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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 73/No. 16      April 27, 2009


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(lead article)
U.S., NATO troops out of Iraq, Afghanistan!
U.S. Bradley armored fighting vehicles roll through streets in Mosul, Iraq, March 27.

Not 1 penny, not 1 person for U.S. war

President Barack Obama has requested $83.4 billion more for war funding. Working people need to demand not one cent, not one person for Washington’s wars.

The U.S. government has managed to cobble together a regime in Iraq that can serve as a stable ally in the region. It has been able to do this, in part, because there is no party in Iraq that is capable of uniting working people and small farmers across ethnic and religious lines in an effective fight against imperialist domination. Instead, landlord and bourgeois forces compete for their piece of the pie under U.S. domination.

But the U.S. government is not yet confident the regime in Baghdad can stand entirely on its own. Gen. Raymond Odierno admits this when he says that U.S. troop withdrawals will be delayed in Mosul and Baqubah. He also told the London Times he was “concerned” over the conflicts between Kurds and Arabs. The Kurds, an oppressed nationality in Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Syria, have historically faced discrimination in all four countries. Washington’s concern is not for the right of the Kurdish people to self-determination, but worry that capitalist interests could be upset.

Even if the U.S. troop withdrawal goes according to plan, Washington plans to leave a garrison force of up to 50,000 in place.

At the same time, Washington is sending 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, stepping up drone missile attacks inside Pakistan, and crowing about killing three Somali “pirates”—all since President Obama took office. This is certainly not a “peace” president in the White House.

As the economic crisis deepens, the U.S. rulers are planning not just for more wars abroad, but for more resistance by working people in the United States. The FBI raids in Minneapolis are not solely to send a message to Somali immigrants, they are aimed at intimidating all working people who will resist cutbacks in government services, growing unemployment, and attacks on workers’ rights.

To put an end to imperialist wars once and for all, working people in the United States need to take political power out of the hands of the warmakers and begin to organize society to meet human needs, not maximize private profits.

U.S. force in Iraq may delay reduction

The commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, Gen. Raymond Odierno, said April 9 that Washington may keep thousands of U.S. troops in Iraqi cities past the June 30 deadline previously set for their withdrawal. President Barack Obama, meanwhile, requested Congress approve $83.4 billion in emergency funds for U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through September 30.

In an interview with the London Times, Odierno said that U.S. troop numbers in Mosul and Baqubah, and other parts of Diyala province in the north of the country, could rise rather than fall over the next year. The general pointed to the activities of al-Qaeda and conflicts between Arabs and Kurds as unresolved difficulties facing U.S. troops there.

At the end of December, Washington and Baghdad signed an agreement extending deployment of U.S. troops in Iraq until the end of 2011. Obama promised to pull all combat troops out of Iraqi cities by June 30 and to withdraw all combat troops by August 2010—which would still leave up to 50,000 U.S. troops in the country.

Obama made an unannounced visit to Iraq April 7, reaffirming his withdrawal timetable. He told a gathering of troops stationed in Baghdad that the next 18 months is “a critical period” for U.S. forces to “transition to the Iraqis. They need to take responsibility for their country and for their sovereignty.” Obama spent five hours in Baghdad, remaining on the U.S. military base next to the airport throughout his visit.

The following day, tens of thousands of Iraqis, mainly supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, marched through Baghdad demanding withdrawal of U.S. troops, marking the sixth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of the country, the London Times reported.

Obama’s request for supplemental war funds is in addition to $65.9 billion in “emergency” funds Congress had already approved this year. This will bring Washington’s spending on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars to more than $900 billion over the past seven-and-a-half years.

Up until now both wars have been financed through 17 emergency supplemental requests passed under the George W. Bush administration. Obama said this would be the only time his administration asks for supplemental funds for the wars beyond the monies allocated in the annual budget. His administration is including $130 billion for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars in the annual budget for the upcoming fiscal year beginning October 1, reported Bloomberg News.

“The reality is the alternative to the supplemental is a sudden and precipitous withdrawal” of U.S. forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, stated Defense Secretary Robert Gates in an appeal for ongoing bipartisan support. “And I don’t know anybody who thinks that’s a good idea.”

While most of the funds in the supplemental war bill are for the expanding war in Afghanistan and the ongoing military operations and projected drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq, $800 million would go toward expanding UN “peacekeeping” troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo and for similar imperialist-backed UN operations in Chad and the Central African Republic. Some $350 million is destined for “security” and “anti-drug” operations along the U.S.-Mexico border. Another $1.6 billion goes toward a “surge” of diplomatic and U.S. “civilian” personnel in Afghanistan.

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