Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/466/1834

From The Socialist newspaper, 7 December 2006

Review

"The greatest strategic disaster in American history"

FOR READERS who are familiar with Patrick Cockburn's incisive reports from Iraq in the Independent, they will appreciate his new book, The Occupation. It's a cut above the virtual mountain of books purporting to explain the impact of US and British foreign policy on Iraq.

Dave Carr

Cockburn reminds us that the war and invasion was "the high tide of imperial self-confidence. The US had just achieved a swift victory in Afghanistan... To Tony Blair, support for Bush must have looked like a safe bet."

Referring to Iraq today, however, Cockburn's quote from the former head of the US National Security Agency is apposite: "The greatest strategic disaster in American history".

As the socialist predicted at the time of the March 2003 invasion, the US-led occupation would be opposed by most Iraqis, apart from the Kurdish leaders and Washington's exiled Iraqi carpetbaggers. Cockburn confirms this: "It was the overwhelming unpopularity of the occupation among the 5 million Sunni Arabs in Iraq which led to the speedy start of guerrilla warfare. The Shia were also hostile to the occupation but were not going to oppose it in arms if they could take power through the elections."

The failure of Bush's 'neo-conservative' clique to understand the complex political, social and ethnic make-up of Iraq was compounded by a breathtaking ignorance and arrogance by the US occupiers - typified by the disastrous rule of US pro-consul Paul Bremer during the first phase of occupation.

"The US administrative apparatus was more incompetent, bureaucratic, corrupt and divided than most Iraqis imagined. Its inability to respond swiftly and effectively to a crisis was demonstrated in New Orleans in 2005..." when Hurricane Katrina hit that city, says Cockburn.

Two wars, a decade of United Nations sanctions and Saddam's regime had reduced Iraq to "a barely floating economic wreck". US policies only compounded the problems. Under the 'reconstruction' drinkable water in Iraq fell from covering 50% of the population in March 2003 to 32%. $4 billion was spent on increasing electricity supplies but this supply also fell below pre-invasion levels. Similarly with the production and export of oil.

Capitalism and its attendant corruption was also a major weakness of the occupation. "The free market principles of the Bush administration and simple greed meant that Iraq became the hunting ground for the world's shadier characters."

As the socialist reported last year, the special investigator for Iraqi reconstruction, Stuart Bowen, revealed that under Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority $8.8 billion was unaccounted for! The various political groups in control of the different ministries also milked them for profits.

Cockburn gives the example of a security contractor in charge of protecting Basra's oil refinery. He witnessed SCIRI (the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq - the main Shia political group) siphoning off fuel and selling it for a sizeable profit. After the contractor closed down their activities SCIRI complained to the British authorities and the contractor was duly sacked!

With mass unemployment, widespread poverty and destitution many young men, desperate for work, simply joined the various militias or the now abundant criminal gangs involved in looting, kidnapping and carrying out murders.

The hated occupation also became a cause célèbre for reactionary Islamists throughout the world, who streamed into Iraq to fight the Americans. Of course, the US authorities deliberately hyped-up the numbers of foreign Jihadists in order to downplay the domestic insurgency. Paradoxically, Zarqawi's suicide bombers made Iraqis even more opposed to the occupation for failing to bring security and stability.

Political failure

Cockburn catalogues the failure of every political initiative that simply resulted in institutionalising political sectarianism. The current Iraqi government, he points out, is incapable of functioning not least because the various ministries were carved up between the different political factions. Each ministry is a source of jobs and profits for these factions, each of whom have their own militias.

Political sectarianism is increasingly fracturing Iraq along ethnic lines. In this low-intensity civil war whole districts of Baghdad and many regional cities have been 'ethnically cleansed' by the various militias.

Recently, Bush and Blair have berated the Iraqi government, saying that they must take over responsibility for security and law and order. This is nothing less than an admission of failure of the occupation by blaming their own approved Iraqi politicians. It is also a way to save face in announcing their intention to withdraw. But withdrawal under present conditions can only mean humiliation for imperialism.

The Occupation, by Patrick Cockburn
Published by Verso, 2006. £15.99 Hardback, 222 pages

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 7 December 2006:

NHS campaigns unite

Blair's health service lies

NHS mass protests continue

Building the national day of action

ITC programme fails

Diary of events


War and terrorism

Bush and Blair still in denial

"The greatest strategic disaster in American history"


Workplace news

Strike threat forces victory

300,000 workers in PCS strike Ballot

"Merry Christmas Mr SCCrooge"

Blood service staff prepared to fight job losses

UCU: Left victory in sight

JJB workers fight sackings


Socialist Students

"Stop the rent rises!"

Campaign to Defeat Fees is building across London

CDF online petition launched!

Fight Blair's divisive academy programme


Socialism 2006

Socialism 2006

Britain's Muslims under siege - which way forward?

"Inspired and informed"

Do you have to be red to be green?

Socialism 2006 - another major step forward


Socialist Party news and analysis

200 march against Lincoln's far right

Trident - a waste of our money

Privatised rail bosses hike up fares

MPs wannabe rich


International socialist news and analysis

Chávez re-election - a set-back for the right

Balance sheet of WASG national conference

Political tensions rage in Bolivia


 

Home   |   The Socialist 7 December 2006   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Occupation:

triangleTrump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian conflict

triangleScotland: BiFab workers' occupation and march secures jobs and pay guarantee

triangleHousing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right

triangleStudent occupation at Chelsea College of Arts

trianglePalestinian prisoners on mass hunger strike protest

Iraq:

triangleKurdish referendum declared illegal

triangle'From Militant to the Socialist Party' - new book now available

triangleHow Blairism sank its claws into the Labour Party

triangleAttacks ratchet-up Syrian conflict and fuel tensions between powers

US:

triangleA world in crisis, ripe for revolution

triangleThem & Us

triangleRetail sector crunch: nationalise to save jobs

War:

triangleCaerphilly Socialist Party: Are we heading for an era of war?

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

13/12/17

The Socialist

The Socialist's 2017 quiz

6/12/17

Fire

The Socialist Inbox

6/12/17

Surrey

Comment: Socialism and truth about Zane

6/12/17

Labour Party

Blairite horror and Labour's divisions graphically exposed

30/11/17

Theatre

Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike

22/11/17

Working class

Left comic's take on politics will have you in tears

22/11/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

15/11/17

The Socialist

The Socialist Inbox

15/11/17

Abortion

TV review: Abortion on Trial - hard-hitting look at impact of 1967 act

15/11/17

Vietnam war

Comprehensive account of bloody conflict

8/11/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

8/11/17

Obituary

Obituary: Paul Randall, 1959-2017

8/11/17

Theatre

Welsh update of Chekhov an engrossing tale of 1980s class conflict

1/11/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

25/10/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle14 Dec Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

triangle13 Dec Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

triangle13 Dec Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

triangle13 Dec Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangle13 Dec Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian...

triangle13 Dec Labour 'purge' furore really just democracy

EU parliament, Strasbourg

triangle13 Dec Brexit deal no solution to Tory rifts

More ...

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

triangle21 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Socialists and the National Question

triangle6 Jan Socialist Party national women's meeting

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2