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Iraq Occupation: Grim Reality Hits US Leaders
US DEPUTY defence secretary and right-wing political hawk Paul Wolfowitz got a taste of Iraqi realities when rockets slammed into the supposedly secure al-Rashid hotel where he stayed in Baghdad last week.
Wolfowitz, the Pentagon's architect of regime change to remove Saddam Hussein and install a pro-US stooge government in Iraq, is seeing the wheels come off his imperialist project.
Earlier, his visit to Tikrit, Saddam's home town, was marred by an RPG attack on a US helicopter, countering military spokesman Brigadier General Mark Hetling's claim that these attacks were "not synchronised" and "not very professional".
Further evidence of coordinated strikes came on 27 October when 34 people were killed and 224 wounded in attacks on the International Committee of the Red Cross's HQ and four police stations.
Whether these attacks flow from "rogue Baathist elements" or "al-Qa'ida terrorists" or from a myriad of Iraqi opponents, the effect undermined the US/UK coalition forces' attempts to pacify Iraq and open up the oil economy and industry to multinationals' control.
Moreover, as the death toll of US soldiers mounts (at the time of writing 112 since major combat operations were declared over 1st May), and the failure to find weapons of mass destruction (WMD), public support for warmongers Bush and Blair is rapidly eroding.
Approval of Bush's handling of Iraq slumped from 64% in April to 49% early in October according to a USA Today/CNN/Gallop Poll. Blair too suffered a slump in popularity with a 64% disapproval rating following the WMD fiasco, according to the Financial Times in mid-September.
Neither Bush nor Blair will be helped by the Washington Post's evidence that Saddam abandoned his nuclear weapons plans after the first Gulf War in 1991. This follows last month's Iraq Survey Team's report that failed to find evidence of WMD in Iraq after months of searching.
The public cost of funding the occupation and of Iraqi reconstruction is also creating much public anger especially when seen alongside the underfunding of health, the imposition of tuition fees, etc.
Moreover, the profiteering from public contracts awarded by US companies involved in Iraqi reconstruction outrages people. Kellogg, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton (the multinational which Vice-President Dick Cheney served as chief executive) asked its employees to write to newspapers defending its billion dollar contracts.
It has also emerged that Halliburton charged the occupation authority $1.59 a gallon for imported petrol - vastly more expensive than domestic Iraq petrol - and costing $300 million.
TWO LARGE demonstrations demanding an end to the coalition forces' occupation of Iraq took place in the US last weekend. Organisers claim 100,000 marched in Washington and 20,000 in San Francisco.
There were other demonstrations against Bush and US imperialism's policies. In Australia on 23 October, there were big protests over the visit of the warmongering US president to the Australian capital Canberra.
Full reports of the protest and the part played in these protests by Socialist Party members in Australia: www.socialistpartyaustralia.org
Update: By the end of October the official Pentagon figures significantly showed the death toll of US soldiers in Iraq since 1 May, when President Bush declared the end of major combat operations, exceeds the figure before 1st May. On 30 October it stood at 139 since 1 May, compared to 138 before.
Not all these deaths were through hostile fire. Two deaths of US soldiers on 30 October brought to 117 the number of U.S. troops killed by hostile fire since May 1. This exceeds the total of 114 killed in action between the start of the war March 20 and the end of April and the fall of Baghdad.
This does not count those killed when the Chinook helicopter was shot down 2 November (more on this later), and others in the first two days in November, taking the total to 139 since 1 May, and the wounded - many disabled for life - rates seven times higher than the death rate, further eroding public support in the US.
In The Socialist 1 November 2003: