George W. Bush last night announced his “new strategy” for Iraq. His speech consisted of the usual rhetoric about “establishing democracy” and “defeating the terrorists” but particularly a lot of wishful thinking. Like an about to be defeated poker player, US imperialism faces the problem every gambler has when he is losing: if he leaves the table, he won’t be able to win back his losses. But a final bet can prove fatal too.

The execution of Saddam Hussein could not have been a more cynically calculated PR event if a banner proclaiming "mission accomplished" had been placed above the gallows. His hanging will not provide a day of relief from the misery, humiliation, and violence the Iraqi people are enduring under the occupation, or absolve imperialism of its role in Saddam's rise to power and decades of brutal rule.

What started off as a show of strength on the part of US imperialism is now turning into its opposite. The war in Iraq is bringing to the surface all the contradictions of present-day capitalism. Defeat is staring the imperialists in the face. This will have far-reaching consequences well beyond the borders of Iraq.

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