Archive article from The Socialist Issue 294
Opposing Imperialist War...
WHEN THE military chiefs and politicians feel the need to come onto the TV and insist that everything is going to plan in the war against Iraq, and that everyone is united, you know that the exact opposite is true.
General William Wallace summed up their dilemma when he said: "The enemy we're fighting is different from the one we'd war-gamed against".
US and British politicians who were confidently expecting the war to be over within days are now having to admit that it could drag on for weeks and even months. General Franks has warned that the war could stretch into the summer, with troops fighting in temperatures of up to 120 degrees centigrade.
If events in and around Basra so far are anything to judge by, US and British troops could be drawn into a 'Vietnam style' quagmire, facing guerrilla warfare and hand-to-hand fighting in urban Baghdad.
A prolonged war could mean thousands of Iraqi civilians killed and maimed, and thousands of troop casualties on both sides.
In Britain, when the war began, many who had initially opposed it felt they had no choice but to back the troops. But, as the reality of this war begins to hit home, the polls are already marking a shift back towards opposition.
While a poll taken on day nine of the war showed only 11% of people supporting the withdrawal of the troops, this figure could rise significantly over the coming weeks.
As the reports on the next page show, anti-war protests are continuing across the country. The anti-war movement has a vital role to play in continuing and extending the protests, giving confidence to those who oppose the war, and, in particular, building towards action in the workplaces.
... and occupation
IT'S CLEAR that until now the US administration has completely underestimated the willingness of Iraqis to resist what many sections of the population view as an occupying force. Every bomb that goes astray and slaughters Iraqi civilians, every bullet that cuts down Iraqi women and children is hardening opposition to this imperialist invasion within Iraq and inflaming Arab opinion internationally.
As one former British Army officer put it: "It's difficult worrying about 'hearts and minds' when you are throwing grenades into people's houses".
There is undoubtedly a bitter hatred of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime among large sections of the Iraqi people. But that doesn't mean that they welcome the US and Britain as their 'liberators'. As the socialist has consistently argued, it is for the people of Iraq to carry out their own liberation, backed and supported by the working-class internationally.
There have been massive anti-war protests throughout the Arab world often in the face of severe repression from corrupt elites that fear 'regime change' from their own masses. Many Arabs are now referring to Iraq as the 'second Palestine'. When Rumsfeld and Co accuse Syria and Iran of "hostile acts", many will be asking are we next?
Thousands of volunteers are reportedly pouring into Baghdad to fight against the US and British invasion - many as suicide bombers.
This is unlikely to make a huge difference to the outcome of the war itself, but it gives an indication of the kind of resistance that the occupying forces could face in a post-war situation.
Egyptian President Mubarak has warned that the war will create "100 new bin Ladens". While a US/British military victory is still the most likely outcome of this conflict, the 'peace' looks increasingly likely to resemble the "gates of hell" that the general secretary of the Arab League once predicted.