Socialist Worker

Why we say get the troops out

Issue No. 1869

THERE IS an escalating war in Iraq. The lying politicians who launched the invasion six months ago won't admit it. But it's the only honest conclusion from the terrible death toll. The director of the Baghdad central mortuary told the New York Times how the number of killings has rocketed under the last five months of occupation. There were 462 in May, 626 in June, 751 in July and 872 in August. Most of them, about 70 percent, were shot dead. That is in just one city.

US and British military operations account for more and more of those killed across the country. The occupiers know they are at war. Over 6,000 US troops have been sent home on medical grounds, 1,500 of them wounded.

George Bush and Tony Blair's response is to pour in more troops-from the US, Britain or any other country they can bully or bribe. Bush has allocated an extra $87 billion for the war of occupation. His vice-president, Dick Cheney, hints that won't be enough. In Britain, chancellor Gordon Brown is to announce a further £1 billion next month. At the same time he is curbing spending on hospitals and schools, and freezing wage rises for the low paid. His 'autumn statement' will smell of a war budget. Bush, with Blair in tow, is prepared to pile more agony onto a country already bled dry by war and a decade of murderous sanctions.

He refused even to consider a mild proposal from French president Jacques Chirac to set a four week deadline to hand Iraq over to its provisional authority. Bush wants total victory to terrify anyone across the globe who might stand in his way. The occupying forces are not neutral observers preventing chaos. They have created the chaos and are now fighting a war of pacification against the Iraqi people.

A country run by Western bureaucrats and a foreign army cannot be a country run by its own people. The longer the occupation goes on the more ordinary Iraqis will become enraged. We already see how the occupation is fomenting divisions between different groups in order to hold on. The only way to stop that, and the rising death toll of US and British troops, is to end the occupation now.

No one knows how Iraqis will organise their country. We do know that the occupation is bringing increasing chaos. If the warmongers do hold on, they will make conflict between Iraqis more likely. And they will renew their confidence to target other counties, such as Iran, Syria, North Korea or Cuba.

Palestine no peace without justice

A HEAVILY militarised state threatens to kidnap or execute the leader of a people whose territory it occupies. There is only the mildest of rebukes from the US. The state is Israel and the leader is Yasser Arafat. George Bush felt forced last week to put a millimetre of distance between himself and Israeli leader Ariel Sharon, whose government is debating how to eliminate Arafat from Palestinian politics.

The US is desperate for some stability in Palestine as it sinks into a quagmire in Iraq. But the US still maintains it has the right to determine who Arafat's Palestinian Authority chooses as its prime minister. That has given a green light to the most hardline Israeli leaders to renew their campaign of assassination and terror against the Palestinians.

There has been a three year long intifada, or uprising, against Israeli occupation. Next Saturday's march marks that and calls for solidarity with the Palestinians. There can be no peace in the Middle East without justice for Palestine.

March next Saturday

THE RESISTANCE in Iraq has stunned Bush's neo-conservatives. So too has the global anti-war movement. Every serious US paper now recognises that the Bush gang are on the defensive and are deeply divided. The international anti-war day of action next Saturday can drive those splits deeper and hasten the end of the war of occupation.

Nowhere is that truer than in Britain. Blair is tottering now because two million people took to the streets in February. Next Saturday's demonstration is on the eve of the Labour Party conference. A massive turnout will leave Blair even more isolated. It will bring closer the day when he is held to account. It can help bring an end to the occupation and bury the Bush project of a permanent 'war on terror'.

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What We Think
Sat 20 Sep 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1869
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