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Proletarian issue 18 (June 2007)
Iraq: history renders its verdict
Unable to break the Iraqi resistance or to secure Iraqi oil, the US and Britain face total defeat.
In a characteristically smug editorial written on the eve of the predatory imperialist war against Iraq, the editors of the neo-conservative paper, The Weekly Standard, wrote: “The war itself will clarify who was right and who was wrong about weapons of mass destruction” , adding with a flourish that “history and reality are about to weigh in and we are inclined simply to let them render their verdicts” . (Quoted in ‘From the guys who gave you the Iraq war, another fine idea’ by Gideon Rachman, Financial Times, 22 February 2007)

Imperialism beaten

Well, history and reality have rendered the verdict – and that verdict bodes disaster for US imperialism and its junior partner in this criminal war, namely, British imperialism. Everyone, from the ordinary person in the street to the highly-placed and some of the most authoritative representatives of Anglo-American imperialism, knows and openly admits that the US has lost the war and the Iraqi resistance are on the verge of a historic victory, which will reshape the political map of the Middle East and have worldwide ramifications in a manner most unfavourable to imperialism.

Henry Kissinger, the notorious war criminal and a former US secretary of state who has advised the Bush administration on the war in Iraq, in an interview with BBC television on 19 November 2006, said that he did not believe that the US could win a military victory in Iraq. Colin Powell, former secretary of state, has gone on record as saying that the US army was “about broken”. A US Marine Corp intelligence report states that “the social and political situation has deteriorated to such a point that US and Iraqi troops are no longer capable of defeating the Iraqi insurgency” . A joint report prepared by 16 US intelligence agencies has stated that the US no longer has the option of winning the war. Most newspapers have interpreted the National Intelligence Estimate as a declaration of defeat on the part of the intelligence agencies.

On 19 April 2007, Senator Harry Reid, leader of the Democratic majority in the US senate, stated most candidly that the US has “lost” the war and that the attempt by President Bush to retrieve the situation through a surge in troop levels is entirely futile. Harry Reid’s observation is among the most blunt and grim admissions of US defeat in Iraq made by a senior US politician. This serves to underline the desperate situation in which the US finds itself in Iraq and the divisions within the US ruling circles resulting from the Iraq debacle. The Nevada senator pointed out that the car bombings in Baghdad on 18 April that killed more than 200 people and the previous week’s bombing of the Iraqi parliament building were clear evidence that the increase in US troop levels was failing even to reduce, let alone put an end to, the resistance.

Drawing a parallel between the present incumbent of the White House and former US president Lyndon Johnson, who attempted to avoid defeat in Vietnam 40 years ago through a massive increase in American troops at a time when 24,000 US troops had already been killed, Mr Reid said: “Johnson did not want a war loss on his watch, so he surged in Vietnam. After the surge was over, we added 34,000 to the 24,000 who died in Vietnam.” (‘US has lost war in Iraq, says top Democrat’ by Andrew Ward, Financial Times, 20 April 2007)

In other words, the surge in troops ordered by George Bush would no more rescue the US from defeat than did the surge ordered by Johnson 40 years earlier. Iraq is bound to turn out to be the US’s Vietnam in the Middle East.

Even the chief of the predatory army in Iraq, General David Petraeus, was obliged to admit after the 18 April bombings that they had dented the confidence of his forces. “A day like that,” he said, “can have a real psychological impact, and it came where, frankly, we felt we were getting a bit of traction.” (Ibid)

US has no intention of withdrawing

Although it is clear to proletarians and oppressed peoples of the world, as well as to the far-sighted representatives of even American imperialism, that the US has lost the Iraq war, it does not follow that the US will readily withdraw its mercenary soldiery from Iraq. The whole logic of imperialism, its crisis-driven quest for domination, blinds it to the lessons of history and the defeat facing it alike. At his swearing-in ceremony, Robert Gates, the present US defence secretary, summed up the US dilemma by stating that a US failure in Iraq would be nothing short of “a calamity that would haunt our nation, impair our credibility and endanger Americans [read US imperialist interests] for decades to come”.

The US has no intention of pulling out of Iraq, for such a pull-out would signal defeat and an end to its domination of the Middle East – the repository of two thirds of the world’s known oil resources; further, such a pull-out would put paid to the US strategy of world domination. With its relatively weakened economic position, the US is extremely reliant on the use, and threat of use, of military power for preventing rival imperialist powers, rising powers and the so-called ‘rogue states’, from presenting any challenge to it.

It is a measure of its determination to hold on to Iraq that the US has built four major bases in the country and is constructing the biggest and most fortified embassy ever seen in Baghdad. In January, in addition to the announcement of a troop surge, the US administration sent a second aircraft carrier, the Stennis, to the Gulf along with Patriot missiles. Blaming everyone except itself for its troubled occupation of Iraq, the US has been levelling baseless charges against, and targeting, Iran, sending spies into Iran and arresting Iranian officials in Iraq; it also abducted an Iranian diplomat, Jalal Sharafi, who was released during the crisis over the arrest of British marines in Iranian waters.

By the end of 2007, the US will have spent $662bn on its predatory wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and on the so-called ‘war on terror’. The US alone accounts for more than half of all global military expenditure. Since 2001, US military expenditure has risen dramatically. From $280bn a year in 2001, it has shot up to $574bn a year in 2007. And in 2008, it is expected to reach the astronomical figure of $623bn a year – that is, $20,000 every second. If the Pentagon were a country, it would rank just behind the Netherlands, the world’s 16th largest economy. (See ‘Request sees 2008 Pentagon spending at $623bn’ by Demetri Sevastapulo, Financial Times, 6 February 2007)

These are not the actions of a country with peaceful intentions or of one desirous of ending its occupations of either Iraq or Afghanistan.

Occupation weakening the US

Be that as it may, the continued occupation of Iraq, and the US determination to stay put, far from strengthening US imperialism, are merely serving to weaken it still further. This is providing a well-deserved breathing space to countries such as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran – both targets of US imperialist hostility; it is helping to weaken, no matter how slightly, the imperialist hostility to the Hamas-led government in Palestine and the national revolutionary forces spearheaded by Hizbollah in Lebanon; it is furnishing an opportunity to the democratic nationalist governments in Latin America, such as those of Venezuela and Bolivia, to push ahead with a programme of democratic economic and political transformation of their societies, while the US is bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan; and it is creating deep divisions within the US ruling circles and intensifying divisions between the various imperialist countries.

In February this year, Dominique de Villepin, the former French prime minister, described as “absurd” the very idea of a US victory in Iraq through a troop surge. In an interview published in the Financial Times, he said: “We need a clear horizon for the departure of foreign troops and the return of full sovereignty to Iraq”, adding that the presence of foreign forces was the “founding stone of the crisis”, and that no progress can be made “without fixing a schedule” for their departure.

Last, and most important, the continued occupation and the latest surge in US troop numbers, accompanied by unrestrained brutality, is helping to fuel the fires of resistance against the hated imperialist occupiers and their Iraqi stooges. As if to serve notice on the Bush administration that the surge in US troop levels announced by the US president on 10 January would in no way impair the ability of the Iraqi resistance to operate, one of its members blew himself up on 12 April inside the heavily guarded Iraqi parliament, killing at least eight people including three legislators. This audacious attack in the parliament’s cafeteria, inside the fortified Green Zone, dealt a shattering blow to the latest US security plan for Baghdad and laid bare the inability of the US and puppet forces, with all their draconian security measures, to provide a safe meeting place for the Iraqi parliamentary stooges of the occupation regime.

In the two weeks from 23 March to 5 April, 21 US and seven British soldiers were killed by roadside bombs, small arms fire, truck bombs, rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. The attacks on 5 April alone claimed the lives of seven US and four British soldiers. The attack on the British soldiers, during a patrol mission outside Basra, was the deadliest for British forces in Iraq since November last year, when four British soldiers were killed by a bomb in the Shatt al-Arab waterway close to Basra. Close to 150 British soldiers have been killed since the start of the war in March 2003.

On Monday 23 April, in one of the most daring and lethal attacks on the US occupation forces since the start of the war, a suicide car bomber hit a petrol base north east of Baghdad in the province of Dyala. Following the blast, the resistance opened fire on fuel trucks parked inside the depot, causing a huge explosion which killed nine US soldiers and injured another 20. It was the second major attack against a US base north of the capital in just over two months.

On 12 May, the resistance captured three US soldiers in an ambush. And, on the night of 16 May, a 1,000-strong Iraqi resistance force seized control for several hours of the third largest city of Iraq – Mosul – inflicting heavy casualties on the US and puppet forces, who fled the city. During this operation, the resistance took over police stations and Mosul’s five prisons, freeing all the captives held therein. They also ambushed roads leading to the city, thus delaying the arrival of imperialist reinforcements. Having dealt this severe blow to the morale of the occupation forces, the Iraqi fighters pulled out and melted away into the surrounding countryside.

On 19 May, Ahmad Chalabi, one of the most despicable flunkeys of US imperialism, escaped death by a whisker when his motorcade was ambushed in Buhriz.

On 29 May, five British personnel were kidnapped by the resistance, who burst into the finance ministry wearing uniforms and took them away.

April and May 2007 have been some of the deadliest months for the US mercenary army. The US lost 104 soldiers in April and 122 in May. Thus it is clear that, in spite of a significant increase in US troops, the US has lost control of the situation in Iraq and the resistance is able to strike at the occupation forces and their puppets at will. Even the Green Zone comes in for frequent and regular bombardment. The resistance is carrying out an average of 1,300 attacks each week. It controls large swathes of Iraqi territory, including dozens of cities, and fierce battles rage daily between it and the occupation forces in many of the larger cities. Bush’s troop surge is clearly turning out to be the proverbial last throw of the gambler’s dice – an act of the doomed.

Anglo-American imperialism is still hoping to steal $200bn worth of profits out of Iraqi oil over the next 25 years through production sharing agreements (PSAs), which, it is estimated, would provide the imperialist oil multinationals with yearly profits of between 40 and 160 percent. In view of the Iraqi resistance, the expectations and hopes of imperialism are certain to remain unrealised pipe dreams.

The Iraq war has had devastating effects on the cohesion of US ruling circles. The Democrats in the US continue to make a show of their opposition to Bush’s policy on Iraq, even if this opposition is a sham aimed at whitewashing their own culpability in supporting the criminal war. Even some senior Republicans have begun to dissociate themselves from the Bush administration, if only to save their own seats in the next congressional elections.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration itself is in total disarray. Donald Rumsfeld, John Bolton and Paul Wolfowitz have all been forced out of the administration in disgrace; Wolfowitz has now also been forced out of the World Bank in disgrace over a scam concerning promotion and a large pay increase for his girlfriend; Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, former chief of staff to vice president Dick Cheney, has been convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice during an investigation into the leaking of a CIA undercover officer’s identity in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq.

Oil production in chaos

Oil production in Iraq – the main reason for this predatory war – is in a state of chaos, thanks to the sabotage of pipelines, refineries and other oil infrastructure by the resistance, the lack of investment due to the security environment, and corruption and disputes over the division of spoils between imperialism and its stooges as well as among the stooges themselves.

As a result, oil production is well below pre-invasion levels. Iraq is currently producing just about 2 million barrels per day (mbd) on a good day and exporting 1.5mbd. According to reliable estimates, this means that, over the past four years, the Iraqi treasury has lost around $24.7bn of potential revenue. Getting Iraqi oil is so crucial to this imperialist enterprise, for Iraq, with its estimated 115bn barrels of reserves, is the third largest repository of known oil reserves after Saudi Arabia and Iran. Presently, only 22 of the 87 known Iraqi fields are on stream. Combine this with the fact that global oil demand is expected to jump from 85mbd today to 116mbd in about a decade, and one can see the true significance of Iraqi oil in the schemes of Anglo-American imperialism for world domination.

Imperialist coalition in tatters

The so-called ‘coalition’, assembled by US imperialism through coercion, bribery and cajolery, has fallen apart to the point of disintegration. Seventeen countries, cutting across Europe, Asia and Africa, have already pulled out – including Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Hungary, Ukraine, Slovakia and Norway. On 21 February, the same day that Denmark announced its decision to withdraw its 400-strong contingent, British prime minister Tony Blair announced that Britain will withdraw, by the end of this summer, 1,600 of its 7,100 troops in occupation of southern Iraq.

With this British announcement, even the pretence of a coalition can no longer be maintained, and the isolation of US imperialism and its criminal war against the Iraqi people is irrevocably complete. Blair and the Bush administration tried to put a spin on the British decision, which was no more than a belated admission of defeat, by putting it out that Britain was reducing the number of its troops in Iraq because of the improved security environment, which allowed Britain to hand over the security arrangements to the Iraqi forces.

This is a complete lie, as is shown by the continuing British casualties. In fact, the British decision was a reflection of political reality, namely, that Britain lost control of the southern part of Iraq more than a year ago. The British decision, which came hot on the heels of the troop surge announced by President Bush, leaves the imperialist coalition in tatters. Privately, the Bush administration was incandescent at what it perceived to be an act of betrayal by its closest ally, whatever gloss is put on it for public consumption.

Support for the war dwindling

Thus far, 3,500 US troops have been killed in Iraq, with another 25,000 injured and over $600bn spent on fighting the war.

The morale of US forces has hit rock bottom. At least 15,000 US troops have gone AWOL (absent without official leave) over the last five years. At the end of February this year, 1,000 active-duty and reserve soldiers and marines petitioned Congress for a US withdrawal from Iraq, an action which underlines the erosion of morale in the US armed forces and a dawning awareness of the need to resist fighting “an illegal war of aggression”, to use the words of Bob Evers of the US navy, who decided last September not to re-enlist after serving in the US army and navy for 14 years, fighting in the two Iraq wars and in Kosovo.

Latest research concludes that a million innocent Iraqis have been done to death since the 2003 invasion, while several tens of thousands have been tortured at various concentration camps such as Abu Gharaib. Two million Iraqis have been forced to flee abroad, and they will be joined by another half a million this year, while nearly 2 million are internally displaced. Thus, out of a total pre-war population of 25 million, over 5 million – a fifth of the total – have either been massacred or forced out of their homes. If we include the 1.5 million killed as a result of the previous war and sanctions over a period of 12 years, we get an idea of the cruelty of imperialism and the devastation wrought by it on the Iraqi people, who, from being a prosperous, educated and cultured people, have been reduced to a state of penury – all under slogans of human rights, democracy, freedom, the rule of law and suchlike hypocritical and duplicitous cant.

Everyone, even the US public, brought up as it is on a regular and relentless diet of imperialist chauvinism, can now see through the designs of US imperialism. While the US soldiers are asked to make sacrifices, allegedly for their country, they are treated like dirt on their return, as the scandal at the Walter Reid hospital demonstrated only too clearly. While corporations such as Halliburton and manufacturers of armaments and oil giants rake in fabulous profits out of war contracts and the taxes on the super rich are reduced, social security spending is being drastically slashed.

No wonder, then, that support for the war, as well as for the Bush administration, has fallen precipitously. According to the latest CBS/New York Times poll, 72 percent disapprove of Bush’s handling of the war. Meanwhile, 50 percent believe the troop surge is having no effect, while 26 percent think it is making the situation worse, and 63 percent said the US should set a timetable for the withdrawal of troops next year. According to other reliable surveys, only 9 percent of the US population now believe that the war can be won.

Resistance to occupation

In Iraq, the overwhelming majority of the population, shias and sunnis, passionately want the imperialist forces to leave Iraq. Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shia cleric, called a demonstration demanding the withdrawal of the foreign forces for 9 April in Najaf, which was attended by a million people. He had already pulled his six ministers out of the Maliki government in protest at the latter’s failure to produce a timetable for the vacation of the occupation.

Al-Sadr has all along called for the unity of shias, sunnis and christians – a message which he reiterated on Friday 25 May in Kufa. Although the Anglo-American occupation, and following it the compliant imperialist media, blame Sadr’s followers for sectarian killings, actually it is the government’s own militia, which is heavily infiltrated by the counterrevolutionary Badr Brigades, who, with the overt and covert support of the occupation regime, have been involved in many of the outrageous attacks on innocent people to fan the flames of a sectarian war in an attempt to divide and rule. Precisely because Sadr does not go along with the imperialist plans to split the Iraqi population along confessional lines, the US army in Iraq, especially since the recent surge, has been targeting Sadr’s forces and attacking his stronghold in the Baghdad suburb of Sadr city.

In the first week of April this year, an important conference, with the participation of the representatives of the Iraqi national resistance, was held in the Italian town of Chianciano. Speakers as this conference included Abdul Jabbar al-Kubaysi, General Secretary of Iraqi Patriotic Alliance (IPA).

Ayatollah al Sayyed Ahmed al-Baghdadi, a senior shia cleric and a leader of the resistance, spoke to this conference by telephone. In his message, he completely rejected the imperialist lies about a sectarian ‘civil war’, saying: “Confessional clashes were never known before the occupation. It is a confrontation planned by external powers to burn Iraq and the whole region.” Al-Baghdadi continued: “America will never be able to control Iraq because of the strength of the resistance. We will always reject the occupation. No mask could ever cover up its ugly face. The resistance will remove all the masks, and defeat the occupier’s project of civil war in Iraq. No civil war and no confessional segregation will take place as long as the military resistance continues against colonial occupation.”

During his speech, the IPA’s al-Kubaysi for his part stated: “We are engaged in the largest fight with US imperialism in the world, and we are all alone. We have done this without help from anyone. The Iraqi resistance does not need money, arms or troops. It needs political support.” He went on: “The future of imperialism depends on the result of the battle taking place on the streets of Baghdad,” adding that, “with the heroic sacrifices of the Iraqi people, the American occupation project has been stopped dead in its tracks. The shackles of occupation are crumbling, thanks to the courageous resistance of the Iraqi people.”

In the middle of March, the underground Ba’ath (Arab Socialist Renaissance) Party gave a call to the Iraqi people to drive the imperialist armies of occupation out of Iraq by the end of this year. It stated that the resistance controls most of Baghdad, apart from “some tiny little pockets including the Green Zone” and that material, intelligence, political support and the “inexhaustible flow of volunteers” into the ranks of the resistance are the key to victory. The resistance, said the Ba’ath Party, has fired a global revolution against American imperialism and revealed the US to be a mere “paper tiger” . It concluded: “Iraq Resistance and the Ba’ath Party proved that America is a paper tiger and we succeeded to remove its fangs, making it a mangy stray dog on the run looking for a place to hide from the strikes of the resistance lions.”

Thus it is clear that the Iraqi people are on the verge of a truly historic victory against the combined forces of the two most powerful imperialist countries – the US and Britain. No death squads, torture, mass raids, searches, arrests and curfews, no economic blockades or collective punishments, no attempts at inciting sectarian strife or ethnic cleansing, no aerial bombardments or indiscriminate shooting of civilians can prevent the defeat of the Anglo-American imperialist forces. While the star of the Iraqi resistance is rising, that of Bush and Blair is fading away.

Blair is to step down as prime minister at the end of June, broken by the war in Iraq and associated in the public mind with shiftiness, spin, sleaze and insincerity.

Bush is lame-duck president, serving out the remaining year desperately searching for something to rescue his disastrous and utterly failed presidency. He may gamble on a war against Iran – a war which would have even more disastrous consequences for US imperialism than those flowing from the war in Iraq. Such a war would command absolutely no support in the US, let alone elsewhere in the word.

No one trusts a single word emanating from the advocates of a war on Iran, such is the track record of the leading lights, present and former, of the Bush administration. In the words of Mr Gideon Rachman: “In most professions, a record of failure counts against you. Architects whose buildings fall down and doctors who maim their patients tend to suffer some sort of consequence. The same rules should apply to people who advocate disastrous wars. Take a look at the people who are arguing for an attack on Iran, consider their records – and run a mile in the opposite direction.” (Financial Times, op cit)

The proletariat in the imperialist countries, especially in the US and Britain, must side with the victims of imperialism and give unstinting political support to the brave struggle of the Iraqi resistance to free its people from the predatory invaders occupying the country.

Victory to the Iraqi resistance!

> Iraq - Imperialism heading for a crushing defeat - December 2006
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