Two years after the occupation of Baghdad, American imperialism has failed to reach the strategic objectives that led to the invasion.
It has failed to “reshape” the map of the Middle East; on the contrary, it depends on the “goodwill” of Syria and Iran to stabilize Iraq’s frontiers. Behind the Zionist withdrawal from Gaza protrudes the American failure in Iraq.
After two years of combat, the most powerful army in history has failed to defeat a resistance that, according to the CIA itself, “is becoming more numerous and dangerous.” Not only has the Pentagon suffered 2,000 deaths and 12,000 wounded in an occupation that had been considered “a walk in the park” before it got underway. Above all, it faces a major military crisis: it faces the failure of the professional (volunteer) army, which replaced the army based on the draft, buried in the jungles of Vietnam. “The voluntary army is not working”, warns The New York Times (27 Jun) in an editorial. The reason is that there are not enough recruits ready to be killed in Iraq .
“We are not losing the war,” Rumsfeld was forced to answer to several Republican senators (i.e. from Bush’s own party), who accuse the government of “being disconnected from reality”. They are not the only ones who believe that. John Deutch, the former chief of the CIA between 1995 and 1996, states: “I do not think that we are making progress in any of our objectives in Iraq” (AFX News, 15 Jul).
Imperialism is considering the conditions for its withdrawal from Iraq. “As the popularity of George Bush falls in his own country, his desperation to reduce the forces in Iraq increases,” writes the former British foreign minister Robin Cook (Clarín, 16 Jul). He adds that “according to a memo that has been leaked to the press, the Bush administration plans to reduce by one third its military forces in Iraq by the first quarter of 2006,” which would force Great Britain to do the same. In the recent conference on Iraq that took place in Brussels, “the United States and the European Union healed the divisions opened by the war” and united “to back the transition,” i.e. the preparations for the withdrawal.
A Pentagon spokesman forewarned that “a mass reduction of American troops in Iraq is linked to the conditions on the ground... the adoption of a Constitution, elections and the creation of Iraqi security forces sufficiently strong in quantity and quality... and not to a date determined beforehand” (Le Monde, 12 Jul). In order to impose those conditions, imperialism is carrying out a ruthless campaign of repression against the Iraqi people.
Of course to enumerate these conditions is much easier than their being met on the ground.
The government resulting from the elections, according to an experienced European diplomat, “does not control the situation and has no plan to move the country forward” (El País, 27/6).
The divergences over the Constitution (and even over the convening of a constitutional convention) are sharp, and reflect the deep disputes between the different cliques for the control of the country and its oil resources, and even national differences. The Kurds are opposed, naturally, to a constitution establishing the “Arab identity” of the country.
The creation of an “Iraqi force” is an “improbable mission”, at least in the near future (The Washington Post, 13 Jun). “The Iraqi forces are much weaker than what Bush says, with much less than 160,000 trained and fully equipped troops” (ICH, 15/7). As an official in charge of the training of the Iraqi forces warns, “things are not progressing according to the schedule dictated by the political needs (of Washington )” (The Washington Post, 13 Jun).
The “stabilization” of Iraq requires, moreover, a set of commitments among the States of the region. But those states -Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey- have contradictory interests in Iraq. Turkey’s threat to invade the north of Iraq to fight the Kurdish guerrilla of the PKK, the victory of the “anti-American” candidate in Iran , the failure of the attempt to disarm Hezbollah in Lebanon and the crisis of the Saudi regime show the enormous difficulties faced by imperialism.
Even the agreement with Europe is no more than a facade, for it consists in supporting the preparations for a withdrawal... on whose practical conditions major divergences exist. Because, although the Pentagon spokesman does not say so, one of the essential conditions for the withdrawal is the monopolization of the oil resources and the the tasks of the “reconstruction” of Iraq by the American big capital.
Imperialism out of Iraq and the Middle East
For the Iraqi masses, the “new Iraq” will be a nightmare: the withdrawal in the conditions established by the occupants will not mean national independence or democracy. For the masses of the region, withdrawal under the conditions established on the ground by the occupying forces will mean a strengthening of the existing reactionary regimes.
But the strategic failure of the occupation and the huge difficulties faced by American imperialism in preparing the withdrawal have set up revolutionary perspectives in the Middle East.
Those perspectives, in turn, are conditioned by the clerical-bourgeois character of most of the resistance fractions. This is made manifest through military activity which massacres the population.
In some cases, there is a deliberate policy of civil war along sectarian and religious lines. In others, the armed struggle is at the service of clans, tribes and cliques seeking a share of power in the “new Iraq”-which is why they combine armed resistance with participation in the “constitutional process” and even, as Blair himself recognized, in direct negotiations with the forces of occupation.
In the face of the definitive collapse of the US military occupation, the Fourth International commits its full collaboration to the formation of a working-class and socialist leadership, which in Iraq has a tradition of more than half a century.