Archive article from The Socialist Issue 405
Iraq: Bogged down in an unwinnable war
"WE ARE locked into a bogged down problem not dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam," lamented Republican Senator Chuck Hagel after US general Peter Schoomaker admitted that 100,000 troops would be needed in Iraq for another four years.
The growing Iraqi insurgency and rising US body count, the impasse in drafting a written constitution, the widespread corruption, etc, has resulted in a continued fall-off of support for George Bush's Iraq policy.
Now, over 50% of Americans believe the Iraq war was a mistake. US domestic opposition to the occupation has been focused by the protest outside George Bush's Texas ranch by Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a US serviceman killed in Iraq.
Consequently, the Bush administration is keen to get a new Iraq constitution agreed and voted on by the 15 October deadline. However, the ethnic and sectarian divisions between the leaders of the three main population groups of Shias, Sunnis and Kurds is proving impossible to bridge.
Having extended the deadline for agreeing a draft constitution, arguments over Islamic rule, federalism and sharing oil revenues, continue to dog Iraq's opportunist politicians. A no vote in only three of Iraq's 18 provinces in October's proposed referendum would effectively kill the constitution. The Sunnis, who overwhelmingly boycotted elections to the interim government, are opposed to a federal constitution which would see them lose out on political power and oil revenues.
Moreover, the Kurdish leaders in the north will not relinquish the autonomous region they rule over. The imposition of Islamic law wanted by Shia clerics is also anathema to the more secular Kurds.
Now, increasingly, Shias are talking of their own separate region in the south of the country. A political fudge will only delay inevitable splits, with the US-led coalition forces fearing a slide into a deeper civil war.
However, the new Iraqi army, the bedrock of a new Iraqi state, is already organised along sectarian lines with exclusively Shia or Kurdish units.
As the socialist predicted, the imperialist ambitions of the US and its UK junior coalition partner in 'reconquering' the Middle East have foundered in Iraq. The idea that 'regime change' would provide the US with a platform for exerting its power in the region and at the same time secure cheap, long-term oil supplies has been dashed. It is now mired in an unwinnable war and lacks a viable exit strategy.
For the time being, in the absence of a mass socialist movement to provide a working-class opposition to imperialism, the Iraqi resistance is largely a disparate mix of Sunni insurgents and Islamic jihadist groups.
But the potential to build a non-sectarian, united working-class opposition exists in the emerging trade unions and in the workplaces, where strikes and protests have already been organised against the occupying powers and the stooge Iraqi government.
Stop The War Coalition demo
Saturday 24 September, 1pm.
US - Growing opposition to Bush's war
CINDY SHEEHAN'S anti-Iraq war camp outside George Bush's Texas ranch has electrified a layer of the local anti-war movement here in Boston. On 17 August, dozens of vigils were organised across the area with thousands participating.
Philip Locker, Socialist Alternative, USA
These vigils, organised in local neighbourhoods, inevitably involved a wider layer of working-class folks, including many military families. One woman, whose son is in the Airforce, told me he would be mad at her if he knew she was at the event, but felt she needed to be there anyway.
Vigils are typically difficult events to politically intervene in, but with a bit of audacity, Socialist Alternative members attending a vigil in Davis Square, Boston got an excellent response.
We set up our table and collected signatures for our anti-war petition. Within minutes, we had a whole page of signatures and people were eager to give us donations for our campaign.
When the organisers called off a 30-minute silence, sending people home for the evening, we seized the moment to make an announcement about upcoming anti-war events, including a 2 November student walkout. Immediately, dozens of people came over to our table to sign our petition, buy our paper Justice, and ask about the walkout and other events.
Bogged down in unwinnable war Will pull-out lead to 'peace'? Lewisham SP councillors support suspended MSPs