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Iraq - lame duck leaders have no solution
WHILE ACTING Prime Minister John Prescott was amusing himself on the croquet pitch, the real thing was in Washington D.C. for talks with his partner in crime - the senior partner, that is -George Bush.
At a joint press conference at the White House the two leaders finally acknowledged that they'd been wrong about Iraq. Not wrong about the decision to go ahead with the invasion and occupation, you understand - though the official reasons for that decision, Saddam's possession of weapons of mass destruction, have long been refuted - only wrong about the aftermath.
They claim to have under-estimated the potential for resistance and the level of the insurgency, which they say nobody could have predicted. Actually the insurgency was predicted, not least in the pages of the socialist. The idea that imperialist powers can simply march in and take over a sovereign nation without the people of that nation fighting back is the height of colonialist arrogance.
Still, one good thing to come out of this is that Bush has recognised his immoderate use of language may have made things worse - meaning his tendency to quote lines of corny dialogue from B-movie westerns. "I learned some lessons about expressing myself in maybe in a little more sophisticated manner, you know". It doesn't show, George.
The other theme of the press conference was the future of Iraq. They attempted to put an optimistic gloss on the outlook for the new government, hinting at an eventual military and political withdrawal by western forces: "As Iraq stands up we will stand down".
Yet the new government is still without ministers of defence or internal security and the violence, both anti-occupation and sectarian religious conflict, has actually increased since the elections and shows no sign of abating. Last weekend was the bloodiest for some time.
With the death toll among US troops now approaching 2,500 and renewed violence in Afghanistan as well the military adventure of these two lame duck leaders looks worse by the day.
Since the Iraq war began in 2003, about 1,000 British soldiers have gone absent without leave, according to recent figures. A panicky parliament has been debating a draconian law, which could carry a maximum penalty of life in prison for military personnel who refuse to serve in the occupation of a foreign country.
Haditha massacre - another My Lai?
A US government report is expected to find US marines responsible for a massacre of 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha last November.
This revelation will be as politically damaging to George Bush's administration as the exposure of a regime of torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in 2003.
The Haditha massacre could also have similar repercussions for US domestic opinion on the occupation of Iraq as the 1968 My Lai massacre of hundreds of civilians by American forces in Vietnam had.
In The Socialist 1 June 2006:
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