Global Trends by Martin Khor

Monday 16 April 2007

U.S. wars unraveling after a bloody week

After an exceptionally bloody week, the American-led wars in Iraq and elsewhere are unraveling, but President Bush seems set to still “stay the course.”


It was another bloody week when bombs went off in Iraq, Algeria and Morocco, and Western troops suffered many deaths in Afghanistan, demonstrating that the security situation is worsening, not improving.

There had been hopes that Iraq would be more “peaceful” as the United States increased its troop numbers and imposed a security sweep in Baghdad starting weeks ago.

These hopes were shattered last Thursday when a bomb went off in the canteen of Parliament building, inside the heart of the supposedly safe “Green Zone.”   One Parliamentarian was killed and 22 other people injured.

It was at least the third blow within a few weeks on the safety of the government itself.  On 23 March the deputy premier Salam al-Zubaie was seriously injured when a bodyguard blew himself up. 

A few days earlier a missile landed yards away from a Green Zone building, temporarily disrupting a press conference by the UN Secretary General, who a moment before had been hailing the supposedly improving security situation.

Last Saturday, another bomb went off at a bus station at Karbala, killing at least 43 and injuring 60.   On the same day, another bomb in a bridge in Baghdad killed 10.  It was the second bridge in Baghdad attacked in two days.

The situation is deteriorating in Iraq, and not improving.  According to The Guardian:  “US officials admitted the bombing of the Iraqi parliament shows that not even the heavily fortified Green Zone is safe anymore, despite the security crackdown launched earlier this year in the Iraqi capital.”

The source of the problem is the continuation of the foreign occupation.  This was emphasized by a massive demonstration in Iraq last week to mark the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad to the American troops.  Many thousands called for the US to leave Iraq.

It is clear there will be no chance for peace in Iraq until the US pulls its troops out.  Yet President Bush seems oblivious to this, even as the war becomes more unpopular in the U.S. itself.

Last week, the U.S. government announced that the tour of duty would be extended for its soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, a move received with “anger and dark humour” by the GIs, according to a press report.

And when Bush tried to create a new post of central coordinator for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, three retired generals turned down the President’s offer to take up the position.

John Sheeman, one of the retired generals, eloquently described why he would not take the post:  “The very fundamental issue is, they don’t know where the hell they’re going.  So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, No thanks.”

The war in Afghanistan is also going badly for the US and its allies.  Six Canadian soldiers were killed on 8 April, and 40 NATO troops have died so far this year. The spring season starting now is expected to see more aggressive attacks from the Taliban and their allies.

In Algeria, two bombs (one of which damaged the Prime Minster’s office) killed 33 people last Wednesday.   And in Morocco, three suicide bombers exploded a bomb in Casablanca last Tuesday, while another suicide bombing took place on Saturday near the U.S. cultural centre.

The bombings in so many countries in just a week show that the “war on terror” conceptualized by the so-called neo-conservatives (Neo-Cons) in the Bush administration has worsened rather than improved the situation.

The neo-cons took another major blow last week when one of their champions, Paul Wolfowitz, now President of the World Bank, suffered deep humiliation when calls for his resignation overshadowed the spring meetings of the Bank and the International Monetary Fund over the weekend.

Wolfowitz was a prime architect within the Bush administration of the Iraq war, and was rewarded with the World Bank top post, which he has used to preach the importance of “good governance” and anti-corruption in developing countries.

It turns out that Wolfowitz himself practices high-level nepotism.  He arranged for Shaha Riza, his girlfriend, who worked at the Bank, to be promoted and seconded to the U.S. state department with a big pay rise – to a level higher than even Secretary of State Condi Rice.

He had also put his own friends at high positions at the World Bank.  The Bank’s staff association has called for his resignation, and the Bank’s board is expected to take tough action. 

Bush however has come out in support for his embattled friend, even as Wolfowitz, is fast sinking. 

That’s another sign of the American President’s unchanging ways.  Even as his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere are collapsing and his own citizens and ex-Generals have lost confidence in his war competence, he is steadily “staying the course”.