Despite partisan rhetoric of opposition to the White House plan, bipartisan support for the imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan remains strong.
Over the last week, U.S. forces and Iraqi government troops arrested a top aide to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr during a raid in eastern Baghdad. Some 600 members of al-Sadrs militia, the Mahdi Army, have been reportedly arrested in similar raids. Washington is targeting the group along with Sunni militias and others it considers obstacles to establishing a stable regime in Iraq thats subservient to U.S. interests in the region.
As we go to press, Iraqi and U.S. troops conducted a series of raids on Haifa Street and elsewhere in Baghdad aimed at such militias. This is the same area where U.S. forces said they killed 50 people in a similar January 9 raid.
The bloodshed caused by the imperialist occupation, and fighting among Iraqi bourgeois factions vying for a bigger share of power, has escalated. At least 100 Iraqis died in car bombings January 22 in two markets near Baghdad in predominantly Shiite neighborhoods. Iraqi health minister Ali Hussein al-Shamari estimated that 150,000 Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the war since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. A United Nations report said that more than 34,000 Iraqi civilians were killed last year.
Meanwhile, two nonbinding resolutions being discussed in the Senate critical of the troop escalation highlight how strong bipartisan support for the war is. The latest by Republican John Warner is cosponsored by Republican Susan Collins and Democrat Benjamin Nelson.
The purpose of this resolution is not to cut our forces or to set a timetable for withdrawal, but, rather, to express the genuine concerns of a number of Senators from both parties about the Presidents plan, said Warner. The resolution states that the Senate disagrees with the plan to augment our forces by 21,500, and urges the President instead to consider all options and alternatives for achieving the strategic goals with reduced force levels than proposed.
The goals Warner describes are similar to those of the White House: Maintaining the territorial integrity of Iraq; denying international terrorists a safe haven; conducting counterterrorism operations; and training and equipping Iraqi forces.
The main clause of another resolution submitted in the Senate by Democrats Joseph Biden and Carl Levin, and cosponsored by Republicans Charles Hagel and Olympia Snowe, states: It is not in the national interest of the United States to deepen its military involvement in Iraq, particularly by escalating the United States military presence in Iraq.
Democrats Hillary Clinton and Evan Bayh, and Republican John McHugh, have offered a proposal in the Senate to cap U.S. troops in Iraq at about their current number of 130,000.
Clinton and Bayh also sent a letter to U.S. defense secretary Robert Gates requesting that Washington dispatch an additional 2,300 troops to Afghanistan.
Shortly after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, Clinton told the PBS News Hour January 18 that she doesnt support cuts in funding for the troops and opposes setting timetables for withdrawal because I do believe we have vital national security interests in Iraq.
Senator Barack Obama, who, like Clinton, is a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, released a statement calling for capping the number of U.S. troops in Iraq and beginning a phased redeployment.
In another sign of how firm the bipartisan support for the war is, the Washington Post reported today that one point of agreement seems to be that Lt. Gen. David Petraeus is the right commander for U.S. forces in Baghdad . Petraeus will tell Congress whether he needs more troops, which may prove to be the case.
In a January 19 raid, U.S. and Iraqi government forces arrested Abdul-Hadi al-Darraji, a top aide to al-Sadr. A spokesman for Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki criticized the raid. Coordination with the Iraqi political leadership is needed before conducting such operations that draw popular reactions, stated Sadiq al-Rikabi. The premier has a major base of support among al-Sadrs forces.
The U.S. military said it has carried out 52 operations against al-Sadrs militia in the last month. Another 42 attacks have targeted Sunni militias.
In his January 23 State of the Union speech, U.S. president George Bush said such assaults also target alleged Iranian activities inside Iraq. Shia extremists, Bush said, receive support from Iran. Bush also asked Congress to authorize an increase in the size of the Army and Marines by 92,000.
Young Socialists: Socialist revolution is only way to end imperialist wars
U.S. soldier fights court-martial for refusing to deploy to Iraq
Troops out of Iraq, Afghanistan now!
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