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Why Bush Wants An 'Exit Strategy'
GEORGE BUSH says he's going to stay put in Iraq until Saddam Hussein is found. But beneath this determined exterior Bush is clearly worried, not least over his 2004 election prospects, as the attacks on US and coalition forces in Iraq increases.
As the wheels start to come off Bush's Iraq strategy the increasingly beleaguered President recalled Paul Bremer, Iraq's US administrator, to try to force the pace in forming an Iraqi provisional government and to speed up plans for elections.
But devising an 'exit strategy' is fraught with huge risks for Bush and imperialism. To stay as occupiers could suck US troops into a lengthy guerrilla war with more dead soldiers, a situation unacceptable to US voters. But to withdraw now would be a massive defeat and humiliation for the mega-power and its coalition allies.
Apart from his lapdog Tony Blair most of his coalition allies are decidedly edgy about continuing their military presence in Iraq, especially after the devastating explosion at the Italian forces' HQ. On a recent visit to Japan, US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld was told that Japan wouldn't be sending troops to Iraq because of the security situation.
Indeed, the bombing strategy by guerrillas in Iraq is succeeding in forcing out foreign aid agencies, adding to the political isolation of the US-led coalition. And although few Iraqis support the former Baathist regime, many are becoming politically alienated from the US occupation as the problems of poverty, unemployment, insecurity, and a lack of basic services increases.
A new Vietnam?
MORE US troops have now died during the occupation of Iraq than during the invasion of the country. The failure to militarily pacify Iraq; a developing Iraqi national consciousness; the increasing isolation of the US troops from ordinary Iraqis; the lack of reconstruction and widespread poverty; all suggest a new Vietnam war.
Bush's new 'Iraqi-isation' plan for a civilian provisional government by next June and elections by the end of 2005 could easily backfire. Most Iraqis rightly see the current Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), stuffed with rich businessmen and Pentagon appointees, as a stooge body - simply there to rubber-stamp the decisions of the US occupiers. Without the backing of substantial numbers of US troops the IGC would collapse.
Moreover, in 'free' elections it is possible that Shia clerical organisations that have opposed the US occupation could emerge as a powerful faction. This would deepen the explosive political, ethnic and religious divisions within the country.
To achieve a democratic Iraq based on economic and social equality requires not only a struggle to expel imperialism but the establishment of a workers' and peasants' government, carrying through socialist policies.
International support must be given to those activists and organisations in Iraq that are fighting for such a programme.
Support for Bush falling
BUSH'S SUPPORT is evaporating fast as the death toll of US troops climbs above 400. In the latest US opinion poll (USA Today), only 45% of Americans would vote Bush for president next year compared to 56% last April.
Moreover, only 47% approve of his handling of Iraq compared to 80% back in April. And while 14% say send more troops to Iraq, the biggest response, 39%, call for some troops to be withdrawn while an additional 18% call for all of them to be withdrawn.
A YouGov poll for The Sunday Times reveals that 60% of Britons regard the American president as a threat to world peace. 37% believe that he is "stupid" and 33% call him "incoherent".
In The Socialist 22 November 2003: