The impasse facing the US in Iraq

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Daily life in Iraq has become unbearable. Every day there are new outrages, bombings and deaths. The thirst for destruction seems to have no limit. On Thursday 23 November, Baghdad saw its most murderous bomb attack since 2003 and the outbreak of war. The main target was Sadr City, the huge Shia district in the Iraqi capital. The whole district was devastated by at least four car bombs, leaving 152 dead and 236 wounded. At the same moment, a hundred armed men attacked the health ministry, which is controlled by Ali al Chemari, a follower of radical Shia imam Moqtadr al Sadr. Iraq is in chaos. War between Shias and Sunnis is already raging. The government controls nothing. As for the US army, it is largely barricaded in its own camps, coming out only to carry out lightening raids which leave more deaths both among civilians and the army itself. For the US, this war has been an utter failure.

The US has no alternative imperialist policy

The elections which have just taken place in the US have for the first time in 12 years given the Democrats control of the two Houses of Congress. You’d have to go back to 1974 to see the Democrats winning so many seats in an election. President Bush himself talked about his party getting a ‘thrashing’. And the whole American bourgeois press is unanimous: this rejection of Bush and the Republicans is above all a reaction to the war in Iraq. The war in Iraq, and in Afghanistan, is about to become an even greater burden than the Vietnam war. Since 2001, the ‘war on terror’ has eaten up $502 billion. Day after day the US population hears about another young soldier being killed. And for what? Everyone now knows that peace and stability in Iraq are a mirage, and that the war has made the terrorist danger worse. The war has made the weakening of the world’s only superpower increasingly obvious. The majority of the US bourgeoisie, including a large part of the Republican party, is looking for a way out of this mess. To this end, the ruling class has set up a commission made up of Republican and Democratic personalities, known as the Iraq Study Group. This group, under the presidency of an old campaigner of US foreign policy, James Baker, has been reflecting on the means to end the Iraq crisis. Baker’s words now carry more weight with Bush than his former advisors; and in addition, Baker’s friend and a member of the same Study Group, Robert Gates, has now been appointed in place of Donald Rumsfeld. Baker has already made public a number of different options which are now under discussion in the Study Group and inside the Bush administration. One idea, favoured in particular by the Democrat Joe Biden but also by some Neo-Cons, is to cut Iraq into three autonomous regions. Such a solution would almost certainly result in a permanent state of civil war that would serve to destabilise the entire region even more than today. The second option, proposed by Lawrence Korb at the Centre for American Progress, would mean placing US troops in the neighbouring countries, from which they would only enter Iraq for rapid deployment actions. But again this option risks further discrediting the authority of the US in the region. The impasse facing the US is such that the Baker commission has affirmed its agreement with that part of the American political class which intends to open up a dialogue with Iran and Syria and even to use them in the policing of Iraq. At a time when the two countries are already banging their own imperialist drums in the region and openly defying the US, this new diplomatic orientation is a real confession of impotence.

Republican or Democrat, US imperialist policy is still in a quagmire

The results of the elections n the USA have been welcomed enthusiastically by virtually the whole US political class, Republican and Democrat alike. Throughout the election campaign, the Democrats did not cease criticising the Bush administration’s foreign policy, repeating over and over again that a new policy on Iraq was needed, without ever making it clear what this new orientation would be. In reality, the US can’t leave Iraq without massive loss of international credibility. The American bourgeoisie has no illusions about this. “It’s not that the US and Britain don’t have any more options on the ground. The problem is that none of them are any cause for celebration” (The Observer, cited in Courier International, 16.11.06). Whatever policy is followed in the coming months, the weakening of US leadership will become increasingly obvious, whetting the imperialist appetites of all its rivals.   Rossi 26.11.06

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