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Iraq: Deeper in the quagmire
NO-ONE believed US vice-president Dick Cheney when he said the Iraqi insurgency was in its "last throes". Even a recent CIA report contradicted him by saying that Iraqi fighters have improved their techniques and that Iraq risks becoming a training ground for terror across the world.
The horrific facts on the carnage speak louder than words. Insurgent attacks number 60-70 every week, including around 30 car bombs. 700 Iraqis were killed in June alone, and two to three US soldiers are killed daily on average.
The 130,000-strong US force is stretched to its limits against an estimated 200,000 Iraqi fighters, and despite vastly superior weaponry, cannot defeat them. Eight major coalition army operations have been carried out since the start of May, mostly in the Western province of al-Anbar. In each case the familiar pattern repeats itself, of insurgents fleeing and then later regrouping.
In an attempt to placate the Sunni minority, Sunni leaders (as well as Shias and Kurds) have been offered a veto over a new Iraqi constitution. This is supposed to be drawn up by mid-August but is highly unlikely to be, as there are many contentious issues. These include whether any leading role can be played by previous members of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party, the degree of federalism that will be allowed, and who will control the Northern city of Kirkuk.
With a death toll of 1,735 US military personnel since the war began, including four female marines killed during the last fortnight, Bush is facing increased opposition from US workers. The female marines were killed by a suicide bomber in Falluja, which exposes further the futility and wanton destruction of the US army's avalanche of bombs on that town last year.
Also, despite initial suppression by the US media, revelations via British journalists that Bush and Blair planned and secretly started the war on Iraq months before it was officially declared, are now spreading through the US population and fuelling questioning of their government's motives.
End the occupation
RECENT POLLS show 60% of Americans now want the occupation to end. Bush's approval rating has fallen to 40%, the lowest of his presidency! This, together with reports from US army generals saying there is no lessening of the insurgency and that US troops are becoming more and more disaffected, has led some leading US Democrat party members to attack Bush and his defence secretary, Rumsfeld, for becoming embroiled in a "quagmire" in Iraq.
There is also increasing panic in Bush's own Republican Party over the growing anti-war sentiment. A Republican senator, Chuck Hagel, said bluntly: "The White House is completely disconnected from reality. It's like they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is we are losing in Iraq".
Bush retorted that his victory plan is intact, but even the New York Times commented that "if the war is going to plan, someone needs to rethink the plan"!
The 'victory' that the Bush regime wants, is control and good supply of Iraqi oil together with increased influence in the Middle East. However, oil pipelines and installations are being sabotaged and US imperialism has never been more unpopular in the region.
And the Iraqi people, far from being 'liberated' by US troops, are enduring an intolerable level of suffering, worse even than their plight under Saddam. Their death toll has been estimated at well over 100,000.
The coalition troops must be withdrawn immediately and the Iraqi people given the right to decide their own future. Capitalist propaganda has it that civil war would result from a pull-out, but it is imperialist intervention that is laying the basis for such an outcome.
There would certainly be many problems to overcome in Iraq after Saddam's rule, the war and occupation. But these could be tackled successfully by building a new mass party of the Iraqi working class and poor, uniting across the ethnic divide. Such a party should put forward a programme of using the oil wealth and other large industries for the full benefit of ordinary people, instead of for the super-rich in Iraq and abroad.
This would be the basis of a socialist Iraq, which would also be able to end the threat of ethnic division by creating a democratic socialist confederation of Iraq allowing full national and minority rights.
In The Socialist 30 June 2005: