Help Me! Which way to go?
US Ruling Class Differences Deepen Over Iraq Policy!
By Shannon Bundock
A rift has emerged among America’s political leaders. Well, perhaps ‘emerged’ is the wrong term, it is better to say that this rift has deepened. Building up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, there were surely strategic differences among the war planners. Today however, those strategic differences are bathed in a thick soupy quagmire of fear, uncertainty and looming defeat. Needless to say, the US ruling class is in deep, deep trouble in Iraq.
Debates are alive within the US Congress and Senate. The central axis is the question of the US occupation of Iraq. Should they withdraw? When should they withdraw? What will happen if they withdraw? What will happen if they don’t?
Who is at Fault for this whole Mess Anyway?!
The side of the debate headed by President Bush is straining to prove that there has been progress the US’s project to stabilize their occupation in Iraq and that the January 2007 “troop surge” strategy will prove to be a success. Bush is begging that the rest of his colleagues in the Congress and Senate wait until September before making any judgments of failure. September is the deadline for a report to Congress on the strategy from General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq.
In addition to asking Congress to withhold judgments, Bush is also employing the fear factor. A recent White House document supporting the troop surge entitled “Fact Sheet: The New Way Forward in Iraq” opens with this grim statement:
“Iraq Could Not Be Graver – The War On Terror Cannot Be Won If We Fail In Iraq. Our enemies throughout the Middle East are trying to defeat us in Iraq. If we step back now, the problems in Iraq will become more lethal, and make our troops fight an uglier battle than we are seeing today.”
On the other side, a mixture of Democrats and Republicans are getting increasingly nervous about the lack of progress. While they all agree that America must “win” the war in Iraq, few are convinced that pummelling the country with more troops, tanks and guns will prove successful.
The alternatives being proposed among this wing of the US ruling class are all variations on reducing troop levels and funding. An amendment to this effect was introduced to the defence appropriations bill. Sponsored by Democrats Carl Levin and Jack Reed, it calls for American troops to start pulling out of Iraq within 120 days, with a goal of complete withdrawal by next spring. Bush has already said he will veto this if it passes.
It must be made clear however, that the manoeuvres being made by certain wings in the US government are simply a matter of strategy. These are not calls to end the war on Iraq and respect the self-determination of Iraq. These are calls to re-assess in the midst of a political, economic and military crisis. A clear example of this came from Democrat Ike Skelton of the House Armed Services Committee when he said,
“…we must responsibly redeploy our troops out of Iraq, handing responsibility for security over to the Iraqis and leaving only those forces required for limited missions, this will allow us to concentrate our efforts on Afghanistan…”
All wings of the US ruling class are united on one point at least; the occupation of Iraq is part of a larger strategy of expansion of imperialist hegemony and the plundering of oppressed nations of the world. The plans of the US in Iraq include permanent bases, a permanent presence and turning the Iraqi government into a US-proxy. Therefore, the crisis for the imperialist occupation in Iraq is not a small matter – it impacts the entire strategy of the US, their allies and their imperialist competitors in this era of war and occupation.
More Pressures, More Problems
On top of their fierce differences on how to win the war in Iraq, other pressures complicate the situation.
Anti-war sentiment in the US is on the rise. This is being acknowledged by everyone from anti-war organizations to CNN. The people who live inside the borders of the US are not happy with the war on Iraq. They see the hundreds of billions of dollars being poured into the occupation. They see the tens of thousands of soldiers being shipped over to Iraq. And they also see money being stripped from the little social security that exists in the US. They see body bags returning – now more than 3,600. What possible reason could people in the US have for supporting such a costly, bloody, senseless mission?
While often the US government will barrel ahead with its plans despite the opinions of the people of the US, the factor of mass sentiment cannot be completely ignored. For now the war-leaders are left to paint a picture of great progress in Iraq to attempt to dupe the people in the US. At the same time they are crossing their fingers and hoping the disillusionment with the occupation of Iraq does not reach that critical point where mass anti-war sentiment will turn into mass anti-war action.
Now the US government has found itself in a catch-22 situation. They continue the mass killing and destruction in Iraq and face the consequences of Iraqi resistance and the anti-war movement at home, or they pack their bags and flee - which means a more massive defeat for the US than any they’ve ever seen before. Neither of these are viable options for the US government. Obviously the tension is rising and the back-and-forth of ‘who is to blame?’ is reaching a higher pitch.
Resistance At Home & Abroad
While the US government struggles to turn Iraq into a giant military base, the movement for Iraqi self-determination is expanding and strengthening. The Iraqi people know that it is impossible to establish any political stability or civil society under military occupation – Iraq has been living proof of this for the last four years.
According to the January – March 2007 United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) report, an estimated 54% of the Iraqi population is living on less than $1 US per day, among whom 15% is living in extreme poverty (less than $0.5 US per day); acute malnutrition rapidly rose from 4.4 to 9% from 2003 to 2005, as per the latest available data. Some 432,000 children were reported to be in immediate need of assistance, while the annual inflation rate in Iraq jumped to an estimated 70% in July 2006. The unemployment rate has risen to around 60%; only 32% of Iraqis have access to drinking water and health facilities lack critical drugs and equipment.
It is no wonder that Iraqis are fighting back. One of the latest fronts in the battle against the occupation of Iraq has emerged in the oil sector. The 26,000-strong Iraqi Oil Workers Union (which is not recognized by the US-controlled occupation government) has been staging a series of actions against the attempts by the occupation forces to turn the Iraqi oil sector completely over to foreign multinationals.
The latest action took place on July 16th when hundreds of oil industry workers staged a protest at Iraq’s main oil port of Basra.
According to an article released on July 17th by Agence France-Presse (AFP), “At issue is a clause in the draft hydrocarbon law allowing for production-sharing agreements with foreign oil companies, which many Iraqis see as a throwback to an earlier era of colonial exploitation.”
A statement was distributed from the rally organizers which said “This law, in fact destroys the achievements of the Iraqi masses and especially the Law number 80 of 1961 and the nationalization of 1973.” The statement continued, “To compensate for the military and political failure of the US administration in Iraq, this administration is trying to control the country’s wealth…If this is endorsed by the parliament it would abolish sovereignty and hand over the wealth of this generation and the generations to come as a gift to the occupier.”
Self-determination for Iraqi People
Demonstrations such as this one are part of the rising resistance in Iraq. Iraqi people understand what imperialist occupation means for their political and economic rights. As the occupiers attempt to drain Iraq of resources and wealth, they are leaving a wake of destroyed infrastructure and nearly 700,000 Iraqi deaths.
In the US, in Canada and all over the world, peace-loving people must respond to the devastation in Iraq. Since the opening days of the war the government of Canada has acted in full cooperation with the destruction and pillaging of Iraq, primarily by providing logistical and security work as well as arms and advisory military personal. People in Canada must demand that the government of Canada completely withdraw all support for this criminal and unjustifiable war.
While the US ruling class begins to crack under the pressure of their failures in Iraq, an international anti-war movement can help to expedite the process. A sovereign Iraq is the first step towards the road of rebuilding. It is the first step towards stability, security and the opportunity to address the great needs facing the Iraqi people. Along side and in unison with the Iraqi people, all peace-loving people around the world must demand:
Bring the Troops Home Now!
US/UK Out of Iraq!
End the Occupation, Self-determination for Iraq!
Back to Article Listing