People’s World archives 2003: CPUSA condemns Bush’s illegal Iraq war
On May 1, 2003, President George W. Bush preposterously declared 'Mission Accomplished' in Iraq. Hundreds of thousands more would die as the carnage continued for years later. | AP

This article is part of the People’s World 100th Anniversary Series.

On March 20, 2003, the United States military launched its invasion of Iraq, starting a nearly decade-long war that wrecked the Middle East and killed as many as a million people. It came on top of the already-raging U.S. war in Afghanistan.

President George W. Bush opportunistically seized on the 9/11 terror attacks to prop up his case for an invasion of Iraq. Since the government of Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11, the Bush administration concocted a story that Iraq possessed “weapons of mass destruction” and planned to use them.

Subsequent inspections after the invasion never found any such weapons. The war was based on a lie. It did succeed, however, in giving U.S. energy giants access to the rich oil fields of Iraq.

In the build-up to the war and in the days after it was launched, from January to April 2003, it is estimated that more than 36 million people around the globe participated in anti-war demonstrations, with Feb. 15 seeing the largest day of coordinated protests of any kind in history.

The statement below, issued by the Communist Party USA on the day of the invasion, condemns the war and sounds an alarm about the dangers ahead and the tasks of the peace movement. The CPUSA also predicted that the war would, in contradiction to Bush’s hopes, actually speed up the crisis of U.S. imperialism and propel the development of a multipolar world. It was printed in People’s Weekly World on March 22, 2003.

Bush brings U.S. into illegal, unnecessary war

Communist Party USA

People’s Weekly World, March 22, 2003

With layer upon layer of misrepresentation, exaggeration, and outright lies, George W. Bush and his war cabinet have recklessly flung our nation into an illegitimate, illegal, and unnecessary war.

The costs and consequences of this will be enormous, for our country and the world.

Many lives will be lost. Political instability and right-wing religious fundamentalism will grow. The Korean Peninsula will become more inflamed. The spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons will gain momentum. The chances of terrorist blowback will increase.

At home, the immediate causalities will be jobs, education, health care, democratic and immigrant rights, racial and gender equality, and the truth. Returning soldiers and their families, like the vets before them, won’t get any help from the right-wing gang in Washington.

With the country plunging into war, the peace movement in its millions must call for an immediate cessation of hostilities, withdrawal of the troops, the sending of a U.N. peacekeeping force and reconstruction team to Iraq, and No more Iraqs. For even as the Bush administration orders up this war, it is planning others. Iran, Syria, and North Korea are names bandied about by the chicken hawks.

U.S. bombs fall on Baghdad on the night of March 20, 2003, signaling the start of Bush’s invasion. | AP

Even if the war is short, it will be incredibly deadly. A sea of blood will be spilled and untold lives will be lost on both sides. Men, women, and children will die agonizing deaths for no reason. “Shock and Awe,” the name given to the initial stage of the U.S. bombing, will slaughter innocent Iraqis and destroy a country that has not yet recovered from the last Gulf War and the subsequent decade of punishing sanctions, which claimed the lives of as many as three quarters of a million children.

In this war, much like other wars, neither the leaders in Washington nor their privileged children will shed a drop of blood nor come home in body bags. That fate will fall largely on the sons and daughters of our multi-racial, multi-national working class.

From the very start, the Bush administration has offered no compelling justification for war. As each of its reasons for invasion have been found wanting in the Security Council and the court of world public opinion, it has had to invent a new rationale. But each time, it came up empty and found itself more isolated. This has been further amplified by the Bush administration’s arrogance and its bullying ways in the international arena.

And yet, it would be a mistake to see diplomatic blunders as the reason for this crisis, as some in the media and the Democratic Party have suggested, for the underlying cause is the administration’s unchecked desire for regime change and its ambition for world empire.

For the past year and a half, the Bush administration has carved out in full public view a new and exceedingly dangerous doctrine, whose three pillars are pre-emptive strikes, regime change, and the dominance of U.S. imperialism for the full length of the 21st century.

Afghanistan was a dress rehearsal for this new doctrine, but in Iraq, White House policymakers see an opportunity to provide a more thorough lesson: to preemptively attack a sovereign state, to establish a foothold from which to transform and dominate the entire region, and to demonstrate the absolute superiority of the Pentagon’s military machine.

In short, with the force of example or, more accurately, with the example of force, the White House aims to impose a new set of rules to govern and dominate the international community.

But easier said than done. To its surprise, the Bush administration has come up against an unprecedented worldwide peace movement that has not only forced it to maneuver but has also stripped away much of its political and moral legitimacy and left it nearly alone. Continued worldwide opposition to the U.S. invasion will almost certainly continue, leaving the administration further isolated.

On Feb. 15, 2003, the largest protests in history were held around the world, with more than 11 million people participating.

At one level, these new cleavages in the world community are a consequence of rising opposition to a war waged by the U.S. government that is in contravention to international law, the U.N. Charter, and world public opinion. On another level, they are closely connected to the post-Cold War era, in which the norms that structured international relations for nearly half a century and reflected a specific correlation of forces worldwide are crumbling and giving way to a new set of rules and institutions.

This process, which is only in its early stages, is the site of turbulent struggle, both within our country and internationally.

On one side are the most right-wing sections of the U.S. ruling class and their political representatives, who now control all three branches of the federal government, along with a short list of allies. On the other side is a broad coalition, which comprises the majority of the world’s people and governments of various political pedigrees.

Though this will shape the political landscape for a long time to come, right now the main front of the struggle is to bring a halt to the bloodbath in Iraq and to demand Congressional repudiation of the doctrine of pre-emption and regime change.

And the way to do this is to reach out to larger and larger sections of the American people in ways that will bring them into active opposition to the war. Some are calling for peaceful civil disobedience. While this is an appropriate tactic, it cannot take the place of other forms of mass struggle that activate millions of peace-minded people and especially labor, racial minorities, and women. In the end, our strength lies in our numbers and broad unity.

This is a very dangerous, frightening moment. Perhaps the risks and stakes are higher than at any other moment in our lives. But this is no time for despair. A movement has been born and is marching on the global stage. And if nurtured in the right way, an enduring peace will be won.

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Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.