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War In Iraq - The Endgame
THE WAR on Iraq has entered its end stage. Overwhelming US military might has broken the back of Iraqi military resistance on the ground.
Despite a determined fightback by a number of Iraqi militias and armed forces, given the huge weight of US technologically advanced weaponry and the narrow base of the Saddam regime, this outcome has always been the most likely one once the war had begun.
During the first ten days, US and British leaders were shocked at the hostility towards their invading forces and the degree of armed resistance. They had believed their own propaganda when they claimed their troops would be welcomed as liberators. But while the Iraqi people have not welcomed the US and British troops as liberators, most have not been prepared to fight to defend Saddam Hussein's dictatorship.
Faced with the choice of succumbing, for now, to the invasion or losing their lives for the oppressive Saddam regime, a majority of Iraqi army troops have reluctantly opted for the former. The fierce resistance that has been shown in a number of areas, and that will inevitably continue for a period in pockets throughout the country, has been mainly from the Fedayeen, Ba'athist and other militias, rather than from a generalised popular resistance.
Fearful of a prolonged conflict, with the resulting likelihood of huge upheavals amongst the Arab masses and of increasing opposition from ordinary people at home, the US and British governments felt the need to push the war quickly to a conclusion, regardless of the horrific effect on Iraqi civilians.
The full price paid in lives and destruction has yet to be revealed, but many thousands have been killed and maimed, increasing hostility towards the invasion.
The exact timing of the war end is impossible to predict and further horrors are inevitable during the endgame. But winning the war is a different matter to 'winning the peace'. The aftermath will be a period of massive instability in Iraq with further suffering on a mass scale. As a result of the war, 1.5 million people in Southern Iraq have no clean water and 17 million people across the country who were dependent on UN food aid face starvation. Iraqi people will feel compelled to accept humanitarian aid delivered by a post-war US puppet regime in order to survive, but will not become reconciled to such a regime. On the contrary, opposition to troops and politicians who make up an occupying force will be inevitable, as will be armed attacks on them, including suicide attacks at a certain stage.
THE US hopes to use Iraqi exiles as stooges in a puppet regime. But most of these exiles have been out of Iraq for a long time and neither have authority with Iraqi people nor familiarity with the situation on the ground. The Pentagon protˇgˇ Ahmad Chalabi has lived outside Iraq for 45 years!
UK troops have dropped hundreds of thousands of leaflets in Southern Iraq promising Iraqi people prosperity under a future regime of their choice. However, neither Bush nor Blair has plans for a democratic regime in Iraq, only a succession of regimes that will extract the maximum possible amount of wealth from the country.
Iraqi exiles have commented that the US has discouraged local populations from taking control of their areas before US forces have arrived to take control themselves. Bush has pledged just £5 billion for reconstruction in Iraq and will probably claim that Iraq 'owes' up to £240 billion, as this is one US estimate of Iraqi reparations from past wars, debts and pending contracts.
Chaos lies ahead, as the apparatus of the old regime disintegrates and the US hawks struggle to create a new leadership and apparatus. National conflict involving Kurds, Shias and Sunnis, internal score-settling, looting and sabotage could all create great problems for a post-war Pentagon-led regime and would contribute towards a nightmare situation for the Iraqi population, who will be struggling with terrible poverty, destruction and displacement.
Even the much-desired oil will be a mixed blessing for US oil companies, as massive investment is needed to reverse 12 years of decline in the Iraqi oil industry.
With the world economy sinking into crisis, working-class people in Britain and the US will be asked to pay the costs of the invasion through their taxes. Following the massive size of the anti-war movement in these countries, this will cause great anger and be a factor cutting across any post-war relief or celebration that Bush and Blair try to capitalise on.
The worldwide repercussions of this colonial re-conquest of Iraq will be far-reaching. US imperialism will crow that this is their fourth war victory in a row, but they will reap an unwelcome reward through global mass indignation and increased opposition that will follow. Just as the plight of the Palestinians has fuelled outrage and struggle for over 50 years, so will an occupying force in Iraq create widespread fury. This time, rather than against crimes committed by a US-backed regime, anger will be directed against direct colonial intervention by US imperialism.
No doubt the US regime is prepared to 'find' evidence of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in order to justify their onslaught. However, a massive number of ordinary people worldwide are aware that WMDs were never the reason for this war. Rather, it has been a war for US prestige, influence and the potential profits from Iraqi oil. And it was planned a long time ago. The Guardian has revealed that hawks around Bush pushed for an attack on Iraq rather than Afghanistan in the aftermath of 11 September 2001, but Blair convinced Bush to attack Afghanistan first before tackling Iraq.
Bush and his fellow hawks have relished the idea of moving on to undertake other 'regime-changes'. Where will this stop? With a country such as North Korea, that sees the possession of nuclear weapons as the only viable deterrent to US threats, it is conceivable that the outcome of further US action could be devastating for the whole of humanity.
This war has been a lesson for the masses of the world in US and British capitalism's brutality and has revealed the bankruptcy and horror of the capitalist system very clearly. It is urgent to build an anti-capitalist movement of workers and young people who demand a war-free future, which can only be built on the basis of building the forces of socialism.
In The Socialist 12 April 2003: