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From The Socialist newspaper, 24 April 2004

Bush And Blair's Lies About Handover

AFTER THEIR meeting over the weekend of 17-18 April, Bush and Blair declared their unwavering commitment to the transfer of power to Iraqis by 30 June. But this is a lie.

Paula Mitchell

Blair declared: "You just imagine an Iraq, stable and prosperous and democratic. Iraq run by the Iraqis, its wealth owned by the Iraqis, and a symbol of hope and democracy in the Middle East."

This is a pipedream and Blair knows it. It is a million miles from what will happen in Iraq after 30 June.

Bush and Blair's hope of a grateful Iraqi population and a compliant stooge government went long ago. The occupying forces now face an uprising across the country from both the Sunni and Shia populations, with an escalation of violence, chaos in basic services and 50% unemployment.

They may talk of a process towards democracy but what they plan for Iraq is far from it. Bush would like to extricate the US from any responsibility for the chaos but maintain military control as a base for the rest of the region and economic control in order to extract what profit they can.

The new Iraqi government will be an appointed body just the same as the governing council has been. The US will install their biggest embassy in the world, with a staff of 3,000, within the government HQ.

They plan to keep 110,000 troops in Iraq for at least two years in 14 "enduring bases". Even after the Iraqi government has been established the Iraqi army will answer to US commander Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez.

Iraq's economy has been further opened up to foreign ownership, and the new government is prohibited from changing these economic laws. Paul Bremer, the US occupation chief, is also introducing 'independent' regulators, which will reduce the power of the Iraqi government. They would be prevented, for example, from changing contracts already given to US firms.

The $18.4 billion reconstruction money will be controlled by the US embassy rather than Iraqi ministers. This means the Iraqi government will have no say in the construction of basic infrastructure, including water, electricity, oil, communications, courts and police.

The blatant interests of the US were highlighted by Naomi Klein in The Guardian last week. She pointed out that while they want to keep military and economic control, they have already given the Iraqis control of the collapsed health service. There is no basic sanitation, no drugs - but the US aren't interested in helping to sort this out.

However, the insurgency in Iraq has forced Blair and even Bush to recognise that everything is not going to plan. Bush has now conceded that the UN could guide the new government. This would help the illusion of a US withdrawal, and maybe allow Iraq to be presented as a success to American voters.

But it would not mean democracy and freedom in Iraq. It was the UN that bombed Iraq for ten years before this war and that oversaw the sanctions that killed half a million children.

It is the UN that is overseeing the descent into warlordism in Afghanistan, and is presiding over a breakdown in Kosova where UN rule is widely held to be a corrupt dictatorship.

As last week's the socialist explained, the only hope of a decent future for ordinary Iraqis involves the ending of the occupation and the building of united working-class organisations that can fight for a socialist Iraq.


War Plans Still Haunt Blair

BLAIR WAS so determined to wage war on Iraq, that he refused Bush's offer to keep British troops out of the war - three times.

In his recently published book Plan of Attack, US Watergate journalist Bob Woodward lifts the lid on yet more White House intrigue, including Bush's relations with Blair.

Woodward writes that 11 days before the war started, when Blair was facing a mass anti-war movement and a rebellion in Parliament, Bush phoned him to give him the option of not sending troops, worried that Blair's government could fall.

These revelations show Blair's complete arrogance and his total determination to link his own prestige (and that of British capitalism) with warmonger Bush and US imperialism's drive for economic and military domination in the Middle East.

But that decision could still come to haunt Blair. British opinion polls suggest that support for war has slumped to 41% (down from 53% in January) while 42% say troops should be brought home within six months. Blair's personal rating stands at minus 20 points.

New Labour are still ahead of the Tories, however, showing the need for a new workers' party to offer a real political alternative.

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In The Socialist 24 April 2004:

The Real 'Axis Of Evil'

Bush And Blair's Lies About Handover

Bush Gives Green Light To Ariel Sharon


Socialist Party campaigns

Wanted: A Living Wage For Young Workers

"A Lonely Death With No Dignity"

Make The Police Accountable


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1974: Revolution In Portugal

South Africa: ANC wins Overwhelming Majority


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