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Unsurprisingly, the Anglo-American attack on a poor third-world nation was successful. Whether Iraqi civilians, conscripts or "coalition" troops, the dead are, in the main, working class. As well as these direct costs, the majority will suffer the indirect ones while, as usual, the elite gather the plunder and profits to their breasts.

Safe in their plush offices and homes, these wealthy men and women lie or speak platitudes to justify these murders. Just as before the war, their various comments seem invented on the spur of the moment.

Take, for example, the question of Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction. I'm sure that the politicians and media "experts" are annoyed that we haven't seen any yet. When the invasion started, it was speculated that their non-use implied that Saddam's command lines had been severed. Yet no such weapons were discovered in any of the conquered towns. Faced with this, we were informed that Saddam was keeping them close to Baghdad. Indeed, Rumsfeld stated he knew exactly where they were. It is a shame that the US could not provide this sort of information to the UN Weapons Inspectors! Then US troops breached the US invented "Red Line" and still no sign of their use. Then US troops entered Baghdad, and still no sign of them. Then Baghdad fell and still they were not used.

Would this suggest that Iraq does not have such weapons? If so, then one of the main excuses invented to justify this war goes out the window. Given the war which the US has conducted this war, it seems likely that they never seriously expected to be attacked by WMD. Now with the war ended, the US plans to use its own weapons inspectors to hunt for the weapons it says exists. That the US feels able to ignore international opinion on the matter of independent inspectors says it all in terms of the real motivations for the invasion. As with the run up to the war, the US obviously does not feel the need to get believable evidence to justify its actions. And, of course, now Saddam's WMD can play an essential role in justifying an attack on Syria or Iran. The Phantom Menace indeed.

Then there is the overall state of the Iraqi war machine. As with the Red Army, previous reports of Iraqi military might seem, to say the least, exaggerated. Its tanks are decades old and no match to the US/UK ones. When the UK/US tried to deny the slaughter in the Baghdad market place, they suggested (against all logic and evidence) that it was due to an Iraqi air defence missile failing. They helpfully explained that this mighty threat to world peace had such dated missiles that they simply could not catch up with modern military aircraft. The problems initially faced by the Anglo-American invasion force were those associated with fighting an informal militia in the towns armed with basic weapons rather than the war machine of a "new Hitler."

What about the bin Laden link? Or, more correctly, the non-link. As with Colin Powell's lying presentation to the UN, the only "terrorist" link has been found in the Kurdish Autonomous Zone. This Zone is not under Saddam's control. When it was attacked, its defenders retreated into Iran, not into Saddam controlled Iraq. As with the WSD justification, the bin Laden one is still without evidence.

And while many American citizens apparently believe that Saddam was directly responsible for September the 11th, the fact is that this not true. Let us not forget that our PM once stated that only "absolute evidence" of such a link would convince him to attack Iraq.

And talking of terrorism, perhaps we should remember that the US defence department defines terrorist attacks as being designed "to achieve political, religious or ideological objectives." This war, like most wars, meets that definition. But, of course, states are excluded by definition from acts of terrorism. The US state department officially defines it as "premeditated, politically motivated violence propagated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience." Thus "premeditated, politically motivated violence" directed at civilians by a state is not terrorism. Nice to know. So don't hold your breath waiting for US/UK politicians and troops to face war crime charges.

So we are left with the Bush Junta's last justification for war, namely the "liberation" of the Iraqi people. This was not an issue until Bush and Blair realised that few people believed their original claims and shoddy "evidence" on WMD, Bin Laden and the rest. Nor should be forget that liberating them was not considered important before 1991. Quite the reverse, as the UK and US went out its way to help Saddam enslave them. The coup which put the Ba'ath party into power was organised with the help of the CIA. In the 15 years before the invasion of Kuwait, the US and UK supported and armed Saddam. They were not bothered by the tyranny and atrocities they now denounce him for and use to justify their invasion. Then, in 1991, faced with a popular uprising against Saddam, the US let Saddam crush it. Better Saddam than popular power.

And this perspective is at work in this war. The aim of the war is personnel change rather than regime change. The basic structure of the Ba'ath state will remain, except it will be headed by appointed US officials with similarly appointed Iraq "advisers." So while this is portrayed as a war of liberation, the fact is that there will be no democracy for the Iraqi until the US deems them worthy of it. When Saddam is beaten, the Iraqi people will be subjected to direct rule by the US military for an indefinite period. General Jay Garner will direct 23 ministries, each headed by US hawks hand-picked by Mr Rumsfeld. Does that sound like liberation? Sounds remarkably like occupation, with the Iraqi people subject to a dictatorship that, like all such regimes, considers itself as benevolent.

You can understand why the Bush Junta wants a US run regime. There is the post-war "construction," already allocated to US companies. Which means that US corporations have been paid by the US people to produce the weapons which destroyed Iraq and that US corporations will be paid by the Iraqi people to fix it! What a nice little earner! Then there is the claim that the "natural resources" of Iraq will be used to benefit the Iraqi people as a whole rather than an elite. Given that anyone arguing that the "natural resources" of America should be used to benefit the American people rather than an elite would be instantly denounced as a "commie," it seems incredulous that the Bush regime will actually stick by its word. Given the long legacy of the US supporting military coups against democratically elected regimes which actually did seek to use its natural resources to benefit its own people, then we can say that this claim is just rhetoric.

Leaks from the state department's "future of Iraq" office confirm this. The Bush Junta plans to privatise the Iraqi economy, particularly the state-owned national oil company. So, as in America, "natural resources" will be used to enrich a handful of wealthy shareholders. And, who knows, if elections are finally held, then the Iraqis too can vote for which rich person will misrule their country for the benefit of the mega-wealthy. And, perhaps, they too will see the person with least votes being hoisted into power by dubious means or be subjected to patronising speeches about democracy by a leader who gets a quarter of the votes and who ignores the sovereign people when it suits him?

For the time being, we can be sure that faced with an occupying force people will appear happy to see them. Just as they used to cheer Saddam, they will cheer the US regime. And who can blame them, given the firepower they have experienced first hand? So while many will be happy to Saddam gone (including all anti-war protesters), they will be less happy to see him replaced by a US military government. This can be seen a mere week after "liberation," with anti-American demonstrations occurring. US troops have already opened fire on one of them, killing over 10 Iraqi protesters. It was self-defence they claimed, yet not one US solider was injured. Can we expect more of the same?

The question of what happens once the media gets bored with Iraq becomes the key issue. It seems likely that a pseudo-democratic regime that routinely violates human rights in pursuit of American business and political interests will be the most likely outcome.

In other words, business as normal like it was in the 1980s when Saddam was America's pet monster.


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