Though Falluja may be ‘pacified’, the type of US rule in the city would make George Orwells 1984 look like that of a liberal. All residents (those who remain) have been sent to "citizen processing centres" so that a database of their identity can be compiled based on DNA tests and retina scans. People of Falluja are forced to wear badges all the time with their home address on it. Car use is banned, people are ferried in military buses. All male citizens are defacto made into slaves herded into "military-style battalions" to do various jobs for the Americans.

The genocidal methods adopted by the US has created a furor throughout the world. In the war over one lakh Iraqis have been killed, most of whom are women and children. In this war officially the US has admitted to 1000 of their military killed and 10,000 injured. The honors of Falluja resulted in the Iraqi Islamic Party withdawing from the ‘Iraqi government’. Most allies have been withdrawing from the Iraqi war. Even the servile UN secretary General took the step to warn the US and British not to undertake any major military initiative. But it is only the lackey Indian government which has not only gone out of its way to praise Bush but also offer to train Iraqis for the planned fraudulent elections due in January.

Soon after the electoral victory the Prime Minister of India sent a letter praising Bush stressing the "overriding priority" of both countries to make the future more secure. He went on to assure Bush that India was a partner "against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction proliferation, and will stand by the US in strengthening international peace". The letter also expressed hope that the two countries would "embark on a larger and more ambitious agenda for broader strategic cooperation" This letter was sent on the eve of the attack of Falluja!! Also while Arafat’s body was not even buried the Congress govt announced its plans for a new round of negotiations with the butcher Sharon govt of Israel and the proposal to sign a new arms deal. Through all this the pathetic CPI/CPM allies and props of the government merely looked on as pliant collaborators, of course after making the necessary noises of ‘opposition’. And all this after the new Bush administration has been arming Pakistan to the teeth with high-grade sophisticated weaponry!

But one month after the ‘fall’ of Falluja reports came in once again of pockets of resistance continuing in Falluja with the US again resorting to aerial bombing. Besides, throughout December, attacks continued all over Iraq, particularly what has come to be known as the Sunni triangle. Mosul witnessed several attacks. In the restive city of Samara guerrillas launched a series of coordinated attacks against the US and Iraqi troops killing overt 50. Samara’s police chief resigned. The resistance has fought back with a tenacity and ingenuity beyond anyone’s expectations. There is now a daily average of more than 100 attacks in various parts of the country. Significantly, even the neutralization of Al Sadr’s armies (due to pressure from Iran) has made little difference to the level of attacks, making it doubtful whether his fighters are obeying the orders to desist from fighting the occupiers.

Today, the need of the hour is for all democrats throughout the world to rally in support of the great and heroic resistance of the Iraqi people who are in the forefront in the battle against the demonic US imperialism. The more the US forces are tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan, the more difficult will it be for it to resort to new adventures throughout the world. In that way the resistance in Iraq is in the interests of the entire people of the world fighting and resisting the onslaught of imperialism, particularly US imperialism.

Late News: Dec 21, 2004,: As we go to the press, the Iraqi resistance launched its most devastating attack on the occupation forces since the beginning of the war. In one of the most top security US military camps, a rocket struck at its very heart. Over 19 Americans and five others were killed on the spot and over 60 have been seriously injured.




Home  |  Current Issue  |  Archives  |  Revolutionary Publications  |  Links  |  Subscription

<<  Previous Issue  |  Next Issue  >>