Enough is enough! Bring the troops home

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The US in a futile attempt to salvage its position in Iraq is planning to send an extra 21,500 troops as a surge to stop the escalating violence and descent into civil war. The Socialist party is opposed to any increase in troops to Iraq; it will only delay the inevitable. The Socialist Party demands an end to the occupation and a withdrawal of all foreign troops.

In March 2003 the US and other countries, in the so-called ‘Coalition of the Willing’ (including Australia) invaded Iraq. Political leaders gave various reasons- weapons of mass destruction, to end tyrannical reign of Saddam Hussein, Saddam’s alleged links to Al Qaeda and other terrorist organisations and to bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people. The real reason was for the oil and for US prestige in the region and the world.

The current government in Iraq took over in May 2006, following elections to the National Assembly in December 2005. In September 2006, reports were coming out of increased civil disorder in Iraq particularly in Baghdad. Operation Together Forward was a plan announced in June 2006 to quell rise in violence in Baghdad. It was supposed to be led by the Iraqis with Coalition Support and to put an extra 70,000 troops in the streets.

The plan did not work, with high levels of violence continuing. In August 2006 an extra 3000 US troops were deployed from Mosul to Baghdad to bolster security. The operation ended in October 2006, during the operation, sectarian killings were at al all time high and attacks in Baghdad escalated by 22% over the beginning of the operation. An estimated 80 US soldiers were killed during the operation, along with 200 members of the Iraqi army and police. Each month during the operation an estimated 1,300 to 2,000 civilians were killed. These increasing US and Iraqi deaths have led to an increase in opposition to the war in the US and around the world.

A report by the Baker -Hamilton Commission – (AKA Iraq Study Group -a commission appointed by US Congress) released on 6 December 2006 concluded “the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating” and that “US forces seem to be caught in a mission that has no foreseeable end.”

After the Republicans lost control of the US Congress, following mid term elections in November 2006, the Bush administration tried to move away from its previous view of staying the course in Iraq. In January 2007, Bush proposed an increase in the number of troops in Iraq – a surge of 21,500 troops. His proposal also included a job program for Iraqis, more construction programs and $1.2 billion for these programs.

The new commander of US forces in Iraq Gen. David Petraeus has said that the prospects of success in Iraq are good but if not then “Iraq will be doomed to continued violence and civil strife”. Even Bush is not that optimist when it comes to his new plan he was apparently overheard answering the question as to why this new strategy would work when others had failed with “Because it has to.”

Unfortunately this new surge is as doomed to failure as the previous Operation Forward Together, only a monumental increase in US troops would have any hope of easing albeit only temporarily the escalating violence in Iraq. Even the staunchest allies of Bush for example Howard and Blair whilst supporting his surge in words are not prepared to support him with troops.

The increase in US troops will not improve matters in Iraq, it will in fact only hasten the inevitable defeat of the US and Coalition of the Willing forces. Withdraw all foreign troops from Iraq now. End the occupation now.

Editorial comment from the March 2007 edition of The Socialist newspaper