Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2016

The suffering in Iraq has fuelled demands for the occupation forces to go

The suffering in Iraq has fuelled demands for the occupation forces to go

Iraqi resistance growing

At the start of August, the press carried reports of a significant decline in US casualties in Iraq. This was combined with announcements from US officials that the military situation was improving.

The figures do indeed show a fall in US military deaths (76 in April, 69 in May, 63 in June, and then only 48 in July).

But, as Michael Schwarz has pointed out in a recent article, these were offset by dramatic increases in Iraqi military fatalities, which almost doubled in July as the US sent larger numbers of Iraqi units into battle.

More important, when it comes to long-term US casualties, the trends underline that the cost of the occupation is growing for the US forces.

In recent months, US units had been pulled off the streets of the Iraqi capital.

But the Iraqi army units that replaced them proved incapable of controlling Baghdad in even minimal ways.

So in addition, to fighting the Sunni insurgency, US troops are now back on the streets of Baghdad in the midst of a swirling civil war, with US casualties likely to rise.

In recent months, there has also been an escalation of the fighting between US forces and the insurgency, independent of the sectarian fighting that now dominates the headlines.

In fact, the US has actually increased its troop levels in Iraq.

It has done this by delaying the return of some units, sending others back to Iraq early, and sending in some troops previously held in reserve in Kuwait.

The number of battles (large and small) between occupation troops and the Iraqi resistance has increased from about 70 a day to about 90 a day - and the number of resistance fighters estimated by US officials has held steady at about 20,000.

The number of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) placed - the principal weapon targeted at occupation troops - has been rising steadily since the spring.

The effort by Iraqi guerrillas to expel the US army and its allies is more widespread and energetic than at any time since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Cathy Stephens, West London

Anti-war marchers do fight Blair

F Stewart (Letters, 19 August) argues that people who oppose Blair’s imperialist wars are two-faced as they voted him in for a third time.

Only 22 percent of the electorate actually voted for Blair in the last election. Many who vote for New Labour are middle class. The rest are working class voters, probably with a healthy distaste for Blair, but who vote Labour because they’ve always voted Labour.

What of a vote for Jeremy Corbyn? A vote for him can hardly be seen as a vote for Blair.

Anti-war MPs are a thorn in Blair’s side, yet they count for his parliamentary majority.

We have a pathetic level of democracy in Britain. It is the capitalist system that causes wars, and F Stewart should direct her/his anger against it, not at the hundreds of thousands who demonstrate against Blair’s wars.

Tom Jenkins, Liverpool

Why dentist may be deported

An NHS dentist has been told she must return to her native India - because she’s not paid enough.

Siddhika Sathyamoorthy’s income is less than the £27,000 per year the Home Office expects a skilled worker to earn, so she was told her visa was not being renewed.

However, after an outcry by her patients and others in the community, the Home Office advised her to re-submit a revised application and she is awaiting the result.

Steve West, local PCS civil service workers’ union rep, said “We understand that the practice is one of the few in Kirkcaldy that actually takes on NHS patients, who are most affected by the current shortage of dentists.”

Siddhika answered the Scottish Executive’s call for more dentists last year.

But she seems to be seen by the Home Office as an immigrant first, and a dentist second.

Not only does Gordon Brown not provide enough money for us all to have NHS dentists, his Home Office colleagues send them home from his own constituency!

Ian Waddell, Kirkcaldy

Recently I saw a story on the news about the bowel cancer drug Erbitux.

It showed how it costs £700 per week for cancer sufferers to gain this potentially lifesaving drug, and how this cost cannot be set aside because “the NHS is not a bottomless pit”.

This disgusted me. I work for a construction company, and if I knew a worker was in a life threatening situation and I failed to prevent him/her from dying, then I would be taken to court and charged with manslaughter.

Surely if somebody is dying from cancer, and a person or company has a means of saving them, but doesn’t, then they too are committing an act of manslaughter?

Andrew Higson, Little Hulton, Greater Manchester

Claims for PFI project have gone up in smoke

The multimillion pound incinerator complex that the Neath Port Talbot Council had built two years ago in the face of massive local opposition seems destined to be a textbook Private Finance Initiative (PFI) disaster.

Firstly, the £32 million plant burnt down while still in its “start up” stage. The fire was massive and had to be tackled by firefighters from across South and Mid Wales.

The fire caused smoke damage to local homes and contaminated the nearby beach.

The plant was rebuilt, but shortly afterwards the private company that operated the plant went bust, leaving the council to pick up the pieces.

The council is to go to the High Court in November because the Bank of Scotland, which was the main financial backer of the plant, wants to claw back its investment by selling off its equipment.

The council is in for a very bumpy ride and, strange to say, those New Labour politicians who voted for the plant are keeping an extremely low profile.

The incinerator battle has been one of the most important environmental issues in south west Wales for a long time.

It has involved safety and health concerns, democratic accountability and the notorious privatising PFI. Our campaign is not going away.

Huw Pudner, Stop The Incinerator Campaign, Neath

Why we will fight this landfill site

In Wrexham, north Wales, we are protesting about a newly-opened landfill rubbish site.

The former Hafod Quarry in Johnstown was given planning permission for landfill 11 years ago, but we have successfully prevented this happening up to now.

We believe the site will damage the environment of the area, destroy rare wildlife, and pose a threat to the health of the area’s people.

We do not see why our beautiful countryside should be destroyed as a result of the multinationals’ ever-increasing demand to produce more packaging. And why can’t we recycle more?

We met the first rubbish lorries to arrive at the site and have continued the protests since.

Our campaign hopes that next Monday Wrexham councillors will revoke the planning permission which, we believe, has been superseded by the later designation of part of the quarry area as a Special Area of Conservation.

It seems that the authorities who should intervene on our behalf are ineffective. Now we must rely on people power!

Megan Evans, Wrexham

Taking shine off cricket

The hypocrisy and racism within cricket is outrageous, and it’s great that the Pakistan team have been prepared to stand up to it (Pakistan have cause to complain, 19 August).

I live in Australia, and well remember in the 1970s watching an Australian bowler with a very ungainly action. TV cameras showed him in close-up using his long fingernails to unpick the seam of the ball.

The commentators did not even mention what they and we had seen, nor did the press. It’s a political issue, and socialists have to support the Pakistan team.

Tony Horne, Quinninup, Western Australia

Bailey returns MBE award

I was heartened to hear that Roy Bailey, one of folk music’s heroes, has returned his MBE.

Roy wrote, “As a life-long supporter of the Labour Party I am so appalled at the government’s foreign policy that I have decided to return the MBE I was awarded for ‘services to folk music’.

“I can think of no better way for me, lawfully, to express my horror and opposition to our failure to call for an immediate ceasefire in the Lebanon and to our complicity with the US’s policy of supporting Israel’s actions in Palestine.”

Let’s hope others have the same courage of their convictions.

Belinda Unwin, Halifax

I want to unite with claimants

Geoff Way (Letters, 26 August) has “no sympathy” for civil service workers losing their jobs. He says they are “tyrants” who oppress claimants.

No doubt there are a small minority who act like this, and I have every sympathy with claimants who are attacked by the press and scapegoated through new government assaults.

But Geoff should recognise that if we lose our jobs then the service will get even worse for claimants. In contrast a victory against this vicious government will make it easier to blunt and overturn its other attacks.

We need unity between claimants and civil service workers. I will be happy to support Geoff fighting for his rights. I hope Geoff will be able to do the same when we fight for our jobs.

Alison Holmes, South London

Practical plan on immigrants

I agree with Socialist Worker that there are many myths peddled about immigration and the “flood” of east European workers.

I recognise that immigration has enriched this country and that we are encouraged to see such people as competitors rather than cooperators and that this is a way of keeping us all down.

But I don’t think it is practical politics to go to workers who are suffering poor housing, and overcrowded schools and tell them that we are in favour of opening the borders to just anyone.

We should be sympathetic to people who want to come to Britain, but the left needs to work out a policy which is non-racist but can have mass appeal.

Otherwise you will be left in a tiny minority and few people will vote for you in elections.

Jonathan Weir, Birmingham

Obesity is a social issue

The government’s recent statements on obesity seem rooted in the notion that such matters are principally a matter of individual responsibility.

But this ignores the role of the food industry, and the alienation which leads to overeating, unhealthy eating and alcohol abuse.

On the other side there is a lack of time and facilities for exercise and much exercise is linked to competition which excludes those deemed “no good”. We should also be wary of a cult of thinness.

Susan Penhaligon, Penzance

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Sat 2 Sep 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2016
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