BUSH AND Blair were crowing this week following the capture of Saddam Hussein. They claim it justifies their war on Iraq. It does nothing of the kind. That war killed at least 20,000 Iraqis.
The US and Britain had already slaughtered 200,000 Iraqis in the 1991 Gulf War. And the sanctions regime the US and Britain imposed after that war murdered at least 500,000 Iraqi children.
To add to that history of horror every report coming out of Iraq today suggests things are going from bad to worse under the US and British occupation.
Ordinary Iraqis have been shot down by occupation forces. Trade union offices have been raided under the repressive Saddam-era laws that the US and Britain insist on maintaining. And so unpopular is the occupation among ordinary Iraqis that the US has ruled out any quick move to genuine elections.
That is why instead the US is now looking around for a new 'strong man' to enforce its will in Iraq. That is hardly surprising. It is exactly what the US has done in the past in Iraq.
When Bush today claims that 'a dark era' in the history of Iraq is over, he wants people to forget that it was the US which brought that dark era into being. As we show in this week's Socialist Worker (see page 5), US support was crucial for Saddam to come to power in the first place.
Successive US and British governments supported and bankrolled his regime. They turned a blind eye when he slaughtered Iraqis and Kurds, and sold him even more weapons. Until the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Saddam was a key US ally in the Middle East, supporting their foreign policy in the region and striking deals with Western multinationals.
Now Bush is desperate to put people in power in Iraq who serves US interests in the same way Saddam Hussein once did. He wants a regime that will carry on signing over contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq to US multinationals like Halliburton. He wants to ensure that US companies control Iraq's oil fields.
Bush and Blair's celebrations at the capture of Saddam Hussein are likely to be short-lived. The opposition to the occupation of Iraq is far wider than a handful of 'Saddam loyalists'. It is fuelled by the brutality of the occupying troops and the plunder of Iraq by Western multinationals.
That is why in the coming months the resistance to the occupation, in Iraq and around the world, is likely to grow, not diminish.
Make it a bad new year for Blair
TONY BLAIR was smiling following the capture of Saddam Hussein. But we have a chance to wipe the smile off his face in January.
Early in the month the Hutton inquiry report will focus attention on the government's lies over weapons of mass destruction. Blair wants to front out the Hutton report while continuing attacks on working class families in Britain. Those attacks are provoking resistance which can humble Blair. He faces a revolt over university top-up fees, which will be debated in parliament in January.
The new year will see two other key events. A national convention is set for 25 January to launch an electoral challenge to New Labour.
And on 7 February a convention of the trade union left will discuss what the unions should do with their political funds. Both can help turn the heat up on Blair.