A debate on US withdrawal from Iraq has suddenly erupted inside the White House. Support for the Iraq war is haemorrhaging among Republican senators – forcing Pentagon chief Robert Gates to cancel a trip to Latin America.
But while George Bush’s Republican party might be making noises about withdrawal, the neoconservatives that drive his regime’s policies are bitterly opposed to any pullback from Iraq.
Behind these tensions lies a desperate desire on the part of the US ruling class to avoid the humiliation of a military defeat in Iraq. The debacle of Vietnam casts a long shadow.
This week the neocons rallied around Bush and called on him to continue his military “surge” to restore US order in Iraq. But this effort has reached its high water point and shows little sign of success.
Some 70 percent of Americans now say things are going badly in Iraq. A record 42 percent of Republicans want to see some troops withdrawn. The debate breaking out on withdrawal can only speed the day that US troops depart.
Hands off Iran
Miliband in denial
Gordon Brown’s new foreign secretary David Miliband conducted an interview with the Financial Times last weekend where he reaffirmed the government’s belligerent stance towards Iran, repeatedly refusing to rule out a military strike against the country.
Miliband accused Iran of trying to “set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East” – as if Israel, with its arsenal of 200 nuclear warheads, hasn’t already started such a race.
The full transcript of the interview is more revealing. Asked what he thought of “Iran’s complicity in attacks on British soldiers in Basra”, Miliband replies that “any evidence of Iranian engagement there is to be deplored”.
“Just to be clear, there is evidence?” asks the newspaper. “Well no, I chose my words carefully,” says Miliband. “We are very careful about what we say about these things.”
So the foreign secretary admits that there is no evidence that Iran is complicit in attacks on British troops in Iraq. Remember that the next time you see lurid headlines making such claims on the basis of “intelligence briefings”.
To read the Financial Times transcript go to » www.tinyurl.com/2pbumw
Labour and the Tories
Gordon Brown has promised a “deeper engagement” with the bosses. What that means became clear last week when news broke of how BAE Systems is negotiating a multi-billion pound deal to sell yet more military aircraft to Saudi Arabia – just six months after the government blocked a corruption inquiry into a huge arms deal between the firm and the Saudis.
Labour has been so successful at becoming the natural party of business that the Tories have taken to talking about poverty. Unsurprisingly, what that means is attacking single parents and spouting Victorian nonsense about “moral taxes”.
This has all confused Labour’s new Minister for Very Rich People, Sir Digby Jones, who last week considered running as the Tory candidate for London mayor.
As George Orwell wrote, “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”