US Ruling Class for More Massacres in Iraq
By Shannon Bundock
It has been decided: 21,500 additional US troops will be flown halfway across the world to join the 150,000 already stationed in Iraq. The vast majority of these new troops will be stationed in Baghdad – home of both the US “Green Zone” and of the fiercest anti-occupation resistance in the country. This acceleration of the war and occupation of Iraq is the new “winning strategy” of the Bush Administration. Along with 1 Billion more dollars, the US government is looking to blitzkrieg Iraq into submission and finally – hopefully, eventually - secure Iraq in their favor.
The dramatic escalation was announced by President Bush in a speech on January 10, 2007. During this speech he emphasized that, “Failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the United States.” Victory for the US ruling class in Iraq, on the other hand, means securing absolute political, economic and military control over the country. It means permanent bases and a permanent presence for the expansion of US hegemony throughout the Middle East. Iraqis understand that the occupation’s objective is the wholesale stripping of their sovereignty, and for nearly four years, they have heroically battled back against this imperialist mission.
Reaction at home
The response from the US ruling class to the January 10th address is not confident encouragement. Unity can only be found in their pessimism, their uncertainty and the widespread stress that this four-year quagmire has wrought.
Both Democrats and Republicans came out strong following the Bush speech. According to the British Guardian newspaper, “Within minutes of Mr. Bush finishing the speech, the Democratic leadership issued a joint statement claiming his policy would endanger national security because it further over-extended US forces, reducing their ability to operate elsewhere”
Democrat senator Edward Kennedy suggested that Congress could block funding for the extra troops. He also said, "What we really ought to be having at this time is a surge of political initiatives, rather than a surge of military initiatives."
Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam war veteran, called the plan "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam". He continued, "This is a dangerously wrong-headed strategy that will drive America deeper into an unwinnable swamp at great cost. It is wrong to place American troops in the middle of Iraq's civil war."
Quotations like those above could continue on for pages. What is important however, is the fact that it is clear that there is no unified strategy among the US government. By this time there is no question that the occupation of Iraq is in a serious crisis for the US and there is no disagreement among the different factions in the US government over the necessity for a US-controlled Iraq. The question is “What is the best way to occupy Iraq” or “How can the US/UK occupation guarantee the plundering of Iraq’s resources and the usurping of Iraq’s government?” The lack of support for the Bush plan to pile 21,500 more troops into Iraq is a sign that few are convinced that the US can accomplish this with a strategy of brute force alone.
On January 12, 2007, the British Guardian Newspaper pointed out, “The Project on Defence Alternatives, a respected US think tank, points out this week that, to have even a small chance of conducting a successful "clear, hold and build" strategy, the US would have to double its troop commitment to 300,000 and keep it in Iraq for 15 years at a cost of at least another 8,000 American lives. This is an investment that the Pentagon cannot afford, and which would drive the American public from electoral protest to outright mutiny.”
The projections by The Project on Defense Alternatives of 8,000 US deaths in 15 years are modest to say the least. But of course technically it does come down to a game of numbers. If the occupation forces could afford to send that kind of unlimited shipment after shipment of young men and women to die in Iraq, then perhaps they could “win” this war. But other factors impact what is possible. Not the least of which is the already dramatically declining support among people living in the US. The BBC said in a January 11th article “Q&A: Bush's new Iraq strategy”: “[The Bush address] is meant to rally US citizens behind a longer, deeper, costlier and bloodier conflict”. Unfortunately for the Bush administration, people living in the US are not rallying behind the plan, but rather against it.
In a poll done by Associated Press and Ipsos, following Bush’s televised address, 70% of Americans polled said that they were against sending more troops to Iraq. The day following the address, on just 48 hours notice, antiwar demonstrations took place in cities and towns across the US against the deployment of more troops.
American troops themselves are becoming war-weary. The military has been forced to take steps to repeatedly extend tours of duty.
Previous protocol had been to limit National Guard members' mobilizations to no more than a cumulative total of 24 months every five years, but now reservists who have been deployed within the last five years can be summoned again. After missing recruitment targets in 2005, the army lowered standards and doubled enlistment bonuses. Last year, it raised the maximum age for recruits from 35 to 40, and then to 42.
In an Associated Press article on January 14th, Margaret Susan Thompson, who teaches a Modern Presidency course at Syracuse University's Maxwell School, was quoted stating, "I'm wondering if this is not some kind of tragically misguided notion of statesmanship on the part of Bush, that there is something noble about ignoring public opinion”.
A “surge” in death and destruction for Iraqis
The skepticism and opposition that is being expressed by people living the US is rooted in the crisis that has been snowballing for the last four years. All of the initial justifications for going to war have been left by the wayside – Weapons of Mass Destruction, finding al-Qaeda, toppling Saddam. All that is left is the weak smokescreen that the US has a mission to bring “liberation” to the people of Iraq. The contradiction that is apparent, however, is that since 2003 life for Iraqis in every sense has steadily declined. As luck would have it, the US/UK occupation has proven to be the pivotal factor preventing Iraq’s liberation.
A widely-touted survey of Iraqi households published by the Lancet Medical Journal found that about 655,000 Iraqi deaths had occurred "as a consequence of the war” by July 2006. According to an article published on January 15th by Dr. Mohamed Elmasry, national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, “…more than 1.5 million people are displaced within Iraq; and up to two million Iraqis have fled the country altogether. Some 100 Iraqi civilians are killed every single day… Personal security, health care, education and public services -- including accessibility to clean water, electricity and sewage -- are almost all non-existent or, at best, function at a fraction of pre-occupation standards. Annual inflation has skyrocketed to more than 50 per cent and unemployment stands at an appalling 60 per cent.”
On top of the crisis of infrastructure and security, Iraqis face constant humiliation, harassment, arrest, imprisonment, torture and death at the hands of occupation troops.
Rightfully, the impending 21,500 more troops are not being seen as a friendly gesture to the Iraqis. In a BBC article from January 11th, Haythem Zalzala, a pharmacist in the Karada area of central Baghdad summed up the view of many Iraqis: "Nobody's thinking properly about making things better in Iraq. I think it's very wrong to send more soldiers to Iraq. It'll just create more problems, not solve anything."
In addition to the opposition from the mouths of Iraqis, there is also a more direct message being sent to the occupation forces. According to the Financial Times on January 11, 2007, “…on average an attack occurs against Anglo-American forces every 10 minutes…”
A response from Iraq
Beyond the skepticism and opposition from regular Iraqis, the Bush plan faces yet another hurdle. The US-propped up Maliki government in Iraq is a reluctant and weak partner. According to the International Herald Tribune on Jan 10, 2007, “Haidar al-Abadi, a member of Parliament who is a close associate of Maliki's, said: ‘The government believes there is no need for extra troops from the American side. The existing troops can do the job’”
This hesitancy was echoed by other members of Iraq’s US-steered parliament. “You can't solve the problem by adding more troops,” said Redha Jawad Tahi. “The security should be in the hands of the Iraqis...”
Despite their outward confidence in the sure success of the new strategy, uncertainty among Bush’s closest allies looms right below the surface. On Jan 12, 2007, the Guardian Newspaper reported, “…[Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice], in an unguarded moment, picked up on an open television microphone yesterday morning, expressed concern that her forthcoming visit to Iraq might be perceived as dictation of policy from Washington. ‘I don't want to descend on the Maliki government and look like we, you know, just sort of beat their brains out,’ she said.”
The role of the antiwar movement and all peace-loving people
An acceleration of war, 21,500 more troops descending on Iraq, demands an acceleration of anti-war action. The Bush administration has admitted that more US troops will equal a bloodier, costlier and more devastating war. Plagued by division amongst themselves, the war-makers are in a weak position. Iraqi resistance to occupation is furthering their decent towards failure. International pressure, accompanied by the anti-war fight being waged by people living in the US, can help to quicken the disaster for the imperialist occupation of Iraq.
The solution to this crisis of occupation is simple and clear. It has been demanded by Iraqi people since the day the first occupation soldier stepped foot in Iraq. The first and most necessary step to put Iraq on a path toward rebuilding and healing is self-determination and the immediate withdrawal of all occupation forces.
Pulling out occupation forces from Iraq is not a magic solution, but it is undeniably necessary. Solving the problems of violence, instability, unemployment, education, infrastructure, etc. can only begin with a sovereign Iraqi government. The last four years have proven, beyond a doubt, that the imperialist strategy is not in the interest of the Iraqi people, and has only lead to death, destruction and chaos. This must be turned around for Iraq to have any hope of a brighter future.
No to the Acceleration of War and Occupation in Iraq!
US/UK Out of Iraq!
Self-Determination for Iraq Now!
Shannon Bundock is a young welder and a member of Ironworkers Union Local 712. She is a founding member of the Fire This Time Newspaper and the Co-chair of Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) in Vancouver.
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