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War and occupation in Iraq
Five years of death and destruction
International Socialist Resistance demonstrate against war
NEXT MONTH will see the fifth anniversary of the US-led war against Iraq that started years of bloody, destructive imperialist occupation. A hellish half decade has seen unending death and destruction for the people of Iraq.
Niall Mulholland, East London Socialist Party
Up to a million have died, so far, as a result of the invasion. Thousands are held illegally in prisons. The country's infrastructure is destroyed. The health service and education sectors are in tatters. Unemployment is rampant. Over two million Iraqis were forced to flee the country.
The country is divided along sectarian, ethnic and national lines. The rich resources of Iraq have been plundered: oil wealth is being handed over to the domination of Western multinationals and the economy is being privatised. The Iraqi 'government' is a US-dominated puppet.
Despite overwhelming opposition to the occupation in Britain and the US, Gordon Brown continues Blair's wars and all the main US presidential candidates call for more years of bloody occupation.
In opposition to these horrors, a 'global protest' will take place on 15 March, including a mass demonstration in London, organised by the Stop the War Coalition, CND and the British Muslim Initiative (BMI). The event will also highlight the occupation of Afghanistan, the threat to bomb Iran and the ongoing agony of the people of Gaza.
Demonstration against Trident Feb 24 2007, photo Pedro
Following the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, the mighty US military appeared invincible. But now a number of imperialist powers are bogged down in both countries, in conflicts that can go on for decades. So bad is life for impoverished Afghanis under Western occupation that the armed Taliban is growing in support again.
The enormous burden on Western powers, fighting extremely unpopular wars, is reflected in sharp clashes between Nato member states.
The US Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, sent an "unusually stern" request to Germany to send combat troops to volatile southern Afghanistan. Angela Merkel replied that the German troops' mandate was "not up for discussion". On top of this, Canada threatens to bring home its 2,500 troops from Afghanistan, unless other Nato allies send reinforcements.
Low troop morale
Thousands of soldiers have died in the conflicts and troop morale is rock bottom. This was brought home graphically at a Stop the War Coalition (STWC) public meeting in Newham, on 7 February. Ben Griffen, a former SAS soldier who served in Iraq, described how British soldiers in barracks in Afghanistan and Iraq openly discussed why they did not believe in the wars any more.
Lindsay German (Convenor of STWC) and Harry Cohen, the anti-war Labour MP, also addressed the East London meeting. From the floor, local Socialist Party members called for open discussion and debate on the way forward to develop the anti-war movement.
Lois Austin pointed out that over the last five years, magnificent anti-war protests, in Britain and internationally, rocked the pro-war governments. The mass anti-war movement was also an excellent opportunity to launch a viable political alternative to New Labour, the Liberals and the Tories, with mass support across all working-class communities.
Unfortunately, such an initiative was not taken. But anti-war youth and millions of working class people still want an alternative to New Labour. Lois appealed for Harry Cohen, and other Labour MPs who say they do not agree with Brown's foreign or domestic policies, to draw the necessary conclusions and leave New Labour.
Along with others on the left, including the Socialist Party, and union activists and radical youth, they can play a role helping to create a new mass party for working people - a powerful ally for the anti-war movement.
In The Socialist 12 February 2008:
Local Government workers
War and terrorism
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Workplace news and analysis