The Guardian March 3, 2004


Is it possible to end the occupation of Iraq?

Daniel Rubin

It is in the interests of the peace and democratic forces of the 
US that we join with the Iraqi people and the people of the world 
to compel the Bush administration to end all forms of occupation 
and control of Iraq now.

On November 2, we must elect an administration that will respond 
to the pressure, end the occupation if Bush fails to do so, and 
not repeat such aggression elsewhere. Only then can we end the 
huge financial drain of the occupation that is contributing to 
starving funds for jobs and other social welfare needs at home. 
Only then can the lives of Iraqis and US troops be saved. Only 
then can we begin to restore the good name of our country in the 
world.

Bush still hopes to fool the Iraqi and US people by appearing to 
turn over power to a handpicked compliant group in Iraq while 
reducing the number of US troops until just after the elections.

While paying close attention to how the Iraqi progressive forces 
assess their situation, we have to judge how best to struggle 
here in the US [and in Australia] to end the occupation.

US Out! UN In!

Maximising pressure to turn over control of the country to the 
democratic forces of Iraq and to get the US out completely 
requires supporting not only the demand to "bring the troops home 
now!" We need also to support "UN peacekeepers in!"

UN peacekeepers enter a country only with the agreement of the 
authorities of that country. Even among those who opposed the war 
originally and now want the US out, there is concern about how to 
prevent leaving Iraq in a state of civil war as a result of the 
US aggression.

Given the present armed attacks by backward forces and the 
existence of a number of politically contending militias, 
including one acknowledged to have been created by the CIA, the 
concern is legitimate and is expressed by some Iraqi progressive 
forces.

Such a danger can best be met by UN commanded and controlled 
peacekeeping forces. By including such a just demand, it will be 
much easier to build maximum pressure and ensure major support in 
Congress for withdrawing the US military.

UN role

Some on the US left complain that the UN is a tool of US 
imperialism or of imperialism in general. That case could have 
been made when the UN General Assembly endorsed the US aggression 
against North Korea [DPRK] in 1950.

Now the UN is the scene of major struggles between the forces for 
peace and progress in the world and those for war and reaction, 
headed by the US.

Not every battle is fully won, but the UN has been resisting US 
dictation on Iraq. There was evidence of the change in three 
recent votes of the General Assembly. These condemned the Sharon 
Government of Israel for threatening the life of President 
Arafat, for assassinating Palestinians and for building the 
separation wall. Only Micronesia and the Maldives joined Israel 
and the US in opposing those resolutions.

In most cases, if the Bush administration is for something 
internationally, it is safe to assume the peace, democratic and 
progressive forces of the US and the world should be opposed. But 
in a complex situation there can be moments when, for its own 
basically reactionary reasons, the administration supports 
something democratic forces support [but] for opposite reasons.

Elections

That is the case with the US opposing Ayatollah Sistani's 
proposal for immediate, direct elections. While opposing a 
federal state, the Bush administration apparently recognises that 
if the Kurds are excluded by a majority Shi'ite Arab vote, the 
country may split apart in civil war, or, due to fundamentalist 
militias that control sections of Iraq, end up with a theocratic 
regime similar to Iran's.

That result would only produce long-term instability for US 
imperial interests. The US wants instead to handpick caucuses, to 
assure its dominance after June 30. If that proves impossible, it 
would like elections postponed until after the US elections, 
under cover of a UN recommendation, but keeping control in the 
meantime.

Whether the US will be compelled by the Iraqi people, world 
public opinion and a growing majority sentiment in the US to give 
up real power and get out in favour of democratic Iraqi political 
power and UN peacekeepers, remains to be seen. As the Bush 
administration sees its present policy become an ever-greater 
threat to its re-election, the possibilities of a compelled just 
solution grow.

* * *
People's Weekly World (slightly abridged)

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