"The most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam" were the words Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam war veteran used to describe Bush’s latest revised Iraq strategy. Hagel, however, is not only a Vietnam war veteran but is also a US senator for Bush’s Republican party.
Bush’s new plan for Iraq was cloaked in hypocrisy. Bush said that anything other than his new strategy "would force a collapse of the Iraqi government, tear that country apart and result in mass killings on an unimaginable scale", without the slightest recognition that all his previous strategies brought about the current chaos and carnage.
And as the International Herald Tribune editorial (15 January) commented: "There are no really satisfying answers in Iraq, since all of the remaining options are bad. Still, some are notably worse than others, and Bush has come up with possibly the worst."
Bush’s new plan – to send a ’surge’ of 21,500 extra troops into Iraq – is similar to onslaughts that were tried and failed by the Bush regime in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
That’s why the ’new’ plan has met with almost universal rejection in the US and internationally. Once 73% of US people backed the invasion now 70% of Americans oppose the plan and 65% believe the invasion of Iraq was a mistake.
Bush may have painted himself into the tightest corner in his bunker but he is determined to press ahead no matter how isolated he is or how disastrous the consequences.
The possibility of the president’s impeachment has been raised. However, this appears unlikely because of the time the process takes and because the Democrats have compromised and discredited themselves over the war and have no real alternative to Bush’s plans.
The most immediate consequence of Bush’s plan will be an escalation of conflict and bloodshed bringing further misery for the long-suffering people of Iraq and the Middle East. Despite his protestations that "if mistakes have been made the responsibility lies with me", Bush’s new strategy will compound his administration’s mistakes.
The threat of attacks on Iran along with bombings of alleged al-Qa’ida bases in Somalia will also intensify fears that Bush’s new plans will widen the field of conflict.
Bush’s statement was quickly followed by US soldiers raiding Iranian missions in northern Iraq and seizing Iranian diplomats there. One Iranian minister said the Bush regime was moving from "cold war" to "hot war".
Three British cabinet ministers have expressed doubts about sending the extra troops. They fear – correctly – that Bush’s new hardline generals desire to ’eliminate’ Moqtada al-Sadr’s Shi-ite Mahdi army will result in a massive escalation of the violence in Iraq, which would see greater casualty levels among the 7,200 British troops based in predominantly Shia areas like Basra.
The Iraqi government of Nouri al-Maliki was brutally warned by US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, that it was living on borrowed time unless it reined in the Shi-ite militias – an increasingly improbable prospect.
It is clear that Bush hopes that tackling the Shia militias is the first step to reducing sectarian violence and undercutting Iranian attempts to influence a Shia-dominated Iraq.
Whereas, the Iraq Study Group was pushing Bush to try and draw in Syria and Iran in to the process of ’stabilising’ Iraq, the Bush regime now prefers to go it alone – raising the danger of a wider Middle East conflict.
Tony Blair’s statements (see below) about preparing for more British involvement in wars is a further reflection of how far Blair, along with Bush, is preparing for more conflict in the Middle East and beyond.
Some critics have described Blair and Bush’s statements as delusional – which in part they are. No number of troops or new initiatives will be able to reverse the chaos that the invasion and occupation has brought about.
As long as the coalition forces occupy Iraq, the bloody chaos will continue, as it will even if they are withdrawn. Without a genuine political alternative based on a united working-class struggle for jobs, decent living standards, and democratic rights in Iraq, the existing political set-up of institutionalised sectarianism will lead to a violent fragmentation of Iraq.
Imperialism and capitalism has evidently failed to bring about a democratic Iraq, only a socialist movement in Iraq and throughout the region can end this capitalist nightmare.
Workers in Iraq, together with the rural poor, need to start building a strong non-sectarian movement of workers against imperialism. They should fight for a government of their own representatives to act in the interests of Iraq’s workers and poor rather than those of the capitalist class in the West and within Iraq.
Stop the War Coalition/CND demo
- No Trident
- Troops out of Iraq
- Saturday 24 February
- assemble 12noon, Speakers’ Corner, Hyde Park.
- March to Trafalgar Square, London.
Blair’s vision: ’wars without end’
Tony Blair’s political failures in Iraq and Afghanistan – which have cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians and nearly 200 UK service personnel deaths – has not stopped the megalomaniac prime minister envisaging a future of wars without end.
In a speech aboard HMS Albion, (appropriately enough for someone echoing the past days of the British empire!), Blair defined the future role of Britain’s armed forces. Notwithstanding the evidence of an overstretched military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, he wants the armed forces to be centre stage in wars against ’global terrorism’, stretching endlessly into the future.
"My choice would be for armed forces… to be war fighters as well as peacekeepers; for a British foreign policy keeps our American alliance strong and is prepared to project hard as well as soft power," he said.
However, rather than countering ’terrorism’ Blair’s and Bush’s military adventures around the world have further fuelled the rise of right-wing political Islam and its networks of terrorist operatives.
Incredibly, Blair said the challenge since the 9/11 attacks in the US resembled the ’free world’s’ fight against "revolutionary communism in its early and most militant phase".
This is a blatantly false and reactionary historical comparison. The response of British imperialism and its allies after the 1917 Russian revolution, where the working class came to power, was to try and crush it in blood!
Some 21 allied armies were sent to destroy the workers’ government (which had ended Russia’s war, and the Tsar’s oppressive rule) and restore a capitalist dictatorship. Only socialist internationalism and massive sacrifices by Russian workers and peasants prevented the imperialist powers in succeeding.
However, the devastation of the wars of intervention and the resulting political isolation so weakened the workers’ state as to create the conditions for the rise of a one-party Stalinist dictatorship – the negation of workers’ democracy.
Vladimir Lenin, the revolutionary socialist and leader of the 1917 revolution, described imperialism as "horror without end". Blair with his ’wars without end’ clearly identifies with continuing this bloody imperialist legacy.
From The Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party, cwi in England and Wales.