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Iraq: Bush and Blair's deadly legacy
LESS THAN three weeks ago Bush and Blair assured us that US and British troops would start to be withdrawn from Iraq. With a new Iraqi government in place, democracy was underway and the Iraqi police force and army were starting to restore order. Blair announced that "by the end of this year responsibility for much of Iraq's territorial security should have been transferred to Iraqi control."
But these announcements had barely been reported when a series of events in Iraq forced Bush to not only put troop withdrawal on hold but to send in a further 1,500 troops. Another wave of car bombings and shootings by the police, criminal gangs and sectarian gunmen have taken place in Basra and around Baghdad.
A state of emergency was declared in Basra on 1 June following the deaths of 140 civilians and nine British soldiers in May. Not only has there been a rise in Shia-Sunni violence in Basra but there are power struggles between Shia factions and gangs fighting over oil smuggling.
Six months after the elections there is still no agreement over who should fill the interior, defence and national security posts in the Iraqi government.
While Bush and Blair talk about the beginning of democracy and improvements in people's lives, Iraqi people continue to suffer from attacks by the occupation forces, ethnic and tribal factions and general lawlessness. The vast majority of Iraqis want the troops to go and the families of soldiers in the US, Britain and other countries want the troops brought home.
Bush and Blair's hopes for the beginning of troop withdrawal are not of course based on any exit strategy but rather their own predicament.
Both are desperate to rescue their tarnished image over the war before they retire from office.
US Republicans are worried that Bush's blunders will allow the Democrats to win Congress next year and Blair is seen as a liability for the future election success of New Labour. The Haditha massacre where 24 civilians were killed by US marines last year will only add to Bush's disastrous handling of the war.
However, Blair and Brown will both leave office with a legacy. They will be remembered for invading a country that had no weapons of mass destruction and which resulted in the death and injury of thousands of Iraqis and ordinary soldiers.
They have spent huge sums of money to create the disaster that is Iraq while making the lives of the working class in the US and Britain worse by cutting funding of health, education and other public services.
Without the creation of democratic, class-based organisations, in a united struggle to drive out the occupation forces, the prospect of the break-up of Iraq looms large.
A decent future for all Iraqi people can only be secured by working towards a socialist solution, in which Iraq's oil wealth and other natural resources can be used to benefit the unity, security and living standards of working-class and poor Iraqis in every ethnic and religious group.
In The Socialist 8 June 2006: