Once the lies about ‘weapons of mass destruction' were exposed for all to see Blair and co resorted to arguing the need for ‘regime change' as their justification for invading Iraq. "At least we got rid of Saddam," Blair intoned. Saddam Hussein's dictatorship was certainly monstrous, but in what way is the so-called democracy being imposed at the end of British and American bayonets an improvement for the Iraqi people? Whilst governments and the media quibble over estimates one thing is now clear - more people are dying as a result of the occupation than even in the dark days of Saddam's reign. The staggering estimate of The Human Cost of the War in Iraq reported in The Lancet that 655,000 Iraqis (about one in forty of Iraq's civilian population) have died as a result of the occupation reveals the true result of Bush and Blair's regime change - the wholesale slaughter of men, women and children; the destruction of the country's infrastructure; and descent into sectarian civil war.
601,000 deaths are attributed by the report to violence. Meanwhile, an additional 54,000 deaths are inextricably linked to the devastation of the country's infrastructure and the collapse of healthcare. Electricity supply in oil-rich Iraq is down to just four hours a day.
From the standpoint of Bush and co, with US congressional elections imminent, the mounting unpopularity of the war back home is a disaster. Similarly the war in Iraq, and the lies and intrigues surrounding it, has been the undoing of Blair.
The war is a disaster, too, from the standpoint of the troops. So far 2780 American soldiers and 119 British troops have died. The war has had a devastating effect on their morale. Brown (who has supported the war all along, remember) is now offering tax breaks to British soldiers serving in Iraq. As if a few extra pennies can make up for the deaths, casualties and psychological impact the war has had on them.
Above all, of course, the war has been an unmitigated disaster for the people of Iraq. 655,000 deaths, over a million left homeless, and the largest number seeking asylum from any single country - what a catastrophe Bush's imperialist adventure has been for Iraq's people!
According to the UN 2000 people a day are crossing the border fleeing into Syria. Bush and Blair's imperialist adventure in Iraq has destabilized the entire region, and indeed the entire world. The "war on terror" is a useful cover behind which to conduct a war on the working class and basic democratic rights, but the imperialists' actions do nothing to combat terrorism, on the contrary, they breed it.
In truth, Bush and co are not concerned by the death toll. They dispute the numbers, claiming only 50,000 civilian dead. To the imperialists the Iraqis do not count as human beings when they are alive (as amply demonstrated by the torture at Abu Ghraib and the massacre of Fallujah), they certainly do not bother to count them when they are dead.
Nor are they concerned with the deaths of US troops, whom they previously pledged would stay at their posts, come what may, until victory. They are concerned, however, with looming electoral defeat as a result.
The American ruling class, meanwhile, is not so concerned with the electoral fortunes of the Republican Party, but they are concerned at the spiraling cost of the occupation and above all the destabilization of the Middle East, and the rest of the world. From their point of view wars are fought for raw materials, markets, and spheres of influence. None of these have been secured, although the arms manufacturers, the construction companies, and the finance houses busily privatizing Iraq have certainly made a killing.
The disaster in Iraq has forced Bush and co to desperately seek an ‘exit strategy'. James Baker (a family friend of Bush who served in the Reagan administration) has come up with a plan to withdraw, possibly handing over the policing of the region to Syria and Iran! The diplomats talk about "devolving power" to Sunni, Shi'ite, and Kurdish regions. Masked by the word federalism what this really means is partition and ethnic cleansing. This is their so-called ‘three state solution'.
Other neo-conservatives would like to see a new Saddam (so long as he was ‘friendly' to the needs of US imperialism, of course). Elliot Cohen writing in the Wall Street Journal argues that because all the ‘Plan Bs' are flawed he would "quietly" endorse a coup by a junta of military modernizers!
Most of these plans involve some sort of partition or break up of Iraq under the domination of various warlords. What a triumph for ‘democracy'! All their claims of ‘liberating Iraq' are exposed as rank hypocrisy.
With an astonishing lack of irony British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett comments on the possibility of the break-up of Iraq: "That is very much a matter for the Iraqis. They have had enough of people from outside handing down arbitrary boundaries and arbitrary decisions"
Astonishingly even the head of the British army, Sir Richard Dannatt, insists that it is time for British troops to leave (although admittedly this is not some Road-to-Damascus conversion for Dannatt, who believes those forces should be deployed in Afghanistan where there is a better chance of ‘winning').
At the same time the exit strategy proposed by some on the left to replace British and US troops with a UN peacekeeping force is no solution either. To simply change the colour of the helmets of the occupying forces will do nothing to halt the descent into a sectarian quagmire and the break-up of the country into warring fiefdoms.
Iraq was once a cradle of civilization. Over generations it has been transformed into a cemetery by the interference, intrigues, and invasions of imperialism.
There is only one ‘exit strategy' required. All imperialist troops should get out of Iraq now! No solution can be imposed on Iraq by US, British, UN, or other coalition forces. The future of Iraq must be decided by the Iraqi people.
The troops must be withdrawn, but that is far from the end of the matter. The only way to bring an abrupt end to this tragedy and prevent its repetition is to build the international struggle for the socialist transformation of society.
End the brutal occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan! Withdraw all imperialist troops now!
- The Haditha massacre: “Democracy assassinated the family that was here” (June 2, 2006)
- British forces attacked in Basra – another crack in the dam By Maarten Vanheuverswyn (May 12, 2006)
- Iraq – Opening the Gates of Hell by Rob Lyon (March 3, 2006)
- Three years of imperialist occupation of Iraq - countless thousands dead and descent into civil war by Phil Mitchinson (March 2, 2006)
- US arrogance has no limits in Iraq by Sonia Prevato (November 16, 2005)
- US-style democracy in Iraq – incendiary bombs and white phosphorous! by Fred Weston (November 16, 2005)
- The New Iraq Constitution: “Covering the Sun with a Sieve” by Nadim al-Mahjoub (October 14, 2005)
- From Tal Afar to Basra: fanning the flames of discontent in Iraq by Maarten Vanheuverswyn (September 27, 2005)
- The War in Iraq – Two years on byRob Lyon (March 18, 2005)