The true scale of the brutal destruction of Falluja, comparable with the Russian troops’ flattening of Grozny in Chechnya, is only now being revealed. The US military have been forced to admit that they used white phosphorus against ’military combatants’ in Falluja, but deny that it is a chemical weapon or that it was used against civilians.
In fact the US military’s own ’Battle Book’ states that it is against the law to use white phosphorus against personnel, whether military or civilian, and the UN conventions clearly describe as a chemical weapon if it used in this way.
This is only the latest layer of lies about what happened in Falluja - the US military continues to insist that only around 500 civilians remained in the city. By contrast The Guardian and other media sources estimate that there were 30,000-50,000.
Before the attack took place all ’men of fighting age’ were prevented from leaving by the US military. There can be no doubt that the thousands who died during the flattening of the city, using chemical and other weapons, were mainly civilians.
These latest revelations can only increase anger at the daily brutality of the occupation in Iraq and worldwide. Especially as one of the main charges levelled against Saddam is his regime’s use of chemical weapons (no matter that the British and US governments sold them to him).
In the countries of ’the coalition’ the deaths of coalition soldiers ’for no good cause’ is fuelling opposition to the occupation. This is particularly true in the US. More than two thousand US troops have died and over 30,000 have been injured over the last two years. There are towns where everyone knows someone who has lost a family member to Iraq. Like Columbus, Ohio, where the Lima Company is based. Almost half the company have been killed or injured, their highest losses since the Second World War.
The pressure is mounting on the Bush regime to withdraw the troops. Two former US Presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, in an unprecedented breaking of unwritten diplomatic law, have publicly attacked a sitting President for taking the US to war, while the war is still taking place.
Democratic Congressman John Murtha, a Vietnam veteran who supported the invasion and has close ties to the US military, summed up the growing opposition to the occupation when he declared that troops should withdraw in within six months as he was "absolutely convinced we are making no progress at all."
The opposition to Bush at the top is a faint reflection of the mood below. The anti-war movement in the US is experiencing a resurgence.
The occupation is fundamentally unviable. Despite his posturing, it is possible that, in the face of growing opposition, Bush could be forced to ’declare victory’ and withdraw the troops more quickly than he currently expects and hand over to ill-prepared Iraqi military forces.
However, whatever the US ’timetable’ the legacy of Bush, Blair and Co.’s adventure will be enormous instability in Iraq, including a likely escalation in the civil war, and a massive increase of the anti-imperialist mood in the Middle East and worldwide.
The Iraqi constitution has been cobbled together, not in the interests of the Iraqi peoples, but the different ruling factions in Iraq, and above all US imperialism. It is no surprise that the occupying powers are continuing to try and make sure they "get their snouts in the trough" as Jack Straw put it in a moment of blinding clarity.
The world’s oil giants have been kept out of Iraq since its oil was nationalised in 1972 but the new Iraqi constitution guarantees a major role for foreign companies in Iraqi’s oil. The problem they face, and it is a major one, is security. As yet none of the major oil multinationals will touch Iraq, because they consider it too dangerous.
The continuation of the occupation is the continuation of a nightmare for the peoples of Iraq. However, the unelected leaders of the various sectarian religious factions do not offer a way forward. The solution lies with the working people and poor masses of Iraq.
The Socialist Party stands for a mass movement of the working class and the oppressed masses for an end to the occupation of Iraq and for the natural resources of Iraq to be owned and controlled by the peoples’ of Iraq.
Such a movement should establish multi-ethnic defence forces to guard against ethnic and religious clashes and to protect the security of all, under the democratic control of working people.
It should also call for the convening of an Iraq-wide national assembly of democratically elected delegates to vote on the formation of a workers and poor farmers’ government that would provide the basis to deal with the crushing problems facing Iraq.
From The Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party, cwi in England and Wales