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Petraeus, Bush vow to continue war

Movement to end war grows

by Josh Sykes and staff |
September 16, 2007
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Reporting to Congress Sept. 11, General David Petraeus confirmed what most in the anti-war movement have long been saying: The U.S. has no intention of getting out of Iraq anytime soon - unless it is forced to.

In the course of the testimony and questioning before congress there was talk of the occupation continuing another five years or more. Figures in the Bush administration have compared the occupation of Iraq with the U.S. military presence in south Korea, an occupation that has extended more than half a century.

In a speech two days later, Bush endorsed Petraeus’s recommendations, including a plan to ‘draw down’ U.S. troops to pre-surge levels. Practically, this means that the current number of U.S. troops, about 168,000, may be reduced to about 130,000 to 140,000 by next summer. The key phrase here is ‘may be.’ What’s certain is that the Bush administration and the Pentagon are planning an indefinite occupation of Iraq and that Bush is delivering on his promised ‘war without end.’

In part this planned pullback from the current escalation could well be linked to military necessity. Testifying before a congressional committee last fall, the former commander of the Iraq war, Army General John P. Abizaid stated, “We can put in 20,000 more Americans tomorrow and achieve a temporary effect.” He then added, “But when you look at the overall American force pool that’s available, the ability to sustain that commitment is simply not something that we have right now with the size of the Army and the Marine Corps.” In other words, the military needs more troops if there is to be greater escalation of the war.

The response from Democratic leadership in the Senate and House underscores the fact that left to their own devices, U.S. politicians will continue the war. In the last congressional elections voters cast their ballots against the war. Instead of working for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, most Democratic politicians are talking about legislation that tinkers with troop rotation schedules, ‘narrowing the scope of the mission’ or phony timetables. None of the leading Democratic candidates for president are backing an immediate withdrawal or supporting moves that actually end funding for the war.

Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton takes the position that if elected she would call a meeting of her advisors in the first 60 days of her term and develop a plan to start withdrawing or redeploying some troops. Given that a lot can change between now and then, and that Clinton has never repudiated her initial backing of Bush’s invasion, this does not amount to an consistent, anti-war position. The same can be said of almost all of the other presidential hopefuls.

The basic issue is this: The U.S went to war to gain control of Iraq’s oil, to strengthen its domination of the Middle East (in part through eliminating the government led by Saddam Hussein) and to be in a better position to contend with its European rivals. It was all about maintaining an empire for corporate profits. Leopards do not change their spots, but the resistance of the Iraqi people spoiled their plans.

Among U.S. ruling circles, a rough consensus has emerged that the occupation should continue in one form or another. This is sometimes expressed in the view that, “victory is unobtainable and defeat is unacceptable,” and accompanied by bitter recriminations among those who backed Bush’s march to war. The relatively narrow but intense debate in Washington D.C. reflects this.

The result is an unfolding political crisis at the highest levels that has shipwrecked the Republican agenda in congress and led to one shakeup after another in the Bush administration. It has also created openings for people on the ground to make gains.

Terror and resistance

Since the troop surge began the number of political prisoners, or ‘detainees’ being held in U.S. facilities has skyrocket by about 50%. U.S. military authorities admit holding about 25,000 Iraqi prisoners. Forces of the U.S.-sponsored puppet government, by its own estimate holds about 60,000 detainees. These jails are nothing short of hell on earth where torture, rapes and murders are routine.

Increasingly the U.S. has relied on air power, destroying neighborhoods in the cities and villages in the countryside.

Terror is used because the occupation has no support among the Iraqi people. They want their country back. So many have joined resistance organizations. Some have taken up arms. Others are going to demonstrations. The vast majority are angry and want the occupation to end. Now.

The Iraqi resistance is growing, more unified and is striking back harder and faster. The past three months saw 331 deaths and 2029 wounded amongst U.S. troops, the worst three months for the occupation thus far. The formation of the Patriotic National Islamic Front for the Liberation of Iraq this July marked a step forward in the growing unity of the Iraqi resistance forces. This new resistance front has offered to negotiate a withdrawal with the U.S.

The corporate media in the U.S. report attack on civilians in order to portray the U.S. presence in Iraq as a ‘peacekeeping’ force. And yet, out of the current 1100 attacks carried out per week by resistance forces, according to the figures of the Department of Defense, only 8% of these attacks are made against civilians. On the other hand, 75% of these attacks are directed against U.S. occupation troops and 17% toward the puppet Iraqi security forces. Also, many of the attacks on civilians are carried out by elements of the Iraqi government.

The puppet regime in Baghdad is facing disaster. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is barely holding on to power following the resignation or boycott of 17 ministers, nearly half of his cabinet. The collapse of the Maliki government only brightens the spotlight on the political crisis around Iraq and in so doing serves to further discredit the war in the eyes of the American people.

At home

The movement against the war is growing. This past summer alone has seen a strong gathering of anti-war and social justice activists and organizers at the U.S. Social Forum. The student movement is quickly gaining momentum with the reformation of the Students for a Democratic Society. Veterans are denouncing the war and some soldiers are refusing to fight. More in the trade unionist movement are speaking out.

The immigrant’s rights upsurge has the reactionaries split, and despite the wishes of the ruling class, the glaring inequalities of racist, national oppression in the Gulf Coast and larger Black Belt South highlighted by Hurricane Katrina simply will not fade.

And if that were not enough domestic troubles, all of those billions of dollars are being spent on a futile attempt to control and rob Iraq of its oil. Meanwhile our cities are quite literally falling apart, as we so recently saw with the tragic collapse in Minneapolis of the structurally unsound 35W bridge..

This fall, the anti-war movement is poised to make big advances. The war is already the main question in the elections and it is a burning issue in the minds of most people. In the months ahead the movement against the war can assist the effort to end the occupation and to bring the troops home.

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