Socialist Worker

George Bush's new chamber of horrors

Issue No. 1900

THE WORLD has seen US troops' torture of Iraqi prisoners. These pictures have smashed the last excuse trotted out to justify the occupation of Iraq. As resistance to the occupation grew, apologists for imperialism clutched desperately at the idea that at least human rights would be better with Saddam Hussein gone.

But Saddam's torture chambers are back in use. In the very prison where his henchmen brutalised prisoners, US troops now do the same. This obscene abuse is exactly what a colonial occupation looks like. Every day that the occupation of Iraq continues, there will be more repression, more torture, more killing.

One thing that got more news coverage in the US than the torture revelations was the growing feeling against the occupation among sections of the US establishment. The scenes of George Bush behind a huge banner reading "Mission accomplished" from one year ago were played again and again on US TV. News networks showed the images not to praise Bush's war, but to pour scorn on him and his bloodsoaked occupation.

Veteran broadcaster Ted Koppel read out a list of 721 dead US troops and showed their pictures on the ABC News channel. It lasted for 40 minutes. If he had added the thousands of Iraqis killed as a result of the conflict he would still be reading out the names.

Fifty top retired US ambassadors have written to Bush, joining the growing chorus opposing his foreign policy. And a clear majority in the US now believe that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake.

Defeat is becoming a real possibility for Bush. The US vowed to crush the rebellion in Fallujah. They destroyed half the city but failed to conquer it. Fear of suffering humiliation in Iraq will only make the occupiers more ruthless and more violent.

Some people, however, have drawn the wrong conclusions from recent events. The Liberal Democrats, who briefly posed as anti-war to gain votes, called for Blair not to send any more troops to Iraq, but say nothing about the thousands of troops already there.

The Green Party, who genuinely opposed the invasion, now argues for UN troops to go into Iraq. But the UN is a thoroughly discredited force in the Middle East. It is widely seen as pro-US and against democracy in Iraq. UN secretary general Kofi Annan supported Bush's decision to deny Iraqis the right to elections.

On Tuesday, UN special envoy to Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi held talks with Blair. Brahimi will appoint a puppet government to run Iraq after the 30 June "handover". US and British troops will stay in Iraq. The US is building military bases across the country and selling off assets to US multinationals. In a recent poll six in ten Iraqis said they do not think the US will allow them to determine their future.

A similar number said they wanted the US troops out. The only solution is to withdraw all the troops from Iraq and allow the Iraqi people to have immediate free elections.

The only parties standing in the 10 June elections who will demand that the troops leave now are the Respect coalition and the Scottish Socialist Party.

Anti-capitalism is a pole of attraction

THOUSANDS OF people marched through Warsaw, Poland, on Thursday of last week demanding the shutting down of a summit organised by the World Economic Forum. For two months the media published stories about hordes of anti-globalisation hooligans coming to tear down Warsaw. They were completely wrong.

Prime time TV coverage conveyed the demonstration's message of opposition to capitalist globalisation to millions of Poles. And it was warmly received by those suffering from 20 percent unemployment and a new cuts package.


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    What We Think
    Sat 8 May 2004, 00:00 BST
    Issue No. 1900
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