Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/328/9291
What We Think
Saddam's capture - Not The "Beginning Of The End" in Iraq
THERE WON'T be many tears shed in Iraq or elsewhere over the capture of Saddam Hussein - a vicious dictator who brutalised, tortured and murdered tens of thousands of Iraqis. But his capture will no more bring peace, democracy and stability to ordinary Iraqis than the toppling of his statue back in April this year.
No doubt George Bush and Tony Blair are thinking that Christmas has come early. Both have been facing widespread opposition to the war and occupation in Iraq.
Since Bush declared "mission accomplished" 200 US soldiers have been killed, twice the number killed during the war itself. Republicans, worried that Bush's policy in Iraq could cost them the presidential election, are now feeling more confident of victory. But much could go wrong between now and November 2004.
In Britain, Blair has been contemplating a less than happy new year. The Hutton report into the death of Dr David Kelly is expected to be published in January, just days before the vote in Parliament on top-up fees - which Blair could lose, such is the anger over this issue. Defeat would seriously wound him politically, possibly even fatally in the longer term.
However, any kudos from capturing Saddam Hussein is unlikely to be enough to prevent either of these scenarios from taking place. Saddam may have been found but weapons of mass destruction - the reason Blair gave for waging war in the first place - have not.
The US administration describes Saddam's capture as the "beginning of the end". But any propaganda value gained from finding Saddam is likely to be short lived. After Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay were killed attacks on occupying forces actually increased. Within hours of Saddam's capture, two car bombs had exploded outside police stations killing nine people and injuring many others.
Bush and Co. have consistently tried to blame suicide bombings and the 20 or so attacks taking place daily against US forces on " remnants" of the Saddam regime. But serious analysts have identified between 15 and 30 resistance groups active in Iraq, most with no links to Saddam. The idea that Saddam, holed up in his eight-foot pit, could have masterminded these escalating attacks is clearly laughable.
As Independent journalist Robert Fisk put it: "The war is not about Saddam but about occupation". With Saddam removed from the equation this will become increasingly clear. Iraqi resistance to imperialist occupation is fuelled by mass unemployment, non-existent services, insecurity and brutal treatment at the hands of occupying forces.
One Iraqi summed up the feelings of many when he said: "I don't care if they catch Saddam Hussein or not. I would be happy if Iraq was united, the place was safe and people had things to eat". (Financial Times 15 December)
As long as the occupation remains in place resistance is likely to continue, whatever Saddam's fate.
Bush still faces the dilemma that any attempt to withdraw troops in the short-term would be seen as a major blow to his prestige and that of US imperialism internationally. But by staying, he risks becoming embroiled in an escalating guerrilla struggle with echoes of Vietnam.
Even bringing Saddam to trial is fraught with difficulties for US imperialism. Bush and Blair say Saddam will get a fair trial and the justice denied to millions of Iraqis.
But what about justice for the prisoners languishing for years in Guantanamo Bay? What about a trial of US imperialism and its role in financing and arming Saddam's brutal rule? Saddam should be put on trial by a democratic tribunal of elected representatives of the working people who suffered at his hands, not by the imperialist countries who backed him when it suited their own interests.
And what about real justice for ordinary Iraqis? How will their needs and aspirations of jobs services and the right to democratically decide their own future be met?
Not under the capitalist profit system which bases itself on the ruthless exploitation of workers and poor people worldwide.
The way forward is for Iraqi workers to build their own organisations which can link mass action against imperialist occupation to the struggle for a socialist Iraq and socialist change internationally.
For a full analysis of the implications of Saddam Hussein's capture see the CWI website at www.socialistworld.net:
In The Socialist 20 December 2003: