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Iraq: Hope amid the horror

This article is over 16 years, 11 months old
On the fourth anniversary of George Bush’s invasion of Iraq, just one in five Iraqis have confidence in occupation forces.
Issue 2043

On the fourth anniversary of George Bush’s invasion of Iraq, just one in five Iraqis have confidence in occupation forces.

Bush continues to claim that the US presence will create a free and democratic Iraq.

But a poll commissioned by the BBC, US and European television stations found that over 85 percent of those questioned feared violence towards the people living in their household.

This is based on painful experience of life under occupation.

When Iraqis are asked about the violence which has affected their own lives, the most common form is that used by US and coalition forces against civilians.

Some 78 percent oppose the presence of foreign troops in Iraq, while 51 percent think attacks on coalition forces are acceptable.

US intelligence reports have shown that violence in Iraq is not as simple as the Sunni versus Shia divisions the media focuses on. Rather it is about different factions within those groups vying for control of particular areas.

The US and Britain encouraged this by operating a divide and rule policy.

There is hope that points to a solution. Some 94 percent of those questioned do not want Iraq partitioned along sectarian grounds.

Yet Bush and Tony Blair’s policies are dividing the country into Kurdish, Sunni and Shia entities.

An immediate withdrawal of occupation forces which would allow Iraqis to determine their own future, free from outside interference, must be the starting point for any solution.

Bush marked the fourth anniversary of the invasion with a plea for “patience”, warning “the consequences for American security would be devastating” if the US pulled out.

The well-being of Iraqis is not the chief concern of a British prime minister or a US president dreading the nightmare of defeat.

Gordon Brown

Choosing privateers

Gordon Brown made it clear that he is committed to more privatisation of public services at the launch of Tony Blair’s policy review of public services this week.

The review sets out the direction for public sector “reform” for the next ten years.

Couched in jargon about “empowerment of the citizen”, “diversity of supply”, “personalisation” and “choice”, the report is clear that the welfare state will be open to the highest bidder.

The review argues that firms should be able to launch takeover bids for services that they think they can run “at a more reasonable cost”.

Brown laid out his support for this project, making a particular point of praising the role of the private sector in academy schools.

He enthusiastically pointed out that the ideas behind the policy review are modelled on the market. He said, “Just as in industry and what we receive from what’s produced by industry, people want goods and services tailored to their needs, so too that’s the lesson for the future of public services.”

This is a continuation of New Labour’s attempts to increasingly shift responsibility for health, education and welfare from the state and society to the individual.

This may all be part of Blair’s desperate attempt to shore up his legacy. But it is clear that Brown is not only committed to Blair’s wars, he also intends to continue the assault on the public sector. We will have to fight for public services whoever is prime minister.


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