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Another brutal offensive in Iraq sees Bush support shrivel

Published Jun 21, 2005 11:49 PM

On June 20, as President George W. Bush was vowing to “stay the course’ in Iraq, resistance fighters in Karabila were countering “Operation Spear,” the latest offensive by 1,000 U.S. Marines and 100 puppet Iraqi troops. Others in cities across the country were blowing up members of the puppet police force.

With almost no independent reporting coming from Iraq, it is nearly impossible to measure the Pentagon's constant claims of victory regarding its offensives. For “Operation Spear,’ the U.S. military claimed to have killed “40 insurgents,’ meaning armed members of the Iraqi resistance, in a bombing assault.

However, a report from the Iraqi resistance forces, published in the Free Arab Voice, said there were “more than 70 civilians still buried under rubble after savage American bombing; 300 families near death from thirst pinned down by American snipers,’ and added that the resistance was nevertheless holding off the U.S. offensive.

Even a U.S. source, the June 17 Los Angeles Times, reported: “Dr. Hamid Alousi, director of the General Hospital in nearby Qaim, said half a dozen bodies were stuck under a bombed house in Karabila. ‘We can't get them out because of the continuous bombing,´ Alousi said.’

Much like the body-count reporting during the U.S. war against Vietnam, U.S. officers make a rough estimate of the dead Iraqis and count everyone killed, even children, as an enemy combatant. To guess at the real progress of the battle in Iraq, it is perhaps more helpful to see the reaction of the ruling politicians in Washington and their pundits.

Cheney speaks of ‘last throes´

Interviewed on CNN's “Larry King Live” on May 25, Vice President Dick Cheney claimed that the United States and its Iraqi forces were winning the war and that the “insurgency was in its last throes.’ Cheney is one of the chief architects of the war on Iraq, but this comment sounded to many people as if he had remained in the bunker he fled to on Sept. 11, 2001, and missed the reality of the Iraq occupation.

Since that May 25 interview, hundreds of Iraqi puppet troops and police have been killed all over Iraq. Also since then, Bush´s support in U.S. polls has dropped significantly. Regarding Iraq, it´s now at 37 percent in the CBS-New York Times poll.

Bush himself has avoided making that same bold claim. He has confined himself to pledging that the United States will “stay the course’ in Iraq, whatever the sacrifices. “More and more Iraqis are becoming battle-hardened and trained to defend themselves,” Bush said.

He meant to apply this comment to the puppet troops. Most intelligent observers will apply it more accurately to the resistance forces.

Another champion of “staying the course’ is the chief flack of globalization, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. On June 15, he looked at the disaster for U.S. imperialism occurring in Iraq and suggested that the Pentagon “double the American boots on the ground.’

Doubling the number of boots implies doubling the number of young people to fill those boots. The Times Op-Ed columnist doesn´t explain how this will be accomplished when recruiters are having nervous breakdowns trying to meet their quotas, which they fail to do. For Friedman, nothing could be worse for the U.S. empire's fortunes than to be driven from Iraq by the Iraqi people in arms.

Despite the enormous problems the Iraq occupation is causing U.S. imperialism, ruling-class opinion agrees with Friedman. Not just Bush and the Republican leadership, either. The Democratic Party national leadership has refused to confront Bush on the war.

First split in ruling-class views

Where the growing mass opposition to Bush´s Iraq policy has broken through has so far been only among those members of Congress who are most in touch with their constituents. This opposition is a sign of the first real break in ruling-class opinion regarding the need to retreat from Iraq, but it is still a minority view.

Rep. John Conyers of Michigan held a “forum’ with 20 House Democrats to discuss the “Downing Street memo,’ which shows clearly the Bush administration had decided to invade Iraq from the start. Rep. Maxine Waters of California founded an “Out of Iraq’ caucus in Congress, with members of the Black Congressional Caucus like Barbara Lee of California and Charles Rangel of New York playing outspoken roles.

The dissent among politicians lags way behind attitudes on the ground. Recruiting has been down about 25 percent each month for the Army and National Guard. And it gets worse each month. But no one dares propose a military draft, even though every officer in the Pentagon is thinking about it. They´re also thinking and talking about “fragging’—that is, enlisted GIs killing officers, often by rolling a fragmentation grenade into their tent.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon made it clear it considers the recent deaths of two officers in Iraq a case of “fragging.’ It has charged Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez with murder in the deaths of Capt. Philip Esposito and 1st Lt. Louis Allen.

Whatever the details of the case, this sends a shiver up the generals' spines. While there have always been examples of killings not by enemy fire, in Vietnam this reached the level of political protest, which many war resisters saw as a legitimate tactic against brutal or racist officers. Between 1969 and 1971, the U.S. Army reported 600 fragging incidents, which killed 82 officers and non-commissioned officers and injured 651.

The Pentagon knows the high level of discontent among U.S. troops, and fears that fragging will become a more popular method of opposing the tour of duty in Iraq.