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From: The Socialist issue 265, 9 August 2002: Low Pay, No Way!

Search site for keywords: Imperialism - War - US - Iraq - Military

US Imperialism Gambles On Iraq War

GEORGE BUSH'S planned attack on Iraq is looking decidedly frayed at the edges as many of his allies distance themselves from the US president's war option.

Dave Carr

While many in Bush's administration remain gung-ho about effecting a "regime change" in Iraq, others question the wisdom of US imperialism invading a Middle Eastern country, preferring instead a policy of "containment".

Even Bush's European lap dog - Tony Blair - has recently cooled his enthusiasm for war, reassuring the worried Jordanian ruler King Abdullah that a UN resolution would be sought before any military attacks.

Nonetheless, Blair remains adamant that British MPs won't have a vote on pursuing a war against Saddam Hussein. In any event a majority of Labour MPs reportedly support this military option. Yet according to a Daily Mirror poll of 21,884 people, 91% opposed going to war.

Recently leaked Pentagon plans have envisaged a massive invasion force of 250,000 US troops supported by 25,000 British troops. Civilian casualties have been estimated at 11,000 dead.

In the White House, while Bush's propaganda machine continues to pump out unfounded horror stories about the Iraqi dictator's "weapons of mass destruction" and his terrorist links, the consequences of removing Saddam and replacing him with a stooge regime remain troubling for US imperialism.

Political fallout

If surrounding Arab states allow US and allied forces to launch their attacks from their territories, the political fall-out in the region could be counter-productive for imperialism. Even in Turkey, the only predominately Muslim country in NATO, its ailing prime minister, Bulent Ecevit, is urging the US not to use military action.

The ruling regimes in countries such as Jordan and several of the Gulf states enjoy little popular support. And by supporting the US - Israel's main backer - while Ariel Sharon continues to oppress the Palestinians they will further enrage the impoverished masses of the region who could in turn force a "regime change" in their own countries.

Even in Saudi Arabia, whose reactionary and repressive rulers have sought to distance themselves from their US allies, they too could find themselves overthrown by a mass movement of dispossessed Saudis. This could result in a more reactionary, Islamist regime being installed and - ironically for the US - a regime that would be sympathetic to the aims of Osama bin Laden, i.e. the expulsion of Western influences from the region.

But, assuming that these semi-feudal regimes cling to power, would a post-Saddam Iraqi regime produce the stable democracy that George Bush and Tony Blair hope to see emerge?

If the post-Taliban regime in nearby Afghanistan is anything to go by, with assassinations of government ministers and rampaging warlords, then this expressed aim of Western governments will remain unfulfilled.

Indeed, the motley crew of pro-imperialist exiles that make up the Iraqi National Congress and other opposition groups are hopelessly split and remain tainted in the eyes of Iraqis as former members of Saddam's political and military elite.

And the chances of such a disparate band reaching an accord with the equally split pro-capitalist Kurdish nationalist forces in northern Iraq are also utopian. Any pro-Western regime in Baghdad would, therefore, be dependent upon US army troops to remain in power.

Behind the US propaganda about its former ally, Saddam Hussein, lies the strategic aims of imperialism - to maintain its hegemony in the region, secure its oil supplies and to have a non-belligerent regime in power in Iraq.

But if Bush temporarily suspends a military invasion and continues the US policy of "containing" Saddam, this will result in a continuation of the misery and suffering ordinary Iraqis have endured due to the crippling effects of trade sanctions.

The long-suffering masses of the region cannot look to Bush and Blair for an end to their crushing poverty and the overthrow of their oil-rich reactionary rulers.

There is no capitalist escape route for the working class and rural poor in the Middle East out of their plight. Only by creating independent workers' organisations with a socialist economic programme of nationalising industry under democratic workers' control and fighting for an internationalist solution to the problems of nationalities, can the enormous oil wealth be redistributed poverty eliminated and wars banished.

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