Troops out of Iraq

650,000 civilians killed since 2003

Troops out of Iraq

BRITISH ARMY chief, General Dannatt, has caused uproar in the media by warning that British troops must withdraw from Iraq ‘soon’ or risk serious consequences. “As a foreigner, you can be welcomed by being invited in a country”, Dannatt told an interviewer, “but … the military campaign we fought in 2003 effectively kicked the door in.”

Roger Shrives

Dannatt said troops should leave Iraq “when the mission is substantially done… we don’t want to be there another two, three, four, five years.” The army chief of staff is most concerned with the forces’ morale in other war zones such as Afghanistan.

His public remarks, however, echo what many people think on Iraq. That’s what forced Blair to claim hypocritically to ‘agree with every word’ that Dannatt said!

Who can blame the Iraqi people for being angry? The invasion and occupation of Iraq created a hell on earth. In the medical journal Lancet, American and Iraqi public health scientists estimated that 650,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since coalition forces ‘kicked the door in’ as the war started in March 2003.

The researchers went to houses across Iraq and tracked those who died both before and after the invasion.

They calculated that there’s a 95% probability that the figure for civilian deaths is between 400,000 and 900,000. Most likely, 650,000 Iraqi people ‘excess’ to the statistical average had been killed – about one in forty of Iraq’s civilian population have died since the invasion.

Bush and Blair only admit to around 30,000 casualties, but from the comparative safety of the ‘Green Zone’, the occupying forces refuse to count the civilian casualties of war and occupation.

They fear it would increase opposition to the military campaign. Governments accept the Lancet researchers’ method in other war situations such as Darfur but not in Iraq.

The report directly attributes 31% of deaths, around 200,000, to members of US and other coalition forces. 24% are due to other causes such as civil war and insurgents, while 45% are put down as ‘unknown’.

655,000 deaths, 1.5 million homeless people ‘displaced’ inside Iraq by the war, 1.6 million refugees outside the country – what a catastrophe Bush’s imperialist adventure has been for Iraq’s people!

The invasion, designed to safeguard oil interests, has brought Iraq down into sectarian conflict, violence and chaos. Bush and Blair have not brought democracy and the unification of Iraq but a civil war with rampant Sunni and Shia death squads and the danger of partition.

No solution can be imposed on Iraq by US, British or other coalition forces. The Socialist Party says all occupation troops should be withdrawn from Iraq immediately. Let Iraq’s people decide their own future.

For socialists, the only alternative is the difficult but essential task of building a non-sectarian mass movement of workers – Kurds, Shias and Sunni, Turcomen and others.

On that basis, Iraq’s people can rise above imperialism’s horrendous historical legacy of division, prevent a bloody civil war and end US imperialism’s military grip and economic stranglehold.

This movement would need to be linked to the idea of a socialist Iraq, guaranteeing the rights of all Iraq’s peoples, including the minorities.