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
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
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
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
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
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!