To ordinary working people in Iraq the situation seems to degenerate daily. While workers in Australia, the US and around the world have seen their governments go to amazing lengths to follow their corporate agenda.
They have seen lies, torture, the destruction of a country and massive war expenditure from both the US and Australian government. Couple this with rising interest rates and a fresh round of neo-liberal attacks on things like pay, conditions and social security from Howard and Bush domestically, and the scene is set. The situation in Iraq symbolises all that is wrong with the capitalist system.
As the situation worsens, Bush’s promises of democratic, stabilising elections, like Howard’s pre-election promise not to send more troops, have been shown up for the lies they are. The background for the elections was the death of around 100,000 Iraqis and an insurgency force that, according to General Shahwani, the Director of Iraq’s new intelligence service, had grown to 200,000 by January. This is a bigger force than that of the occupation armies.
The bosses’ media claimed the ‘high’ voter turnout (only in Shia and Kurdish areas) was a stand against ‘terrorists’. The elections would help bring stability to the country and strengthen the ‘democratic’ process. In fact, without any political party representing the interests of working people, voting Iraqis just like Australians in last Octobers Federal election, were left with little choice.
While the make up of the government that will result from this process is unclear, there is little doubt that it will be a puppet government for imperial interests in the region.
Meanwhile, in Australia, a recent AC Nielsen poll shows that Howard’s announcement to more than double Australian troops in Iraq has very little support from ordinary Australians. While Howard is using his election victory as ?evidence? of support for his agenda in Iraq, polls like this tell a different story.
The report showed that Howard’s decision to send more troops to Iraq is opposed by an overwhelming majority of non-Coalition voters and was strongly supported by only 18 percent of Coalition voters.
Opposition to the war is also simmering globally. In Italy, the shooting of Italian secret agent Nicola Calipari by US troops as he defended journalist Giuliana Sgrena, has sparked mass demonstrations and highlighted the oppression of journalists in Iraq. While Bush and Howard talk about democracy, newly unionised Iraqi journalists are fighting for more media freedom and better working conditions.
Since the invasion 2 years ago, 73 media staff, half of these Iraqi, have been killed. Of these, 12 deaths are attributable to the US and have not been investigated. This, along with the March resignation of CNN news chief Eason Jordan, who left under severe pressure from right-wing US commentators, has lead to speculation around the US role in controlling information flow from Iraq.
In the light of all this, among other factors, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Bush, Howard and their big business bosses to convince workers domestically that they are seriously attempting to build a democratic Iraq. It will only become more difficult for Howard as Australian workers respond to his extreme industrial relations reforms and identify more closely with workers in Iraq.
The solution is for workers in Australia and around the world to support the Iraqi working class and to start building a movement of workers, young people and poor against the occupying forces and the elite in their own country. This movement should oppose the existing big business political parties and all ethnic divisions, and aim to establish a democratic socialist workers’ government in Iraq.
By Erinn Sales