Grim reality hits US leaders
US DEPUTY defence secretary and right-wing political hawk Paul Wolfowitz got a taste of Iraqi realities when rockets slammed into the supposedly secure al-Rashid hotel where he stayed in Baghdad last week.
Plus article on the massive anti-war demonstration in Washington DC on October 25Wolfowitz, the Pentagon’s architect of regime change to remove Saddam Hussein and install a pro-US stooge government in Iraq, is seeing the wheels come off his imperialist project.
Earlier, his visit to Tikrit, Saddam’s home town, was marred by an RPG attack on a US helicopter, countering military spokesman Brigadier General Mark Hetling’s claim that these attacks were “not synchronised” and “not very professional”.
Further evidence of coordinated strikes came on 27 October when 34 people were killed and 224 wounded in attacks on the International Committee of the Red Cross’s HQ and four police stations.
Whether these attacks flow from “rogue Baathist elements” or “al-Qa’ida terrorists” or from a myriad of Iraqi opponents, the effect undermined the US/UK coalition forces’ attempts to pacify Iraq and open up the oil economy and industry to multinationals’ control.
Moreover, as the death toll of US soldiers mounts (now 112), and the failure to find weapons of mass destruction (WMD), public support for warmongers Bush and Blair is rapidly eroding.
Approval of Bush’s handling of Iraq slumped from 64% in April to 49% early in October according to a USA Today/CNN/Gallop Poll. Blair too suffered a slump in popularity with a 64% disapproval rating following the WMD fiasco, according to the Financial Times in mid-September.
Neither Bush nor Blair will be helped by the Washington Post’s evidence that Saddam abandoned his nuclear weapons plans after the first Gulf War in 1991. This follows last month’s Iraq Survey Team’s report that failed to find evidence of WMD in Iraq after months of searching.
The public cost of funding the occupation and of Iraqi reconstruction is also creating much public anger especially when seen alongside the underfunding of health, the imposition of tuition fees, etc.
Moreover, the profiteering from public contracts awarded by US companies involved in Iraqi reconstruction outrages people. Kellogg, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton (the multinational which Vice-President Dick Cheney served as chief executive) asked its employees to write to newspapers defending its billion dollar contracts.
It has also emerged that Halliburton charged the occupation authority $1.59 a gallon for imported petrol – vastly more expensive than domestic Iraq petrol – and costing $300 million.
From The Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party, cwi in England and Wales
Thousands march in Washington against occupation of Iraq
An estimated 50,000 people took part in the first national demonstration in the US against the occupation of Iraq, in Washington DC, last Saturday, 25 October.
Bryan Koulouris, Socialist Alternative, US
The Washington Post estimated that 40-50,000 people protested. The mood was very angry and combative. Buses brought protesters from all over the country to DC, including all the way from Florida, and probably from even further. This shows that many people are determined to defeat Bush’s agenda and to end the occupation of Iraq.
The most visible political force on the demonstration were supporters of Dennis Kucinich, a Democratic Party candidate for next year’s Presidential elections. Many people wore Kucinich campaign T-shirts and button badges, carried his placards, and bought his literature. A Kucinich spokesperson addressed the crowds and said, “US out, UN in”. But this got little response from the crowd. Reverend Al Sharpton, another Democratic Presidential hopeful, addressed the rally, and he got a better response due to his more radical rhetoric.
The vast majority of these protesters were not entrenched Democratic Party activists. Many were willing to engage in a discussion about how to take the movement forward.
Socialist Alternative (SA – the CWI in the US) was present on the march, with fifteen members from four different branches. We sold over 325 copies of our paper, Justice, and other literature. Twenty-four people put their names down for more information about SA.
This rally shows that there is a good deal of opposition in the US to the occupation of Iraq and that amongst them there are also people open to socialist ideas.