The American troop surge reached its peak at the beginning of August. With this, the number of US troops in Iraq stands at 162,000. All the same, this increase in the strength of American forces is no more than a last heave before the inevitable ignominious exit from Iraq of the imperialist predatory forces under the relentless blows of the Iraqi resistance. The surge is not working, for even with larger troop presence the US forces are unable to control more than a third of Baghdad, let alone the rest of the country.
Surge – a failure
Notwithstanding the propaganda claims of the Bush administration to the effect that the troop surge has reduced violence, the situation on the ground is worse than ever for the US and its allies. The resistance continues to blow up bridges, sabotage oil pipelines, bombard the Green Zone in Baghdad (which has been hit 80 times since March this year), shoot down helicopter gunships and other plans (since the start of the war in March 2003 the US forces have lost 117 helicopters and 18 fixed wing aircraft), and liquidate quislings and the imperialist soldiery in ever-larger numbers. If the oil industry was the target of 159 attacks in 2006, the first half of 2007 alone witnessed 104 attacks, with the total for the whole year likely to exceed 200. Since 2003, the resistance has liquidated 31 puppet judges, forcing the occupation regime to build a new safe haven for this despicable coterie of kangaroo court judges, prosecutors and their families.
The resistance is using ever-larger bombs, often buried underground. Attacks on heavily armoured vehicles routinely kill half a dozen soldiers – a fairly rare event a couple of years ago. On 22 August, 14 US army personnel were killed when their helicopter gunship crashed to the ground in northern Iraq, which the resistance claimed to have shot down, while the US maintained that a technical fault was the cause of the crash.
Britain being forced out of Iraq
As for British imperialism, the junior partner of the US in the criminal predatory war against the Iraqi people, it was its smug assertion that British forces were doing better in southern Iraq, around Basra, because of the experience in colonial wars the world over, especially their experience during the occupation of the 6 Counties of Ireland.
Gone, however, are the days of British troops walking around in Basra wearing berets and distributing sweets. The British forces have effectively been defeated in the south. They are expected to pull the 700 troops out of the Basra Palace to the airport. The British soldiers are presently engaged in basically protecting themselves, which could be achieved far more certainly by simply withdrawing them from Iraq to their safe bases in Britain. Their presence in Iraq serves no other purpose than as a symbolic show of support for the US, in a vain endeavour to maintain the semblance of a war coalition.
While the official British line is that British forces in southern Iraq have, as per their plan, handed over control to the Iraqi authorities, the reality is that they have been pushed out of the Iraqi streets into increasingly isolated areas. A report from the International Crisis Group, an NGO concerned with conflict prevention, stated that “…
relentless attacks against British forces in effect
driven them off the streets and into increasingly secluded compounds”.
: “Basra’s residents and militiamen view this not as an orderly withdrawal but rather as an ignominious defeat. Today, the city is controlled by militias, seemingly more powerful and unconstrained than before”
(see ‘Run out of town’, Stephen Fidler and Alex Barker,
21 August 2007).
As if to drive this point home, on 20 August Muhammad Ali al Hassani, governor of Muthanna province, next to Basra, was liquidated by a roadside bomb in the provincial capital, Samawah, the second southern provincial governor to be killed in two weeks – the governor of Diwaniyah province having met a similar fate the previous week.
Even earlier, in February, Anthony Cordesman, a specialist on the Middle East and military affairs at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, wrote thus in a report: “
The British decisively lost the south – which produces 90 per cent of government revenues and 70 per cent of Iraq’s proven oil reserves – more than two years ago”
(quoted in ‘Run out of town’,
From now on, until their humiliating exit expected to take place by the end of the year, the remaining British force of 5,500 will be holed up in Basra airport constantly under attack by the resistance if it stays put at the base, and even more so if its units venture out of the airport’s perimeter into the streets of Basra.
With the imminent departure of the British forces from Iraq, the final nail has been driven into the coffin of the imperialist coalition. From now on it is entirely an American imperialist war, which, by and large, it always was. As a result, US imperialism is more isolated, more unpopular, and more hated, than ever before. No wonder, then, that the blame game has already started, with the American and British high officials – military and civilian – accusing each other of having lost the Iraq war.
The American forces will have to fill the gap left behind by the departing British soldiers. Frederick Kagan, the neo-conservative architect of Bush’s ‘surge’ policy, has bluntly stated that the British exit “…
will create a bad feeling with American soldiers if they can’t go home because the Brits have left”,
adding that the British troops had done little to stabilise Basra, and that as a nation the British misunderstood the threat posed by al-Qaeda.
Kagan’s remarks followed similar sentiments expressed by US General Keane the previous week in a candid interview with the
of 19 August. Incensed by these observations of the Bush officials, the gentry at the
which with shameless enthusiasm had supported the Anglo-American war against the people of Iraq, hit back. In the light of the blunders of the Bush administration in regard to the Iraq war.
“… the sustained attacks on our brave forces”,
said Ian Martin in the
of 26 August,
“by senior advisors to a failed president are even more offensive; his arrogance and incompetence is compounded by rudeness”.
Mr Martin opens his article with the sentence: “
There are only 512 days until George Bush leaves the White House and his departure cannot come quickly enough”
and ends by saying that the
“… special relationship should, of course, be a two-way street and it can be rebuilt – but not for at least another 512 days”.
Mr Martin accuses theAmericans of a failure to appreciate the sacrifice made by Britain, in lives, treasure and diplomacy. With 168 British soldiers killed in Iraq and 73 in Afghanistan, this American lack of appreciation
“boils the blood”,
adding that the
“Bush White House criticisms of Britain are prompted by the bitterness which flows from its increasing isolation”
(‘Is this all the thanks we get, Mr President?”,
26 August 2007).
The increasing bitterness and the trading of accusations and abuse by the American and British establishments is a perfect corroboration of the old saying that if success has many fathers, failure is an orphan. Not just the British, the American forces too have fully realised that they have lost the war in Iraq. The Bush administration’s belated, and ex post facto, justification for the war was that it was an instrument for bringing democracy and prosperity to the Iraqi people and stability to the entire region. The reality, however, makes a mockery of this hypocritical and lying excuse of a justification for this insanely criminal, predatory and devastating war.
‘Democracy’ – US style
Thanks to this war, Iraq has been destroyed beyond belief, with its economy in ruins and the security of its citizens in tatters. Violence by the army of occupation, including sectarian violence incited, aided and abetted by the occupying forces, claims the lives of hundreds of Iraqis every day. Two million Iraqis have fled the country, with another two million internally displaced, eking out a miserable existence in bleak shanty towns on the outskirts of Baghdad and other big cities, with no safe drinking water or sewerage facilities.
Iraq’s power grid is on the verge of collapse; chronic fuel shortages are the lot of the people – in a country with the second largest reserves of oil in the world; the oil industry is in a dreadful state, producing less oil every day than before the invasion, despite the lifting of sanctions which had had a crippling effect on oil production and all economic activity before March 2003; less than half of the country’s electricity needs are catered for, while in Baghdad, most people get electricity supplied only for two or three hours a day; provinces are increasingly disconnecting local power stations from the national grid; the water supply is severely reduced and the sewerage system does not work most of the time.
There is no national government, only sectarian armed puppets of US imperialism, marking time in uneasy cohabitation with each other. David Gardner writing in the
of 10 August, has this to say on this score:
Politically, there are no institutions, there is no national narrative. Ministries are sectarian booty and factional bastions. The interior ministry, headquarters for several death squads, is, according to the Los Angeles Times, partitioned into factional fiefs on each of its 11 floors – with the seventh floor split between the armed wings of two US-allied groups”
(‘Illusions of an American strategy’).
Even this ramshackle outfit is falling apart. With the resignation of 17 out of 38 ministers, the government has all but ceased to exist and calls for the removal of the puppet prime minister Noori al-Maliki grow ever louder.
The annual index of ‘failed states’, compiled by the
magazine and the Fund for Peace, has ranked Iraq as the second most unstable country in a review of 177 countries which is, not surprisingly, topped by Sudan. The authors of the report should have referred to Iraq as a failed colony – not a failed state.
Thus it can be seen that the US-led imperialist predatory war, far from bringing peace, stability and prosperity to Iraq, has on the contrary brought to it untold misery, death and destruction, corruption and sectarian conflict. Far from stabilising anything, it has de-stabilised the whole region. On the positive side, one of its consequences, unintended by the imperialist occupiers of Iraq, has been the spread and acceleration of the anti-imperialist resistance throughout the region – from Iraq to Afghanistan and from Palestine to the Lebanon.
Everywhere the US forces and their puppets are receiving hammer blows from the forces of national liberation. As is often the case in such situations, the imperialists and reactionaries end up being the armouries of their revolutionary enemies. The Government Accountability Office, the investigating arm of the US Congress, reported in early August that the Pentagon cannot account for 110,000 AK-47 assault rifles and 80,000 pistols supposedly supplied to the Iraqi security forces, adding to the well founded suspicions that the resistance receives some of its arms and munitions from the US with which to attack US soldiers.
The US administration has placed all its hopes on General Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, hoping that he might wave some magic wand which puts an end to the resistance. But his record does not warrant such faith. After his withdrawal following an anti-resistance campaign in the north, two-thirds of Mosul’s security forces joined the resistance and the rest
“… went down like fairground ducks
” (David Gardner,
Invoking Vietnam war
Despite the surge, the resistance carries on its relentless assault on the occupation forces. The war grows more and more unpopular in the US where even Republican congressmen have begun to demand that the troops be brought home. The latest to join this chorus is Senator John Warner, the most influential senator on military affairs, who on 23 August called on Bush to bring at least some troops home from Iraq before Christmas. This call came just before the 15 September deadline for General Petraeus and the US ambassador in Iraq, Ryan Crocker, to testify before Congress on the success or otherwise of the ‘surge’.
Being fearful that the testimony of his pro-consul and his chief soldier in Iraq might not be to his liking, Bush has been attempting a pre-emptive strike on their testimony in his latest speeches. Speaking in Kansas City to Veterans of Foreign Wars on 22 August, he was foolish enough to invoke the ghosts of the Vietnam war, asserting that the problem with that war was not the US involvement but the withdrawal of US support in 1973 from the puppet south Vietnamese administration. With characteristic perversity, and turning facts on their head, he blamed the misfortunes visited on the Indochinese people by the US’s predatory wars on its victims. “
The price of America’s withdrawal from Vietnam was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like ‘boat people’, ‘re-education camps’ and ‘killing fields'”,
he said, adding
“Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. Withdrawal without getting the job done would be a disaster”.
Ever ready to blame anyone except his own administration and the US ruling class, Bush has increasingly taken to blaming Iranian interference in the affairs of Iraq, and its alleged support for the Iraqi resistance, for the disasters engulfing the US occupation from every direction. Even the bourgeois journalists know, and openly state, that the Iraqi resistance is mainly Iraqi and grown in response to the invasion and occupation of Iraq by foreign Anglo-American imperialist forces. Second, the foreign fighters involved in Iraq come not from Iran but from Saudi Arabia – a US puppet regime. The devastating roadside bombs with shaped charges that US officials claim are of Iranian provenance are by and large made by Iraqi army-trained engineers – from the explosives taken from army dumps all over Iraq. President Saddam Hussein’s government, drawing on the experience of the first Gulf War, had rightly come to the conclusion that Iraqi forces were no match for the US’s armed might, that the latter could only be defeated in people’s guerrilla war, had located arms depots over the entire country whose whereabouts were known to Iraqi army personnel and Ba’ath party members.
If Iran really wanted to interfere in Iraq, it could destroy the remnants of US control there literally overnight. But Iran has refrained from doing so for whatever reasons. Iran’s main clients in Baghdad are the same puppets as the US’s, that is, Maliki’s Da’wa Party and SCIRI led by Abdelaziz al-Hakim.
If in spite of these facts Bush continues to blame Iran for the US fiasco in Iraq, this is just a reflection of his desperation and disconnection from reality. If his administration, acting on these baseless accusations, were to dare to decide to attack Iran, it will pay an ever bigger price than it has so far paid and continues to pay in Iraq.
Invoking the Almighty
Being unable to offer any terrestrial reason as to why the US troops should not leave Iraq, Bush reached for celestial rigmarole, likening religion to what passes for freedom and democracy: “
Our world will never be safe until the people of the Middle East know the freedom that our Creator intended for us all”.
These mad references to the Almighty and foolish invocations of Vietnam quite correctly drew derision from many quarters. Anthony Cordesman, a leading Iraq analyst, said:
Mr Bush preaches to the choir without noticing that the choir is getting smaller every time. The American people needed to hear about prospects on the ground in Iraq. Instead we got a history lesson that would have embarrassed a first-year undergraduate”.
Lawrence Korb, a Vietnam War veteran and now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, observed cryptically:
If President Bush had served in Vietnam he would have been much more cautious about expecting we would be greeted as liberators in Iraq”.
The US forces had no right to be in Vietnam and should never have been there in the first place. Likewise, they have no business to be in Iraq, should never have been there in the first place, and should quit immediately. The war in Iraq, as the one in Vietnam more than 3 decades go, is not in the interests of freedom and democracy. It is, on the contrary, an imperialist war for domination, pillage and booty.
The people the world over, especially the Iraqi people, have firmly grasped this truth. They will not rest, and will not let their occupiers and tormentors rest, until the latter have been forced to make an ignominious exit from their country – Iraq. And with that will be gone the idea of US domination over our planet. Only with the defeat of imperialism will our world be safe.
Victory to the Iraqi resistance!