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.

The war in Iraq has been an unmitigated disaster. Far from “promoting democracy” what the imperialists have done is to plunge Iraq into the depths of barbarism. Even from a purely military point of view they are losing their grip on the country. Now the talk is about an “exit strategy”. We say the troops must leave now. Let the people of Iraq decide their own fate.

On the morning of November 19, 2005 US Marines killed 24 civilians, including women, children and even infants in Haditha, Iraq. The massacre was covered up until January, when evidence of the massacre could no longer be denied. The US government has announced that the Marines involved will stand trial for murder. The full impact of Haditha is yet to be revealed, but similar to the My Lai massacre in the Vietnam War, it could represent the beginning of the end for the US occupation of Iraq

After being labelled a “butcher” by the British press following last week's bad election results for the Labour Party and the subsequent Cabinet reshuffle, Tony Blair suffered another blow, this time not at home but abroad. In Basra the British army lost five soldiers, including the first female casualty, as their helicopter crashed and British soldiers came under attack.

Sectarian violence has plagued Iraq since the February 22 destruction of the sacred Shia al-Askariya shrine in As Samarra, pushing the country dangerously close to civil war. As the US army in Iraq faces the prospect of being dragged into such a war, opinion polls in the United States show that support for the Bush administration is at an all time low. The conditions are being laid for an all out explosion both in Iraq and in the United States.

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